Jan. 13 - Feb. 18

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Shelita Burns, an African-American editor, publishes Bee-luther-hatchee,
the autobiography of a reclusive 72-year-old black woman named Libby Price.
Shelita has never met Libby, and when the book wins a prestigious award she
decides to deliver it to her in person. To her profound shock, the actual author of the book is not whom Shelita expected. A fascinating and provocative look at cultural appropriation and who has the right to tell someone’s story.

We are so immensely honored to receive the endorsement of the Sheri and Les Biller Foundation and to be in such esteemed company. Our production of Bee-luther-hatchee will be greatly enriched by the programming and community engagement now possible through your generous gift.
Our thanks to Sarah Lyding, Mark Dederer and the Billers for their efforts to support live theater.

SMP Presents: Bee-Luther-Hatchee Jan. 13 - Feb. 18

Saundra McClain - Director

Most recently directed Prayerville at the SciFi Festival, Intimate Apparel at Ensemble Theatre Company, Breath and Imagination at Virginia Stage, For Colored Girls at American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Flyin’ West at International City Theatre, What I Learned in Paris and Breath and Imagination at the Colony Theatre which received numerous Ovation and NAACP Theatre nominations. Other directorial credits: Ain’t Misbehavin’, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, The Fantasticks, In the Continuum, Spunk, Electra, The Women of Plums, Death of a Salesman, Antigone, Dark of the Moon, A Modest Proposal, Harriet’s Return.

A veteran actor, she has performed in numerous television shows, films and onstage- on and off Broadway: Seven Guitars, Bubbling Brown Sugar, The Colored Museum, Pericles, Zooman and the Sign, For Colored Girls… Regional: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Look Homeward Angel, Oklahoma!, Queenie Pie, Stop-Kiss, Romeo and Juliet, All’s Well That Ends Well, Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing, From the Mississipi Delta, Joe Turners Come and Gone, Wedding Band, Porgy and Bess; at such notable theatres as Kennedy Center, The Shakespeare Theatre, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Alliance Theatre, Alley Theatre, Philadelphia Drama Guild, Two River Theatre, Musical Theatre West, Syracuse Stage, McCarter Theatre, A.R.T., Spoleto Festival, New York Shakespeare Theatre, 2nd Stage, N.E.C., New Federal Theatre, Classic Theatre Company, Hudson Guild, Billie Holiday Theatre, Coconut Grove, Antaeus Theatre Company. Her one woman show, Barbara Jordan: A Rendezvous With Destiny at National Black Theatre Festival.

Currently, she is writing a children's books series, Peepo and the Magic Talisman with illustrator/scenic artist, Orlando de la Paz.



I have had the privilege of seeing several productions here at SMP and have been very impressed. So much so, that when the Artistic Director, Christian Lebano, offered me the opportunity to direct this season, I was beyond thrilled. But when he mentioned the name of the play, I held my tongue, ashamed to ask ... 'be Luther who?' As a veteran actor for over 40 years, with numerous credits on and off Broadway and in regional theatre's across the country, I had never heard mention of this title before. And I thought I knew almost all the plays in the African American canon. But then I read the script, Bee-luther-hatchee, a drama by Thomas Gibbons... I was thoroughly intrigued!

Shelita Burns, a young African American editor and Princeton graduate at a small publishing house, has made it her life's work to reclaim profound works of literature that have been "ignored, ridiculed, and belittled." As the play opens, Shelita is accepting a prestigious Non-Fiction Award on behalf of a reclusive 72 year old Southern black woman, Libby Price. In a tapestry that criss-crosses time and space, the author deftly weaves folklore and drama to tell a story that poses a thought-provoking and insightful question, while at the same time offering no resolution and no answers. As the director, I am reluctant to go into any further detail regarding my vision of the play, the plot structure or the characters, because I wish for you to take the journey with an open mind. Why? Because it is my sincere wish and that of my design team that each audience member will be drawn into the debate after the curtain comes down.

On a personal note, I believe Gibbons’ play rests upon an ideology that many black artists, like myself, take issue and wrestle with i.e. who has the right to tell our stories. Especially since stories by people of color rarely receive the recognition they deserve. We are often stereotyped by the media and our accomplishments in literature and science blatantly overlooked in the history books. For example, the simple mention by First Lady, Michelle Obama, at this year's Democratic National Convention about waking up in house built by slaves was, surprisingly, received with outrage and disbelief, sending some pundits on Fox News scrambling to fact check and undermine her statement. The true significance of respect and homage she was paying to our African American ancestors, lost in the shadows of history, was almost totally overlooked!

Therein lies the true paradox the play exposes in our culture - we live in parallel universes. Bee-luther-hatchee, a strange yet fascinating title, is described in the play as the last stop on the train after Hell. Here, across the racial divide, souls like stars, can see each other, but are forever separated by light-years of darkness, never able to communicate....

