Coffee with the Playhouse

Video Archive

Episode 18

Listen in as Christopher talks to three remarkable artists featured in the upcoming WOW Festival, April 21-24 at ARTS DISTRICT Liberty Station: David Danzon, Artistic Director of CORPUS and co-creator/performer in La Bulle; Patrice Amon, Artistic Director of TuYo Theatre and writer of On Her Shoulders We Stand; and Dominique Salerno, creator/performer of The Box Show.

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Past Episodes

Episode 17

Listen in as our very own Christopher Ashley talks with: to the yellow house playwright Kimber Lee, whose plays include untitled f*ck m*ss s**gon play, tokyo fish story, brownsville song (b-side for tray) and different words for the same thing; director Neel Keller, who is returning to the Playhouse, where he previously served as Associate Artistic Director and directed The School for Wives, Light Up the Sky, Loot, Diva and The Cosmonaut’s Last Message to the Woman He Once Loved in the Former Soviet Union; and the show’s scenic charge artist Melissa Nalbach, a Playhouse production team member who’ll be sharing some of the inside scoop on bringing to the yellow house to life on stage!


Episode 16

Listen in as Christopher talks to Charlayne Woodard, playwright and co-star of The Garden, the world-premiere play that opens our 2021/2022 Season. Charlayne is a two-time Obie Award winner and a Tony Award nominee. Her Broadway credits include Ain’t Misbehavin’ (original cast) and Hair (revival), and she has appeared in numerous Off-Broadway productions, such as “Daddy”, Hamlet, WAR and The Substance of Fire. Her La Jolla Playhouse credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Night Watcher (actor and playwright), Pretty Fire (actor and playwright), The Good Person of Setzuan and Shout Up a Morning, among others. She plays Rhonda in this season of HBO’s In Treatment and has had recurring roles on Pose, Prodigal Son and Sneaky Pete in recent years. She has also starred in the movies Glass, Sunshine State, Unbreakable and The Crucible, to name a few.


Episode 15

Listen in as Christopher talks to four theatre artists of the upcoming eighth annual DNA New Work Series, the Playhouse’s acclaimed new play development initiative. The program allows playwrights and directors the opportunity to develop a script by providing rehearsal time, space and resources – all culminating in readings which engage audiences in the creative process. This year’s DNA event took place July 22-25 and July 29-August 1, onsite at La Jolla Playhouse. Hear from the following guests about what it’s like to have a play presented to an audience (and get feedback) for the first time, the process of developing a new work of theatre, what inspires their writing and how they help the cast interpret a script and prepare for a first reading:

Francisca Da Silveira, playwright of not-for-profit
Noah Diaz, playwright of All the Men Who’ve Frightened Me
Andrew Rosendorf, playwright of One-Shot
Alice Tuan, dramaturg for SUMO


Episode 14

Our very own Christopher Ashley talks about this August’s Pop-up WOW at Liberty Station with Blindspot Collective (Playhouse’s 2020/21 and 2021/22 Resident Theatre Company; 2019 WOW Festival’s Hall Pass); UC San Diego M.F.A. graduate Jesca Prudencio (2019 WOW Festival’s PDA); and the San Diego Black Artist Collective.


Episode 13

Listen in as Christopher talks to two incredible theatre artists about the powerful and immediate visual statements costumes can make to an audience. We’re so excited to welcome: Paul Tazewell, award-winning costume designer with a career that has spanned over 30 impressive years on Broadway and in regional theatre, film, television, dance and opera. Paul, who won the 2016 Tony for his work on Hamilton and an Emmy in the same year for his work on NBC’s The Wiz Live!, has created the costumes for many beloved Playhouse productions including Escape to Margaritaville, SUMMER: The Donna Summer Musical, Side Show and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots; and Jennifer Ables, who has been the Playhouse’s Costume Shop Supervisor since 2018. Prior to that she served for 10 years as Costume Director at Dallas Theatre Center. With an M.F.A. in costume design from Florida State University, Jennifer has also worked as a freelance designer and hair/wig/makeup artist for several years. Assisted by the incredible costume shop staff, she helped to carry out Paul’s vision for the inspired pieces seen in the Playhouse musical Fly.


