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Anton Chekhov's
directed by Milton Katselas
translated by Jean-Claude Van Itallie

Back Row, L-R:
Robin Gammel, Jeffrey Tambor, Lorna Raver, Lawrence Pressman, Joyce Van Patten, Alastair Duncan,
Cotter Smith, Robert Foxworth, Julia Campbell, Kurt Deutsch, Sharon Lawrence, Jeannie Hackett,
Richard Kind, Gregory Cooke, Stephen Elliott

Middle Row, L-R: Paul Tyler, Astranada Giordano, Scott Mosenson, Charles Hallahan,
Penny Fuller, Barbara Babcock, George DiCenzo, Olivia Mandell, John McKay

Front Row, L-R: Milton Katselas & Joseph Stern

Click on the picture to see a larger version

Barbara Babcock and Penny Fuller as "Arkadina"
Julia Campbell and Anna Gunn as "Nina"
Gregory Cooke and Richard Kind as "Medevenko"
Kurt Deutsch and Alastair Duncan as "Konstantin"
George DiCenzo and Charles Hallahan as "Shamraev"
Stephen Elliott and Robin Gammell as "Sorin"
Robert Foxworth and Cotter Smith as "Trigorin"
Jeanie Hackett and Sharon Lawrence as "Masha"
Lawrence Pressman and Jeffrey Tambor as "Dr. Dorn"
Lorna Raver and Joyce Van Patten as "Pauline"
David Alexander and John McKay as "Cook"
Astranada Giordano and Olivia Mandel as "Maid"
Scott Mosenson and Paul Tyler as "Yakov"

More Photos


L.A. Weekly - Theater Pick of the Week
by Steven Leigh Morris

You won't find a rendition of Chekhov's The Seagull more passionate, funny or pristinely textured with pain and whimsy as this one, in Jean-Claude Van Itallie's flowing translation and under Milton Katselas' charming direction. Katselas puts up the minimum furniture, ornate if spare symbols of the fading Russian aristocracy at the dawn of this century. Michael Devine's set exposes the theater's back brick wall, coating it and the stage in a cream-colored base that dissolves into splashes of silver, gray and soot Mack, depending on how Doc Ballard's lights hit K. The colors match the production's tone, which Is airy, giving way to strains of anguish. The rest Is up to the actors and the details they come up with. It's in the way aspiring actress Nina's (Julia Campbell) fingers twirl around each other as she tries to figure out what to do with her life; or the way Doctor Dom (Jeffrey Tambor) literally dances around what he doesn't want to hear from others; or the way estate manager Shamraev (Charles Hallahan) charges with rage at his spineless soo-iivlaw (Richard Kind) when the young man needs a horse. Penny Fuller is downright fearsome as the miserly, egotistical actress, Irina Arkadina, "relaxing" in the provinces with the famous If second-rate novelist Trigorin (a brisk yet stoic Robert Foxworth), whose intrusion enrages her neurotic playwright son, Konstantin (Kurt Deutsch, who rolls on the floor in anguish). The rest is all unrequited loves, jealousies, wasted lives, songs and shrieks of laughter.

BackStage West - Critic's Pick, November 3, 1994
Rob Stevens

The Matrix Theatre Company has chosen this venerable Chekhov play as its latest experiment in double-casting. The result, under Milton Katselas' keen, incisive direction, is the best Chekhov I have ever witnessed.

These characters don't mope about, wallowing in their melancholy. They are vibrantly alive. Their emotions surge just below the surface, and the slightest touch sends them gloriously over the top. Their pain is so palpable, it is difficult to watch without wincing in sympathy. Case in point: Arkadina's (Penny Fuller) desperate attempt to keep her lover Trigorin (Robert Foxworth) from leaving her. She pinions him to the floor and shamelessly appeals to his writer's vanity.

Other stellar performances in an outstanding cast include Kurt Deutsch and Julia Campbell as the doomed young lovers. Jeanie Hackett brings a fresh sense of humor to Masha and Richard Kind is her lapdog admirer. Stephen Elliott adds much humor as Sorin. Jeffrey Tambor as the effete Dr. Dorn and Charles Hallahan as Shamraev, a big bear of a man, also contribute to the overall perfection of this piece.

The Seagull should fly for some time to come and, although I didn't see them, I'm sure the second set of performers is just as amazing.

Los Angeles Daily News

'Seagull' takes flight with distinguished cast

by Daryl H. Miller

A lovesick man trails the object of his affection, peppering her with questions.

