How Could 'War of the Worlds' Be Such a Bore?

Categories: Culture, Theater

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It's hard to tell if the actors in War of the Worlds: The Radio Play are pretending to be radio actors afraid of a Martian invasion of Earth, or if they are real actors fighting boredom. Whatever the case, they're losing either battle.

The mother of all mass media hoaxes, the effects of Orson Welles and his Mercury Theatre actors' 1938 radio performance of H.G. Wells 1898 sci-fi classic, while sensationalized by the newspapers of the time, certainly showed the power of that mass media. While there was nothing like the widespread panic in the streets of America we commonly associate with the event, there were enough people who believed the entirely fictitious performance that the Federal Communications Commission seriously considered mandating that all radio programming be reviewed by government censors before broadcast.


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This Epic Production Refuses to Let Audiences Stay in One Place

Categories: Culture, Theater

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Call it the most ambitious theater initiative in Orange County history. The most striking community outreach in Orange County cultural history. An ode to the turbulent, dense, culturally diverse city of Santa Ana.

It's all those things, but in its premiere performance,The Long Road Today/El Largo Camino de Hoy is also something else: realllllly long.

Clocking it at about two hours and 40 minutes (about twice the time listed in the program) the length isn't terminal. There's enough going on in this movable feast--from dance and music to puppets and video projections--to hold your interest. But considering the audience is split into four groups and travels across a good chunk of Santa Ana's civic center to four site-specific areas, where four scenes are enacted, there's an awful lot of moving and standing around (unless you were one of the lucky few to get the memo to bring your own folding chair).

Then again, when a play takes a year to write, when more than nearly 1,000 people are interviewed, and their cumulative recollections and insights are distilled into a play, it's a monumental task keeping things concise.


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Elvis Makes a Triumphant Return to the Maverick Theater

Categories: Culture, Theater

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Courtesy of the Maverick Theater

Elvis 68
Maverick Theater
9-14-14

It may not be completely accurate to say The King is the play that built the Maverick Theater. After all, there have been other shows at the Fullerton space since Brian Newell's homage to Elvis Presley, who wakes up after decades of cyrogenic slumber, first opened.
But since then, Newell has staged the play about 6,000 times (well, really just seven or eight or maybe it's 50) and it's continued to lure huge crowds in every incarnation.
And, now, Elvis is back at the Maverick. But there's no concern that Newell will kill any golden geese with this one. His new Elvis homage is Elvis '68, a staged version of Presley's landmark 1968 comeback concert, which re-introduced a nation of fans to the sexualized, edgy and downright interesting Elvis that years of whoring his talents in stupid movies had diluted.

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Ghost Road Keeps Thoughtful Productions Light On Their Feet

Categories: Culture, Theater

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Patti McGuire
As Katherine Noon, artistic director of the Los Angeles-based theater troupe Ghost Road Company, says, South Coast Repertory's Studio SCR series is unique in Southern California:
"There is nothing else like it in Southern California," Noon says of the series, which brings smaller, alternative companies into SCR's intimate Nicholas Studio for weekend runs. "This major cultural institution putting time and money into new, innovative local work is such a boon to the theatrical community here."
Ghost Road's offering is The Bargain and the Butterfly, an ensemble-driven work based on a Nathanial Hawthorne short story that the company's website calls "a beautifully haunting new play, which explores the delicate intersection between genius and madness."

We caught up with Noon, who directs and developed the show in collaboration with her ensemble, and asked some deeply probing questions about one of the more interesting troupes in the greater Los Angeles area, which was founded in 1993 by fellow students at the California Institute of the Art's.


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Lightwire Theater Brings Us Puppets, Ballet and High-Tech Wizardry

Categories: Culture, Theater

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Most of us have seen some kind of puppet show. One or two may have seen a ballet show. But we've all turned on a light or two in our time. Lightwire Theater does all three. The troupe, which has performed across the world and nearly won the 2012 season of "America's Got Talent," brings its unique blend of very different art forms to Costa Mesa for three shows this weekend.

