Orange County Theatre Reviews

Free, Review, Santa Ana, South Coast Repertory, Theater Comments Off on Looking Over Santa Ana : The Long Road Today/El Largo Camino de Hoy – Review |

Looking Over Santa Ana : The Long Road Today/El Largo Camino de Hoy – Review

“Santa Ana Toy Theater” A collaborative work by Adriana Sanchez Alexander, Chilo Te, Zuleica Zepeda

Written by Alina Mae Wilson 
I recently attended  The Long Road Today/El Largo Camino de Hoy in Santa Ana, which  is a story centering on the community’s response to the death of a young boy playing in the streets of Santa Ana.  With a large cast and crew running around determined to bring the audience different stories and experiences, the show is muddled and lacks decisive strength.

The play is a walk-through show meaning you’re standing the entire time.  The production takes place outside, and it begins when each audience member receives a card with the image of their “tour guide” on it.  Once the prologue concludes, everyone begins to walk through the show.  It doesn’t matter which tour guide you get or what order you see the scenes in because the characters are fairly independent of each other–they are just different people showing varied responses to the same event.  I want to give them their props, this is a pretty neat idea and it’s always cool to see something different.  Unfortunately the execution is just not there.

The sound issues are distracting.  I am all about suspension of disbelief, but it really takes away from the current performance, when I can hear the scenes going on at the other side of the courtyard. Things are spaced pretty far apart as they are.  I suppose if placed inside a building and the audience walks from room to room instead of yard to yard some sort of sound proofing could be placed into effect, but that might make it harder for the audience to travel without smashing into each other.  It might just be one of the hazards of putting on a play in this format.  Not sure what the solution to this particular problem is.

There were puppets.  Several puppets.  Personally, I could do without a few of the puppets.  But they seem to go over well with the children. I tried to keep an eye on them to see how they were enjoying things, and it seems to really be a 50/50 shot as far as how they cope.  Some kids laugh, others sort of pace around in circles during the more tedious parts of the show, despite the actors urging them to come forward and dance at surprising and infrequent intervals.  If you are worried about whether or not your little ones will be scarred for life from such gory material, don’t be.  You know your kid best of course, but the fact of the matter is that the actual death scene is done with a car made from a poster cut out. The subject matter is very dramatic and there are people crying but I didn’t notice any children getting particularly freaked out by anything going on.

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My main problem with the show is it’s so undecided.  It wants to be both light and dark, both life and death. Moments that should be filled with pain and anguish fall flat because the actor seems to be holding back (possibly because she knows that another scene is taking place fifty feet away)  and moments that should be lighthearted and entertaining are for the most part sporadic and confusing.  There was a vague outline of an overarching theme but for the most part it was pretty nondescript. Since the story is so spread out over many years the ending I felt sort of comes out of nowhere. 

As far as comprehension goes, if you do not speak Spanish/you have relatives that don’t speak English I am sure you’ll be able to understand the gist of what is going on.  It is mostly just a matter of patience.  Do you have the patience to stand through a minute or two of dialogue in a language that you aren’t fluent in?  If so you will be just fine.

All in all, if you want to educate your child on the dangers of playing in the street, take them to this show.  If you want to familiarize yourself a bit with the culture of Santa Ana, or if you want to brush up on your Spanish, or just want to watch a play in a format you might not have seen before, go to this show.  For the purpose of pure entertainment though, I wouldn’t recommend it.

Side note : Certain actors were particularly believable.  I really enjoyed the performances of Selene Peréz who plays Luz, Bryan Alejandro Perez who plays Yound Salvador, and Samuel Matthews who plays one of the Andrés boys.  Well done to all three.

7/10

Location & Dates : City of Santa Ana Civic Center Plaza September 18th,2014-September 28,201 

Admission : Free

Check out the plot synopsis and ticket information here:http://www.scr.org/calendar/view?id=7331

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Costa Mesa, Review, shakespeare, South Coast Repertory, Theater, Uncategorized Comments Off on Phenomenal Magic, Good Shakespeare : The Tempest @ South Coast Repertory – Review |

Phenomenal Magic, Good Shakespeare : The Tempest @ South Coast Repertory – Review

tsc_tempest_25

(left to right) Manelich Minniefee& Zachary Eisenstat (Caliban) Tom Nelis (Prospero)

Written by Alina Mae Wilson 

William Shakespeare’s The Tempest at the South Coast Repertory promised me magic and wonder, which it delivered enthusiastically, albeit single-minded.  Meaning,  I wish all of their actors were as skilled as their magicians.

