The Gin Game

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Rubicon Theatre of Ventura Launches
National Tour as a Special Pre-Season Event!
JoBeth Williams and Joe Spano
starring in
THE GIN GAME
by D. L Coburn
Directed by Jenny Sullivan

The Rubicon Theatre in Ventura is thrilled to open the company’s doors once again for its first production since the pandemic began with a very special pre-season event featuring acclaimed stars of screen and television, JoBeth Williams and Joe Spano, starring in The Gin Game by D.L. Coburn and directed by Jenny Sullivan. Rubicon Theatre is the first stop on a national tour of this Pulitzer Prize winning dramedy. The Gin Game opens on Saturday, March 19 at 7p.m.; and runs through Sunday, April 3 at the Rubicon Theatre, 1006 E. Main Street in Ventura’s Downtown Cultural District.

Weller Martin, played by Emmy and L.A. Drama Critics’ Circle Award-Winner Spano, is an irascible retired businessman. He plays a lonely game of solitaire at the nursing home where he has been a longtime resident. When he finds newcomer Fonsia Dorsey (played by Academy Award nominee JoBeth Williams) in a private moment of grief on the porch, he engages her in a game of gin rummy. The two strike up a friendship as they share stories about the lives they led in the outside world. But when the prim and proper Fonsia, new to the game, wins every hand, Weller becomes increasingly competitive and frustrated, until their gin games and conversations become a battleground.

Says Rubicon Theatre Company Producing Artistic Director Karyl Lynn Burns, “This piece originally played on Broadway with Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn, and is recognized as a tour de force for the actors. JoBeth Williams and Joe Spano are both extraordinary, powerful actors and we are excited to welcome them back to the Rubicon stage before they tour the nation in these roles.”

ABOUT THE CAST AND CREATIVE TEAM

JOBETH WILLIAMS (Fonsia) has appeared in more than thirty films, including “Poltergeist I & II”, “The Big Chill,” “Kramer vs. Kramer,” “Switch,” “Stir Crazy,” “American Dreamer,” “Fever Pitch,” and “The Big Year” with Steve Martin. Her television credits include series leads in “Payne” with John Laroquette, John Grisham’s The Client,” “Your Family or Mine” with Richard Dreyfuss, and recurring roles on “Private Practice” and “Marry Me,” among many others. Television movies include “Adam,” “Baby M,” “My Name is Bill W” with James Garner, “The Day After,” and others. In New York theatre, she has starred in Annie Baker’s Body Awareness at the Atlantic, Last Dance at Manhattan Theatre Club, The Vagina Monologues, Moonchildren, Lady House Blues, A Couple of White Chicks… and Gardenia by John Guare. Her regional credits include Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (McCarter), Idiot’s Delight with Stacy Keach (Kennedy Center) and Antony and Cleopatra (The Old Globe), among others. In Los Angeles, Williams has starred in Jane Anderson’s The Quality of Life with Laurie Metcalf (Geffen), Other Desert Cities (Taper,) Halley Feiffer’s A Funny Thing Happened…(Geffen), The Night is a Child (Pasadena Playhouse), and The Fall to Earth (Odyssey). She has been nominated for three Emmys, two Golden Globes, and an Oscar for directing the short film “On Hope.”

JOE SPANO (Weller) is an Emmy Award-winning actor in his 19th season as Tobias Fornell on the series “NCIS.” Spano starred for 7 years as Lt. Henry Goldblume on “Hill Street Blues.” He also starred in the series “Mercy Point,” “Amazing Grace,” “Murder One,” and “NYPD Blue,” and in 20 films made for television. He has guest-starred on 38 episodic television shows. He has appeared in 30 feature films, including “Hart’s War,” “Primal Fear,” “Apollo 13,” “American Graffiti,” “Hollywoodland,” “Fracture” and “Frost/Nixon.” New York stage credits include the Roundabout Theatre Company production of Arthur Miller’s, The Price (Tony nominated for Best Revival). West Coast credits include multiple roles over ten seasons with Berkeley Rep, of which he is a founding member; American Buffalo, (L.A. Drama Critics’ Circle Award); School for Scandal, Speed the Plow and A Chorus of Disapproval for South Coast Rep; and Bill Cain’s Equivocation at the Geffen. At Rubicon, his home theatre, Joe has appeared in Sylvia, Waiting for Godot, R. Buckminster Fuller: The History…and MYSTERY of the Universe (Ovation Award), Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Cormac McCarthy’s The Sunset Limited, Karyl Lynn Burns’ adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and Simon Stephens’ Heisenberg (also at the Laguna Playhouse).

