American Coast Theater Company Wed, 28 Feb 2018 19:09:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Lyceum Renovation Fundraiser Event Mon, 05 Feb 2018 18:12:27 +0000

Two notable alumni help kick off $650,000 campaign for long-overdue renovations, including backstage dressing room, multi-purpose space and restrooms.


At the red carpet gala dinner in Vanguard’s own, Needham Chapel Courtyard, to kick off the long awaited theater renovations– one basic necessity was expressed most: Bathrooms.

Alumna Kristina Kuzmic (’01), now a social media personality known for her humorous take on motherhood, remembers dashing to a bathroom in another campus building while wearing a billowy dress between acts of “Little Women”—a routine other actors and patrons of the Lyceum Theater have endured since the former lecture hall was converted into a theater 18 years prior.

Those long bathroom dashes have, fortunately, come to an end. Much the the relief of the theater patrons. “This will benefit not only the school, but all of Southern California,” actress Emily Rose (’03) said during comments at the donor dinner.

The Lyceum Theater upgrades, scheduled to be completed by year end, will include a new 2,000-square-foot space connected to the existing theater that will serve as a backstage area, complete with a dressing room and greenroom.

The new space also will function as a multi-purpose space for classes, including costume design, makeup design, and other theater courses offered by the Department of Theatre Arts.

The second phase of the renovation will feature a second-stage, black box theater that currently is being used as a space for maintenance. Until recently, theatre arts students were using a trailer as a dressing room. The trailer since has been torn down.

With about 50 students both majoring and minoring in the program, the Department of Theatre Arts is small, but mighty. “More than twenty-eight alumni have gotten into very elite MFA acting and design programs,” Susan Berkompas shared with the select group of alumni, arts supporters and community members gathered at the donor event. Close to 100 alumni and donors were in attendance. “One alumnus just finished an original musical on Broadway. We have another one who is a manager with Innovative Artists, one of top entertainment industry management agencies in the country” continued Berkompas.

Kevin Coleman, founder and CEO of Costa Mesa-based Net Development Co., is spearheading the theater renovation project. His daughter, Kelsey, graduated from Vanguard’s theatre program in 2014.

“We have been blessed to be able to raise the funds to get this project started,” said Coleman, whose real estate development firm is donating a significant amount of services to the renovation. “The [theatre] students have flourished through tough times,” Coleman told attendees. “I look at the folks who’ve been here, working in these conditions, with a smile on their face and a belief in their heart that they’re making a difference…We’re here tonight to continue that dream, to take this a step further, to give them the space they deserve.”

President Beals, personally thanked Kuzmic and Rose for attending the event.

For more information about contributing to the Lyceum Theater Campaign, whose different levels of support range from the Ensemble Level ($1,000) to Producer’s Circle ($100,000), but which will accept donations of any amount, visit our donation page.

Lyceum Theater Renovations
Devon Johnson
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The Orange Curtain Reviews ACTC’s The Beat Goes On Fri, 05 May 2017 20:48:41 +0000   ]]> 0 The Beat Goes On Wed, 05 Apr 2017 19:38:23 +0000

Back by overwhelming popular demand, ACTC brings to you The Beat Goes on. A riveting musical revue that takes you on a journey through the last half of the 20th Century, along with the exciting sounds of the early 2000’s. Get ready to be Rockin’ and a Rollin’ to beats that are a blast from the past! Find yourself transported to times of disco halls, malt shops, sunny California beaches and MTV studio extravaganzas. This is a high energy and family friendly look at music favorites that reshaped the world.

This production is suitable for ages 6 and older. All performances are presented on the campus of Vanguard University, in the Lyceum Theater. Ticket prices are $40. Tickets may be purchased at or by calling the Theatre Department box office at 714-668-6145.

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ACCT Summer Workshops Thu, 02 Mar 2017 18:02:32 +0000

Announcing two new summer workshops for American Coast Children’s Theatre at Vanguard University!

