Orange County Theatre Reviews

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Written by Patrick Chavis 

In the 1800’s because of the arrival of famous polish theatre actress Helena Modjeska and other notable actors and actresses, the Tustin and Santa Ana area theatre scene started to gain traction. They would perform shows at French’s Opera House in Santa Ana and a few other venues in the Orange County region.  

Although they were successful in 1800’s the transition into 1900’s was not a good one. The theatre culture in the 1900’s consisted of only a handful of people, mostly teachers at Tustin High School contributing to the musical scene. [3]

“Unfortunately, the town hit a creative dry spell after the turn of the century. Those longing for dramatic entertainment had only the plays put on by the drama students at Tustin High School. Then things changed in the late 1940s.” [1]

According to the book Tustin as it Once Was Florence and Harold Turney got their friends together one fateful day, May Rose Borum a drama teacher at Tustin High School and Norman Mennes an ex-Tustin High School Drama student, and started a summer theatre program called The Holiday Stage. The group would interview people during winter and spring and then put on shows in the Summer.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 10.01.08 AMThe Holiday Stage had a hard time opening their first shows in 1947. Their first 3 shows, State of the Union, Petticoat Fever and Royal Family, were flops.  The Theatre company almost called it quits, but they tried one more production, Three Men on a Horse.  The show was successful, but it wasn’t enough to sustain the Holiday Stage productions, and they stopped producing shows around 1949. At the height of its popularity in 1948 the Holiday Stage was mentioned in Billboard Magazine, a New York publication. At the time it was called The Billboard, and it focused on all types of entertainment. It wouldn’t be until later that Billboard‘s focus would be relegated to only the music industry. [2]

You can learn even more about Tustin Theatrical history @ The Tustin Area Museum in Old Town Tustin http://www.tustinhistory.com/

[1] History, Taken from Tustin as it Once Was…  Here 

[2] The Billboard

[3]Tustin News article and the Column “Remember When” Juanita Lovert

Do you like this article? would you like me to post more? let us know in the comments. Any nuggets on Orange County Theatre history please contact us @ theorangecurtainrev@yahoo.com  

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