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No Square Theater fills community role in Laguna

Tom Titus

Up the street a few blocks is the Laguna Playhouse, a theatrical

edifice entering its 82nd season and, for the past decade, a showcase for

professional theater.

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When the playhouse shifted from a community theater to a full Equity

operation, it left a space in Laguna for theater of the nonprofessional

variety, involving members of the community, particularly children. This

is the role now being filled by the No Square Theater.

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This group, with perhaps the most unusual name of any theatrical

organization in Orange County, was born 10 years ago as the outgrowth of

a musical roast entitled “Lagunatics.” The show was so popular that it’s

been revived and restructured every year since.

More importantly, it marked the birth of the No Square Theater, so

named by its founding president, Bree Burgess Rosen, because the group

vowed not to be an “ordinary” theater.

“Everything we do is a little off center,” explained Lisa Morrice, a

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No Square board member and actress who also handles the theater’s public

relations.

Currently, the No Square Theater is ensconced on Broadway -- 211

Broadway in Laguna, that is, a storefront where the group has offices and

rehearsal space. But the lease expires in November, and the company faces

an uncertain future thereafter.

Nevertheless, the troupe is busily preparing its next two productions

-- “Honk,” a musical adaptation of “The Ugly Duckling,’ opening July 12,

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and “Bugsy Malone,” a musical about Prohibition-era mobsters peopled

entirely by children, which arrives Aug. 16. Both shows will be staged in

the Laguna Beach High School Artists’ Theater, and each is ticketed for

one weekend only.

Meanwhile, the No Square Theater is in the midst of its summer

workshop series, a brief but intensive period of instruction taught by

professional singers, directors and musical directors.

The Musical Performance Workshop, under the direction of Broadway

veteran Teri Ralston, begins June 29 for young people over the age of 16;

a Creative Theater Workshop and Performance session for kids 10-15 begins

July 15 with USC director Steve Josephson presiding, and a class for

beginning to advanced singers 16 and older entitled Jazz Singing will be

taught by Karen Gallinger starting July 18.

Scat singers 16 and older can join Seattle jazz artist Mary Lofstrom

for the Vocal Improvisation Series. The three-session class begins Aug.

5. And Vocal Audition for the Musical Theater under the tutelage of

singer/producer/director Saif Eddin starts Aug. 19. Information on all

these classes is available by calling 497-2584.

“Laguna needs community theater,” Morrice declared, “and we’ve been

building a reputation in this area for the past 10 years. There is a

tremendous amount of people who want to be on stage, including our mayor

and chief of police, who’ve been participants. We’ve had three

generations of families in our shows.”

A typical season for the No Square Theater is comprised of the two

summer musicals, a winter concert, a full-scale musical production such

as last season’s “Gypsy” and, of course, Lagunatics.

To support their activities, members of the all-volunteer No Square

Theater are constantly involved in fund-raising projects such as

wine-tasting parties and garage sales. The most pressing goal at the

moment is finding a home in the Laguna area for administration and

rehearsal facilities to replace the current location on Broadway.

“We started as a fund-raising group for the Laguna Playhouse,”

Morrice says. “Now we’re raising funds for us.”


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