Theater review: ‘Harvey’ at Laguna Playhouse is gentle fun
“I wrote it to make people laugh.” — Mary Chase
Not many comedies land on theater audiences quite like “Harvey.” During Sunday night’s opening performance at the Laguna Playhouse, the full house was in gentle stitches for more than two hours.
TV cop Joe Spano books a different kind of role in Laguna Beach
Starting this week Spano stars in the Laguna Playhouse production of Tony Award-winning playwright Simon Stephens’ quirky July-November romance, “Heisenberg.” “Faline and I picked out this play to do together,” Spano says of co-star, Faline England. “It took a year and now it’s happening and so now we have to pay the price for it.”
‘Heisenberg’ Celebrates Complexity of Relationships
In a bustling London train station, free-spirited American Georgie unexpectedly plants a kiss on the neck of mid-70s British butcher Alex. When she turns up in his shop a few days later, she sends the suspicious man’s life reeling. As Alex is drawn into Georgie’s anarchic world, his conventional existence becomes chaotic, uncertain and undeniably richer.
Review: This ‘Heisenberg’ puts its love story squarely on the autism spectrum
Mapping quantum physicist Werner Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle onto a quirky May-December love story, Simon Stephens’ 2015 two-hander gets a bold new interpretation in the Rubicon Theatre-Laguna Playhouse co-production wrapping up its Ventura run this weekend and reopening in Laguna Beach next month.
‘Blues’ jazzes up Laguna Playhouse
It might seem unlikely that such a diet of emotional misery could bring audiences to their feet, but that's definitely the case at the Laguna Playhouse where “Blues in the Night” delivers a truly terrific evening of theater.
Blues in the Night - culturalattache
We saw the show at the Wallis and can guarantee that Blues in the Night is the perfect show for anyone who loves great songs (some better-known than others) performed brilliantly by this four-person cast.
The soul of the blues wails in full force at the opening of Blues in the Night at Laguna Playhouse
The King of Blues, B.B. King, said, “Blues is a tonic for whatever ails you.” True to that statement, on Sunday afternoon it would have been impossible for anyone to leave Laguna Playhouse downhearted. The audience at the opening performance of Blues in the Night got a brilliant dose of the best blues around, performed by three seductive and sassy songstresses, one smooth guy, and backed by a sharp live jazz group.
Theater review: A neglected musical form takes center stage in ‘Blues in the Night’ at Laguna Playhouse
What emerged from his creative oven was “Blues in the Night,” a vital four-singer revue with a five-piece backing band that surveys a 26-song catalog of the mournful-to-bawdy African-Americana that is the blues.
Lance E Nichols, lends his southern charm in the role of chauffeur Hoke Colburn in Driving Miss Daisy
The sunny coastal town of Laguna Beach and its trendy theater, The Laguna Playhouse, sets the stage for its current production of DRIVING MISS DAISY starring Lance E Nichols as the male lead of chauffeur, Hoke Colburn. Nichols plays alongside the female lead of elderly Jewish widow, Daisy Werth, being played by 4-time Emmy winner, Michael Learned. “Lance is simply brilliant. It’s a joy to work with such fine actor and friend”, said Michael Learned.
Opening night of Driving Miss Daisy at the Playhouse driven by a splendid cast and powerful storytelling
The brilliance is in the details, and the opening performance of Driving Miss Daisy at Laguna Playhouse on Sunday certainly proves that adage to be true. Fine-tuned by an incredible cast of Michael Learned (Daisy Werthan), Lance E. Nichols (Hoke Colburn), and David Nevell (Boolie Werthan), each actor superbly grounds and propels the story over a span of 25 years.
On Theater: A strong, compelling ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ in Laguna
A rich, Jewish widow and an illiterate black chauffeur, both in their 70s, in the Jim Crow South of the 1940s. Sounds like the original odd couple, but playwright Alfred Uhry turned this scenario into the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Driving Miss Daisy,” currently on view at the Laguna Playhouse.
Broadway Wolrd Review: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: A CHRISTMAS ROSE TAILORS THE POPULAR TALE TO MERRIMENT DURING THE HOLIDAYS
Lythgoe Family Panto and the Laguna Playhouse present a fun and enjoyable version of Beauty and the Beast for the holidays. The English tradition of Panto, meaning it is an interactive, audience-participating show, is written by Kris Lithgoe, Directed by Sheldon Epps, Choreographed by Mandy Moore, with Musical Direction by Keith Harrison. With that impressive roster, it is a sure-fire evening of silly humor, great production numbers, unexpected songs and a meaningful message perfect for the holiday season.
Broadway World Review: Beauty and the Beast
The cheeky PG-rated fun of British Panto, courtesy of Lythgoe Family Productions, returns for more holiday silliness at Orange County's Laguna Playhouse, this time with BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: A CHRISTMAS ROSE, which continues through December 30, 2018 in Laguna Beach under the direction of Sheldon Epps.
Strong performances and storytelling give ‘The Seafarer’ its kick
The five actors on stage of the Laguna Playhouse in “The Seafarer,” which opened Sunday, checked additional recognizable boxes. It’s set in Ireland. (Apologies for reinforcing a stereotype, but did I mention drinking? Yes.) It’s Christmas Eve. (Did I mention a visit from an otherworldly spirit? No, but we see one.) Will the characters argue, curse, play cards? (Ya think?)
