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Dance Festival dazzles and Lagunatics a hoot

By BARBARA DIAMOND

Last weekend was a bonanza in Laguna Beach.

The Laguna Dance Festival awed the audiences and Lagunatics made us chortle. What more could anyone ask? Oh, maybe the Angels playing in the post season, but let’s not be greedy.

For 14 years, the Festival has brought top dancers to Laguna Beach, enriching our lives and helping to keep alive Laguna’s identity as an art colony. All three performances were sold out. 

“We are so lucky to live in Laguna and get to see performances of this caliber,” said Betsy Jenkins who was in the audience both Friday and Saturday night.

Festival board member Bob Braun called the opening night’s tribute to the late David Bowie “transcendent,” Jenkins said and couldn’t have agreed more. 

“It was incredible,” said Joy Dittberner, executive director of the Festival. “It took us to another level. After the performance the dancers said they could feel the energy from the audience.” 

The Saturday night audience was equally enamored. And there was an added attraction for long-time Laguna residents, National Ballet of Canada principal dancer Skylar Campbell, who grew up in Laguna and is the grandson of the late Lida Lenney, who was instrumental in the acquisition of Laguna Canyon in the 1980s.

Dance Festival Skylar

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Photo by Karolina Kuras

Skylar Campbell wows crowd

“He was the best male dancer,” said former Mayor Cheryl Kinsman.

 It’s been more than 15 years since a group of dance-lovers met in Stuart Byer’s North Laguna home to hear retiring ballerina Jodie Gates propose some kind of dance performances in Laguna Beach. The meeting gave birth to CA Dance, which was the cradle for the Dance Festival. Rocking that cradle were Byer, Janet Eggers and Christine Rhoades, all three emeritus Festival board members; Nancy Meyer and Kathy Conway, current board members.

“It is Jodie who brings this quality of dancers to Laguna,” said Rhoades on Saturday. “She danced with many of them.”

Gates was a principal dancer with the Joffrey, Frankfurt, and Pennsylvania ballet companies and with Complexions Modern Ballet. She has choreographed and directed dance performances. She is also an educator of some renown. 

Gates began her academic career as an associate professor at UC Irvine. In 2012, Gates was appointed professor of dance and the inaugural vice dean and director of the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, the university’s first new school in almost 40 years. 

Among the audience at Saturday’s performance: Eggers, Byer, Karyn Philippsen, Randy Kraft, Chris Quilter, Beth Majors and Bobbi Cox, a Festival donor, who also ponied up funding for one of the dance studios at the Third Street Centers. 

In addition to providing an extraordinary weekend of dance, the Festival also raises funds for educational programs and scholarships for young dancers, several of whom attended Saturday’s performance. 

The 2018 Festival also honored the late Lila Zali, who was born in 1918. Zali moved to Laguna in 1959 after a career in dance that included classical ballet and appearances in films such as “An American in Paris” and “Silk Stockings.”

She founded a dance school in Laguna and a group that became known as Ballet Pacifica, which performed at the Playhouse and later at the Center for Performing Arts. Skylar Campbell’s early training was at Zali’s school.

Dancers Chase O’Connell and Beckanne Sisk of Ballet West performed the classic “White Swan,” dedicated to Zali.

Dance lovers will have to wait a whole year before the Festival returns to Laguna. So sad. 

But lovers of satire and just plain fun have three more opportunities to attend Lagunatics’ annual Roast of the Coast: weekends through October 28.

Lagunatics

The 2018 show opened on OctOBER 5. Bree Burgess Rosen conceived Lagunatics about the same time she conceived her son – the show that year had to be rewritten to accommodate her bump. 

Dance Festival Rosen

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Bree Burgess Rosen welcomes the crowd on opening night of Lagunatics

For the seriously impaired or who come from another planet, Burgess Rosen directs, stars and writes parody lyrics for the show, complemented by writers Rufino Cabang, Bridget English, Rebecca M. Lyles (who showed up at the opening costumed as Minnie Mouse – which ought to tell you something), Paul Nygro, Chris Quilter and Ella Wyatt

Quitler also contributed dialogue, some of it spoken by Musical Director Roxanne Ward, tongue in cheek. 

As always, the dialogue and parodies are designed to puncture the pompous, pinpoint the ridiculous and make the audience laugh even when their own pet projects get skewered. 

