While some suggest Laguna Beach is a magical place, an extra infusion of stage magic surfaces courtesy of a trio of productions by Gallimaufry Performing Arts that begin Friday, July 22.
Its week-long family festival, July 22-31 at the Artists’ Theatre, includes the U.S. premiere of the Czech rock musical “White Dalmatian,” magician and story-teller Brandon Scott’s “Magic Cabaret” and the premiere screening of “Tacho,” a Czech film about a race car driver.
“Magic Cabaret,” the festival’s first act at 8 p.m. July 22 and 23, stars magician Brandon Scott and fictional brother-sister troubadours from an ancient human race, who travel the world to recapture secret teachings and lore lost with the passage of time. The siblings share their findings through magic, illusion, allusion, song and dance. Norton Wisdom’s improvisational paintings will be part of the story directed by Thomas Deane Kellogg.
“We use multi-disciplinary theater to create a story and what we call ‘organic magic.’ It means that magic comes out of the story,” explained Scott, a veteran of stage shows including Los Angeles’ Magic Castle.
Scott and Kellogg, who have worked together for 15 years, concurred that such multi-dimensionality might strike some as a recipe for chaos. They maintain there is a pattern to chaos visible to the keenly observant, like those who can discern the gimmick in sleight of hand.
The combination of magic and story telling is bound to resonate in adults as well as children, Scott said. “As we wove magic into our story lines and used it as a language, we wanted to present hope and access to a different consciousness,” said Scott. “But, above all, we want everyone to have fun.”
Gallimaufry’s artistic director Steve Josephson had a similar sentiment in mind when importing “White Dalmatian” and “Tacho” to Laguna Beach after seeing both in Prague. There, he met Czech actor-rock star Daniel Landa and his wife Mirjam, who wrote the original text for Dalmatians and directed her husband in “Tacho”.
Landa stars as an intrepid race driver in “Tacho,” as in tachometer, the RPM gauge that tracks engine speed. The story takes as many twists and turns as a car rally route and swerves with ironic humor that attracts Czech movie buffs. Mirjam Landa will be on hand to answer audience questions after the film’s 7 p.m. July 27 screening.
Her musical “White Dalmatian” is built around fantasy characters that continue to captivate audiences, much like the Harry Potter movies and the “Make Believe” theme in our own “Pageant of the Masters.”
The musical, July 29-31 at 2 and 7 p.m., stars witches and spells, quests, wolves, ogres, animated puppets and a lively plot to captivate both children and adults. The story revolves around young Claire and her toy Dalmatian, who has lost its spots due to an evil spell. While the girl’s toys set out on a magical journey to find the witches and convince them to reverse the spell, she remains mystified at their sudden disappearance.
“It’s a wonderful quest musical with lots of nods to children’s material but it’s also tongue-in-cheek enough for adults and has a great contemporary Eastern European pop music score,” said Josephson.
For its American premiere, Josephson faced the challenge of adapting Czech text (that had been literally translated into English) into idiomatic American usage. “I am a writer and a lyricist, so I am comfortable writing from other’s text but it’s more challenging because I am still trying to preserve the Czech flavor,” he said.
“My 20 cast members had to listen to and learn the songs while they were sung in Czech but then find a way to transpose colloquial English into given melodic cadences and do it without sheet music since the scores are on computers,” he added.
The cast includes Anastasia, daughter of the film director and its principal star, a summer guest of residents Mary and Don Pattillo. Their children, Jack, Noah, and Paige are also part of the “White Dalmatian” cast.
Anastasia is here to perfect her English. She already speaks Czech and German.
The production is intended for family audiences but is also proving internally to be a family affair. Resident Karen McBride plays grandma to her real life granddaughter, Emily Baker, 11, cast as Claire. Josephson’s daughter Kira is the show’s choreographer and musical co-director and ogre Gary Greene plays to his stepdaughter Serah Lukoff.
Gallimaufry offers a special “festival” ticket package of three performances, for $25-$35 and student/seniors at $15-$25. Individual tickets: are $15 and $20 for adults; $10 and $15 for students and seniors.
Info on the festival or tickets can be found here or by calling (949) 499-5060.