I Dig Rock 'n' Roll Review
It clearly doesn’t matter what generation audience members spring from, whether they’ve heard it all before or are discovering it for the first time, rock and roll has an irresistible appeal through its innovation, forthright messages, impish humor and just plain people-to-people essence.
BWW Review: Ingersoll's Garland Reincarnated in An Excruciatingly Raw END OF THE RAINBOW
Playwright Peter Quilter's END OF THE RAINBOW packs a powerful punch in the gut under director Michael Matthews sure-handed guidance of his talented cast.
“END OF THE RAINBOW” SHINES WITH AUTHENTICITY AT LAGUNA PLAYHOUSE
In a heart-tugging blur of torch songs, addictive behaviors, glamour and cutting wit, “End of the Rainbow”---a portrayal of the final years of the legendary songbird Judy Garland---opened at the Laguna Playhouse in a tour de force performance by Angela Ingersoll.
Laguna Playhouse’s ‘End of the Rainbow’ provides riveting look at Judy Garland’s last days
With the incandescent star power of the dynamic Angela Ingersoll — a ringer for the original in every respect — lighting the way, “End of the Rainbow” approaches rare theatrical brilliance under the fiercely sensitive direction of Michael Matthews.
Rage Magazine: Angela Ingersoll feature
Angela Ingersoll has garnered abundant praise for her portrayal of Judy Garland, including a Jeff Award nomination, a Time Out Chicago Award nomination and“Top Performances of theYear”honors from both The Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times.
Theater Review: 'Million Dollar Quartet'
If ever a toe-tapping, foot-stomping jukebox musical was overdue to be staged it’s “Million Dollar Quartet,” written by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux. It is a rhythmic retelling and dramatization of a recording session made in December of 1956 at the Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. The four young musicians at play were Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Presley. Though a production of “Quartet” opened on Broadway in 2010, SoCal theatergoers now (through July 29) have to opportunity to experience a homegrown staging of the show at the Lovely Laguna Playhouse, in artsy Laguna Beach.
Million Dollar Quartet Strikes it Rich at Laguna Playhouse
There are few shows of this genre, i.e., cover bands, tributes to, impersonators and artists embodying a legendary character... or three or four... that have the triple-threat talent needed for these portrayals of Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley.
Stu News Laguna
When you can’t decide which of the actors on stage thrilled you most – and here I’m talking not just about the four men who portray famous singers in this performance, but the star turns also by Tiffan Borelli as Elvis’s girlfriend, Hugh Hysell in the grounding role of recording studio owner Sam Phillips, and acrobatic upright bass player (well, the bass is upright, but not always the musician), Bill Morey – then you know the performance has been one for the ages.
Million Dollar Quartet
Listen up anyone with a pulse, feet to tap and hands to clap: Y’all need to be at the Laguna Playhouse to partake in a lot of shaking to “Million Dollar Quartet” between now and July 29.
In ‘Clybourne Park,’ generations change but racism remains
“Clybourne Park” has been around for a few years – it won a Pulitzer Prize in 2011 and a best play Tony in 2012 — but Bruce Norris’ searing drama about America’s frayed race relations seems more relevant than ever. A well-cast and sharply directed production at the Laguna Playhouse, which opened Sunday, reminds us that the intervening years have made the problem seem more intractable than ever.
White flight circa 1959 and urban gentrification five decades later fuel Bruce Norris’s button-pushing, political-correctness-be-damned comedy Clybourne Park, winner of both the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the 2012 Tony Award for Best Play, the finest production I’ve seen at Laguna Playhouse and one of the year’s very best.
‘Nathan Gunn’ flies solo, and soars -
‘Nathan Gunn’ flies solo, and soars
The decorated opera singer's one-man show is equal parts heartfelt and comedic.Nathan Gunn stars in the World Premiere Laguna Playhouse production of "NATHAN GUNN FLYING SOLO," written and directed by Hershey Felder and now playing at the Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach.
Sunday Conversation: Melanie Griffith, from 'Working Girl' to Mrs. Robinson
Melanie Griffith, relaxes during a break in rehearsals for "The Graduate" at the Laguna Playhouse. The actress spoke about the role of Mrs. Robinson and the 30th anniversary of "Working Girl," the film that won her a Golden Globe. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Melanie Griffith is 60, single and free to do whatever she wants.
Play Mrs. Robinson in a stage production of “The Graduate?”
She jumped at the chance when the Laguna Playhouse approached her with the offer.
A quick trip to Austria to attend the Vienna Opera Ball?
“I can do [stuff] like that now,” says the actress, who’s quick to laugh and peppers her sentences with expletives. “It’s an extraordinary thing to see. I just thought, why not?”
Melanie Griffith is Mrs. Robinson in Laguna Playhouse’s ‘The Graduate’
We know Melanie Griffith from ’80s and ’90s films like “Something Wild” and “Nobody’s Fool,” but the curvaceous blond with the kewpie-doll voice is no stranger to the stage. She played Roxie Hart in the Broadway revival of “Chicago” in 2003 and starred opposite Scott Caan in his play “No Way Around But Through” at Burbank’s Falcon Theatre in 2012. Following stepson Jesse Johnson’s performance in last year’s production of “King of the Road” at Laguna Playhouse, this month Griffith bares all on the same stage as Mrs. Robinson in “The Graduate.”
