Orange County Theatre Reviews

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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Garden Grove, Musical, Review, shakespeare oc, Uncategorized Comments Off on Shakespeare OC presents : Pirates of Penzance @ The Strawberry Bowl in Garden Grove – Review |

Shakespeare OC presents : Pirates of Penzance @ The Strawberry Bowl in Garden Grove – Review

Written by Alina Mae Wilson 

 

Garden Grove’s Strawberry Bowl Theatre was built-in 1979 and has provided a variety of programming: band shows, comedy skits, and movie nights.  Most notable however are their Shakespearean plays, which Shakespeare Orange County performs, typically with fervor and quality costumes.  Now they are breaking new ground with their first non-Shakespearean play (fine, musical), the Gilbert and Sullivan favorite Pirates of Penzance.  Based on what could be heard the acting and singing ability are definitely on full display.  To get the full picture across I will point out that I saw the preview night performance.  As such there were visible kinks to work out.  I can’t ignore the blatant issues, but if they intended to hook up the speakers before their real run then the problem may have already been fixed.   But therein lies the problem–audio.  Despite setting up chairs on the stage to form closed in quarters, the microphones do very little to pick up sound.  The soloists are all but inaudible.  In spite of this obvious  problem the delightful chorus and enthusiastic acting communicate the story effectively. Continue Reading

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Chapman, OCcentric New Play Festival, Review, Theater, Uncategorized Comments Off on The Runaways All Grown Up – OCcentric New Play Festival Presents : Fabulous Monsters @ Chapman University – Review |

The Runaways All Grown Up – OCcentric New Play Festival Presents : Fabulous Monsters @ Chapman University – Review

Written by Patrick Chavis

Music and theatre have always gone hand in hand. In some ways they pull from the same emotional well. While watching playwright Diana Burbano’s new play, we get a nicely condensed drama about punk rock, love and family.  I really liked it, but I couldn’t help but feel I had seen this story done before. Of course Fabulous Monsters is its own narrative.  The plot has enough differences to set it apart –especially for an older generation.  Still, the positive differences felt less new after watching it and more like a rehash of another story. Continue Reading

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fullerton, Maverick Theatre, Review, Uncategorized Comments Off on Life in Small Doses : Avenue Q @ The Maverick in Fullerton – Review |

Life in Small Doses : Avenue Q @ The Maverick in Fullerton – Review

Photo Courtesy : AUSTIN BAUMAN

Written by Erin Tobin

School may be out, but there are still a lot of life lessons to be learned at the Maverick Theater in Fullerton. That’s where you’ll find Avenue Q, the Sesame Street parody that won Tony-Awards on Broadway for dealing out the harsh truths of the real world via whimsical songs, colorful puppets and an unapologetic lack of political correctness.

Told in a series of vignettes and performed mostly by actors using hand puppets, this musical follows a young college graduate named Princeton, puppeted and performed by Tyler McGraw, who has no idea what to do with his life now that he has his BA in English. A lack of funds leads him to Avenue Q (he started at Avenue A, but nothing was in his price range) a dingy and worn down collection of buildings in New York City, home to an eclectic group of characters as well as the building’s super, Gary Colman, played by Adair Gilliam and one of three non-puppet characters. Princeton’s new neighbors all agree it sucks being them, but they happily accept it as they figure out what to do with their lives. As Princeton tries to find his purpose, Kate Monster, puppeted by Rachel McLaughlan, tries to get a boyfriend. Nicky, puppeted by both Kevin Garcia and Jilly Pretzel at the same time like a conjoined twin duet, wants to help his roommate and best friend Rod, puppeted by Michael Rodriguez, feel comfortable enough to come out of the closet and Christmas Eve and her fiance Brian, played with brilliant vocal talent by Bachi Dillague and funny man Curtis Anderson, are both struggling to move past their young adult lifestyles and into more mature careers. Along the way, other puppeted characters both help and hinder the residents, such as the sultry Lucy the Slut, puppeted by a sultry Tara Alkazian, and the juvenile Bad Idea Bears. Continue Reading

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Camino Real Playhouse, Review, Theater, Uncategorized Comments Off on “In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play)” @ Camino Real Playhouse in San Juan Capistrano |

“In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play)” @ Camino Real Playhouse in San Juan Capistrano

Written by Scotty Keister

Having already seen and loved Sarah Ruhl’s Dead Man’s Cell Phone earlier this year, I was well prepared for this 2010 Tony and Pulitzer Prize nominated play “In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play).” However, as currently staged at the Camino Real Playhouse’s Stage II, this production doesn’t live up to the more cerebral demands of Ruhl’s works. Her plays are heady treatises on the folly of human endeavor that manage to find hope amidst the shards of love and relationships. They are populated by humans at odds with the world around them, where a central female character struggles against both people and events to find some harmony and truth. They’re also damn funny.

Directed by Rick Kerrigan, this rather timid production plays more like an English drawing-room comedy, in that it manages to capture the story’s humor. But it fails to mine the deeper depths that lay within Ruhl’s characters. The story takes place in the 1880’s New York era and concerns a Dr. Givings.  He is experimenting with a certain kind of electrical stimulation meant to treat women for “hysteria” – basically depression due to sexual frustration, not a condition that society would ever recognize in that era. Dr. Givings is essentially using a homemade vibrator on his female patients to produce orgasms (or paroxysms, as Dr. Givings indifferently calls them), which is something they’ve never experienced before. Miraculously, they suddenly feel much, much better. Coincidentally Dr. Givings’ wife Catherine is herself depressed due to her inability to produce enough milk to breast feed her newborn. Catherine’s own nature is, however, lost on her husband, who sees women only as experimental subjects. The doctor does have resounding success with his new patient, Sabrina Daldry, who becomes rather addicted to the treatment, and who encourages Catherine to try it on herself.  Continue Reading

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American Coast Theatre Company, Costa Mesa, Review, Theater, Uncategorized, Vanguard Uni Comments Off on American Coast Theatre Company presents : Comedy of Error @ Vanguard University in Costa Mesa – Review |

American Coast Theatre Company presents : Comedy of Error @ Vanguard University in Costa Mesa – Review

comedyoferrors

Photo Credit Susie Sprinkel Hudson

Written by Scotty Keister

(Spoiler alert : This review is full of Spoiler, you have been warned)

If online dating really went like this it might put the whole internet out of business. Comedy of <<ERROR>>, now in its world premiere at Vanguard University’s lovely Lyceum Theater, and produced by American Coast Theater Company, is a wild and wooly look at dishonesty and deception as played out on a particular dating site, Date Jane Eyre.com.

The idea is to put bookish folks together for romance. The site’s creator, Charles, is both the culprit behind a good deal of the malfeasance here and the romantic lead of the story. Charles is desperately trying to hook up his apparently one and only paying customer, Bill, before he quits and demands his money back, a sum of $800 which Charles happens to need desperately as a down payment for a honeymoon with his girlfriend Chloe, to whom he has not yet even proposed. Being that the engagement ring has been inadvertently locked in a kitchen safe by Chloe’s wacky brother Donald and cannot be extracted for a week, Charles has some nifty romance-spinning to do in order to keep alive his hopes of a successful proposal. Yeah, it all seems pretty convoluted and far-fetched. The basic idea that a dating site can exist with only one paying customer is crazy enough, but what follows is even crazier.

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