The Laguna Playhouse may be a senior citizen among America’s
theaters -- having embarked on its 82nd season -- but there’s nothing
“old timey” about the lineup of six plays to grace the playhouse’s
stage for the 2002-03 campaign.
The new season, recently announced by Executive Director Richard
Stein, will include two world premieres, one U.S. premiere and two
West Coast premieres. A seventh play is still to be selected.
The season actually is already under way with a bang as the only
non-premiere of the lot -- “Always ... Patsy Cline” -- offers a tough
act to follow. The two-woman show, reviewed in a recent column,
spotlights Sally Struthers and Christa Jackson who’ll be bringing the
house down with generous doses of comedy and music through Aug. 25.
The world premieres begin in the fall as “Jumping for Joy” by Jon
Marans takes the stage Sept. 7 through Oct. 6. It’s described as a
dark comedy about a prodigal son who returns home to dictate the
future of his ailing father and his troubled sister, only to find
himself engulfed in his family’s growing expectation that he’s there
Another musical, “The Spitfire Grill,” makes its West Coast
premiere Nov. 2. Based on the 1996 movie with Ellen Burstyn
(nominated for an Oscar), it traces the story of a young woman’s
search for a new direction in her life, this time with the action set
to music. The show plays through Dec. 1.
The play to be announced is ticketed from Jan. 4 through Feb. 2,
to be followed by the American premiere of Bernard Farrell’s “Lovers
at Versailles.” This bittersweet comedy focuses on three women left
behind when the husband of one and the father of two others dies.
Performances will be given Feb. 22-March 23.
“Mr. Shaw Goes to Hollywood” is the second world premiere and will
run from April 5 to May 4. Playwright Mark Saltzman turns back the
clock to 1933 when George Bernard Shaw stops off at the movie capital
on a round-the-world tour with his wife -- and supporting characters
include Louis B. Mayer, William Randolph Hearst, Marian Davies, Clark
Gable, John Barrymore and Charlie Chaplin. The clash of all those
egos should reverberate through the playhouse.
Making its West Coast premiere in time for the start of the next
baseball season will be “Rounding Third” by Richard Dresser, whose
“Wonderful World” and “Gun Shy” also were produced at the playhouse.
The comedy about a die-hard Little League coach and his new,
idealistic assistant coach will run from May 31 through June 29.
If the rest of the playhouse’s season is as thoroughly
entertaining as “Always ... Patsy Cline,” audiences are in for a real
treat in 2002-03.
* TOM TITUS reviews local theater for the Coastline Pilot.