The Art of Being With Mom

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I have my mom to thank for instilling a love of live theater in me.

Maybe I would have found that love on my own, but it is something we enjoy together, something we share. Musicals, dramas, comedies, and classics. Going to the theater is something she and I have done together since I was a small child.

Mom made everything interesting and always shared the synopsis beforehand, so I could understand the plot. She always had mints in her purse and treated me to cookies or a chocolate bar at intermission (and still does).

Mom was among the first of the season ticket holders when the Orange County Performing Arts Center (now the Segerstrom Center for the Arts) opened its doors in 1986. She has also been a champion of the smaller community theaters in Orange County for as long as I can remember.

Together, we’ve laughed with, cried for, and tried to figure out motives of countless characters on stages in Orange County, LA and, a few lucky times, New York.

But my favorite place to see a show with mom is in our own backyard at the Newport Theatre Arts Center, the adorable theater on Cliff Drive. The experience embodies everything I love: mother/daughter time, community theater, magnificent views of the bay and Pacific Ocean, and friendly people who know your name when you walk in the door.

Last weekend we finally synched our calendars and got away for a matinee. The only thing that made a perfect afternoon better was the show itself.

“Art,” a seriocomedy by Yasmin Reza, runs for another two weeks at NTAC, and if you haven’t already, treat yourself and a friend, parent or sibling. This is a show equally appealing to both men and women. It’s all done in one act with no intermission and has a running time of under an hour and a half.

The cast is only three men. Marc (Thom Gilbert), Serge (Cort Huckabone), and Yvan (David Colley) have been close friends for years. When Serge buys a modern all white painting for $200,000, it sets off a chain reaction among the friends.

Was Serge an idiot for buying a piece of crap, as Marc unabashedly points out, or is Marc just not deep enough to understand modern art as Serge suggests?

And poor Yvan, always wanting to please everyone, can see both sides. This creates another set of issues among the friends.

The acting was superb. The dialogue, funny at times, other times poignant, was delivered with such genius comedic timing, and such heartfelt vulnerability, the human experience, as it should be during live theater, was heightened.

One of David Colley’s electric and hysterical monologues is reason enough to see the show.

But it got me thinking … How often do the decisions of others effect the way we feel and why?

The show, directed by Gigi Fusco Meese, is phenomenal in its simplicity and complexity.

Like we normally do after each show, Mom and I compared notes, gave kudos to the actors, discussed which parts we liked and asked each other questions. As we walked out of the theater still chattering away, we were greeted by the breeze and brilliance of the sparking water and boats below.  I was thankful for the little theater in our backyard, bringing Mom and I together yet again.

“Art” runs Thursdays-Sundays through Oct. 21 at NTAC. For details and tickets, visit

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