Orange County Theatre Reviews

Wait Until Dark @ Camino Real Playhouse in San Juan Capistrano – Review

Written by Daniella Litvak 

A common complaint about movies and tv shows these days is that they devolve into overindulgent CGI-fests.  Sure, entire galaxies could be at stake or an endless horde of zombies could overrun humanity, but sometimes when the scope is so broad and the images are so over the top, the ability to connect with the story on an emotional level is lost.  Theater in general, and plays like Wait Until Dark in particular, are a great reminder of how stories with smaller stakes and more intimate settings can be far more intense than any blockbuster.     Continue Reading

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Canada Rocks : Come From Away @ Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa – Review

Written by Patrick Chavis 

Even though Come From Away is set against the tragic backdrop of 9/11, it focuses more on the tension, feelings, and emotions of the time — as opposed to a more strait-laced recap of the period. The characters we see stranded in Canada remind us of the pain felt by all Americans at home and abroad alike. Yet even in tragedy, the characters were about to find a silver lining.   Continue Reading

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Bickering Royalty : The Lion In Winter @ Costa Mesa Playhouse in Costa Mesa – Review

Written by Alina Mae Wilson 

New way, new day, new play—new things abound.  I had not seen this play before.  Although the name is something I’ve heard often enough.  Costa Mesa Playhouse is currently running The Lion in Winter –an impressive title if ever there was one.  (The Chronicles of Narnia can just step aside because the war of the titles is over).  The storyline is about a king and his captive queen living in a castle while their three sons argue and scheme to inherit the throne.  It’s a basic story with what turns out to be some great characters, but the acting is not as impressive.

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Twilight Zone @ STAGEStheatre in Fullerton – Review

Written by Scotty Keister 

It’s summer, so that means one thing: The Twilight Zone returns to Stages Theatre. This year’s offering presents one classic and two lesser-known episodes, one of them is a real champ. Every year, producer/director Darri Kristin pores through the entire TZ catalog to find episodes that would be possible to stage. With the new addition of a backdrop projector, the list just got a little easier, making scene changes more dramatic and recognizable.

TZ_back_there 10

Photo courtesy: STAGEStheatre

The trouble with these available stories. The Zone was not above a certain number of clinkers. When you’re pouring out a new episode every week, you have to take what you get. TZ had a propensity to repeat itself a lot and fumble with tired scifi clichés. In this instance, opening episode “Back There” is not a well-written or particularly original offering. A group of card players at a Washington DC gentleman’s club argue about time travel, and before you know it one of them finds himself transported back to 1865, the day before Lincoln’s assassination. Even though we know it’s impossible, he tries to prevent the murder from happening. We’re never sure why. Just because he wants to, I guess. The twist ending to the story occurs when he’s transported back to modern times, right back at his club. Things are not as he left them. Aside from Mark Coyan’s off-beat portrayal of John Wilkes Booth, this episode doesn’t offer much bang. Continue Reading

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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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Irvine, Musical, Musical Theatre Village, Review Comments Off on Promised Land @ Musical Theatre Village in Irvine – Review |

Promised Land @ Musical Theatre Village in Irvine – Review

Written by Daniella Litvak

Promised Land is a good-natured children’s theater production retelling of Exodus. The child actors are having fun. The adult actors are having a blast hamming it up. It was truly sweet, seeing

Photo Courtesy : Musical Theatre Village Irvine

Photo Courtesy : Michelle Teeter -Musical Theatre Village Irvine

how right after the curtain call, the actors leaped straight from the stage into the arms of their adoring family and friends.

Criticizing the show feels like I’m kicking a puppy. I could say it’s fine enough for a children’s theater production and leave it at that. However, taking such a dismissive attitude would be an insult to all children’s work that transcends age barrier and to the child actors in the show who deserve better material.

Sound wise the show gets off to a rocky start. The opening number’s vocals are a bit muddled. During the first act there are quite a few times where the music overpowers the singing. The musical numbers are cute and fun, but they’re not really memorable. Also the sound effect for baby Moses is really annoying.

As for the story itself… The Book of Exodus is always a great source of storytelling material. However, the show tries to do the Shrek thing and cram in a bunch of anachronistic jokes. The problem is that most of these jokes lack any sort of bite to really generate the laughs. Especially during the first act, the plot meanders all over the place. Some of the detours are a bit odd –like the scene where teenage Moses is dating two girls at once. These weird detours really make the more dramatic parts of the story feel brushed over.

I think the second act is better than the first. The story is tighter and adds meta jokes, which I have to admit I’m a sucker for.  Aaron dressed in prison stripes while playing a pink, Hello Kitty electric guitar during “Leaving Sand City” (a parody medley of classic rock songs) cracked me up.

The actor playing the lamb and then the cow deserves a shout out for fully committing to the roles and providing some nice physical comedy.

Overall, it’s cute and has some nice moments, but I can’t really recommend it.

4/10

Feb 20th – March 15 

Musical Theatre Village in Irvine 

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