With a red barn housing entire flocks and herds of farm animals as the primary centerpiece of the main stage, Los Alamitos High School brings to life the classic tale of "Animal Farm" by George Orwell, a depiction of the supreme reign of tyranny among the animals after the overthrow of Farmer Jones, the primary cause for their subjection to slavery. Creating a universe where animals can talk, think, and to an extent, govern themselves, Los Alamitos's adaptation of a well-renowned novel dazzles and stuns with a plethora of well-choreographed dance sequences to tell an unforgettable story of betrayal, rebellion, and fear.
At the center of the chaos and disorder is Napoleon (Milica Vrzic), an abusive, power-hungry pig, bent on wreaking terror amongst the docile animals residing in the former Manor Farm, and her sidekick, Squealer (Melanie Tanaka). Together, this dynamic duo expel the alleged "weak links" of the animal species, the first of which is Snowball (Evan Cusato), their former collaborator. Cusato's portrayal of the sincerely nurturing Snowball delightfully contrasts with Vrzic's portrayal of the corrupt Napoleon; their competition for power is evident from the very beginning, as they incessantly quarrel over their plans for the future of Animal Farm.
Caught in the middle of this "power war," Melanie Tanaka depicts Squealer as a character with a multi-faceted personality: clever, manipulative, and distinctly sympathetic. After the merciless executions of those who support Snowball's cause, Tanaka as Squealer retreats to a corner of the barn with wringing hands and a slight grimace after taking part in the murders, an undeniable implication of reluctance to participate in such gruesome activity.
A rebel within the cause for reform, Clover (Kaitlin Buxton) is a naïve and timid outcast of the current residents of Animal Farm, as she trots about the stage while maintaining an innocent, deer-caught-in-the-headlights expression.
Powerfully and effectively dramatic, the lighting design (Miles Austin) is absolutely marvelous, as the red and yellow hues during the battle scenes provide an ominous, suspenseful setting that pairs well with the ensemble's lithe movements as they emphasize the severity of the situation through a skillfully elaborate dance.
With a fantastic narration by Denise Chacanaca, Los Alamitos's production of "Animal Farm" tells a beautifully heart-wrenching and emotional story of daring, bravery, and the courage to project one's voice in an unforgiving society.
by Sharon Chen of Fountain Valley
There's No Horsing Around at Los Alamito's "Animal Farm"
George Orwell's classic satirical novel, Animal Farm, is well known for its depiction of the rise of the Soviet Union through symbolic animals. It details the beginnings of Stalin and his regime, cleverly representing him and other political figures as "pigs", and other appropriate animals for all parts of society. Now, Los Alamitos High School presents their interpretation of this story in their production of "Animal Farm."
Heading the show as the fearsome pig Napoleon is Milica Vrzic, who gives a strong and commanding performance. Vrzic's presence on stage remains intimidating throughout the whole show; as her position as a dictator slowly cements itself, she transforms into a crazier, and more sinister force. As well, Vrzic's natural Serbian accent feels appropriate for her character and serves as a nice distinguishing characteristic for Napoleon. As her second in command, Squealer, Melanie Tanaka is a sniveling lackey, who regularly serves as the voice of Napoleon. Tanaka's high, squealing voice, coupled with a leering physicality, garner a sort of disgust and anger from the audience, especially during her announcements of the oppressive laws ordered by Napoleon.
Representing the different personalities of the general public in the USSR are the two horses Clover and Boxer, played by Kayla Wiggs and Simon Martin respectively. Boxer blindly follows Napoleon's orders, while Clover remains quiet about the doubts she has of her leader's ability. Clover's close relationship with the naive Boxer is clearly displayed by Wiggs, and her emotion during Boxer's crippling injury, and simultaneous departure, is heartbreaking.
The lighting design by Miles Austin works well, as a simplistic representation of both the farm itself, and its transformation into a totalitarian nation. The rural color scheme of reds and yellows subtly hint at the colors of the USSR, which helps project the symbolism of the show without being too blatant. As well, the fog that pours out of the barn whenever the pigs open the main doors creates an ominous feel, and creepily represents the corruption of the farm's governing body.
The combination of these elements, and more, come together to create an interesting and thought provoking show. Los Alamitos' "Animal Farm" not only gives great performances, but a satirical look into the corruption of a nation.
by Devin Ricklef of Fullerton Union
Los Alamitos' Animal Farm is a "squeal"
Los Alamitos High School performs George Orwell's Animal Farm, adapted by Ian Wooldridge, taking on the roles as animals for a spectacular hayride of oinks and moos. This small cast of actors become animals, overthrowing humans and starting a democracy. Eventually, power goes to the pigs, and the once liberal government is now a full-blown dictatorship.
Napoleon, played by Milica Vrzic, inserts power into the farm. Vrzic develops a strong posture and booming voice to create leadership over other characters. This ultimate strength doesn't go unnoticed in the expulsion of Snowball, when Napoleon is not placed center stage, but still is seen as an authoritative figure.