Theater Review: “I Am My Own Wife"
“She doesn’t run a museum. She is one. And I’m curating her,” says playwright Doug Wright in describing the subject of his one-man show “I Am My Own Wife.”
He’s talking about the real-life Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, born Lothar Berfelde in 1928, who at a very young age felt like a girl trapped in a boy’s body. Lothar took to wearing dresses, adopted the name Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, and became one of the most celebrated of European transvestites, managing to survive both Nazi and Communist regimes.
At Laguna Playhouse, ‘My Own Wife’ could be the ultimate one-person show
There’s something inherently spellbinding about any one-person stage show in which the actor performs an entire script and tells a story solo, morphing into and out of a variety of characters.
On Theater: History is examined in mesmerizing 'I Am My Own Wife' at Laguna Playhouse
The theater is never more intriguing than when it zeroes in on a segment of history and uncovers actual incidents from a given period that play like inspired fiction, balancing its characters against the tapestry of a bygone era.
I am astonished, I am amazed, I am in awe of I Am My Own Wife at Laguna Playhouse
Early in the play I Am My Own Wife, a blackboard behind the star John Tufts reads “a world turned upside-down.” As the story unravels, one understands just how truly tangled and out of sync Charlotte von Mahlsdorf’s world was, yet she prevailed. And the further realization that the play is based on a true story, makes her tale of survival as a man living as a woman in East Germany during World War II and postwar Communism, even more staggering.
BWW Review: Laguna Playhouse Stages Gripping Pulitzer Prize winning I AM MY OWN WIFE
There are certainly plenty of fascinating, true-to-life stories being shown on screens and stages on a regular basis everywhere, but Doug Wright's 2003 Tony Award-winning play I AM MY OWN WIFE---which was also bestowed with the Pulitzer Prize---is arguably one of the most gripping, surprisingly engrossing plays acted out by a single actor playing over 30 characters that you'll possibly ever experience in a theater.
Here’s the best theater to light up local stages in 2017
End-of-the-year “best theater” lists can be exercises in subjectivity that expose the list-maker’s pet themes, predilections or concerns. Be that as it may, all of the major genres were well represented in the best productions of 2017: the classics, contemporary drama, comedy, historical drama and musicals.
Here are the year’s Top Ten, listed alphabetically by title: The first touring production of “An American in Paris” played at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa in late April and early May.
In Laguna, ‘Aladdin’ weaves magic for kids and adults alike
Most Christmas holiday theater productions operate at one level – a basic G-rated approach everyone in the family can relate to and enjoy.
Lythgoe Family Panto’s shows, though, aren’t like their peers.
The British entertainment form of panto works at two levels – one for kids, the other for the rest of us.
“Aladdin and His Winter Wish,” the Los Angeles-based troupe’s latest new show to visit Laguna Playhouse, is no different in that respect from past LFP shows.
The story, characters and songs will appeal to kids of all ages. The double-entendres of Kris Lythgoe’s script, meanwhile, tickle adult funny bones while sailing over the heads of younger audience members.
Aladdin and His Winter Wish reviewed by Rob Stevens
Aladdin and His Winter Wish reviewed by Rob Stevens | Haines His Way
Lythgoe Family Panto began producing their American Panto series of shows in 2010. It is essentially musical theatre which encourages audience participation and features pop songs. American Pantos® are based on fairytales kids know but a lot of the humor is directed at the adults with topical jokes and local references. I finally saw my first American Panto this past weekend at the Laguna Playhouse. Aladdin and His Winter Wish is a fun, colorful, comic and musical delight for the entire family. There are enough silly shenanigans for the exuberant tiny tots in the audience to enjoy. There is also enough satire and humor that is over the heads of the kids in Kris Lythgoe’s script for the adults in the audience to enjoy.
Kira Kosarin from Nickelodeon’s ‘The Thundermans’ joins local talent and Broadway actors in ‘Aladdin and His Winter Wish’ at Laguna Playhouse
Since filming the last episode of Nickelodeon’s “The Thundermans” this past summer, the sitcom’s leading lady, Kira Kosarin, 20, said she has been going to a lot of auditions and working on new music for an album she hopes to release in the near future.
Kosarin has also been rehearsing to play the part of Princess Jasmine in “Aladdin and His Winter Wish” at the Laguna Playhouse on Dec. 7-31. She will star alongside fellow T.V. actor Jason Earles of Disney’s “Hannah Montana” and “Kickin’ It” and several Broadway performers including Jason Gotay of “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” who will play Aladdin. Barry Pearl of “Grease” is also part of the cast in the role of Sultan.
The Skivvies Rock Their Socks Off (and Other Clothes, Too)
By Stephen Holden
Indie rock, alt-cabaret, new burlesque: Whatever you call it, the jolly musical comedy of the Skivvies, a troupe of entertainers who perform in their underwear, joyfully rocked the house at Feinstein’s/54 Below on Saturday evening. Like Joe Iconis and Family, who also regularly play the club, the Skivvies are devoted to the concept of strength in numbers and an artistic community in which everyone is more or less equal, and show business is communal play. Watching them, I was reminded of the Tubes, the traveling rock circus that had its moment in the sun in the late 1970s and early ’80s.
