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LBHS Drama presents William Shakespeare’s 

Romeo & Juliet this weekend

Laguna Beach High School Drama invites audiences to a performance of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet this weekend at Laguna Beach High School’s Artists’ Theatre. A timeless tale of jealousy, prejudice, betrayal, and true love, the show opened this past weekend and will continue through the weekend ahead with shows on Friday, Nov 9 at 7 p.m., Saturday, Nov 10 at 7 p.m., and Sunday, Nov 11 at 2:30 p.m.

LBHS Drama presents building

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LBHS students perform in Romeo and Juliet this weekend

Set in modern day, in the fictional town of Verona, California, where the wealthy families of the two young lovers are locked in a bitter feud, the LBHS production of Romeo & Juliet features the work of guest director Michael Irish, a 1999 alumnus of Laguna Beach High School and the Park Avenue Players. 

Irish has been performing theater, film, and voice-over for over 25 years, appearing in companies such as The Laguna Playhouse, South Coast Repertory, The Chance Theater (where he was a Resident Company Member for five years), Shakespeare By The Sea, The Pearl Theatre, and Allentown Shakespeare, to name a few. 

“Watching this story unfold over the last two months has been a distinct and unforgettable privilege and joy,” said Director Michael Irish. “These students are fiercely talented and uncommonly brave. The opportunity to share my love of Shakespeare’s works and pay forward what the LBHS Drama gave me, here in my old theater with a new generation of artists, was too priceless to let pass,” he concluded.

“Something unique and special occurs when our alumni artists collaborate with our current students,” said LBHS and Thurston Middle School Drama Teacher and Director Alexis Karol. “There is a certain level of trust that falls into place immediately. We’re thrilled to have Michael on board as a guest director. As a working professional who specializes in Shakespeare and fight choreography, and an educator skilled in making the language of Shakespeare accessible to young people, I can’t imagine a better match for our production of Romeo and Juliet.”

Tickets are on sale now at Tickets are $12 for students and $17/$22 (Premium) for adults.

Open for Business workshop with the City announced for Nov 15

The next “Open for Business” workshop will be hosted by the City of Laguna Beach on Thursday, Nov 15 from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at the Laguna Beach Community Center & Susi Q.

Workshop participants will include Planning Commissioners, representatives from the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce, and Anthony Viera, Associate City Planner for the City of Laguna Beach.

“These meetings are an excellent way for prospective businesses to get an overview of our City’s processes,” said Planning Commission Chair Susan Whitin.

Open for Business Building

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The City will host its next Open for Business workshop at the beautiful Laguna Beach Community Center & Susi Q on Nov 15

“These Open for Business workshops are a great way for existing business owners as well as those that are interested in opening a new business, to get answers to questions and information about doing business in Laguna Beach”, said a Chamber representative.

As a result of the workshops last year, several new businesses came to Laguna Beach, and others are planned for the future. 

The Laguna Beach Community Center & Susi Q is located at 380 Third St. For more information, contact Anthony Viera, Associate Planner at (949) 497-0398 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Local gallerists to co-chair LCAD’s 29th annual Collector’s Choice Gala at the Montage Nov 16

Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD) announced Carla Arzente and Sue Greenwood as event co-chairs of the College’s 29th Annual Collector’s Choice Gala and Live Auction. LCAD Trustees Laura and Lou Rohl are this year’s honorary chairs. This year’s Collector’s Choice will take place 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., Friday, Nov 16 at the Montage Resort and Spa. 

This is the second LCAD event Arzente, owner of saltfineart, and Greenwood, owner/director of Sue Greenwood Fine Art, have collaborated in support of student scholarships and programs. In 2017, they co-chaired the LCAD Scholarship Fundraiser, which raised more than $40,000. They also serve as LCAD trustees and donated three pieces to be auctioned at this year’s Collector’s Choice gala. To preview the art online, visit www.lcad/collectorschoice.

Local gallerists to Tesak

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Carla Arzente, owner of saltfineart, will co-chair LCAD’s Collector’s Choice Gala

This year also marks the 10th anniversary of saltfineart that is located next door to Sue Greenwood Fine Art.

“The arts community here in Laguna Beach is very intimate and supportive,” said Greenwood. “We are nurturing the next generation of artists.”

At the last year’s Collector’s Choice, Arzente surprised the audience with a mystery item later revealed to be a sculpture titled Goodbye My Love by Cuban Artist Esterio Segura. She promised that this year’s surprise will be even bigger.

“LCAD is incredibly dynamic in that students learn the fundamentals of drawing and painting and yet with the new majors such as Extended Reality Design (XRD) and Illustration in Entertainment Design, it is producing the level of talent needed across industries worldwide,” Arzente said. “Philanthropy and events like Collector’s Choice allow LCAD to support 85 percent of its students with scholarships.”

