Orange County Theatre Reviews

fullerton, Maverick Theatre, Review, Uncategorized Comments Off on Life in Small Doses : Avenue Q @ The Maverick in Fullerton – Review |

Life in Small Doses : Avenue Q @ The Maverick in Fullerton – Review

Photo Courtesy : AUSTIN BAUMAN

Written by Erin Tobin

School may be out, but there are still a lot of life lessons to be learned at the Maverick Theater in Fullerton. That’s where you’ll find Avenue Q, the Sesame Street parody that won Tony-Awards on Broadway for dealing out the harsh truths of the real world via whimsical songs, colorful puppets and an unapologetic lack of political correctness.

Told in a series of vignettes and performed mostly by actors using hand puppets, this musical follows a young college graduate named Princeton, puppeted and performed by Tyler McGraw, who has no idea what to do with his life now that he has his BA in English. A lack of funds leads him to Avenue Q (he started at Avenue A, but nothing was in his price range) a dingy and worn down collection of buildings in New York City, home to an eclectic group of characters as well as the building’s super, Gary Colman, played by Adair Gilliam and one of three non-puppet characters. Princeton’s new neighbors all agree it sucks being them, but they happily accept it as they figure out what to do with their lives. As Princeton tries to find his purpose, Kate Monster, puppeted by Rachel McLaughlan, tries to get a boyfriend. Nicky, puppeted by both Kevin Garcia and Jilly Pretzel at the same time like a conjoined twin duet, wants to help his roommate and best friend Rod, puppeted by Michael Rodriguez, feel comfortable enough to come out of the closet and Christmas Eve and her fiance Brian, played with brilliant vocal talent by Bachi Dillague and funny man Curtis Anderson, are both struggling to move past their young adult lifestyles and into more mature careers. Along the way, other puppeted characters both help and hinder the residents, such as the sultry Lucy the Slut, puppeted by a sultry Tara Alkazian, and the juvenile Bad Idea Bears. Continue Reading

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Garden Grove, Gem Theater, Musical, Review, Uncategorized Comments Off on Double Dose of Emotion : Next To Normal @ The Gem Theatre in Garden Grove – Review |

Double Dose of Emotion : Next To Normal @ The Gem Theatre in Garden Grove – Review

Written by Daniella Litvak 

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Photographer ONE MORE PRODUCTIONS

Next to Normal  is the gripping story of an American woman named Diana Goodman and her family’s struggle with her bipolar disorder. In rock n’ roll fashion we are treated to the various effects the disorder has on herself and the people around her. In both tone and message the show manages to fit in with other rock musicals/operas like The Who’s Tommy or Pink Floyd’s The Wall.  Some of the larger differences between the shows have to do with the fact that Tommy and The Wall can give their audiences comfort in that the horrors visited upon their  protagonists are so absurd, so surreal, they feel unlikely to happen in real life. What makes Next To Normal so dark is that the Goodman family feel like people who make up our normal, everyday lives–and the tragedies they experience could happen to anyone.

For what it’s worth, the show tries to end as optimistically as possible. However, one still leaves feeling emotionally exhausted. So if you are looking for a light-hearted romp or an escapist fantasy, this isn’t the show to see. On the other hand, don’t let the fear of angst make you miss out on a really good show. Continue Reading

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Camino Real Playhouse, Review, Theater, Uncategorized Comments Off on “In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play)” @ Camino Real Playhouse in San Juan Capistrano |

“In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play)” @ Camino Real Playhouse in San Juan Capistrano

Written by Scotty Keister

Having already seen and loved Sarah Ruhl’s Dead Man’s Cell Phone earlier this year, I was well prepared for this 2010 Tony and Pulitzer Prize nominated play “In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play).” However, as currently staged at the Camino Real Playhouse’s Stage II, this production doesn’t live up to the more cerebral demands of Ruhl’s works. Her plays are heady treatises on the folly of human endeavor that manage to find hope amidst the shards of love and relationships. They are populated by humans at odds with the world around them, where a central female character struggles against both people and events to find some harmony and truth. They’re also damn funny.

