When you find yourself on a roll, it’s best to keep the ball rolling, or juggling as many balls possible. Juggling projects is where local film and theater director Hester Schell finds herself this spring.
Starting about a year ago with the revival of the Hysterical Housewives, a peninsula based comedy troupe for women started by Schell in 2005, she’s been involved in a string of performing arts and film projects. “Audiences love our live stand-up comedy and our performers really enjoy the laughter,” says Schell. Every performance of Hysterical Housewives has sold out since they started nearly 10 years ago, as did all four dates for the world premier of the Schell directed Singulariteen by Patrick M Brennan’s in the 2013 San Francisco Fringe Festival last summer. The political comedy won 5 awards including a “best of show.” Backstage after a performance at the Fringe Festival, she met two comics, Pamela Rand and veteran actress Joan Mankin, who heard about this “really funny political theatre piece with a lot of physical comedy.” Executive producer Pamela Rand hired Schell for their web series pilot. “Hester was a perfect fit for our Adventures in Staying Young. We’re doing senior and baby boomer humor.” Check them out on You Tube, where they are well on their way building looks and likes. “Our goal is to land a sponsor so we can keep cranking out the comedy” adds Schell.
If that wasn’t enough to keep Schell busy, she is currently in rehearsals for the 50th Anniversary production of Bernard Slade’s Same Time, Next Year, for the Benicia Old Town Theatre Group, the oldest continually operating community theater in California. “I’m thrilled they selected me to direct their 50th Anniversary production. It’s an honor,” says Schell, who was chosen out of a field of directors to spearhead this chestnut American romantic comedy. Same Time, Next Year opens in Benicia on April 18, playing weekends until May 10, and stars Alan Coyne and Rebecca Grayce. Tickets are available through their web site.
The comedy goddess has been very good to Schell this year. “I just want to keep working. If a drama comes along that’s fine too,” she says. Actors interested in studying with this director and master teacher can register for a class at Film Acting Bay Area in Emeryville.