Orange County Theatre Reviews

Musical Theatre Orange County presents: The Little Mermaid @ PYLUSD Performing Arts Center in Plancentia – Review

(photo courtesy: MTOC) 

Written by Patrick Chavis 

Originally a Hans Christian Anderson story written in the 1800’s, The Little Mermaid underwent a serious revamping in 1989, courtesy of Disney. It created one of the most successful animate features in Disney filmography, while also cementing the title mermaid Ariel as one of their most popular princesses. There is no need for imagination here, Musical Theatre OC’s The Little Mermaid is Disney to the core.  The show posts a high production value–a fun familiar story and a mostly game cast with some minor direction issues. Continue Reading

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Shakespeare OC presents: The Tempest @ Strawberry Bowl in Garden Grove – Review

(Photo by Jordan Kubat)

Written by Alina Mae Wilson 

In order for a story about magic to have an impact on its audience, we obviously need Hollywood level special effects and an eight million dollar budget involved, right?  False.  I know this because I just saw Shakespeare/Summerfest’s production of The Tempest, and while I will not presume to make statements about their budget, I can say that while I initially considered magic and special effects necessary to make this story enjoyable, I have now been otherwise educated through this more spiritual take on the material. Continue Reading

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Welcome to the Splatter Zone! : Evil Dead The Musical @ Maverick Theater – Review

Written by Daniella Litvak 

Adapting a single film into a stage show is a challenge.  Adapting a film series into an under two-hour, musical theater extravaganza is a Herculean labor.  If you’re going to undertake such an audacious feat then you are going to need some audacious source material.  What better fits the bill than Sam Raimi’s cult classic Evil Dead trilogy?  Now I’ll be honest, most of my knowledge of the films comes more from pop culture osmosis rather than memories of watching them.  From what I do know and what people around me in the audience told me is that Evil Dead The Musical is fairly faithful to films —more importantly it captures the elements everyone loves about the movies.       Continue Reading

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“Parade” Paints a Dark Portrait of America @ Chance Theatre in Anaheim – Review

(All photos by Doug Catiller, True Image Studio)

Written by Scotty Keister 

Madison Miller as Monteen, Madeline Ellingson as Iola Stover, and Alissa Finn as Essie in PARADE

The musical Parade, now on stage at the Chance Theater, details the 1913 trial, conviction and lynching of Leo Frank, a Brooklyn Jew living in Marietta, Georgia. With a book by Alfred Uhry and music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown — both Tony Award winners for the show —it’s a dark, disturbing and unflinching look at American history. Despite Tony and Drama Desk awards, it was apparently too dark for Broadway in its 1998 premier, as it ran for only two months. After some retooling of the score, Parade reopened  at the Donmar Warehouse in London in 2007 before it moved on to Los Angeles and subsequent national tours. Continue Reading

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Top Hat 8 Repertory: Heathers The Musical in Tustin – Review

Written by Patrick Chavis 

Before  there was Mean Girls–a movie in the early 2000’s about a three-girl clique of popular girls dominating their high school with  pretty looks, attitude and cruel gags, there was a much darker, less comical movie in the earlier 90’s called Heathers–a movie about a three-girl clique dominating their high school with pretty looks, attitude and cruel gags. A musical version of Heathers was created much later and while it maintains some of the darkness of the original film it goes in a much more fun and comical direction.   Top Hat 8 Repertory’s version of Heathers High School Edition is done completely with high-schoolers.   While technically flawed in certain sections, the performance from much of the cast coupled with the movement thought up by the director and perfect live band accompaniment makes this production of Heathers a great first showing for anyone.   Continue Reading

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