Directed by Rick Kerrigan, this rather timid production plays more like an English drawing-room comedy, in that it manages to capture the story’s humor. But it fails to mine the deeper depths that lay within Ruhl’s characters. The story takes place in the 1880’s New York era and concerns a Dr. Givings.  He is experimenting with a certain kind of electrical stimulation meant to treat women for “hysteria” – basically depression due to sexual frustration, not a condition that society would ever recognize in that era. Dr. Givings is essentially using a homemade vibrator on his female patients to produce orgasms (or paroxysms, as Dr. Givings indifferently calls them), which is something they’ve never experienced before. Miraculously, they suddenly feel much, much better. Coincidentally Dr. Givings’ wife Catherine is herself depressed due to her inability to produce enough milk to breast feed her newborn. Catherine’s own nature is, however, lost on her husband, who sees women only as experimental subjects. The doctor does have resounding success with his new patient, Sabrina Daldry, who becomes rather addicted to the treatment, and who encourages Catherine to try it on herself.  Continue Reading

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hollywood fringe, Review, Uncategorized Comments Off on Eleanor’s Story: An American Girl in Hitler’s Germany @ Theatre of Note in Hollywood – Review |

Eleanor’s Story: An American Girl in Hitler’s Germany @ Theatre of Note in Hollywood – Review

Written by Patrick Chavis 

When you talk about a war not lacking in coverage, WW2 might be the most covered war in America’s history (no actual research on this). Because of P1010091this serious saturation of media, we are all very familiar with this time period– Nazis were vicious, Hitler was a huge prick, and  there was of course a serious loss of life in the infamous death camps which are now the standard by which many people measure humanity’s capacity for evil.  Vitally important stories, but since they are told so often I don’t usually jump at the chance to see another one of these shows. And it occurs to me, do I need to see another WW2 show? Maybe Schindler’s List got it right the first time.

It turns out the answer to my question is yes. After watching Ingrid Garner, granddaughter to author Eleanor Garner, act out a play based on Eleanor’s life story, the answer is a resounding yes. The play brings with it the realization that this story I have heard over, and over, and over again,  was really not that long ago.   It is still very relevant and worthy of attention. All alone, Ingrid Garner tells us a passionate and  youthful story about the dangers of war and its destructive power on everything it touches. This story is taken from the perspective of a young Eleanor who was very much a child when her family made the mistake of moving to Germany during WW2. While watching this play we grow up with Eleanor as she learns how to adapt to Nazi Germany and experiences a life vastly different from her American one.   Continue Reading

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Attic Theatre, Musical, Review, Santa Ana, Uncategorized Comments Off on 9 to 5 : The Musical @ The Attic Theatre in Santa Ana – Review |

9 to 5 : The Musical @ The Attic Theatre in Santa Ana – Review

Written by Daniella Litvak 

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Photo Courtesy : Jennifer Owens

After a long workweek, there is nothing like escaping to the theatre and watching people on stage complain about their jobs. In this play 9 to 5 at the Attic Theatre, we get to meet three of these people. Judy (Allison C. McGuire) recently entered the workforce for the first time because of her divorce. Violet (Maggie Ikerd) was passed over for a promotion. Oh, and everyone thinks Doralee (Nicole Gerardi) is sleeping with the boss.   The person responsible for all this misery is Franklin Hart – a “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” and CEO of Consolidated Companies.  Judy, Violet, and Doralee fantasize about taking Hart down, not realizing their dreams are about to come true.

Going into the show, I knew 9 to 5 had been adapted from a pretty successful 80s movie I never watched about disgruntled employees exacting revenge on their boss. Knowing that, I was really surprised in how much the show indulged in spectacle: a gangster movie sequence, a chorus line dressed exactly like the secondary antagonist, animated animals, and I could go on. Continue Reading

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Attic Theatre, podcast, Santa Ana, Uncategorized Comments Off on AMB Theatre Podcast #19 presented by OCR – 9 to 5 : The Musical @ Attic Community Theater in Santa Ana |