No Square Theater Presents: You’re a Mean One, Courtney Finch

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November 26, 2019 By Laguna Beach Vibe

Ella Wyatt, Children's Program Director at No Square Theatre, has embarked on her first stage production, You’re a Mean One, Courtney Finch, set to premiere at No Square Theatre on December 13th at 7pm, Sat. 14th and Sun. 15th at 2pm. We asked Ella to explain how her first original show as writer and director came to be

VIBE: Congratulations on having the courage and tenacity to create an entirely new show, You’re a Mean One, Courtney Finch. Give us a brief outline of what to expect. Is it a musical? Is it a comedy, a farce, a parody? A Christmas Carol with Snapchat?

ELLA: I'd say Courtney Finch is really a play with music in it. I pitched it as A Christmas Carol meets Mean Girls - if Regina George got visited by the ghosts of past, present, and future. It really has a little bit of everything: music, comedy, drama... I can guarantee that when you come to see the show, you are likely to laugh and cry. I know I have been! 

VIBE: Who or What was your inspiration and Why? Did Laguna play any part in your decisions? Give us the timeline from start to stage.

ELLA: When Bree approached me about doing something at No Square for the holidays, she had initially asked me to do a holiday review. I have been putting together themed reviews every summer, and I feel like I have gotten really good at it, but I wanted to do something different. I had been tossing around the idea of writing something anyway, so I thought this was the perfect opportunity. My husband is obsessed with A Christmas Carol, and therefore I have seen pretty much every version out there. Pair that with my love for teen movies and the kids I have worked with in Laguna, and it seemed like a perfect fit! 

For everything I do with the youth program at No Square Theatre, I am very inspired by the students I work with. They are the driving force in my lyrics for LagunaTots, the shows I pick, and of course this show. I started working on this about a year ago, and I started by sifting through tons of Christmas music, making a preliminary list of songs I liked. Now, I am Jewish, but I have always LOVED Christmas music. I wanted to find a good mix of lesser known songs (I Guess There Ain't No Santa Claus - Barry Manilow), as well as the Christmas classics we all know and love (Carol of the Bells). I then made an basic outline of the plot, followed by a character list, and then I got writing. I have actually been continuously writing and editing until just yesterday (11/16), and it's very possible that edits will continue to come all the way until we open. Watching the actors work keeps giving me new inspiration, so this is really a living and breathing piece of work right now.

VIBE: What was most satisfying about the process and what is the most challenging? 

ELLA: The most satisfying thing about this process has definitely been watching something I have been imagining in my mind over the past year played out in front of me. The actors are phenomenal. There is one scene in particular where Christmas Present (Luka Salib) takes Courtney (Malin Glade) to see her mom (Claire McClung), and I don't want to give it away, but it is one of the most beautiful and heart-breaking things I have seen. I was crying. Seeing the whole thing come to fruition had been pretty wonderful. The most challenging thing has been balancing this with my teaching and family life. We make it work though!

VIBE: You are a mother, wife, actress (triple threat), drama teacher and coach, director, and now playwright….are there more titles on your resume? How do you juggle it all?

ELLA: Ha! Well, I'm not the greatest juggler, but I know how to fake it! I have lots of lists and spreadsheets to help keep me organized, and then I try and set deadlines for things (which I may or may not always adhere to). It's really all about prioritizing. I try to do most of my work after I put my kids to bed so that I am still spending time with them, and my husband is incredibly supportive and patient. He is also really good at telling me when I need to take a break. I don't always let myself do that - I'm a tough boss.

VIBE: Do you have more ideas in the pipeline?

ELLA: My sister (who has also been a huge help in this process) and I have talked about writing a script together. She is a production designer for film and TV, so we were thinking maybe something for film, but theatre is my true love, so we'll see. Also, LagunaPalooza (formerly LagunaTots) is in March. I'm always trying to push the envelope and give the audience something to think about, even with the youth productions, so if you've been steering clear of the kids shows because it's "kids," I'd say to get that notion out of your head and come check it out.

One weekend only! Dec. 13, 14, 15. Purchase your tickets at: nosquare.tix.com


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