Pride and Prejudice-Review

The young actors in the Academy of Creative Theatre (ACT) at SLO REP, blew me away and created a truly memorable experience for the audience. Fortunately, Pride and Prejudice at SLO REP is still in its first week and will run until January 20th, with a 2:00 matinee on the 19th and 7:00 shows from the 16th to the 20th. Performing in a beautifully simple set, these actors all gave thoughtful and nuanced performances with impressively consistent accents. These characters all felt so real and full of life, and I’ll admit that, because of this, I enjoyed this production even more than the book!

The show was led by Penny DellaPelle as Elizabeth Bennet. She had a lot of text to work with, and absolutely nailed it. She embodied Elizabeth’s intelligence, quick wit, grace, and compassion perfectly. Opposite her was Elliot Peters as Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. He brought so much more to the character than I’d seen in the novel or even the 1995 miniseries (sorry, Colin Firth). His emotional range as an actor is stunning and I really enjoyed seeing his character’s growth. These two actors also had great chemistry, which made for a very captivating show. I could go on for ages about the whole cast and their performances, like Mr. and Mrs. Bennett, the Bennet and Bingley sisters, Mr. Bingley, the perfectly odd Mr. Collins, and the whole ensemble. Every actor brought their all, and created a very believable world as a team.

This show is a total delight for audiences of all ages and you definitely won’t want to miss it. Tickets for the show can be purchased here!

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Mamma Mia - Review

Directed by Robyn Metchik, Nipomo High School’s Drama department has fully embraced the spirit of Mamma Mia and as a team, created a truly spectacular show. You still have two chances to see this production, tonight and tomorrow at 7:00 (which is a ticketed dinner show). When I went on Thursday, it was totally packed, so try to get there a little early.

I attended the sing-along night on Thursday and was blown away by every aspect of it. The set was even more beautiful than it looked in the posts on Instagram. The lighting, created by New Tech student, Lolly Tolan was magnificent. The costumes had elements both handmade and selected by Catherine Prado. From Donna’s iconic overalls to Pepper’s bright green shorts to the shiny seventies jumpsuits that the Dynamos wore, everything fit so well together and looked fantastic.

The actors were incredible. Maycee Macinnes’s Sophie was sweet with a beautiful and light voice, but was still able to play moments of intensity quite well. Cameron Porter as Sky was perfect in his role, and had great chemistry with Sophie. Claire Gretlein as Donna carried so much emotional depth and her voice was absolutely stunning. My friends sitting next to me can testify that my jaw dropped several times during her solos. Jaydyn Oates as Tanya and Annie James as Rosie were both amazing. In addition to having amazing voices and stage presence, they both embodied these characters perfectly, drawing inspiration from the original, while bringing so much to the table. The same can absolutely be said for Sophie’s three possible dads: Sam (Nick Blanton), Bill (Kurtis Newton) and Harry (Dylan Collins). The three of them were such talented actors with impeccable comedic timing as well.

The ensemble of this show was power packed. Led by the hilarious duo of Isaac Porter and Thomas Apel, the students all had great reactions, tight harmonies, interactions with each other, and all performed the choreography exceptionally. This show was such a fun time and I highly recommend going to see it while you still have the chance! Trust me, you definitely won’t want to miss this.

Mamma Mia at Nipomo High School

Nipomo High School’s production of Mamma Mia looks like it’s shaping up to be a fantastic show. The production will run December 6-9 and 13-16 with shows at 7:00!

Mamma Mia is a feel-good jukebox musical full of love, friendship, and hits like “Dancing Queen”, “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme” and of course “Mamma Mia”. This musical is such a blast that it’ll make even the most reluctant theatregoers tap their toes -- and make it hard for fans to resist the temptation to get up, sing, and dance. Luckily, they’re offering a sing-along night on December 13th! There will also be a dinner theatre experience where audience members will become guests at Sophie and Sky’s wedding reception on December 16th.

