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Lagunatics' Bond Issue Funds Laughs by Innuendo


LAGUNA BEACH — Expect the usual gonzo tomfoolery from the latest "Lagunatics." In the fourth annual musical spoof of the inimitable art colony by the sea, hero Cliff Drive (get it?) is pitted against Dr. Strangeglove, a bad guy with a rubber fetish.

It's a James Bond takeoff, and "of course we give Cliff a code name and number," says Bree Burgess Rosen, who conceived and co-wrote the show. "Instead of 007, he's Agent 006.9. We say he's 'immediately under 007,' to which Cliff responds, 'Ooh, sounds fabulous!' "

"Lagunatics '96"--in which familiar tunes by the likes of Sondheim, Madonna and Gladys Knight are given new lyrics--runs Friday through Sunday at the Moulton Theater. The show, which typically sells out, has become the Laguna Playhouse's major fund-raiser; this year's proceeds also will benefit the recently renovated Laguna Beach High School Artists Theater (slated to receive $5,000).

Previous "Lagunatics" satirized the city's "Pageant of Disasters," its hellacious parking and picky Design Review Board, die-hard environmentalists and conspicuously rich homeowners. Some such subjects will be targeted again, but an entirely new script skewers fresh meat through Cliff Drive's convoluted pursuit of the slippery Strangeglove.

According to Rosen, who has lived here eight years, the doc's sinister plot is to plant hordes of trees throughout Laguna, then have them placed on the city's Heritage Tree list to prevent their removal.

"All the trees would grow out of control and block everyone's view of Catalina," says Rosen, "which would be the worst possible thing to happen to homeowners in Laguna Beach."

In real life, owners of an oceanfront plot in South Laguna recently sued their former neighbors for allegedly sawing the limbs off a eucalyptus tree to better their own view. The eucalyptus wasn't on the infamous list. . . .

But we digress.

The aim of Strangeglove's planting frenzy is to produce a rain forest effect, resulting in nonstop rain. "Then everyone would have to buy rain gear, galoshes and stuff," Rosen continues, "and Strangeglove owns the world rubber market, so he'd make all this money."

Indeed, the Gloved One (yes, he wears just one rubber glove) hawks his wares to the tune of "Le Jazz Hot" from "Victor/Victoria":

Stuck in rubbers from morning 'til night

rainy days are my delight

so step on up and pay me

or get wet, baby.


To foil the dastardly doc, Cliff Drive seeks help at a City Council meeting, where he finds the public debating an ordinance requiring police to cite street musicians if neighbors complain about the "noise" they make. "Our joke," says Rosen, "is that art is to be seen, not heard, in Laguna Beach."

In another scene, a bunch of suspicious-looking people in Laguna Art Museum T-shirts turn out to be museum trustees who, in real life, have been charged with trying to "rape" the city by merging with the Newport Harbor Art Museum. In the scene, "the trustees are carrying paintings," Rosen says, "like they're sneaking out of town with them under the cover of night."

Rosen, who wrote the show with Playhouse volunteer Tim Dey and who performs in it, staged the first "Lagunatics" in 1992 as part of that year's "Day Without Art" AIDS-awareness event. In recent years, she has earmarked proceeds for other causes.

She says she also has tried to broaden the play's material so that non-Lagunans aren't left clueless by inside jokes. She hopes to begin staging "Lagunatics" as a summertime "musical comedy answer to the Pageant of the Masters," where the annual audiences include tourists from out of state.

She says she is confident that everyone will get the Bond jokes in "Lagunatics '96," subtitled "Muckraker" (as in "Moonraker") and will enjoy its wackiness. Besides Dr. Strangeglove, there are his three miniskirted assistants, collectively named Triapussy (remember "Octopussy"?), and Ms. Dana Points, resplendent in a conical bra.

Sound a bit salacious? Rosen, who is playing one-third of Triapussy, assures parents that the show is rated PG. "It's all innuendo."

* What: "Lagunatics '96: Muckracker."

* When: Friday and Saturday, 7 p.m.; Sunday, 6 p.m.

* Where: Moulton Theater, 606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach.

* Whereabouts: Take the San Diego (405) Freeway to Laguna Canyon Road; go south. The theater is on the right, just before you enter the downtown area.

* Wherewithal: $50 to $100, which includes a cocktail reception and post-performance buffet.

* Where to call: (714) 497-2787.

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