By Saundra McClain


Bee-Luther-Hatchee: Cast

Olivia Cristina Delgado*
(Anna/Sister Margaret)

a 2nd-generation Chicana, is most often recognized for her work with the Latino Theater Company, most notably, A Mexican Trilogy: An American Story, the award-winning durational theater piece, of which LA Weekly wrote, "Delgado’s standout performance...serves up the bulk of engaging comic delights." Last Fall, the sparkly comedienne debuted El Grande Circo de Coca Cola (sequel to the 70’s Whisky-a-Go Go hit) at the Skylight Theatre; the show remained an LA Times Critic’s Pick for 32 weeks! Her wacky sense of humor has featured in a number of shorts and webseries. If the filmmakers and series producers ever decide to share the finished product with her, or anyone, you will see it on! Be on the look-out for her memoir entitled, "What Did I Come In This Room For?" on shelves January 2062.

Tamarra Graham
(Shelita Burns)

After a hiatus from the performing arts while training as a clinical psychologist and serving as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, Tamarra is overjoyed to finally pursue her “dream deferred.” Her past stage performances include Nickel and Dimed at the Greenhouse Theater Center in Chicago, Sarafina! at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and several appearances showcasing her comedic talents at the Second City Hollywood. With a number of independent film and internet projects to her credit and a recent appearance on Lifetime Movie Network’s My Crazy Ex, Tamarra is also branching out to film and television. In addition, she is proud to be part of the Humanity Play Project’s mission to create performance with purpose in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Christian Lebano
(Sean Leonard)

played Atticus in To Kill a Mockingbird ( Best Actor Nom.), Jerry in God’s Man in Texas, and Stage Manager in Our Town and is thrilled to be back on stage at SMP. He was in the long-running Opus at The Fountain Theater (Ovation nom’s Best Play and Best Ensemble, LADCC Best Ensemble winner and nom Best Play, LA Weekly nom Best Actor.) He’s worked at regional theaters across the country as both an actor and director. He directed The Glass Menagerie (Ovation Recommended & Nominated), Deathtrap (Ovation Nominated), 4000 Miles, Battledrum, Driving Miss Daisy (Ovation Recommended), and Woman in Mind (LA Times Critic’s Choice) at SMP. He will be directing A Wrinkle in Time for SMP in the Spring. Christian is the Artistic Director of the Playhouse.

Leilani Smith
(Libby Price)

Born in Osan City, South Korea and a black belt since 2007 in Karate. Recently on screen with Sally Field and Tyne Daly in Hello My Name is Doris, shooting Trouble Creek County as Deputy Kirby as well as produced, created and starred in Jane. Won Best Ensemble at the 2016 NAACP Theatre Awards for Flyin' West as Fannie Mae at International City Theater, recently on stage in Archer from Malis as Odyssea at the Getty Villa and Shakespeare's Twelfth Night as Maria at Glendale Theatre Center. Absolutely thrilled to perform at SMP for the first time and thankful for the opportunity given by Saundra McClain and Christian Lebano.

Jon Sprik

is thrilled to be making his debut at SMP! Originally from Michigan, he recently made a more permanent move to Los Angeles from New York City. He has worked off-Broadway as well as at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, The Powerhouse Theatre (WA), The Texas Shakespeare Festival, The Titan Theatre Company, Door Shakespeare, The Hope Summer Repertory Theatre, The Lost Colony, and Theatre for a New City. Jon has also been featured on Discovery ID, Destination America, and Biography channels as well as numerous independent films. Most recently, he worked on the third season of Darren Star’s Younger coming out this fall. MFA from The University of Houston Professional Actor Training Program.

Bee-Luther-Hatchee: Production Team

Vicki Conrad
(Costume Designer)

received the 2015 Ovation Award for Best Costume Design for The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Actors Co-op). Recent credits: Next to Normal, Our Town, The Imaginary Invalid, Asterion, Summer and Smoke, 110 In the Shade (Ovation Award – Best Production of a Musical), The Learned Ladies (LA Weekly Award Best Costume Design, Ovation Nomination) and Big River (Ovation nomination.) At SMP: Einstein is a Dummy and Deathtrap. Look for her designs in Season 15’s Project Runway commercial! Thanks to the SMP and BLH team.

Derek R. Copenhaver
(Stage Manager)

returns to SMP after having Stage Managed The Glass Menagerie (Ovation Recommended) last spring. He is new to the LA theatre scene, having moved here from Nebraska recently. Derek graduated from Doane College with a BA in Theatre last year. He has five years of experience in stage management, lighting design, set design, and directing, working on shows such as: August: Osage County, Hedda Gabler, Mother Courage and Her Children, Jerusalem, Around the World in 80 Days, American Idiot, and many others.

Orlando de la Paz
(Scenic Painter)

Bee-luther-hatchee is Orlando's eight production at SMP, following The Glass Menagerie, A Christmas Memory, Always...Patsy Cline, The Odd Couple, A Little House Christmas, A Walk in the Woods, and the Einstein/Putting it Together Rep. Other credits include: A Noise Within: Romeo and Juliet, A Christmas Carol, All My Sons, Antigone, A Flea in Her Ear, Julius Caesar, Figaro, The Threepenny Opera, The Dance of Death; The Colony: Family Planning, What I Learned in Paris, Road to Appomattox, El Grande Circus de Coca-Cola; Antaeus: Top Girls, Picnic, Uncle Vanya, Cloud 9; La Mirada Theater: Good People, Billy Elliot, Carrie, Pride and Prejudice; Boston Court: Missing Pages of Lewis Carroll, Seven Spots on the Sun; The Los Angeles Theater: Carrie. The Falcon Theater: Housewives of Toluca Lake, Santa Claus is Coming to Motown, The Trouble We Come From Little Village Theater in Carlsbad, Big River.. Education: Otis College of Art and Design, Don Bosco College Seminary, Don Bosco Technical Institute.

