They had “A Marvelous Party” late last year at the Laguna Playhouse, but it wasn’t until mid-March that they realized just how marvelous it was.
That’s when the musical tribute to Noel Coward received a tribute of its own from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle "” an award for “distinguished achievement in production” at the 38th annual LADCC awards.
It was the first LADCC award for the playhouse, although the theater had been nominated in the past. Director David Ira Goldstein and playhouse executive director Richard Stein accepted the award on behalf of the playhouse.
“We’re elated that the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle chose to recognize our production of ‘A Marvelous Party,’” Stein remarked. “The show was very popular with audiences, and obviously with the critics too.”
It certainly scored with this column, which noted: “The minuscule cast "” Mark Anders, Carl Danielsen and Anna Lauris "” are three who do the work of 30 under the direction of David Ira Goldstein. Danielsen doubles as musical director and shines on the keyboards in a segment of ‘dueling pianos’ with Anders.”
Continuing: “It is, indeed, ‘A Marvelous Party,’ and a glowing tribute to one of the theater’s mightiest talents. Few composers possessed Noel Coward’s rapier wit, and this gift is lavishly displayed on the stage of the Laguna Playhouse.”
“It’s encouraging,” Stein continued, “to know that the Los Angeles theater community appreciates the work we’re doing down here in Orange County.”
Stein currently is at the directorial helm of the playhouse’s latest production, “Master of the House,” an Israeli import receiving its first American staging, which opens this weekend.”
Jazz Age revue
The Jazz Age of the early 20th century will return briefly when a Laguna Beach company mounts a concert in tribute to one of its shining lights.
“Harlem Renaissance,” a concert of songs and dances of the New York jazz era between 1910 and the 1930s, is the latest project of Laguna’s Gallimaufry Performing Arts company.
The show will be staged April 13 and 14 in Laguna Woods’ Clubhouse Three, with an encore scheduled two weeks later on Laguna’s Main Beach.
“Harlem Renaissance” will feature a live jazz orchestra playing the music of such legends as Eubie Blake, Fats Waller and Duke Ellington, but its centerpiece will be Ellington’s orchestral piece “Black Beauty” "” composed after the death of, and in memory of, the famed “jazz queen” Florence Mills.
Gallimaufry has recruited Broadway actress Jonelle Allen to portray the wild-dancing, chirping songbird Mills.
Allen "” who began her career at age 8 tap dancing alongside Sammy Davis Jr. "” was featured in the original New York production of the musical “Hair” and later became a dancer at the legendary Apollo Theater.
The Gallimaufry production, choreographed by Ellen Prince, also will feature performances by Dion Mial, Meredith Hubbard and company artistic director Steve Josephson as Mills’ other contemporaries.
Tickets may be purchased at the Clubhouse Three, by phone at (949) 499-5060 or online at www.gallimaufry.info.
Following next weekend’s brief engagement, “Harlem Renaissance” will be staged in a special encore performance as part of Gallimaufry’s 2007 Arts Festival Saturday, April 28, at 4:30 p.m. on Laguna’s Main Beach.