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SCR Lands 3 World Premieres in Shortened Year


The world premiere of a new play by Horton Foote, the 85-year-old Pulitzer Prize and Academy Award winner from Texas, will highlight a truncated 2001-2002 season at South Coast Repertory.

The Costa Mesa theater will cut its customary 11 new productions to nine because of construction of its 336-seat house--due to open in October 2002--and renovations on its two existing theaters. The holiday season staples, "A Christmas Carol" and "La Posada Magica," will return for their annual revivals.

But the reduction of adult-play offerings will continue after the expansion is complete. Two slots now devoted to adult works will give way to shows for children as part of a three-play, $300,000-a-year children's theater initiative beginning in 2002-03.

The revamped South Coast seasons will offer five new adult productions instead of six on the 507-seat Mainstage. Four more will be mounted in the 336-seat house. The 161-seat Second Stage, where five new productions have been staged each season, will be scaled down to 99 seats. It will "not initially" be used for regular shows, but for readings, rehearsals and other work on new play development, said Martin Benson, South Coast's co-founder and artistic director.

The children's initiative will be mounted in the 336-seat house, to be known as the Judie Argyros Stage. Currently, South Coast offers two plays for kids each season on the Second Stage, with casts drawn mainly from the theater's Young Conservatory training program for youngsters. Starting in 2002-03, three shows geared toward children and their families will be mounted in "much more elaborate" productions featuring professional actors, Benson said. South Coast hopes that some of those plays will be new ones it aims to commission from established playwrights interested in delving into literature for children.

The work to be done in the coming season features three world premieres--including Foote's "Getting Frankie Married--and Afterwards"--(March 29-May 5, 2002). The others, both commissioned by South Coast, are "Hold Please," by Annie Weisman, a 27-year-old from San Diego (Sept. 18-Oct. 21) and "Nostalgia" by Londoner Lucinda Coxon (Oct. 30-Dec. 2).

Also in the offing is the West Coast premiere of "The Dazzle" by Richard Greenberg (March 26-April 28, 2002). The play, based on the true story of hermit brothers who accumulated 136 tons of useless junk before they were found dead in their New York City mansion, is the sixth play by the New York-based Greenberg to be produced at South Coast.

The season's revivals are "The Circle," a 1921 drawing-room comedy about infidelity by W. Somerset Maugham (Aug. 31-Oct. 7), "The Homecoming," a 1965 black comedy about a morally corrupt family by Harold Pinter (Oct. 12-Nov. 18) and Moliere's "The School for Wives" (Jan. 4-Feb. 10). Two other titles remain to be announced.

Benson said he secured the rights to Foote's new script at a meeting with the playwright last week in New York. The prolific Foote is best known for his Oscar-winning screenplays for "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Tender Mercies." His "The Young Man From Atlanta" won the 1995 Pulitzer prize for drama.

This will be the first play by Foote staged at South Coast; typically, Benson said, his plays premiere in Texas or at the Signature Theatre in New York City.

"Getting Frankie Married--and Afterwards" concerns a dying Texas matriarch determined to marry off her bachelor son. Benson will direct. Audiences can get a preview in June, when "Getting Frankie Married" will receive a staged reading during South Coast's annual Pacific Playwrights Festival. Season subscriptions cost $65 to $238 for five Mainstage plays and $52 to $180 for four Second Stage plays. The $47.60 per show top scale Mainstage price is up $3.10, or 7% from the current season; the $24 per show bottom scale is up $2, or 9%.

On the Second Stage, subscription prices are $45 per show on the top of the scale, up $2.60 or 6.1%, and $26 at the bottom of the scale, up $2 or 8.3%. Discounts of up to 50% are available for educators, students and first-time subscribers ages 35 and under. (714) 708-5555 or


2001-2002 SEASON


* Aug. 31-Oct. 7: "The Circle" by W. Somerset Maugham, directed by Warner Shook.

* Oct. 12-Nov. 18: "The Homecoming" by Harold Pinter, directed by Martin Benson.

* Nov. 24-Dec. 24: "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens, adapted by Jerry Patch, directed by John-David Keller. Nonsubscription show.

* Jan. 4-Feb. 10: "The School for Wives" by Moliere, directed by David Chambers.

* Feb. 15-March 24: To Be Announced.

* March 29-May 5, 2002: "Getting Frankie Married--and Afterwards" by Horton Foote, directed by Martin Benson.

Second Stage

* Sept. 18-Oct. 21: "Hold Please" by Annie Weisman, directed by Mark Rucker.

* Oct. 30-Dec. 2: "Nostalgia" by Lucinda Coxon, directed by Loretta Greco.

* Dec. 7-23: "La Posada Magica" by Octavio Solis, music by Marcos Loya, directed by Diane Rodriguez. Nonsubscription show.

* Jan. 22-Feb. 24: To Be Announced.

* March 26-April 28, 2002: "The Dazzle" by Richard Greenberg, directed by Mark Rucker.

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