The story focuses on the usurped Duke Prospero’s quest for vengeance after his brother’s Antonio fails to kill him.  Prospero escapes to an island with magical books and supplies were he becomes a sorcerer residing with his daughter Miranda and his spirit slave Ariel, waiting for his moment of revenge. The play begins with Prospero using his magic to create a tempest ship wreaking the the king and many other royals including Antonio onto his island. From there, we watch the interactions between the spirits and the group of visitors.  Continue Reading

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Costa Mesa, Into The Woods, Musical, Uncategorized Comments Off on “Into The Woods” Celebration (Into My Heart) – Preview |

“Into The Woods” Celebration (Into My Heart) – Preview

(Left to Right) Danielle Ferland, Ben Wright, Kim Crosby, Chip Zien and Bernadette Peters in a scene from "Into the Woods" at the Martin Beck Theatre.

(Left to Right) Danielle Ferland, Ben Wright, Kim Crosby, Chip Zien and Bernadette Peters in a scene from “Into the Woods” at the Martin Beck Theatre.

Written by Alina Mae Wilson 

A celebration of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Into the Woods will be presented  on November 9th at California’s Segerstrom Center for the Arts.   The evening will be part conversation and part musical selection and (drumroll please) will feature original cast members Bernadette Peters, Joanna Gleason, Chip Zien, Bernadette Peters, Robert Westenberg, Kim Crosby, Danielle Ferland, Ben Wright, and of course, the inestimable composer and lyricist Mr. Sondheim himself, as well as Bernadette Peters.  So essentially every character you immediately think of when you think of Into the Woods.   Continue Reading

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Fox Theater, fullerton, Uncategorized Comments Off on Comedy Show for Autism at the historic Fox Theater- Preview |

Comedy Show for Autism at the historic Fox Theater- Preview

Written by: Patrick Chavis 
 

Built in 1925, shut down in 1987 and now recently restored and open to the public, The Fox Theater is a true theatrical institution in Orange County. Whether you want to give to a good cause or just have a good laugh. Being able to sit in the Fox Theater and admire the atmosphere is something that was impossible to do just a few years ago. Seriously, step in and be transported in time, it’s so worth it.

 

 Buy tickets at this link:

http://www.tix.com/Event.asp?Event=677361

 

Location & Dates:

500 N. Harbor Blvd Fullerton, CA 92832

September, 12, 2014

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Costa Mesa, Preview, South Coast Repertory, Theater Comments Off on William Shakespeare’s : The Tempest at South Coast Repertory – Preview |

William Shakespeare’s : The Tempest at South Coast Repertory – Preview

Liz Filios, Joel Davel, Matt Spencer and Miche Braden in South C

Liz Filios, Joel Davel, Matt Spencer and Miche Braden : Courtesy: South Coast Repertory

Written by: Alina Mae Wilson 
 

You can’t go wrong with Shakespeare.  I take that back, it is actually mind-blowingly easy to go wrong with Shakespeare.   It is so unpleasant to watch actors in uncomfortable costumes,  uncomfortably performing their lines, making you feel uncomfortable because you don’t know what they are saying and it’s entirely possible, neither do they. The story follows a former Duke named Prospero who uses sorcery to plot vengeance against the people who wronged him.  So far I’m excited, I always wondered what The Count of Monte Cristo (similar revenge story)  would have been like if Emond Dantes had known witchcraft.

 

I’ve  heard some good things about the special effects that will be showcased in the performance, especially from the creative team responsible for the show.  In their video detailing why this particular production of “The Tempest” stands out from the others, director Aaron Posner calls it “the hardest, the most challenging, and the most…thrilling production” he has ever been part of.  He also went on to refer to his co-director Teller(one part of the magic duo Penn & Teller) as a genius, and that this production has the type of magic Shakespeare wished he had.  Wow. I’m not skeptical, I’m impressed by the obvious passion and fervor that went into this project and I hope it shows.

