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Anonymous ‘angel’ saves Theatre West home, comedy
spy thriller ‘Our Man in Santiago’ premieres Sept. 24
LOS ANGELES (Aug. 17, 2021) — Theatre West’s Studio City-adjacent home on Cahuenga Blvd. West, the oldest continuous operating stage space in Los Angeles, has been saved by an anonymous “angel.” A longtime Theatre West patron has purchased the building, occupied by the company since 1967 but up for sale since May, and extended Theatre West’s lease for a minimum of five years. Kicking off the new arrangement will be the world premiere of Our Man in Santiago, written by two-time Emmy nominee and WGA award-winner Mark Wilding (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Good Girls, Charmed) and directed by Charlie Mount. Originally scheduled to debut 18 months ago but canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Our Man in Santiago will finally open on Sept. 24 for a five-week run through Oct. 24.
A raucous comedy spy thriller, Our Man in Santiago was inspired by the true story of a spectacularly botched U.S. attempt to overthrow Chile’s democratically elected leader.
On Sept. 4, 1970, socialist politician and physician Salvador Allende was elected president of Chile. According to a 1974 article in Harper’s Magazine penned by Gabriela García Marquez, a contingency plan had been hatched by the Nixon administration and the Chilean military in preparation for just such an event — but the coup they intended had to be aborted when “someone made a mistake in the Pentagon and requested 200 visas for a purported Navy chorus, which in reality was to be made up of specialists in government overthrow; however there were several admirals among them who couldn’t sing a single note.”
Inspired by this ridiculous failure, Wilding has penned a farce in which the CIA enlists an inexperienced, unsuspecting agent to follow up with a poorly conceived and wildly dangerous effort to hasten what was to be, in the end, a successful coup d’état in Chile three years later, in 1973.
According to Mount, “It’s about consequentialism. In politics, do the ends justify the means? Is it okay to break the law if it’s for the good of the country? Does assuming the moral imperative make it okay to do something wrong? Sound familiar? It’s set in 1973 Chile, but it could just as well be set in Vietnam or Cambodia, or today in Iran.”
“The idea for this play has been percolating in the back of my mind ever since I read Marquez’s article,” says Wilding. “At the time, I was still in high school, but I made a copy and have held onto it ever since. It was such a loony, misguided venture. About three years ago, I workshopped the play at Theatre West, and the reaction was amazing — everybody thought it was so much fun.”
Our Man in Santiago features Presciliana Esparolini, Nick McDow Musleh and George Tovar, with Steve Nevil playing Richard Nixon and Michael Van Duzer as Henry Kissinger.
The creative team includes set designer Jeff G. Rack, lighting designer Yancey Dunham, costume designer Mylette Nora, fight director Joe Nassi and gun captain Bruce Dickinson. David Mingrino is the production stage manager, and Chloe Rosenthal assistant directs. Benjamin Scuglia produces for Theatre West.
Complimentary tickets will be made available opening weekend (Sept. 24, Sept, 25 and Sept. 26) to first responders, teachers and healthcare workers in gratitude for their work during these challenging times. For more information, call (323) 851-4839.
Mark Wilding, a long-time member of Theatre West, has worked in television for over two decades, writing and producing both comedies and dramas. He was most recently a writer and executive producer on the NBC/Netflix show Good Girls. Comedy credits include Ellen, Dave’s World, Jesse, Caroline In The City, The Naked Truth, The Tony Danza Show and Working. Mark worked on Ellen in its first year, back in 1993, when the show was still called These Friends Of Mine. He returned two years later to help write and produce the fourth season of the show, which culminated in “The Puppy Episode” — when Ellen DeGeneres’s character famously came out as gay. The episode won an Emmy for best comedy writing. Drama credits include Jake 2.0, Charmed, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal and Still Star-Crossed. Mark served as co-executive producer and executive producer on Grey’s Anatomy for seven years, during which he wrote a dozen episodes of the show and was part of a writing staff that was nominated twice for an Emmy for best dramatic writing. His episode “Where The Boys Are” won the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Individual Episode. Another episode, “Life During Wartime”, won the 2008 Genesis award for dramatic writing. In 2011, Mark moved to Scandal, serving as executive producer and head writer for five years. One of his episodes, “Nobody Likes Babies”, was cited by Time magazine as one of the Top Ten TV episodes of 2013. Scandal was also honored by the AFI in 2013 for “its contribution to America’s cultural legacy.” In the fall of 2016, Mark moved to New York for six months, where he executive produced a summer series for ABC, entitled Still Star-Crossed.