Claire Gretlein (Donna) and Maycee Macinnes (Sophie) graciously agreed to an interview through FaceTime during a tech rehearsal while they weren’t onstage! Gretlein has really enjoyed playing Donna because of her fierce independence and the refreshing fact that finding a man isn’t Donna’s priority. She loves the girl power aspects of the show, like the connection between her and her onstage daughter Sophie and her connection to her best friends. Maycee likes the journey that Sophie takes to discover who she is and what she wants out of life.

Nipomo High School’s theatre program always does an incredible job. I’ve been coming to see their productions since freshman year and I’ve been completely blown away by their nearly broadway-caliber productions every time. Having seen Claire Gretlein, Annie James (Rosie), and Cameron Porter (Sky) perform before, I can tell you right now that you’re in for a real treat. These three actors have absolutely gorgeous voices in addition to great stage presences and I’m absolutely thrilled to get to see them in leading roles.

It looks like in addition to a sing-along night and an entire wedding reception, this production will be going all out. Gretlein reports that the “Super Trouper” disco jumpsuits are all being handmade by costumer Catherine Prado. Prado has also found flippers for the entire group of ensemble boys in “Lay All Your Love on Me”, which I’m very excited about. Nipomo Drama’s Instagram account has been posting pictures of their set this week and it looks amazing. It’s a classic Greek hotel complete with white buildings, cerulean accents, a balcony, and a staircase. Cobblestone covers the front of the stage and fuschia flowers drape elegantly across the entire set.

This show is a must see, and I know that I’ll be in the audience singing along on the 13th. Tickets can be purchased at https://www.nipomodrama.com/tickets.html!


Be More Chill at San Luis Obispo High School

This afternoon, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Ella Livingston (Director), Evan Clausen (Jeremy), and Lane Stephens (Michael) to talk about their upcoming production of Be More Chill at SLO High. Be More Chill is a Sci-Fi musical that centers around a geeky teenager named Jeremy who struggles to fit in with his peers, until a seemingly perfect solution arises that changes everything. The show will be opening Wednesday and running through Saturday with shows at 7:00 every night. Tickets will be sold at the door. I recommend getting there a bit early to get good seats.

Be More Chill is massively popular online, particularly with musical-loving teens. It has been gaining even more popularity due to its recent off-broadway revival and move to broadway. This show tends to resonate with its audience because of the wide range of emotionally complex high schoolers that it depicts, as well as a fantastic pop/rock score. Even though this show is set in the present, people of all ages will be able to see some of their teenage selves in these characters.

Livingston has put so much care and attention to detail into San Luis High’s production. She has considered everything from Starbucks cup size as a reflection of character relationship, to thoughtful text on props. She is joined by assistant director Maggie Zuniga who has reportedly contributed some excellent choreography to the show.

The costuming will be different from the original production while still staying true to who these characters are. From just a few looks at production photos, I love what I’ve seen so far. This production offers a slightly more updated take on the costumes with subtle nods to the original. Stephens shared that his jacket includes the fan-inspired rainbow flag patch. There are also some pretty interesting costumes to keep an eye out for in the Halloween scene.

BMC fans may notice that the character of Jeremy’s dad has been changed to Jeremy’s mom. Although Livingston considered several men for the part, Allie Ryan’s personality was a perfect fit for the role. The show has also been toned down a bit in terms of language and mature themes to make it more appropriate for younger audiences. In SLO High’s theatre department, a big goal for them is to make sure that their shows are enjoyable for all ages. In addition to this, a lot of the cast has younger siblings that they’d like to share this show with.

This group of students seem like they have a great connection that’s sure to show on stage and I can’t wait to see this show that they’ve created together. Be sure to go check out San Luis Obispo High School’s production of Be More Chill!

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Walk Two Moons - Review

if you’re looking for a theatre experience filled to the brim with heart, plot twists, creative sets, brilliant projection/lighting design, and a supremely power-packed cast, go see this show. There are still a few chances left to see Walk Two Moons at Paso Robles High School:

Saturday, December 1, 7:30 pm

Sunday, December 2, 2:00 pm

Thursday, December 6, 7:30 pm

Friday, December 7, 7:30 pm 

Saturday, December 8, 2:00 pm

Expertly directed by Marcy Goodnow, this show exceeded all of my expectations. I was on the edge of my seat through every twist and turn. By intermission, I was extremely impressed with all of the talent, creativity and hard work that has clearly gone into this production. 

