On Theater: 'Few Good Men' a real good show

Editor's Note: This is the second of three columns reviewing the year 2010 in local theater.

"A Few Good Men" is a familiar story, primarily due to the impact that (Tom) Cruise and Jack Nicholson made on the screen, but it retains the power to capture and stir the spirit. There are quite a few good men on the stage of the Newport Theater Arts Center."

Enough, in fact, to place that NTAC production at the top of the list of local community theater and collegiate productions presented during 2010. And it was a second year-end laurel for its director, Gigi Fusco Meese, whose staging of "Moonlight and Magnolias" for the Huntington Beach Playhouse, also earned her top honors for that theater group.

In this category — which also includes the Costa Mesa Playhouse and Vanguard University — "A Few Good Men" was a clear winner. Runner-up honors went to Vanguard's compelling production of "Our Town," for which this column commented, "This 72-year-old play still has a good deal of kick left in it, and you'll leave holding your heart."

Susan Berkompas directed it.

Musicals filled the next three spots — Newport's "Smoky Joe's Café," Costa Mesa's "The 35th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" and Vanguard's "Bye Bye Birdie." Directing, respectively, were Larry Watts, David Anthony Blair and Vanda Eggington.

As for individual accomplishments, the antagonistic duo of Jonathan Deroko and Michael Turner, in the roles illuminated by Cruise and Nicholson, drove Newport's production of "A Few Good Men."

Among actresses, Danae Hayes's portrayal of Emily in Vanguard's "Our Town" deserves the top-most place among the three venues. Close behind, however, are Elizabeth Bouton as the faculty organizer of Costa Mesa's "Spelling Bee" and Karen Wray as the plain daughter Lizzie in "The Rainmaker" at Newport.

Other strong individual portrayals are broken down by theater group:

Newport — Skye McCabe and Jim Wethe, "A Few Good Men"'; Della Lisi, Harriet Whitmyer and Lori Kelley, "The Supporting Cast"; Philip Bushell and Paul Breazeale, "The Rainmaker," and Brian Page and Andrea Paquin, "Killjoy."

Costa Mesa — John Sturgeon, Leslie Ivarson and Camille Lacey, "Jake's Women"; JP Sarro, Shaun Leslie Thomas, Jeff Bickel, Darcy Porter and Brigette O'Leary, "The Odd Couple"; Garrett Changler, "Spelling Bee" and the ensemble cast of "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change."

Vanguard — Ryan Miller, "Shakespeare's Kings, Lovers and Fools"; Melody Prado, Kelsi Roberts, Michelle Peltz and Royen Kent, "Bye Bye Birdie"' Karah Gravatt, Reeni Lindblom and Brandon Arias, "Alice," and Preston Butler III, Katelyn Spurgin and Mitch Burke, "Our Town."

Who among the theatrical talents in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach particularly excelled during 2010? This will be revealed in next Friday's column when the 2010 Daily Pilot man and woman of the year in theater are announced.

TOM TITUS reviews local theater for the Daily Pilot.

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