Orange County Theatre Reviews

American Coast Theatre Company, Review, Theater, Uncategorized, Vanguard Uni Comments Off on Four Weddings and Alot of Sarcasm – Always A Bridesmaid presented by American Coast Theatre Company @ Vanguard University in Costa Mesa |

Four Weddings and Alot of Sarcasm – Always A Bridesmaid presented by American Coast Theatre Company @ Vanguard University in Costa Mesa

Photo courtesy : Susie Sprinkel Hudson 

Written by Daniella Litvak

It’s not summer until you’ve eaten barbecue, gone to the beach, or attended a wedding.  Luckily, “Always A Bridesmaid”   put on by American Coast Theatre company invites you to four weddings.  During their high school prom we meet Libby Ruth (Susan K. Berkompas), Deedra (Maria Cominis), Charlie (Vanda Eggington), and Monette (Deborah Marley) who are four best friends making a pact to be bridesmaids at each other’s weddings.  Time passes, and now they have to make good on their promise –over and over again.

Honestly, the plot is really just an excuse to get four friends together in a room and let them engage in snark-to-snark combat while wearing ridiculous bridesmaid dresses before the impending nuptials occur.  The downside of this repetitiveness  is that the few times “Always A Bridesmaid” tries to discuss something seriously, it feels shoehorned in.  The instance that really sticks out is Libby Ruth’s fear that her daughter won’t find love.  While the first scene is necessary to establish characters, tone, and a normal atmosphere to heighten the contrast with later wackiness, the scene could be trimmed down a fair bit to make the story tighter.  The upside is the show stuffs itself with great one-liners and banter, which makes for a fun viewing experience. Continue Reading

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Anaheim, Serial Killers, The Chance Theater, Theater, Uncategorized Comments Off on Serial Killers OC @ The Chance Theatre in Anaheim – Second Night 5-01-2015 Competition Update |

Serial Killers OC @ The Chance Theatre in Anaheim – Second Night 5-01-2015 Competition Update

Rules of Serial Killers OC :  5 play groups showed up on May 1st 11 pm at the Chance Theatre only 3 shows were victorious and will return next session to continue their story.

Viewpoints  Episode 2

The Viewpoints team comes back to continue their story.

Two brothers, that have different viewpoints on their father, argue about him before his funeral. 

Written and Directed by Travis K Donnelly 

John – Jake LaRosa 

Joe – Alexander Walters 

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interview, Musical, podcast, Uncategorized Comments Off on AMB Theatre Podcast #8 presented by OCR – Anything Goes @ Gem Theatre in Garden Grove 04/2015 |

It’s “Fluffy” Fun – Anything Goes @ The Gem Theatre in Garden Grove – Review

Written by Scotty Keister 

Cole Porter’s Anything Goes could be called the granddaddy of jukebox musicals, although it didn’t really start out that way. Originally produced on Broadway over eighty years ago. The songs were in large written by Porter for the show and they hung on the flimsiest of premises, the book being completely overhauled several times before it opened. Over the years, the show has seen a dozen major revivals between Broadway and London’s West End, each one adding or subtracting songs from Porter’s broad canon of tunes. Each revival picks up a boatload of awards so it’s no surprise it’s retained its popularity over the decades and still gets produced regularly to this day.

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Photo Credit: Lisa Scarsi

One More Productions currently is throwing their top hat into the ring with a sparkling, toe-tapping, old school revival at the beautiful Gem Theatre in Garden Grove, directed by Damien Lorton, and featuring a live band. The Gem’s show uses a libretto based on more recent revivals, including a number I haven’t found listed in any other revival’s repertoire—in fact it’s not even listed in the program: Porter’s classic “Night and Day.” It’s a far more somber tune than any of the upbeat pop tunes in the show, and as such feels a bit out of place, but that’s the nature of the jukebox. The show’s story itself is a bit of fluff, taking place on an ocean cruise and featuring several cross-cutting love stories and cases of mistaken identity, all very broad and vaudevillian. The humor is not always successful, but the performances are endearing and the energy and good nature of the cast carried me right along with them. Plus, a stage full of tap dancing is not something you see every day, and it’s pretty impressive. The Gem has a nice big proscenium stage(the part of a modern stage in front of the curtain;Websters) to fit this cast of thirty or more.