Kira Kosarin – Aladdin and the Winter Wish
By: Lisa Steinberg
Q) What are the recent projects that you have been working on?
A) I just did a couple TV things for Awesomeness TV, which are really fun. I got to do Love Daily that was a romantic-comedy film, which has always been on my list of things to do as an actor. That comes out, hopefully, in the near year. Then, I just wrapped the whole series of “The Thundermans.” Season Four will be airing in January and then throughout the whole year.
Lythgoe Family Panto returns to Laguna Playhouse
By Jordan Riefe
Lythgoe Family Panto returns to Laguna Playhouse
Lythgoe Family Panto is back for its third year at the Laguna Playhouse, this time with “Aladdin and His Winter Wish.” Panto is a centuries-old English tradition pitting good against evil in the broadest and silliest of terms. The Lythgoes have updated and Americanized the family-friendly holiday favorite, throwing in familiar faces and pop tunes for good measure. (The “Aladdin”
cast includes Kira Kosarin of Nickelodeon’s “The Thundermans” and Broadway actors Jason Gotay, Barry Pearl and Josh Adamson.)
Rita Rudner Returns From Vegas To Tickle Southern Californias Personally
Comedian Rita Rudner is a low-key American institution. A ubiquitous presence on TV during the "standup boom" of the late 1980s and early 90s, with multiple HBO specials filmed during that time, she has spent the last sixteen years booked into her own theatre in Las Vegas.
‘I Am My Own Wife’ Solo Show Explores Identity and Survival
The ongoing proliferation of solos in the theater has generated a powerful wave of innovation. Not so long ago, audiences could expect wide variations in subject matter, but in form, not so much. Whether the part was Mark Twain or Huey Newton, Emily Dickinson or Lenny Bruce, the performer would typically impersonate a single individual and stay put in that role for the entire night. I Am My Own Wife, Doug Wright’s fascinating deconstruction of the tangled lives that converge around the historical figure of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, at once subverts and exceeds the expectations established by the traditional one-person show. The playwright’s sophisticated deployment of various extended theatrical techniques adds to the pleasure of this richly layered account of a life spent in the shadows of first the Nazis and then the communists of East Berlin.
I AM MY OWN WIFE - An Eccentric, Wondrous (Auto)Biography
In Ensemble's presentation of Doug Wright's I Am My Own Wife, actor John Tufts, as German transvestite Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, does an impressive job of personifying the social and political crisis and evolution in mid-twentieth century East Berlin. Wright's play, ostensibly the story of how eccentric collector Charlotte von Mahlsdorf lived publicly as a woman under the Nazi and the Stasi regimes, is actually a not-quite-autobiography: Charlotte may be the principal storyteller of her own saga, yet the incorporation of other character perspectives gives her story the sense of having been penned by a crowd of incidental (yet imperative) characters--all played by Tufts.
Review: ‘Twelve Angry Men’ sets Laguna ablaze
The Laguna Playhouse's production of "Twelve Angry Men" proves once and for all that the law is never reason free from passion. Reginald Rose's original play inspired a 1957 Oscar-winning film, thousands of pop-culture references, and the definition of a courtroom drama (without actually setting foot in a courtroom). This year's revisit is an explosive reminder of the flaws in justice, and the role of the common man in rectifying them.
Review On Theater: Tension mounts in powerful revival of '12 Angry Men'
Sixty-three years after Reginald Rose's landmark jury-room drama “12 Angry Men” first electrified television audiences, this story and its conflicting characters continue to hold
audiences in thrall.
Curtain Up: Nine Happy Neighbors Watch ‘Twelve Angry Men’
Attending a play or concert with a friend is always fun, but what happens when you get nine neighbors
together and make a group trip to Laguna Playhouse to watch a weekend matinee performance of “Twelve
Highly Entertaining Morality Play for Modern Times Dramatizes Democracy
The jury is not out and the verdict is in: Laguna Playhouse’s production of Reginald Rose’s Twelve
Angry Men is “guilty” as charged of being an excellent, tautly written, directed and acted drama.
Suggested by Rose’s own stint serving on a jury, Twelve goes behind the scenes to watch the jury
deliberations of a dozen men over what appears to be an open and shut homicide case in New
Yawk City. They are in a rush to leave the sweltering jury room – as in Spike Lee’s Do the Right
Thing, also about racial injustice, it is literally the hottest day of the year – and the weary men want
to leave the courthouse, go home, to a Dodger game (in Brooklyn, not Chavez Ravine – this is a
1950s period piece), etc.
Play about missing teen finds life-affirming humanity in a grim scenario
The title “The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey” provides little clue or indication as to its content, story, subject or themes.
But a good start is playwright-actor James Lecesne’s definition of “absolute brightness” as the quality of a person being as true to themselves as possible. Knowing that Leonard Pelkey is an unusual, iconoclastic 14-year-old from a small Jersey Shore town also helps.
‘Twelve Angry Men’ sweat out the truth at Laguna Playhouse
For more than six decades, a dozen actors have taken the stage to lay it all out on the line – frustration, perspiration and speculation – in the iconic play “Twelve Angry Men.” The jury room drama is currently being presented at the Laguna Playhouse, and director Michael Matthews feels the story is as relevant as it has ever been.
