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Tom Titus

THEATER --

December 29, 2001

* EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the fourth and final column in a series

chronicling 2001 in local theater.

When the Daily Pilot first began recognizing outstanding individual

accomplishments in theater back in 1974, there were two major criteria

for consideration -- outstanding contributions during the preceding year

and an impressive body of work over the past several seasons.

Occasionally, however, there rise to the forefront an individual or

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two whose "career" credentials are limited by chronology, but who

nevertheless have made indelible impressions in the recent time frame.

These people also deserve recognition and another round of applause.

Two such young and vital talents have made their presence felt with a

vengeance, both this season and over the last few, although they still

possess the bloom of youth. They are Sunny Peabody and Jessica

Hutchinson, the Daily Pilot's man and woman of the year in theater for

2001.

Peabody, a native of Tucson and a senior at Vanguard University,

capped his collegiate career by directing a superb multimedia treatment

of Shakespeare's "Hamlet," then blazed his way through an exhausting

performance in the title role of "Scapino." Hutchinson, who graduated

from Orange Coast College in June, left behind a plethora of superlative

performances, topped early this year in the two-character drama

"Oleanna."

When he graduates from Vanguard, Peabody intends to pursue careers in

theater, film and television -- and, given his lofty level of talent and

energy, he probably will succeed in all three venues.

His "Hamlet" was a riveting example of his proficiency in all of these

modes of entertainment.

"My passion was to bring Shakespeare to an audience in a newer way

that wouldn't lose the spirit of the script," he declared.

As for "Scapino," had Jim Carrey dropped in on a performance, he would

have been green again -- this time with envy. Peabody turned this comic

actor's dream role into a tour de farce, bouncing his freewheeling style

of humor off the walls and allowing his audiences few opportunities to

catch their breath.

Hutchinson, while at OCC, was featured in eight of the college's

productions, none more stunning than David Mamet's "Oleanna," in which

she and director Martin Winslow turned up the intensity level to a fever

pitch.

She also excelled in "The Mineola Twins" (playing both title roles),

"Bullshot Crummond" and "Tainted Justice," closing out her OCC career

earlier this year with a splendid performance in "The Memory of Water."

The tall, slender beauty, who also sings, dances and plays the piano,

envisions herself composing movie scores as well as performing in front

of the camera. She didn't get much chance to display her musical talent

at OCC, but she's a trained soprano in search of the right vocal

opportunity.

Hutchinson has the background -- acting classes at USC and San

Francisco's American Conservatory Theater -- to strike it rich in the

professional ranks, and her performances at OCC have given her the

impetus to seek out the big time.

"There's something riveting," she said, "about being in a play for two

hours and feeling it come to life."

Sunny Peabody and Jessica Hutchinson are a pair of "stars of tomorrow'

who have shared their talent with local college audiences along the way.

Their skill, energy and dedication to their craft should ensure their

ultimate success.

* TOM TITUS writes about and reviews local theater for the Daily

Pilot. His stories appear Thursdays and Saturdays.

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