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'The Laramie Project' High School Production Gets the Boot in Fullerton

Categories: Culture, Theater

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Tim Chesnut

Four years ago, Fred Phelps, the now banished (and the God-who-Hates-Fags-willing soon to be dead) founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, announced plans to boycott a Santa Ana staging of The Laramie Project, an oral history project turned play that documented the events surrounding the 1998 killing of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming and, most important, the repercussions in that university town two years later.

It's doubtful that Dr. George Giokaris, the superintendent of the Fullerton Union High School District, shares Phelps' views, but, apparently, he's got something against Troy High School producing the play, because he's put the kibosh on a production.

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Culture Clash - Segerstrom Center - January 31, 2014

Categories: Culture, Theater

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courtesy Culture Clash
Culture Clash
Segerstrom Center
1-31-14

For a trio of such talented, creative and politically outspoken agent provocateurs, Culture Clash has been suspiciously subdued recently, at least on its home turf, Southern California.Though no strangers to Orange County, San Diego or, of course, Los Angeles County audiences, the three members haven't stepped on a local stage together since 2010.

It's not that they've been hibernating, Ric Salinas and Herbert Siguenza worked with Richard Montoya on his epic mashup of American History, American Nights: The Ballad of Juan Jose, which debuted at the Ashland Shakespeare Festival in 2010 and has been produced several times since. Montoya also adapted his 2006 Los Angeles-oriented play Power and Water, into a film, which opens in May. Siguenza has been teaching at UC Irvine and working with his one-man show about Pablo Picasso. And Salinas has been directing in San Francisco and Seattle, teaching directing at UCLA and is starring in the first play about Salvadorian gangs, which opens in April at the Los Angeles Theater Center. But while they're all busy, a bonafide Culture Clash show that embodies the heart and soul of a troupe that has spent much of the past 30 years on the road listening to people's stories and then spinning them into raucous, sobering theater, has been absent. Until last weekend.


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Hip-Hop and Theater Come Together in Dreamscape to Tell the Story of Tyisha Miller

Categories: Hip-Hop, Theater

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Rickerby Hinds
Back in 1998, Tyisha Miller, a 19-year-old African-American woman, was unconscious in her car when relatives called Riverside police. She was parked at a gas station with a flat. When officers arrived, Miller was in need of medical attention but had a gun visibly on her lap. The police ultimately forced entry but started shooting when they claimed Miller came to and reached for the weapon. Twelve bullets, including four to the head, struck and killed her. The shooting made national headlines and sparked outrage.

Incorporating hip-hop culture with theater, Dreamscape is play written and directed by Rickerby Hinds that takes the tragedy and reflects on the loss of life. "Ever have one of those dreams where nothing comes out when you try to scream?" it asks of its audience as the production makes a run this weekend at South Coast Repertory.

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Martin Short is Still Mr. Social in Real Life. On Social Media, Not So Much

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Courtesy Martin Short
It's a party with Marty!
Martin Short has been a staple of the comedic landscape for over 40 years and with stand-out characters like Ed Grimley, Jiminy Glick, Ned Nederlander, and Franck Eggelhoffer, most comedy fans these days pretty much grew up with the guy. On November 21st, the all-around entertainer comes to Segerstrom Center for the Arts for one night only with his one man show, An Evening with Martin Short. Before the big event, we were lucky enough to talk to this award winning comedian, singer, producer, voice actor, writer, and legend about Saturday Night Live, his new project, and to find out why this social genius isn't on social media.


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King Gesar - Long Beach Opera - September 14, 2013

Categories: Theater

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Keith Ian Polakoff
By: Greggory Moore
King Gesar
Long Beach Opera
9/14/13

A lot of people go to the opera for vocal acrobatics. Those people would have hated Long Beach Opera's performance of King Gesar. There's note a single sung note for 15 minutes, and the little singing that sporadically follows alternates between near-monotonal melodies and "om"-like passages of literally one note. Peter Lieberson's rendering of the Tibetan legend of the shape-shifting Gesar, born to this world to rule the kingdom of Ling, cut through falsehood, and free humankind from the demons that enslave us, is told by way of staccato recitation backed with chromatic flights of fancy that often have no chord to call home.

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