"Why do you always wear black?" he asks, referring to her funereal attire.

"I am in mourning for my life," she replies sullenly.

This exchange from "The Seagull" voices the despair so prevalent in Anton Chekhov's turn-of-the-century Russian plays, in which people brood over dashed dreams and misplaced affections. At the same time, it conveys the laugh-out-loud absurdity of everyday human behavior.

This duality is conveyed gloriously in a production of "The Seagull" by the Matrix Theatre Company, the Melrose Avenue group that has attracted a cadre of well-known television actors who shares roles, swapping characters and performances in ever-changing patterns.

The cast includes Barbara Babcock ("Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman"), Robert Fox-worth ("Falcon Crest"), Charles Hallahan ("Grace Under Fire"), Sharon Lawrence ("NYPD Blue"), Cotter Smith ("Equal Justice") and Jeffrey Tambor ("The Larry Sanders Show").

Set in 1890s Russia, "The Seagull" takes place on a country estate where glamour and romance hold sway whenever the well-known actress Arkadina visits her brother, Sorin. Things aren't as glamorous as everyone would like them to be since few of the characters are living up to their dreams.

Arkadina fancies herself a great lady of the stage, although she's clearly a second-rate talent. Her 25-year-old son, Konstantin, is a writer who sets out to dazzle the world with

his bold, new ideas only to realize he's a no-talent hack. And Konstantin's girlfriend, Nina, faces an equally rude awakening as she pursues an acting career.

To complicate matters, most even-one falls in love with someone who doesn't love them in return. Konstantin is devoted to Nina, who grows increasingly distant. Arkadina throws herself at Trigorin, the famous author she has invited to the estate, while he puts the moves on lovely, young Nina. Meanwhile, the estate manager's daughter, Masha (the woman in black), pines for Konstantin, while a bumbling schoolteacher, Medvedenko, follows her like a devoted puppy hoping she'll eventually notice he's there.

The seagull of the title which Konstantin shoots on a whim becomes symbolic of the characters whose dreams are blasted out of the sky.

At a recent performance, Babcock played Arkadina; Kurt Deutsch portrayed Konstantin; Julia Campbell played Nina; Smith played Trigorin: Tambor portrayed an affable but self-important local doctor; and Hallan-han played the blustering estate manager.

Directed by Milton Katselas, the performance took viewers on a roller-coaster ride from mirthful giddiness to darkest tragedy. It was dominated not by the big-name stars, but by a pair of up-and-comers Deutsch and Campbell. Deutsch was particularly effective in the play's final moments, as Konstantin calmly stared off into the distance while his dreams shattered noisily around him. He had the accepting, sacrificial look of Christ in a religious painting.

The story felt remarkably contemporary, thanks in part to a witty translation by Brussels-born playwright Jean-Claude Van Itallie.

Katselas and his designers underscored the play's continuing relevance by putting it in a nameless and frankly theatrical context. The stage was bare until shortly before the performance, when stage hands matter-of-factly arranged birch trees and rustic outdoor furniture on the stage. And the costumes were a mishmash of periods and styles, from the turn of the century to the present.

Thus, viewers could let their minds run free. As the youthful Konstantin and Nina faced a future of limited opportunities and thwarted hopes, for instance, it was easy to equate their plight with that of today's Generation Xers.

And, of course, one couldn't help but realize that unrequited love and dashed dreams are as common today as ever.

Read Double Casting Coups, a TheaterWeek article about the
double-casting of "The Seagull," "The Tavern" and "Endgame"

Set Designer - Michael Devine
Lighting Designer - Doc Ballard
Costume Designer - Todd Roehrman
Composer - J.A.C. Redford
Sound Designer - Jon Gottlieb
Production Stage Manager - Jill Ragaway
Casting Director - Marilyn Mandel
Associate Producer - Matthew Lieberman

- WINNER, 1994 L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award:
Best Production
Direction (Milton Katselas)

Cotter Smith & Barbara Babcock

L-R: Julia Campbell, Kurt Deutsch, Alaistair Duncan, Anna Gunn

L-R: Jeannie Hackett, Charles Hallahan, Robert Foxworth, Penny Fuller,
Richard Kind, Jeffrey Tambor, Lorna Raver & Stephen Elliott

L-R: Stephen Elliott, Jeffrey Tambor, Joyce Van Patten,
Kurt Deutsch & Jeffrey Cooke

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