Pandemic work includes two new zoom plays and The Gin Game, again, all with JoBeth Williams; A Song, a new play about race in America, directed by Chris Butler for the Rubicon, a new play with (and by) Arlene Hutton, author of the beloved Nibroc Trilogy, and Insulted, a play by Belarus playwright Andrei Kureichik at the Rogue Machine as part of a world-wide reading to bring attention to the dire political and social repression in that country.

JENNY SULLIVAN (Director) recently directed ETC’s production of Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical with Linda Purl and David Engel, and Unjust with Gregory Harrison and Chris Butler for The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. Before the pandemic, favorite work includes Tom Dugan’s Jackie Unveiled (with Saffron Burrows) at the Wallis Annenberg in Beverly Hills and the Off-Broadway run of Tom Dugan’s Wiesenthal.

The latter also played The Wallis Theatre and the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre. Jenny has directed numerous Rubicon productions: The Baby Dance: Mixed, Women Beyond Borders, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, A Moon for the Misbegotten, Our Town, Steel Magnolias (Indy Award), Food Confessions,
The Mystery of Irma Vep (2012 Ovation Nomination for Direction), Wiesenthal, Tea at Five, Doubt, Trying, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Indy Award) with Joe Spano, Karyl Lynn Burns, Jason Chanos and Angela Goethals, Spit Like a Big Girl, You Can’t Take It With You, Hamlet (Indy Award) with Joseph Fuqua, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Tuesdays with Morrie, Defying Gravity, Happy Days, Art (Indy Award), Dancing at Lughnasa (Indy Award) with Susan Clark and Bonnie Franklin, The Rainmaker with Stephanie Zimbalist and John Bennett Perry, Little Foxes with Linda Purl and Old Wicked Songs with Harold Gould and Joseph Fuqua. Solo productions include the Ensemble Theatre Company (ETC) and Laguna Playhouse runs of I Am My Own Wife (Indy Award) featuring John Tufts and the Rubicon production of Darrow with James O’Neil (now touring). Other credits include: The Dresser with Len Cariou and Granville Van Dusen at The Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre; The Year of Magical Thinking with Linda Purl and Steel Magnolias at Laguna Playhouse; Baby Doll, Good People, Dublin Carol (Indy Award), The Lion in Winter (Indy Award), The Memory of Water and Tea at Five at ETC, Listen for Wings at Access Theatre; The Elephant Man for San Jose Rep; Death of a Salesman (AUM) with Stuart Margolin and Wendy Phillips; and six seasons of new plays at Williamstown. Sullivan directed Nora and Delia Ephron’s Love, Loss, and What I Wore at The Geffen Playhouse; and The Vagina Monologues for the Canon and Coronet theatres.

She directed the World Premiere of Jane Anderson’s The Baby Dance at the Pasadena Playhouse, which then moved to Williamstown Theatre Festival, Long Wharf Theatre (CT Critics’ Directing Award) and the Lucille Lortel Off-Broadway. Jenny’s film credits include “Access All Areas” and “The Next Best Thing” (in which she had the good fortune to direct her father Barry). Jenny is most proud of the World Premiere of her play J for J with Jeff Kober and the late, great John Ritter. Sullivan will co-direct Rubicon’s next production with Chris Butler, the 30th Anniversary production of Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992.

D.L. COBURN (Playwright) was born in East Baltimore, Maryland. Age the age of 30, he began writing short stories for his own gratification and discovered that he had a talent for dialogue. After seeing Thomas Troupe's one-act play Diary of a Madman (adapted from the work of the Russian writer Nikolay Gogol), he decided to try playwriting. It took him several years to put pen to paper, and after only eight pages, he put aside his first attempt (The Gin Game), for two more years. At the urging of his young son, he finally went back to the project and finished the play in four months. Amazingly, the play progressed from a small Los Angeles theater to Broadway in little more than a year's time and earned Coburn a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony nomination for Best Play. Other plays written by Coburn include Bluewater Cottage, Guy, Noble Adjustment, Return to Blue Fin, Fear of Darkness, Firebrand and The Cause. In addition, Coburn has written television series pilots for two major networks and several screenplays, including “Flights of Angels,” “A Virgin Year,” and “Legal Access.”

The Design Team of The Gin Game includes Set and Lighting Designer Mike Billings; Sound Designer Randall Tico; Costume Designer Alex Jaeger; Properties Designer and Set Dresser T. Theresa Scarano. Talia Krispel is Production Stage Manager.