Laguna Playhouse looks at bullying in ‘The Secret Life of Girls’
Being bullied can be devastating. And as the cast of Laguna Playhouse’s Youth Theater production of “The Secret Life of Girls” is learning, it’s a problem that nearly everyone can relate to – even the bullies.
The play delves into the world of teen bullying and explores the impact it leaves on students and their families. The cast’s first table read of the script quickly evolved into an emotional conversation about the topic and a chance for actors to share their experiences dealing with it.
BWW Review: Soulful, Nostalgic A NIGHT WITH JANIS JOPLIN Rocks Laguna Playhouse
Admittedly, as a Gen-X'er with a stronger preference for showtunes and 90's Pop and R&B, I know very little about singer-songwriter Janis Joplin, the music legend many regarded as the "Queen of Rock-and-Roll," and whose signature raspy voice and hippie-chic style became representative symbols of 60's counter-culture (which, of course, became mainstream in its own right). I also shamefully admit that I know even less about her music, except, of course, for her definitive version of "Piece of My Heart," which many later artists or a multitude of American Idol contestants have also mimicked and covered over the years.
Relive a Raucous Era With Janis Joplin
They arrived in tie-dyed T-shirts, billowing tunics, bellbottoms, headbands, peace symbols and beads, tons of beads, filing into the Laguna Playhouse until there was nary an empty seat.
A Night with Janis Joplin sets the Playhouse ablaze, with one standing ovation after another
One night wasn’t enough, let me say that right now. I’ll be going back.
Laguna Playhouse brings ‘Janis Joplin’ to life
It’s been nearly 47 years since Janis Joplin died of a heroin overdose, but a visit to Laguna Playhouse offers fans a chance to see the legendary rock singer in her prime.
That’s thanks to a remarkable performance by Kelly McIntyre in “A Night With Janis Joplin,” a stage show remarkable in every way imaginable.
Janis Joplin and friends rock Laguna in Broadway musical
Rarely is the advice “bring earplugs” given when attending a musical. But Kelly McIntyre, the title actress of “A Night with Janis Joplin,” recommends it to theatergoers for the Broadway musical.
“This is more of a rock concert than a musical show, so it’s best to come prepared to rock out,” said McIntyre.
Can’t stop Laguna’s ‘Hairspray’ beat
Everything old is new again at the Laguna Playhouse, where the stage version of a 1988 John Waters movie is rocking out for today's audiences and eliciting standing ovations in the process.
The rejuvenated “Hairspray” won eight Tony Awards in 2003, including Best Musical, and it boasts not only sight and sound but substance. Set in 1962 Baltimore, the show comes down strongly on the racial divisions of the era shortly before the passage of the Civil Rights Act.
BWW Review: A NIGHT WITH JANIS JOPLIN Brings Down the House
Janis Joplin was a force of nature. She was a candle in the wind. She was brash, vulgar, hard-drinking, hard-drugging, hard-living and fatally flawed. And she was tragically vulnerable.
When she sang, all of that energy, both positive and negative, spilled out onto the stage in a torrent that swept everything before it. If you were in the audience, all you could do was grab a bit of flotsam and hang on. She took no prisoners.
Raucousness resurrected in ‘One Night With Janis Joplin’
With such a patently glorious roll call, “One Night With Janis Joplin” certainly has the entertainment quotient stacked in its favor. And to a surprising level, this concert-as-theater, written and directed by Randy Johnson, achieves the exhilarating effect it desires. It’s a portrait, more than anything else, of a romance: a singer in love with the cleansing embrace of the crowd
Review: 'One Night With Janis Joplin' will rock your world
The legend that was and is Janis Joplin has influenced countless female rockers, many of them epic talents in their own right. And few if any theater events have done full justice to this trailblazing force of nature’s vocal impact and unflagging connection with an audience.
Joyous ‘Hairspray’ in Laguna dances its way to racial equality
Substitute the term “social progress” for the word “beat” in the song title “You Can’t Stop the Beat,” and you get a pretty good idea of what the musical “Hairspray,” beneath its bright, feel-good surface, is really about.
James Lecesne is brilliant in The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey on opening night at Laguna Playhouse
Chuck DeSantis, a New Jersey detective, stands in front of a precinct desk. Behind the desk, a film screen intermittently flashes the blurry picture of Leonard Pelkey, a 14-year-old boy known in town for his flamboyant style. We soon learn DeSantis is investigating Leonard’s disappearance.
(Only later, as our understanding of the reason for Leonard’s absence grows, will we notice that one of the young man’s dirtied rainbow-colored platform sneakers also sits on the desk – and that the sneaker is a key element in the investigation.)
‘The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey’ brightens up Laguna
Academy Award-winning film writer James Lecesne has been on the go for more than 20 years, pulling out all the stops in a one-man mission to spread awareness for LGBTQ rights and acceptance.
THEATER REVIEW: Absolute Brightness Is Absolutely Terrific
There’s nothing small about James Lecesne’s, The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey (including the somewhat unwieldy title, hereafter shortened to Brightness), but its wonderfulness comes, frankly, with surprise and relief.
All-star cast tells the story of Tesla in radio play
Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, J. Pierpont Morgan and several other of history’s most influential will make appearances in the Laguna Playhouse production “Tesla: A Radio Play for the Stage.”