Boxer (Simon Martin) along with Clover (Kaitlin Buxton) are the dynamic duo. Both actors create a naive atmosphere whenever onstage. Their characters work together to embody an innocent towns-person feel. When Boxer is dragged away to die, Clover runs to save him, but Benjamin (Nick Jurado) catches her in his arms. While actress Buxton is kicking and screaming, Jurado's character plays the wiser of the group, trying to calm her down.
Squealer (Melanie Tanaka), being Napoleon's side kick, constantly looks for approval. Particularly when the animals build the windmill, Squealer has a moment of searching for acceptance and appears worried until Napoleon pats her on the head. Tanaka fully embodies the feel of a squealing pig, having a high-pitched yelp every time she speaks, as well as an awkward squat when walking. She puts many dimensions into her character, as seen shivering on the sidelines- the hesitation she shows during the massacre of traitors.
Lighting designer Miles Austin takes the communism feel literally, having shades of red and oranges when the pigs appear onstage. Even when emerging from the barn, coming out from a heaven-like white color, they step out of fog, demonstrating their corruption of power.
Publicity designer Kaitlyn Sugihara creates posters of Napoleon and Snowball, mirroring those of leaders during the branches of communism and Bolshevik war in the Soviet Union. Sugihara also makes sure student support fills the audience. Getting teachers on her side, many students of Los Alamitos fill the house to enjoy the show and get a little extra credit.
Los Alamitos High School's band of farm animals tells the story of world history, teaching spectators the dangers of power while embodying the feel of en-capturing everyone on a not-so-ordinary farm.
by Elizabeth Gimple of Fullerton Union
A stand against humans in Los Alamitos' Animal Farm
When you let too much power get to your head, the outcome may not be what you anticipate.
Shadowing events leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917 and into the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union, Animal Farm tells the story of an animal revolution. When Jones forgets to feed the animals they team up against him and a revolution occurs, driving Jones and his men off the farm. The animals rename the farm from Manor Farm to Animal Farm and paint the Seven Commandments of Animalism on the top of the barn. When three pigs - Snowball, Squealer, and Napoleon - take control, everything changes on Animal Farm.
With a condescending attitude, Squealer (Melanie Tanaka) creeps around stage with an exquisite physicality which shadows her sneaky, manipulate personality. Though Tanaka gives another dimension to her one-sided character when she shows how difficult it is for her to kill the other animals upon Napoleon commanding her to, reflecting how she has a heart just like everyone else.
Tanaka becomes submissive when she begins seeking approval from Napoleon (Milica Vrzic). Vrzics authority is seen in her stiff stance and closed off attitude towards the other animals. She gets a crazed look in her eyes when becoming more human than ever, changing the farm's name back to Manor Farm.
Trotting across stage, Clover (Kaitlin Buxton) uses her timid attitude to convey her naive, child-like personality. Her dependence on others is shown in her fear in how she could not speak for herself, seen when a human begins petting her head, the first time she is found alone onstage.
As an ensemble, there is an overall commitment which helped in the togetherness of animal noises and movements. This cohesive ensemble intensifies the conflict between characters.
The rural reds, yellows, and oranges in the lighting design (Miles Austin) brings the historical context into the show, and reflects back to communism. The bold and powerful choices, such as a lightning flash to start act two or the fog inside the barn to show the corruption of the pigs every time they entered, provides a more ominous and dramatic overtone.
When the pigs take over the control of the farm, a power struggle entails and an apparent shift from animalism to humanism occurs in Los Alamitos' Animal Farm.
by Lindsey Biggy of Fullerton Union
Los Alamitos Dictates How Animal Farm Should be Done
Power is one of the most tempting things for people to desire, this is no different when it comes to animals especially when it comes to Manor Farm better known as Animal Farm. This story is about the rise and fall of power and how it is so easy to manipulate others when you are placed in a position of power. Los Alamitos production of "Animal Farm" reiterates that a struggle for power in any environment leads to an overwhelming problem.
At the heart of this classic Orwellian story, based on the Soviet Union, is the desire for the animals to rule themselves and the trouble the authoritarian pig Napoleon goes through in order to get this. As the crave for power gets strong Napoleon's grip on the farm does as well until we see he is no better than the human's who ran the farm in the first place
Milica Vrzic as Napoleon demands power from the moment she steps on stage. Her militaristic walk and tough voice, enhanced by her natural accent, draw all attention whenever she is on stage. Vrzic's unwavering commitment is seen in her stiff posture and crazed yet bold dictatorial character choices. Melanie Tanaka plays Squealer and presents a submissive contrast to Virzic's character. Tanaka's meek voice and feeble stance around Napoleon show her obedience and loyalty. However when Tanaka's is the only one in charge of the animals her true manipulative character comes out in her sneaky hunched stance and her loud demeaning voice. Together the pair embodies the communist dictator role.
Tara Virgil as Old Major delivers a prophetic opening monologue, in tribute to Karl Marx, that sets the tone of the play. Evan Cusato plays Snowball, the opposite to Napoleon. While Cusato is also seeking power he does so in a more welcoming way, only heightening the cruelty Vrzic demonstrates as Napoleon.
