Tag Archives: orange county

Theater: Shakespeare OC presents ‘Pirates of Penzance’

Alex Bodrero (The Pirate King, foreground) with Max Black and Nikolai Fernandez (immediately behind him) in Shakespeare Orange County's production of Gilbert and Sullivan's THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, September 10-26, 2015. In background, left and right, are Jacob Lansberg and James Quesada. Photo by Amelia Barron

Alex Bodrero (The Pirate King) with Max Black and Nikolai Fernandez in Shakespeare Orange County’s production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance.” Photo courtesy of Amelia Barron

To close their summer season, Shakespeare Orange County cordially invites the audience aboard the goofiest opera-singing pirate ship around with a uniquely intimate production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance.”

Director Peter Uribe, whose background in rock operas includes a six-month tour of the UK working on a Pete Townshend-approved production of The Who’s “Quadrophenia,” said he hopes to infuse Shakespeare OC’s debut musical with this kind of energy.

“The kind of mantra we live by is, ‘This is not your great-grandmother’s Pirates of Penzance,’” he said. “A big fight scene happens that’s kind of an homage to The Who and ‘Quadrophenia.’ We have a sound cue: at the count of four or five, the lights all go out, and it’s just Roger Daltrey screaming at the apex of ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again.’ The lights just go black, that all happens, the lights come back up, and the fight’s over.”

“Penzance” is more of a comic opera that is best known for one specific song (“I am the very model of a modern major-general, / I’ve information vegetable, animal and mineral,” etc.), but Shakespeare OC hopes to show Southern California theatergoers how entertaining it is in its entirety. Because the 1879 opera is now in the public domain, the cast has had more freedom to reshape the material for today’s audiences.

“We’ve thrown in every gag we can,” Uribe said. “While we’re pretty faithful to the script, I encourage the actors the entire time, ‘Any time you see a space for a joke, improv a joke. If it makes me laugh three times in a row and it’s somewhat appropriate, it can stay in the show.’ It’s been kind of fun to work fast and loose with the script.”

The opera’s storyline follows Frederic, a 21-year-old who has just completed an apprenticeship aboard a pirate ship. However, as Frederic is preparing to be on his way (hopefully alongside the Major-General’s beautiful daughter Mabel), the Pirate King discovers a loophole: because Frederic was born on leap year, he won’t technically turn 21 for many more decades and has to rejoin their crew.

Alex Bodrero, who plays the Pirate King in Shakespeare OC’s production, said he’s enjoyed combining elements of serious opera with the comedy of “Penzance.”

“This is probably the most classical singing I’ve done in a long time, despite it being such a crazy, off-the-wall show,” he said. “It’s an interesting dichotomy. It’s got that legit thing while having fun like you’re on the playground in elementary school.”

For “Penzance,” Shakespeare OC decided to make the most of the expansive Garden Grove stage: instead of utilizing all 500 seats in the amphitheater, they will include audience seating right there in the midst of it.

“I don’t think people know what to expect when they’re going to come see this,” said Nikolai Fernandez, who plays Frederic in the production. “What’s exciting about that is you’re going to have audience members who are uncomfortable and look away when you’re trying to talk to them and invite them in, and you’re going to have audience members who want to, like, jump up and be a part of it when you give them that permission.”

In recent years, Shakespeare OC has been working to make classic theater productions more accessible to the local community. Earlier this season, a production of “Romeo and Juliet” staged its famous ball scene as a traditional Mexican quinceañera, and the Montagues delivered their lines in Korean. Uribe hopes “Penzance” will prove that musical theater also has a place in the OC.

“The stigma is that in LA, everything is better, but [Uribe] really brings a lot that you won’t find anywhere else to the theater,” Fernandez said, “and I think that’s a huge reason why I decided to commute down here two hours every day to be a part of it.”

‘The Pirates of Penzance’
12762 Main St., Garden Grove, Calif.
7:30 p.m. Thursday – Sunday through Sept. 26
Tickets are $20
For more information, visit www.shakespeareoc.org.

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Food: Mizu shingen mochi ‘water cake’

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Mizu shingen mochi aka. “water cake” is this summer’s trendiest dessert. This strawberry-flavored cake was served in Myeongdong. SCREAMfmLondon

Have you ever found yourself thinking, “The problem with desserts is that they’re just too corporeal”? Have you been longing for a more abstract — perhaps even metaphysical — after-dinner treat?

