Brian Kojac won't be onstage during Stages' first show at its new downtown Fullerton space, but at some point, the audience should give the theater's founder and artistic director a standing ovation.
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After six years in an Anaheim industrial park, Kojac decided to go legit with his company's new theater. In the old days, he had never worried about permits and business licenses and city codes; Stages merely ran its theater safely, kept fire extinguishers around, made sure there were ample exits in case of an emergency and just did art.
But with the move to Fullerton, to a more spacious and higher-profile setting, Kojac did everything by the book. While admirable from a business perspective, it has been horrific personally and artistically, depleting Stages' savings and sending Kojac into deep personal debt. Rather than making an effort to work with a small, enterprising group of artists, city officials moved ponderously on Kojac's project—when they moved at all. While Kojac waited for city inspectors to show up to inspect his building, his theater sat empty for three months—even though he was still paying rent.
Now, after months of delays and city stalling and thousands and thousands of dollars of unexpected costs, Stages reopens Friday with a revival of Terrence McNally's It's Only a Play. The comedy is about the often-hopeless feeling of being involved in a theater enterprise that no one but you seems to care about. Irony, irony, all is irony.
It's Only a Play at Stages, 400 E. Commonwealth, Ste. 4, Fullerton, (714) 525-4484. Opens Fri. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m. Through Sept. 4. $12.