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By Dr. Bob Manniello

As a seasoned San Juan Capistrano resident, the opportunity to attend the inaugural invitational dress performance of Larry Shue’s The Nerd at the newly decorated and enlivened Camino Real Playhouse was an unexpected but definite community laugh therapy treat.

Healing aspects of comedy are well documented and yes, this is just what all people need as curative protocols to overcome recent mental and physical pandemic stressors. The Camino Real Playhouse motto underscores their commitment in these efforts: Enhancing Our Community Through Performing Arts. I’m pleased to confirm that it succeeds in every expected aspect of mood enhancement.

A warm welcome by Leslie Eisner, President and Artistic Director, greeted the patrons with expressed joy at attendees, the first live audience returning to enjoy the long-awaited playhouse productions. Volunteers have continued their dedicated work and theatre rebirth since the performing arts center shutdown. All performers and staff have been vaccinated, with the audience having the opportunity to wear protective masks as directed by state and local rules.

Comedy repertoire emphasis is the slated priority for this 2021-2022 playhouse’s 31st season.

Laughter outbursts for this zany production of unrequited love, secrets kept, and superb artistic ensemble performers peppered the smooth scene transfers, audio, and visual comedic jaunts. The nonsensical paper bag game scene was a chaotic catastrophe as well as the “cottage cheese” shower sequence. Try not to overdose on hilarity.

The packed select audience of family and friends conveyed their personal silent and boisterous palpable support for their talented stage performers. Bouquets of flowers awaited the fine ensemble artists as visible evidence at the show’s conclusion.

Hats off to the entire production crew, actors of all ages, support staff and stage management personnel in upholding their and the community’s highest expectations – the dynamite return of a local treasure, Camino Real Playhouse.

Look forward to the entire 2021-2022 season.

Catch The Nerd at Camino Real Playhouse on Sept. 25, 26, 27 and Oct. 1,2,3. Show times, schedules of main stage and Stage II productions and ticket sales are online. Email box_office@caminorealplayhouse.org or call 949.489.8082.

Robert L. Manniello, MD has been an SJC resident for 28 years, Mission SJC Docent for the past 19 years, board member of multiple local nonprofits, Capistrano news contributor, volunteer at The Bookstore and current president of the SJC Docent Society. In addition, “Dr. Bob” is a DJ at KXFM radio Laguna Beach 104.7 FM (kxfmradio.org.) Saturdays at 8 AM.

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