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You Never Can Tell: REALLY

LeeAnn Dowd

New blog post about You Never Can Tell by Cal Shakes' resident dramaturg Philippa Kelly!

You never can tell…. what a play is really like until you dig deep into the process of breathing life into it for the stage. George Bernard Shaw’s play was first marketed as a light-hearted farce in the style of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest, which had debuted in 1895, the year before Shaw wrote his play. “I cannot say that I cared for the Importance of Being Earnest,” Shaw said...”
— Philippa Kelly
 Danny Scheie (Walter) in rehearsal for  You Never Can Tell .

Danny Scheie (Walter) in rehearsal for You Never Can Tell.

Read more about the story behind You Never Can Tell and behind Lisa Peterson's production here. You might just see a familiar assistant director's name mentioned...


LeeAnn Dowd

Matthew Baldiga—Valentine, a dentist
Elizabeth Carter—Mrs. Clandon, a famous Feminist
Khalia Davis—Dolly Clandon
Anthony Fusco—Finch McComas
Lance Gardner—Philip Clandon
Danny Scheie—Walter, head waiter at the Marine Hotel
Michael Torres—Fergus Crampton
Sabina Zuniga Varela—Gloria Clandon
Liam Vincent—Parlor Maid, Busboy, and Justice Bohun

Director—Lisa Peterson
Scenic Designer—Erik Flatmo
Costume Designer—Melissa Torchia
Lighting Designer—York Kennedy
Sound Designer/Music Director—Paul James Prendergast
Stage Manager—Laxmi Kumaran
Assistant Director—LeeAnn Dowd
Production Assistant—Celeste Jacobson-Ingram

Click here to get more information about getting tickets.

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING Cast & Creative Team Announced

LeeAnn Dowd

PATRICK ALPARONE–John, Balthasar, Watchman
ANTHONY FUSCO–Dogberry, Leonato
LANCE GARDNER–Ursula, Don Pedro
RAMI MARGRON–Margaret, Borachio, Friar

Adaptation–KENNETH LIN
Scenic Designer–ERIK FLATMO
Costume Designer–KARINA CHAVARIN
Lighting Designer–PAUL WHITAKER
Sound Designer/Composer – OLIVE MITRA
Assistant Stage Manager –CHRIS WATERS
Assistant Director—LEEANN DOWD
Production Assistant—ANNETTE KOEHN

Click here to get more information about getting tickets.


LeeAnn Dowd

I recently attended the Artist as Citizen Conference in New York City. It was hosted by a non-profit organization called Artists Striving to End Poverty, which uses the arts to transform the lives of youth around the world. For five days, I lived in Juilliard dorms, took classes from world-renown faculty, saw A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (featuring ASTEP member and Tony winner Alex Sharp) and laughed/sobbed with 58 other young artists from around the world. If you are interested in learning more about the conference or in attending next year, check out their website or shoot me a message.

Whenever I use the phrase "life-changing" to describe an experience, there is a part of me that groans and rolls its metaphorical eyes. Technically, every experience I've ever had was life-changing,  because my life changed from one that previously did not include that experience, to one that did. My decision not to brush my hair this morning and then make some iced tea was "life-changing," if you're being technical about it.

And yet.

There is another part of me, one that I've shamed with so much eye-rolling this post-grad year that I thought it had gone away completely. It's the part of me that's like Pollyanna, honestly. It's not technical- it's hopeful and happy, and yes, naive. I rediscovered it during the Artist as Citizen Conference.  

This conference reengaged me in the work of making good- making good art, making good friendships, making good adventures, making good communities. It was a week in which I forgave myself for not being everything, but dared to believe that I could do anything. In short, it's changed my life. I went to this thing expecting to network and maybe see a show- what I experienced, and what I've experienced since, has gone much further and much deeper. Sunshine. Rainbows. The whole nine yards.

As the conference neared its end, there was sense of apprehension. The space we had been in for the last week felt very precious and very delicate. I was worried that the bitterness and despair I'd felt before would come rushing in to fill that space. I also had a nagging sense of deja vu in the midst of this apprehension, a sense that there was an analogy I couldn't remember the words for. As one of the other Fellows headed for the airport with a crown of braids and carpet bag, I realized my deja vu was actually a scene from "The Sound of Music."

Go with me on this.

When her feelings for Captain Von Trapp become too confusing, Maria returns to the abbey. Mother Superior sings "Climb Every Mountain." My mother cries (everytime). The wisest nun of them all says to Maria, "These walls were not meant to shut out problems. You have to face them." 

To me, this was the essence of leaving the Juilliard building that day. I didn't want to go back to my regular life. The world has Nazis who count on me to stay quiet and Captains who force me to confront hard truths about myself. But if I just hid in the abbey and became a nun, who would make chic curtain play-clothes and teach the kids how to sing? Art- in all its forms- is necessary, people. Thank you, ASTEP, for reminding me how much I believe that.

Flibbertigibbet out,


For those who come to Costa Mesa...

LeeAnn Dowd

I recently returned from a trip down to my former stomping grounds aka Orange County.



South Coast Repertory, a Tony Award-winning regional theater in Costa Mesa, annually hosts the Pacific Playwrights Festival. Each year, this event presents four staged readings of new plays by established playwrights. A majority of these plays feature prominently into season announcements all over the country.

PPF not only offers a sneak-peek at "plays to know," but also offers the opportunity to see Oscar winner Marisa Tomei wait in line for vegetarian lasagna and free wine.

