Orange County Theatre Reviews

Striking 12 @ The Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach – Review

STRIKING 12 - 3

Photo Courtesy : Laguna Playhouse

Written by Alina Mae Wilson 

There are so many different ways to impress an audience when telling a story.  Detailed sets and well made costumes can really get you in the right mood and whisk you away to the fantasy land of the creator’s choice.  Enhancement of the atmosphere is key.  Enhancing the atmosphere without the extravagant trimmings and elaborate details is exceptional.  For such an experience, one should attend Striking 12. Continue Reading

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Aerial Acrobatics Can’t Elevate Pippin – Pippin @ Segerstrom Center of Performing Arts in Costa Mesa

Guest Writer

Written by Joel Beers 

It’s the same song as the “Pippin” you may be familiar with, but the national tour of the 2013 Tony Award-winner for best revival of a musical is definitely not the same dance. While some aspects of the legendary Bob Fosse,

http://www.scfta.org/

http://www.scfta.org/

who directed and choreographed the production that earned 10 1973 Tony Awards nominations and ran for nearly 2,000 performances on Broadway, remain intact, this Diane Paulus-directed show is infused with aerial acrobatics and a circus-like feel that is often jaw-dropping to watch.

Unfortunately, it’s about the only thing that is exciting about the show. Although Steven Schwartz (“Godspell,” Wicked”) received a Tony nomination for his score, there’s a reason he didn’t win. The music is largely undistinguished and the lyrics less than inspired. Most problematic, however, is Roger O. Hirson’s book. The idea of Pippin was weird in the first place—a coming to age, Siddharthan-like tale of the quest of the youngest son of legendary Medieval king Charlemagne to find fulfillment. But the execution of that story—from soldier, to artist, to religious acolyte, to farmer to ritualistic suicide shaman—seems hopelessly mired in the pining, self-centered psyche of the Me Generation era. No amount of physical bells and whistles can overshadow that.

Sasha Allen is a dynamic leading player (the role Ben Vereen is most known for) although she’s a little breathy at times, and there are fantastic performances from the ensemble, who are as equally talented singers and dancers as they are acrobats. In the supporting roles, Lucie Arnaz is an eminently likeable Berthe and the lithe and leggy Sabrina Harris, as Pippin’s manipulative step-mother, Fastrada, nearly steals every scene she’s in. But Kyle Dean Massey, who shared in playing the role on Broadway, can do nothing with the terrible dialogue and motivation he’s given. The guy’s got a great voice, but his Pippin is more whiny and petulant than heroic and adventurous. You feel his frustration at wanting to live an extraordinary life, but you also wish he’d stop coming off as a spoiled brat. By the time he is forced with his climactic decision—The Lizard King perched above a flaming pyre and exhorted by the rest of his fellow troubadours to sacrifice himself for his calling—it feels less like an urgent dramatic moment, and more of an acid trip that wasn’t that trippy to begin with gone bad.

This 21st Century “Pippin” is a delight to look at it. But it remains a bore to listen to.

6/10

Date & Location :

November 11 – 23, 2014

Segerstrom Center for the Arts
600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, CA

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Into the Woods – They Still Got It (Thoughts on the Reunion and the Show In General) @ Segerstrom Center of Performing Art in Costa Mesa

MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THOSE UNFAMILIAR WITH THE SHOW

Written by Alina Mae Wilson 

 It has been confirmed.  That spark of electricity that made the original Broadway cast of Into the Woods so unutterably unique still remains.  I can say this with absolute certainty, because I just attended the Into the Woods reunion performance this past weekend at Segerstrom Center of Performing Art in Costa Mesa.  It was so beautiful, I fell in love again.

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Garden Grove, Gem Theater, Musical, Review, Uncategorized Comments Off on Just pull your little finger : Assassins @ Gem Theatre in Garden Grove – Review |

Just pull your little finger : Assassins @ Gem Theatre in Garden Grove – Review

Left to Right Alex Bodrero as John Wilkes Booth, Evan Guido

Adriana Sanchez as Sara Jane Moore and Gretchen Dawson as Ly

Adriana Sanchez as Sara Jane Moore and Gretchen Dawson as Ly

Written by Alina Mae Wilson 

Everyone has got the right to be happy–even and especially the people who want to kill the president(s) of the United States.   This exploration of a killer’s humanity takes place in GEM Theater’s musical Assassins.  Lively, well casted, and somewhat educational, Assassins succeeds in keeping the viewer’s attention all the way through.

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Merrily We Roll Along @ Cal State University Long Beach – Review

Merrily-review

photo courtesy : Keith Ian Polakoff Joseph Ruggiero as Frank and Emily Turner as Gussie

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Cal State Long Beach’s production of Merrily We Roll Along boasts some great performances that are ultimately overshadowed by serious blocking issues, that make the performance a little less “Merry” and a lot more disappointing.  

 

Merrily We Roll Along follows the twisting tale of wealthy and influential songwriter and film producer, Franklin Shepard.  The show opens with a party being thrown in Shepard’s honor, only to reveal to the audience that despite his popularity and financial success, the most valued relationships in his life are now in shambles.  The show begins to go backwards in time to reveal episodes from his past that might answer the question of where it all went wrong. At its most basic level, its the story of success not being the end all be all in life.  

 

Working backwards scene by scene, I was reminded a little of movies like Citizen Kane that follow a similar storyline.   And while the question of “where did it all go wrong?” is never definitively  answered, the everyday occurrences of life might be enough to hold our attention if not for one simple thing–the blocking.

 

The staging was distracting beyond belief.   It would appear that someone for some reason thought that large, strange set pieces/walls with holes and little windows would serves as artistic, creative, and avant garde.  While the pieces certainly resembled many other art pieces/paintings that can be seen any number of times in a modern day art exhibit, they do little to enhance the enjoyability of the show.  This is due to the fact that the stage is set in the middle of the audience and the set pieces block at least half of the performance at any given time.   While the pieces were utilized as both “boards”  to write the year on and props (such as doors) I would rather see the performers over the backs of boards any day.  

The strongest performances came from the actors playing Mary(Colleen McCandless) and Charley (Daniel Nakawatase), the blocking and dancing from the rest of the performers was somewhat stilted.  

 
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Chapman, Musical, Orange, Uncategorized Comments Off on The Japanese, Got Soul : Hot Mikado @ Chapman University – Review |