Charlie Mount served as the artistic director for the critically acclaimed Chestnuts Theatre Program at Theatre West, where he produced the Los Angeles premiere of Requiem for a Heavyweight and The Lion in Winter with Jim Beaver; directed Betty Garrett in Waiting in the Wings; and earned an Ovation nomination for “Best Play” for his production of Waiting For Lefty. Also at Theatre West, Charlie directed Beau Bridges in the original production of Acting – The First Six Lessons and produced Ray Bradbury’s Falling Upward with Pat Harrington. Other directing credits include Seascape, Gaslight and The Fantasticks. Plays written by Charlie include Trumpets and Table-Tipping, produced at Theatre 40, and The Leather Apron Club and Against The Wall, both staged at Theatre West. Charlie is also a magician member at Hollywood’s famed Magic Castle.
Theatre West was founded 59 years ago by a group of New York and L.A.-based actors as a safe space to hone their craft, challenge their talent, and present works they felt passionate about. Today, Theatre West has grown to include over 165 actors, writers, directors, producers and stage managers. The company continues to present compelling stories that move, inspire and speak truth to the human condition.
Our Man in Santiago runs from Sept. 24 through Oct. 24, with performances on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Ticket prices range from $15-$30. Theatre West is located at 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West in Los Angeles, CA 90068 (across the street from Universal CityWalk, between Barham and Lankershim); metered street parking available, and there is a paid lot ($5 cash only) across the street from the theater. For reservations and information, go to TheatreWest.org.
Proof of vaccination will be required of all patrons, and admittance is limited to ages 12+. All current CDC and local guidelines regarding seating and masks will be followed at each performance.
Details for Calendar Listings
‘Our Man in Santiago’
Theatre West presents the world premiere of Our Man in Santiago, a comic spy thriller inspired by the true story of a spectacularly botched U.S. attempt to overthrow Chile’s democratically elected leader. In this new political farce by two-time Emmy nominee and WGA award-winner Mark Wilding (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Good Girls, Charmed), the CIA enlists an inexperienced, unsuspecting agent to follow up with a last-ditch, poorly conceived and wildly dangerous effort to hasten the 1973 Chilean coup d’état.
• Written by Mark Wilding
• Directed by Charlie Mount
• Featuring Presciliana Esparolini, Nick McDow Musleh and George Tovar, with Steve Nevil as Richard Nixon and Michael Van Duzer as Henry Kissinger
• Produced by Benjamin Scuglia
• Presented by Theatre West
Performances: Sept. 24-Oct. 24
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: Sept, 24 (opening night), Oct. 1, Oct. 8, Oct. 15, Oct. 22
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: Sept, 25, Oct. 2, Oct. 9, Oct. 16, Oct. 23
• Sundays at 2 p.m.: Sept. 26, Oct. 3, Oct. 10, Oct. 17, Oct. 24
3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West
Los Angeles, CA 90068
(across the street from Universal CityWalk, between Barham and Lankershim)
• Complimentary tickets available opening weekend (Sept. 24, Sept, 25 and Sept. 26) to first responders, teachers and healthcare workers in gratitude for their work during these challenging times. For more information, call (323) 851-4839.
• Metered street parking
• Paid lot ($5 cash only) available across the street from the theater
• Proof of vaccination will be required of all patrons.
• Admittance is limited to ages 12+.
• All current CDC and local guidelines regarding seating and masks will be followed at each performance.