Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"The Secret Order"

One of the most interesting dramas I produced at Laguna Playhouse was Bob Clyman's The Secret Order. It was about a researcher at a midwestern university who discovers the cure for cancer, is seduced into leaving for "the big cancer institute in New York," where he finds himself out of his league politically as well as utterly and inexplicably unable to replicate his earlier results.

The play was very well received in Laguna in our 2003 West Coast Premiere, by audiences and critics alike, and as it already had a commercial producer attached to it at the time, we had high hopes it might make it to Broadway. There were celebrity readings in LA and New York, directed by Milton Katselas, featuring the likes of Stacey Keachand Martin Landau (in LA) and Eli Wallach and Richard Dreyfuss (in NY).

Producer Norman Twain then lined up a theatre and actor John Spencer (of West Wing) for Broadway. Spencer's untimely death delayed the project until Ed Hermann said yes to Twain, then had to back out for a more lucrative film or tv project. Twain got busy with film projects and the play couldn't make it into the 2006-07 New York season.

At that point, author Bob Clyman requested that the Merrimack Theatre Company in Lowell, Massachusetts, be allowed to produce it. There, directed by Charles Towers, it was also well-received by audiences and critics.

Well, that production came into New York this week, Off Broadway at the 59E59 Theatres, and today earned the best New York Times review any Laguna Playhouse-related play has ever garnered in that publication. Here's the review.

On the strength of The Secret Order, and my continuing relationship with author Bob Clyman, I secured the World Premiere rights to his latest play last year, Tranced, which will have its debut in January. Having sent it to my friend and colleague Timothy Near at San Jose Rep, she got equally excited by it and programmed it for their season immediately following the Laguna premiere. I have not doubt more productions will follow.

Bob is an intelligent writer whose craft has been recognized by many in the theatre world for some time. Indeed, he was a writer in residence one summer at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center's National Playwrights Conference, one of the premier springboards for writers (e.g. August Wilson).

Kudos to Bob on having a New York hit, and here's to many more!

Until next time...


1 comment:

Taxi said...

Just logged on to see how you're doing, Rick, and read this. Congratulations! Wish you were still at Laguna as my play goes into rehearsals, but clearly you've got bigger things afoot.
I wish you all the best.
Catherine Butterfield