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On Theater: A Golden duo onstage in 2013

December 30, 2013|By Tom Titus

Nearly 40 years ago, this newspaper first began honoring two people each year for exemplary contributions to local theater. On rare occasions, the honorees were a married couple (David and Betsy Paul, Greg and Kysa Cohen), and even rarer were two practitioners from the same venue (Ryan Holihan and Laura Lindahl).

The latter instance holds true today as we focus the spotlight on a pair of directors who have elevated the quality of theatrical production at Golden West College, alternating as a tag team to bring consistently high-quality entertainment to their audiences.

They are the immensely talented creative artists who employ their skills — one in drama and comedy, the other in music and dance — to offer a complete theater package at the Huntington Beach college. They are Tom Amen and Martie Ramm, the Daily Pilot's man and woman of the year in theater for 2013.

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Since the turn of the century, Amen has been a professor of theater at Golden West and director of at least two productions each year. He came up through UC Irvine (BA in acting) and the University of Utah (MFA in directing).

At Golden West, Amen has reintroduced playgoers to classic theater such as "Medea," "Oedipus Rex" and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." He also has selected some wild and crazy comedies, several by Ken Ludwig — "Lend Me a Tenor," "Moon Over Buffalo," "Leading Ladies."

This year marked the culmination of Amen's artistic sabbatical — a sea voyage following the route of novelist Herman Melville in his quest for "Moby-Dick." Amen collected his experiences and combined them with Melville's prose to create a new version of the whale tale, which premiered to appreciative audiences several months ago.

The director's many past accomplishments include riveting productions of "Doubt," "Shadowlands" and "A Streetcar Named Desire." This season, Amen is tapping into the writings of George Orwell and F. Scott Fitzgerald. His production of Orwell's "1984" opened the season, and his staging of Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" is due in March.

Currently, Amen is at work on a play about the life of legendary Western gunslinger Doc Holliday, famed for his role in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. He's hoping to get this one on the GWC boards by 2015.

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