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'Suite' life at New Century

Rich Brase wants to check you into a hotel room in LA, and you don't even need to get on an airplane.

Brase is the director of the New Century Players' upcoming production of Neil Simon's 'California Suite,' and he thinks audiences will love the play, 'because it's got the usual laughs you expect from a Neil Simon show, but it also has a lot of heart, pathos and tragedy missing from some of his other works.'

He added, 'Also, we've got a very strong cast of veteran performers I know the audience will love.'

Brase said he moved to Portland in 1998 to be the creative director of KGW Television. Prior to that, he graduated from Chicago's Second City Players' Workshop in 1994 and was the vice president of marketing for the cable network, CNBC.

'My most memorable personal achievements were all non-television events; I built and programmed the famous Astrovision board in Times Square in 1996, created Portland's downtown New Year's Eve Celebration, first in 1999 and now every year, and chaired the committee to bring the Olympic Torch run to Portland in 2002. Since 2004, I have been a partner in a television production company, Creative Motion Group, with my wife and best friend,' Brase said.

He noted that he really wanted to direct 'California Suite,' because 'I love Neil Simon and this has been one of his under-performed gems.'

All the actors commented on Brase's supportive, easy-going style, and noted that even when he offers criticism, he does it constructively, and always has something positive to say. They also cited his sense of humor and the use of his own stage and real-life experiences as positive qualities.

Diane Etter, who wears two hats as assistant director and stage manager of the play, said that Brase is 'a fun person to work with' and 'very positive,' adding that she has 'learned a lot' from him.

Christine Shields, one of the actors in the production, said, ' 'California Suite' is all about relationships, so the stories Rich shared from his past helped us understand his direction better. Rich is a welcome addition to our theater family.'

Brase himself added, 'Working with New Century has been a real joy. I have been welcomed into the troupe with open arms and only hope I don't let anybody down. The biggest challenges have been getting to know the names, faces and responsibilities of all the people working on the play. Everyone is so eager to do well and make the show a success. I look forward to getting to know everyone better as we progress and truly understanding their strengths.'