Orange County Theatre Reviews

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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Garden Grove, Gem Theater, Musical, Preview, Theater Comments Off on Gypsy at the Gem Theater – Preview |

Gypsy at the Gem Theater – Preview

gypsy

Photo by George Skadding//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

Written by: Alina Mae Wilson 
 

It is 12:45 pm.  In just 2 days, 17 hours, 14 minutes and 7 seconds I will be seeing Gypsy at the Gem Theater in Garden Grove.  Having heard the songs and being familiar with the show’s reputation, I am very excited.

 

Set in the 50’s Gypsy is a musical loosely based on Rose Louise Hovick’s glorious ascension from less-talented-second-fiddle-playing-runner-up-child  to Queen of Burlesque Dancing.

 

Having spawned a critically acclaimed Broadway musical and two movies (plus the very loosely inspired film, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?) you can be pretty well assured that the story holds up. Whether the set work or the acting does this play justice. That remains to be seen  but with such a fun score and classic story I anticipate nothing but an entertaining night.

 

Location & dates :

 

August 21st – September 14th

 

12852 Main Street
Garden Grove, CA 92840

 

Admission : $25 general admission, $20 for seniors, $15 children, $10 student rush tickets

 

buy tickets @ this link GEM 

 

Below is a broadway version of Gypsy with famous song – EVERYTHING’S COMING UP ROSES sung by  Patti Lupone


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Little Chapel of Errors, Holds You With Spirit : Hair @ The Mysterium Theatre in Santa Ana – Review

hair1Written by Alina Mae Wilson 

Tonight I had my first experience with Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical at the Mysterium Theater in Santa Ana.

Yes that is correct, my first time seeing this iconic musical known for naked singing hippies, and I chose to see it in a little chapel.  There were multiple technical problems,  but the zeal of the people on stage balanced it out a bit.   Continue Reading

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