A Look at Brea: What’s Next

With the start of 2017, the City of Brea began its Centennial Celebration. From showcasing an immense collection of vintage film posters at the Brea Art Gallery to a parade down Birch Street and city wide picnic, it has been quite a year. How do we sum up a hundred years of history? When we talk about the past, oftentimes we separate time into specific events, memories.

page33bThis year we’ve been reminded of many significant events in our city history. Like the big game with Walter Johnson and Babe Ruth. Before Johnson became “Big Train” and joined the ranks of baseball’s all-time greatest pitchers, he moved to a small oil town named Olinda.B1Rtor3IQAAbt4H Years later he would return with “The Gambino” himself  to play a game in his old home town. We could look at the flood of 1938 and the aftermath of a town rebuilding, or the struggle of making it through the Great Depression. At the Curtis Theatre, we’ve done a lot of looking back while working on our upcoming play, Tales from the Canyon: The Olinda Story. When one of our narrators from the show, The Station Master, tries to describe the town of Olinda he says “I’d like to think a town is made up by the spirit of its people.” The spirit of the people that live here really has been undeniable, even all the way back at the beginning.baseball-brea-AOGHS

Before there even was a Brea, there was the once thriving oil boom town of Olinda. Olinda was nestled in the hills of North Orange County from the early 1900’s to the 1950’s. The promise of oil brought workers from all over the country, hoping to make a life for themselves and their families. Homes were built for the oil field workers and a community developed. Oil workers worked long hours in dangerous conditions; it wasn’t easy but the Olinda livelihood soon became a way of life. Schools and churches were built as workers and their families raised children among the rolling hills. Families enjoyed baseball and dances at the community hall. The first hints of Brea came as a neighboring community that began providing services to the oil companies and their workers. As technology changed, residents of Olinda saw a community dwindle and a way of life abandoned. The end of Olinda saw the beginnings of Randolph, which would eventually become the City of Brea that we know today.

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You can explore more of historic Olinda at the Olinda Oil Museum & Trail  where the community’s first oil well has been pumping since 1897. There, you can also take a historic walk down the Olinda Oil Trail and trace the footsteps of early oil pioneers. For more photos and stories of Brea through the ages, visit the Brea Museum & Historical Society. 


Although the town of Olinda is gone, the spirit of its people continues today. Brea continues the legacy of strong community, hard work, and the importance of family. Now as Brea sets its eyes on the next hundred years, we not only take a look back, but forward as well. Two years ago, the city began a project called Brea Envisions. The goal of this project was to hear from Brea residents, business owners, youth, seniors, and community leaders to share their vision and value for what Brea should be in the future. We’ve come a long way since that small town and as we close out of Centennial year celebrations, it’s reassuring to know those strong values will guide us in the future.

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This strong community of Brea is represented in many ways in Tales from the Canyon: The Olinda Story.  With cast members who live and work in Brea now to those who have grown up in Brea, never knowing another city to call home. The cast also features many families, bringing in a multi-generational perspective on how Brea has changed and yet still has never lost that small town feel. We hope to celebrate the spirit of Brea and how far we’ve come together over the last 100 years.

Photos courtesy of the Brea Historical Society.

New Logo Color

Tales from the Canyon: The Olinda Story performs Nov 3-12, 2017. Fridays & Saturdays at 8PM, Sundays at 3PM. Tickets are on sale now. Visit our website or call the Box Office at 714-990-7722 Tues-Fri 12PM-3PM. Have questions? Contact us! 

Meet the Cast of The Olinda Story

 The cast of William Mittler’s Tales from the Canyon: The Olinda Story features a diverse blend of Curtis Theatre veteran actors and those who are stepping on our stage for the very first time. Mittler’s play, first commissioned by the California Council for the Humanities, shares the intricacies of life in Brea as told by some of its earliest residents. Just like this story allows us to get to know the characters of Brea, we invite you in to learn more about the actors in this historic piece —

Allison Aoun

Allison Aoun | Mary

Allison Aoun (Mary) is an OCSA alum, recent USC graduate and finalist in LA’s Next Great Stage Star 2017. Regional credits: The Christians- Mark Taper Forum at CTG; Two Gentleman of Verona (Lucetta)- Looseleaf Theatre Co.; A Little Night Music; A Connecticut Yankee (Evelyn) and Wonderful Town- Berkshire Theatre Group. Other favorites: How to Succeed… (Smitty); Nunsense (Leo/Dance Captain); …Charlie Brown (Lucy); Bye, Bye Birdie (Gloria Rasputin); Grand Hotel and The Most Happy Fella (dir. John Rubinstein). She has played the title roles in The Principle Wife (Premiere) and Charlotte’s Web and originated roles in A Song for Christmas and Class of ‘90. Allison was also seen on the Curtis stage as a Protean in …Forum with Southgate Productions. Most recently she played Verges/Ursula U/S in Alchemy’s production of Much Ado! Proud EMC. Visit http://www.allisonaoun.com for more!   

James Menke-7

James Menke | Walter

James A. Menke is excited to perform at the Curtis Theatre for the first time and is honored to be a part of such a talented cast. James is continuing his theatrical studies and has been a part of productions of 12 Angry Men, Man Trouble, The Twilight Zone, The Revenger’s Tragedy and Look Homeward Angel. He is a husband and father and is extremely grateful for the opportunity to be doing what he loves.




Charlotte Pulley

Charlotte Pulley | Young Mary

Charlotte is an 11 year old 6th grader at Macy Elementary. Her very first play was on the Curtis Theatre stage when she was only five years old. She’s been in love with acting ever since! She’s had the honor of performing with Stagelight Family Productions, Broadway on Tour and Yorba Linda Spotlight Theater! Favorite roles include Tinkerbell in Peter Pan, Tweedle Dee in Alice and Wonderland, Twin 2 in Peter Pan, a roadie in School of Rock, and Young Shrek/Papa Grumpy Dwarf in Shrek the Musical.  Charlotte is also extremely proud of her role in the short film The Voices of Warriors. Charlotte studies acting, dancing, singing and puppetry at Stagelight Performing Arts, Musical Theater Orange County and Phantom Projects. She’s thankful for all her teachers and directors, particularly her amazing vocal coach Miss Rene and her incomparable acting coach Miss Danielle. Charlotte is thrilled to be a part of The Olinda Story and is happy to add this amazing cast to her ever growing theater family.  When not performing, Charlotte can be found reading, drawing, or hanging out with her cat, Crookshanks.


