On Theater: Newport theater maps 32nd season

NEWPORT BEACH — Time does fly. It seems only like yesterday when the city of Newport Beach was converting an abandoned church overlooking the harbor into a city-assisted community theater dubbed the Newport Theatre Arts Center.

That was in 1980, and NTAC is making plans for its 32nd season, offering a mixture of oldies and newcomers. In fact, the season gets off next week with its annual children's summer show.

"Hi, Ho, Robin Hood," adapted by Tim Kelly from the venerable Sherwood Forest legend, with music by Arne Christiansen and lyrics by Ole Kittleson, will be the show presented by the center's Children's Musical Theater. Robin, Maid Marian and all the rest are aboard and performances run from Aug. 5 through Aug. 15.

The season officially begins Sept. 10 with "The Rainmaker," the drama by N. Richard Nash that inspired the Burt Lancaster-Katharine Hepburn movie and a musical adaptation, "110 in the Shade." The story of a con man who helps dampen a parched Midwestern area will play till Oct. 10.

NTAC's more seasoned patrons will remember "Room Service" as a Marx Brothers movie about a hotel filled with Broadway actors way back when. Actually, it began as a play by John Murray and Allen Boretz, and will be revived from Nov. 12 to Dec. 12 at NTAC.

Arthur Miller's "All My Sons" is one of the great playwright's most poignant plays, set in postwar America amid scathing accusations against a manufacturer of airplane parts. The Newport production is scheduled to run from Jan. 28 to Feb. 2.

There's one certified newcomer on the 2010-11 bill. It's "The Dixie Swim Club" by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten, and it concerns five Southern women (shades of "Steel Magnolias"?) who gather once a year. It's ticketed from March 25 to April 24.

Wrapping up the forthcoming season, from May 27 to June 26, will be "The Putnam County 25th Annual Spelling Bee" by Rachel Sheinkin and William Finn. Six youngsters compete for top honors in a spelldown which, as NTAC cautions, is not a children's show as it contains some adult content.

Performance times are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. (7:30 for the "Robin Hood" production) and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. at the theater, 2501 Cliff Drive, Newport Beach. Call the box office at (949) 631-0288 for more information.

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