R.I.P. Curtis Jerome: One of OC Theater's Brightest Lights

Categories: Culture, Theater

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Chuck Roberts
Curtis Jerome
Last weekend, Curtis Jerome, the director of Les Miserables at the Maverick Theater in Fullerton, had to step into a key ensemble role after the original actor fell ill. By all accounts, he nailed it on very short study.

It's hard to fathom, but Jerome's presence will be felt even deeper during this weekend's closing shows, as the 50-year-old passed away Tuesday after injuries sustained in a car accident on Memorial Day. It is a tremendous personal loss to Jerome's family and friends, who opened up on Facebook after news of his death--as well as at least one affecting blog. And it's an enormous professional loss to the Maverick, as the company's wave of musical theater successes the past six years were in large part due to the incredible range of talents possessed by Jerome.


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Darkness Creeps into Disneyland on Bats Day Weekend

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Photo of Bats Day in the Fun Park courtesy of ThemeParkAdventure.com
It was only a matter of time, but dark imagery and creepy subcultures have irrefutably infiltrated pop culture. From fans of music genres like death metal and industrial to adherents of retro and retro-futuristic art movements such as Edwardianism and steampunk, folks who wear predominant amounts of eerie clothing are everywhere, but short of gathering in their respective niches for concerts and conventions, there are few events that bring the black masses together for a grand hootenanny.

Bats Day not only does this--for what has grown into a three-day event--but the event cuts right into the heart of the most genteel of pop culture icons; for, the culmination of Bats Day is a swarming of creatures of the night into Disneyland for "Bats Day in the Fun Park." The two days which precede the dark wave are filled with varieties of events, which have included concerts, contests, a marketplace, and a masquerade. Noah Korda, who goes by "Noah K," is the heart of Bats Day, and he was happy to shed some light on this celebration of darkness.

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In This Play, The Revolution Will Be Theatricalized

Categories: Culture, Theater

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True Image Studio
Marina Michelson and David Carl Golbeck
It's almost quaint to see smart and passionate politically-minded people talking in 1999 about how the new century and the end of the Cold War would re-orient America back toward issues of civil liberties and racial equality. Unfortunately, a couple of buildings soon toppled, we had a new enemy and, 16 years later, the Patriot Act is still in force and you apparently can't lob a loogie in this country without it hitting some cop killing a black guy.

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Lots of Roar in Mr. Wolf, But is There Much Bite?

Categories: Culture, Theater

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Photo by Debora Robinson/SCR.
Tessa Auberjonois, Jon Tenney, Emily James and John de Lancie in Mr. Wolf
Rajiv Joseph is a playwright making a lot of noise in American theater. The 40-year-old (who served in the Peace Corps in Senegal for three years and what have YOU done with your miserable life?) was a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize with his Benghal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, which starred the late, great Robin Williams in its Broadway run. And while one can argue over whether a distinction like that truly merits respect (isn't it possible that some years, plays just suck?) as Southern California's most prolific, and terrifically curmudgeonly critic, Tony Frankel wrote last year, there's no denying that theaters love producing his work, as his plays have been mounted at a score of top theaters across the country and he has two world premieres this spring, one next month at the Atlantic Theater Company in New York City, and Mr. Wolf, commissioned by South Coast Repertory.

Based on the tight and taut work, it's clear that Joseph has a strong and unique voice. What isn't so clear is whether he has that much of interest to say. Some of that in Mr. Wolf may lie in the fact that he's not interested in delivering answers. He's just asking questions--more than 400 according to the program. Those questions range from the first principle of ancient astronomy to why people get divorced, and most of them are posed by Emily James (a current theater student at Cal State Fullerton in a leading role at a professional theater, and if you're a current college student, what are YOU doing with your life?), a 15-year-old who, after her abduction at age 3, has never interacted with another human other than her abductor, a mysterious Mr. Wolf (John DeLance). It begins and ends with questions and along the way are heady issues of God and existence, probed against the backdrop of child abduction and the junction between astronomy and metaphysics.

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Anaheim's WonderCon is All About TV, Film and Superhero Babes

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By: Christopher Victorio
Two Thumbs Up @ ComicCon 2014
This weekend at the Anaheim Convention Center 60,000 people will shape shift into their favorite comic characters. We're not just talking about Batman and Luke Skywalker wannabes trick-or-treating and scaring your children as they drunkly inquire about Milk Duds. We're talking about the original lovers of Walking Dead, Archie, Preacher, and Saga. Similar to its big brother ComicCon, which began in 1970, WonderCon not only appeals to lovers of comics but also movies, TV shows, toys and gaming.