The play, which tells the inspirational yet controversial story of inventor and futurist Nikola Tesla, will be presented by an all-star cast for four shows from Friday, May 26 through Sunday, May 28. The cast includes actor French Stewart (NBC’s “3rd Rock From the Sun”) as the Serbian American inventor.
Thanks to ‘King of the Road,’ it’s Miller Time in Laguna
No question that Roger Miller was one of the most singular talents ever to hit the pop charts, a quirky singer-songwriter with a wisecracking, self-deprecating persona and a musical style steeped in bluegrass.
Making heads or tails of his life in a musical stage bio must have been a challenge for Miller’s wife, Mary Arnold Miller, but also a labor of love – yet, in its world premiere at Laguna Playhouse, “King of the Road: The Roger Miller Story” emerges with the same ease and fluidity as any of Miller’s hit songs.
That’s a clear testament to the script, co-written with Cort Casady; director Andrew Barnicle’s adroit staging; and eight extraordinary performers: four filling the play’s dozens of speaking roles, four on-stage musicians (including musical director Omar D. Brancato).
'Our Great Tchaikovsky' at Laguna Playhouse offers a new look at the famed Russian composer
A composer’s sexual orientation should rarely, if ever, enter into our estimation of him or his music, especially if he’s a world-renowned figure from classical music.
But when those tendencies shape his personality, life and music, and his native country legislates homosexuality as a crime, that factor can’t be ignored.
That makes Hershey Felder’s “Our Great Tchaikovsky,” directed by Trevor Hay at Laguna Playhouse through March 26, unique among his collection of painstakingly researched, written and performed one-man shows.
Felder's 'Tchaikovsky' a potent ode at Rep
“We invite you to bring him home to us.”
Those words, which carry both warmth and a lingering note of warning, capture the conflict at the heart of “Our Great Tchaikovsky,” Hershey Felder’s potent new solo ode to the great Russian composer.
'Chapatti' exceeds simplistic cat-versus-dog tale
Think a play that features a dog and 19 cats is about pets? Think again.
True, Christian O’Reilly’s play “Chapatti” places its canine and feline characters front and center – but only to illustrate the personality traits of two people in particular and human nature in general.
‘Chapatti’ Delights Hearts and Minds
He enters the stage calling out to a dog named Chapatti and segues into a monologue about the animal’s idiosyncrasies and wanting to give his piano to his landlord. Except there is no dog in sight, no one plays the piano and for the first 10 minutes one might think that the man we get to know as Dan is eulogizing his pet or has gone mental in some way.
So begins “Chapatti,” a multi-faceted, perfectly paced, poignant and also humor-laced one-act play by Christian O’Reilly.
'Chapatti' play a pet project
The power of companionship between two lonely pet owners is explored in the two-person play “Chapatti.”
‘Chapatti’ and the Long Road to Love
“It was a gorgeous story, beautifully told in just straight poetic language.”
Sleeping Beauty and Holiday Traditions
If you’ve read any of my posts, you’d know that I love theater and taking my family to as many shows as possible. It doesn’t matter the venue; I’m always up for a show. Last month one of my friends was talking about having a mom’s night out with our kids to see Sleeping Beauty at the Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach instead of a regular holiday dinner gift exchange. I loved the idea of making holiday memories that didn’t consist of food and gifts, instead of experiences.
Sleeping Beauty and Her Winter Knight - WOW!
Lythgoe Family Panto is back in the OC as the Laguna Playhouse treats kids of all ages to Sleeping Beauty And Her Winter Knight, Orange County’s most song, dance, and laugh-packed December treat.
Family-friendly 'Sleeping Beauty' in Laguna is broadly silly, musically solid
The Lythgoe family is working to establish a holiday tradition in Orange County theater in the form of the panto. If Laguna Playhouse continues as a presenting house each December, that very well may come to pass.
Wendie Malick & Dan Lauria to Lead Love Letters at Laguna Playhouse
Love Letters is the story of a love affair carried on primarily through letters, written in and about a world where letter-writing was very much an essential mode of communication, especially between men and women. This play will be presented in the traditional manner - very simply, with the two actors seated, reading from the script, as if from letters.
Sleeping Beauty and Her Winter Knight @ Laguna Playhouse - Review
“A panto is a traditional fairy tale complete with songs, dances, jokes, exaggerated characters and lots of audience participation.” Panto is the word being used to describe Laguna Playhouse’s Sleeping Beauty and Her Winter Knight, and it is apt.
Sleeping Beauty and Her Winter Knight at Laguna Playhouse is Laguna Beach!
Laguna Playhouse and Lythgoe Family Panto announce a very special Holiday Event!
Laguna Playhouse returns to holiday panto with 'Sleeping Beauty and Her Winter Knight'
Cozi Zuehlsdorff stars with the ensemble in the Laguna Playhouse and Lythgoe Family Panto production of “Sleeping Beauty and Her Winter Knight.”
The Lythgoes Bring ‘Sleeping Beauty’ Panto to the Laguna Playhouse
The Lythgoes bring Laguna Playhouse its second annual holiday show.
M*A*S*H Vet Stars in Laguna Operation
Loretta Swit says she finds fulfillment portraying Eleanor Roosevelt in a one-woman show.
Review: 'Chapatti' a fetching (and affecting) saga of moving on
The entire idea of the “meet cute” might have met its match with “Chapatti,” a play in which a man and woman’s first encounter occurs over a spilled box of kittens.