Local gallerists LCAD studnents

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LCAD students at Collector’s Choice Gala with proceeds directly benefitting students and LCAD’s programs

Collector’s Choice directly supports LCAD’s students and its programs and helps to fund the $2.5 million in student scholarships awarded annually. This year’s event will feature live entertainment by DC Babylon as well as fine art, exquisite wine and cuisine.

For tickets to the 29th Annual Collector’s Choice on Friday, Nov 16 at the Montage Resort and Spa or for more information, contact Tracy Hartman at (949) 376-6000, ext. 241 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

LAM to feature “Laguna Art Museum 100 years of Artistic Legacy” documentary on Thursday, Nov 15

Filmmaker Dale Schierholt introduces his documentary about the museum – its past and present – “Laguna Art Museum 100 Years of Artistic Legacy,” on Thursday, Nov 15 at 7 p.m.

The documentary chronicles the museum’s history from the founding of the Laguna Beach Art Association in 1918 to the present-day Laguna Art Museum. 

LAM to feature

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Photo from LAM website

LAM to feature documentary “Laguna Art Museum 100 Years of Artistic Legacy” 

Advice tickets are recommended and are included with museum admission, $5 for students, $7 for general public, and free for ages 17 and under. The documentary will be screened on Thursday, Nov 15, at 7 p.m. Film Night is generously sponsored by Compass.

Laguna Art Museum is located at 307 Cliff Drive. For more information, call (949) 494-8971 or visit

Board of Trustees, City Council Members and locals toast groundbreaking for renovation of Playhouse

On Monday afternoon, The Laguna Playhouse’s Board of Trustees and members of the City Council broke ground for the renovation of the historic Moulton Theatre that was built fifty years ago. Residents joined in the celebration.

Board of toasts

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Attendees toast renovation groundbreaking 

After months of design and then securing approval by the City, the project, which will take approximately six months to complete, will refresh the exterior of the Moulton Theatre. This will include upgrades to the patio, sidewalk, and removing some of the exterior walls to increase visibility to the general public. 

The Laguna Playhouse was established in 1920. The Moulton Theater inside the Playhouse opened in 1968 and was named for Nellie Gail Moulton who contributed to the funding for the project.

Board of Singarella

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Board of Trustees Chair Paul Singarella

The historic Laguna Playhouse is one of the oldest continuously operating not-for-profit theatres on the West Coast and is proud to be an active participant in the celebrated Laguna Beach arts community. 

From classic plays and musical comedies to the current off-Broadway smash, cutting edge and traditional music exhibitions, dance festivals and stand-up comedy performances, Laguna Playhouse brings the magical experience of the performing arts direct to over 80,000 patrons each season.

Board of shovels

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(L-R) Laguna Playhouse Board: Jeff Meberg, Glenn Gray, Justin Myers, Tim Spangler, Nicholas Yrizarry, Melinda Masson, Lisa Hale, Paul Singarella, Joe Hanauer, Heidi Miller; City Council Members: Toni Iseman, Steve Dicterow

The Laguna Playhouse is located at 606 Laguna Canyon Rd. 

For more information, go to or call (949) 497-2787.

Chamber looking for new executive


The Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce is looking for a new executive officer.

Meredith Dowling submitted her resignation shortly after the highly successful 2018 Taste of Laguna fundraiser.

“We are searching for a replacement,” said David Rubel, president of the board.

Dowling stated in an email to Stu News that she had resigned to spend some much needed time with family and friends before preparing for her next “adventure.”

“I was honored to represent the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce over the past 14 months, and I leave the organization with a full bank account, a working infrastructure, and a comprehensive program of work designed to continue providing future value to Chamber members,” Dowling stated. 

“I am confident that I’ve left a positive mark on the organization and delivered measurable results. I was hired to make internal operating changes, build up a new member base, increase event attendance, raise much-needed funds, and enhance the Chamber’s reputation and mission. I accomplished all of this and much more.

Chamber looking Dowling

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Meredith Dowling resigned as executive director 

“However, it is the selfless and countless contributions of time and expertise I received from an incredible alliance of community volunteers, local business leaders, sponsors, members, and friends that is my biggest triumph. I am overwhelmed with pride at the volunteer base I developed and feel tremendously honored to have had their unwavering support. 

“Despite the lack of staff, funding, and resources, these volunteers went above and beyond to ensure everything I took on benefited local businesses and our community as a whole. 

“I will miss that sense of teamwork, their enthusiasm, and unconditional support. 

“None of our accomplishments would have been possible without them.”

Dowling was hired to replace Laura Henkels in 2017. Kris Thalman served as interim CEO between Henkels and Rose Hancock, who held the position from 2005 to 2011.

Cleo hotel project faces packed house at concept review


City Council Chambers was jam-packed Wednesday night for the concept review of the proposed hotel on the Cleo Street block between South Coast Highway and Glenneyre Street. Architect Richard Clarke presented the “concept” for a 112-room hotel proposed to replace the aged and derelict building where Holiday Inn currently is and an adjacent mixed-use building, both owned by Mohammad “Mo” Honarkar. 

