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John Rando, Broadway Director

  • By Teri Michael
  • Published Nov 1, 2001 8:00 AM

UCLA alumnus John Rando has a definite knack for directing comedy. One measure of his success: in less than a year, he has directed three Broadway-bound shows.

The trio of successful productions has two things in common: comedy and Rando. The first play, Neil Simon's The Dinner Party, premiered at Los Angeles' Mark Taper Forum before moving to New York's Music Box Theater. It's described as a comedy of divorce, Parisian-style. The second play, a revival of A Thousand Clowns, played at the Longacre Theater. The 1962 play revolves around an unemployed television writer who refuses to conform.

The third production is the musical Urinetown. With lyrics such as "It's a Privilege to Pee," it's a spoof of Bertold Brecht and other serious theater types. Urinetown played to sold-out audiences off-Broadway before opening its current run at Henry Miller's Theater, with Rando still at the helm.

Rando, who grew up in Houston, came to UCLA as a graduate student in the School of Theater, Film and Television. He made a triumphant return to campus in 1998, when he came to the Geffen Theater to direct David Ives's comedy All in the Timing. "It's a dream, really," says Rando. "You go away from a town after having studied there, and you come back to this wonderful new theater and you're able to give them a production you really love."

In his student days at UCLA, Rando directed such plays as Pirandello's Right You Are and a Vietnam drama written by fellow student (and Face/Off screenwriter) Michael Colleary, On a Faraway Beach. "Extraordinary talent comes through UCLA," says Rando. "It was a good theatrical community and also an exciting faculty. Teachers like Michael McLain and Michael Gordon were instrumental to me. My time there was really well spent."

After graduation, UCLA professor Norman Welsh helped Rando get an assistant director position with the Old Globe Theater in San Diego. After a year, he moved to New York to work with the Acting Company, then went on his own directing off-Broadway and regional theater.

"I know what makes me laugh, and I know what is ebullient and alive," says Rando of his knack for directing comedy. "For me, what's important is a celebration of the human spirit through laughter."

John Rando directed "Dance of the Vampires" in 2002, "Escape: 6 Ways to Get Away" in 2005, and "The Wedding Singer" in 2006. - (Update 1/07)