Nearing the end of act two, I wondered if my eyeliner would be okay as I wiped the tears from my eyes. Every single person in this cast was so talented, and there were a few that really stood out, excelling in both lighter moments and true emotional depth.

Brooke Bigelow (interviewed in the last post)  played the lead, Sal Hiddle. She was endlessly lovable and behaved very truthfully in every situation. Her eyes sparkled with emotion as she delivered lines straight from her heart. Though she had a lot of text to work with and memorize, she absolutely nailed it. 

Rebecca Slason and Miles McMahan, The two actors playing Sal’s grandparents were a very believable couple, and the love that they had for each other was palpable. In addition to both of them providing some excellent comedic relief, McMahan delivered an outstanding monologue near the end that was very impactful. 

Finally, Josie Scruggs (who played Phoebe)   not only had great comedic delivery, but also acted with authenticity and felt incredibly real in her more dramatic moments. 

Please go see this incredible show if you get the chance. I promise that you will not be disappointed. 

 

 

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Walk Two Moons at Paso Robles High School

If PRHS Senior, Brooke Bigelow had to describe this show in one word, that word would be “emotional”.

Walk Two Moons is based on the Newbery Award winning novel of the same name and tells the story of 13 year old Salamanca Tree Hiddle (Played by Brooke Bigelow) who recounts several integral moments in her life. While on a long car ride with her grandparents, she recalls the story of the disappearance of her best friend Phoebe’s mother. As the two friends begin to investigate the incident, this brings up memories from Sal’s past and the investigation begins to take some twists and turns. Through this emotional journey, Sal learns to walk two moons in the moccasins of the ones she loves (as well as the ones she may not.)

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“This show deals with some really serious themes” reports Bigelow, “Playing Salamanca brings up a lot of emotions that aren’t always easy to deal with. I have to be emotionally vulnerable. The process is challenging and draining but very healing.” Bigelow has a lot in common with her character, and she shared that they have both “lost someone we loved, gone through some hard family situations, and had to grow up pretty fast because of it. We have also developed a deep love for the world and people around us because of it.” One of her best friends, Josie Scruggs plays Phoebe, her onstage best friend that has the fact that she’s “sassy, expressive, and imaginative”  as shared traits and on occasion Brooke will even forget that Josie is  playing a character.

Bigelow has many things that she’d like the audience to take away from this play, she says “I think the most important, is that sometimes in life hard things happen. We lose people and as a result we can become sad and angry at the world. But there is always still beauty in the world and there are always still people who love us. And those people that we lose are never truly gone. We carry them with us always.”

This show opens on November 30th and will have performances December 1st, 7th, and 8th at 7:30 PM and December 2nd & 9th at 2:00 PM. Tickets are 10$ and can be purchased at https://paso-high-theatre-co.ticketleap.com/walk-two-moons/dates.

NOTE- This show is dramatic in nature and if you would like to bring children, it would be most enjoyed by children who are able to sit through a quiet show.

Welcome

Hi, my name is Edie Irving and I am Big Big SLO’s Theatre Editor as well as an actress, the MBHS Theatre Arts president, and a massive theatre nerd. Theatregoers finding local productions with ease is a necessity for local theatre to thrive and it became apparent that there wasn’t a spot online where theatrical events happening in San Luis Obispo County were all compiled. With this blog, it is going to be easier than ever to enjoy local arts, purchase tickets, and get the scoop on what’s happening in the local theatre world! I will be covering everything from San Luis County’s stellar high school performing arts, to wonderful local favorites like PCPA, SLO REP, and The Great American Melodrama, to Broadway touring companies that come through the Cal Poly Performing Arts Center. Theatre is beautiful, it can be powerful, insightful, and funny and I can’t wait to help local plays, musicals, dance shows, ballets, operas, etc. reach a wider audience and for theatre to continue to change lives as it has changed mine.

Please contact me at slotheatre@gmail.com if you would like your production featured on this blog.

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