By Jim Tortolano/Garden Grove Journal
Despite the lingering effects of the Great Recession, arts groups in the Garden Grove-Stanton-Westminster area seem to be weathering the financial storm and are positioned to prosper as the economy improves.
There are three thriving arts and theatre venues in the area, and a fourth could be added.
One More Productions, which stages musical comedies at the Gem Theatre on Main Street in Garden Grove, really seemed to hit its stride in 2010, putting on near-professional quality shows with a cast that is only technically amateur.
Big audiences and rave reviews especially greeted OMP productions of “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Damn Yankees.” In the former, Robert Edward as Tevye, gave an impressive performance in a bittersweet role, demonstrating that One More’s thespians had dramatic chops in addition to singing and dancing.
In “Damn Yankees,” you had dueling stars, the sexy Lola (Brittany Rose) and the devilish Applegate (Kyle Myers) in this Fifties-era tale of baseball, middle-age angst and temptation.
Lola’s slinky moves and strong voice compare nicely with the classic Gwen Verdon performance in the film, and Myers makes an almost-sympatheic Prince of Darkness, for whom it’s really just a business. Together they help what is perhaps the best overall production yet by OMP at the Gem.
Damien Lorton’s direction is first-class, and the sets (Wally Huntoon) are especially impressive on the small Gem stage.
Right next door on Main Street is the Festival Amphitheatre, home of Shakespeare Orange County.
The creation and passion of Tom Bradac, SOC staged “Two Gentlemen of Verona” and “King Lear.”
Usually, SOC stages one comedy and one tragedy, and “Verona” certainly carried its share, showcasing standout performances by Amanda Zarr as “Silvia” and canine actor Milo who plays Crabbe. Joshua Snyder also stood out in this production of what might have been William Shakespeare’s first play.
Taking the opposite tack was “Lear,” a violent and dense drama that starred renowned Shakespearean actor Dennis Krausnick in the title role.
Not quite as accessible as “Verona,” this play nevertheless featured a strong cast (led by Krausnick), strong effects and a thoughtful story.
Although lesser-known, also staging successful production are the Westminster Community Theater and the Rose Center Theater in Westminster.
A highlight of the WCT’s 50th season was “Pajama Game, reviving an old labor-vs.management story with a love angle.
The Rose Theater’s fourth season included well-received productions of “Brigadoon” and “Annie.”