Southlanders are blessed with a creative community. For students of theater and music, it’s a mecca and launching pad to careers in entertainment. These are among the best of college productions, not just in LA but the world. For theatergoers, these productions offer quality and an opportunity to support these young, and often not so young, singers and actors.
Come and Gone
Horseshoe Theater, LA Valley College
5800 Fulton Ave.
Valley Glen, CA 91401
Oct. 17 to 19
The year 1911 in the United States was a pivotal year in black history. In a Pittsburgh boarding house, the characters struggle with discrimination and personal identity. This was an historic period of migration from the South to the North that forever changed the demographics of the nation. Living memories of the slave days still lingered. The dominant theme, and one that is relevant today, is a quest for a sense of humanity. It is a story of illusionary societal promises and hope. The student actors rise to the occasion in this important play. The performance will leave those unfamiliar with this period with a sense of the times.
Dancing at Lughnasa
Scene Dock Theatre, University of Southern California
3601 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles, CA 90189
Oct. 24 to 27
Set in 1936 and called an “Irish memory play,” Brian Friel’s “Dancing at Lughnasa” recalls the story of five single sisters celebrating the Celtic harvest festival. Drawing from the lives of his aunts and mother, Friel sets a late Irish summer as a time of hope and disappointment. The sisters pursue love and face poverty and disillusionment. An older brother returns frail from missionary work in Africa, complicating matters even more. This kaleidoscope of emotion proves a challenge to produce for the students, and a challenge they will master for the audiences.
Related: OC’s Best Local Theater Directors
Infinite Black Suitcase
McClintock Theatre, USC School of Dramatic Arts
1010 W. Jefferson Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90089
Oct. 31 to Nov. 3
This student play involves the lives of three Oregon families dealing with death, love and their common humanity. With 16 members of the small town, the play takes a day to peruse their lives as they deal with recent and anticipated deaths. Award-winning playwright EM Lewis deals with this difficult subject with elegance (2009 Steinberg New Play Award, American Theater Critics Association). She once again proves to be an up-and-coming writer, and the student actors bring out a loving, insightful message.
Los Angeles Pierce College Theater
6201 Winnetka Ave.
Woodland Hills, CA 91371
Oct. 25 to Nov. 3
The Valley’s largest campus begins the 2013-2014 season with “The Fantasticks.” This “timeless musical” is the longest running production of all time. With lyrics by Tom Jones and music by Harvey Schmidt, the story line uses allegory as a couple is brought together through the trickery of their fathers. When the deception is exposed, the couple’s love falters, but there is a happy ending after all.
Harbeson Hall, Pasadena Community College
1570 E. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91106
Anne Marie K. de la Vega once again brings together a collage of opera singing and music. Rather than a single opera, each unique scene is introduced, allowing the audience a clear context. From Mozart to Verdi, and from Bizet to Donizetti, the audience gets a rapid succession of mood, emotion and exhilaration. Humor, drama and tragedy mark the afternoon. The youthful talent of the student actors brings to life this opera. This is an excellent introduction to opera for those who never enjoyed one before, and for those who have, it will evoke a new appreciation for the form.
Related: LA OPERA
Robert Cuthbert is a freelance writer covering all things Los Angeles. His work can be found on Examiner.com.