Damien Lorton (Artistic Director)
Damien grew up on stage, becoming a seasoned performer while touring the United States, Canada, and Europe as a child. He learned at a young age to love the audience and his craft, yet he felt something was missing. He continued his studies privately with the late Richard Dastrup, and was then introduced to more intensive studies at the Orange County High School of the Arts. While working alongside classmates and Broadway greats Susan Egan, Stephanie Block, Becca Ayers, Kamilah Martin and Terron Brooks, he honed in on his art and began a love affair with directing.
Studying under such great artists as Laura Freed and Cherie Hodgeson Armstrong, in addition to master classes with Uta Hagen, Bebe Neuwirth, and Seth Green, he dramatically sharpened his skills. Damien went on to share the stage with such icons as Bob Hope, Art Linkletter, Gwen Verdon, Wayne Newton, John Candy, Phyllis Diller, Nathan Lane, and Carroll O'Connor just to name a few.
He performed in San Francisco to sold-out houses for over three years, headlining in the Knott Hole's Review, until the news of an ailing parent brought Damien back home to Orange County, California.
Damien became active in local theatre in Orange County, most notably, bringing the Costa Mesa Civic Playhouse back from the brinks of closure. During his tenure there he brought the Playhouse to new heights, winning both critical acclaim and personal triumphs. In 2001, Tom Titus named Damien "Man of the Year" in theatre. He was also voted one of the top 101 most influential people in Costa Mesa/Newport Beach for two consecutive years on behalf of his work in the arts. While at the Costa Mesa Civic Playhouse, Damien turned out more than twenty-five full-scale plays and musicals, co-founded the Multi Cultural Children's Outreach Program, and brought the arts to more than fifty thousand audience members.
Since working on his first full-scale musical in 1998, Damien has directed and/or musically directed over 250 productions throughout Southern California and the western United States, winning rave reviews and significant acclamations from the press.
Damien is most proud of his work at THE GEM THEATER alongside his business partner and best friend Nicole Cassesso. Since co-founding One More Productions together in 2004 and opening the doors of THE GEM THEATER to sold out houses, they have mounted and produced over 50 different musical productions, plays and special events together. They have helped raise over $250,000 for other non-profit organizations in Orange County including the Speech and Language Development Center of Buena Park, The Garden Grove Rotary, The Soroptimist Club and many others. Damien is proud to be a part of a theater that not only produces quality musical theater, but also gives a home to actors to study and learn about their craft, preparing them for the next step in their careers. Since co-founding OMP he has been instrumental in helping more than 25 actors go into professional ventures such as equity performances, national tours, New York City, cruise ships, industrial performances, as well as major colleges and career arts development programs across the United States and Europe.