 #PPF15 Readings


by Qui Nguyen

You Can See It: On the Argyros Stage at SCR; October 4-25, 2015 (directed by May Adrales)

"In a Vietnamese refugee camp in the middle of Arkansas, a man (who plans to catch a plane to Guam and hop a boat back home to Vietnam) meets a woman (who knows there’s no home to go back to) and an unlikely romance begins. Using his hip-hop, comic-book style that Variety calls “infectious fun”—and skipping back and forth from the fall of Saigon to the here and now—Qui Nguyen gets up close and personal to tell the story that led to ... Qui Nguyen."

You Can Also See It: At the Oregon Shakespeare Festival; March 30–Oct. 29, 2016 (directed by May Adrales)


by Bekah Brunstetter

You Can See It: On the Argyros Stage at SCR; March 6-27, 2016 (directed by SCR Artistic Director Marc Masterson)

"Is there a heaven? Joe says no; it’s all a bunch of hokum. His wife, Roberta, has always claimed to agree. But lately she’s beginning to wonder, especially when they find themselves in church a lot, having reached the age when funerals are more frequent than weddings. Their granddaughter, Ellie, doesn’t have time in her own busy life to ponder the after-life. But when mortality confronts them, her grandmother’s claim to have gone to heaven and back doesn’t sound so crazy after all. With thoughtful storytelling and quiet wit, Brunstetter looks at beginnings, endings—and an enigmatic angel."

You Can Also See: Another of Bekah's plays, The Oregon Trail, at Impact Theatre in Berkeley (directed by Ariel Craft) Running Apr 30–Jun 7 [Tickets here]


No production of this play has yet been announced.

"Eli tries to rewrite the life he left behind—but the truth could ruin everything."


You Can Also See: the World Premiere of The Band's Visit at Atlantic Theatre Company; May-June 2016 (directed by 21-time Tony Award® winner Hal Prince, book by Itamar Moses, music & lyrics by David Yazbek) [More info here]

ORANGE: an illustrated play by Aditi Brennan Kapil

No production of the play has yet been announced.

"The fantastic Orange County adventures of an exceptional girl named Leela—as illustrated by herself."

(All play synopses taken from

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Peace out theatre nerds,


A delicious #TBAcon15

LeeAnn Dowd

On Monday, April 13th, I attended the Theatre Bay Area Annual Conference (lovingly hashtagged as #tbacon15) in Berkeley, CA.

For those not familiar with Theatre Bay Area, it is "a non-profit organization, founded in 1976, whose mission is to unite, strengthen, and promote the theatre community in the San Francisco Bay Area, working on behalf of their conviction that the performing arts are an essential public good, critical to a healthy and truly democratic society, and invaluable as a source of personal enrichment and growth" (well said, Wikipedia). 

The other thing to know about TBA: this past winter, they had a fabulous, red-headed, Arts Administration intern, whose website you are (coincidentally) on right now. 

 Staying professional at the 2014 TBA Holiday Open House

Staying professional at the 2014 TBA Holiday Open House

Among the companies represented at the conference were Crowded Fire, Berkeley Rep, ACT, Shotgun Players, and Cutting Ball- theaters that embody the creative energy of of the Bay Area theatre community.  

The highlight of the day, for me, was the acceptance/closing speech delivered by Glickman Award recipient Marcus Gardley. If you aren't familiar with Gardley and his work, google him now. I had a premonition that this speech would be worth recording, so I was able to (grainly) capture it on camera:

This speech has a lot of elements that make me want to watch it over and over- but the kernel in here that felt revelatory in powerful way for me is what he says about our "gift" as artists:

We get in our way as makers. We don’t believe in our abilities enough. I really believe that if you build it, they will come. Because your gift isn’t just for you- that’s why it’s a gift. You are actually the giver. The gift is for us.
— Marcus Gardley (~15:38)

As a person who is writing a lot of cover letters, doing a lot of self-pitching in interviews, and forever convincing doubtful strangers that a theatre degree was a smart choice, I unknowingly developed a certain perspective: that the abilities I have- what I'm selling, essentially- are a) for me and, b) not enough. I think this is what's behind that thing I do when people ask me if I'm an actor and I say, "I'm trying to be!"

The revelation in this speech (for me) is that any work I do towards progressing in this industry should have very little to do with my own validation, and much more to do with my relationship to "the essential public good." Rather than feeling shame at owning or shirking from my "gift," I need to get past the idea that any of this is for me at all. Of course, participating in theatre brings me joy- that tells me I'm in the right place. Of course I will take success or failure personally-what actor doesn't? It's the rephrasing of the "gift" concept that made the difference for me- it's one of those postgrad lightbulbs that reminds me that school may end, but education does not. 

#lifelonglearner out,


The One with the First Blog Post

LeeAnn Dowd

First of all, thanks for coming to check out my website. Second of all, the longer I live that post-grad, day job, splurging-on-a-full-tank-of-gas life, the harder it is to watch "Friends"- seriously though, how are they paying their rent? Nevertheless, I stay strong and binge watch on.


This site is going to be my new project, and will be my platform for announcing upcoming projects. 

First up: I am excited to be returning to serve as a Production Assistant once again at South Coast Repertory's Pacific Playwright's Festival. The Festival will be April 24-26 in Costa Mesa- click the link for more information. I will be assisting with the staged reading of Itamar Moses' new play, The Whistleblower, directed by Casey Stangl. If things go according to plan, PPF will be the fodder for practicing my blogger discipline.

Keep me strong, internet. 


- LD