Bishop’s School student lands a role in The Old Globe’s ‘Life of Riley’
By Diana Saenger
Sir Alan Ayckbourn, who received a special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theater, sees his 74th (and newest) play, “Life of Riley,” have its U.S. premiere at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park under the direction of Richard Seer, now through June 5. The Old Globe has staged 10 of Ayckbourn’s plays since 1978.
Enter someone newer to the footlights, Rebecca Gold, a senior at The Bishop’s School in La Jolla, who is making her first professional appearance in the role of Tilly. Gold played Celia in The Globe’s 2010 Shakespeare Intensive production of “As You Like It,” and caught a casting director’s eye.
“I became aware of the Shakespeare Intensive program for students when our teacher saw an ad and told us about it,” Gold said. “I auditioned and got a call back along with 30 other San Diego students. It was an incredible opportunity to participate in workshops with professional actors and the Globe’s costume designers. I also enjoyed getting to meet new students. It felt a little like what going to college will be like.”
Gold has been active in The Bishop’s School theater program and recently played Yvette in its production of “Mother Courage and Her Children.” Gold said she thought her experience with The Globe was behind her until she received a call from casting director Samantha Barrie who told her she was impressed with Gold’s performances.
“She called on my birthday to ask if I wanted the role of Tilly, and I was so excited,” Gold said. “They needed a 16-year-old girl for a non-speaking part and I was thrilled to take it.”
The lighthearted “Life of Riley” centers on the dying George Riley, a cantankerous (though never seen) old man. He decides to have a last farewell for his close friends, and when each one learns of his plight, they react in unexpected ways.
“This is the story of three couples whose women have been involved with George in some way,” Gold said. “When he asks each woman to come on a holiday with him and take care of him in his final days, at first they agree. Eventually the women are convinced not to go.”
While her thoughts are wrapped around her role, Gold said she is also focused on her future. Her family is supportive of her interest in acting because she said she grew up watching her older brother perform. She’s been accepted to Stanford University where she will begin this fall.
“I feel like I have learned so much about myself, other people, and the way people react to one another as an actress,” Gold said. “It’s an amazing art form, and I feel so lucky to have had acting experiences through high school. I chose Stanford because I want to continue my academic studies, but also my acting, and Stanford has both programs.”
Gold said she believes “Life of Riley” will appeal to a wide range of patrons because “it’s very fun, and George is like a hippie Peter Pan who never gets old and wants a fun life forever.
“The play contains some great classic music,” she said, “and is easily relatable to everyone as they watch how couples see things change from their 30s to 40s and beyond.”
If you go
What: “Life of Riley”
When: Matinees and evenings through June 5
Where: Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre,
1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park
Contact: (619) 23-GLOBE
Free, post-show forums: May 10, 18 and 31. Discuss the play with cast members.
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