This summer ACCT is proud to preset two all new two-week workshops for ages 6-15. Develop musical theatre skills alongside professionals and college interns in the Lyceum Theater! Both workshops conclude with a special performance of the musical produced during the workshop.

Workshop A


July 3 – 14*

Monday – Friday // 12:00 – 5:00 pm

Ages 6-15

(*no workshop July 4)


$175 Early Registration by June 2

$200 Late Registration by June 16

**Tuition includes script, snack, show shirt, CD & costume

Workshop B


July 17-28

Monday – Friday // 12:00 – 5:00 pm

Ages 6-15


$225 Early Registration by June 9

$250 Late Registration by June 23

*Tuition includes script, snack, show shirt, CD & costume

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Colorado Boulevard – Life Without Parole Mon, 14 Nov 2016 19:18:31 +0000

What’s the new popular show amongst men of all ages in Los Angeles? Would you believe: a play that brings to life five women’s stories, all convicted of murdering their abusive male partners? Looking around the full house Saturday night inside Santa Monica’s Edgemar Theater, it would be hard to dispute. The body language was clear. Women sat attentive and engaged, but it was the men who leaned in. Hands holding their chins, elbows on knees, hanging on every detail of how the women became isolated, bullied, terrorized, and finally, desperate enough to fight back in the most final way.

American Coast Theater Company’s Susan Berkompas could not have foreseen the political climate in which her relaunch of this 2003 original would land, but it is one rife with abusive overtones. In response, many men are engaging in conversations online with their female peers re the pervasiveness of sexual assault, and here, live onstage, are five women sharing the kind of stories that for years have been hidden behind a mostly-gendered wall of shame and denial.

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Accessibly Live Offline Review – LWP Mon, 14 Nov 2016 19:12:06 +0000

The Edgemar Center for the Arts in Santa Monica presents the west coast premier of Warren Doody’s LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE, a play that focus upon a number of woman serving time for their murder of their domestic partners, and the backstory toward each one.
The story centers around the parole hearing of Helen Broker (Vivian Vanderwerd), serving twenty five years to life for the murder of her spouse. Her hearing, taking place at the California Institution for Women in Chino, California where she is housed, consist of three hearing board personnel. The prosiding “judge” Kellerman (Brook Joseph) instigates Helen in order to discover if she is fit for release. Upon the many questions she is asked during her hearing, she states that she belongs to an inmate run support group for those doing time for the murder of their husbands, boyfriends, and family members due to physical and/or emotional abuse.

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Broadway World’s Review of Life Without Parole Tue, 08 Nov 2016 19:00:07 +0000

A Raw LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE Vividly Depicts a Stacked Justice System

LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE /written by Warren Doody/directed by Susan K. Berkompas/Edgemar Center for the Arts/thru November 5, 2016

In the American Coast Theatre Company’s West Coast premiere of LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE, playwright Warren John Doody has brilliantly adapted Dr. Elizabeth Dermody Leonard’s verbatim transcripts of interviewed, incarcerated women into a brutal, unrelenting look at our current justice system. Susan K. Berkompas directs her very talented and committed cast with the precision of a surgeon in a tightly-paced, illustrative narrative of what put these five women in prison. They each were found guilty of murdering their respective abusive husbands or boyfriends.

Before the three-person parole board, the main focal character of Helen receives grilling and interrogation more apt for a foreign terrorist bomber than for a mild-mannered grandmother rehabilitating herself in prison for the last 25 years. Vivian Vanderwerd totally inhabits her character of Helen, the object of years of spousal abuse. Vanderwerd easily exhibits Helen’s frustrations, confusion, protective maternal love of her daughter Debby, and the always present fear of being physically beat up, as well as constantly demeaned. The parole board, led by Kellerman (unapologetically played by Brock Joseph as a total assh*le) attempt to decide if Vivian remains a danger to society and if she shows remorse in her murderous deed. Mark Piatelli has the unsavory task of performing the creepy, disgusting behaviors of the three abusers depicted. Piatelli also does quadruple duty as one of the parole board with Virginia Brown sturdy as the by-the-book Shaeffer, the third of the freedom-deciding parole board.