Owen Switzer | Young Walter

Owen, a 5th grader at Brookhaven Elementary, is excited to make his Curtis Theatre debut in Tales from the Canyon.  Favorite previous roles include Billy in School of Rock, Flounder in The Little Mermaid  and Chip in Beauty and the Beast. He feels lucky to work with such an incredibly talented cast and would like to thank Jesse for giving him the opportunity to play Young Walter. Thanks also to mom and dad for the support and love.





Mario Vargas Jr. | Old Man of the Hills

Mario is one vivacious old fellow who couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of this production; his first at Curtis Theatre! Thus far in his theatre career, he has taken on roles such as Giuliano in Charles L. Mee’s Big Love, Fabian in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, and Peter Pan in Peter & Alice. More credits include: Cabaret (Herman/KitKatBoy), The Women of Lockerbie (Bill Livingston), Look Homeward Angel (Eugene Gant),Parade (Ensemble), The Drowsy Chaperone (Ensemble), and Urinetown (Ensemble).After the past few years in the wonderful theatre department at Fullerton College, Mario eagerly looks forward to the new experiences in theatre and performance that await him.



View More: http://krisdmauga.pass.us/rickkopps

Rick Kopps | Station Master

This is Rick’s first appearance at the Curtis Theatre. He took part in over a dozen plays with the Rude Guerrilla theater company in Santa Ana, and several productions with the Monkey Wrench Collective theater group in Fullerton. Rick has also appeared at the Open Stage West in Los Angeles, Theater Out in Santa Ana, Long Beach Playhouse in Long Beach, STAGEStheatre in Fullerton, Chapman University in Orange, Newport Theatre Arts Center in Newport Beach, the Modjeska Playhouse in Lake Forest and the Attic Community Theatre in Santa Ana.



Ash Armstrong


Ash Armstrong | Ailene

This is Ash Armstrong’s first production at the Curtis Theatre and she is extremely excited. She is studying Acting at Fullerton College and is soon transferring to complete her training. Ash has been a part of many projects and shows such as Big Love by Charles Mee (Thyona) and W.A.S.P (PAT) by Zan Hall. She is thankful to the cast and crew for making this production happen.



Bianca Turner

Bianca Turner | Isabell

Bianca Turner is ecstatic to be making her Curtis Theatre debut as Isabell in Tales From the Canyon: the Olinda Story. She currently studies musical theatre at Orange County School of the Arts and has performed in over thirty five shows. Some of her favorite roles include Val (A Chorus Line), Snoopy (You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown), Arista/Princess (The Little Mermaid), Gingy (Shrek), and Core Dancer (Tarzan). Bianca would like to thank her teachers, friends, family, and Jake. She feels so incredibly blessed to be performing alongside such talented and dedicated artists. “Love the art in yourself, not yourself in the art.”


Heather Enriquez

Heather Enriquez | Minnie

Heather Enriquez is a 20 year veteran of OC theater, recently returned to the stage after a lengthy hiatus to raise her own little troupe of artists. Her credits include Monique in Monique and Mrs. Rogers in Twilight Zone at STAGEStheatre, Louise and Mitzi in M*A*S*H at HB Playhouse, and Eleanor in Big Love at Fullerton College, where she is working towards her BFA in Theater Arts. Heather is excited to be a part of this fun project, and wonderful cast and crew. She is very proud to be sharing the stage with her daughter, Emmy, in this show. Heather would like to thank Bailey and Eric for their love and support during this process.


Cory Chapman | Robert

Cory Michael Chapman is excited to be performing in The Olinda Story at the Curtis and would like to thank the following people: Mom for always going the extra mile to make his life special; Chris for inspiring him to have the courage to blaze his own path; Cleo for their strength and patience; Dad for teaching him the value of hard work; Aunt Debbie for paving the way for future generations of free spirits; Jake for being an example of confidence; Grandma Judi for the purity of her love; Grandma Marie for being the water and sun he needed when he was a young sprout; Nick for constantly challenging him to learn more about the world we live in; Tyler for reminding him to be himself; Krystal for having the strength, love, and will to break down the walls he built and barricaded himself in – may you forever be The Breaker of Walls; Grandpa Jack for passing down his sense of humor; the teachers he’s had, whether the lessons were in a classroom every week or during a single encounter on a train, they’ve shaped his life and perspective of the world vastly.

Kira Rubeshaw

Kira Rubeshaw | Estella

After her time at Elon University, Kira is thrilled to be home to celebrate her hometown’s hundredth birthday in this remarkable production. Some of her favorite credits include The Little Mermaid (Adella, Princess u/s), Hello Dolly (Ensemble), Bad Seed (Claudia Fern), Oklahoma (Ensemble), and How to Succeed… (Ms. Jones). Thanks to all those involved with creating this production.




Mo Arii | Sophie

Mo is a graduate of Cal State Fullerton and a founding member of STAGEStheatre in Fullerton and serves on the board. Previous roles include Masha in Vanya, Sonia, Masha and Spike (STAGEStheatre), Karen in Dinner With Friends (STAGEStheatre), Poole in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Maverick Theater), and Chris in Rumors (Curtis Theatre). When not on stage, Mo teaches theater and filmmaking to elementary students and works as a corporate role player. She’s grateful for the opportunity to work with such a talent group of amazing people!


Emmy Girten Head Shot


Emmy Girten | Young Ailene

Emmy Girten is thrilled to be making her Curtis Theatre debut with such a fun cast and crew and in such a great show. Emmy’s previous credits include Titan Filmworks short I Only Cried Twice and Twilight Zone at STAGEStheatre. This is the second time Emmy has shared the stage with her mom, Heather. Emmy would like to thank Bailey and Eric for their help and love during this process.