There was no lack of subject matter for this year’s show. Jennifer Zieter particularly laughed at “Underground/I will survive,” performed by Ella Wyatt, Burgess Rosen, English, Charlee Rubino, Rebecca Butkivich, Jay Rechter and Rob Harryman

Dance Festival parody

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Parodies Galore

Other topical parodies included “Hotel Laguna/There’s a Small Hotel,” sung by English and Mark Marger; “The Village Entrance/It’s DeParking,” performed by Eric T. Anderson and Yvonne Browning; “The Public Garden, Help Our Garden Grow,” featuring Fernando Acevedo and Butkivich; “Accessory Dwelling Units/A Town that Can’t Say No,” soloed by Kristen Matson; “Trees/Less is More,” performed by Anderson and the cast – and that was just Act One. 

Act Two featured “Parking Fees/The Rates Go Up,” sung by Harryman; “Nest Door/I Feel Petty,” soloed by Ward; “Pop Up Public Art/A Waste of Money;” featuring Marger, English, Butkivich and Harryman.

The entire cast performed the closing number: “The Candidates for City Council/Tap your Troubles Away.”

In the audience: former Mayor Jane Egly, Carolyn and Dr. Tom Bent, Dee Perry (costumed as Medusa), Pageant of the Master’s Director Diane Challis Davy, and No Square Theatre President Rick Gold.

The show is sponsored by the Business Improvement District, the City, the Festival of Arts Foundation, Laguna Board of Realtors Charitable Assistance Fund, Ketel One, Rodney Strong Vineyards and Pavilions.

But wait – there’s more. You will find advance notice of all the fun and interesting stuff for visitors or residents to do in Laguna by reading StuNewsLaguna.com. Contributions are welcomed.


Film Night at the Museum presents “The Blue Angel” with intro by artist Sandra Jones Campbell on Oct 18

On Thursday, Oct 18, at 7 p.m., Laguna Art Museum will host another round of Film Night at the Museum with esteemed local artist Sandra Jones Campbell, who will introduce the artsy 1930 film “The Blue Angel”, directed by Josef von Sternberg and starring Marlene Dietrich. Based on Heinrich Mann’s 1905 novel Professor Unrat (Professor Garbage), “The Blue Angel” presents the tragic transformation of a respectable professor to a cabaret clown and his descent into madness.

Film Night at the Museum

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Photo from Wiki

Marlene Dietrich as Lola: “She straddles a chair...imperiously, magisterially, fully the measurer of men in the audience…” National Board of Review Magazine

Film Night at the Museum is generously sponsored by Compass. Advance tickets are recommended, included with museum admission.

For more information about Film Night at the Museum, call (949) 494-8971 ext. 203 or visit www.lagunaartmuseum.org. 

Laguna Art Museum is located at 307 Cliff Dr.


Laguna Art Museum presents “One Hour/One Painting” with critic Peter Clothier Oct 25

On Wednesday, Oct 25 at 7 p.m., author and critic Peter Clothier invites participants to spend a full hour in front of a single work of art during Laguna Art Museum’s “One Hour/One Painting” event.

Laguna Art Museum One

Photo from LAM website

Author and critic Peter Clothier invites art enthusiasts to “One Hour/One Painting” at LAM October 25 

Advance tickets are recommended and admission is included with museum admission for “One Night/One Painting.”

For more information about “One Night/One Painting,” (949) call 494-8971 ext. 203 or visit www.lagunaartmuseum.org. 

Laguna Art Museum is located at 307 Cliff Dr.


Laguna Beach Live! presents Lavender Bass this Thursday at LAM

This Thursday, Oct 11 from 7 - 8 p.m., Laguna Beach Live! presents Lavender Bass at Laguna Art Museum, featuring musical artists Christin Phelps Webb and Jeness Johnson. 

Christin Phelps Webb is a freelance chamber and orchestral bassoonist based in Los Angeles, frequently performing with top Southern California orchestras. Although in high demand as a studio musician, Christin’s passion is performing chamber music. She has been a member of several popular ensembles including Orion Winds, Ceora Winds, and the New Chamber Ensemble. Christin maintains a private teaching studio in the San Fernando Valley, conducts clinics and master classes, and will soon publish several of her chamber music arrangements that have been performed and recorded by Ceora Winds.

