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On Theater: South Coast Repertory introducing new plays for 2019-20 season

American Mariachi
“American Mariachi,” by José Cruz González, is a 1970’s comedy coming to South Coast Repertory in September.
(Courtesy of South Coast Repertory)

(Second of a series previewing the upcoming theater seasons)

South Coast Repertory, which first entertained local audiences in 1965 and has grown and flourished since, has announced a 2019-20 season replete with new material as well as an occasional familiar title.

The Tony Award-winning regional theater will kick off its slate with “American Mariachi” by José Cruz González, playing from Sept. 7 to Oct. 5 on the Segerstrom Stage. It’s billed as a big-hearted comedy about a young woman hoping to break the musical glass ceiling and become a female mariachi.

A world premiere, Adam Bock’s “The Canadians,” opens the Julianne Argyros Stage’s season. Five actors play a shipload of characters in this new comedy, ticketed for a Sept. 29 to Oct. 20 engagement.


Jennifer Lim, from left, Tim Kang, Sab Shimono and Joseph Steven Yang in Julia Cho’s “Aubergine,” when it was at Berkeley Repertory Theatre in 2016. South Coast Repertory will be staging a new production of the play in Costa Mesa in October.

Cultural issues pervade “Aubergine” by Julia Cho, scheduled to run from Oct. 19 to Nov. 16 on the Segerstrom Stage. Food is at the heart of this poetic tale, transcending traditional differences.

SCR’s Theater for Young Audiences will present Judith Viorst’s “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” from Nov. 8 to 24 on the Argyros Stage. It’s a musical version of the popular children’s book about one kid’s mounting troubles.

Hal Landon Jr. has decided that 40 years of Scrooging is enough and will hang up his top hat after the Nov. 30 to Dec. 24 production of “A Christmas Carol,” ending one of theater’s longest-running traditions. John-David Keller will direct the show, also for the 40th time.


Hal Landon Jr. in “A Christmas Carol.”
Hal Landon Jr. has been playing the role as Scrooge in South Coast Rep’s annual staging of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” for 39 years. This year’s Christmas run, his 40th, will be his last.
(Jim Cox)

A church bombing in the Jim Crow South ignites Donja R. Love’s “Fireflies,” which will kick off 2020 on the Argyros Stage. A minister and his wife attempt to calm fiery passions in this drama, ticketed from Jan. 5 to 26.

A popular, familiar musical will provide a welcome change of pace when “She Loves Me” arrives on the Segerstrom Stage Jan. 25, playing through Feb. 22. It’s the latest version of the romantic story previously told as “The Shop Around the Corner” and “In the Good Old Summertime.”

“Where the Mountain Meets the Moon: A Musical Adaptation” is the wordy title of a Theater for Young Audiences production of a Min Kahng treatment of a novel by Grace Lin. This mystery-fantasy adventure will run from Feb. 7 to 23 on the Argyros Stage.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Ed Oxenbould appears in a scene from the film " Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” South Coast Repertory will take on the classic story in November as part or their Theater for Young Audiences program.
(Dale Robinette / Disney)

Also in the Argyros venue will be “Outside Mullingar” by John Patrick Shanley, a comedy centered on a battle for a small plot of land in Ireland. Performance dates are March 8 to 29.

“The Scarlet Letter” and “world premiere” aren’t two phrases generally conjoined, but Kate Hamill’s version of the Nathaniel Hawthorne classic fills those requirements. The show will occupy the Segerstrom Stage from March 28 through April 25.

Another world premiere will be “I Get Restless” by Caroline V. McGraw, scheduled for an April 12 to May 3 engagement on the Argyros Stage. A woman’s debilitating accident on her honeymoon leaves her unable to remember anything from the past six years, including her husband.


Tom Stoppard’s “Arcadia,” set in 1809 England and the present day, will wind up the Segerstrom Stage season from May 9 through June 6. A scientific theory proposed long ago ignites an intellectual conflict 200 years later.

Finally, we have “Dory Fantasmagory,” adapted for a Theater for Young Audiences project by SCR’s John Glore. This tale of an ambitious young girl will be staged in the Argyros from May 22 to June 7.

South Coast Repertory and the Segerstrom Center aren’t Costa Mesa’s only theatrical venues. There’s also the Costa Mesa Playhouse and Vanguard University, both of which will be examined in this space next week.