A year of magical programming

From musicals to drama to standup comedy, the upcoming season at the Laguna Playhouse was chosen to satisfy the taste of Laguna's theatergoers.

The 2013-14 season was announced Wednesday evening at a reception at the Hotel Laguna for enthusiastic Playhouse patrons, who were treated to a surprise appearance by Davis Gaines, who will star with Vicki Lewis in the season opener, "I Do! I Do!"

Gaines and his accompanist, Bob Hawkins, were introduced by Playhouse Artistic Director Ann E. Wareham, who cohosted the reception with Executive Director Karen Wood.

"When I was performing 'Phantom of the Opera' at the Ahmanson, I came down to Laguna every Sunday and Monday for two and a half years, so I am looking forward to living here for a couple of months," Gaines said.

He sang "My Cup Runneth Over" from the Tom Jones musical about the trials and tribulations in sharing a marital bed for 50 years. The musical will kick off the new season July 9 and run through Aug. 11.

"The exploration of love and marriage continues in the fall with Noel Coward's sidesplitting farce, 'Fallen Angels,'" said Wood.

A musical tribute to Johnny Cash will open in January.

"'Ring of Fire' will warm up your winter with songs including 'I Walk the Line,' 'Folsom Prison Blues' and, of course, 'Ring of Fire,' performed by 10 musician-singer-actors who breathe new life into these country classics," said Wood.

"Then, in March, we have Monty Python meets CliffsNotes in the fast-paced 'All the Great Books (Abridged).' It is a mad dash through 90 classics of Western literature in 90 minutes.

"No book from 'Alice in Wonderland' to 'Wuthering Heights' escapes the slings and arrows of outrageous parody that the New York Times calls 'intellectual vaudeville.'"

The final presentation of the 2013-14 subscription series is a change of pace.

"It tells one woman's remarkable story of loss, grief and renewal," said Wareham. "Theater, television and film star Linda Purl plays author Joan Didion in the stage version of her National Book Award-winning memoir 'The Year of Magical Thinking.'"

The book and the play are love letters to her late daughter and a celebration of an extraordinary marriage, Wareham said.

Special events are also scheduled.

"Think of them like a decadent dessert or delectable palate cleanser between courses of a gourmet meal," said Wood.

Two specials will be staged this fall, starting with "Britishmania," from Aug. 13 to 25.

The show is a timeline of the "British Invasion" by the Beatles from "The Ed Sullivan Show" to the 1965 film "Help!" and Shea Stadium concert on to the "Sgt. Pepper's"/"Magical Mystery Tour" era, concluding with "Let It Be" and "Abbey Road."

"If you are a boomer, this is sweet déjà vu. If you are a boomer's kids or grandkids, this is as close to the band that changed rock forever as you'll ever get. And either way, it's fab," said Wood.

Hershey Felder returns to the Playhouse stage from Sept. 17 to 29 with the world premiere of "The Piano Show," adding Franz Liszt to his chatty and musical interpretations of composers that include Frederic Chopin, George Gershwin and Beethoven.

The final special of the 2013-14 season stars the comedian and Las Vegas headliner Rita Rudner, who recently knocked out the audience at the Laguna Beach Alliance for the Arts Art Star Awards dinner.

Rudner's comedic take on everyday life targets men and her husband in particular, but her soft-spoken prods leave both men and women laughing.

The Playhouse also hosts such outstanding events as the Laguna Dance Festival and Laguna Beach Music Festival, as well as the Laguna Concert Band.

"'Jammin' is a new Monday night smooth jazz series brought to us by Ivan Spiers and Mozambique," Wood announced.

Curtain times for the new season will be 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays and 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays.

Season tickets range from $183 to $387.

For subscriptions, call (949) 497-2787. For more information, visit http://www.lagunaplayhouse.com.

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