On Theater: ‘Carnage’ was god in 2014
This is the second of three columns reviewing local theater in 2014.
Community theaters and college drama departments worked overtime in 2014, turning out an impressive list of productions and performances, the most significant of which come in for a belated curtain call today.
Among the community theaters, one production stood head and shoulders above the rest this year. That would be “God of Carnage,” at the Costa Mesa Playhouse under the direction of Michael Serna. It generated, as this column put it, “outstanding performances by all four cast members” and “a professional show in all aspects save for monetary compensation.”
The runners-up on the community scene were two musicals — “Company,” directed by Michael Ross at the Newport Theatre Arts Center, and “Man of La Mancha,” under the direction of Larry Watts at the Huntington Beach Playhouse.
The best college production of 2014, hands down, was “Noises Off” at Golden West College. I described it as a show that carries a gargantuan degree of difficulty for actors and director and noted that director Martie Ramm overcame that difficulty — in spades. “Her side-splitting GWC production” achieved a hallmark of hilarity, I wrote.
Other collegiate offerings with high appreciation factors were writer-director Vanda Eggington’s “The Beat Goes On,” at Vanguard University, and the Arthur Miller comedy “The Creation of the World and Other Business,” at Orange Coast College under Peter Uribe’s direction.
Many performers distinguished themselves in community or college productions during 2014. Here, in a nutshell, are the cream of the crop:
Costa Mesa Playhouse: Jordana Oberman and Angel Correa, “God of Carnage”; William Shaffner, “Assassins”; Peter Hilton and Michael Serna, “True West”; and Katie Nicol, “Little Shop of Horrors.”
Newport Theatre Arts Center: Della Lisi, both for “Dividing the Estate” and “Fallen Angels”; Sharyn Case and Sean Singer, “Dividing the Estate”; Emily Price, Kevin Paul and Jessica Hayes, “Company”; and Laura Flores and Adam Navarro, “Anna in the Tropics.”
Huntington Beach Playhouse: Adriana Sanchez and Russell Montooth, “Man of La Mancha,” and Mallory Kerwin, Dawn Vasco, Gil Morales and Cris Cortez, all for “Once Upon a Mattress.”
Westminster Community Theater: Elizabeth Desloge, Monica Valadares and Tawney Lewis, all for “The Women.”
Making waves on stages at local colleges during 2014 were:
Golden West College: Danielle Canas, “Romeo and Juliet”; Jeremy Krasovic, Brock Joseph and Mikayla Richards, all for the “The Great Gatsby”; Camille Lacy, “The Turn of the Screw”; and Devon Suraco, Steve De Forest and Merci Hase, all for “Noises Off,”
Orange Coast College: Stephen Shareauz, Alex Bodrero and Maureen Lefevre, all for “The Creation of the World and Other Business.”
Vanguard University: Preston Butler III and Kimberly Monks for “Oedipus Rex” and the excellent ensemble of “The Beat Goes On.”
Also exemplary at Vanguard was the university’s professional summer production under the banner of the American Coast Theater Company, Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons,” directed by Kevin Slay.
James McHale excelled in the Miller drama. Also impressive were Paul Eggington and Susan Berkompas, better known as the leaders of Vanguard’s theater program.
Who, individually, ascended above the rest during the past year? That will be unveiled next week as this column presents its 40th edition of the Daily Pilot’s man and woman of the year in theater for 2014.
TOM TITUS reviews local theater for the Daily Pilot.