Mold thwarts Lagunatics' return

When Lagunatics, the annual song-and-sketch revue about goings-on in Laguna Beach, gets off the ground again, hopefully the writers can come up with a catchy tune about mold.

That pesky substance is the reason the show, which was scheduled to open Saturday at the Forum Theater, has been postponed at least a week. Monday, as the cast prepared for a dress rehearsal, the creative team discovered an unpleasant smell in a wall of one of the offices under the theater, according to co-director Bree Burgess Rosen.

Experts have taken samples of the mold, she said, and when the results come back, they will determine the production's fate. If the substance turns out to be non-toxic, the show will resume next week, but if not, it will move to January.

"It may be easily contained and it may be nontoxic, but we can't be sure we aren't traveling through toxic stuff to get to the theater or that it isn't in the walls up the back toward the theater," Rosen wrote in an email. "I am choosing to be safest."

In the meantime, Rosen said, her team has frozen ticket sales online and contacted people who had bought tickets for the weekend's shows.

Lagunatics was originally scheduled to run Saturday through Oct. 20 at the theater on the Festival of Arts grounds. Sharbie Higuchi, a spokeswoman for Festival of Arts, called the production a local favorite.

"We look forward to it, and we know the community looks forward to it," said Higuchi, who added that she couldn't remember a mold problem on the grounds in the past.

This year's planned show, titled "Gagtime," follows the program's time-honored tradition by skewering regional issues with comedy sketches and song parodies. In 2012, the production celebrated its 20th anniversary with a "greatest hits" collection of past Lagunatics favorites titled "Schlock and Awe."

Among the intended targets this year are local schools, the Laguna Art Museum's upcoming installation, the recently closed San Onofre power plant and the controversial Village Entrance Project, which features a duet between a supporter and an opponent. Musical inspiration comes from Mozart, "Les Miserables," Irish folk music and more.

"The theme is really always the same thing — it's Laguna Beach," Rosen said. "It's how goofy Laguna Beach can be. And the city is always happy to provide plenty of material."

The city is happy to participate onstage too. City Councilwoman Toni Iseman is joining the cast of about 30 people this year, and other Laguna leaders have played roles in the past. Iseman, a Lagunatics veteran, has a brief speaking part in the "Gagtime" script.

"I have one line," Iseman said. "And if I can't be in [the show], they'll put a red wig with curly hair on someone and pretend it's me."

All right, then, what's the line?

"It's a surprise," Iseman said. "It's a tricky line."

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