Malibu Stage Co. sued by actress

Jacalynne Flax

Actress Jacalynne Flax and her husband sue Malibu Stage Co. for funds, which they say the theater company had originally agreed to pay them for the role in co-producing “Shirley Valentine.” Stage Co. President Jackie Bridgeman says it is simply a matter of a disgruntled actress.

By Kevin Connelly/Special to The Malibu Times

British actress Jacalynne Flax entertained Malibu audiences in the Malibu Stage Co.’s production of “Shirley Valentine” from Aug. 21 to Sept. 12. The beaches are less inviting now and the roads a bit more porous, but Flax is coming back to town. Only this time it is for a court date. She and her husband are suing the Malibu Stage Co. for $2,000 she said she is owed.

Coincidentally, their day in court is Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day.

In a telephone interview Tuesday, Flax said she is owed more than $2,000 because she and her husband-co-producers of the show-had verbally agreed to split the gross box-office revenue with the Malibu Stage Co. The show grossed more than $9,000, according to Flax, and she said she has already received and cashed a check of $2,400 from the Malibu Stage Co.

“I am very upset that it has come to this,” Flax said. “The show was successful on many levels, but this is terribly upsetting.”

Jackie Bridgeman, co-founder and president of the Malibu Stage Co., said the claims that the two are making are not true and that the company does not owe them anything.

“Jacalynne Flax did a very good job,” Bridgeman said. “Everyone loved her, but [the Malibu Stage Co.’s] accounting is absolutely correct.”

Bridgeman, who is a constant behind fundraising for the theater and produces of the shows and play readings, went on to say that “the Malibu Stage Company cannot afford $2,000. We are not endowed. We rely on city contributions.”

Peter Flax echoed his wife’s sentiments. In a telephone interview the same day, he said, “[The Malibu Stage Co.] is a wonderful theater with a lot of potential. Their heart is in the right place, but [they shouldn’t] renege on promises. I think my wife was treated badly.”

Flax continued, “This is dissuading other small productions from performing [at the Malibu Stage Co.],” he said. “[The Malibu Stage Co.] arbitrarily decided what the production costs were. They need to come back down to earth and realize their obligation to accommodate small production companies.”

Bridgeman disagreed with Flax’s statement that the Malibu Stage Company reneged on its promises, and said, “He doesn’t know anything about show business.”

Bridgeman pointed out that she allowed the couple to stay at her home during production, which she valued at as much as $4,000 a month. She said she was so upset with the Flaxes, she was thinking about filing her own lawsuit against them.

Malibu Stage Co. Chairman Geoff Ortiz said he did not think the Flaxes would win their case. “This is a small-claims matter filed by a disgruntled woman,” he said. “It will be eradicated by the justice system.”

This is not the first time the Malibu Stage Co. has been sued. Former Artistic Director Charles Marowitz sued the company in November 2002 for contract violations.

The theater has struggled to remain solvent and bring in regular audiences in its more than 15-year existence, this despite the fact that notable actors and directors have graced its stage in play readings and in full productions.