The Coast News Group
The Carlsbad Sister Cities Ambassadors rehearse the play “Who Put the Bad in Carlsbad?” From left: Mackenzie Herr (Dorothy), Justin Feinman (Captain Jack) and Carolyn Funes (Witch). Courtesy photo

Sister Cities Ambassadors, playwright prepare staged play

CARLSBAD — The Carlsbad Sister Cities Ambassadors is taking center stage for its debut theatrical fundraiser at the Schulman Auditorium at the Carlsbad Dove Library Feb. 19.The production, “Who Put the Bad in Carlsbad?” is expected to deliver over-the-top humor from literary villains and good doers.Characters like Long John Silver, Captain Jack Black, Dracula, Queen of Hearts, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz and Snow White will engage in a battle of wits.

“The Wizard of Oz hosts a Mardi Gras Party and grants each guest one wish,” said Joanne Brouk, producer, playwright and board member of Carlsbad Sister Cities Ambassadors. “Shakespeare’s Three Witches are his cooks and poison the cauldron with their evil intentions.”

Brouk, a Carlsbad resident of 22 years, calls the play her love letter to her favorite town, Carlsbad.

The idea of a stage production, she said, came from volleying different ideas to raise monies for their organization, Carlsbad Sister Cities Ambassadors.

“Many people on our board are involved in theater so it seemed like a natural fit,” she said, noting that it took her six months to write the play.

The Carlsbad Sister Cities Ambassadors rehearse the play “Who Put the Bad in Carlsbad?” From left: Mackenzie Herr (Dorothy), Justin Feinman (Captain Jack) and Carolyn Funes (Witch). Courtesy photo

Brouk said she wrote the play with a little help from Shakespeare, Robert Louis Stevenson, Lewis Carroll, Edgar Allan Poe, Alan Jay Lerner, The Wizard of Oz, Snow White and The Addams Family.

She also had the help of regarded director Malinda Whitelaw, who gave Brouk a springboard of ideas after reading her script. For one, the literary villains wouldn’t be the only focus.

“She (Whitelaw) suggested that we do away with numerous scenes and invite the bad and good to one big masquerade party and let them toss their classic lines at one another like weapons,” said Brouk, noting that Whitelaw’s feedback sent her off running with new script ideas.

“As foils, I brought in Dorothy and Snow White because you can’t get characters who represent the ‘good’ better than those two; of course, the Queen of Hearts wants them dead and shouts, ‘Off with your heads!’” she said. “It quickly evolved into an outrageous farce of good versus evil.”

Seasoned actors for this stage performance include Tom Hersant, Morris Pike, Janel DeGuzman, Laura Case, Shireen Ayazi, Justin Feinman, Mackenzie Herr, Anthony Reynoso, Carolyn Funes and Joanna Swasey.

Brouk has written and produced numerous programs for theater, museums, radio, symphony and the Internet. She has received awards and grants from the National Endowment of the Arts, California Historical Society, National Endowment for the Humanities, Hearst Foundation, Microquest and California Arts Council.

Proceeds from the play will go to support Carlsbad Sister Cities Ambassadors. Each ticket holder has the chance to purchase additional opportunity tickets to win prizes such as theme gift baskets and a Las Vegas getaway.

Carlsbad Sister Cities Ambassadors represents Carlsbad locally and overseas. Brouk said in the past year, the Ambassadors and Junior Ambassadors — students from ages 8 to 18 — have hosted delegations from Carlsbad’s sister cities of Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic and Futtsu, Japan. They were also entertained during reciprocal visits.

“Carlsbad Sister Cities intends to use proceeds to fund the visits of delegates and to reach out to sister cities in Central and South America, the Mideast and Europe as part of its mission to connect Carlsbad with international communities to promote peace, cultural awareness and economic opportunities,” she said. “The purpose of this event is to create an enduring ‘Winter Classic’ event that honors Carlsbad’s multi-cultural heritage, increases civic pride, showcases Carlsbad’s outstanding theater community, and promotes tourism and our international connections.”

Brouk shares that the production does highlight a big reveal.

“By the end of the play, Long John Silver rounds up all who are bad and sails far, far away from our coast,” she said. “Because, as everyone knows, there can be no bad in Carlsbad.”

For more information on “Who Put the Bad in Carlsbad?” ticket sales and possible future performances, visit