Friday, January 7, 2011

One Theatre's Loss is Another's Gain in Fullerton

The plucky new professional company 3D Theatricals, which found itself left out in the cold after impressing many with its debut season at the OC Pavilion in Santa Ana--only to be booted out when Pavilion owner Mike Harrah sold the theatre to OC High School of the Arts--has announced that it has now found a new home at Fullerton's Plummer Auditorium and will succeed the now-defunct FCLO Music Theatre (formerly Fullerton Civic Light Opera) as the resident producer.

3D announced a season that includes two performances by Sally Struthers--in The Drowsy Chaperone (an OC premier) and in Always, Patsy Cline, which I produced at Laguna Playhouse for a sold-out summer run in 2002. They also plan to revive All Shook Up, which they produced this past year.

In a magnamious gesture (3D's second in the past month: they offered to save Crystal Cathedral's The Glory of Christmas but were turned down by the church leadership), 3D Theatricals is offering to honor all tickets sold & seating currently held by FCLO subscribers and single ticket buyers.

FCLO's demise came as a shock to the theatre community. Some believed that the FCLO leaders Griff and Jan Duncan had not changed enough with the times to keep it a vital producing organization, but it was at least as much the fault of an audience that turned up its nose at any of the occasional newer musicals and premieres offered by FCLO. The quality of their productions was generally very high, and not only could the best SoCal talent be seen regularly on their stage, but they attracted Broadway stars as well. The lack of support from the City of Fullerton and the expensive rental of Plummer from the high school certainly contributed, in this time of recession, to shaky ground for FCLO.

It remains to be seen whether 3D will succeed. Members of the media have liked what they've produced but they were not attracting big audiences at the Pavilion (downtown Santa Ana has enjoyed a revival thanks to the arts, but still faces a stigma among traditional musical theatre audiences). 3D made clear that this family endeavor possessed a big bankroll to launch right into productions of high quality (their debut show Peter Pan was outstanding), but skeptics have wondered how long the money will last until they attract a sufficient audience.

Their eviction from the Pavilion appears to have been a blessing in disguise. Certainly, Plummer Auditorium's location and history as a successful theatre venue gives 3D a fighting chance to gain solid footing.

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