Jen Gies
(Asst. Stage Manager)

did “a ton” of technical theater as a Northwestern University undergrad, including stage-managing the summer repertory and writing for WAA-MU. Upon graduation, she worked in electrics at the Berkeley Repertory Theater for a year. She has spent the intervening years working extensively in the music industry. She has just produced her first showcase in Los Angeles for Gigable, a music service dedicated to giving music fans exposure to up-and-coming artists via showcases, house concerts, and its mobile app. She recently filled the role of Production Manager at SMP for The Glass Menagerie and is glad to be back as Bee- luther-hatchee ASM.

Derek Jones
(Lighting Designer)

is joining SMP for the first time. After moving to Los Angeles from Washington, DC, he has been actively designing with local performance groups including Long Beach City College, Pepperdine University, Rockwell Table and Stage, REDCAT, and Uranium Madhouse. He has designed lighting for several theatre, opera, and dance companies around LA, DC, and New York while being a lighting consultant for architecture and live events. Highlights include New York Fashion Week, Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center, and the Capital Fringe Festival. Derek has an MFA in Lighting Design from Indiana University and a BA in Theatre and a BS in Physics from George Washington University. He is the lighting design professor at Long Beach City College.

Todd McCraw
(Technical Director)

Todd spent 28 years working in all aspects of theater tech, in every theater in NYC. He is head rigger for Fly-By-Night Dance Theater. He rigs for many other silk acts & trapeze acts & other theatrical productions. Todd spent four years in Big Apple Circus, assisting world-famous horse trainer & performer Katja Schumann. Other horse work: riding horses onstage at Lincoln Center for La Boheme, Aida & Manon Lescaut. Todd brings to LA his production company Sounds Like Art Inc. SLA supports live music, festivals, & corporate events. Regular clients: World Music Institute, Irish Arts Center, Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, & Korean Arts. Todd is delighted to be working on his third production at SMP after The Glass Menagerie and Spelling Bee.

Dave Mickey
(Sound Designer)

has designed sound, video, interactive, and lighting for theatre productions at Off-Broadway’s Theatre Row, 59E59 NYC, Virginia Stage Company, International City Theatre, The Colony Theatre, The Rubicon Theatre, Laguna Playhouse, South Coast Repertory, and the Chance Theatre. Mr. Mickey is a Co-Host of The Cue podcast about show control. Some projects include MicePaceMaze at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the publication of 33 iOS apps, led a workshop on Interactive Theatre for the Scenofest at the PQ11 in Prague, and theme park show control. Mr. Mickey won the 2014 NAACP Best Sound Design for Breath & Imagination. Mr. Mickey holds an MFA from CalArts and is the head of the Sound Design Program for the Theatre and Dance department at CSU Fullerton.

Christopher Scott Murillo
(Scenic Designer)

is an Ovation nominated scenic designer, artist, and educator based in Los Angeles. He is thrilled to be working with everyone at SMP. Most recently, his work has been seen at Falcon Theatre, International City Theatre, New Village Arts Theatre, The Chance Theater, Deaf West Theatre, Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, The Getty Villa and the Hollywood Bowl. Currently, he is an associate artist with Playwrights’ Arena serving as their resident scenic designer. Christopher is a member of the Television Academy and United Scenic Artists, Local USA 829. He is a 2016 recipient of the Princess Grace Fellowship-Pierre Cardin Award. He holds an MFA from the UCSD Department of Theatre and Dance and a BA from the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television.

Deborah Ross-Sullivan
(Dialect Coach)

defines herself as a “voice actress,” one who is heard but not seen. Dialect and accent coaching is a natural fit for someone who lives for sound. The goal of the dialect coach is not only to give actors correct sound changes, but also to understand rhythm and inflection. My job is to give actors reasons to sound the way they do. Deb has coached many dialect/accent productions for Sierra Madre Playhouse and is most happy to be working for them again.

Diane Siegel
(Lobby Curator)

Some stories need to be heard. As a curator for Family Stories – an exhibition at the Pasadena Museum of History, Diane worked for three years to gather stories and artifacts that told the family histories of African American, Japanese, and Armenian families of Pasadena. Diane has also worked for The Central Library of Los Angeles, The Sierra Madre Public Library and the Museum of Television & Radio. As Executive Director of the Bardejov Jewish Preservation Committee, Diane helped preserve holocaust narratives. This is her 12th lobby exhibit for the Playhouse: Battledrum, 6 Rms Riv Vu, A Walk in the Woods, The Odd Couple, Einstein/Putting it Together, Always…Patsy Cline, A Christmas Memory, Deathtrap, Charlotte’s Web, The Glass Menagerie and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.