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Orange County 1990 The Year in Review : THEATER

December 25, 1990|M.E. WARREN

I always remember best the shows that really move me, for better or for worse. The ones I dislike give me, at least, plenty of gas to write on. And the shows that delight are wonderful to watch, wonderful to write about, wonderful to remember.

*"Mister Roberts" at the La Habra Depot Playhouse--A simple production, unpretentious in its challenge to the famous film with the all-star cast. But the company took hold of the story, telling it in an intensely personal way, and the result was funny and moving.

*"The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" at the La Habra Depot Playhouse--A different sort of a show at the same theater, but the only thing moving here was the set. This epic fantasy was reduced to a whirlwind of disjointed scenes squashed into corners left open when the set would, momentarily, stand still. Unforgettably unmagical.

*"The Sound of Music" at the Anaheim Cultural Arts Center--There was plenty of magic in this ambitious mounting of the Von Trapp saga, featuring children in all the roles, which involved 80 young people in two complete casts. They played it for real, seriously enough to make sense of the story, but not so seriously that one couldn't smile at the spectacle of a dozen pint-size nuns lip-syncing Latin.

*"La Mujer con Dos Esposos" (The Woman With Two Husbands) at Rancho Santiago College--This group would have done well to take itself more seriously than it did in this workshop production, a reworking of Faust purported to explore the "personal and cultural histories, myth and imagination" of its creators. "La Mujer" turned out to be a smirking, cliche-bedeviled series of cheap jokes and sitcom setups. (I actually wept afterward, I was so infuriated by the production.)

*"Broadway Bound" at the Laguna Playhouse--This was anything but cheap. Lavishly mounted, it was lavish, too, in its humor and feeling, especially in the performances of Harper Roisman as Ben, a gem in a polished production.

*"Sherlock Holmes" at Newport Theater Arts Center--A cold and patronizing heart in the breast of the great detective incarnate sank the show like a well-dressed stone.

*"It's Not Easy Bein' Orange" by the Orange County Crazies--The best-dressed were flying high in this revue. Dee Dee Hanson and Lauri Johnson provoked the most laughs of the season as ladies of fashion with "too much shoulder pad." I still chuckle when I remember their faces. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

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