Rotary Club names Katya Cox-Kruger Student of the Month citing her achievements in visual arts/ceramics

Laguna Rotary Club recently awarded Katya Cox-Kruger Student of the Month for her achievements in Visual Arts, creating ceramics inspired by her Russian heritage. Katya was adopted from a Russian orphanage at age seven. She has also received Excellence Awards in Global Studies and English.  

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Photo by Rick Lang

Katya Cox-Kruger is Rotary Student of the Month

Katya is Treasurer for both, Model UN and Sky Clubs as well as coaching basketball at the Boys and Girls Club for past three years. She plans on attending either University of Glasgow or Hague in the Netherlands.  

Katya would like to become an International Business lawyer.

The Laguna Bluebelt 6th Annual Artist Reception and Exhibit scheduled for June 2 at Forest & Ocean Gallery

Meet the winning artists and view their photographs while enjoying free music, appetizers, and drinks, all in support of our Marine Protected Areas. The Laguna Bluebelt 6th Annual Artist Reception and Exhibit of winning photographs is planned for Fri, June 2nd from 6 – 8 p.m. at the Forest and Ocean Gallery, 480 Ocean Avenue in downtown Laguna Beach. The awards will be presented at 6:30 p.m.

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First Place Professional: Into the Great Wide Open

Each year the winners have highlighted a unique aspect of the Laguna Bluebelt. This year David Munday explored the beauty of our sea anemones, Chris Wassmann addressed the impact of ocean pollution from urban runoff, and Bill Fried’s fantasy “Vikings Invade” reminds viewers of the fun possible in the Bluebelt. 

Judges for the 6th Annual Laguna Beach Bluebelt Photo contest were Mark Chamberlain, Mitch Ridder, and Pat Sparkuhl.

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First Place Amateur, Silver Ocean

“It’s a new location for our event and we’re looking forward to seeing many of our friends & supporters. The ample parking across the street along with free drinks, music and appetizers will make it a great time,” says Photo Contest co-organizer Jinger Wallace. 

“It’s also an opportunity to meet the winning Bluebelt photographers exhibiting their work and celebrating our Marine Protected Areas with us. You won’t want to miss this fun community event to share our love for the Bluebelt.”

Ample parking at Lots 11 and 12 across street from Forest & Ocean Gallery

Special Raffle Prize:  Pen and Ink Artwork ($1150 Value) for $10 tickets.  Raffle winner to be announced at close of evening.

All donations and 15 percent of art sales to benefit the Laguna Bluebelt Coalition and their work.

To see the winning photos, visit 

The Laguna Playhouse annual gala raised a record $600,000 honoring Suzanne and James Mellor

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Photos by Patrick and Peggy O’Donnell

James and Suzanne Mellor 

381 guests filled the Island Hotel in Newport Beach for Laguna Playhouse’s annual fundraising galaThis year’s event, themed Theatre Changes Lives, raised a record $600,000 in support of the Playhouse’s mission to enrich lives through the magic of live theatre, to provide educational opportunities for children and adults, and to create experiences that stimulate cultural and social interaction and inspire our community.

Proceeds from the event help cover the operating costs of the 96-year old icon, one of the oldest continuing operating theaters west of the Mississippi.  Within the funds raised that evening, $90,000 was raised for the Suzanne and James Mellor Laguna Playhouse Tribute Fund, which will provide theatre experiences for youth by providing tickets to performances and to cover the cost of transporting youth groups to the theatre.

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Gala co-chairs Glenn Gray and Kathryn Burton Gray

The celebratory event was co-chaired by Kathryn Burton Gray and Laguna Playhouse Trustee Glenn E. Gray who led this great success with the most amount of money raised at a Playhouse gala in history.  The event was sold out three weeks before the event date with special accommodations being made to add in an extra sixty attendees.  “We are pleased at the incredible level of support and generosity that we received from our Board of Trustees and the entire Laguna Beach philanthropic community and are proud to have had the great honor to chair this wonderful event,” said Glenn Gray.

A pinnacle of the gala was recognition of Laguna Beach residents and gala Honorees Suzanne and James Mellor who, said Laguna Playhouse Board Co-chair Joe Hanauer, “Jim and Suzanne have provided unparalleled support to so many local and national arts and education non-profits and are proud to provide a legacy of philanthropy.  The Mellor’s are one essential ingredient to the Laguna Playhouse’s success today.”  

Playhouse supporters, leaders of other community arts organizations, Mellor family and friends, and elected officials were in attendance to honor the Mellors.  Suzanne’s touching remarks recalled how, growing up in Detroit at age 10, her sanctuary was hearing the Detroit Symphony perform.  Jim noted, “We give and we also get, with a big multiplier. We feel privileged to serve and be part of the Playhouse.  It’s especially rewarding to be honored for something you love to do.”  Suzanne closed their comments with a memory that brought tears to the eyes of many, “we only had seven people at our wedding, this is a very, very big night for us.

Playhouse Executive Director Ellen Richard welcomed guests and provided a special thank you “to gala co-chairs, Glenn and Kathryn Gray, who are responsible for a sold out gala.”  Ms. Richard noted, “Our next season is beginning in June with probably our biggest and best season in years.  “There have been some amazing investments in the Playhouse over the last couple of years.  Two years ago, Jamie Walters and Mohammed El-Elrian made a substantial contribution to our youth outreach and education programs.  

