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Matthew Lillard on “Harbor”

November 3, 2011

Matthew Lillard

When he’s not shooting films like Scooby-Doo (Shaggy) or The Descendants with George Clooney, Matt Lillard gathers a roomful of actors at his home to read plays. “New plays, old plays. We just want to read,” he says.

That’s how Lillard landed back on stage this month. His long-time friend Jon Cellini brought in a work he’d written and the actors sank their teeth into Harbor, a story of a single mother (Mary Thornton Brown) whose ex-husband (Lillard) returns upon the death of her father. The gloves, if they had been put back on, come off.

“Theater is really the only medium that’s for actors,” Lillard believes. “Once you start, there’s no controlling the outcome. As an actor you spend so much time looking and scrambling for work. I just finished the Alexander Payne movie [The Descendants] and in film you’re at the mercy of the director. Even with a great director your performance relies on the editing. That’s what makes theater so rewarding.”

Lillard started Mean Street Ensemble in LA in 1991 when he was in 19 and subsequently began another company in New York. “So I’ve directed a lot of theater,” he quips. He helmed last year’s production of The Maids with Cassidy Freeman, Cheryl Nichols and Lara Phillips at The Moth in Hollywood. He also just wrapped his first movie directing gig with the “micro-budget” film, Fat Kid Rules the World, which Lillard intends on promoting at festivals.

Cellini and Lillard studied together at Circle in the SquareTheatreSchoolin New York. Cellini has worked as a writer, director and actor in stage and film since moving to Los Angeles. His critically-acclaimed stage play, The Intern, produced by Theatre Tribe in Los Angeles, was a Critic’s Pick by the L.A. Times, which described the piece as “gripping, original and hauntingly effective.” His most recent play, Heralds, was reviewed as “a smart work for the stage that is bursting with ideas and has fun playing with audience expectations.” His feature script All Alone, produced by Bananaseat Films, enjoyed its L.A. premiere in October at the Hollywood Film Festival.  His feature caper-comedy “Robbing Bingo” won the Grand Prize in Script Magazine’s Open Door Screenwriting contest and is currently in pre-production. While Cellini also directed the film All Alone, his directing experience is mostly in the theater, including Theatre Tribe’s production of Cairo. He also has directed at Company of Angels, HBO Workspace and Actors Workout Studio.

Harbor runs through December 3. It plays Thurs, Fri and Sats at 8pm. Tickets are $24.00 & Preferred Seating is $34.00 for all performances. Group and Senior rates are available. The Victory Theatre Center3326 W. Victory Blvd., one block east ofHollywood Way inBurbank. 818.841.5421. Directed by Jon Cellini. Produced by Suzie Gardner; sound design by Jeff Gardner (no admitted relation).

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