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Echo Theater Company

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Boni B. Alvarez’s funny, tragic and provocative ‘Fixed’ gets world premiere at the Echo

LOS ANGELES (Aug. 16, 2017) — The Echo Theater Companycontinues its 20th Anniversary Season with a funny, tragic and provocative new play by Los Angeles’ own Boni B. Alvarez. Dually inspired by Calderón’s Spanish Golden Age Drama The Physician Of His Own Honor and the 1990 documentary Paris is Burning, which detailed New York’s then-underground drag queen “ball culture,” Alvarez ups the stakes by setting his story in the heart of L.A.’s Historic Filipinotown. Echo company member Rodney Todirects the world premiere of Fixed for a Sept. 17 opening atAtwater Village Theatre.

 

Chris Aguila (Alvarez’s Nicky with Coeurage Theatre at Greenway Court, Charm at the Celebration Theatre) stars as Miracles Malacañang, a ladyboy masseuse who “walks” for Filipinotown’s infamous House of Malacañang. But Miracles’ forbidden love affair with Mariano, played by Wade Allain-Marcus (Good Grief at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, HBO’s Insecure, FX’s Snowfall), sparks tensions between the city’s hottest political family and the House of Malacañang’s owner, Gigi (portrayed by Alvarez himself).

 

“I wanted to mine the drama and the comedy created by marginalizing the Filipino experience even more than it already is,” the playwright explains. “But, at the end of the day I’m just a hopeless romantic, and this is really just a tragic love story.”

 

In ball culture, houses serve as alternative families, primarily for black and Latino queer youth who “walk” for trophies and prizes in elaborately-structured ball competitions. Typically, house members adopt the name of their house as their last name. Contestants must adhere to a very specific category or theme; they are judged on criteria including the “realness” of their drag, the beauty of their clothing and their dancing ability. Houses that win a lot of trophies and gain recognition reach a rank of “legendary.” Notable houses include House of Ninja (founded by Willi Ninja), House of Aviance (founded by Mother Juan Aviance), House of Xtravaganza (founded by Hector Xtravaganza, né Hector Valle), House of Infiniti, House of Mizrahi, House of LaBeija (founded by Crystal LaBeija) and the House of Dupree (founded by Paris Dupree).

 

Also in the cast of Fixed are Tonatiuh Elizarraraz (IAMA Theatre Company’s Species Native to California) and Allen Lucky Weaver(La Cage aux Folles at East West Players, Midwest tour of Miss Saigon) as house members Carmie and Jenny Malacañang; Joseph Valdez (Little Big Joe the Bug Squasher at the Hollywood Fringe) as Mariano’s brother, Hudson, currently in a tight race for county sheriff; Renée-Marie Brewster (A.R.T. productions of Alice Vs Wonderland, Cabaret) as Dana, Hudson’s wife and campaign manager; and Adrian Gonzalez (Lord of the Underworld’s Home for Unwed Mothers at the Skylight, Colony Collapse at Boston Court) as A.J., their trusted political aide. Anna Lamadrid (currently on stage as Phebe in Antaeus Theatre Company’s As You Like It) pines after Mariano in the role of Lizette.

 

 

“My hope is that this play is super provocative not only for the theater community, but for the LGBTQ and Filipino communities as well,” says To. “I do think audiences are going to embrace it. I love plays that challenge people’s thinking in unexpected, unconventional ways.”

 

The creative team includes set designer Amanda Knehans, lighting designer Matt Richter, sound designer Rebecca Kessin and costume designer Michael Mullen. The assistant director is James Leo Ryan, and the production stage manager is Haley Kellogg.Jesse Cannady and Nadia Marina produce for The Echo Theater Company.

