Veteran Journalist Funnels Fury About Trump Into Stage Debut

Ray Richmond's Transition opens March 11

Ray Richmond, who over the decades has written for various Southern California newspapers as well as Hollywood’s two main trades, did what a lot of his colleagues did after the 2016 U.S. election. He vented on Facebook.

But Richmond then took it a productive step further. Sensing that the Nov. 10 meeting at the White House between President Obama and Donald Trump could be a potent premise for a two-man play, Richmond went ahead and wrote his first theatrical script. Transition runs 90 minutes and will world premiere March 11 at The Lounge Theatre in Hollywood.

Currently rehearsing for the roles of POTUS 44 and 45 are, respectively, Joshua Wolf Coleman and Harry S. Murphy. Although Murphy counts Second City Chicago and an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm in his background, his version of the Commander-in-Chief is not an impression in the style of Alec Baldwin. From the press materials:

An imagined, dramatic recreation of the historic sit-down, Transition is a compelling drama with comedic elements woven throughout. The meeting evolves into a chess match between a man who’s spent years building a legacy and an outsider moving in to tear it all down. The play touches on issues including immigration, gun control, health care, sexism and nuclear war.

Richmond writes a bi-weekly column for a Los Angeles Times regional city edition. His latest item, published Feb. 24, is an open letter to the American people about President Trump’s most recent characterizations of the press.

He is also working on a new book about the exploits of real-life paparazzi couple Peter Brandt and Francine Alfieri Brandt. For a taste of how great that memoir co-written with the pair promises to be, check out this anecdote from a 1994 newspaper article:

When Elizabeth Taylor and Larry Fortensky honeymooned at Malcolm Forbes’ Moroccan hideaway, native dress–the djellaba–proved a perfect disguise. Thus outfitted, the newlyweds eluded journalists for an entire week as they tooled around in a Mercedes limousine, says Francine Alfieri-Brandt, who helped her husband, photographer Peter Brandt, pursue the couple. “When you wrap yourself up in a veil and a djellaba, which is like a caftan, you can’t tell who’s under there,” she says.

Desperate times called for desperate measures, so the journalists resorted to using counter-disguises. On went the djellabas and veils, and 45 minutes later, at a Bedouin marketplace outside Tangier, they found Taylor and Fortensky–but not in disguise. “The honeymooners didn’t need it,” says Alfieri-Brandt, “because none of the Bedouins recognized them. We finally got a picture, but only because we were the ones in disguise.”

Transition is being directed by Lee Costello.