Laurie Eliscu (aka Calahan) was born in the Broadway theatre district in a blizzard, danced as soon as she could walk, and fell in love with acting at age 10, when she took her first acting classes with TV performer Hal Studer. As a teenager, she played leads in high school plays and scraped her babysitting earnings together to attend the junior division of The Neighborhood Playhouse. This led to performing in summer stock at the Woodstock Playhouse in Little Mary Sunshine and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. (She got that last assignment by standing on a table at a cast party and proving to the producer that she really could belly dance).
Serious theatre studies followed at Bennington College, where, in her non-resident term she was the understudy and ASM for the Off-Broadway show, The Golden Screw (Provincetown Playhouse). She married early, followed her former husband around in the Army during the Viet Nam War, and continued to juggle college, performing and babies for several years. During that time she earned a Masters of Fine Arts in Theatre at Sarah Lawrence College. Having started in acting, her professional school studies included Circle in the Square, HB Studios, Steps, Broadway Dance Center, and private voice training. She performed in musicals at The Mahopac Farm Playhouse (Berthe in Pippin, Bonnie in Anything Goes, Lucetta in Two Gentlemen of Verona, Grandma Tseitel and Fruma Sara in Fiddler on the Roof). It was during her last year of undergraduate school, however, that she discovered directing – which seemed to tie together her skills in both visual arts and performing, while utilizing her abilities in literary analysis. Although she still occasionally performs – for example, at the Schoolhouse Theater as the Head Nun in House of Blue Leaves and in independent films – her love of directing has taken over and was the impetus to forming Hudson River Rep.
Laurie has directed numerous plays (mostly comedies) and musicals in both professional and university/community settings. Favorites include: Lend Me a Tenor, The Foreigner, The Nerd, Sylvia (Chappaqua Drama Group), Beau Jest, The Good Doctor (Schoolhouse Theater), Crawling Arnold (Quaigh Theatre), Driving Miss Daisy, I Hate Hamlet, Bedroom Farce and Deathtrap, Fuddy Meers (Shadowland Theatre), and Squabbles (Pioneer Playhouse). Musicals include: Carnival, Runaways, her own musical version of A Christmas Carol and Little Orphan Annie (before Annie came out), Fiddler on the Roof, Fiorello, and others. She’s also helped develop new plays produced in New York, and several short plays at Theatre Artists Workshop in Connecticut.
For several years she was an adjunct professor teaching performing arts and public speaking at area colleges, including several years at SUNY-Purchase. She is presently a private coach, successfully helping actors bring their audition material to life.
Laurie’s skills as a writer led her to the librettist workshop at BMI. She’s also studied filmmaking at the New School, where her first 16 mm film, For Married Women Only, won 3 prizes. She continues to write and is working on a musical adaptation of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow intertwined with other Washington Irving stories. In addition, she’s done some choreography and set design in some of the productions she’s directed. What she loves about directing is that it brings all the arts together.
Laurie has four children, now grown, two of whom are professional musical theatre performers and have been involved in Hudson River Repertory Company productions. Laurie is a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, Actors Equity Association, SAG-AFTRA, American Renaissance Theatre Company, Theatre Artists Workshop of CT, Theatre Resources Unlimited, and Dramatists Guild.
– Leanne Bishop, actor, stage and film
– Alden LaPaglia, Singer, Dancer, Actor