That annual roast of the coast known as Lagunatics is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and it's theatergoers who get all the presents.
The 2012 version, staged by Laguna's No Square Theatre and entitled "Schlock and Awe," follows the same pattern as its predecessors — taking well-known showtunes and inserting locally inspired lyrics — only this time it's a "best of" production, reviving highlights of past Lagunatics presentations. And, for the most part, it's one hysterical number after another.
This year's rendition, as always, is directed by creator Bree Burgess Rosen, who, according to the program, is the "driving farce" behind the show and has staged every performance of every incarnation of Lagunatics. She also appears in the production, though she's far from dominant, preferring to showcase the local talent.
You don't need to be cognizant of all the civic and political issues concerning Laguna Beach — I'm certainly not — to enjoy this rampantly funny production or to appreciate the craftsmanship behind the settings and costume design. A familiarity with the source of the music might help, however.
For instance, "Nothing Like a Dame" from "South Pacific" becomes "Nothing Like a Dime" as panhandlers press tourists for a handout. "Mamma Mia!" becomes "Diarrhea" as the performers hold their noses and poke fun at a beach sewage spill. And "Puttin' on the Ritz" becomes something unmentionable in a family newspaper as it focuses on cleaning up after man's best friend.
For sheer performing talent, Randy Hatfield takes top honors. Impersonating retired Laguna City Manager Ken Frank, he channels Gilbert and Sullivan to become a "Modern City Manager," firing Chris Quilter's breathless lyrics without missing a beat.
The Girl Scouts converge on City Hall in "Tonight," an adaptation by Rosen and Quilter of the classic "West Side Story" number, one of the evening's many highlights, featuring energetic ingenue Natalie Powers. Glenn Miller's "In the Mood" becomes "In the Nude" as the cast sends up the "Pageant of Disasters."
"Let Yourself Blow" turns Irving Berlin's peppy number into a tribute to leaf blowers. The closing of the Boom Boom Room inspires "You'll Never Drink Alone," adapted from the "Carousel" anthem.
Equally as impressive as the lyrical rebranding by Rosen and her cohorts are the wacky costumes, created by Tim Hawkins, Susan Elliot Richardson and Hannah Lawton. Patrick Quilter and Larry Lewis have designed some laugh-inducing backdrops, abetted by the over-the-top props from Quilter and Jean Fallowfield, while Paul Nygro's choreography is uniquely impressive.
This wild, wacky and often wicked roast plays out at the Forum Theater on the Festival of Arts grounds and will be in residence through Oct. 28. You'll be singing "Thanks for the Memory" as highlights from 20 years of satire are gleefully recreated.
If You Go
What: Lagunatics, "Schlock and Awe"
What: No Square Theater
Where: Forum Theater, Festival of Arts grounds, 650 Laguna Canyon Road
When: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 6:30 p.m. Sundays, closing Oct. 28 at 5 p.m. with a pre-show party
Cost: $35 to $100