Behind the Scenes

The Servant of Two Masters — First Look

We invite you to take a look at what is happening behind the scenes during rehearsals for our next show.

Katelyn Spurgin, Stage Manager – “This rehearsal process has been a learning process for everyone. Commedia is rarely done, so the cast had to learn it in very little time. It is very physical, so the actors warm up everyday vocally and physically. We cover acrobatics and fights, and each person must stay in character the entire time. They all have specific walks and vocal intonations, and have to be able to improv on a dime. Add that to what a regular rehearsal would look like with blocking and memorizing, and you see that the actors (and crew!) have a lot of things to remember at one time. Each rehearsal is different because of the style, and the actors come up with new things every day. An extra week was added to the rehearsal block of time for this very purpose. They have all come very far from breaking away from the realism that is taught in both Acting 1 and 2.”

behind the scenes-servant 2 masters

behind the scenes - servant 2 masters

Man of the Year in Theatre

Daily Pilot

On Theater: Eggington, Milgrim set pace in 2011

By Tom Titus
8:38 PM PST, December 29, 2011

Paul EggingtonThe late playwright Horton Foote influenced the choices of both individual artists who stood above the crowd in local theater in 2011.

Foote wrote the play “A Trip to Bountiful,” the movie version of which won its star, Geraldine Page, an Oscar in 1985. He also penned the screenplay for Harper Lee’s novel “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which guided Gregory Peck to Hollywood gold in 1962.

Today, two performers who recently assumed these familiar roles on local stages, stand to be applauded once again. They are Paul Eggington and Lynn Milgrim, the Daily Pilot’s Man and Woman of the Year in Theater for 2011.

Eggington has an extensive 30-year background as an actor in professional theater. For the past eight years, his chief duties have been at Vanguard University as its resident scenic designer, technical director and sound designer. He teaches classes in these fields as well.

Five years ago, he ventured back onstage once more to take on one of Shakespeare’s most difficult roles — that of the scheming Iago in “Othello.”

This column noted that Eggington “emphasizes a lightness of being, an outward jollity which masks a vicious inner resentment.”

And earlier this year, Eggington assumed the character of Atticus Finch in “Mockingbird” where he “turns in an excellent interpretation…physically imposing and emotionally unflappable.”

The show was named Vanguard’s top production of the year in this column last week.

Eggington’s early training includes performances off-Broadway and throughout the West. He was a member of the Colony troupe in Los Angeles in the early 1980s and later became production manager of the Lamb’s Players Theater in San Diego. His wife, Vanda, also a teacher and director at Vanguard, was chosen as Woman of the Year in 2009.

Milgrim, who performed as Carrie in South Coast Repertory’s production of “The Trip to Bountiful,” is no stranger to the SCR stage.

Her previous appearances include roles in “The Heiress,” “The Caucasian Chalk Circle,” “Bosoms and Neglect,” “The Countess,” “Death of a Salesman” and “Pygmalion.”

In “Bountiful,” she was praised in this column for assuming “a difficult and demanding role, and one performed brilliantly…her Carrie strives with limited mobility but unlimited zeal, vying for an independence long denied her in a bravura portrayal.”

The show also was chosen here as SCR’s best production of 2011.

Milgrim has given her regards to Broadway in productions such as “Otherwise Engaged,” “Bedroom Farce” and “Charley’s Aunt. She also performed in the international tour of Neil Simon’s “Brighton Beach Memoirs.”

She has played leading roles in regional theaters nationwide as well as off-Broadway performances in “Macbeth,” “Echoes,” “Crimes of Passion” and “Talking With.”

Both Paul Eggington and Lynn Milgrim have elevated local theater over the years, and both demonstrated performance excellence in 2011. They are well-deserved additions to the Daily Pilot’s 37-year honor roll of exceptional theater people whose talents enriched local audiences.

TOM TITUS covers the local theater scene for the Daily Pilot.

Shadowlands

Director Savell has done an outstanding job of tempering these two literary lions into creatures of genuine warmth and humanity.

Amick Byram, who has directed several productions at Vanguard, delivers a superbly layered performance as Lewis, the confirmed intellectual bachelor whose views on the Almighty are challenged by his personal developments. His gradual affection for the visiting American is finely tuned and splendidly accomplished.

Taking on the task of Joy, the self-described Jewish-Communist-Christian, is Susan K. Berkompas, producing artistic director at Vanguard. It’s a marriage made in theatrical heaven as Berkompas (with a fine New York accent) penetrates the snobbish world of English intelligentsia in a bravura performance.

Paul Eggington’s unit setting allows for swift alterations, aided by James Mulligan’s artwork, David Pecoraro’s lighting effects and Lia Hansen’s 1950s period costumes.

“Shadowlands” is one of those rare plays that touches the head and the heart with equal pressure. The production at Vanguard explores its myriad subtleties beautifully.

Vanda Eggington named OC Theatre “Woman of the Year” 2009 by Daily Pilot

Vanguard University has shared the talents of Eggington with the Lamb’s Players Theater in San Diego, where she has amassed a prodigious number of credits.

More recently, she has been especially active with the Costa Mesa college, mounting productions of “Godspell,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “Guys and Dolls,” “The Fantasticks” and her original show, “Boomers.”

The latter production, staged this summer for Vanguard’s professional stock operation, American Cost Theater Company, was a reprise of a revue she created and directed for the San Diego theater in the early 1990s.

“Vanda’s skills as a musical director and arranger are top-notch, and she is able to tell great stories through the way she visualizes music and lyrics,” said Vanguard’s producing artistic director Susan Berkompas. “‘Boomers’ should have had a great run in an off-Broadway house in New York. It just doesn’t get any better than that when it comes to a musical revue.”

Equally at home with nonmusical productions, Eggington also directed Vanguard’s renditions of “Oklahoma Rigs,” “Cleopatra’s Wake” and “You Can’t Take It With You.”

Keeney and Eggington have distinguished themselves in local theater for many years, but particularly during this season. Their selection as the Daily Pilot’s man and woman of the year in theater is long overdue.

UNANIMOUS VERDICT IN FAVOR OF “TWELVE ANGRY JURORS”

The cast of every show is also faced with responsibility, too, and a recent audience of “Twelve Angry Jurors” handed down a unanimous verdict: a much deserved standing ovation for the play smartly directed by Susan K. Berkompas… When you add up all the facts, there is no argument. Missing “Twelve Angry Jurors” at the Lyceum Theater in Costa Mesa would be a crime.

- Jill Fales, Village Voice, November 3, 2009