Critic's Choice : 'The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey' shines with humanity
There's nothing quite as gratifying as spending 90 minutes in the company of a gifted storyteller.
Review: ‘The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey,’ James Lecesne’s One-Man Play
A show about the brutal murder of a 14-year-old boy should not, logically speaking, leave you beaming with joy. And yet that’s the paradoxical effect of “The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey,” a superlative solo show at Dixon Place written and performed by James Lecesne, himself a pretty darn dazzling beacon of theatrical talent.
The Laguna Playhouse Youth Theatre Presents The Boxcar Children
The Boxcar Children is coming to Laguna! The Laguna Playhouse Youth Theatre presents this production on-stage beginning Friday, November 11 through Sunday November 20 at the Laguna Playhouse Moulton Theatre, The Boxcar Children will be directed by Bethanie Knieser, with musical direction by Mark Turnbull.
Sleeping Beauty and Her Winter Knight
Cozi Zuehlsdorff, Joely Fisher, Barry Pearl and More to Star in SLEEPING BEAUTY AND HER WINTER KNIGHT at Laguna Playhouse
Double Play: Wild About Wilder—and Chandler, Too
What are the actuarial odds? A pair of plays may have theatergoers and film buffs seeing double. Within a week, by sheer coincidence, two different shows about writer/director Billy Wilder have opened on SoCal stages and at the heart of both is the creation of the 1944 film noir classic Double Indemnity, which Wilder helmed and co-wrote with that maestro of mysteries and crime fiction, Raymond Chandler.
Pairing of ‘Billy & Ray’ Proves a Hit
The pulp fiction story by James M. Cain turned into “Double Indemnity,” the 1944 film noir thriller that enraptured audiences with a plot and action that craftily circumvented censorship.
It's hate at first sight for 'Billy & Ray'
One look at “Billy & Ray” and you’ll marvel that the 1944 thriller “Double Indemnity” was even made, let alone that it set trends in the film noir genre and emerged as a landmark in the battle against Hollywood censorship.
That’s because the movie’s key creators, director Billy Wilder and writer Raymond Chandler, were about as compatible as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
'Billy & Ray' in Laguna goes behind the scenes of the iconic film 'Double Indemnity'
The 1943 Academy Award-nominated film “Double Indemnity” made a groundbreaking impact on censorship in the American film industry with its graphic themes of scamming, murder and adultery. But what was happening behind the scenes between the film’s writers is actually a revolutionary – and entertaining – story in itself.
Story of Hollywood Legends Billy & Ray Will Return to the West Coast
Mike Bencivenga’s tale of Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler will play the Laguna Playhouse.
Purposeful Play: Youth Theater’s Benefits Go Beyond the Stage
Th Laguna Playhouse's Youth Theatre program offers rich, hands-on learning opportunities for aspiring actors and curious minds alike.
Easy-to-take Rockapella Weaves Pure Vocal Magic
Even if you don’t realize it, you’ve probably heard the singing of “Rockapella,” an a cappella group as steeped in the commercial side of show-biz as in the artistic.
Though it’s been around since 1991, the quintet has never performed at Laguna Playhouse – so hats off to that venue for offering these five super-talented gents a showcase for their masterful vocal skills.
Broadway World: Chapatti at North Coast Rep
The much-anticipated San Diego directing debut of well-known actress and director Judith Ivey in the west coast premiere of Christian O'Reilly's Irish-themed comedic drama Chapatti at North Coast Rep did not disappoint.
Lee Rocker Shares More Than Music in Laguna Playhouse show
Grammy Award-nominated Stray Cats bass player Lee Rocker is ready to rock his hometown inside out. The Laguna Beach resident and rockabilly icon will debut his newest show Sunday at the Laguna Playhouse.
Rockapella Performs Popular Hits at Laguna Playhouse
Rockapella is undoubtedly the seminal a cappella singing group in the US. In this era of NBC’s The Sing-Off, movies like Pitch Perfect and innumerable school vocal groups, certainly with almost 25 years on the scene, Rockapella has been a strong influence on the genre. And their exciting, perfectly executed performance was a thorough pleasure to experience.
Rockapella celebrates 25 years at Laguna Playhouse
The Laguna Playhouse stage will present the group’s newest touring concert “Hits Like You Never Heard” for three weeks, beginning Wednesday and running through Aug. 28. This will be the first time the group has performed at the playhouse.
Rockapella Sings Nostalgic a Capella
What is it about a cappella pop groups that makes their spirit so playful? As Rockapella, an influential ensemble since the early 1990s, performed a sleek set of oldies at Feinstein’s/54 Below on Friday, the show became the musical equivalent of watching the members of a basketball team happily toss a ball around.
All Shook Up - The Music of Elvis Presley
The plot of the play is all about love, what else! So it’s where Shakespeare meets Elvis. One girl’s dream and a surprise visit from a mysterious leather-jacketed, guitar-playing stranger help a small town to discover the magic of romance and the power of rock & roll in this all Elvis musical, loosely based on William Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night.
Love-Filled Daisy Chain in ‘All Shook Up’
“A bless my soul what is wrong with me; I’m itching like a man on a fuzzy tree…. I’m in love, I’m all shook up.”
