This Week in LA Theatre

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By Julio Martinez

  • Laguna Playhouse announces its 99th season of shows.  Its 2019-20 offering begins with the 1999 jukebox musical Mama Mia by Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus (lyrics and music) and some songs by Stig Anderson, with book by Catherine Johnson,  originally conceived by Judy Craymer (July 7).  Season continues with the premier of the comedy, Yoga Play, written by Dipika Guha (Sep 29); a revival of the 1966 Broadway play, The Lion in Winter, written by James Goldman, directed by Sheldon Epps (Nov 6);  The premiere musical, To Sir, With Love, adapted from thr 1966 British film by Kris Lythgoe, music by John Farrar, Kara DioGuardi, Don Black and Mark London, musical arrangements by Michael Orland, directed by Sheldon Epps (Feb 8, 2020); Melanie Griffith starring in 1964 Tony-nominated Barefoot in the Park by Neil Simon, directed by Michael Matthews (Mar 11, 2020); Hershey Felder stars in the premiere of Anna and Sergie, written by  Hershey Felder, directed by Trevor Hay, set in 1928 New York City, featuring the music of Russian pianist and composer Sergei Rachmaninoff  (Apr 19, 2020); and Jayne Atkinson will star in the Southern California premiere of Ann,  no-holds-barred portrait of Ann Richards, the late Governor of Texas, written by Holland Taylor, directed by Kristen Van Ginhoven (May 17, 2020).  As season bonus will be a Youth Theatre production of I Never Saw Another Butterfly, written by Celest Raspanti, directed by Donna Inglima.
  • Pasadena Playhouse also announces its main stage productions for 2019/2020, beginning with the musical, Little Shop of Horrors, by Howard Ashman (book and lyrics) and Alan Menken (music), directed by Mike Donahue  (Sep 17-Oct 13), followed by Lauren Yee’s newest work, The Great Leap,exploring the story of an American basketball team traveling to Beijing for an exhibition game, directed by BD Wong, co-roduced by East West Players  (Nov 6-Dec 1).  In 2020, Alfred Molina stars in Tony nominated The Father by Florian Zeller, translated by Christopher Hampton, directed by Jessica Kubzanskyartistic director of Boston Court Theatre (Feb 5 to Mar 1, 2020).  Then Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun, will return to it original book by Dorothy and Herbert Fields made famous by Ethel Merman, directed by Sarna Lapine, co-produced by  Bay Street Theatre (Spring, TBA).


  • International City Theatre in Long Beach presents the premiere of Bestseller by Peter Quilter, a comedic romp about writers, how they write, the stories they tell and the secrets they keep, directed by Jane Page. Stars Wendy Worthington, Alexandra Ruth Wright, Eric Myrick and Sam Spanjian. Opens June 14.
  • The premiere of Point Of Extinction, a science fiction political thriller, written by Cosette Ruesga and David Shecter, with original songs by Laurie Grant, directed by Greg Shane, Artistic Director of CRE Outreach, features Theatre by the Blind actors, musicians with autism from Rex & Friends and illusions created by Magic Castle magician Dominik Krzanowski.  Opens June 21 at The Blue Door in Culver City.


  • Ensemble Theatre Company in Santa Barbara presents the fifth and final show of its 40th Anniversary Season, Dancing Lessons, a romantic comedy about self-discovery, written by Mark St. Germain, directed by Saundra McClain. Stars Trevor Peterson and Leilani Smith. Opens June 15 at The New Vic in Santa Barbara.
  • She NYC Arts will present the second annual She LA Arts Summer Theater Festival, featuring five new full-length shows by women playwrights, July 28-Aug 4 at The Zephyr Theatre in Hollywood. The works include She’s Not The  by Ali MacLean; Charlie Boyd by Allie Wittner; To Each His Ow by Nakisa Aschtiani; Do Us Part by Karen Lukesh; and Between the Colored Lines & Other Black Girl Tale by Tiffani Dean.


  • Son of Semele Ensemble’s Solo Creation Festival is presenting Don’t Flincha search for the legendary one-armed woman who trained alongside world-class boxers like then-Cassius Clay, Joe Frazier, and Sugar Ray Robinson, in the ring affectionately remembered as “America’s rattiest,” the Main Street Gym at Third and Main. Written and performed by Stacie Chaiken, plays May 23-26 at SOSE Theater near Downtown L.A.


  • New Artistic Director David Ivers reveals the 2019-20 13-play South Coast Repertory season, the first to be programmed under Ivers.

Julio Martinez

Julio Martinez

Julio pens the weekly LA STAGE Insider column for @ This Stage Magazine, as well as the monthly LA STAGE History column. He is a recurring contributor to Written By (the monthly publication of the Writer’s Guild of America) and is the TeleVision columnist for Latin Heat Entertainment. On air, he hosts the weekly Arts in Review program for KPFK 90.7 FM. An active journalist for over 30 years, Julio’s articles and reviews have appeared in Los Angeles Times Magazine, Daily Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, L.A. Weekly, Stage Raw, Backstage West, Westways Magazine, and Drama-Logue Magazine, among others.