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Loralee Barlow-Bowes | Hennie

Loralee is happy to be doing her first show at the Curtis Theatre! She couldn’t be happier to be working with Jesse Runde and the amazing team here. She is a born and bred Fullerton native and is honored to have the opportunity to work on this historically driven piece. Favorite past credits include Andy (Honky) Helena (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) Hero (Much Ado About Nothing) and Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice). You can see her further theatrical skills in costuming this December in “Mr. Burns, a post-electric play” at the Costa Mesa Playhouse. She sends all her love to her friends and family and she dedicates this show to her ever loving husband Tucker.


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Rose London | Older Isabell

Rose is delighted and grateful to be making her debut here the Curtis Theatre! She was most recently seen on stage at the Whittier Playhouse playing M’Lynn in Steel Magnolias. Last year she was Lilliane La Fleur at Costa Mesa Playhouse. Prior to that she was at West Covina Playhouse as Ethel Thayer in On Golden Pond.  And, earlier, at Stagedoor Repertory Theater as Mrs. Crummles in Nicholas Nickleby and Big Momma in the Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at Stages Theater.  She has been doing theater since God was a child and some of her most favorite roles include: Mary Tyrone in Long Day’s Journey into Night, Maggie in Dancing at Lughnasa, Othello in Othello, Eleanor of Aquitaine in The Lion in Winter, Sarah Jane Moore in Assassins, Mame in Auntie Mame and Joanne in Company. She thanks her son Wes and his wife Carly, and her incredible sister, Bess, for their loving support.


Tracy Marquis | Frank

Roughly a decade ago, we told this story. The Olinda Story. Right here at the Curtis Theatre. Reprising one of the roles he played in the first time around, Tracy is deeply honored to be playing Frank Johnson again in the current production. Tracy first began braving stages, and some pretty frightening (frightened) audiences as a (frightened) musician. He started his adventure in theater in the 2005 production of “So Alone” by William Mittler and has been in over 60 plays since that time. 40 of them in a 5 year period. Mostly acting, but also directing, writing, A.D, Sound design, and writing & recording soundtracks. He was also in two movies and one commercial. Recently, a song he arranged and played guitar & bass on was up for a Grammy. Favorite roles include Drill Sergeant Williams in “Tracers”, Billy Rath in “So Alone”, George Bailey in “It’s A Wonderful Life” and the main guard in “Jesus Christ Superstar”. Tracy has worked as a finisher and faux painter for 30 years. He also has a record coming out soon and works part time selling vinyl records.

Coleman Summers


Coleman Summers | Stoch

Coleman Summers is an actor currently attending Fullerton College. He has appeared as W.O. Gant in Look Homeward, Angel, Harry Dangle in One Man, Two Guvners, & Will in Sentences, a role he originated. Outside of theater, Coleman has acted in embarrassing YouTube videos, embarrassing student films & writes poetry he doesn’t share



Terry Dopson

Terry Dopson | Company Man

This is Terry’s 10th production at the Curtis Theatre. Previous leading roles include Albert Peterson in Bye Bye Birdie, Antipholus of Syracuse in The Boys From Syracuse, Fagin in Oliver!, Professor Callahan in Legally Blonde: The Musical, and The Oz Gatekeeper in The Wizard of Oz. Terry holds a BA in Music from the University of La Verne. Terry was a member of the ULV Chamber Singers, under the direction of Dr. Irene Messoloras and Terry was a member of two barbershop quartets, Mixed Nuts and Optional Ending, under the direction of Carol Stephenson. Coincidentally, Terry now works as the Coordinator of Finance Administration and University Business Travel at the University of La Verne. As a Brea native, Terry is grateful to be part of the Brea Centennial through this production. He always wanted to grow a deeper connection to his community and this production was the perfect opportunity.


Avery Long | Ensemble

Avery’s first experience with theater began at age 4, but her family would say she’s been a performer since day one.  She loves theater because she can sing, dance and be with friends.  She attends Rolling Hills Elementary School where the arts and musical theater have been a huge part of her education.  Her experience with theater also includes plays with Stagelight and Sunny Hills Youth Theater.  Her greatest challenge so far was playing Edward Rutledge in “1776″ and her favorite role was playing Jane in Mary Poppins. She looks forward to being part of “Tales From the Canyon” as her own family roots go far back into Brea’s history.


Camryn Logoteta

Camryn Logoteta | Ensemble

Camryn is 11 years old and is proud to be a part of The Olinda Story.  She is enjoying this new experience and learning more about her hometown.  Camryn began performing at the age of four with Stagelight Family Productions as well as several school and church play productions.  Most recently, she performed in The Little Mermaid and is also currently playing the role of Ms. Teavee in her school Willy Wonka Jr. show.  Earlier this year, she had the opportunity to join the cast of The Giver with Phantom Projects Theatre Group and always looks forward to her Saturday morning classes with her Phantom family.  Camryn also enjoys working in other avenues of the entertainment industry.  She is truly very thankful to her family, friends, Phantom Projects, and Stagelight for all their love and support.


Emily Boliver

Emily Boliver | Ensemble

Emily Boliver is excited to be back at the Curtis Theatre to perform in another production, especially in a play as important to her and her community as this one! A few of her most notable credits in both musical theatre and theatre include: Hostess/8th Actor in Dogg’s Hamlet, Cahoot’s Macbeth (Fullerton College) Wife in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Stagelight Family Productions), Sophie in Annie (Stagelight Family Productions), Miss Lark in Mary Poppins (Stagelight Family Productions), and Medusa in The Wedding Feast (Fullerton College). She is currently studying Theatre Arts at Fullerton College and working as a Hostess at Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour in Brea. Emily would like to thank her Mom, Dolly, for everything she has done to support Emily’s dreams and life. She would also like to thank her best friend, Manny, for always being there for her and giving her the advice she needs to succeed in life and theatre! She would lastly like to thank her Grandparents, Pat and Ray, for being her #1 fans. They have seen every production of her’s and she is very grateful for their support!

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Daniel Camacho | Ensemble

Daniel is excited to make his Curtis Theater debut as part of The Olinda Story!  Daniel received his BA in Film and Theatre at CSULB, and has studied with Steppenwolf Classes West, SITI Company, and iO West among others!  Most recent work includes Turtle Talk with Crush at the Disneyland Resort and the Wild West Stunt show at Knott’s Berry Farm.  Credits also include shows at San Gabriel Mission Playhouse, Disney’s Flashback, The Hollywood Fringe Festival, Huntington Beach Playhouse, and more!  He also plays music, and for his latest, check out his Instagram @dcamacho13!  Daniel would like to thank his friends, family, and incredibly supportive mentors who have helped guide him along the journey!