Laguna Beach live LAM

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Bassoonist Christin Phelps Webb will perform this Thursday at LAM with cellist Jeness Johnson 

International cello soloist Jeness Johnson combines passion and virtuosity unlike any other cellist of her generation. Jeness has performed worldwide including Severance Hall, the Lincoln Center, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and Teatro Sociale in Como, Italy. She has developed her own unique improvisational skills and enjoys improvising, composing, and recording for film and television. She currently resides in Los Angeles where she is in high demand as a soloist and recording artist.

Live! at the Museum takes place the second Thursday of each month from 7 - 8 p.m. The concert is free to museum members and to non-members with museum admission. Seats are held until 6:50 p.m. Additional seats are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

For more information about the series and other concerts, visit www.lagunabeachlive.org or call (949) 715-9713.


Opening night of Lagunatics brings out locals in outlandish costumes who laughed the night away

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

This year’s Lagunatics festivities began with an opening night costume party, “Pimp My Premiere.” Attendees wore creative garb, the sillier the better, while enjoying nibbles and libations.

Opening night Bree and friend

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No Square Theatre Founding Artistic Director, Bree Burgess Rosen, and friend

Opening night Buckle

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Laura Buckle and daughter Lula

Opening night goats

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Goats crossing Laguna Canyon Rd

Opening night community garden

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South Laguna Community Gardens

Opening night summer breeze

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Spoof of Summer Breeze

Opening night councilmembers

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Grand Finale – Council Candidates – “Someone just dropped out”

Lagunatics runs every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through October, and closes on Sunday, Oct 28 with a FinalaGala party catered by Pavilions Newport Coast, and beverages provided by Absolution Brewing Company. 

Snacks and beverages are available at all other performances as well.

For ticket prices and more information, go to www.nosquare.org or call (949) 715-0333.

No Square Theatre is located at Legion Hall, 384 Legion St.


Lagunatics opens tonight at No Square Theatre

The latest edition of Lagunatics, a locals favorite send-up of everything loved (and not) about our beloved city, opens tonight, Friday, Oct 5 at 7:30 p.m. Performances continue every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night in October.

Lagunatics opens Oct sign

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Submitted photo

This year’s parody of all the goofy stuff that happens in Laguna, directed by founding Artistic Director Bree Burgess Rosen, opens on Friday

This year’s targets include goats, the City Council, undergrounding the power lines, Prop P, pocket parks, the Village Entrance, LBPD, Accessory Dwelling Units, public art, tree trimming, Laguna Art Museum, parking fees, Gay Pride, and the return of the echinoderms. 

Festivities begin with an opening night costume party, “Pimp My Premiere.” Attendees are encouraged to enjoy great hors d’oeuvres and beverages in creative garb, the sillier the better. 

The show’s run closes on Sunday, Oct 28 with a FinalaGala party catered by Pavilions Newport Coast, and beverages provided by Absolution Brewing Company. Snacks and beverages are available at all other performances as well.

Tickets are $60 for the Pimp My Premiere and party, $35 and $40 for Sunday performances, $45 and $55 for Fridays and Saturdays, and $100 and $110 (VIP) for the final night FinalaGala.

For additional information on events, auditions, classes, and to purchase tickets, visit www.nosquare.org.


LOCA Art & Sea Lions Workshop at PMMC Oct 13

LOCA Arts Education is offering an Art and Sea Lions workshop on Saturday, Oct 13, from 9 to 10:30 a.m., at Pacific Marine Mammal Center. Families, groups, and beginners are invited. 

The exciting morning experience includes a docent-led viewing of live sea lions, a presentation on the rescue and rehabilitation work of the center, and a fun, step-by-step watercolor class with well-known local artist September McGee.

LOCA Art and Sea Lions

Submitted photo

Enjoy an exciting Art & Sea Lions experience with artist September McGee at PMMC

Participants will learn to paint a sea lion using watercolor and ink on synthetic paper. The ost is $20 for adults, and $15 for those aged 6 and up, with a paid adult. 

Free on-site parking is included. Advance registration is required; visit the calendar at www.LOCAarts.org or call (949) 363-4700 to register.

Pacific Marine Mammal Center is at 20612 Laguna Canyon Road, one block north of the Dog Park.