Well, the search is over. It’s only a matter of time before you’ll come across this year’s most conceptual dessert trend: the Japanese water cake.

Mizu shingen mochi originated in the Japanese Alps, but it’s been gaining popularity worldwide this summer.

The cakes are round, translucent variations on the traditional mochi rice cakes, and they’re usually served with sugary syrup and kinako soybean powder on the side.

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Japanese-style water cakes for sale in Seoul. SCREAMfmLondon

While last year, the croissant-donut hybrid cronut had customers lined up outside Dominique Ansel’s New York bakery for hours and hours, these water cakes have customers trekking out to Yamanashi Prefecture (a two-hour drive from Tokyo), where they climb a mountain before reaching the hour-long line to order a dessert. And, like the cronut, the mizu shingen mochi is specifically trademarked to one owner: the Kinseiken Seika Company.

Legend has it these special water cakes are jellies made using solidified water from one specific source on Mount Kaikoma and are so delicate that they’ll only retain their shape for about 30 minutes at room temperature. Although, now that they’ve reached the likes of Seoul and Orange County, Calif., I’m going to surmise that the process is a little less special and a little more like the making of Jello Jigglers.

The cakes are pretty cool to look at — but they’re kind of just gelatin in a fancy outfit. The soybean powder is the best part, adding a much-needed punch of texture and flavor to the relatively tasteless treat.

Water cakes are worth a try for the novelty, but nothing to get worked up about.

Food: Deep-fried everything at the OC Fair

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Deep-fried Doritos from Chicken Charlie’s at the Orange County Fair. SCREAMfmLondon

This is the kind of person I am: I made a list beforehand of all the deep-fried foods I wanted to try at the Orange County Fair last weekend so I could efficiently and strategically eat as many as possible. And this is what I know to be true: everything in heaven is deep-fried. Below is my rundown of the best foods I snacked on and the ones I’ll have to tackle next time.

Deep-fried cookie dough

I wanted to start the day with a cherry Pop Rocks donut from Texas Donuts, believe me, but I felt that it was unwise to eat that much fried dough and candy so early in the morning. It’s best to start off with a light meal to whet the appetite, I figured, so what could be lighter than Chicken Charlie’s deep-fried cookie dough? Such a good call. For $7.75, I walked away with three balls of moist, gooey chocolate chip cookie dough coated in a crispy deep-fried outer shell, drizzled with chocolate syrup and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Very chocolatey, and it would be cool if there were different cookie dough options (just imagine deep-fried peanut butter cookie dough with chocolate sauce on top!), but this is definitely a valuable way to begin the fair eating experience. All my breakfasts should be so satisfying.

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Deep-fried cookie dough from Chicken Charlie’s at the Orange County Fair. SCREAMfmLondon

Deep-fried Jack Daniel’s-infused, bacon-wrapped churro

Bacon-A-Fair offered up this treat with a side of whipped cream for $6.50, and it was not my thing. But I didn’t expect it to be. I am a vocal opponent of the savory-and-sweet combination in food, and I do not appreciate the trend of adding bacon to dessert. So, maybe I’m a traditionalist. Oh, well. These also weren’t served fresh, but I guess that’s to be expected on the last weekend of the fair. Still, I wouldn’t let this experience deter me. There were so many more deep-fried foodstuffs awaiting my arrival.

Deep-fried Doritos

After enough dessert, I needed something salty. I was ready for Chicken Charlie’s deep-fried Doritos. This was a new, must-try item at the fair this year. For $8.75, the basket of chips was served with a side of Ranch dressing for dipping. The frying process made the chips light and airy (kind of reminiscent of the Baked! Lay’s chips), but they lost a lot of the flavor in the process. I don’t think Ranch was the way to go — these chips should be served with nacho cheese, and then they’d be perfect.

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Deep-fried pineapple from Pineapple Express at the Orange County Fair. SCREAMfmLondon

Deep-fried pineapple

By the time I reached Pineapple Express, I was also two margaritas in, and I wasn’t sure I could eat any more fried food. But I still picked up an order of deep-fried pineapple for $6.75, because I’m no quitter. These fresh, juicy pineapple rings are battered and fried, then covered with chocolate syrup and coconut shavings. These were definitely my favorite OC Fair food item, and, look, I think everyone can agree that this is a very effective way to have a serving of fruit.

Sadly, I will have to wait until the next fair to finish off the rest of the items on my list, including: deep-fried chicken skin, deep-fried cheeseburgers and deep-fried cheesecake on a stick.