Drew Cazares

Drew Cazares | Ensemble

Drew is so excited to be a part of this play! Drew goes to Rolling Hills Elementary, where he has participated in musical theatre. He has performed in 1776 as Billy, Hans Christian Anderson as the title role, A Christmas Carol as Bob Cratchit, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as an Oompa-Loompa, and Mary Poppins as a Button Person. Drew also participates in theatre at Hope International University. He has been in The Little Mermaid and Mary Poppins as Michael Banks. In his off time, he likes to play drums, guitar, and takes voice lessons. He also likes to read the Percy Jackson series. He is currently taking golf lessons, which he enjoys. Drew would like to thank all of his friends, family, and directors that have encouraged him along the way.

Chris Treister

Chris Treister | Ensemble

Chris is a rookie actor, having joined the ‘I Didn’t Start Acting Until My 40’s’ club this year. After being invited to the stage by the incredibly talented, award winning director, Gary Krinke (Thank you Gary!!), Chris appeared as ‘Coach Dunbar’ in HSMT’s production of Footloose. He then followed up that performance with a turn as ‘King Triton’ in The Little Mermaid this summer, here at the Curtis Theatre, with Stagelight Productions. He’d like to also give a huge thank you to Janice Kraus and Art Ortiz for their faith & support! The Olinda Story holds special meaning to Chris, as he grew up on a little street called Olinda Dr, in the neighborhood of Olinda Village, nestled in Carbon Canyon. He spent his childhood at Olinda Elementary School, where the original Olinda School bell still hung in the quad, and he spent countless hours stomping around through Carbon Canyon, catching snakes, avoiding cattle & mountain lions, and listening to the coyotes sing him to sleep at night. Chris would like to give a final big thank you to Bill Mittler, for penning this beautiful script, and to Jesse Runde, Tiina Mittler, and Victoria Cervantes, for giving me the opportunity to participate in this wonderful project.

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Garry Hobday | Ensemble

Garry is pleased to be joining this talented cast of “Tales From the Canyon: the Olinda Story”.   This will be Garry’s fourth appearance at the Curtis Theatre.  Earlier performances included “All Shook Up”, “The War of the Worlds-A Radio Play”, and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”.  Garry has done numerous voice-over commercials for radio, television and the internet.  In addition, he has served as Emcee, announcer, for many community and charity events gaining him the unofficial title of the “Voice of Brea”.  Garry’s theatrical credits include “Into the Woods,” where he appeared on stage for the first time with his daughter Dyan.  He has also appeared in, “The Rocky Horror Show”, “The Nerd”, “Peter Pan-A New Musical”, “Scrooge, The Musical” and “Suspense Radio”.  Last year, Garry contributed a voice over for an Award Winning Student Film, “Finding Me”. Garry thanks his Wife Debbie and his entire Family for their support and encouragement.


Jennifer Siglin | Ensemble

Jennifer Siglin is a proud Brea resident and is excited to be appearing in The Olinda Story alongside her son, Owen. She has appeared in several local area productions including multiple productions of It’s a Wonderful Life, a Live Radio Play and The Twilight Zone, plus the premiere of Fledgling, a new play by local writer Colleen McCandless, all at Stages Theater in Fullerton; as well as War of the Worlds and Bye Bye Birdie here at the Curtis Theatre. She is the proud mother of three children (all of whom have been bitten by the acting bug). In her day job, Jennifer is a graphic designer at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa. She is also a calligrapher and sometime artist; you can see her work on instagram as @laughingbeagle. Love to Terry, Owen, Edie and Isla.

Jay David

Jay David | Ensemble

Jay David feels beyond blessed for the opportunity to be performing in his Curtis Theatre Debut! Following his training at the South Coast Repertory, Jay has performed in  theatre and film productions bringing to life various roles including MoMo (Waitin for the C Bus) and Claudius (Hamlet). Jay David would love to thank Jesse Runde and the whole crew and cast for such a wonderful experience to display his passion.



Katt McLaren

Katt McLaren | Ensemble

Katt is very happy to be working with such talented people bringing to life this story of our great city during this celebration of Brea’s centennial. This is Katt McLaren’s first show with the Curtis and hopes it won’t be the last. You may have seen her recently as Margaret in Alchemy theater company’s production of Much Ado About Nothing, or Her directorial debut at Stage Door Rep with The Shadow Box. Thank you for coming and enjoy the show.




Mark Rosier

Mark Rosier | Ensemble

Mark Rosier (George, Drunk Man, Company Man #2) Mark is thrilled to be performing in his first production on the Curtis Theatre stage and he would like to thank Jesse Runde and the entire crew at The Curtis for the opportunity. Among his favorite past productions are The Elephant Man, The Life And Adventures Of Nicholas Nicholby and Clive Barker’s Frankenstein In Love Or The Life Of Death. Mark is a theatrical reviewer for The Fullerton Observer who enjoys attending theater as much as performing in it. Mark would like to dedicate this show to his wonderful parents who have always supported his crazy ambitions.


Nick Broome | Ensemble

Nick is beyond grateful to take part in this story at the beautiful Curtis Theatre. Thank God Brea is so interesting! Graduated from Orange Lutheran High School, he has performed in shows such as “Guy’s and Dolls”, “You can’t Take it with you” (Ed Charmichael), “The Man who came to Dinner”(Dr. Bradley), and “Seussical”. Currently studying at Santiago Canyon (credits there include “Check, Please, and other Dating Adventures”, and “Sixty Second Singles”) and Santa Ana college. Soon to appear in El Don Production’s Theatrical release of the new thriller, “The House the Devil Built”, with a premiere screening at The Frida Cinema, in Santa Ana, 10-27-17. All the thanks and love to the fam bam (that means you bea!) Ever thankful. Enjoy!