Nothing is set in stone. That is the point of a concept review.

“For us, tonight is to get feedback,” said Clarke. 

In all, 38 members of the public gave feedback on the project at the meeting that lasted more than three hours, 28 of them opposed.    

Opponents cited the size of the project, noise, loss of privacy, increased traffic, rooftop activities, which include a swimming pool, and the design of the hotel, described as incompatible with the neighborhood.

“The renderings of the concept are attractive, but the proposal’s size and style feels more fitting for Santa Monica or Huntington Beach,” said John Walker, who grew up in Laguna Beach. 

As conceived, the proposed four-story hotel consists of approximately 77,633 square feet with 2,470 square feet of restaurant space and 1,360 square feet of patio area on a 48,242-square-foot lot. Three subterranean levels of parking with an estimated 223 spaces are planned for hotel guests and the public. 

The concept includes a “marketplace,” combining a social meeting space, art gallery and shops. Open space is achieved through a combination of balconies, rooftop pool deck, bar and garden. 

Stakes and strings are up to show the proposed heights of different elements in the project. 

“I will have no view after this,” said neighbor Jill James. “I will lose air flow, sunlight and privacy. Transients [hotel guests] will see the sunset. I won’t.”

In response to recommendations by Village Laguna and others to reduce the number of rooms, Commission Chair Roger McErlane pointed out that fewer rooms wouldn’t reduce the size of the hotel, if the rooms were simply enlarged.

Nine speakers supported the concept. 

Some of the proponents lauded property owner Mohammad Honarkar for his investment in the City, and were characterized by Commissioner Anne Johnson as “Mo’s Cheerleaders.”

Cleo hotel rendering

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Courtesy of

Rendering of proposed hotel 

“I thought I might be the only one here in favor of this project,” said developer Joe Hanauer. “This is one of several large projects that will be coming to you – hopefully, one of mine [Hotel Laguna].”

“Look at the concept and think forward. Communicate with the applicant.”

As for noise, write-in Council candidate Jorg Dubin said, “If you live near a commercial area, be prepared for noise.”

In case there was any doubt on how the speakers felt, Planning Commissioner Ken Sadler reprised their comments, followed by conclusions and advice from McErlane, Commissioner Susan McLintock Whitin and Johnson.

Commissioner Sue Kempf, who, according to the latest of votes was elected to the City Council, did not attend the meeting.

The Commissioners were united in rejecting the notion of a variance or change to the municipal code, which would be ways for the project to be approved with the 112 rooms.

And all agreed that increased traffic and parking must be addressed, probably with a parking study. McErlane said the 223 spaces proposed for the three underground parking levels do not fulfill requirements for the concept and could be exacerbated by employee parking.

McErlane also said the architecture was lacking. 

“There is no architectural heritage on this building,” said McErlane. “It needs it and would make a brand for your hotel.”

Johnson responded to concerns about the height of the project.

“The heights are maximum, but we have no obligation to approve them,” said Johnson. 

“I don’t want to box the applicant in, but I want to make sure he understands our position,” said Johnson.

A concept review is not subject to approval, and no permits are to be granted as a result of the hearing, according to staff.

“This is step one in the process,” said Whitin. “The applicant will come back with a refined project, based on the comments tonight.” 

Once the Commission votes to approve or deny the project, it goes to the City Council and then to the California Coastal Commission for approvals.

Nestor contemplates life’s big questions

Nestor contemplates mouse

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Photo by Leonard Porto III

Where did the mouse go?

Nirvana Grille debuts fall menu with 50 percent off through Sunday, Nov 11

Fall in love with Nirvana Grille all over again with the restaurant’s Fall Menu Debut. Enjoy up to 50 percent off through this Sunday, Nov 11. The special is all night, with all new menu items. 

Nirvana Grille steak

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Nirvana Grille’s fall menu includes a delicious Whiskey Pepper Filet Mignon

As the fall season begins, Nirvana Grille will offer hearty fall favorites and brand new additions. Menu items include: Trio of Greens Salad, Raclette Cheese Fondue, Slow, Braised Grain Mustard Pulled Pork, Roasted Cauliflower & Brussels Sprouts with Caper Lemon Butter, Roasted Delicata Squash & Farro, Pan Seared Rockfish with Garlic & Herb Butter, Rosemary Roasted Bone In Pork Loin, Whiskey Pepper Filet Mignon, Butternut & Kobacha Squash Risotto with Pan Seared Scallops, Pumpkin Mason Jar Cheesecakes with Cinnamon Whipped Cream, Sea Salted Caramel Affogato, Nitro Cold Brew Infused Tequila & Vodka Liqueur and many more surprises.

Limited space is available and reservations are required by phone. For reservations call (949) 497-0027. 

Nirvana Grille is located at 303 Broadway #101.

The first step

The first step

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

“The first step is you have to say that you can.” –Will Smith

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