On Stage


7 Chekhov short stories - 7 modern playwrights - one amazing evening of theatre!

Sept 26 - Oct 25, 2008
Weds - Sat 8pm
(no performances Oct 8 & 9)

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Adapted by David Mamet, Wendy Wasserstein, John Guare, Spalding Grey, Maria Irene Fornes, Michael Weller and featuring Bay Area playwright, Scott Munson’s The Pet Dog with the Lady.

See what happens when America's best playwrights get their hands on the master of the short story, Anton Chekhov. This eclectic night of theatre runs the gambit of styles from Chekhovian melodrama to hilarious fractured fairy tales. It's an night you won't soon forget!

"Take seven contemporary American playwrights with highly distinctive voices and wildly differing approaches to the theater. Ask each to adapt one of Anton Chekhov's short stories, which range in mood from the melancholic to the satiric, and back again... the results are incomparably delicious... it is very, very good, indeed." Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times

"The notion of asking seven contemporary playwrights to produce variations on themes by Anton Chekhov seems at first like asking for combination-platter theater... All of the playwrights use Chekhov short stories for a springboard but some have jumped so far into the deep end that it would be more accurate to say that they maybe looked at his picture while they were writing... Whether you pick from Column A or Column B, ORCHARDS offers a superior menu." Megan Rosenfeld, The Washington Post

Directed by Leah S. Abrams*, Gabriel Grilli, Christopher Jenkins*, Brian Katz* and Gabriel A. Ross*

Starring Leah S. Abrams*, Alex Alexander, Perry Aliado*, Michael Berlin, Stefin Collins*, AJ Davenport*, Giana DeGeiso, Gabriel A. Ross*, Jessica Rudholm* and Richard Wenzel* 

At The Custom Stage @ Off-Market; 965 Mission St (between 5th and 6th) in San Francisco.

*denotes company member

Production Photos

Click on the thumbnails below for a high-resolution version

Catz Forsman, Leah S. Abrams
SlavsJessica Rudholm, Leah S. Abrams
SlavsAJ Davenport
SlavsJessica Rudholm, Charles Lewis III, Perry Aliado
SlavsAlex Alexander, Cats Forsman, Gabriel Ross, Giana DeGeiso
SlavsGabriel Ross, Richard Wenzel, AJ Davenport

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Cast and Crew

AJ Davenport’s reprise of Smile marks a full circle with CMTC.   Little did she realize the power of art and friendships forged in that dank basement in North Beach 10 years ago.  Her hair is grayer, but she retains that exuberant ‘27-year old’ energy.  She has worked with Unconditional Theatre, Crowded Fire, Multi Ethnic Theatre, Killing My Lobster, and Thunderbird and is a proud member of CMTC.  Brian and Leah thanks for making CMTC so much fun that a decade passed quickly.  Love to SMC: baby, I wouldn’t want to do this without you.  ILYM&E.

Alex Alexander is glad to be back with Custom Made for their 10th anniversary.  She was last seen on this stage as Bonfila in Slavs & Dorothy in Dodo for President. When not acting on stage, Alex works with Barewitness Films whose ensemble work from feature length to shorts is largely improvisational in nature.

Brian Katz is the Artistic Director of Custom Made.  He has directed countless shows for the company, and this is the third time he has directed some portion of Orchards.  He has worked at Cal Shakes, Berkeley Rep, The Magic and The Goodman Theatre among other cool places. Please vote.  Go Cubs. 

Catz Forsman is delighted to be working with Custom Made for the first time. He was recently seen in Merry Wives of Windsor with Subterranean Shakespeare in Berkeley and has performed with the San Francisco Free Civic Theater and the SF Playhouse. He loves swimming in the Bay, playing the mandolin, cat Dooley and wife Jeanie.

Charles Lewis III has recently appeared in the American Conservatory Theatre’s (ACT) production of Marcus Gardley’s The Road Weeps,The Well Runs Dry and Sarah Kane’s controversial play Blasted for English-based 19:29 Theatre Company. He has appeared in the independent films Generation NowLess, My Ðen, and the upcoming films Heart of the Argos, ZERO and Bebop.

