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South Coast sets 2008-09 season

World premieres from Amy Freed, John Kolvenbach and Lauren Gunderson are among the highlights.

June 02, 2008|Lynne Heffley | Times Staff Writer

Four commissioned world premieres, including one by "Freedomland" playwright Amy Freed, and a rare Shakespearean offering will be presented on South Coast Repertory's Segerstrom and Julianne Argyros stages as part of the Costa Mesa-based company's 2008-09 season, announced today.

The season opener in the Segerstrom is "An Italian Straw Hat" (Sept. 12 to Oct. 5), a world-premiere musical adaptation of Eugene Labiche's classic farce, commissioned by SCR and created by playwright John Strand and stage and screen composer Dennis McCarthy.

Directed by Stefan Novinski and conceived as a vaudevillian entertainment with "musical moments," SCR's 2007 staged reading of the show was the first time a musical in development had been presented as part of the theater's Pacific Playwrights Festival.

"King Lear" (May 22 to June 14), the Segerstrom season finale, will mark just the second time that the 45-year-old theater has mounted a dramatic Shakespeare play in more than two decades.

Daniel Sullivan, who helmed the company's first-time production of "Hamlet" last summer, will direct.

Sarah Ruhl's New York hit, "Dead Man's Cell Phone" (Sept. 26 to Oct. 12), will kick off the Julianne Argyros Stage offerings.

It will be followed by three SCR-commissioned world premieres: Freed's "You, Nero" (Jan. 9 to 25), exploring the infamous Roman emperor's efforts to stage a hit play; "Goldfish," a seriocomic romance by John Kolvenbach (March 20 to April 5), directed by Loretta Greco, the new artistic director of San Francisco's Magic Theatre; and "Emilie -- The Marquise du Chatelet Defends Her Life at the Petit Theatre at Cirey Tonight," a drama by Lauren Gunderson about Voltaire's lover (April 24 to May 10).

Other Segerstrom shows are "The Heiress," by Ruth Goetz and Augustus Goetz, loosely based on Henry James' novella "Washington Square" (Oct. 24 to Nov. 16); Michael Frayn's backstage farce, "Noises Off" (Feb. 13 to March 8); and a new play to be announced that will premiere as part of the 2009 Pacific Playwrights Festival (May 1 to 3).

The 2008-09 season will also feature the return of SCR's holiday fare: "A Christmas Carol" in the Segerstrom (Dec. 5 to 27) and "La Posada Magica" (The Magical Journey) in the Argyros (Dec. 14 to 23).

New Theatre for Young Audiences shows in the Argyros will include Judy Blume's "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing" (Nov. 15 to 23); Arnold Lobel's "A Year With Frog and Toad" (Feb. 21 to March 1); and "The Brand New Kid" (June 6 to 14), an adaptation of Katie Couric's children's book.


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