ROUND AND ROUND THE GARDEN – Opens Tonight at A.C.T.

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Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) continues its 2009–10 season with famed British theater maker Alan Ayckbourn’s rumination on love and marriage, Round and Round the Garden, directed by Tony Award winner John Rando (Urinetown, The Musical; The Wedding Singer on Broadway; Urinetown, Rich and Famous at A.C.T.). In this third installment of Ayckbourn’s trilogy The Norman Conquests, librarian Norman channels Casanova in his fervent attempts to seduce his two sisters-in-law as well as his estranged wife during a weekend family gathering. Ayckbourn applies his wit and affection to a cast of disastrously imperfect characters who expose the tensions and desires that simmer beneath the surface. Featuring an all-local ensemble that includes A.C.T. core acting company members René Augesen, Manoel Felciano, and Anthony Fusco, Round and Round the Garden opens tonight, May 5th, at the American Conservatory Theater (415 Geary Street, San Francisco) at 8 p.m. The show runs through Sunday, May 23rd.
Click here to purchase tickets on-line: Round and Round the Garden

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DAN HIATT (as Tom) and DELIAN MacDOUGALL (as Annie)
Photo, Kevin Berne

“Alan Ayckbourn’s sense of humor is extraordinary. Yet what I really love about his craft is his ability to create such wonderful characters that are so delicious for actors to perform,” says Rando, who directed John Guare’s Rich and Famous at A.C.T. last season. “Most of his plays are truly exceptional showcases for talented comic actors. It is no secret that Ayckbourn’s work has been noted for its efficient stagecraft. His plays are built like a Swiss clock; well timed, well constructed, with intricate plots, splendid rising action, and fun surprises. They are both challenging and delightful for a director. But his characters, with their foibles, their humor, their libidos and, in a word, their humanness, are the real stuff that makes Ayckbourn’s plays so fun to perform and so intoxicating for an audience.”

Ayckbourn is best known for finding humor and true emotion in the unhappiness, dissatisfaction, and, at times, desperation of his all-too-recognizable middle-class British characters. Ayckbourn is one of the most prolific and most often-performed writers in the English-speaking world. Most recently, the Broadway production of The Norman Conquests in 2009 received seven Tony Award nominations and won for “Best Revival of a Play.” Over the course of his career, which spans more than 50 years, he has written 74 plays and won numerous Olivier, Tony, and Molière awards. His contributions to the theater were recognized with a Special Laurence Olivier Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2009.

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MANOEL FELCIANO (Norman) and RENÉ AUGESEN (Norman)
Photo, Kevin Berne

Written specifically for the company of actors at Scarborough Theatre Company, like most of Ayckbourn’s plays, Round and Round the Garden is an apt choice for the A.C.T. core acting company. Artistic Director Carey Perloff says: “Round and Round the Garden feels tailor-made for A.C.T.’s resident company and is filled with the kind of wit, sexuality, surprise, and pathos that is catnip for any actor. I can’t wait to see our astonishing company of actors get their hands on this material!”

Dan Hiatt, Delia MacDougall, and Marcia Pizzo join A.C.T. core acting company members René Augesen, Manoel Felciano, and Anthony Fusco in the cast. Set in an overrun garden in the British countryside realized by Tony-nominated scenic designer Ralph Funicello, Round and Round the Garden features the design talents of lighting designer Alexander V. Nichols, costume designer Lydia Tanji, and sound designer Jake Rodriguez.

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ANTHONY FUSCO (Reg), MARCIA PIZZO (Sarah), MANOEL FELCIANO (Norman)
Photo, Kevin Berne

Click here to purchase tickets on-line: Round and Round the Garden

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Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Seán Martinfield, who also serves as Fine Arts Critic, is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”, which is being prepared for publication. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: sean.martinfield@comcast.net.


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