Crowded Fire shakes things up (again)

Seems like just yesterday that Crowded Fire Theatre Company announced the departure of founding artistic director Rebecca Novick and the ascension of co-artistic directors (and husband-and-wife) Cassie Beck and Kent Nicholson. Actually, it was more like a year ago.

Today the company announced that Beck and Nicholson have “decided to pursue their careers at a national level,” and Marissa Wolf will succeed them as artistic director.

Wolf, 26, recently directed Crowded Fire’s Gone by Charles Mee and has also worked with FoolsFURY Theater, Fury Factory, Playwrights Foundation and Cutting Ball Theater. She held the Bret C. Harte Directing Internship at Berkeley Repertory Theatre for two years, where she assisted artistic director Tony Taccone, associate artistic director Les Waters and visiting directors Lisa Peterson, Frank Galati and Mary Zimmerman. She was the assistant director for the world premiere of Passing Strange. She has a degree in drama from Vassar College and received additional training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.

Beck, a longtime Crowded Fire company member, will be performing at a number of theaters, among them Playwrights Horizons, The Williamstown Theatre Festival and the Actors Theatre of Louisville. Nicholson, who continues as director of new works with TheatreWorks and as a freelance director, will shift to Crowded Fire’s board of directors.

Next up for Crowded Fire is the world premiere of Stephanie Fleischmann’s My Name Is Vera Cupido, running Oct. 4-Nov. 2 at the Thick House in San Francisco.

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Cassie Beck is a winner

Cassie Beck, local actress and co-artistic director of San Francisco’s Crowded Fire Theatre Company went off to New York to be in Adam Bock’s Drunken City. And what do you know? She won a Theatre World Award for her New York debut!

Beck first worked on Bock’s play when it was part TheatreWorks’ New Works Festival (the play was developed as part of the company New Works Initiative). Beck was also featured in TheatreWorks’ production of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons, directed by Beck’s husband (and Crowded Fire co-artistic director) Kent Nicholson.

This year’s Theatre World Award winners include:
de’Adre Aziza, Passing Strange
Cassie Beck, Drunken City
Daniel Breaker, Passing Strange
Ben Daniels, Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Deanna Dunagan, August: Osage County
Hoon Lee, Yellow Face
Alli Mauzey, Cry-Baby
Jenna Russell, Sunday in the Park with George
Mark Rylance, Boeing-Boeing
Loretta Ables Sayre, South Pacific
Jimmi Simpson, The Farnsworth Invention
Paulo Szot, South Pacific

The Theatre World Awards ceremony will be held in Manhattan June 10 at Broadway’s Helen Hayes Theatre.

Bock, Beck hit `Drunken City’

The arrival of a new Adam Bock play is always an event.

Even though the Canadian playwright decided to forgo the pleasures of life in the Bay Area for the rigors of a New York writer’s existence, we still love him. And as long as he sends us a play every now and then (like The Shaker Chair, a Shotgun Players/Encore Theatre Company production from last year), we’re happy.

Last week, Bock’s latest, The Drunken City, opened at Playwrights Horizons’ Peter Jay Sharp Theater in New York. Christopher Isherwood, writing in the New York Times, called it a “flimsy but sweet comedy” but generally liked the tale of a bride-to-be and her three bridesmaids out on the town just before the wedding, drinking quite a lot, fraternizing with men who aren’t their husbands or fiances and coming to some realizations about love and marriage.

The production marks the New York debut of Cassie Beck (above), a uniquely charming Bay Area actress who, with her husband, Kent Nicholson, is co-artistic director of Crowded Fire Theatre Company. Isherwood had this to say about Beck, who plays Marnie, the bride-to-be: “Ms. Beck, making her New York debut, brings an understated sweetness to her role as Marnie, whose inebriation gradually subsides as she discloses the real dissatisfaction fueling the evening’s folly.”

Also in the cast are Maria Dizzia, who was so devastatingly good as the title character of Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, and Barrett Foa, who did his best to charm in the disco drudgery of TheatreWorks’ world-premiere musical Kept.

Writing in the New York Daily News, Joe Dziemianowicz called Bock’s play “a playful and hopeful comedy in which everybody’s tipsy and everyone’s shaken and stirred after one long, liquor-filled night.” He has this to say about our local star: “Beck, in her New York debut, is fantastic and turns the moment into something deeply touching. Her five castmates are as equally appealing, adorable and top-shelf.”

All good news. So when’s our next Adam Bock play? We have yet to see The Receptionist or The Thugs in these parts, and it sounds like The Drunken City, complete with Beck in the lead, was just made for San Francisco.