Owen Siglin | Ensemble

Owen Siglin, 15, is a high school freshman and Brea resident and is excited to be in The Olinda Story alongside his mom. Owen appeared as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz and has also performed in The Little Mermaid and The Music Man with Brea’s Youth Theater program. Additionally, he performs weekly puppet shows and short productions and story times for children in his volunteer position at the Yorba Linda Library. In high school, Owen is in the Global IT Academy (GITA, learning computer coding), takes Japanese, and plays baseball. His favorite subject is math.


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Ryan Gatus | Ensemble

Ryan is extremely excited to be a part of this talented cast and wonderful show! He has been pursuing theater for many years and has been involved in a wide variety of shows including West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, Proposals, Leading Ladies, Dogg’s Hamlet Cahoot’s Macbeth, and Kill Me Deadly to name a few. Ryan is currently a theater major and yes, has already made his peace with a life of rejection and financial instability. He thanks his past relationships for the preparation. He would also like to thank his friends for constantly pushing his creativity, his family for their unconditional flow of love and support, his many teachers for their mental / emotional / spiritual insight, and Michelle Obama for, well, obvious reasons. Ryan’s ultimate goal in theater is to shine more light on other POC artists, as well as to work on Asian American visibility in the arts. He is determined to use his artistic platforms to highlight brown voices in a world so white.

Sam Hattersley


Sam HattersleyEnsemble

Sam is very excited to be sharing this wonderful story. Sam has been involved with theatre for close to six years, both onstage and off. He has been apart of shows such as Phantom of the Opera, The Revenger’s Tragedy, The Diviner’s, and many more! Sam is currently attending Fullerton College in hopes to major in acting.



Steven Biggs

Steven Biggs | Ensemble

Steven Biggs received a Bachelor of Arts (Theatre Studies) from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and a Master of Fine Arts (Performance) from University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  Some of the roles he has played include The Sheriff in Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Pozzo in Waiting for Godot, Toby Belch in Twelfth Night, Col. Vershinin in Three Sisters, Harold Hill in The Music Man, Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady, Henry II in The Lion in Winter, M. Gallimard in M. Butterfly, and  Klingon Commander Kralk at Star Trek: The Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton.  He last appeared on the Curtis theatre stage as The Mysterious Man/Narrator in Into the Woods. Steve teaches theatre courses at Fullerton and Chaffey Community Colleges.  He is also a member of Hollywood’s Theatre of NOTE where he co-produced the Garland Award nominated Holy Ghost.  He also does a killer Jimmy Stewart impression.  

Samantha Wybrant

Samantha WybrantEnsemble

Samantha Wybrant is so excited to be performing in her first official play here at the Curtis Theatre! She will be attending Fullerton College in the Spring to pursue Theatre Arts. Samantha feels very honored to be a part of this incredible show with such an amazing and talented cast and crew! In her free time, she enjoys reading a good book, photography, and spending time with family and friends. Sam would also like to thank all the wonderful people involved in allowing her this fantastic opportunity, as well as her Mom, sisters, and friends for all their love and unwavering support.


New Logo Color

Tales from the Canyon: The Olinda Story performs Nov 3-12, 2017. Fridays & Saturdays at 8PM, Sundays at 3PM. Tickets are on sale now. Visit our website or call the Box Office at 714-990-7722 Tues-Fri 12PM-3PM. Have questions? Contact us! 


Developing the Olinda Story: An Interview with director, Jesse Runde

Sometimes the towns we grow up in, live in, and work in don’t even start as towns. The city of Brea has certainly changed over the years, but the sense of community and what we value has always endured. The hills of Olinda & Brea were first used for oil development starting in 1894, but an actual town didn’t develop until 1911 when businesses formed to supply goods to the oil workers & their families. Starting with a population of 752, Brea is now home to over 40,300 residents.

cover sc000323aeThese residents are what make our city so special and what we really want to celebrate in our Brea Centennial legacy project, Tales from the Canyon: The Olinda Story. Originally commissioned by the California Council for the Humanities, this original play by William Mittler was created in conjunction with Cal State Fullerton’s Oral History Department to share the lives & history of Brea’s earliest residents. We are thrilled to bring this story to life on stage at the Curtis in early November. With auditions taking place this weekend, we look forward to finding a diverse group of actors & musicians to breathe life into the origins of this town.page93o

“A town is made up by the spirit of its people.”

We were fortunate enough to chat with Tales from the Canyon: The Olinda Story‘s director, Jesse Runde, about her vision for this particular story & her process going into auditions.

To start off, tell us a little about yourself and give some background on your work as a director.

I’ve been involved in the Performing Arts for over 37 years.  I attended Fullerton College, where I now teach, and graduated with my BA from CSU Long Beach.  My interest didn’t really turn to directing until I was in grad school at The University of Oregon.  Most of my directing work since then has been at the various colleges where I’ve taught, or for Alchemy Theatre Company.

As a director, what excites you about this show?

There’s so much room for invention in terms of how we stage the action.  Bill, our playwright, has left plenty of room for theatricality—he hasn’t overmastered the script with a lot of specific stage directions.  That means it’s up to me, working with other members of the production team and the cast, to determine how we will tell the story this time.  It allows us to be more creative, which is a lovely gift from one artist to another.  It’s also exciting to work on a piece that connects so directly with the local history.  The show takes on a special significance, one that is more personal than a typical play.

Can you explain your overall vision/concept for this production & how that ties into what you’re looking for in auditions?

I think one of the most important goals I have for this production is that the audience see themselves in these characters from the past; this is done in the hope that we can learn from their stories, rather than simply being entertained.  We tend to buy in to stories more fully when we empathize with the people they’re about.  So, to that end, when it comes to casting I want to blur the lines of historical accuracy a bit; I want the people on stage to be as diverse as the people in the seats.page103 d

“I want to blur the lines of historical accuracy a bit; I want the people on stage to be as diverse as the people in the seats.”

How do you prepare for auditions? Take us through that process.

It goes something like read, research, ruminate, and repeat.  And with a play about a town that spans decades, there are dozens and dozens of characters, so it is essential to have a good handle on the breakdown of who all is on stage at what time; I have quite an elaborate spreadsheet to handle that.  It’s also important to talk about the project and let people know about the opportunity; it’s not enough to just send out an invitation.  Actors are a special breed of humankind.  They spend a lot of time making themselves vulnerable and exposing themselves to rejection, which is exhausting, so it helps to actively reach out and let those you want to work with know that you would like to see them at auditions.

