On Theater: Playhouse announces 2011-12 season

World premieres, musical treats and one-person shows will dominate the 2011-12 season at the Laguna Playhouse, the first of the post-Andrew Barnicle era.

Kicking things off July 5 through Aug. 21 will be a musical tribute, "I Left My Heart: A Salute to the Music of Tony Bennett." The man Frank Sinatra called "the greatest singer in the world" will be celebrated with 40 pop standards, including "Because of You," "Stranger in Paradise," "The Good Life" and his signature number, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco."

The production for Sept. 27 to Oct. 23 will be revealed later this spring.

"This Wonderful Life" is playwright Steve Murray's version of the holiday classic "It's a Wonderful Life" — with James Leaming playing not only George Bailey but Clarence the angel, Mary, Old Man Potter and 20 more of Bedford Falls' citizens. The show will be performed Nov. 25 through Dec. 24.

A world premiere awaits theatergoers from Jan. 10 to Feb. 5. "Lonesome Traveler: A Journey Down the Rivers and Streams of American Folk" offers such modern classics as "Tom Dooley," "Goodnight Irene," "Puff, the Magic Dragon" and "Blowin' in the Wind." It's billed as "a revealing perspective of folk music's musical roots."

Laguna's favorite nun, "Sister" Maripat Donovan, returns with a new "Easter Catechism" show, subtitled "Will My Bunny Go to Heaven?" This latest incarnation of the Late Nite Catechism series will be on stage from March 13 through April 8, 2012.

Standup comic Rita Rudner is the co-author of "Tickled Pink," another world premiere to be directed by co-author Martin Bergman and scheduled for April 24 through May 20, 2012. The story revolves around a young lady who dreams of a dancing career on Broadway but who scores in the comedy clubs instead.

"We're so pleased to be continuing the 90th anniversary celebration here at the Laguna Playhouse with this exciting and expanded season," Executive Director Karen Wood said in a news release. "The six-production season includes new work as well as playhouse favorites."

The playhouse also will be presenting its educational Youth Theater, as well as community collaborations including shows by Laguna Beach Live! and the Laguna Dance Festival, among others, according to Wood in a news release.

"There will be one or two special events being offered during the season, so keep checking back with us," Wood said in the release.

Season subscriptions ranging from $164 to $384 are on sale. Single tickets to all shows, from $30 to $70, will go on sale June 1. Contact the playhouse at (949) 497-2787 or http://www.LagunaPlayhouse.com for more information.

TOM TITUS reviews local theater for the Coastline Pilot.

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