 

Boni B. Alvarez was recently named a resident playwright with New Dramatists. His plays, including Bloodletting, Dallas Non-Stop, Ruby, Tragically Rotund, Dusty De Los Santos, Dolls of America, Marabella, The Special Education of Miss Lorna Cambonga andNicky, have been produced/developed at Playwrights’ Arena, Center Theatre Group, Chalk Rep, Skylight Theatre Company, The Vagrancy, Coeurage Theatre Company, Second Generation (2g, NYC), InterAct Theatre (Philadelphia) and Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He has been a semi-finalist for the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference and a finalist for both the PEN Center USA Literary Award and Clubbed Thumb’s Biennial Commission. With a BA from Sarah Lawrence College, an MFA from American Repertory Theatre/MXAT Institute at Harvard University and an MFA from USC, Alvarez is an alumnus of the CBS Writers Mentoring Program, Skylight Theatre’s Play Lab, CTG Writers’ Workshop, Moving Arts’ MADlab and Humanitas/CTG Play LA Workshop.

 

Dedicated to producing new work, the multiple award-winning Echo Theater Company was anointed “Best Bet for Ballsy Original Plays” by the LA Weekly and was a recipient of a 2016 “Kilroy Cake Drop” – one of only 13 theaters in the country to be surprised by cakes to honor the efforts they are making to produce women and trans writers. Under the leadership of founding artistic director Chris Fields, the Echo has introduced Los Angeles to playwrights such as David Lindsay-Abaire, Adam Rapp, Sarah Ruhl, Adam Bock and Miki Johnson among others. The company is also recognized for its acting ensemble; in the Los Angeles Times, theater critic Charles McNulty wrote, “Echo Theater Company, which has cultivated a community of top flight actors, would be my go-to place in Los Angeles for symbiotic ensemble acting.” KCRW’s Anthony Byrnes stated, “It’s time to start paying attention to the Echo Theater Company… The company has made bold choices and backed them up.” Last season’s production of Dry Land by Ruby Rae Spiegel received the Ovation Award for Best Production and was recently remounted at Culver City’s Kirk Douglas Theatre by Center Theatre Group as part of “Block Party.” This summer, the company enjoyed a critically acclaimed, sold-out run of Bekah Brunsetter’s The Cake. The Echo Theater Company is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary.

 

Fixed runs Sept. 17 through Oct.22, with performances on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.Sundays at 4 p.m.; and Mondays at 8 p.m. except opening night, Sunday Sept. 17, which is at 6 p.m. Three preview performances are set for Thurs., Sept. 14; Fri., Sept. 15; and Sat., Sept. 16, all at 8 p.m. Tickets are $34 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and $20 on Mondays. Preview performances are Pay-What-You-WantAtwater Village Theatre is located at 3269 Casitas Ave in Los AngelesCA 90039. On-site parking is free. For reservations and information, call (310) 307-3753 or go to www.EchoTheaterCompany.com.

 

 

Details for Calendar Listings
Fixed

 

WHAT:
World premiere 
of Fixed — A fierce and funny new play by Los Angeles’ own Boni B. Alvarez, Fixed is the story of Miracles Malacañang, a ladyboy masseuse working in the infamous Malacañang Massage Parlor in Los Angeles’ historic Filipinotown. When Miracles’ forbidden love affair sparks tensions between the city’s hottest political family, two families must come together to understand the power of desire, identity and honor.

WHO: 
• Written by Boni B. Alvarez
• Directed by Rodney To
• Starring Chris AguilaWade Allain-Marcus, Boni B. AlvarezRenée-Marie BrewsterTonatiuh ElizarrarazAdrian Gonzalez,Anna Lamadrid, Joseph ValdezAllen Lucky Weaver
• Presented by The Echo Theater Company

WHEN: 
Previews: Sept. 14, Sept. 15, Sept.16
Performances: Sept. 17 – Oct. 22

• Thursday at 8 p.m.: Sept. 14 ONLY (preview)
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: Sept. 15 (preview), 22, 29; Oct. 6, 13, 20
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: Sept. 16 (preview), 23, 30; Oct. 7, 14, 21
• Sunday at 6 p.m.: Sept. 17 ONLY (Opening Night)
• Sundays at 4 p.m.: Sept. 24; Oct. 1, 8, 15, 22
• Mondays at 8 p.m.: Sept. 18, 25; Oct. 2, 9, 16