Each year writers and producers in those industries shed light on character development, plot, and even present unreleased footage to fans. This year at the 4th annual WonderCon we look forward to the exclusive world premiere of Batman vs. Robin and retrospective panels from Back to the Future and Superman. As we begin to see a large shift in TV shows appealing to comic fans, we also see a TV-heavy lineup scheduled for this weekend: The Flash, iZombie, Teen Titans Go!, Gotham, Wayward Pines, The Last Ship, American Odyssey, Salem, Orphan Black, and The Last Man on Earth.

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Lebowski Fest Takes Over Fountain Bowl, Man

Categories: Culture

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Josh Chesler
There was a wide variety of costumes at Lebowski Fest, from the main character to the smallest of roles.
For a few hours this past Saturday, Fountain Bowl in Fountain Valley became the home of Lebowski Fest, man.

Hundreds of achievers (fans of The Big Lebowski, for those of you who aren't fluent in Lebowski lingo) gathered to throw some rocks, drink a few Caucasians, and generally celebrate the Coen brothers' legendary tribute to bowling, friendship, and the tale of a rug that really tied the room together.


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GCS Returns to Downtown Santa Ana

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GCS Santa Ana
Art on view at the new GCS Santa Ana
The face of the Downtown Santa Ana area has been changing tremendously lately, with more restaurants and nightlife spots bringing many a bustling crowd passing through its streets on any given night. In the artist scene, DIY spots like Top Acid still bring in a steady flow of youths clamoring to be a part of its underground music scene.

But one thing about the artist community here is that when a part of it is missing, the void is felt deeply. Thus when GCS Santa Ana, a hip hop-based streetwear and urban art gallery, announced in April 2013 that after five years of operations it would be closing its doors, the tidal wave of grief set in. Many feared that Jack Jakosky, the new owner of the Santora Building where GCS Santa Ana claimed residence, had evicted GCS owner Hector Ruiz after having run longtime Santora residents out, but Ruiz states simply that nothing could be further from the truth. "We fulfilled our first five-year lease," Ruiz explains. "We would have loved to have continued in that space but the economics didn't make sense for us. Quite frankly, we just weren't making any money."

See also: Is Hip-Hop Culture Gentrifying Santa Ana?

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Burger Records Opens New Store in LA

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Courtesy of Gnar Tapes
Cypress Park's future Burger Records storefront
After six years of pummeling Orange County with colorful cassette tapes -- roughly 300 releases a year -- America's most prolific underground record label is opening a store in L.A.

In a joint partnership with cassette label Gnar Tapes, the new Burger Records in Cypress Park is the label's first retail space in L.A. For Gnar Tapes -- which began in Portland in 2008 -- the new venture makes them a major force in Northeast L.A.'s growing garage rock syndicate (which includes Lolipop Records in Echo Park).

"We've been friends for years," says Lee Rickard, co-founder of Burger Records. "They're super funny, creative, and influential." Gnar's founder, beer-belly-maestro Rikky Gage, even wrote BRGRTV's catchy theme song; his band White Fang has a new record slated for a Burger release this summer. He's also taken on the role of stoner pop crooner "Free Weed," who's been known to give away medical marijuana to his fans.

See also: How BRGRTV Became a YouTube Zine for Burger Records

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Meet Stacy Russo, OC's Punk Zine Poet

Categories: Culture

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Photo by Jessica GZ
Russo in her natural habitat

By Candace Hansen

Inspired by punk music and social justice, Librarian Stacy Russo produces zines that speak her truth through poetry and encourage others to do the same. After a 20 year hiatus, Russo self-published a number of poetry zines in 2014, edited a collection of radical protest essays by poet June Jordan titled Life as Activism, and broke ground on her new project Wildland: Interviews with Women from the 1980's Southern California Punk Rock Scene. While rooted in punk, Russo's optimism and personal mantra of Love Activism shape her writing and her work with students at Santa Ana College.


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Psychobillies Prepare to Take Over Knott's Berry Farm

Categories: Culture

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Courtesy of Remy Casillas
(Left to right): Pizza Beat Ent. is Tawney Estrella and Remy Casillas
Remy Casillas still remembers when the subculture of psychobilly grabbed him from beyond the grave and refused to let go. The allure of badass standup bass players, mosh pits, B-movie gore, hot rods, creepers and pomade made the raucous celebration of the undead seem eternally cool.

"I went to [Katella] high school, and all of the jocks listened to Sublime and Kottonmouth Kings," Casillas says. "I was this skinny, nerdy kid, and I heard songs about riding in a Batmobile or about zombies, and I knew that psychobilly was my kind of music."

Casillas is dedicated not only to the music that nurtured him, but also to the tight community of his ilk, those who live for the hellified combination of punk, rockabilly and appreciation for the undead. And there are now enough of them to take over an amusement park.

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