Shadowlands

Director Savell has done an outstanding job of tempering these two literary lions into creatures of genuine warmth and humanity.

Amick Byram, who has directed several productions at Vanguard, delivers a superbly layered performance as Lewis, the confirmed intellectual bachelor whose views on the Almighty are challenged by his personal developments. His gradual affection for the visiting American is finely tuned and splendidly accomplished.

Taking on the task of Joy, the self-described Jewish-Communist-Christian, is Susan K. Berkompas, producing artistic director at Vanguard. It’s a marriage made in theatrical heaven as Berkompas (with a fine New York accent) penetrates the snobbish world of English intelligentsia in a bravura performance.

Paul Eggington’s unit setting allows for swift alterations, aided by James Mulligan’s artwork, David Pecoraro’s lighting effects and Lia Hansen’s 1950s period costumes.

“Shadowlands” is one of those rare plays that touches the head and the heart with equal pressure. The production at Vanguard explores its myriad subtleties beautifully.

Vanda Eggington named OC Theatre “Woman of the Year” 2009 by Daily Pilot

Vanguard University has shared the talents of Eggington with the Lamb’s Players Theater in San Diego, where she has amassed a prodigious number of credits.

More recently, she has been especially active with the Costa Mesa college, mounting productions of “Godspell,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “Guys and Dolls,” “The Fantasticks” and her original show, “Boomers.”

The latter production, staged this summer for Vanguard’s professional stock operation, American Cost Theater Company, was a reprise of a revue she created and directed for the San Diego theater in the early 1990s.

“Vanda’s skills as a musical director and arranger are top-notch, and she is able to tell great stories through the way she visualizes music and lyrics,” said Vanguard’s producing artistic director Susan Berkompas. “‘Boomers’ should have had a great run in an off-Broadway house in New York. It just doesn’t get any better than that when it comes to a musical revue.”

Equally at home with nonmusical productions, Eggington also directed Vanguard’s renditions of “Oklahoma Rigs,” “Cleopatra’s Wake” and “You Can’t Take It With You.”

Keeney and Eggington have distinguished themselves in local theater for many years, but particularly during this season. Their selection as the Daily Pilot’s man and woman of the year in theater is long overdue.

UNANIMOUS VERDICT IN FAVOR OF “TWELVE ANGRY JURORS”

The cast of every show is also faced with responsibility, too, and a recent audience of “Twelve Angry Jurors” handed down a unanimous verdict: a much deserved standing ovation for the play smartly directed by Susan K. Berkompas… When you add up all the facts, there is no argument. Missing “Twelve Angry Jurors” at the Lyceum Theater in Costa Mesa would be a crime.

- Jill Fales, Village Voice, November 3, 2009

Twelve Angry Jurors

“Director Susan Berkompas’ superior Vanguard production crackles with the immediacy of today. “12 Angry Jurors” is first and foremost an ensemble piece, and Vanguard’s dedicated dozen do their utmost to gradually — and repeatedly — raise the tension level to the boiling point. Fifty-five years after television audiences first witnesses it, and no matter how familiar the characters have become, “12 Angry Jurors” is a gripping emotional experience, splendidly reenacted at Vanguard University.”

-Daily Pilot, October 29, 2009

Guys and Dolls

“Those “Guys and Dolls” from the creative minds of writers Abe Burrows and Jo Swerling, and composer Frank Loesser are back again, this time settling in at Vanguard University, where two magnificent voices, a strong orchestra and some terrific choreography turn this overly familiar show into a glittering package of entertainment.
Director Vanda Eggington’s large cast becomes a smooth ensemble and scenic transitions are swiftly accomplished. “Guys and Dolls” is definitely an oldie, but with the infusion of comedic energy present at Vanguard University, it’s still a goodie.”

-Daily Pilot, April 8, 2009

Godspell

“Vanguard University has weighed in with a highly energetic as well as a particularly visceral version. “Godspell,” as most theatergoers have long been aware, is an updated version of the New Testament, in which the life and teachings of Jesus are retold in more modern terms. Director Vanda Eggington has further updated the show from its original ’70s format to the 21st century and added a number of contemporary lines.Yes, “Godspell” has been around the block a few times locally, but Vanguard’s up-to-date production displays how this rock-gospel musical can be evergreen, requiring only the sheer creativity of each director and cast to reflect relevance for a new generation.”

-Daily Pilot, September 24, 2008

Thoroughly Modern Millie

“Director Vanda Eggington and her choreographers, Cambria Holford and Stephany Parker, have fashioned a bright, breezy show with high stepping and low comedy. Ensemble numbers such as “The Nutty Cracker Suite” and “Forget About the Boy” reflect the energetic attention to detail that governs the entire production. “Thoroughly Modern Millie” is a show that’s not been seen too much locally, at Vanguard University, performers like Peltz, Prado and Johnston demonstrate the heights attainable to the most lightweight fare.”

-Daily Pilot, April 2, 2008

The Crucible

Vanguard University and esteemed director Susan K. Berkompas have taken this explosive drama and rendered a passionate revival. Ensemble excellence prevails, topped by individual triumphs. The real tragedy of Vanguard’s “The Crucible” is that this estimable production is on stage for only one more weekend in the Lyceum Theater. Such an artistic achievement deserves a much longer engagement.

-Daily Pilot, February 27, 2008