Christopher Jenkins most recent credits include The Book of Liz, Burn This, Matt and Ben, and The Food Chain. He was the managing director for Buffalo United Artists (BUA), an award-winning theatre in New York. BUA directing credits include, Gross Indecencies, As Bees In Honey Drown and Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love. He was the producer of the San Francisco production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Gabriel A. Ross was most recently seen in the title role of Candide in CMTC’s recent fringe production.  He has previously been on this stage in The Odd Couple (Gwendolyn), Assassins (Oswald), The Water Engine (Lang), Equus (Alan)  and Finding Sincerity (Fergus, George).  Lopakhin is his personal hero.
Gabriel Grilli is thrilled to work with the Custom Made crew again after playing Bobby in last season’s The Old Neighborhood. New to the Bay Area in 2007 after 14 years as a New York-based actor, director, & teacher, he has performed locally with PlayGround, 42nd St. Moon, The Media Factory and the SF Fringe Festival.  Regional: HERE, Ensemble Studio Theatre, ASCAP, NY Fringe, The Old Globe, Syracuse Stage, Geva Theatre & Texas Shakes.  AEA member.  Training: Penn State (MFA Directing), Hofstra (BFA Acting). 

Giana DeGeiso is thrilled to be participating in her second Custom Made Theatre production. Giana recently moved to San Francisco from Reno, Nevada where she has worked heavily in theatre since the age of five.  Some of her favorite roles played were Shelly from Bat Boy the Musical, Lil in Last Summer at Bluefish Cove and Fraulein Kost from Cabaret.  Thanks to my Mom for her nurturing and Ben the Fish Bernardy just for being The Ben Bernardy.

Jessica Jade Rudholm is delighted to be a part of this production of Orchards.  Jessica was most recently been seen in The Odd Couple with CMTC in which she played Cecily Pigeon.  She is a graduate of CSU Monterey Bay where she worked with Alexander Mikhailov and Benny Sato Ambush.  In 2004, Jessica attended ACT’s summer training congress.

Leah S. Abrams is the co-founder and executive director of Custom Made.  Favorite directorial credits include last season’s The Odd Couple, Two Rooms, and the annual Becket in Winter workshop series.  On stage, fondest roles include Rhoda in A New Brain, Jolly in The Old Neighborhood, and Heidi in The Heidi Chronicles.  She can’t quite believe it’s been ten years, but what a better way to celebrate than with the original favorite?  This one goes out to AJ, Brian, Dave, Tommy P., Melissa and, of course, Joshy.

Marci Ring  is the Technical Director of The Custom Made Theatre Company.  Marci likes juggling design work with stage management and, though she has tried to take a production off’, she’s designed or SM’ed every show the last two seasons.

Perry Aliado Orchards marks Perry’s sixth production with Custom Made, and his third as a company member.  Other CMTC productions include two of his most favorite shows to date, Candaules, Commissioner and Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins.  Other favorite productions include Miss Saigon (The Engineer), and You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown (Schroeder).  Perry has also worked with Berkeley Rep, The Willows, and Impact Theatre.  Howdy to Henry D...(ha!)

Richard Wenzel is a company member and proud to be in this special encore production.  Other CMTC shows include Bobby Gould in Hell, Slavs, and Mr. Bungee the singing “frog boss from hell” in A New Brain.  He has also worked with NCTC, The Willows, Center Rep and Second Wind Productions and can be seen on film as an FBI agent in the indie feature, Strange Culture. 

Rona Siddiqui  is an award-winning composer and pianist who writes, performs and teaches music in the San Francisco Bay Area. She received her BA in Music Composition from UCLA.  She has received numerous awards including international recognition from the International Association of Women in Music for her piece Storms and Whispers.  She has also written an original score to accompany Eve Ensler’s acclaimed play the Vagina Monologues.   Rona was last seen on the Custom Stage musical directing A New Brain, in which she was spun around in circles while actors sat on her score.

Serge Bakalian is making his debut as a stage manager and thanks Custom Made for the opportunity.  He is a writer and filmmaker, currently making his first feature-length documentary.  Serge’s background is in environmental science and international development, having worked as a science advisor, campaigner and researcher for several international NGOs.  He would like to thank Aurora, Antia, Elizabeth, Ben, Jacky, Judy and Jennifer for their unconditional and amazing support in his artistic pursuits. 

Stefin Collins is happy to by part of CMTC’s 10th anniversary season in Orchards. Recently, he was seen as Mr. Beenthere in Thunderbird Theatre Company’s Pride & Succubus. Thanks, AJ for all your love & support, it means the world to me. 

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