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On Theater: Two give all to local theaters

January 02, 2013|By Tom Titus

While most theater practitioners gravitate from show to show, venue to venue, a few may be found putting in years of artistic labor on behalf of one specific producing organization. Two such individuals are spotlighted this week.

The Costa Mesa Playhouse and Laguna Beach's No Square Theatre are the beneficiaries of their tireless endeavors. For several years, these two community theater companies have been enriched by their talent, energy and imagination.

They are a pair of visionaries whose creative efforts have resulted in years of entertainment for theater lovers. They are Michael Dale Brown and Bree Burgess Rosen, the Times Community News South man and woman of the year in theater for 2012.

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Brown, recently seen on stage as the spectral father in the playhouse's excellent production of "Proof," delivered "a performance marked by powerful volatility," as stated in this column's review in October. Such power was not unexpected — Brown also had distinguished himself as Big Daddy in the playhouse's "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" years earlier.

Acting, however, is only the tip of Brown's iceberg. A member of the theater's board of directors, he also is a producer, director and playwright — his original script, "Earthlings Beware," produced several seasons ago, was revived for a second staging in 2012. And if he's not busy backstage, he usually can be found selling tickets at the box office.

His directorial achievements at the Costa Mesa theater include productions of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and "Bat Boy: The Musical," as well as the redneck satire "Sordid Lives." Away from the theater, Brown is a documentary filmmaker who recently completed a project called "Alien Highway" and is working on another, "Patron Saint of Sideshow."

Brown's acting career stretches back to the 1960s when he appeared in a number of local musicals, including a memorable turn as Cocky in "The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd" at the old Laguna Playhouse. On opening night he came down with laryngitis, but the show went on with Brown miming his character on stage while director Kent Johnson supplied his dialogue and vocalizing from the orchestra pit.

Burgess Rosen is best known as the creative force behind the annual production of "Lagunatics," a satirical roast of local people and issues set to the music of popular show tunes. The 20th edition of the show, "Schlock and Awe," was roundly applauded in October.

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