Our Laguna: A night of 'Schlock and Awe'

The cast and crew of "Schlock and Awe" seemed to have as much fun as the audience at the gala performance Sunday of "Lagunatics," which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year.

A beaming "Lagunatics" founder and director Bree Burgess Rosen had culled 25 numbers from all the shows since 1992. What was still so funny after all these years?

"In the Nude," said Chris Quilter, who wrote or co-wrote with Burgess 19 of the parodies in the show.

"It was among my happiest writing experiences."

The number premiered in the 2007 show, an expose of the Pageant of the Masters.

He also loved "Stuck on Coast Highway," (2007), performed by veteran cast member Rufino Cabang and Steve McIntosh to the tune of "My Way."

However, one of Quilter's all-time favorites, "Circle of Cars," a parody of the Lion King's "Circle of Life," didn't make the cut.

"Bree hates it," said Quilter.

Quilter's brother, Charlie, said "Circle of Cars" was also at the top of his hit parade. And he would have liked to see "Hallelujah Chorus," which featured Arts Commissioner Pat Kollenda in her role as Sister Mary Pat.

But for this year's show, his vote went to "Montage Cash," the "Monster Mash" from the 2003 show, first performed when Jim Spriene was still police chief and reprised at the gala.

"Jim nailed it," said Quilter.

No surprise — "Montage Cash" was also the favorite of Richard Hall, who was heavily involved in the transformation of Treasure Island Mobile Home Park into a high-end hotel.

Charlie Quilter's other choice: "The Modern City Manager," his brother's send-up of former City Manager Ken Frank, from the 2007 show, set to Gilbert and Sullivan's "Very Model of Modern Major General."

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kristine Thalman named that number Best in Show.

"Gilbert and Sullivan set the highest standards," said Chris Quilter. "I had the idea, and I just kept playing with it.

"It took three years. The only thing that rhymes with city manager is scarlet tanager and there was no room for that.

"So I used very close rhymes, and I hate that because it seems like you are not doing your job. "

Quilter's niece, Emily, visiting from her new home in Georgia, picked "Diarrhea" from the 2008 show, also chosen by Lee Kucera.

Kucera flew home from Bangkok to attend the show and came straight from the airport to the gala.

"'Diarrhea' was pretty funny," said Laguna Beach Police Employees Assn. President Larry Bammer. "I can't tell you how many hours of overtime I spent standing at Bluebird Canyon Drive."

The song is about a sewer spill, and only Burgess Rosen and Quilter lyrics could make it a laughing matter.

"Stuck on Coast Highway" got Laguna College of Art & Design President Jonathan Burke's vote.

"I can relate to that," he said.

Festival of Arts President Wayne Baglin especially enjoyed the show finale "Oh Laguna!" previously performed in 2005.

Burgess Rosen's favorite moment in the show was the performance by the gala audience.

"It was so much fun to watch from the stage as the crème de la crème of Laguna 'TPed' themselves," said Burgess Rosen.

The rolls of toilet paper tossed into the audience at the conclusion of the first act were draped around necks, tied in bows and strung from shoulders while the "crème" did some bidding during intermission on silent auction items, such as a vase donated by glass blower John Barber and a week in Las Vegas donated by show narrator Bill Harris and Gregg Barnette, who has been in the cast for 11 years.

Other longtime veteran cast members include Carol Robinson, 19 years; Linda Martin, 11 shows; Councilwoman Toni Iseman and Debbie Meeker, 10 years; Randy Hatfield, comedian Lynn Epstein and City Treasurer Laura Parisi, nine years; Yvonne Browning, Nancy Miller, Regina Hartley and Mayor Jane Egly, eight years each; and Kollenda, who has stopped counting.

Making their debut this year: Scott Ruiz and Christopher Kling, who bought enough raffle tickets last year to be on stage in the 2012 show.

"It has been the best experience of my entire life," Kling said Sunday.

The most poignant moment in the show was Lisa Mansour's rendition of "Down in Laguna," from the 2007 show and the number most associated with the late and loved Danita Crivello, who died Oct. 16 after a long battle with cancer.

"It was a special moment for the cast," said Mansour. "It celebrated Danita and everything that makes us crazy and in the end what we love about this town.

"I was more nervous than I have ever been, but I wanted to do it justice, particularly when I knew Danita's daughter was in the audience."

The show was "For Danita," according to the program.

For anyone who missed the show, try to get your hands on a program, which includes "a cheat sheet for out-of-towners and locals with amnesia" — or those who were so busy behind the scenes they didn't have a chance to see the show and a saucy, probably libelous description of the cast and crew.

The crew included writers Tim Dey, Adam Hemming and Paul Nygro, who also choreographed the show. Roxanna Ward directed the music.

"Props and sets were as hard to do as ever and as much fun to do as ever," said Jean Followfield, speaking for herself and Larry Lewis.

Tim Hawkins, Susan Elliot Richardson and Hannah Lawton did the costuming, which gets better every year.

Connie Burlin was in charge of the box office; Sande St. John was in charge of everything else offstage, except the preperformance dinner, catered by K'ya Bistro.

In the audience: City Councilwoman Elizabeth Pearson, Soon-to-be-installed City Clerk Lisette Chel, Rebecca Barber, Jayne Berberian, city Planning Manager Ann Lawson, Sandy and Ara Hovanesian and Cindy Prewitt.

Also: Chris Loidolt, Festival of Arts Board member Anita Mangels, John Mansour, Faye Baglin, Melissa De Angelo and John Hoover.


David Schaar injected a little humor into the City Council campaign.

Schaar sported a T-shirt at the "Lagunatics" gala Sunday night that read "I Cavort."

So-called "cavorting" with Republicans, a comment widely attributed to former Laguna Beach Democratic Club President Audrey Prosser, cost Egly the endorsement of the Orange County Democratic Party and the local club.

OUR LAGUNA is a regular feature of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot. Contributions are welcomed. Call (949) 302-1469 or email coastlinepilot@latimes.com with Attn. Barbara Diamond in the subject line.

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