WHERE:
Echo Theater Company
Atwater Village Theatre
3269 Casitas Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90039

HOW:
• Call 310-307-3753 or go to  www.EchoTheaterCompany.com
• Visit us on facebook: www.facebook.com/echotheater
• Follow us on twitter: @echotheater

TICKET PRICES:
• Fridays/Saturdays/Sundays: $34
• Mondays: $20
• Previews: Pay-What-You-Want

PARKING:
FREE in the Atwater Xing lot one block south of the theater

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Entertainment News

Debra Jo Rupp heads cast in world premiere of Bekah Brunstetter’s ‘The Cake’

Faith, family and frosting collide in a touching and timely new play by Bekah Brunstetter (NBC’s This Is Us). The Echo Theater Company continues its20th Anniversary Season with the world premiere of The Cake.Jennifer Chambersdirects for a July 1opening at Atwater Village Theatre.

 

Debra Jo Rupp (That ’70s Show) stars as Della, a baker who makes cakes, not judgment calls — those she leaves to her husband (Joe Hart, recently seen on Broadway in Bonnie and Clyde). But when Jen, the girl Della helped raise (Shannon Lucio ofAmerican Horror Storyand True Blood), comes back home to North Carolina to get married and the fiancé turns out to be another fiancée (A Noise Within resident artist Carolyn Ratteray), Della’s life gets turned upside down. She can’t really make a cake for such a wedding, can she? For the first time in her life, Della has to think for herself.

 

 

“This play is my attempt to humanize conservative values,”

 

says Brunstetter, who hails from Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

 

“I feel there’s a lack of empathy, especially in our liberal pocket, a sense of dismissiveness towards people we don’t agree with. There are people in my life who have these values, who I love, who I am always trying to understand.”

“Whenever I’m trying to figure out how to have a conversation, I write a play about it. Plus – I love baking shows. I love eating cakes and baking cakes.”

 

Following its world premiere at the Echo, The Cake is scheduled to open at Playmakers Repertory Company in Chapel Hill, NC in Sept. 2017; Warehouse Theatre in Greenville, SC in Dec. 2017; La Jolla Playhouse in Feb. 2018; and Houston’s Alley Theater in June, 2018.

According to Brunstetter,

 

“This play was born in the Echo Theater’s Playwright’s LAB and wouldn’t be what it is without their support. I rewrite a lot during the rehearsal process for a first production, so it’s also wonderful to premiere the play in the city where I live and work.”

 

The cast also includes the voice of Morrison Keddie as the host of the Great American Baking Show. The creative team includes set designer Pete Hickok, lighting designer Pablo Santiago, sound designer Jeff Gardner, costume designerElena Flores and photographer Darrett Sanders. Casting is by Meg FisterNatalie Figaredo is the production stage manager, and Jesse Cannady and Nadia Marina produce for TheEcho Theater Company.

 

Bekah Brunstetter’s other plays include Going to a Place Where You AlreadyAre (South Coast Repertory), The Oregon Trail (Portland Center Stage Fall 2016, O’Neill Playwrights Conference; Flying V) Cutie and Bear (Roundabout commission), A Long and Happy Life (Naked Angels commission), Be A Good Little Widow (Ars Nova, Collaboraction, The Old Globe), Oohrah! (Atlantic Theater Company, Steppenwolf Garage, Finborough Theater/London), Nothing is the End of the World(Except for the End of the World) (Waterwell), House of Home (Williamstown Theatre Festival) and MissLilly Gets Boned (Ice Factory Festival). She is an alumna of the CTG Writers Group, Primary Stages Writers Group, Ars Nova Play Group, The Playwright’s Realm and the Women’s Project Lab. She has previously written for MTV (Underemployed and I Just Want My Pants Back), ABC Family’s Switched at Birth and the Starz series American Gods.She is currently a producer on NBC’s This is Us.

