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Exit Shaw, enter ‘Shape’

Tom Titus

You can do a George Bernard Shaw play just about any time, but a West

Coast premiere doesn’t come about that often, so the Laguna Playhouse has

shelved its announced production of “Candida” to make room for “The Shape

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of Things to Come.” This new play by Neil LaBute -- about an audacious

art student and a callow young man who falls in love with her -- which

opens June 1, will be the first U.S. production since the author directed

it in London and New York last year.

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“It’s a pretty major coup for the playhouse to have been granted the

rights to this play,” said Richard Stein, executive director of the

Laguna theater, who will stage the production.

“Artistic Director Andrew Barnicle and I thought it was worth

postponing ‘Candida’ to a future season in order to secure this play.”

“The Shape of Things” centers on the ever-changing relationship among

four college students, focusing on the gregarious art major and the shy

young man who falls for her. According to the director, the play also

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“boldly questions the aesthetic yardsticks of today, insisting that we

consider morality a defining characteristic of art.” And, he adds, it

comes with a really surprising ending.

Playwright LaBute probably is best known for his movie work, which

includes his feature film debut, “In the Company of Man,” which won the

New York Film Critics Circle Award and the Filmmakers Trophy at the

Sundance Film Festival in 1997. He also directed the popular Rene

Zelleweger comedy “Nurse Betty.”

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The playhouse won’t exactly be idle until “Shape” opens, however. This

weekend marks the opening of the theater’s new Youth Theater production,

entitled “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” --

and the show already is sold out.

Originally scheduled for two weekends of Friday-through-Sunday

performances, “Alexander” now will have a special staging at 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, May 16.

Staged by Youth Theater director Joe Lauderdale, the play -- adapted

by its author, Judith Viorst, into a musical theater piece -- concerns a

young man who learns to cope when things go continually awry. It’s

suitable for ages 5 and older. Information: 497-2787.

Stein and Barnicle are on the verge of revealing the 2002-03 season at

the 82-year-old Laguna Playhouse, but all the contracts aren’t signed

yet. Expect an announcement -- replete with new plays as yet unseen by

local audiences -- within the next few weeks.


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