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Landmark Award - The Road Theatre Company

The 12-year-old Road Theatre Company maintains a reputation for mounting challenging plays in superbly crafted productions. The group is currently honored with the Garlands' Landmark Award, saluting its sustained history of excellence. In a 1995 agreement with the L.A. Cultural Affairs Department, the Road subcontracted a variety of arts events at North Hollywood's Lankershim Arts Center in exchange for ongoing residency in the facility and other financial assistance.

Artistic director Taylor Gilbert expressed excitement and confidence about the group's current growth challenges. "We want to elevate from our current 99-Seat Plan to a full Equity theatre," she said. "In moving toward this goal, we're expanding our seasons to include shows both within and outside our facility. We're negotiating collaborative deals with other theatres." The group is currently laying out plans for two full seasons, beginning in June with The Seventh Monarch, a dark psychological drama by Jim Henry, who penned its heralded 1999 offering The Angels of Lemnos.

The Road has garnered enthusiastic recognition from local awards groups, including the L.A. Drama Critics Circle, the Ovations, L.A. Weekly, and the Garlands. The company is currently basking in the glow of rave reviews for its fall 2002 production of Eduardo deFilippo's stirring Italian drama, Napoli Milionaria, and the still-running atmospheric thriller The Woman in Black, with masterful performances from Joe Hart and Paul Witten. Napoli scored strongly at November's Ovations, winning six.

The Road selects plays based on projects suggested by its members. When a member's passion for a work is shared by the group, it is green-lighted. In the case of Napoli, the gifted, award-winning actor Suanne Spoke had been determined to produce and perform in this lovely play for many years. As a new member, she brought the project to the table, and other members quickly expressed their endorsement. The Woman in Black is a pet project of extraordinarily talented director Ken Sawyer.

Taylor said the Road recently renewed its agreement with the Cultural Affairs Department through 2005. Meanwhile, as expand their horizons by increasing the membership and stepping up the production pace, Gilbert and company have their work cut out for them. In the past, they've consistently chosen their paths astutely, and our fervent hope is that at their current fork in the Road, the route they're taking leads to long-lasting success.

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