Forest and Ocean Gallery presents acclaimed photographer Mohan Bhasker tomorrow evening

Tomorrow, Saturday, Oct 6 from 5 - 8 p.m., Forest and Ocean proudly presents photographer Mohan Bhasker. There will be a special video presentation and Bhasker’s exquisite photography will be on display and available for purchase. 

Forest and Ocean sunset

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Courtesy of photomohan.us

One of Bhasker’s breathtaking pieces…a stunning sunset at Catalina Island

Mohan’s photography explores nature in some of the most remote places in the world. In every image, he reflects his appreciation of the history and beauty of the location. Bhasker’s photography reflects his artistic image along with his personal connection with nature. 

Forest and Ocean Gallery is located at 480 Ocean Ave.


TheatreHope’s presentation of The Giver brings a world of color to kids at Laguna Playhouse

By DIANNE RUSSELL

Lois Lowry’s The Giver, the 1994 Newbery Medal winner for most distinguished contribution to American literature for children, has become one of the most influential novels of our time. Jonas lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community. Through this astonishing and moving adaptation, Jonas will discover what it means to grow up, to grow wise, and to take control of your own destiny. 

The cast of Saturday’s performance was exceptional and more than did justice to this wonderful story. The members of the production brought the story to life in a spectacular way, we felt the snow, the sense of the sled as it raced down the hill, the sun on our faces, and the monotonous pang of a world without color.

On Saturday, as Donna Inglima introduced the play, The Giver, to an audience of excited kids, she asked the question, “How many of you have never been to the Laguna Playhouse?” In response, between 80 and 90 percent of the kids raised their hands. 

Then she asked, “How many of you have never been to a theater performance?” and more than two-thirds of the hands went into the air.

TheatreHopes presentation after play

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Photo by Michael Gorman

Audience waits for the production to begin

And that’s the sole purpose of TheatreReach and TheatreHope, to bring theater to kids who haven’t had the opportunity to experience it. As a result of their program, over the course of the weekend, performances were attended by approximately 1,500 local students and their families.

TheatreReach bringing Books to Life is an award-winning program that brings professionally staged productions to Southern California schools. These engaging, interactive, one-hour plays adapt popular children’s books that are approved by the California Dept of Education for K-6 literature and history curriculum. Content is similar to G-rated films.

TheatreHopes presentation audience

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Photo by Dianne Russell

Vibrant interactive question-and-answer session after the play

TheatreReach and TheatreHope serve children sponsored by local nonprofit organizations including Boys & Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, ThinkTogether, Project Hope Alliance, OC Human Relations BRIDGES Program, YMCA Mission Viejo, Community Outreach Alliance, TIYYA, and Higher Ground Youth & Family Services.

Study guides are provided to teachers in advance of each performance. Post-performance question-and-answer sessions further enrich the educational value of the experience. Related student and teacher workshops are also available.

TheatreReach offers a limited number of performances each year, and runs at full capacity, so educators are encouraged to book early. 

The program is made possible by a generous gift from Mohammed El-Erian and Jamie Walters El-Erian.

To request a performance, contact Donna Inglima at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or (949) 494-8021

The Laguna Playhouse is located at 606 Laguna Canyon Rd.


Enjoy CAP’s Naturescape opening reception this weekend

Don’t miss Community Art Project’s exciting artist reception of “Naturescape” on Saturday, Oct 6, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the CAP Gallery. An exhibit of 49 pieces of original art by 22 Laguna College of Art + Design (LCAD) artists will be on view.

Artists will be in attendance and the public can meet and talk with these accomplished students, alumni and staff. Works in this exhibition reflect the theme of art and coincide with the 6th annual Art & Nature festival hosted by Laguna Art Museum (LAM). This special exhibition has been curated by LCAD Gallery Director, Bryan Heggie. The public is invited and admission is free.

CAP Naturescape Harrison

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Submitted photo

Enjoy CAP’s Naturescape exhibit with an opening reception on Saturday

CAP’s mission is to increase the visibility and appreciation of Art and serve as a catalyst for Art Education. CAP provides ongoing exhibition in The CAP Gallery, in the Rotunda Gallery space located on the second floor of the Wells Fargo Building, 260 Ocean Ave.

CAP Naturescape Mcclatchy

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Submitted photo

49 pieces or original art by LCAD will be featured in Naturescape

Visit www.caplaguna.org for information about ongoing or upcoming exhibits, to be on the email list or to become a member and supporter of CAP.

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