Episode 12

Listen in as Christopher talks about bringing life to the stories on stage with extraordinary lighting designers of past Playhouse productions: Lap Chi Chu, whose multiple award-winning design career spanning a plethora of shows at acclaimed regional theatres includes the Playhouse’s The Luckiest, The Year to Come, Queens, At the Old Place, Blueprints to Freedom, The Orphan of Zhao and Ruined; Natasha Katz, whose vision has been behind some of the most celebrated Broadway musicals, has worked on Diana (coming to Netflix this October before officially opening onstage in NYC in December); and Amanda Zieve, a Hamilton vet who was an associate lighting designer for Escape to Margaritaville, Hollywood, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Chasing the Song prior to taking the helm for Put Your House in Order.


Episode 11

Listen in as Christopher Ashley catches up with two of Fly‘s leads: Storm Lever, who was our “Wendy,” dazzled as “Duckling Donna” in the Playhouse-born Broadway musical SUMMER: The Donna Summer Musical and was a cast member of another Playhouse show, Freaky Friday; and Eric Anderson, who starred as “Hook” and is a stage and screen actor who has appeared in Broadway’s Pretty Woman, Waitress and Kinky Boots as well as TV/film including The Greatest Showman and The Good Wife. We’ll also be talking with Anjanette Maraya-Ramey, founder and CEO of Chula Vista-based Maraya Performing Arts and choreographer behind the upcoming Digital WOW dance film with spoken word, Towards Belonging.


Episode 10

Christopher Ashley talks with Ian Eisendrath, who served as Music Supervisor, Conductor and Arranger for La Jolla Playhouse’s world-premiere productions of Diana (coming to Netflix this year!) and Tony-winning Broadway hit Come From Away; and Ahmed Dents, Development and Artistic Associate at San Diego Repertory Theatre who, along with the Playhouse’s Jacole Kitchen, is co-host of We Are Listening, a bi-weekly online salon presented in partnership with San Diego Rep and The Old Globe about the experiences of Black theatre artists and workers.


Episode 9

For this week’s coffee date, Christopher will be talking with Idris Goodwin and Jacole Kitchen, the playwright and director, respectively, of Performance Outreach Program (POP) Tour 2021, Pick Me Last, highlighting the importance of inclusivity in schools. As a signature Playhouse Education program, this annual world-premiere production is commissioned especially for young audiences across San Diego County. Due to Covid-19, we are looking forward to sharing it with thousands of students virtually this year. Idris, in addition to writing such acclaimed plays as And in This Corner: Cassius Clay and Hype Man (which won the Blue Ink Playwriting and Elliot Norton Awards), is a multidisciplinary arts leader and creative community builder, serving as director of The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College and advisory board member of Theatre for Young Audiences USA and Children’s Theatre Foundation Association. Jacole is the Playhouse’s Artistic Programs Manager and Local Casting Director; the director of POP Tour 2019, Light Years Away; as well as the co-host of We Are Listening, an online salon presented in partnership with San Diego Repertory Theatre and The Old Globe that focuses on the experiences of Black theatre artists. Interim Director of Education & Outreach Bridget Cavaiola, who manages POP Tour programming, will also be joining the conversation.


Episode 8

This week features a very special one-on-one conversation with solo star of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol: acclaimed actor and UC San Diego grad Jefferson Mays, in a performance that was called “a tour de force” and named a “Critic’s Pick” by The New York Times. Jefferson, the recipient of multiple awards including the Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Obie, starred (again in an extraordinary solo role) in the 2001 Playhouse Page To Stage production, I Am My Own Wife, which went on to a Tony-winning run on Broadway. Other Broadway credits include Oslo and A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, as well as many TV and film appearances.


