Orange County Theatre Reviews

Anaheim, podcast, Uncategorized Comments Off on Maple & Vine @ The Chance Theater in Anaheim – Orange Curtain Podcast #3 |

Maple & Vine @ The Chance Theater in Anaheim – Orange Curtain Podcast #3

Written & Recorded by : Patrick Chavis 

Question & answer segment with the cast of Maple & Vine @ the Chance Theater.  

Synopsis: Katha and her husband Ryu have become allergic to their 21st-century lives. After they meet a charismatic man from a community of 1950s re-enactors, they forsake cell phones and sushi for cigarettes and Tupperware parties. In this compulsively authentic Eisenhower America, Katha and Ryu are surprised by what their new neighbors—and they themselves—are willing to sacrifice for happiness.

Buy tickets here:
http://chancetheater.com/production/maple-vine/

Date & Location :
September 19, 2014 — October 19, 2014

Chance Theater
5522 E. La Palma Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92807

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Anaheim, The Chance Theater, Theater, Uncategorized Comments Off on Present & Future collide : Maple & Vine @ The Chance Theater in Anaheim – Review |

Present & Future collide : Maple & Vine @ The Chance Theater in Anaheim – Review

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Actor James McHale plays Roger/Omar

Written by Alina Mae Wilson 

Have you ever had a conversation with a schoolmate or a friend that focused on the possibility of living in another time, I definitely have.  This question is thoroughly and enjoyably explored in Jordan Harrison’s Maple and Vine.

The story follows a husband and wife, Ryu and Katha.  Briefly put, the two are unhappy with the current state of their lives.  Work is unpleasant, life is noisy, marital relations are virtually nonexistent, they simply aren’t happy.  So in the pursuit of a happier existence they join an enclosed community of people who live, eat, work, talk, dress, and overall behave as though they are eternally in 1955.  It’s an interesting premise, carried out in a fairly interesting way.  I found myself invested in the story.  I cared about what happened to these people.  And they managed to touch on all of the issues that would occur to most people considering such an excursion–not just the benefits of technological advancements, but what kind of social environment one would be subjected to?  Would a person be forced to give us certain morals?  Political ideologies?  Would one necessarily be “happier” in such a life?  Or are we in fact meant to search for happiness, no matter what time period we are in?

Maple-003

Actress Jennifer Ruckman plays Katha

It is a thought provoking story.  Not just for the resurrection of the “when would you live if you could live anywhere” question that my friends and I discussed at lunch time in middle school, but I think if it makes even one person recommit to the idea that human interaction is beneficial to eternity on a cell phone, I’ll consider it a success.  At the same time, it acknowledges the progress we as a society have made.  I don’t really consider any stone unturned here, and that is one of the reasons it works so well.  There aren’t any real “plot holes” so to speak.  Perhaps questions not wholly resolved by the end, but I don’t think it’s in any way damaged for that.

The acting was decent, with everyone getting their points across fairly well.  There was a time during the first part where Katha speaks in a consistent tone of stressing every word in precisely the same way.  I think we’re supposed to accept this as a character trait exhibiting just how unchanging and depressing her life is, but it just comes across as though they don’t understand the idea of emoting or the possibility of changing inflections for different sentences.  Katha ability to speak like a human being blossoms in Act II and suddenly she is much more tolerable as a character.

Other than my problem with Katha during her modern-day-mode, the acting in the show is reasonably solid and convincing.   My personal favorite was Ryu, simply because I like that character the most, but there are a few other colorful individuals to choose from.  Set design is fine, with good use of color.  Again, the best part of this show is simply the conversation starters that pop up throughout.  It’s thought provoking and entertaining.  I wish I could recommend it to any group but there is some pretty strong language in their that might not go over well if you bring a kid with you. Still, I’m of the opinion that kids would understand the technological and social benefits of such an experiment as undertaken in Maple and Vine.

8/10

Buy tickets here:
http://chancetheater.com/production/maple-vine/

Date & Location :
September 19, 2014 — October 19, 2014

Chance Theater
5522 E. La Palma Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92807

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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

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(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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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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