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FROM UTAH TO NEW YORK - AND BACK

SHARE FROM UTAH TO NEW YORK - AND BACK

For the first few days, when director Roger Bean arrived here in May to begin directing his former boss, Fred C. Adams, in a production of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," he says he "walked around in a daze, staring at the sky and looking at the stars at night. I could actually see and feel the sun on my face!"

On a warm summer morning at the end of June, surrounded by the trees and benches in the Utah Shakespearean Festival's "seminar grove," the transplanted Utahn admitted, too that he was "not excited to go back to New York this time of year. It's the time where if you don't have an air conditioner you might as well jump out the window. You feel the heat, but you don't get to see the sun."A Northwest native whose family mostly lives in the Seattle area, Bean was marketing director for the Utah Shakespearean Festival for four years until November 1992, when he struck out for life in the Big Apple.

He came back for a few weeks this spring to direct "Forum" as part of this year's USF lineup. He had directed Adams in a previous production of the same show when it was presented on campus during Southern Utah University's regular season a few years before.

For the past two years Bean has worked at one of New York's most prestigious off-Broadway theaters - Circle Repertory Company, which is heading into a whole new phase. Bean is director of marketing and public relations for Circle Rep - not to be confused with the equally famous Circle in the Square Theatre (which could be a little confusing for New Yorkers because Circle Rep just recently moved into the Square's former downtown space).

During the eight months between his arrival in New York City and when he began working at Circle Rep, Bean made ends meet by working in graphic design for a printing house.

He also took on a part-time job selling programs and T-shirts in several Broadway theaters. He has gone from selling programs to being one of the managers.

"You see, I'm a workaholic. All of a sudden I realized, `Uh-oh, I have a few nights free. I have to work.' They keep trying to get me to run my own theater, which I don't want to do because it's not a career thing for me, and I'd really have to dedicate myself."

But the program-selling concession is only two nights a week. "It's fun and I've made some great friends."

In his spare time (whatever that is) Bean has also produced some Broadway benefits - productions starring Rosie O'Donnell, Stockard Channing, Larry Gatlin, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee and Marla Maples Trump for both Housing Works and the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS organizations.

"It's amazing when you meet some of the really, really famous people. Some are like you think and others aren't."

Circle Rep, according to a recent Variety magazine article, has been the artistic home to such theater artists and playwrights as Lanford Wilson, Marshall Mason, John Bishop, Tanya Berezin and Jeff Daniels.

This year, City Rep's season is opening with a new Laurence Fishburne play, "Riff-Raff." The author will costar with Olympia Dukakis.

"To have someone like Lanford Wilson come in and sit down in my office and talk with me because we're doing one of his plays is exciting," said Bean. "They're just normal people and that's the fun thing about meeting them."

There are hundreds of small theaters throughout New York's off-Broadway district. Circle Rep is on Bleeker Street, about two blocks from Broadway in the West Village area.

Bean lives near Broadway and 53rd, not far from the famous Ed Sullivan Theatre where "Late Night With David Letterman" is taped. In fact, many of the exterior shots on Letterman's show look right down Bean's street.

His apartment had its very own "15 minutes of fame" on July 4, 1993, when it was struck by the Pizza Hut Blimp.

"It landed on top of the building and my apartment house made the front page all over New York."

Bean's roommate, a former graduate school friend, is Rosie O'Donnell's assistant. He and his roommate work different schedules most of the time, however, and rarely see each other.

"But just to know there is another human being there is comforting. People don't make a lot of eye contact here and you don't get to know very many people. It can get very lonely."

When his New York friends learned that Bean was going to direct a production at the Utah Shakespearean Festival, they said, "Oh, that's so exciting. That's great!"

"I struggled for years when I was here to get the word out. People wanted to know if we were civilized, but most of my friends in the business know the festival's reputation and they're aware that it's among the top five."

Bean, who was interviewed just about the time he was getting ready to leave Cedar City and head back to New York, said he especially enjoyed working with Fred Adams again.

Rehearsals went smoothly (except for fits of laughter at the pranks and pratfalls). The most stressful part of the USF process was the auditioning. Some actors take on roles in three separate shows - and it's not easy making sure their roles don't overlap somewhere along the line.

"Once Fred went into the stage door, he was no longer the producer, he was the actor," said Bean.

"The magic of this festival is how much you learn," added Bean. "They're very caring in allowing the artists to go through the creative process - to make our own mistakes and discover them. And if we don't discover them, then they quietly help us see them. They don't blatantly come out and say `That's wrong, you have to fix that.' That's the beauty of this festival."

Bean noted that in New York, your social life usually revolves around your employment.

"I'm lucky because all my jobs deal with the theater. Why live in New York if you're not going to take advantage of all the stuff like good theater.

"The city takes a lot out of you, but you can get a lot back."

One of the first things Bean did when he moved to New York was put his car in storage . . . then he sold it.

"I was paying over $600 a month just for parking, insurance and payments - and I never drove it! It was hard to sell, too, because people in New York don't need cars. I haven't missed it.

"It's only a 10-minute subway ride to work and - regardless of the rumors - it is very safe. You learn where to go and where not to go in the city to be safe. The myth of how dangerous it is in Central Park is just that - a myth. It's beautiful and huge. Certain sections may not be the best, but it is an amazing place!"

Bean, who designs Circle Rep's playbills, tickets and advertising on a desktop computer, is also managing editor of an off-Broadway newsletter. In one two-month period, the off-Broadway venues presented more than 180 plays.