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South Coast Repertory announces hiring of new managing director

South Coast Repertory announced today, July 23, that Suzanne Appel, managing director of the off-Broadway Vineyard Theatre in New York, will be the theater’s new managing director, only the second person in that role in the 60-year-old organization’s history.

Appel succeeds Paula Tomei, who announced last year that she is stepping down after 30 years in the job. Appel is expected to start at the Costa Mesa regional theater in early September.

In a phone interview Monday from New York, Appel was enthusiastic about the opportunity:  “I’m very excited about this! “I interviewed with the board in June, and they offered me the role shortly thereafter.  I’m thrilled it can finally be public.”

The feeling would appear to be mutual.

“This is a thrilling moment for South Coast Repertory,” the theater’s artistic director, David Ivers, said in a statement.

In an interview, Ivers was eager to talk about his new professional partner.

The hiring of Suzanne Appel as managing director is "a thrilling moment for South Coast Repertory,

“She embodies, it feels to me — and I love this — ambition for SCR here and now and ahead. I am equally ambitious for SCR, to put some huge wins up.  She gives off both big-time experience and is absolutely a theater person in her core.

“I also felt that this is a really decent and vigorous human being, and that is meaningful to me. I had a really genuine and open connection with her that was equal to my excitement about her acumen for the job.”

Talya Nevo-Hacochen, president of SCR’s Board of Trustees, chaired the search committee. She said the search yielded a pool of experienced and diverse candidates, but that Appel was exceptional.

“She brings an impressive track record of strategic leadership, fiscal responsibility and fund-raising to SCR,” Nevo-Hacochen said in a statement. “We sought someone who could build on SCR’s strong foundation with creativity and innovation. With Ivers and Appel leading, we are expertly positioned to embrace the future.”

In her seven seasons at Vineyard Theatre, Appel oversaw the production of 12 world premieres, four of which transferred to Broadway, including Paula Vogel’s “Indecent” and “How I Learned to Drive,” Tina Satter’s “Is This a Room” and Lucas Hnath’s “Dana H.”

Appel acknowledged that as the subscription model for audiences has waned and in the aftermath of COVID-19 shutdowns, arts organizations are under cross-current pressures. She says she is ready to address SCR’s future strategically and thoughtfully.

“There is no magic bullet,” she says. “But the arts have always competed with other interests, causes and nonprofits for the share of somebody’s philanthropic dollar. “Our unique challenge now is to build a connection with an individual or a foundation or a government’s contributions or corporations to an arts organization. and do our best for the return that that person sees personally for their community.”

An equally important quality Appel said she will focus on is how to create loyal patrons.

“Both in terms of single ticket buyers or subscriptions, make everyone welcome and realize that their desires for experiences are not the same for all in a modern world dealing with another truth, polarization.”

Appel is passionate about what live theater experience uniquely offers to combat social challenges.

“A theater is so often a rare space where we engage with folks we don’t know in person. There’s actually science that shows that our hearts start beating together in an audience, which I find really amazing, the transformational power of experiencing live performance together.”

While Appel was at Vineyard, the theater received the largest gifts in its history from the city and state of New York and private individuals and foundations. Among her accomplishments, Appel guided the company through the pandemic and also established a four-year plan to raise arts worker wages by 30% by 2026.

She said she feels this is especially significant for arts  organizations in places with a high cost of living.

“New York City, like Orange County, is an expensive place to live,” she said.  “And in order to really be able to produce great work, we need to be able to pay great people to be able to support that.

“It certainly is a priority for me that the team at South Coast Rep is compensated for their contribution to the work.”

Appel includes a cautionary note.

“This is also a business, and we have to make sure that that’s sustainable. I look forward to making sure that our commitments to our artists and staff at South Coast Rep are sustainable as well.”

Appel said for her an allure of being part of a theater, and being at SCR, with its decades-long process of developing new works, is the chance to interact with playwrights.

“(In my role) I am also a producer. As a producer I have many playwrights I followed and supported and came to love their work. David (Ivers) has this same model, playwrights he knows and loves, and we share wanting this to continue SCR’s tradition of fostering great work in new theater development.”

She said she is impressed with the youth and adult programs running concurrently to the staged work available at SCR.

“Acting classes and performance opportunities are a real strength of SCR as are all of the family programs related to the conservatory. This is a place not just for parents on their night out, but also for the whole family to both want to attend and experience in a participatory way.”

Outside of work, Appels says she is “definitely an outdoorsy type person. I’m a camper. My husband Ali and I both like to do a lot of hiking.

“Growing up in Colorado, the natural beauty of the state was something my family fully engaged in, and I’m really looking forward to having access to all of that.”

The couple will relocate from New York in the last week of August.

“We still haven’t figured out exactly where we’ll be living, but my husband — a managing consultant — will be commuting to L.A., so probably the northern part of Orange County.”

It’s clear that Appel’s merging of head and heart will focus on the theater.

Her time in New York afforded her the opportunity to experience many shows.

One moment, not as a theater professional, but as a theater fan. sticks with her as something to take to heart.

“Years ago (2006), there was a really extraordinary production of the play ‘Mother Courage and Her Children’ as part of The Public Theater’s free ‘Shakespeare in the Park’ series.

“It starred Meryl Streep. I happened to see it on a night when it was her second to last performance.”

Due to a late summer squall, she almost didn’t get to see it at all.