 

Side note :

Singer song writer Tom Waits also collaborated musically  with Kathleen Brennan on the music.

 

Ticket Info at the website:

http://www.scr.org/calendar/view?id=6891

 

Location & Dates :  

South Coast Repertory
655 Town Center Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

August 29, 2014 – September 28, 2014

 

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Stripping with Style: Gypsy @ The Gem Theater in Garden Grove – Review

Nicole Cassesso

Nicole Cassesso in Gypsy at The GEM Theater Courtesy: Gem Theater

Written by Alina Mae Wilson  
From picking up my ticket to driving away my experience with Gypsy at the Gem Theater was a pleasant one.  With a well acted script and some pretty costumes, the relatively minor sound and lighting issues were easily overshadowed.

Gypsy is a musical loosely based on the mother daughter relationship between revered burlesque performer Gypsy Rose Lee (Louise) and to a lesser extent her little sister June Hovick and her abrasive stage mother Rose Hovick. Burlesque existed before Gypsy Rose Lee but the classic witticisms she interjected into her routine put her in a class of her own.

 While it is true that Beth Hansen who played Mama Rose lacked consistent emotion in some of the earlier numbers (“Some People” for example) I would imagine this can either be attributed to her conserving energy for some of the later numbers or to her just warming up in the beginning.  While I would have liked to see such utter “oneness” with her character from start to finish, watching her go off her meds onstage for “Coming Up Roses” and “Rose’s Turn” is just so enjoyable I almost don’t mind the earlier slips.  My heart was fairly welling with emotion for this person at the end of the show.

I felt Nicole Cassesso was convincing as Louise.  This is a huge deal because while Mama Rose has the leisure of having singularly driven tunnel vision, Louise is seen feeling differently at vitally different points in her life.  I have always considered Louise to be more like three characters than one.

On the subject of Louise’s baton twirling sister June I will say this– I wish June had been less obnoxious.  I realize that to a certain degree this is intended, but easing up just a notch would have made the character more identifiable and believable as not only a real person but as a member of the family.  Louise and Rose receive the courtesy of not being treated as caricatures, and I wish June did as well.

They had an interesting take on Rose’s love interest Herbie.   His mellowness throughout did not always seem to jive with his identity–mainly in that his moments of anger appeared disingenuous.  This effectively distanced me from these supposedly tumultuous moments.  Having said that  the sweeter interactions  between him and Rose were clearly loving and affectionate.

So the technical issues–they were there, but pretty minute.  There were maybe two songs where the live band overpowered the singing, and only one scene where the lighting irritated me.  This was particularly noticeable as this was the last scene and in order to emphasize the drama and emotional state of the character onstage they lit everything up as brightly as they possibly could.  This would have been fine except this also lit up about half of the audience, giving the illusion that the show had ended prematurely.  I get the need to set the scene but they definitely could have afforded to tone it down a bit.

I am very glad that I saw this production.  I went in expecting a fun and engaging musical performance and I was not disappointed.  Just overlook the few and far between moments of sound and lighting troubles and you will find yourself bobbing your head and awing in sympathy for the conditions of the main characters in this exciting  American story.

side note:

On a slightly different topic, but definitely in relation to the overall atmosphere, this place had the best concession stand I had ever seen inside a theater, community or not.  They had cakes.  Many cakes, baked by volunteers working backstage.  And the typical cookies and brownies.  That and the fact that they did not rush the audience made for a relaxed intermission.

The ticket price $25.00 per ticket,$20 for seniors over 60 years old, $15 dollars for children 12 years or younger and $10 student rush tickets.

Ticket info at the website :

http://www.onemoreproductions.com/

Location & Dates :

12852 Main Street, Garden Grove, CA 92840

August 21 – September 14, 2014

8.2/10

(from right to left) Margie Ikerd-Gyorgy, Fiona Claire Wynder,Carmen Tunis Courtesy : Gem Theater

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