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Theatre Out revives ‘Drowsy Chaperone,’ Bill Morrison doc recalls ‘Great Flood’

If you like musical theatre, no doubt you’ll enjoy Theatre Out’s revival of “The Drowsy Chaperone” (continuing in Santa Ana through July 26). And if movie musicals of the Depression era (such as “42nd Street” or “Gold Diggers of 1933”) are your cup of tea, you’re in for a special treat; if ever a show brought to mind Noel Coward’s song, “I’ve Been to a Marvelous Party,” it’s this Bob Martin-Don McKellar romp, with music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison.

At first glance, you wonder if David C. Carnevale can squeeze a show of this magnitude—and an ensemble cast of 16—into a space so small. Not to worry. His clever staging turns a supposed disadvantage into an asset and makes delicious fun of it, evoking the madcap stateroom scene in “A Night at the Opera” with the Marx Brothers.

Standouts in the cast include Christopher Spencer (as the musical aficionado who acts as our host), Nicola Barrett and Lee Kociela (as the leads in the show within a show), Richard Comeau and Tina Nguyen (who make the most of their mock-stereotypical roles as a butler and a chorus girl who happens to be the producer’s girlfriend). The costuming (by Carnevale and Joey Baital) is as exceptional as the choreography (by Lindsay Martin) is inventive. Visit
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From Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight to Ruth’s 60th home run, the historic events of 1927 have been widely chronicled. The catastrophic Mississippi River Flood has been the exception, largely forgotten until now. Bill Morrison’s documentary “The Great Flood” (available on DVD from Icarus Films) ensures this tragedy will be vividly remembered for years to come; the film draws on rare archival footage, beautifully scored by Grammy winner Bill Frisell.

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