“It was really pouring down. They had to stop and start, I think, maybe six, seven times.”

But Appel’s takeaway was not the inclement weather.

“It was Streep. She just insisted upon performing it. She was out there in her costume and wiping the stage, you’d see her keep changing her wool socks…

“You know, it was really sort of a perfect epitome of what Mother Courage would do.

“And that kind of commitment by an actor, not stopping, it was clear to me it was all for that audience there in the rain for theater.

“I feel incredibly lucky to have experienced that moment.”

Surf guitar bands will make a splash in Long Beach at this beach music convention

There’s no need to catch an actual wave to feel like you’re out in the California surf this month thanks to the return of a festival that celebrates beach music.

The 15th annual Surf Guitar 101 Convention returns to Long Beach this summer with a lineup filled with a who’s who of the instrumental music genre.

“We have everything from traditional to progressive to psychedelic to the heavy and spooky stuff. We have all corners of the instro surf scene covered in this lineup,” said Jeff Hanson, founder of Surf Guitar 101 Convention.

The weekend event will take place July 26-28 at the Golden Sails Hotel in Long Beach where dozens of bands will perform. The lineup includes headliners The Surfaris, who formed in Glendora in 1962 and are responsible for “Wipe Out,” one of the most recognizable surf tunes of all time.

“This is the song everybody knows,” Hanson said.

  • The 15th annual Surf Guitar 101 Convention returns to Long...

    The 15th annual Surf Guitar 101 Convention returns to Long Beach this summer with a lineup filled with the who’s who of the instrumental music genre. (Photo by Tom Kline)

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The 15th annual Surf Guitar 101 Convention returns to Long Beach this summer with a lineup filled with the who’s who of the instrumental music genre. (Photo by Tom Kline)


Surf music fans who also happen to love horror will have a lot of reasons to dance this weekend because another headlining act is the Van Nuys surf-garage band The Ghastly Ones, who incorporate a monster theme into their surf sound.

“They haven’t played in about 14 years. Their sound is like the Haunted Mansion theme if you were to play it as instrumental surf music,” Hanson said.

Festival-goers will also see some reunions including The Untamed Youth featuring Deke Dickerson, who formed the band in 1986. Other surf music stars performing at the festival include the Insect Surfers, who are celebrating 45 years together.

“They were the first surf band that I saw, and they’re my favorite surf band. And they’re one of those bands that mix in all types of different elements of the surf umbrella into one band,” he said.

Besides music the festival will include a marketplace where people can buy CDs, records, musical instruments and all other surf music-related stuff.

Surf Guitar 101 Convention

When: July 26-28

Where: Crystal Ballroom at the Golden Sails Hotel, 6285 E. Pacific Coast Highway, Long Beach

Tickets: $50-$200

Information: surfguitar101festival.com

AFC Bournemouth in town to face Arsenal and expand its profile

CARSON — AFC Bournemouth returned to the English Premier League for the 2022-23 season and recorded 39 points, finishing in 15th place and staying out of the bottom three spots in the 20-team league to avoid relegation.

Last season, the Cherries increased their total to 48 points, their highest ever in the Premier League, and finished 12th, their best since the 2017-18 season.

“The group had a great year last year, achieved some great things and we’re looking to push on and try to keep improving as a group and players,” forward Jaidon Anthony said.

For the first time since 2016, Bournemouth has started their season in the U.S., this time settling at Dignity Health Sports Park. The upcoming season, which begins Aug. 17 against Nottingham Forest, will be Bournemouth’s third consecutive in the Premier League.

“We’re enjoying it,” Anthony said. “Working hard, we still have a few more games to go, looking forward to them and trying to get the work in. This is all about getting us ready for a big season. Our aim is to keep improving, trying to better what we’ve done. You’re never satisfied as a footballer, you always want more and that’s what we aim for.”

Bournemouth kicked off its U.S. tour with a 1-1 draw against Wrexham AFC on Saturday at Harder Stadium on the campus of UC Santa Barbara. The work continues Wednesday in Carson against Premier League foe Arsenal (7:30 p.m, ESPN+).

Anthony spent the majority of last season on loan with Leeds United in the Championship. He initially joined Bournemouth in 2016.

“It (the journey) was amazing, lot of ups and downs as you can imagine,” he said. “My fair share of injuries as well, but I had some special moments for sure and I love it here. It’s tough at times, people don’t see the hard parts, but we put in a lot of work and we get to enjoy the biggest stage, it’s everyone’s dream to play at the highest level.”

Anthony said this is not his first trip to L.A., having came over last year. With the popularity of the Premier League in the U.S., Bournemouth is another club that’s looking to grow its brand.

“We have some American owners and I’m sure they’ve put in a lot of work to build our brand,” Anthony said.

Bournemouth’s ownership group is led by the Black Knight Football Club and American businessman Bill Foley. Actor Michael B. Jordan led a minority ownership group that invested in the club in 2022.

“Mike is a great guy,” Foley said in an interview earlier this year on CBS Sports Golazo Network. “He hasn’t got stars in his eyes. He loves football.

“He is really helping us in terms of some our international marketing and marketing in the U.S. He’s engaged. He’s all in and it’s good to have to him.”

One player the fans will not see in action is Tyler Adams. The USMNT midfielder is with the club, but will miss the start of the season after recently undergoing back surgery.


When: 7 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Dignity Health Sports Park

How to watch: ESPN+

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