Read more at Broadway World.

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EUR’s Preview of Life Without Parole Mon, 10 Oct 2016 18:11:59 +0000 Meet the Killer Women of ‘Life Without Parole’ (West Coast Premiere!), Plus Video Teaser ]]> 0 LA Weekly Review Wed, 21 Sep 2016 16:25:22 +0000 On the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s Death, American Coast Theater is proud to commemorate the great bard by presenting two unique plays in repertory that explore life and death, fate versus choice, decision and indecision, art versus reality. In Hamlet, the titular character wrestles with whether or not to kill, as the play dramatically asks the question: how much is a life worth? Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead comedically portrays the misadventures of the two supporting characters from Hamlet, musing their way through events they may or may not have control over as they face their own fate. See both plays for one truly, unique theatrical experience. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead: June 3, 4, 18, 25, and July 3rd at 7:30pm. June 5, 11, 19, 26, and July 2nd at 2:00pm. Hamlet: June 10, 11, 17, 19, 24, 26, and July 1, 2 at 7:30pm. June 12, 18, 25, and July 3rd at 2:00pm.

Click here to view full article



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The Orange Curtain Review Thu, 09 Jun 2016 16:31:19 +0000 Written by Erin Tobin

The play’s the thing at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa.  Well actually no, it’s two plays that are the thing. From June 3– July 3, the American Coast Theater Company will be performing William Shakespeare’s classic tragedy about a conflicted Danish prince and his struggle to avenge his father’s death. In conjunction with Hamlet, the company will also be presenting Tom Stoppard’s less well-known tale about Hamlet’s old college chums, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

The latter is a work of absurd existentialist comedy that is more linear than Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot and less abstract and bizarre than, say, Christopher Durang’s The Marriage of Bette and Boo. Driven mostly by dialogue, the plot addresses the topics of identity, fate, existence and reality while poking fun at theatrical concepts and its source material (for example there are frequent references to Hamlet walking around and talking to himself).

The plot is familiar, but it’s turned on its head. The audience follows Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as they answer a summons from the King and Queen, who ask them to figure out what’s bothering Hamlet. Along the way the titular duo run into The Player and his band of fellow Tragedians, poor actors looking for any audience they can get. Dispersed among Stoppard’s original work are scenes from Hamlet, though the scenes are almost always presented from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s point of view.  This soon proves to be an interesting angle to the original story.

While the play is a nice introduction to absurdist theater and has a plot that’s generally easy to follow ( there’s also quite a bit of slapstick comedy to break up the heavy dialogue) it isn’t an easy play to pull off. The actors of the American Coast Theater Company step up to the challenge quite well. As Guildenstern, actor Aaron McGee comes across as a man who wants to think of himself as intelligent but struggles to understand the world around him. Katie Canavan captures Rosencrantz’s charming >innocence and naïveté. The pair have wonderful chemistry on stage together, and it is easy to believe they are best chums. As a counter to their confusion, Brock Joseph’s version of The Player displays a confident and nonchalant attitude while delivering key moments of true emotion when appropriate. The band of Hamlet characters add humor to the plot, especially Susan K. Berkompas’ increasingly drunk Gertrude and James McHale’s Hamlet, who borders on cartoonish. The actors all repeat their roles on the nights the company performsHamlet, so it would be interesting to see these actors crossover to the more dramatic story.

Moving the setting from the Renaissance to a more modern time period actually helps capture the timeless nature of the play’s theme while making it seem more accessible. It was just one of many great decisions from the production team, lead by director Christi McHale. A simple and versatile stage, great lighting work and vibrant costumes all contribute to the success of the production. The American Coast Theater Company’s production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is one that shouldn’t be missed, so I feel safe in saying their version of probably shouldn’t be either. So head up to Vanguard University and catch them both.

Click here to read full article
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