By Charlotte Roi
Photos by Ed Krieger
Hollywood, CA (The Hollywood Times) 06/23/2019 – ‘I stopped in the middle of that building and I saw- the sky. I saw the things that I love in this world. The work and the food and the time to sit and smoke. And I looked at the pen and said to myself, what the hell am I grabbing this for? Why am I trying to become what I don’t want to be? What am I doing in an office, making a contemptuous, begging fool of myself, when all I want is out there, waiting for me the minute I say I know who I am! Why can’t I say that, Willy?’ says Biff, one of the main characters in Death Of A Salesman, played so outstandingly by Robert Adamson at Ruskin Theatre on the opening night.
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and the Tony award for ‘Best Play,’ Arthur Miller’s Death Of A Salesman stays strikingly relevant in our times. Considered to be one of the greatest plays of the 20th Century, subsequent productions on Broadway have won three Tony awards for ‘Best Revival.’
Burdened by financial responsibilities and living on the edge of poverty, the salesman continues to believe he is on the verge of a “big break.” What defines a successful life? Struggling to see beyond the illusions we create for ourselves, Loman, like so many, fights for acceptance to avoid being seen as a failure in the eyes of society.
‘The Loman family struggles with the same social, economic and environmental pressures that we seem to keep experiencing in our own lives. Unchecked development and expansion, the urge to keep up with our neighbor’s luxury and convenience purchases, a need to keep up appearances, and a deep anxiety over our children’s prospects for their futures. It’s all so ever-present in our American culture that we may not even notice. Yet, at the center of this story is the deeply personal human tragedy of Willy Loman and his family. What could be more needed today than a story that gives voice to our living experience in such a powerful way? says Mike Reilly, director.
Mike Reilly (Director) has helmed several productions at the Ruskin Group Theatre over the last thirteen years. Selected credits include Martin McDonagh’s The Lonesome West, Sam Shepard’s Cowboy Mouth, Lee Blessing’s Down the Road, and Kenneth Lonergan’s Lobby Hero. Mike is involved in the development of new works at Ruskin, overseeing the theatre’s Playwright’s Lab, and serving as Production Manager.
John Ruskin (Artistic Director/Producer) founded the professional company in 2001. He helmed their critically acclaimed production of Strange Snow and teaches a Master’s Class in acting at RGT. John’s years of experience include studies at the Yale School of Drama, British American Drama Academy in Oxford, England, and the University of Colorado in Boulder. In New York, Ruskin joined the acting faculty of the Neighborhood Playhouse at the request of Sanford Meisner (who he then apprenticed with) before moving to Los Angeles where he founded his own school of acting in addition to the professional theatre company. He provides outreach through RGT with their “Healing Through the Arts” project. Presently, this includes taking RGT actors into Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA to work with and entertain the patients.
Michael R. Myers (Producer/Managing Director) has produced more than 80 projects since 2002, including the world premiere hit production of Rex Pickett’s Sideways The Play. He directed the long running “sold out” run of Paradise: A Divine Bluegrass Musical Comedy at the Ruskin last season, and again in January 2019 for its premiere in Austin, Texas. Michael helmed the world premiere of Digging Up Dad and the critically acclaimed production of Faithful at RGT. He is a co-creator of the Ruskin Group Theatre’s popular CAFÉ PLAYS, the monthly offering of one-acts that are done in 10 1/2 hours from conception to staging.
Ruskin Group Theatre launched the World Premieres of Rex Pickett’s Sideways The Play, picked up by La Jolla Playhouse (directed by Des McAnuff), and subsequently moving to London’s West End, Paradise: A Divine Bluegrass Musical Comedy later produced by the Austin Playhouse in 2019 with the Ruskin cast, and The Alamo scheduled for regional productions. Ruskin’s Healing Through The Arts program brings their actors into Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA, where they are working with the Chase Child Life Program, to work with and entertain the patients. The CAFÉ PLAYS, created by RGT, are produced and now celebrating their 12th anniversary. RGT supporters Dylan McDermott, Ed Asner, and other industry celebrities joined to produce the Best of Café Plays (both shows sold out within hours) for their 10th season. Anthony Hopkins, David Mamet, Ed Asner, Ed O’Neill, and Jim Belushi are just some of the noted guests to have taught Master classes at the Ruskin.
I, personally, am completely amazed by the quality of production and the stellar cast- Rob Morrow is absolutely sensational in his portrayal of Willy Lomas and so are Dylan Rourke, Jack Merrill, Lee Garlington, and the rest of this amazing cast. By the end of the play on the opening night almost everybody in the audience is sniffling and whipping their tears and all I can hear is people whispering to each other: ‘So good! So Good!’. I believe it’s a big win for everybody involved in this production to know that they touched peoples hearts and made a long lasting impression.