'Crazy' helps

'Crazy' helps

Westridge grad marks writing debut with ‘It’s Good 2 be Crazy’ on Theatre Row

By Jana J. Monji 07/21/2011

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After graduating from UC Santa Cruz, Joanclair Richter went a little crazy. The former Sierra Madre-resident and graduate of Westridge School, Pasadena’s private school for college-bound girls, may have received her bachelor’s degree in environmental science, but she wants to be known as a playwright.

Last weekend, Richter’s play, “It’s Good 2 be Crazy” — a finalist in the Eventide Arts Competition and for the Kaplan Prize in playwriting  — premiered at the Hudson Guild Theatre, an intimate 42-seat theater that’s part of a three-stage complex that includes an espresso bar and art gallery on Hollywood’s Theatre Row. 

“It’s Good 2 be Crazy” isn’t about the environment, as in ecosystems and science, but rather the 26-year-old Richter’s social environment: 20-somethings in the working world looking for meaning to their lives.

Richter has friends going through some of these issues, such as having kids, dumping dead-end jobs, following dreams and what to do after being fired.

The short one-act play, directed by Lynne Moses, centers on Merryl (Lindsay Seim), who has already quit her paralegal job to be a parking attendant at a ritzy hotel in order to pursue her songwriting and singing aspirations. Her boyfriend of five years, Joel (Nick Warnock), is a benefits clerk saving for law school.

A disastrous day at work has Merryl committing full time to her music while Joel must sweat out his financial problems. Things get complicated when Merryl reconnects with an old friend, Doug (Max Decker), who is now a music producer.

Richter has already taken the plunge into following her dreams. In school, her friends were interested in acting, but Richter concentrated on sports, playing soccer and running cross-country. Her parents took her to the Ahmanson Theatre and the Pasadena Playhouse while she was growing up, but it wasn’t until she was on the East Coast studying the feeding patterns of Baleen whales in Cape Cod to finish her degree that she decided she wanted to do something else.

Although she loved her time at UC Santa Cruz, Richter said, “Santa Cruz taught me what I didn’t want to do.” That might have meant angst for some, but not Richter. She began studying at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting, and despite having an attractive, wholesome appearance that would seem tailor-made for the stage, Richter found that she preferred working offstage. She wanted to write, to “create the basic idea,” and produce original work. She credits her time at Westridge with encouraging her to be independent. “They really teach you to say what you think and express yourself.”

 “It’s Good 2 be Crazy” continues until Aug. 14 at the Hudson Guild Theatre on Theatre Row, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood.  Show times are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 7 p.m. Sundays. For tickets, visit plays411.com/goodcrazy or call (323) 960-5774. 

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