Arts & Leisure

“Cocktail Hour” brings cheer to Gem

NICOLE CASSESSO and Damien Lorton on the set of their “Cocktail Hour” program at the Gem Theater in Garden Grove (You Tube).

By Jim Tortolano

If you can’t get enough of your musical theater needs filled while the Gem Theater in Garden Grove is closed due to the “stay-at-home” order in place because of the coronavirus outbreak, there’s some hope.

Damien Lorton and Nicole Cassesso, the founders and operators of One More Productions, which stages the plays at the Gem, are filling the gap with a new weekly video program available on You Tube.

The program, called “Cocktail Hour,” is set on the stage of the Gem, and Lorton and Cassesso sip cocktails, exchange banter and sing songs to the piano accompaniment of Adrian Rangel-Sanchez. And yes, they are seated six feet apart, in keeping with the “social distancing” requirements of the day.

That coronavirus outbreak interrupted the staging of “Guys and Dolls,” which may be resumed in May.  Another scheduled play, “War Paint” will be postponed to a later time.

“We wanted to offer something to the patrons who support us and remind them we’re here and will be back as soon as possible,” said Lorton, the artistic director for One More.

It also serves as a fund-raiser for the company. “Even though the doors are closed,” said Lorton, “we still have to pay the electricity and the insurance.”

The response has been encouraging, said Lorton. “It’s been much more than we expected.” To donate to OMP, call (714) 741-9550.

The first show aired initially on April 3, and will continue each Friday until the crisis is over. Shows are taped on Tuesdays and posted on Fridays. Musical performers from recent Gem Theater productions will serve as guest stars.

Last Friday’s opening episode closed with a retro duet with Lorton and Cassesso, who is executive director for OMP. They combined on Judy Garland’s “Get Happy” and the Depression-era classic “Happy Days are Here Again,” songs that reflected Lorton’s final comments: “We love you and we’ll see you soon.”

 

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