In auditions, what do you look for to help you make casting decisions?

It varies a bit from show to show, but there is one thing I always look for as a director, and that is simply whether or not the actor seems like someone that I’d enjoy working with on a production—even if I’ve never met them before, I need to figure that out at the audition.  Especially at this level, staging a play is a labor of love.  It’s a lot of late hours, and almost everyone involved has one or more other jobs they work on any given day before they step into the rehearsal room.  I need to know that everyone we cast is a team player.  I need to know they have a sense of humor and a sense of humility, and that they will treat others well.

This show explores the roots & origins of Brea. What’s your origin story? How do you feel connected to Brea now?

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Although I am a transplant from the Midwest, I, like the people of Olinda, am from a town that wasn’t really a town.  We didn’t have our own fire or police departments, there was one only restaurant (a Dairy Queen), only one grocery store (a SuperValue), and one church (Christian, of course).  And you had to get on a bus to ride to the next town once you got past the sixth grade.  And like Olinda, everyone knew everyone’s business—which was sometimes quite touching, and sometimes a burden. 

My main connection to Brea is through the Curtis.  If not for the productions staged there, I don’t know that I would have had cause to discover anything about the place, but I’m so glad I did.  The people of Brea and the surrounding communities are fortunate to have the Cultural Center and its many offerings.  It’s a great model for other cities because it’s the best of both worlds—there is a focus on both local talent and outside groups that creates diverse programming.back cover 10What do you want the main takeaway to be for this show? What would you like the audience to walk away with?


I really can’t say it better than the Station Master, who is a kind of narrator of the show: “…a town is made up by the spirit of its people.”  If the spirit of the people is strong, so too will the town be strong; so too with the state.  We need to be strong individuals, but we also need to find our strength in each other, not despite each other.  Whether or not we survive depends very much on how we treat our neighbors.

Olinda Digital Audition Notice

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Tales from the Canyon: The Olinda Story performs Nov 3-12, 2017. Fridays & Saturdays at 8PM, Sundays at 3PM. Tickets are on sale now. Visit our website or call the Box Office at 714-990-7722 Tues-Fri 12PM-3PM. Have questions? Contact us! 


Meet John Carney: the man behind the magic

When you buy a ticket to a theater production, you’re hoping you’ll encounter some sort of magic.  You wish to be swept away, to believe in a new or different reality, to believe in the impossible. With John Carney, you get just that and a little more. It’s more than a magic show, it’s more than a theatre show — it’s theatre magic. 

Now what makes Carney so adept at marrying these two art forms? He’s certainly not new to either scene. As an accomplished actor, he’s participated in a multitude of sketch comedy shows, plays, and even landed roles on TV shows such as Spin City and Two and a Half Men. As a magician, he’s acknowledged by his peers as one of the finest sleight of hand performers in the world with many awards to go along with that. He’s no stranger to Hollywood’s The Magic Castle where he performs often and has been given more awards there than anyone in their history. He’s even shown off his magic tricks on the Late Show with David Letterman!2

What makes John Carney so special is his passion for creating original material. He dazzles us with his ability to make us laugh during an illusion. Maybe it’s so magical because he’s done the prep work — but every time it feels brand new. 

Our operations assistant, Lottie Frick, sat down with John to get some insight on his art, life, magic and everything in between.

LF: How did you first get interested in magic?

JCI started when I was a teenager. I think it helped a lot that I had the benefit of a few mentors who were willing to take me beyond the initial infatuation. Close-up magic was a way for me to perform for small groups without stepping foot on a stage. I would perform for friends after dinner or at parties.

LF: Who or what is your biggest inspiration for the art that you create?

JC: My greatest influence in magic was a man named Dai Vernon, probably the greatest sleight-of-hand master of the last century. He was a real artist, in the truest sense of the word. He taught me that good sleight-of-hand is more than just fast hands. Ideally, it’s more intellectual in nature. It’s about psychology, problem solving, choreography of movement…and it has elegant simplicity. Dai Vernon taught me so much. There were never any formal lessons, and no money ever changed hands. We would just sit and talk about magic for hours. We were kindred spirits, even if we were generations apart.

Mystoimplores-1.croped.dd_.jpgLF: What’s your favorite part of performing for a live audience?

JC: I like the challenge of making a theater of wonder out of simple everyday things. The audience is focused, and I can manipulate the environment with lights and sound. I can create the kind of atmosphere where I can do almost anything, from the silly to the sentimental.

LF: How do you go about creating characters?

JC: Most are based on someone I have known, but exaggerated for effect. Others are amalgams of famous people from real life, movies, and my imagination. A script will get me started, along with a point of view, attitude, voice and speech pattern. From there, I take it on stage and improvise in that frame work, then just keep rewriting, and tweaking it technically. Generally it takes at least 100 performances of a new piece before I feel it has really taken shape. Even then, I can find new touches to add after hundreds of shows.

LF: Incredible that it can still be new after 100 performances. Now, do you have any lucky charms or pre-show rituals you always do before going on stage?

JC: Hopefully, it all looks spontaneous, but my only ritual is checking and rechecking the hundreds of small details that make it look effortless. Most of the real work comes long before, planning out tiny details that no one would ever notice, unless they were neglected. There are countless technical things that could go wrong in the show, and part of my job is making sure that if they do happen, I figure out a way to fix them so they never happen again. I’m more a believer in preparation than superstition.

LF: If your show was an animal, what animal would it be?

JC: A chimpanzee: Silly, playful, and charming, but underneath it all, more clever than you think.

LF: What do you hope we walk away from the show feeling?

JC:  I want to affect people and give them a unique experience. I want it to be fun, with people walking away happy, perhaps with a new perspective on their own beliefs and perceptions – and what is possible.


Carney Magic runs Saturday, November 12, 2016 at 4PM and 8PM at the Curtis Theatre. Tickets range from $16-$32. For tickets, call the Box Office at 714-990-7722 or purchase 24/7 on our website http://www.curtistheatre.com. Use code “HalfOffCarney” for 50% off tickets.