Episode 7

For this week’s coffee date, Christopher will be catching up with Pulitzer Prize winner and Tony Award nominee Ayad Akhtar, acclaimed screenwriter, novelist and playwright of two Playhouse world premieres: 2014’s The Who & The What, which went on to Lincoln Center Theater and was subsequently produced around the world, and 2016’s Junk: The Golden Age of Debt, which enjoyed a second life on Broadway before receiving a Tony nomination for Best Play. Named American Theatre magazine’s most produced playwright in 2016, Ayad is the author of the recently published Homeland Elegies: A Novel, in which an American son and his immigrant father search for reunion and belonging in post-Trump America. The novel has been included in the Top 10 Best Books of 2020 by The New York Times, The Washington Post and Time Magazine.


Episode 6

For this week’s coffee date, Christopher will be joined by Tyne Rafaeli, the director of last season’s The Coast Starlight and next season’s world-premiere play by Lauren Yee, Mother Russia. The morning will also include a chat with Alyce Smith-Cooper, a celebrated San Diego poet/storyteller/actress/community activist who was recently named Poet Laureate of the San Diego Veterans Museum, and Shammy Dee, an accomplished musical artist and DJ whom you may recognize from our production of Tiger Style! as well as our Opening Night celebrations and other Playhouse special events. Alyce and Shammy are collaborators of Digital WOW’s forthcoming Spittin’ Truth To Power While Light Leaping For the People, an inter-generational piece using images, music and storytelling styles reminiscent of the griot. (Griots are West African storytellers, musicians, praise singers, poets and oral historians of their communities.)


Episode 5

For this week’s coffee date, Christopher will be joined by three-time Tony Award-nominated scenic designer Robert Brill. A UC San Diego grad, professor at UCSD’s School of Theatre and Dance and our first resident artist, Robert was the creative force behind the stage design of such celebrated Playhouse and Broadway hits as Summer: The Donna Summer Musical and Jesus Christ Superstar, as well as Playhouse favorites Sideways, His Girl Friday, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and The Wiz. The morning will also include a chat with Bridget Rountree and Iain Gunn, the artists behind the award-winning San Diego-based Animal Cracker Conspiracy, a hybrid experimental puppet company that mixes circus arts, puppetry and dance with contemporary art making and thinking. The co-creators of Digital WOW’s imaginative new video series The Society of Wonder, Bridget and Iain will also be teaching the fine art of puppet-making in this season’s Spotlight On @ Home, a collection of live, digital theatre education courses for adults.


Episode 4

This week features an exclusive conversation with Christopher Ashley and the creative team behind the upcoming world-premiere musical, Bhangin’ It.

Chris will talk about the inspiration for this vibrant, new production (winner of the 2019 Richard Rodgers Award), its joyous score, artistic collaboration, cultural representation, the energetic and traditional Punjabi folk dance known as bhangra, and more with Amy Anders Corcoran, Mike Lew, Rehana Lew Mirza, Deep Singh, Rujuta Vaidya and Sam Willmott.


Episode 3

For this week’s coffee date, Christopher Ashley will be joined by two very special guests: Doug Wright, Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of the acclaimed Playhouse Page To Stage production, I Am My Own Wife, as well as the Playhouse-launched Broadway musical Hands on a Hardbody; and Melanie Chen Cole, sound designer of At the Old Place, POP Tours #SuperShinySara and Light Years Away, and Digital WOW’s auditory series, Walks of Life.


Episode 2

For this week’s coffee date, Christopher Ashley will be joined by a very special guest: Playhouse Director Emeritus Des McAnuff, who has been at the helm of some of our most memorable productions, including The Who’s Tommy, Jersey Boys, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Sideways and SUMMER: The Donna Summer Musical. They’ll discuss all things Playhouse – what drew them to work here, first-day-on-the-job memories, the LJP programs and shows they’re most proud of and much more!


Episode 1

For this series kick-off, The Rich Family Artistic Director Christopher Ashley and Playhouse Director of New Play Development Gabe Greene will welcome two fantastic Playhouse artists. Internationally-acclaimed scenic and costume designer David Reynoso, who is also our 2020/2021 resident artist, will share insights on his upcoming digital WOW project, Portaleza. We’ll also chat and catch up with special guest Jeanna de Waal, the leading lady who portrayed the iconic Princess of Wales in the hit musical Diana, at both the Playhouse and on Broadway.


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