“Last year, the city of Laguna Beach gave us an incredible gift of a four-year grant to invest in our 50 year old building. And now this year, when I asked the board to make an investment in the art on our stage, one woman, Lisa Hale, took it to heart and blew me away with the news that we would be able to produce the shows we dreamed of producing.“ 

“Lastly,” Richard added, “many of you know we have a fabulous school and outreach program.  This year we were in 41 schools where we brought books to life for young people who might not get an arts education.  This program has been led by Donna Inglima, winner of Laguna Beach Arts Alliance award for lifetime service.   

Ann E. Wareham, Artistic Director, echoed the sentiments of the evening:  “We couldn’t have asked for better leaders and partners in this endeavor than Glenn and Kathryn Gray, our chairs, or for more worthy honorees than our beloved Suzanne and Jim Mellor.”

The event was made possible through the generosity of many sponsors including: Crevier Classic Cars, Deborah & Cody Engle, Laguna Beach Books-Joe & Jane Hanauer, Kathryn Burton Gray and Glenn Gray, Gary and Betsy Jenkins, Scripsense, Inc. & Masson Family Foundation, Greg and Barbara MacGillivray, Suzanne and James Mellor, Tim & Lyn Carlyle, First American Trust, Nicholas Yrizarry, Paul Singarella-Latham & Watkins LLP, The Moulton Company, Nolet Spirits USA, Firebrand Media, and Winston’s Crown Jewelers.

The evening wrapped up with guests dancing to music performed by DC Babylon and the Hanging Garden, a full Chicago style band complete with a horn ensemble.

Real Talk, a community dialogue about issues of race and bias, will launch on May 17 at the Susi Q

Residents are invited to participate in a candid discussion about racism and bias. The first meeting, planned for May 17 between 7 and 8:15 p.m. under the auspices of a group called Real Talk, will take place at the Susi Q. 

Real Talk is sponsored by the Laguna Beach Baha’i’ community with the Laguna Beach Interfaith Council.  

The Laguna Beach Interfaith Council is a group of interfaith members that use their common interest in the community to work together to solve problems and address social issues.  

The mission of Real Talk is to provide a forum that initiates an opportunity for elevated community dialogue that aims to promote unity in diversity: a safe place for stimulating conversation, understanding, and growth, with professionally facilitated group experiences and themes relevant to our community and the world at large. 

Playhouse Youth Theatre presents its theatre for a new generation series – Hana’s Suitcase May 19-21

Hana’s Suitcase by Karen Levin and adapted for the stage by Emil Sher is a true story that begins in March 2000, when a suitcase arrived at the children’s Holocaust education center in Tokyo, Japan. On the outside, in white paint, were these words:  Hana Brady, May 16, 1931, Waisenkind (the German word for orphan). Children who saw the suitcase on display were full of questions. Who was Hana Brady? What had happened to her?  

They wanted Fumiko Ishioka, the center’s curator, to find the answers. 

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In a suspenseful journey, Fumiko searches for clues across Europe and North America. The mystery of the suitcase takes her back 70 years to a young Hana and her family. Their happy life in a small Czechoslovakian town, Nove’ Mesto na Morave’, was turned upside down by the invasion of the Nazis. The play offers a view of the Holocaust and speaks of the need for an education in history. 

It’s appropriate for ages 10 and older with guidance.

Member of the cast range in age from 10 to 60 years. Cast members are: Marita de Lara as Fumiko, Nathan Schrodt as Akira, Claire Tigner as Maico, Abigail Williams as Hana, Rudy Buttlar as George, Chelsea Vann as Marketa, Nikolai Tereschenko as Karel, Emmalisa Randrup and Isabelle Schoenhoefer as Ludmila, Michaela, and Friedl, Trevor Yusi as Viktor Rott, Quinton Yusi as Uncle Ludvik, Alan Slabodkin as George (present day), and the ensemble that play inmates and persecutors: Giovanna Cecutti, Tarek Coleman, Olivia DeVito, Jake Donello, Caroline Field,  Leo Hekma, Mikhey Krugly, Chloe Lawson, Kirra Moore, Greer Querantes, Chloe Sullivan, Raquel Temesvary, and Wally Ziegler.

Hana’s Suitcase will be presented live on-stage Friday, May 19, through Sunday, May 21 for six performances only.  Student matinee is presented on Friday, May 19 at 10 a.m.  Weekend Performances are 7 p.m. Friday, 1 and 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.  Tickets range from $15 - $25 and can be purchased by calling (949) 497-ARTS (2787) x 1 or online at

The box office is open Monday – Saturday: noon to 5 p.m. and on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (open until half hour after the start of the last show on performance days). Laguna Playhouse is located at 606 Laguna Canyon Road.

Nothing like a Belgian waffle to treat your mom this Sunday: Brussels Bistro launches weekend brunches

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Your mum will say “Yum!”

   As of this weekend, Brussels Bistro will be offering a regular Belgium waffle-inspired brunch menu every Saturday and Sunday 9 -11:30 a.m. 

   Brussels Bistro will launch their brunches this Sunday, May 14, Mother’s Day, with all moms receiving a free authentic, crispy, light Belgian waffle. Bring the whole family, Brussels suggests, to enjoy this special day. 

Brussels’ full waffle menu will include sweet, savory and gluten free waffles, and, of course, breakfast beverages of your choice.

For reservations, contact 949- 376-7955 or visit


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