Giving us direction: Stephen John on “Sweeney Todd”

Sweeney_FB-EventCover.jpgDirector Stephen John reflects on stepping into the world of Sweeney Todd 37 years after its Broadway opening. He’s been waiting 20 years to get a stab at directing this bloody tale and has run headfirst at this opportunity with the Curtis & Southgate Productions to re-imagine and re-envision the classic musical. Stephen John will direct Sondheim’s most gruesome musical this October (just in time for Halloween) to kick off the start of our ’16/’17 season.

Don’t know the show or just need a refresher?  Here’s a (very) short synopsis: 

This dark and witty tale of love, murder, and revenge takes you to 19th century London. The road to vengeance leads Sweeney Todd to Mrs. Lovett, a resourceful proprietress of a failing pie shop. Mrs. Lovett’s luck sharply shifts when Todd’s thirst for blood inspires a secret ingredient into her meat pies that has the people of London lining up! 

Our operations assistant, Lottie Frick, met up with Sweeney Todd director, Stephen John, to get more information on his vision for this production.

Lottie Frick:  To set things moving, tell us a little about yourself  and give some background on your work as a director.

Stephen John:  I have been directing in Orange County theatre for 16 years, but have also branched out and worked in Arizona and Indiana. When directing a straight play, whether it be comedy or drama, I like to work fairly organically and rely heavily on the script as the primary source. Whereas, when it comes to musicals I am much more into creating a strong concept and beginning from there!

My vision of our production is a cleaner more efficient version of the show that tells the story through the eyes of Tobias.

LF: What inspired you to direct Sweeney Todd?

Stephen John, director of “Sweeney Todd”


SJ:  I am actually the first in my family to be born in the U.S. My Grandparents emigrated with my father and my uncle from London in the early 60’s. My grandfather was a theatre manager in London both for live theatre (primarily Musicals) and then also for a movie house. He had a personal obsession with the horror genre of film and therefore I grew up entrenched in Horror and Musicals; the perfect combination to set me on a trajectory for Sweeney Todd. I must admit that I have loved the show since I first saw it and have wanted to direct the show for 20 years. I can now say that staging the Prologue with this group of actors and on this set has been one of my favorite things to stage and has truly lived up to the hype in my mind!


LF:  Awesome – I can’t wait to see the final product! Can you explain your overall vision/concept for this production of Sweeney Todd?

SJ:  My vision of our production is a cleaner more efficient version of the show that tells the story through the eyes of Tobias. It is my hope to trim the fat away and present a much more streamlined production.

SJ, director, with actor Aaron Stevens who plays Anthony in “Sweeney Todd”


LF:  Layering on that, how is it different from what others may have seen in past Sweeney productions?

SJ:  Our production looks at the two main characters, [Sweeney] Todd and [Mrs.] Lovett, and reconsiders who the worst of the two really is. If you think about it, while Todd kills, it is with revenge in mind and in response to some pretty awful circumstances. Whereas, Lovett sacrifices others for her own advancement of purpose. In our production, we hope to present the idea that she is actually the evil one and Todd is the one that deserves at least a little of our pity.

LF:  An interesting point to think about. What do you think will be the biggest challenge in this process?

SJ:  The original production relied heavily on the spectacle of a grand set, multiple props, and blood, Blood, BLOOD! Our production trims all of these things down dramatically. The challenge for me, our design team, and actors is to tell the story by focusing more on the character relationships rather than spectacle.

A closer look at the tools of Sweeney Todd

 Our production looks at the two main characters, [Sweeney] Todd and [Mrs.] Lovett, and reconsiders who the worst of the two really is.

LF:  I’ve heard temporary tattoos might be used in the design process, can you talk a little bit about that?

SJ:  We are looking at bringing the design of the production forward in time. The idea is to keep the period appropriate silhouette but use fabrics that are more contemporary. Following the contemporary thought, we are considering more modern hair and styles for the actors, including temporary tattoos. By doing so, we will make the show more relevant and approachable to a modern audience.


Actors Rudy Martinez (Sweeney Todd) & Laura Gregory (Mrs. Lovett)

LF:  Along with directing, you also did the set design; give us some insight on what the space will look like and the meaning behind it.


SJ:   I was actually in London this summer and was inspired by the claustrophobic feel in London itself. The buildings are literally stacked on top of each other! Our set is itself very narrow at only 16 feet wide on its main platform. This will force us to work efficiently and when the full cast is on stage will reinforce the claustrophobic feel that I remember from this summer.

LF:  Flash forward to opening night — the audience is walking out from a night with Sweeney Todd. What do you hope they take away from this production?

SJ:  Ultimately, we have to remember that the show should be entertaining. As we are producing the production in October, it is our hope that the audience comes into the production to have fun and walks away with exactly that, some good Halloween fun!


Sweeney Todd runs Oct 7-23, 2016. Half-off preview Oct. 7 with an official opening & reception Oct. 8. Runs Fridays & Saturdays at 8PM, Sundays at 3PM. Tickets are on sale now for Sweeney Todd. Visit our website or call the Box Office at 714-990-7722 Tues-Fri 12PM-3PM. Have questions? Contact us! Let us know your thoughts on     Sweeney Todd — previous productions    you’ve seen, what you hope to see in this one, etc.




Lights up on the ’16/’17 season: Interview with theatre manager, Tiina Mittler

The Curtis Theatre first opened back in the times of 1980 and has hosted many different types of seasons before arriving in the season you experience today. We have been home to several distinct local community theatre groups including the Young Americans and the Brea Civic Light Opera. At the start of 1991, we began the incredible partnership with Stagelight Productions that is our much-loved youth theatre program, Brea’s Youth Theatre. Flash-forward 25 years and you’ll end up here at our 36th season, where we strive to create a memorable live theatre experience and engage our community with a variety of presented and self-produced performing arts acts over the span of a year. The Curtis has certainly evolved since its inauguration and this season is no exception – with upgraded lighting, world-class performers, and more chances to engage in the before and after of the show.

On the cusp of opening its ’16/’17 season, Operations Assistant, Lottie Frick, sat down with Theatre Manager, Tiina Mittler, to get the scoop on how this season was put together and what to expect in the upcoming year.

