Submitted by Bree Burgess Rosen:
A funny thing happened on the way to the Forum… At least it will be by the time LAGUNATICS co-authors Chris Quilter and Bree Burgess Rosen get through with it.
“If we can make a laugh-out loud show stopper out of a sewage spill, a little mold incursion is a no-brainer.”
An upbeat attitude in an inarguably sad time. No Square Theatre was all set to presents the 21st annual Lagunatics (titled "Gagtime") October 5-20 at the Festival Forum Theater in Laguna Beach, when a nasty odor led Festival of Arts staff to open a wall in an office located under the Forum Theater.
While the toxicity of what they found remains to be determined by an O.C. lab, the foul odor and potentially dangerous conditions were enough that Rosen canceled that night’s dress rehearsal, and all other activities in the Forum including the first weekend of shows.
“It’s not worth the risk.” The initial hope had been to resume rehearsals and carry on with the run, but the lab’s results won’t be known for a week, and by then the company’s ability to market the show and fill the seats would be in jeopardy.
“We were SO close. I can’t believe it’s come to this. But in fact “the show must go on” doesn’t always apply. “We’ll go on, but not in October, or even in 2013.”
After some harsh calculations, No Square’s Board of Directors determined that the company couldn’t realistically hope for a successful run of LAGUNATICS at this time. In addition to the specter of "toxic" mold, even if the lab results supported an 'all clear' by Monday, the company would be hard pressed to get the word out.
Other than the two on-line news sources, the local newspapers go to press on Fridays, which means it would be impossible to get out a press release or any advertising until next Friday, which is far too late to resume ticket sales. “We will now begin the complex task of refunding money.”
Susan Davis, Events Director for the Festival of Arts, understands the quandary and has been terrific with communication and problem solving. “She came up with several heroic plans, but the best has turned out to be postponing until January 2014.” Rosen notes the situation is difficult on several fronts: Lost income and lost laughs.
“Our advertising budget was nearly spent. All the printed materials, posters and playbills and such. And we had moved into the Forum with our costumes, props, set, audio and lights, all of which take an enormous amount of time from professional production staff and our volunteers.
But the real loss is the laughter. After nearly six weeks of rehearsal, the cast was ready for the laughter and applause LAGUNATICS always provides. “Now, we find ourselves unfulfilled. Dang.”
The final three weeks of January are the as-yet-to-be-confirmed run. “A lot of variables, but that slot on the calendar appears to work for the Festival and for No Square.”
As sad as it to abandon a production so close to the finish line, it is really the only recourse. At least this way, No Square has a chance to build an audience for a normal-length January run. Any other scenario and the community theatre would very likely to suffer catastrophic losses.
Of course, points out Rosen, “I know I will lose some of my current cast members to January scheduling conflicts, which is a heart breaker. Everyone has worked so hard and we were so close.... But with the Festival’s support, our generous sponsors and fans, LAGUNATICS will ultimately fill the Forum with the palette cleansing laughter that has become a welcome annual rite in Laguna Beach. We’re just going to accept that the Mayans may have had it at least partially right: 2013 turned out to be a real stinker.”
Lagunatics is sponsored by K’ya Bistro, Purple Wine Company, including the Bex, Four Vines, Cryptic, and Avalon labels, Ketel One Vodka, the Lodging Establishments and City of Laguna Beach, Community Assistance Grant, Laguna Board of Realtors Charitable Assistance Fund, Festival of Arts Foundation, Laguna Beach Community Foundation, Mark W. Brisley DDS, The Butler Family Foundation, Chris Quilter, Chuck & Birgitta Shoen and Patrick Quilter.
For additional information and updates, please visit nosquare.org. No Square’s infoline is 949-715-0333.
Ultimately and regardless of where LAGUNATICS lands on the calendar, it’s a must-see. Quilter refers back to the bright spot in all this: “Just think how much fun the new haz-mat number is going to be!”