WOW! All Shook Up
A whole lot of shaking’s going on in Laguna Beach this summer as a mix of East-coasters and OC locals join talents to entertain audiences of all ages with All Shook Up, the crowd-pleasingest jukebox musical since Mamma, Mia!
Elvis Gets Laguna "All Shook Up"
Elvis Presley, Shakespeare and a touch of "Footloose" may not seem like a match made in theatrical heaven, but somehow it all comes together in the sprightly musical "All Shook Up," now entertaining audiences (and festival-goers) at the Laguna Playhouse.
'All Shook Up' a whole hunka burnin' Elvis fun
No question that “All Shook Up” deserves, and has earned, a place on theater season schedules as a crowd-pleaser, and Laguna’s production more than delivers on that promise.
A Hunk, A Hunk of Burning Yes!
If you find yourself in Laguna Beach, make plans to see All Shook Up. You can thank me later.
Emerson Collins to Star in Buyer & Cellar at Laguna Playhouse
Laguna Playhouse Artistic Director Ann E. Wareham is thrilled to announce the sixth and final show in the Laguna Playhouse 2015-2016 season, Emerson Collins starring in Buyer and Cellar.
On Theater: Broad comedy in Babs' basement
"It's high comedy with an imaginative twist at the Laguna Playhouse."
Show's Inspiration Rises from Below Ground
"A funny and intelligent romp...Emerson Collins as Alex is first-rate"
Sex and Education - A new hit at the Laguna Playhouse
"A creative, fresh masterpiece."
'Sex and Education' at the Laguna Playhouse
Moving lessons in ‘Sex and Education’ at the Laguna Playhouse
"Tool on down to beautiful Laguna to catch this fine performance of a most moving play."
On Theater: A remedial romp in Laguna
"The show turns both sex and education into gold mines for comedy at the Laguna Playhouse."
‘Sex and Education,’ a Heady Mix on Stage!
"A hilarious success!"
'Sex and Education' a potent combination in Laguna
"Lissa Levin’s play provokes well-earned laughs as well as deep reflection."
Student, teacher match wits in 'Sex and Education'
"Director Andrew Barnicle establishes a brisk, good-humored pace that enables him to sidestep every sand trap and land mine."
Vibrant 'Louis and Keely' captures excitement of bygone musical era
Singer, trumpet player and bandleader Louis Prima may not have the name recognition of Frank Sinatra, but in “Louis and Keely ‘Live’ at the Sahara,” a stage bio with music, Sinatra is but a supporting character.
Louis & Keely Revives the Vegas Lounge Llife
Tony Award winner Anthony Crivello and Vanessa Claire Stewart mesmerize in the Laguna Playhouse show, "Louis & Keely 'Live' at the Sahara."
Critic's Choice 'Louis & Keely': It's still got that swing
Vintage nightclub artistry ignites palpable frissons around the Geffen Playhouse, where “Louis & Keely: ‘Live’ at the Sahara” has sailed back in triumph.
First Look at Laguna Playhouse's Louis & Keely 'Live' at the Sahara
LOUIS & KEELY: 'LIVE' AT THE SAHARA is the compelling story of Louis Prima and Keely Smith, who were an American musical sensation in the 50's and 60's, pioneering the Lounge Act in Las Vegas.
L.A. small-theater hit 'Louis & Keely' makes comeback after six years
Louis & Keely: Live at the Sahara” is back on its feet after a six-year interruption and is headed for the Geffen Playhouse and Laguna Playhouse this winter in what’s billed as a new production that includes Taylor Hackford as director and Vanessa Claire Stewart as pop singer Keely Smith.
Nowhere Hare: Stewart (French, Not Jimmy) Pulls a 75-Year-Old Rabbit Out of His Hat
Seventy-five years ago playwright Mary Chase’s Harvey started hip-hopping across the stage for four and a half years, as this whimsical classic about a great white rabbit went on to have one of the longest theatrical runs in Great White Way history. Chase’s three-act play rather famously depicted well-to-do Ellwood P. Dowd, owner of a posh home somewhere in the Far West, also inhabited by his sister Veta Louise Simmons, his 20-ish niece Myrtle Mae and – much to the chagrin of the mother and daughter – the titular six-foot, three-and-one-half-inch, invisible rabbit. Ellwood regards Harvey to be his best friend, but his sister and niece consider the hare’s purported existence to be apocryphal and a source of embarrassment. Hilarity ensues.
On Theater: ‘Harvey’ hardly looks his age in Laguna
The last time we “saw” Harvey, the title character of Mary Chase’s Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy from 1943, at the Laguna Playhouse, he was accompanied by Charles Durning, the since-departed actor who churned up laughs in movies like “Tootsie” and “To Be or Not to Be.”
Well, the invisible big bunny’s back in Laguna, this time making life interesting for French Stewart and his offstage wife Vanessa Claire Stewart, who headline this vintage story with an illustrious supporting cast, all of whom generate more laughs than a 76-year-old play has any right to expect.
Theater Review: "Mamma Mia!" is the perfect remedy for whatever ails you
If there’s a Broadway-born musical offering pure pleasure, with just a taste of the required conflict, it’s got to be “Mamma Mia!”
This joyous revival, conceived by members of the pop group ABBA, has checked in for the summer at the Laguna Playhouse, and ticket demand already has prompted an extension. It’s the perfect remedy for whatever ails you.