ABOUT THE SCHEDULE AND PRICING

The Gin Game Opening is Saturday, March 19 at 7:00 p.m. The production runs through Sunday, April 3. Performances are Wednesdays at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. (followed by a talkback), Thursdays at 7:00 p.m.; Fridays at 8:00 p.m.; Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m.

Ticket prices range from $30.00- $79.50.

To purchase tickets for The Gin Game or the company’s 2022-2023 Season, call the Rubicon Box Office at (805) 667-2900 or visit rubicontheatre.org or visit in person at 1006 E. Main Street (Laurel entrance), from Noon to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Single tickets for each of the shows are also on sale and available via the box office or the company’s website: www.rubicontheatre.org.

Season tickets include special savings, guaranteed seating, ticket insurance, free exchanges (with 72 hours’ notice), and advance notice of special events. Flex passes are also available at a savings.

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ABOUT RUBICON THEATRE COMPANY

Rubicon Theatre Company has been described as “the rising star of the Southern California cultural constellation.” The not-for-profit professional regional has reached more than 480,000 attendees and 45,000 students. Rubicon serves area residents and visitors with innovative productions of classic and contemporary plays, as well as a wide array of educational programs and events. Acclaimed by critics and industry professionals, the company has received the L.A. Drama Critics Margaret Harford Special Award for “Sustained Excellence,” a Drama Desk Award for the Off-Broadway production of The Best is Yet To Come and has won more than 20 Ovation Awards from the L.A. Stage Alliance.

Prior to the pandemic, Rubicon transferred three shows to New York (Wiesenthal – Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk Award nominations; Lonesome Traveler – Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk Award nominations; and Daddy Long Legs (Drama Desk Award). Rubicon has welcomed a steady stream of high-profile actors and directors to the stage, including Bruno and Odiseo Birchir, Susan Clark, Dana Delaney, Conchata Ferrell, Bonnie Franklin, Harold Gould, Joel Grey, Larry Hagman, Bill Irwin, Stacy Keach, Jack Lemmon, Amanda McBroom, Ted Neeley, Paul Provenza, Linda Purl, Rondi Reed, John Ritter, Joe Spano, Bruce Weitz, Lillias White and others. Company members are George Ball, Joseph Fuqua and Jenny Sullivan.

Based in Ventura’s Downtown Cultural District, just blocks from the Pacific Ocean, Rubicon resides in a 185-seat historic church built in the 1920s. In this renovated historic landmark, audience members are never further than 10 rows from the stage on the main floor. (The balcony, which seats twenty, is available for private parties or corporate groups.)

True to the company’s name and the vision of artistic directors Karyl Lynn Burns and James O’Neil, Rubicon has created an environment where commitment and risk are encouraged, and where artists are nurtured and respected. As a result, the company has gained a reputation for invigorating interpretations of the classics and for supporting the development of new works. Rubicon presents at least one World Premiere each season, as well as readings of works-in-progress.
Deeply rooted in the region it serves, Rubicon offers extensive outreach programs, including daytime matinees for high school students, after-school and weekend programs for at-risk youth, and summer musical theatre, drama and technical camps. More than 48,000 students have benefited.

A board of directors of prominent social and civic leaders governs Rubicon under the leadership of Doug Halter. The company is also supported by an advisory group of regional ambassadors and a volunteer auxiliary with nearly 200 members.

For more information about Rubicon Theatre Company, or to purchase tickets, call (805) 667-2900 or go to www.rubicontheatre.org. The theatre is located at 1006 E. Main Street in Ventura’s Downtown Cultural District.

 

NOTE TO EDITORS: Additional photos are currently available under Media on the Rubicon Theatre website. Interviews are available with playwright D.L. Coburn, Joe Spano and JoBeth Williams. To schedule interviews, please contact Publicist David Elzer at (818) 508-1754 davidelzer@me.com or Karyl Lynn Burns at (805) 667-2912 x 224.

CALENDAR LISTING
THE GIN GAME
by D.L. Coburn
Starring JoBeth Williams and Joe Spano

Directed by Jenny Sullivan

Opens:
Saturday, March 19 at 7:00 p.m.

Runs:
Saturday, March 19 – Sunday, April 3, 2022

Performances are Wednesdays at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. (Talkback following), Thursdays at 7:00 p.m.; Fridays at 8:00 p.m.; Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. & 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m.

Ticket Prices range from $30.00 - $79.50

Rubicon Theatre Company
1006 E. Main Street in Ventura (at Laurel)

For tickets – visit www.rubicontheatre.org or call (805) 667-2900