 

Dedicated to producing new work, the multiple award-winning Echo Theater Company was anointed “Best Bet for Ballsy Original Plays” by the LA Weekly and was a recipient of a 2016 “Kilroy Cake Drop” – one of only 13 theaters in the country to be surprised by cakes to honor the efforts they are making to produce women and trans writers. Under the leadership of founding artistic director Chris Fields, the Echo has introduced Los Angeles to playwrights such as David Lindsay-Abaire, Adam Rapp, Sarah Ruhl, Adam Bock and Miki Johnson among others. The company is also recognized for its acting ensemble; in the Los Angeles Times, theater critic Charles McNulty wrote, “Echo Theater Company, which has cultivated a community of top flight actors, would be my go-to place in Los Angeles for symbiotic ensemble acting.” KCRW’s Anthony Byrnes stated, “It’s time to start paying attention to the Echo Theater Company… The company has made bold choices and backed them up.” Last season’s production of Dry Land by Ruby Rae Spiegel received the Ovation Award for Best Production and was recently remounted at Culver City’s Kirk Douglas Theatre by Center Theatre Group as part of “Block Party.” The Echo Theater Company is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary.

 

The Cake runs July 1 through Aug. 6, with performances on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.Sundays at 4 p.m.; andMondays at 8 p.m. Three preview performances are set for Wed., June 28; Thurs., June 29; and Fri., June 30, all at 8 p.m. Tickets are $34 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and $20 on Mondays; preview performances are pay-what-you-can. A “community night” on Sunday, July 9 at 4 p.m. is sponsored by McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams andCheerwine; tickets for that performance are $10, and include a post-show “ice cream social” with the cast. Atwater Village Theatre is located at 3269 Casitas Ave in Los AngelesCA 90039. On-site parking is free. For reservations and information, call (310) 307-3753 or go to www.EchoTheaterCompany.com.

 

 

Details for Calendar Listings

WHAT:
World premiere 
of The Cake  Debra Jo Rupp (That ’70s Show) stars as Della, a baker who makes cakes, not judgment calls — those she leaves to her husband. But when the girl she helped raise comes back home to North Carolina to get married, and the fiancé is actually another fiancée, Della’s life gets turned upside down. She can’t really make a cake for such a wedding, can she? For the first time in her life, Della has to think for hesrself. A world premiere play from Bekah Brunstetter (NBC’s This Is Us).

WHO: 
• Written by Bekah Brunstetter
• Directed by Jennifer Chambers
• Starring Joe HartMorrison Keddie, Shannon LucioCarolyn Ratteray and Debra Jo Rupp
• Presented by The Echo Theater Company

WHEN: 
Previews: June 28, June 29, June 30
Performances: July 1 – Aug. 6

• Wednesday at 8 p.m.: June 28 ONLY (preview)
• Thursday at 8 p.m.: June 29 ONLY (preview)
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: June 30 (preview); July 7, 14, 21, 28; Aug. 4
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: July 1 (opening night), 8, 15, 22, 29; Aug. 5
• Sundays at 4 p.m.: July 2, 9*, 16, 23, 30; Aug. 6
• Mondays at 8 p.m.: July 3, 10, 17, 24, 31
*A “community night” on Sunday, July 9 at 4 p.m. is sponsored by McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams and Cheerwine; tickets are $10 and include a post-performance “Ice Cream Social” with the cast.

WHERE:
Echo Theater Company
Atwater Village Theatre
3269 Casitas Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90039

HOW:
• Call 310-307-3753 or go to  www.EchoTheaterCompany.com
• Visit us on facebook: www.facebook.com/echotheater
• Follow us on twitter: @echotheater
• Hashtag: #20

TICKET PRICES:
Fridays/Saturdays/Sundays: $34 (except Sunday, July 9)
Community Night on Sunday, July 9 at 4 p.m.: $10 (sponsored by McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams and Cheerwine; includes post-performance “ice cream social with the cast)
Mondays: $20
Previews: Pay-What-You-Can

PARKING:
FREE in the Atwater Xing lot one block south of the theater

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