Orange County Theatre Reviews

Costa Mesa, Review, South Coast Repertory, Theater, Uncategorized Comments Off on The Barber is In: Sweeney Todd is Back in Town @ South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa – Review |

The Barber is In: Sweeney Todd is Back in Town @ South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa – Review

(photo by Jordan Kubat)

Written by Scotty Keister 

Chinese proverb: He who seeks revenge should remember to dig two graves.

The legend of Sweeney Todd is a long and storied one. Todd began life in the mid-19th century in a penny dreadful tale. In this original version Todd was a secondary character. He soon came to life in a stage version penned by George Dibdin Pitt. His legend continued throughout the 20th century in dozens of stage, film and television versions. Ultimately, when British playwright Christopher Bond created Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street in 1973, new life was breathed into Sweeney’s aging, bloodthirsty barber. The tale was fleshed out, making the story into more of a revenge tragedy, and not simply a bloody horror tale. This is the version that first brought Sweeney to Stephen Sondheim’s attention and led to him creating  what might be considered the ultimate edition in 1979. Continue Reading

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Into the Woods – They Still Got It (Thoughts on the Reunion and the Show In General) @ Segerstrom Center of Performing Art in Costa Mesa

MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THOSE UNFAMILIAR WITH THE SHOW

Written by Alina Mae Wilson 

 It has been confirmed.  That spark of electricity that made the original Broadway cast of Into the Woods so unutterably unique still remains.  I can say this with absolute certainty, because I just attended the Into the Woods reunion performance this past weekend at Segerstrom Center of Performing Art in Costa Mesa.  It was so beautiful, I fell in love again.

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Merrily We Roll Along @ Cal State University Long Beach – Review

Merrily-review

photo courtesy : Keith Ian Polakoff Joseph Ruggiero as Frank and Emily Turner as Gussie

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Cal State Long Beach’s production of Merrily We Roll Along boasts some great performances that are ultimately overshadowed by serious blocking issues, that make the performance a little less “Merry” and a lot more disappointing.  

 

Merrily We Roll Along follows the twisting tale of wealthy and influential songwriter and film producer, Franklin Shepard.  The show opens with a party being thrown in Shepard’s honor, only to reveal to the audience that despite his popularity and financial success, the most valued relationships in his life are now in shambles.  The show begins to go backwards in time to reveal episodes from his past that might answer the question of where it all went wrong. At its most basic level, its the story of success not being the end all be all in life.  

 

Working backwards scene by scene, I was reminded a little of movies like Citizen Kane that follow a similar storyline.   And while the question of “where did it all go wrong?” is never definitively  answered, the everyday occurrences of life might be enough to hold our attention if not for one simple thing–the blocking.

 

The staging was distracting beyond belief.   It would appear that someone for some reason thought that large, strange set pieces/walls with holes and little windows would serves as artistic, creative, and avant garde.  While the pieces certainly resembled many other art pieces/paintings that can be seen any number of times in a modern day art exhibit, they do little to enhance the enjoyability of the show.  This is due to the fact that the stage is set in the middle of the audience and the set pieces block at least half of the performance at any given time.   While the pieces were utilized as both “boards”  to write the year on and props (such as doors) I would rather see the performers over the backs of boards any day.  

The strongest performances came from the actors playing Mary(Colleen McCandless) and Charley (Daniel Nakawatase), the blocking and dancing from the rest of the performers was somewhat stilted.  

 
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Costa Mesa, Into The Woods, Musical, Uncategorized Comments Off on “Into The Woods” Celebration (Into My Heart) – Preview |

“Into The Woods” Celebration (Into My Heart) – Preview

(Left to Right) Danielle Ferland, Ben Wright, Kim Crosby, Chip Zien and Bernadette Peters in a scene from "Into the Woods" at the Martin Beck Theatre.

(Left to Right) Danielle Ferland, Ben Wright, Kim Crosby, Chip Zien and Bernadette Peters in a scene from “Into the Woods” at the Martin Beck Theatre.

Written by Alina Mae Wilson 

A celebration of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Into the Woods will be presented  on November 9th at California’s Segerstrom Center for the Arts.   The evening will be part conversation and part musical selection and (drumroll please) will feature original cast members Bernadette Peters, Joanna Gleason, Chip Zien, Bernadette Peters, Robert Westenberg, Kim Crosby, Danielle Ferland, Ben Wright, and of course, the inestimable composer and lyricist Mr. Sondheim himself, as well as Bernadette Peters.  So essentially every character you immediately think of when you think of Into the Woods.   Continue Reading

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