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Does no one want to tell his or her love story?  In my last column—thinking ahead for our upcoming Valentine’s fest—I told my dear friend’s love story.  Then I asked if anyone else had a story to share, and promised to publish them this week. Nary a one appeared in my inbox. Next time I will offer to take the winning writers out to lunch like L.A. Times’ columnist Steve Lopez does.

One friend said, “My story’s too messy.” Another thought his wasn’t interesting enough.

My guess is that there are plenty of messy and interesting stories to tell, but not being an Enquirer reporter, my hope was to share the uplifting, optimistic side of love, leaving out the frustrating crazy parts.

Then Saturday night I was treated to another kind of love affair, and it was everything I had hoped for, but on a community-wide scale. No Square Theater’s concert to benefit the “wet and muddy” victims of the canyon flooding was a blast, underlain with a deeply caring spirit.

An impressive array of Laguna talent, these entertainers were singing, dancing, and joking their hearts out.  Refreshing, truly saying, “We love to perform for you.”  It’s too bad we waited until Saturday’s last performance; it would have been even more fun to see it all again.

Mastermind Bree Burgess Rosen and director Joe Lauderdale pulled this production together with skits, dance numbers, and outstanding singers in the short time since the late December flood.

Rosen slyly reminded the audience to appreciate the precision dancing that reflected “weeks of rehearsal.”

Music teacher Roxanna Ward was on stage nearly all the time. An amazing pianist, she not only accompanied all the singers, but had her own spontaneous-sounding comedy interludes. She had the whole audience singing of 18-wheel trucks, counting wheels in odds and evens, then in Spanish, German, French and Roman numerals. Finally, she did her own rendition of student-speak counting, “Wait!….like…like…um…wait! Like….”

Octogenarian comedian Lola Gillebaard made light of the difficulties of senior citizenhood. Just in case she needs to advertise for a new mate she has already written the text of her personals ad, describing herself as “Beautiful, rich and complete with a handicapped parking sticker.”

Steve McIntosh, singing Roy Orbison’s “Only the Lonely” and Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” and Paul Nygro’s interpretation of “Creation of Man” were highlights, as well Rosen’s singing of ”My House,” building a house with love, a piece from Leonard Bernstein’s Peter Pan.

Have you ever seen a water ballet with no water? This staged version was nearly better than the real thing. Council member Verna Rollinger and city treasurer Laura Parisi, dressed as emergency workers in luminescent yellow vests, brought out the ubiquitous blue tarp and laid it on the stage. Their job was to depict the water level by raising and lowering the tarp on cue.  The corps de ballet arrived and as the water level rose and fell, various parts of the dancer’s bodies were revealed in patterns.  It was amazing to see them all leaping and gesturing while treading water so as not to sink beneath the “surface.” How fun it was to see all this silliness, and to see our friends up there enjoying themselves while being professionally ridiculous.

It was a difficult task to sympathize with the flood victims yet to be uplifting and funny, without making light of the difficulties they face. This production struck the balance perfectly and raised between $18,000 and $20,000, according to Rosen.

(Other cast members included Bridget English, Carol Robinson, Chloe Mansour, Debbie Meeker, Jay Rechter, Jim Hall, Jimmy Mulligan, Kevin Wheelwright, Kimberly Clark, Linda Haylett, Lisa Mansour, Nancy Miller, Pat Kollenda, Patrick ‘Guitar Floyd’ Casey, Patti Rabun, Randy Hatfield, Regina Hartley, Rob Harryman and Yvonne Browning. Lights were by Leslie Barry and audio was done by Peter Roche.)

This event is just one example of how we show we care. The Resource Center is the focus for relief efforts.  To help please contact them at 497-7121.

Our community in Laguna is a continuing love story.

Postscript:  I just learned on Sunday that former mayor, dear man and friend, Charlie Boyd, has died. He loved Laguna and its people and never lost his concern for our town’s welfare.  We will miss him.

Ann Christoph is a landscape architect and former mayor of Laguna Beach.

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