Broadway’s ‘Time Stands Still’ comes to North Coast Rep in Solana Beach


By Diana Saenger

After his request to stage the new play, “Time Stands Still,” by Donald Margulies, North Coast Repertory Theatre’s artistic director, David Ellenstein, had to spend some of his own time standing still.

When the play ended its run at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, Ellenstein said he tried to snatch it up next, but was told by Margulies that the play was heading to Broadway. There, it was widely hailed as one of the best new plays of the year and nominated for several Tony Awards.

Ellenstein, who acquired the rights to present “Time Stands Still” after its Broadway run, called Margulies “one of my favorite contemporary playwrights.”

“I’ve done his play ‘Sight Unseen’ three times, (plus) ‘Collected Stories’ and ‘Shipwrecked! An Entertainment,’ ” Ellenstein said. “He writes people I believe in and care about … and his dialogue is of how people speak in a theatrical way; he has a pulse on how people are now.”

“Time Stands Still,” tells the story of photojournalist Mandy (Stacey Hardke) and her journalist boyfriend Jamie (Francis Gercke), both of whom are coming home after covering wars in the Middle East. Jamie is suffering from a nervous breakdown, and after he left the battle zone, Mandy became a victim of a roadside bomb and was almost killed.

Now physically and mentally hurt, Jamie and Mandy have a new challenge. Although they’ve been together for more than eight years, they’ve never been together as time stands still. They’ve always been on the move while working. Can they cope with being with each other 24/7 in a New York apartment?

“It’s certainly about things that people are dealing with right now,” Ellenstein said. “The story covers both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, so it will resonate with the audience. The story is also an examination of what responsibility means, and there is another couple in the play (John Nutten as Richard, and Mhari Sandoval as Sarah), who are dealing with some new twists in their lives as well.”

Ellenstein is superb at choosing a cast and doesn’t disappoint with the actors he picked for this play. Gercke has appeared in many San Diego productions (“Proof,” “The Merchant of Venice,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” “Tragedy of the Commons,” and others) and is co-founder and former artistic director of New Village Arts.

Ellenstein previously directed Sandoval in her first professional play in 1991. Since then, she has achieved success in “The Power of Darkness,” and she is the voice of “Deadly Sins” on Investigation Discovery Channel.

Hardke has appeared in “Becky’s New Car,” NCRT and “Hairspray,” SDREP. She is a University of San Diego recipient of the Irving Parker Award for Excellence in Theatre.

Nutten’s local credits include “A Prayer for My Daughter,” “Twelfth Night,” “Zoot Suit” and others. He was recently seen on Showtime’s “The Big C.”

If you go

What: “Time Stands Still,”

When: Matinees, evenings Feb. 23-March 17

Where: North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Solana Beach

Tickets: $37-$54

Phone: (858) 481-1055


Note: Strong language and adult content