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On Theater: 'Plaid,' 'Sons,' 'Godot' top local theater

December 22, 2011|By Tom Titus

Local stage productions on both the community theater and collegiate levels proved impressive during 2011, with an imaginative musical and a pair of modern classic dramas leading the way.

At the Costa Mesa Playhouse, the 1950s flavored musical "Forever Plaid," directed by Stephen Husley, proved to be the theater's most impressive offering of the year. The Newport Theatre Arts Center set the pace with a strong, involving revival of Arthur Miller's postwar drama "All My Sons," directed by David Colley.

Vanguard University mounted a thought-provoking adaptation of Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird," with Marianne Savell directing, as its top production, while Orange Coast College set the pace with a rousing revival of Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Pirates of Penzance" under the direction of Peter Uribe.

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The most resoundingly accomplished show of the year, however, came from UC Irvine. There, Robert Cohen staged an intriguing version of Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" in the venue rechristened as the Robert Cohen Theater for its director/professor, who's been at UCI as long as UCI has been in Irvine.

Other memorable productions at the Costa Mesa theater were director Jason Holland's mounting of "Steel Magnolias" and Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit," directed by David A. Blair. Newport's season was spiced by Neil Simon's "Biloxi Blues," staged by Gigi Fusco Meese, and the farcical "25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," directed by Kari Hayter.

A pair of second leads topped the performance tabulations in community theater during 2011. Jonathan Deroko and Amber Bonasso delivered memorable portrayals in Newport's "All My Sons." At Costa Mesa, Norma Jean excelled both as a leading actress in "The Book of Liz" and in support for "Blithe Spirit."

Other memorable acting achievements at the Costa Mesa Playhouse came from Amanda Hart and Bethany Price for "Steel Magnolias," Paul Griffiths, Danielle MacInnis and Emily Price, all for "Blithe Spirit," and Ron Grigsby and Ed McBride in "The Book of Liz."

A number of performers shone brightly in Newport, including Vince Campbell, Toni Beckman and Christopher Utley, all for "All My Sons;" Julie Ellis and Della Lisi for "The Dixie Swim Club;" Erin McNally and Maxwell Corpuz for "Spelling Bee;" and Mark Kaufman, Alec Malczynski and Nathanial Carpenter, all for "Biloxi Blues."

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