They have done it again! The Park Avenue Players of Laguna Beach High School have once again brought to the stage two stellar productions. Under the tutelage and direction of Mark Dressler, the play “Arsenic and Old Lace” and a musical “Little Women” opened this past weekend. Both are American classics suitable for the entire family. The two shows are in repertoire over the next two upcoming weekends. They share the same stage and alternate evenings. The beauty of this is that both shows offer something for everyone. (In my case both fit the bill for me, and I attended each.)
“Arsenic and Old Lace” is a black comedy written in 1941. The play is about a ‘nutty’ family with bodies in the window seat and bones in the cellar (literally.) It was funny and delightful, farcical and clever. As I watched the two teenage girls playing Aunt Abbey and Aunt Martha (Makenna Pitz and Jamie Duncan) I thought: There is an Oscar in store for these young ladies someday! Another standout was Wyatt Shipp, who played Teddy. The kid was hilarious! It was a truly remarkable performance by all!
The musical “Little Women,” based on the civil war era novel, was directed by the esteemed Karen Culliver. If her name sounds familiar you are probably a “Phantom of the Opera” fan like me. She played Christine Daaé in the NYC Broadway show. How Mr. Dressler and LBHS were able to get this incredibly talented woman to give her time for these past few months, I do not know. What I can tell you is the end result is incredible. When Clair Howell, who plays Jo, sang “Astonishing” it gave me chills and I cried. I was not the only person in the audience brought to tears; the applause when she finished singing was on par with a standing ovation. Throughout the entire show I kept thinking: These are high school kids. How is this possible? I felt like I was in NYC at a show on Broadway. It was really that fantastic. The level of expertise and the tonal quality of the singing voices coupled with excellent acting were superior.
I wrote to you editor, because with two weekends of shows to go, I wanted fellow Laguna Beach residents to not miss this opportunity. If you see me on the street after you attend, you can thank me.
Kimberly OBrien-Young, Laguna Beach