All of the technical elements provide strong symbols of communism. The animal costumes designed by Eligia Gonzalez and Sofia Galicia-Canto provide a simple uniformed style that is quite different than the vibrant complex costumes of the humans. The lighting designer,Miles Austin makes strong choices by using a color palette of reds, oranges, and yellows that double as the communist colors and the colors a dull midwestern farm would have. All designers seemed to have a good working knowledge of the characteristics of a communist state.
In a strictly successful production. Los Al's cast delights with a curious charm.
by McKenna Vargas of Fullerton Union
Los Al's Animal Farm will make you squeal with delight
Animal Farm, originally a novel written by George Orwell, is an allegory to the spread of Communism in Russia; his main characters, Napoleon and Snowball, represent Stalin and Lenin respectively. Los Alamitos High School puts on an amazing production, with creative character choices, dedication to their characters, and overall an astounding performance.
From the beginning, the show opens with the dynamic Denise Chacanaca, as Moses, the narrator of the show. Through her storytelling, Chacanaca uses bold, full-body movements to not only symbolize her bird-like role, but to add energy and give the show a strong start. Tara Vigil, as Old Major, delivers a passionate speech toward her ensemble or animals, with a raspy voice to typify her age, and in response receives several unanimous snorts and grunts from her cast, which solidifies them as animal characters. Each animal, or actor, in the show is found wearing a knitted hat, specifically designed to their type of animal; i.e. Pigs wore pink, with pointed, and somewhat floppy extensions to serve as ears.
Next introduced are the rivals, the dictator Napoleon, portrayed by Milica Vrzic, and the level-headed Snowball, Evan Cusato. At first believed to be a character choice, the Serbian actress' accent accentuates her character, and only enhances her convicting performance. Speaks with an impassioned tone, and serves as a great contrast to Vrzic. An honorable mention is given to Melanie Tanaka, who is Squealer in this production. Tanaka embodies her submissive and clever character, with a grounded stance, 'bow' legs, and soft steps. Keeping her arms curled up at her hips only adds to the 'oddness' of her character, and embellishes the contrast between all three characters.
Other supporting actors such as Simon Martin, NIck Jurado, and Kaitlin Buxton enhanced the emotional element of the show, and even served as comic relief here and there. Martin with his consistent Southern accent, and Jurado with his strong head movements to typify his manner as a horse, and Buxton with a slightly raised vocal inflection to establish a worriedly air. One truly emotional moment in the show is when Martin exits stage left and Buxton is lifted by Jurado struggling with all her might, and Jurado's strength keeps her back - truly a moving sight.
Along with creative lighting choices, a simple yet well-designed set, and so much more, Los Alamitos High School puts on a moving production of Animal Farm.
by Bekka Galperin of Pacifica
From Farm-to-Fable the revolution lives on at Los Alamitos High School in 'Animal Farm'
Los Alamitos High School presents the allegorical tale of the classic 1945 novella by George Orwell in an interesting and contemporary light. After revolting against the reign of their negligent human master, the former livestock of Manor Farm-renamed to Animal Farm-create their own ideal society in which all animals are equal but it is soon discovered that some animals are more equal than others.
A large and multilayered set designed by Kieralyn Logan takes up the entire stage, consistently keeping engagement by directing attention around the full space. While characters have a conversation by the barn at center stage, the pigs are having a drink inside the house on the left-breaking one of the 7 commandments of the new animal law. The functionality of the set isn't the only highlight either, it has a very attractive design by balancing a professional look with the rugged aesthetic of a farm.
On top of this, creative and interesting lighting envelops the stage in dull rustic colors like red and yellow which not only adds to the look of a small farm but also doubles as subtle symbolism for the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union this story criticizes.
Napoleon, the common farm pig turned tyrannical "President" of Animal Farm, is portrayed powerfully by Milicia Vrzic. She moves through the stage like a knife through butter and whenever she stands still she occupies the highest point of the stage attracting the most attention. Napoleon is a pig of few words but whenever she speaks it is loud, direct and terrifying. At times she addresses the audience directly like they too are animals under her command which only makes her more intimidating. Melanie Tanaka plays Squealer, Napoleon's right hand man and spreader of her propaganda. Whenever the other animals question the decisions or authority of Napoleon, Squealer is there to quell the public. Her small hunched back posture and high pitched near squealing voice made her an extremely engaging character
Boxer, played by Simon Martin, is a hardworking but ignorant horse who loyally follows whoever runs the farm. He distinguishes himself with a simple charm and accent which accentuates his caring and naive nature. He uses his body to a great effect, acting like he is a large and muscular horse while he moves around and works on the windmill.
Eligia Gonzalez coordinates the costumes of the show with a wonderful attention to detail. The animals all wear the exact same costume-a white shirt with pants, boots and maybe suspenders-excluding a hat that symbolized their animal; which signifies their subservience to the humans who wore regular clothing that varied between characters. This also serves to highlight the significance of the pigs wearing clothing later on in the story-breaking another commandment of animal law.
Los Alamitos High School's adaption combines interesting visuals, skilled actors and thematic elements into a genuinely unique theatre experience that is both entertaining and contemplative.
by Christopher Burwell of Pacifica