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Journey 'North' with El Dorado

A musician clad in a vintage tweed jacket sits alone on stage and delivers a soulful, rhythmic, jazz melody that envelopes the stage and carries the audience back to the glamorous roaring twenties. The lights dim and center upon a lone man. Thus, begins El Dorado's production of ""Theophilus North.""

Written by Matthew Burnett, "Theophilus North" bases its story on the novel written by Thornton Wilder in which a man in his 30s leaves his trite and conventional career in search of adventure. His journey leads him to the tightly knit community of Newport, Rhode Island, where he becomes entangled in the various lives of the residents.

Colby Hamann performs with refined authenticity as the adventure-hungry Theophilus North. Through his composed voice and upright stance, Hamann convincingly portrays an adult character with ease. His mannerisms -- gazing dreamingly into the distance, folding his hands respectfully behind his back -- are subtle, yet deliberate and contribute to his commendable performance.

Also praiseworthy is Natalie Leonard's portrayal of the fiery, patronizing and controlling Sarah Bosworth. Raising her voice in annoyance and lowering it in absolute abhorrence, Leonard commands the stage with her varied vocal intonation. She carries a haughty air about herself by glaring at others with razor-sharp intensity and furrowing her eyebrows in complete repulsion. Through her distinctive facial expressions and body movements, Leonard distinguishes herself as a noteworthy performer.

The set design by Jerome Lachapelle is minimalistic, yet complex in a figurative sense in that many of the pieces are symbolic of the themes in the play. Eighteen small compasses and one large compass are suspended in the air. These compasses act as stars in the sky, not only representing Theophilus's journey, but also the 18 individuals he meets along the way. These creative pieces and their underlying meanings enhance the show by giving depth and flair.

Engaging and insightful, El Dorado's ""Theophilus North"" reminds that true adventure resides in the bonds of human relationships.

Nikki Tran is a junior at Fountain Valley High School in Fountain Valley.

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