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On Theater: The professional touring companies that will be visiting O.C. in the 2019-20 season

“Mean Girls” Broadway Opening Night
Tina Fey and the cast of “Mean Girls” take the stage on opening night in New York in 2018. The musical will be visiting the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in June 2020.
(Noam Galai / Getty Images)

This is first in a series previewing the upcoming local theater seasons

Local professional theater companies dealing primarily with touring productions are gearing up for active seasons in Costa Mesa and Laguna Beach.

The Segerstrom Center for the Arts has both of the two “biggies” of the 1980s on its 2019-20 schedule. “The Phantom of the Opera” paid a return visit last month, and the king of the musical epics, “Les Miserables,” will be back for a May 5 to 17 staging.

The creators of “Les Miz” crafted another epic musical, “Miss Saigon,” a Vietnam War drama with a “Madame Butterfly” feel and a spectacular helicopter scene. It’ll fly into the Center Oct. 1 and will play through Oct. 13.


“Anastasia,” the musical version of the legend of the daughter of the last Russian czar, is ticketed for Nov. 5 to 17. Then comes another show born on the silver screen, “A Bronx Tale,” scheduled for Nov. 12 to 22.

Teens should be flocking to Tina Fey’s “Mean Girls,” the high school musical drama playing from June 16 to 28 of next year. It’ll be followed by the Tony Award-winning show “The Band’s Visit,” slated to run from Aug. 12 to 23.

Abbreviated engagements at the Center will include the Blue Man Group, Jan. 7 to 12, “Escape to Margaritaville,” Feb. 4 to 9, and “Chicago,” April 14 to 19.

Hershey Felder
Hershey Felder will play Russian pianist and composer Sergei Rachmaninoff in “Anna & Sergei” at the Laguna Playhouse scheduled to world premiere April 2020.
(Eighty Eight Entertainment / Geffen Playhouse)


Meanwhile, the Laguna Playhouse has announced its 99th — yes, 99th — season, counting its early years as a community theater. It got off to a swinging start last month with a spirited production of “Mama Mia.”

“Yoga Play,” a comedy inspired by author Dipika Guha’s Orange County roots, will run from Sept. 25 to Oct. 15. Then comes a reprise of one of the playhouse’s biggest hits from 1968, “The Lion in Winter,” about the struggle for succession among England’s royal family.

The Sidney Poitier movie “To Sir, With Love” — now a world premiere musical — gets the live theater treatment from Jan. 29 to Feb. 23. Melanie Griffith, who headlined Laguna’s “The Graduate,” returns to the playhouse in a revival of Neil Simon’s “Barefoot in the Park” from March 11 to April 5.

Master keyboard artist Hershey Felder, a familiar face at Laguna, plays Russian pianist and composer Sergei Rachmaninoff in “Anna & Sergei,” another world premiere, ticketed for April 15 to May 3. The season concludes with “Ann,” a drama focusing on former Texas governor Ann Richards by actress-playwright Holland Taylor. It runs from May 13 to June 7.

That’s just skimming the top of the plethora of live theater productions to be offered in Orange County during the 2019-20 season.

Next week’s column will focus on the two-theater operation of South Coast Repertory.

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