Is She Really A Witch? Whatever Happens, She’ll Put a Spell On You …
Trick or Treat. Director Stephen Sachs and actress Jenny O’Hara (Bakersfield Mist) reunite for the wickedly entertaining, spine-chilling West Coast premiere of Broomstick by John Biguenet. A funny, poignant and “spell” binding tale about the magic of the human heart, Broomstick opens at the Fountain Theatre on Oct. 11.
Set in Appalachia and written entirely in verse, Biguenet’s charming and mesmerizing solo play introduces us to a wacky, bizarre old woman living in an odd little shack deep in the woods… who just may happen to be a witch. Creepily funny and frightening, she takes us back to our childhoods when, in our innocence, we first wrestled with good and evil. As she unveils her life, we journey with her down a shadowy path somewhere between our material world and the realm of fantasy. But this is no Hansel and Gretel fairytale; in Broomstick, justice is meted out swiftly and harshly.
“In the course of this crazy old lady’s attempt to explain and justify herself to an unexpected visitor, certain truths come out,” says Sachs. “It’s up to the audience to decide how much is fact and how much is imagined – and to what extent all of our realties are influenced by what is in our heads and in our hearts.”
Broomstick was first produced in a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere by New Jersey Repertory Company (Long Branch, NJ), Montana Repertory Theatre (Missoula, MT) and Southern Rep (New Orleans, LA) with support from the National New Play Network’s Continued Life of New Plays Fund. “Broomstick doesn’t settle for just entertaining… the show shocks with moments of unexpected insight… Biguenet’s writing [is] so skillful that you might not even realize the play was written in verse until you’re already fifteen or twenty minutes into it,” wrote the TriCity News.
Jenny O’Hara was last seen at the Fountain in the long-running Bakersfield Mist, written and directed by Sachs. She has starred on Broadway in the female version of The Odd Couple, The Iceman Cometh, Promises, Promises, The Kid and The Fig Leaves Are Falling. Regional and L.A. credits include 4000 Miles and Our Mother’s Brief Affair (South Coast Rep), Seder, Little Egypt The Musical and The Bold Girls (Matrix), The Body Of Bourne (Taper), Lanford Wilson’s Sympathetic Magic; the LADCC-nominated Book Of Days at Theatre Tribe, and the Drama-Logue award-winning The Fox. TV credits include Big Love; King of Queens; Costello; Life’s Work; My Sister Sam; NCIS; The Closer; House; Cold Case; CSI; Nip/Tuck; Grey’s Anatomy; Ghost Whisperer; Six Feet Under; The Practice; and If These Walls Could Talk 2. Films include M. Night Shyamalan’s Devil; Heartbeat; Ridley Scott’s The Matchstick Men; Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River; Forty Shades of Blue; Two Weeks; Jonathan Toomey; How To Make Love To A Woman; Hit List; Extract; Angie; andCareer Opportunities. She is a founding member of EST (Ensemble Studio Theatre) in N.Y.C. and L.A., and is also a member of the Matrix and Theatre Tribe Companies.
Stephen Sachs is a multi-award winning director and playwright. His play, Bakersfield Mist, which he directed at the Fountain starring Jenny O’Hara and Nick Ullett, recently completed a successful run in London’s West End with Kathleen Turner and Ian McDiarmid. Other directing credits include the Los Angeles premiere of My Name Is Asher Lev; Completeness by Itamar Moses, starring Jason Ritter; Warren Leight’s Side Man starring Christine Lahti and Tony-winner Frank Wood; a three-city tour in China directing Top Secret for LA Theatre Works; the L.A. premiere of Conor McPherson’s Shining City (LA Weekly Award); the world premiere of Miss Julie: Freedom Summer at the Fountain, Canadian Stage Company (Toronto), Vancouver Playhouse and Edinburgh Fringe Festival; Euripides’ Hippolytos at the Getty Villa in Malibu, Gilgamesh at Theatre @ Boston Court, West Coast premiere of String of Pearls at the Road Theatre, Arthur Miller’s After the Fall (4 Ovation awards including Best Production and Best Director), Sweet Nothing in My Ear (Fountain Theatre, Victory Gardens Theatre in Chicago, Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis), and many others. Sachs has a special relationship with Athol Fugard, who calls the Fountain his “artistic home on the West Coast,” and has directed the premieres of six of the master playwright’s works including the U.S. premieres of The Blue Iris and The Train Driver (LA Weekly Award, Best Director); West Coast premiere of Coming Home (Best Director, LA Weekly award); U.S. premiere of Victory (NAACP Award, Best Director); world premiere of Exits and Entrancesat the Fountain (Ovation and LA Drama Critics Circle awards, Best Director) and Off-Broadway at Primary Stages in New York (NY Outer Critics Circle nomination Best New Play); and L.A. premiere of Road to Mecca. Sachs has twice won the LA Ovation Award for Best Director of a Play and has been twice nominated for the SDC Zelda Fichandler Award, recognizing an outstanding director who is making a unique and exceptional contribution to theatre in their region. He co-founded The Fountain Theatre with Deborah Lawlor in 1990.
John Biguenet made his mark as a fiction writer around 2000 when Ecco (an imprint of HarperCollins) published his story collection, “The Torturer’s Apprentice,” and a novel, “Oyster.” In the past decade, he has focused on theater, producing a string of plays including a Katrina-themed trilogy about the flooding of New Orleans —Rising Water (2007), Shotgun (2009) and Mold (2013) — that has been the subject of articles in American Theatre, The American Scholar and elsewhere. He was awarded a Marquette Fellowship for the writing of Night Train, his new play, which he developed on a Studio Attachment at the National Theatre in London and which premiered at New Jersey Rep Theatre in 2011. In 2008, Biguenet was named Theatre Person of the Year at the Big Easy Theatre Awards, the region’s major professional theater awards. He received the Louisiana Writer Award in 2012. Having served twice as president of the American Literary Translators Association and as writer-in-residence at various universities, he is currently the Robert Hunter Distinguished University Professor at Loyola University in New Orleans.
Set design for Broomstick is by Andrew Hammer; lighting design is by Jennifer Edwards; sound design is by Peter Bayne; costume design is by Shon LeBlanc; prop design and set dressing are by Misty Carlisle; dialect coach is Tyler Seiple; associate producer is James Bennett; and the production stage manager is Terri Roberts.
Broomstick opens on Saturday, Oct. 11 and continues through Nov. 30, with performances Thursdays,Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., except Friday, Oct. 31, when audience members are invited to “trick or treat” at the Fountain with an early curtain at 6 p.m. – come in costume! Preview performances take place Oct. 4 through Oct. 10. For reservations and information, call 323-663-1525 or click here.
rehearsal photos: Ed Krieger