LF:  To start off, give us a little background on what the Curtis Theatre does, and your role in that.

TM:  The Curtis connects Brea and our surrounding communities with opportunities to experience live performance — it might be a Grammy-winning concert artist or the first-time parents have taken their kids to a live musical. Everything we do leads back to connecting the audience with the artist to create a memorable experience.

LF: How do you go about putting together a season?

TM: Great question! Building the Curtis season is a collaborative process with our Cultural Arts Commissioners, our Theatre staff, and the artists and theatre production companies we work with. Our season is a mix of creative partnerships that we have formed within our vibrant Orange County Theatre community and shorter, weekend engagements with professional touring artists. We work with a network of other venues, artists, and agents to identify notable performers that would work well in the intimate setting of the Curtis. As part of the City of Brea, we present our proposed season to our Cultural Arts Commission in advance of announcing it to our community.


The energy when the performers meet the audience is exhilarating. It is the best day at ‘the office.’ It is what our team is working toward. We want our audience to feel that same sense of excitement.

LF:  That’s one of the interesting differences between the Curtis and other theaters. Being a part of the City of Brea gives us a wonderful sense of service to our city and community. Did you set out with a theme in mind for this season? I know “Let’s Play” is the tagline this time around – how did that come about?

TM:  Let’s Play came out of a wonderful discussion with a colleague in the field of presenting, Deborah Brockus of Brockus Dance Project. We were talking about the recession, that period uneasy, the storms that were weathered. While people still bought tickets, it was such a difficult time. We both acknowledged that, yes, while there are still challenges, we sensed something had lifted among our patrons, among our colleagues, and that is was time to play and pass that feeling of fun along to our audience. I knew then that “Let’s Play” captured that energy and spirit of what we planned to present.

LF:  How wonderful! In addition to the feeling of play, what do you hope the audience takes away from this season of shows?

TM:  Live performance is such a powerful medium. It can be thought-provoking, it can make bold statements, and it can start conversations. At the same time, it can offer escape, bring laughter, and create a memory. The energy when the performers meet the audience is exhilarating. It is the best day at ‘the office.’ It is what our team is working toward. We want our audience to feel that same sense of excitement.

LF:  Is there a particular show you’re most excited for?

TM:  Truthfully, every single show. We are continuing our partnership with Southgate Productions and opening with a reimagined, bold new staging of Sweeney Todd. Thanksgiving weekend, we are presenting The David Benoit Christmas Tribute to Charlie Brown. To pair a world-class performer like David Benoit with our Brea Junior High Choir to recreate the iconic music of A Charlie Brown Christmas will bring a phenomenal energy to our stage and community. Our Brea’s Youth Theatre Program, produced by Stagelight Productions, will produce Disney’s The Little Mermaid, for the first time, this summer, which will create a great experience for our families that follow the Curtis.

In 2017, the second half of our season, we are producing two evenings of Latin Jazz that will begin with a reception on our Civic & Cultural Plaza and continue inside the Curtis with a live concert. The two concerts will feature Grammy-nominated Afro-Cuban ensemble Mongorama, fronted by K-Jazz’s Jose Rizo in February and ending our season in June, the Latin Jazz supergroup Cuba L.A. We hope to craft an experience that is fun and lively.


Live performance is such a powerful medium. It can be thought-provoking, it can make bold statements, and it can start conversations.

LF:  Exciting! How has the theatre’s partnership with Southgate Productions grown and developed over the years?

TM:  The right amount of organic and strategic. Sweeney Todd is our sixth show with Southgate. It’s been fantastic to see Jon Infante and the Southgate team grow as a producing entity. They have an appreciation for the intimate setting of the Curtis. With Jon’s talent for projections, Southgate has focused on reinvention with a twist on staging.

LF: Now we want a quick run-down of what’s to come this season, but I’m going to make it a little tricky for you. Only three words to describe each show in the season: GO!


  • Sweeney Todd – Reimagined. Bold. Sondheim!
  • John Carney in Carney Magic – Charming, engaging, magic
  • The David Benoit Christmas Tribute to Charlie Brown – Christmastime is here!
  • Charles Phoenix’s Retro Holiday Slideshow – Hilarious, Retro, and Fabulous!
  • Brea’s Youth Theatre in The Wizard of Oz – Wizard of Oz
  • TheatreworksUSA in Charlotte’s Web – Perfect family outing!
  • An Evening of Latin Jazz featuring Mongorama – Sizzling, lively, beat
  • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum – Comedy tonight! 
  • Rock Legends – Total request, live!
  • The Alley Cats Doo Wop Show – 50s & 60s hits!
  • An Evening of Latin Jazz featuring Cuba LA – Sultry, Summer, Sound
  • Brea’s Youth Theatre in The Little Mermaid – Under the sea!


LF:   Speaking of The Little Mermaid, the youth theatre program, Brea’s Youth Theatre, produced by Stagelight Productions in association with the Curtis is celebrating its 25th year. What’s the secret that keeps this program so successful over such a long span of time?

TM:  Without question, the tireless energy and creativity of Janice Kraus (the president and producer of Stagelight Productions) is the nexus for the program’s success and longevity. Janice has cultivated an excitement, discipline, and a love for the medium of musical theatre spanning generations. Her enthusiasm never falters. Each show, be it a new production of Mary Poppins, or another staging of The Wizard of Oz, she will invest and reinvent the production elements so when the lights come up it is pure dazzle. Her approach is not just to engage the child, but the entire family. To see parents be introduced to this medium through their children, and embrace it, is just fantastic.

LF: Thank you so much for meeting with me! Before you go back to making magic happen this season, answer this final question — What has been the most rewarding part of putting together this season so far?

TM:  Going back to question 1 — the energy that occurs when the artist hits the stage and connects with the audience. It’s an intangible, but very real thing. It’s unmistakable, but amazing when it all works.

“Let’s Play” Art by Hayden Design, Inc.


Tickets are on sale now for the /16/’17 season. Visit our website or call the Box Office at 714-990-7722 Tues-Fri 12PM-3PM. Have questions? Contact us! Let us know your thoughts on the upcoming season by commenting below.