Alex Bodrero, as the smitten Billy Crocker, has a kind of Jimmy Stewart charm to his performance, although his voice in the upper tenor range strains at times. Adriana Sanchez, as the New York showgirl Reno Sweeney, does her best impression of Ethel Merman, who originated the role, and pulls it off with aplomb; her voice reaches the back of the house and then some. Nicole Cassesso as the squeaky-voiced gangster’s moll Erma has an effervescent comic energy. When Cassesso is onstage you can’t take your eyes off of her. Ira Trachter as Moonface Martin the low level gangster, does a good job of aping Art Carney, and Chris Harper as Evelyn Oakleigh the English Lord, has some prime comic moments as well. The rest of the ensemble contributes fine voices and some dazzling dancing. When the stage is filled with the whole cast belting out “Anything Goes” or “I Get a Kick Out of You” you can’t help but get a little charged up, then walk out smiling. It’s fluffy, but fun.

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Photo Credit: Lisa Scarsi

It must be pointed out, the Gem accomplishes a feat I rarely see in stage musicals in OC, and that is they use no headset mikes for the cast. Instead, the band is placed behind the stage, putting all the singers in front with the set between them. This nifty device enables the audience to hear the singers virtually 95% of the time, which is a remarkable and quite welcome departure from what I’m used to. I never like seeing mike wires taped to the sides of actors’ faces; half the time they don’t work, plus the un-miked cast are harder to hear. I salute the Gem for solving this problem so simply. Of course, it helps to have a big enough space to pull this off.

The show runs thru May 3, Thursday through Saturday nights with Sunday matinees. You could do a lot worse than a bubbly Cole Porter musical for a weekend, and this production has all the bubbles.

7/10

 April 9th 2015 – May 3rd

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The Darkest Family Matters -The Marriage of Bette and Boo @ Costa Mesa Playhouse in Costa Mesa – Review

Written by Alina Mae Wilson 

Indeed, a great many comedians today have proven that political and social issues can create the groundwork for sheer hilarity.   But I think matching the humor that numerous comedians bring to the table is especially difficult when attempting to do it in the form of storytelling. Black humor can be dated, it can hit too close to home, it can be so strange it doesn’t make sense in the context of the actual plot, but someway…somehow…The Marriage of Bette and Boo as done by Costa Mesa Playhouse hits just the right tone.  Continue Reading

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Mysterium, Review, Theater, Uncategorized Comments Off on Flying High – Peter Pan @ Mysterium Theatre in La Habra – Review |

Flying High – Peter Pan @ Mysterium Theatre in La Habra – Review

Written by Daniella Litvak  

During its long history, Peter Pan has acquired quite a few traditions. Mysterium Theater’s production of the show strikes the right balance between using some of those conventions while also being unafraid to embrace the more recent trends or go in entirely new directions.

The first step away from the traditional was the choice to stage Jordan Beck and Jonathan May’s relatively recent musical adaptation as opposed to the more popular 1954 adaptation or J.M. Barrie’s original stage play.   Even bolder choices are made with the costuming and casting. Hook still wears a scarlet coat. Michael has his teddy bear. The Lost Boys’ costumes feature animal motifs. But John doesn’t have his top hat. Pan doesn’t wear green and Captain Hook’s hook is covered in glitter. Oh, and a boy (Jonny Vazquez) plays Peter Pan while a woman (Judy Ballard) portrays Captain Hook. (Actually women play all the pirates –except Smee, and no, Ballard does not play Mr. Darling).

Casting a woman as Hook (even though in-universe Hook is considered a man) is particularly inspired for thematic reasons. In this version, Wendy is the Darling child who longs to be a pirate. These two choices transform Hook from merely being Peter Pan’s arch-nemesis into Wendy’s evil counterpart. Pan and Hook’s climatic showdown is no longer a fight over a damsel in distress but a real battle for Wendy’s identity. Ok, maybe I’m overanalyzing this, but I love the show for giving me a new perspective.

For the most part the acting is good. The main flaw being there are times when the music overpowers the vocals. Vazquez owns it as the brash and mischievous Peter Pan, but I was amazed with how great he is when playing Pan as a genuinely vulnerable and wounded boy. His duet with Michaela Varvis’ Wendy is incredibly touching. Varvis rises up to the challenge of playing the role with the most character development. London Walston is a rising star in the Orange County theater scene. I liked him in Alchemy Theatre’s Waiting For Godot, and I was happy to see him here as Michael. Canaan Clayton’s John had some of the funniest (and best) moments in the show as well as one of the strongest singing voices.

The show uses skateboards and swings to simulate flying, and it works. The sets are probably the most traditional aspect of the show –a typical Darling nursery and pirate ship.  The traditional sets are contrasted well with the use of more modern props like the lightsaber and foam bat; John and Michael use them for play sword fights. Taken together, it gives the impression Peter Pan could whisk anyone away to Neverland at any time from any place, instead of keeping the story tied to turn of the century London.

Mysterium Theater’s Peter Pan was a wonderful surprise and a great reminder of how there are infinite ways to tell a story.

7.5/10  

Runs until April 19th get you tickets below

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