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On Theater: New shows coming up for Newport and GEM

The Gin Game at Newport Theatre Arts Center
The Newport Theatre Arts Center’s rendition of “The Gin Game” (pictured) ran earlier this year. Their upcoming 2019-20 season includes “Enchanted April,” “Chapter Two,” “Working” and more.
(File Photo)

(This is the fourth in a series of columns previewing the new seasons of local theaters)

The Newport Theatre Arts Center is approaching a 40-year residence in a converted church overlooking the ocean and has announced a varied schedule of old and new plays for its 2019-20 season.

The first Newport offering, opening Sept. 13, will be “Enchanted April” by Matthew Barber, a romantic comedy about four English women who rent a castle in Italy for a month. The show runs through Oct. 13.

“Sherlock Holmes – the Final Adventure” will arrive Nov. 15. Stephen Dietz’s 2007 Edgar Award winner finds Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary sleuth and his companion, Dr. Watson, walking into the lair of the master criminal Professor Moriarty. It’s ticketed through Dec. 15.


Nazi sentiments come to the fore in Ronald Harwood”s “Taking Sides,” a drama focusing on a German conductor accused of serving Hitler’s regime. The harrowing drama will be on stage from Jan. 24 to Feb. 23.

Neil Simon borrowed from his own life experience for “Chapter Two,” about a man discovering love for the second time. The seriocomedy will play from March 27 to April 26 on the NTAC stage.

Finally, a show about regular people: the Stephen Schwartz-Nina Faso musical “Working,” based on Studs Terkel’s best-selling book. It’s been updated for modern audiences, with a new song by Lin-Manuel Miranda, and will run from May 19 through June 28.

The Newport Theatre Arts Center is at 2501 Cliff Drive, Newport Beach, and reservations may be obtained by calling the box office at (949) 631-0288 or


Garden Grove’s The GEM Theater performs a calendar-year season and currently is in the middle of its 2019 schedule. The showplace recently featured “Disaster,” “Nine” and “West Side Story.”

Still to come are Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s “Bright Star” and the Disney classic “Beauty and the Beast.” The resident troupe, One More Productions, is celebrating its 15th season.

The GEM is at 12852 Main St. in Garden Grove. More information is available at (714) 741-9550 or