A New York-based director is on the campus of the Okoboji Summer Theatre in Iowa this month directing the company’s second show of the season, “Rich Girl” by Victoria Stewart.
An adaptation of “Washington Square,” the modernized script and characters intrigued Director Rich Cole, he said.
“It’s a great women’s play that shows the different cross spectrums of society,” he said. “I love plays that are actable, and have people saying what they would actually say, and have people who have flaws. In part, it’s about what society has done to women and how they have had to turn around and react—and the price we’ve paid for that.”
Cole also said he liked the idea of producing a fairly new play: OST’s production is just the fourth production of “Rich Girl,” which debuted at the George Street Playhouse in association with the Cleveland Playhouse.
A comedy that ultimately turns dark, “Rich Girl” is the story of Claudine, played by Stephens student Lydia Miller, a young woman who falls for a struggling theater director played by guest artist Evan White. Claudine’s mother, Eve, played by guest actor Celeste Ciulla, fears Henry is only after her daughter’s inheritance.
The show begins Tuesday and runs through Sunday.
This is Cole’s second season at OST, Stephens’ summer stock theatre company near Spirit Lake, Iowa. Artistic Director Dan Schultz recruited Cole last summer to direct “Angel Street,” and Cole said it didn’t take much to convince him to come back.
“It’s a happy place,” he said. “The level of professionalism here is really extraordinary. You can tell the students like doing this.”
For “Rich Girl,” Cole recruited Ciulla, a New York-based actor whose credits include Lady Macbeth, Truvy from “Steel Magnolias” and the Ghost of Christmas Past in “A Christmas Carol.”
Ciulla is also a former fellow in the Ten Chimneys Foundation Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship Program, a widely acclaimed national program designed to serve the future of American theater. That’s one reason she was eager to join OST this year.
“I love the idea of theater reaching into a community,” she said. “And I like the idea of spreading the craft.”
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