Orange County Theatre Reviews

fullerton, Review, Stagestheatre, Theater, Uncategorized Comments Off on Monuments & Dogs of War @ STAGEStheatre in Fullerton – Review |

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Raised in Captivity @ STAGEStheatre in Fullerton – Review

Written by Daniella Litvak 

You know that famous Tolstoy quote — it’s in the opening line to Anna Karenina, and it goes, “All happy families are like one another; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”  Seeing STAGEStheatre’s production of playwright Nicky Silver’s Raised in Captivity reminded me just how true that quote really is.   Continue Reading

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Hurts So Good : Rajiv Joseph’s Gruesome Playground Injuries @ STAGEStheatre in Fullerton – Review

Written by Patrick Chavis 

When starring as the Joker in The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger asks a fearful Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal), “Do you know how I got these scars?”  Without the obviously threatening context, the words themselves leave you with a feeling close to what I experienced while watching Rajiv Josephs’ Gruesome Playground Injuries.  The aesthetics of the play do seem a little self-centered, in a “please watch this because it’s so important” kind of way. However, the human dialogue and chemistry between the two actors on stage combined with well thought out direction within the scenes made this one of best shows I’ve seen at STAGEStheatre thus far.  Continue Reading

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fullerton, Review, Stagestheatre, Theater, Uncategorized Comments Off on Erin vs Scotty : All My Sons @ STAGEStheatre – Double Review |

Erin vs Scotty : All My Sons @ STAGEStheatre – Double Review

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All My Sons, Still Potent and Timely

Written by Scotty Keister 

Arthur Miller’s All My Sons was his first commercial success, first produced on Broadway in 1947 and twice made into films, in ’48 and ’87. It has a slow misleading first act that builds eventually to a powerful climax that unexpectedly becomes a slam against wartime profiteering on the part of American industry. Based on the true story of Wright Aeronautical Corporation that transpired in ’41-’43, it tells the story of All-American good guy, Joe Keller, who has been keeping some deep, dark secrets, and how those secrets ultimately lead to devastating tragedy. It’s pretty much a framework for American drama in the 40s and 50s that Miller was to become a master of with The Crucible, Death of a Salesman and View from the Bridge.

Joe Parrish directs the production at Stages Theatre and also plays the lead role of Joe Keller. It’s another offering in his successful production of classic American theater over the past several years on Fullerton stages. Parrish has a knack for ferreting out the essential heart of the dramas as well as nailing down heartfelt and powerful performances himself in Long Day’s Journey into Night, Twelve Angry Men and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

All My Sons is no exception. His supporting cast here is too young in a few roles, but not to any crucial detriment. Arlyn McDonald is Joe’s wife Kate, who for three years has been holding onto desperate hope that her eldest son Larry, MIA in the South Pacific war zone, is still alive, when all others have given up on him. This includes their younger son Chris, also a veteran, and Larry’s former fiancé, Ann, who is now planning to marry Chris. Of course, this is unacceptable to Kate; Ann is Larry’s girl. McDonald excels as Kate, linking together moments of grief and anger to powerful effect. Ann, a former neighbor, has come back to town to claim Chris’ affection and is astonished that Kate has still not given up on Larry. Christi Pedigo, as the somewhat bewildered Ann, is a strong presence throughout. Nate Ruleaux as Chris comes off as too whiny in the first half of the play, whereas Chris is supposed to be an all-around buoyant nice guy who loves his dad unconditionally. However, Ruleaux builds up to some strong moments by the play’s conclusion, as do the rest of the cast.

There are so many secrets at work here undermining this romantic quagmire that the first half of the show leads one unfamiliar with the story, as I was, to suspect something wholly different is going on. It’s only when we learn about Ann’s father Steve – Joe’s former partner – and their involvement in building faulty aircraft parts, as well as Joe’s and Steve’s incarceration, that the story really starts to take form. When Ann’s brother George (played with controlled fire by Zackary Salene) arrives to spirit Ann away the secrets start to break free and the momentum of the show begins a steady build to what becomes a startling uncovering of a web of lies going back many years.

All this is handled beautifully by a controlled cast, including Phil Brickey, Sara LaFramboise, Dennis Blanchard and Aly Easton as various neighbors, friendly, or decidedly unfriendly, towards the Kellers. The set is a simple framework of a much worn house and porch, and a few pieces of lawn furniture, built for realism by John Gaw. Andrea Birkholm did the subtle period costumes. Highly recommended for a dose of good-old American theatre that still packs a punch, with a timely story that is as potent now as it was 70 years ago, possibly more so.

The show runs through February 21, Fridays-Sundays.

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fullerton, Press Releases, Stagestheatre Comments Off on It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play Comes Home to STAGEStheatre for the Holidays |

It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play Comes Home to STAGEStheatre for the Holidays

Fullerton CA—There aren’t many things that signal the beginning of the holiday season quite like watching It’s a Wonderful Life.  STAGEStheatre is proud to kick off the holiday season with the adaptation of this heartwarming classic. In Joe Landry’s adaptation, Its a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play it’s December 24, 1946 in Studio A at WSTG Radio and a cast of actors are preparing to present Its a Wonderful Life live to their listening audience. With the help of a pianist and a sound effects artist, the ensemble recreates the story of George Bailey, a young man whose dreams of traveling the world are thwarted by his sense of responsibility to the family business. Down on his luck, George Bailey, a compassionate yet disheartened businessman, is at the end of his rope, questioning his purpose in life. Just when he comes to believe that life is not worth the effort, some divine intervention allows him to see the way that his life has affected all those he loves, and he learns what his life is really worth.  Continue Reading

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The 39 Steps is a Galloping Good Time @ STAGEStheatre in Fullerton – Review

Scotty Keister 

Patrick Barlow’s madcap adaptation of the 1935 Hitchcock thriller, “The 39 Steps” (from the novel by John Buchan) seems like it’s getting staged a lot these days, and that’s easy to understand. It requires very few props, no scenery, only four actors, and when done well, it’s a freaking hoot. Stages Theatre takes on the task and succeeds admirably about 97% of the time. The unique aspect to this show is, it not only is slapstick, abstract and always on the move, but it actually has a recognizable mystery plot, a genuine character arc and a nifty surprise ending, very true to Hitchcock. This production features four adept and funny performers, some silly and hysterical ideas from director Jill Johnson and onstage piano accompaniment by Jeffrey Larson, which helps to cover some of the slower scene changes. In this show, any pause longer than 5 seconds seems like a lifetime. The pace is that frenetic. Continue Reading

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