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1987 ORANGE COUNTY ARTS IN REVIEW : Community and College Theater

December 27, 1987|MARK CHALON SMITH | The reviewing staff for Orange County Calendar selects the highlights of 1987 in classical music and dance, art, college and community theater, pop music and comedy

"Devour the Snow" (Grove Theatre Company/Gem Theatre, Garden Grove): Daniel Bryan Cartmell's powerful performance and Thomas F. Bradac's taut direction made Abe Polksy's retelling of the Donner Party's disastrous trek through the High Sierra harrowingly real.

-- "The House of Blue Leaves" (Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa): A vibrant and vital handling of John Guare's very black comedy about the chaotic impact that Pope Paul VI's 1965 trip to New York City has on a family living in Queens.

-- "The Glass Menagerie" (Stop-Gap/Curtis Performing Arts Center, Brea): Although this production was a little self-conscious, it nonetheless was able to sensitively communicate Tennessee Williams' delicate messages about family and art.

-- "No Exit" (Alternative Repertory Theatre, Santa Ana): ART's inaugural production was unerringly faithful to Jean-Paul Sartre's dense and difficult existential classic. Not the usual first step for a new community troupe, but one that clearly showed ART's commitment to challenging drama.

-- "The Man Who Came to Dinner" (Westminster Community Theatre): The key to the success of this Kaufman and Hart revival was Charles Taylor's delightfully nasty portrayal of Sheridan Whiteside, the eccentric radio celebrity who invades a small town in Ohio.

-- "Curse of the Starving Class" (UC Irvine): An unpredictable and unnerving staging of Sam Shepard's often depraved, sometimes comic vision of the American family. Director Mary Anne McGarry took some chances that paid off with explosive results.

-- "Evita" (Orange Coast College): A first-rate treatment of the musical focusing on the flamboyant political rise of Eva Peron. Director Bill Purkiss mixed agitprop, drama and humor into a colorful, even surprising, combination.

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