Orange County Theatre Reviews

Laguna beach, Laguna Playhouse, Review, Theater, Uncategorized Comments Off on ACT 3 @ The Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach – Review |

ACT 3 @ The Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach – Review

Written by Alina Mae Wilson

Rita Rudner and Charles Shaughnessy are starring in the two person comedy Act 3 over at the Laguna Playhouse.  Although already somewhat familiar with the pair of them, I was neither adoring nor critical enough to enter the theater with any real expectations. Had I given it any real thought, I might have suspected a story about two lovers hating and loving one another simultaneously might be too slow for my taste.  As it turns out, I would have been correct. Act 3 starts out with an interesting idea, but it is forced to wind down prematurely when the lead actress’s motives become vague, and the potentially witty jokes are performed without punch. Continue Reading

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Costa Mesa, South Coast Repertory, Theater, Uncategorized Comments Off on Burning Woman : The Madwoman in the Volvo @ South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa – Review |

Burning Woman : The Madwoman in the Volvo @ South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa – Review

Written by Alina Mae Wilson 

South Coast Repertory is currently putting on a comedy based on the memoirs of leading actress Sandra Tsing Loh. Titled The Madwoman in the Volvo, her story is actually many stories. Sandra stands center stage and chats us up about everything: her mother, vacationing at Burning Man, and her affair with her best friend.  Helping her to bring these stories to life are actresses Caroline Aaron and Shannon Holt, each stepping in at varying times to play different people in Sandra’s life. Simplistically speaking, the focal point of the show is menopause–how it impacts women, how it impacted women in Sandra’s life, and how it impacted Sandra herself. Packed to the brim with both science and a smattering of humor, The Madwoman in the Volvo is best enjoyed by people in its targeted demographic–that is 45 to 60 year olds. 

Sandra Tsing Loh begins the show amiably. She chats with her friends about things you might expect women to chat about, “Sorry I was late, it took forever to find this place, I have to get up early for work tomorrow,” etcetera, etcetera.  These two friends are introduced to us as the actresses who are going to be helping Sandra regale us with her adventures after she reached the age of “almost 50,” as well as things that took place earlier –like Sandra’s mother’s serious bouts of depression.  We are treated to a story of Sandra’s new growth as a woman that is both comedic and dramatic. Continue Reading

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fullerton, Review, Stagestheatre, Uncategorized Comments Off on The 39 Steps is a Galloping Good Time @ STAGEStheatre in Fullerton – Review |

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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Newport Beach, Newport Theatre Arts Center, Review, Uncategorized Comments Off on Bang, Bang : Postmortem @ Newport Theatre Arts Center in Newport Beach – Review |

Bang, Bang : Postmortem @ Newport Theatre Arts Center in Newport Beach – Review

Written by Patrick Chavis 

Postmortem fits in quite well with the paradigm of  the mystery play.  It follows the rules of a typical mystery to the tee.  On one hand, following tradition allows for wonderful dialogue and drama.  However, the traditional mystery structure also has weaknesses and when a show’s direction is almost none existent, the weaknesses become very obvious.  Even avid lovers of mystery theatre will have a hard time enjoying the Newport Theatre Arts Center’s production of Postmortem.  The stakes are so low, the authentic gun shots used in the play may be the only thing keeping your attention on the stage. 

The year is 1922.  Our protagonist, William Gillette, is not a detective but merely an actor who has become famous for playing a detective.  Whereas some leave the acting fantasy for the script, Gillette fancies himself a detective on and off the stage.  With his intentions shrouded in mystery, Gillette invites guests to an isolated mansion (because that makes it creepy) to perform a séance. Continue Reading

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Review, Santa Ana, Theater, Uncategorized Comments Off on Gidget Goes Psychotic : Psycho Beach Party @ Theatre Out in Santa Ana – Review |

Gidget Goes Psychotic : Psycho Beach Party @ Theatre Out in Santa Ana – Review

Written by Patrick Chavis 

Theatre Out is not modest about anything it does.  Even its name speaks to the transparency of its shows.  When directed in the right way, this can be a strength.  As I nestled down in my seat amongst a small audience divided into those wearing Hawaiian shirts and everyone else, I was bombarded with a scene by scene, in your face comedy that holds no punches and goes places that would make Andy Kaufman blush.  With an outstanding cast and breakout performances from the two (sort of) leading ladies, Psycho Beach Party leaves you a little bamboozled.  It might be the most brilliant or brainless show I’ve ever seen.  Whatever I just saw, I couldn’t look away.

Psycho Beach Party is the story of a mild mannered, slightly nerdy girl named Chicklet (Andrew J. Villarreal) who is trying to fit in with the beach crowd.  In her quest to become more popular, Chicklet casts aside her best friend Berdine (Alexis Stansfield) in order to get closer to two surfer dudes.  One is legendary surf bum Kanka (played by Ben Green), and the other is Kanka’s new apprentice Star Cat (played by Ian James).  As Chicklet gets closer to her new surfer pals, the audience learns she has a deep rooted identity disorder which causes her to unleash a myriad of different personalities at any given moment –the most dominant being a sexually aggressive dominatrix  type dubbed Ann Bowman. Continue Reading

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Attic Theatre, Review, Santa Ana, Theater, Uncategorized Comments Off on A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum @ The Attic Theatre in Santa Ana – Review |

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum @ The Attic Theatre in Santa Ana – Review

Written by Daniella Litvak 

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum’s (hereafter referred to as “A Funny Thing”) opening number makes a lot of guarantees to its audience.  No kings will be grasping for crowns in this play.  There will be “Something for everyone.”  Most of all, no tragedy allowed because it’s a comedy.  Does this farce about Roman slave Pseudolus helping his master woo the girl next door (in exchange for his freedom) deliver on its promises? 

The first act’s pacing is not perfect.  Some plot points and character observations get repeated over and over again.  When the end of the act comes, it feels like the show could be wrapped up then and there with just a couple of extra minutes needed to tie up loose ends.  Fortunately, the second act averts this problem with a much better flow. Continue Reading

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