Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Guy's Nights Art

Busy weekend for arts-going, beginning with an exhibition in the Frank M. Doyle Arts Pavilion at Orange Coast College, where we attended the opening of "Seeing the Figure Anew: Selections from the Collection of Darrel & Marsha Anderson." (Full disclosure: Darrel is president of my board at Arts Orange County). Although these paintings & sculptures represent only part of their collection, many remain in storage--particularly since the Andersons in recent years have changed their collecting focus to photography, which was not included at all in this exhibition. At OCC, the works they've acquired over the years include whimsical, quizzical, disturbing and some straightforward interpretations of human figures--a thought-provoking melange well worth seeing in this two year old facility led by Andrea Harris-McGee. It runs through March 20.

From an opening, we went to the closing performances of two theatrical productions, Evita at FCLO Music Theater in Fullerton's Plummer Auditorium and Jesus Hates Me at The Chance in Anaheim Hills.

Believe it or not, I had never seen Evita, but it was my friend Christa Jackson's casting in the title role that drew me out for it. FCLO's production was top notch and I'm totally biased in saying that Christa was terrific (I had brought her in as Patsy Cline opposite Sally Struthers at the Laguna Playhouse about 7 years ago for a long summer run, and she's a powerhouse.) As for Evita, the story is a compelling one and there are a couple of standout songs, but the show is structurally choppy and glued together with far too much recitative (sung narrative & dialogue).

We didn't know what to expect with Jesus Hates Me, but this West Coast Premiere of a new drama by a first-time playwright (but veteran TV writer) proved surprisingly endearing. Its assortment of quirky characters and well-written scenes peppered with punchlines took us on a journey into their forlorn lives and the dilemma of the central figure: can he remain living with his crazy mother or must he forge a new direction for himself in another locale. "Second act problems" is a term of art in the theater--and it applies to so many plays, this one included. But the first act was hugely entertaining, and the production, directed by Chance Theater artistic director Oanh Nguyen, was beautifully executed in their initimate freeway-close space on La Palma Avenue.

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