It’s no laughing matter, apparently, in the fall when dramas dominate playbills at theaters throughout Southern California.
But fear not, patrons, there should be enough productions to tickle funny bones and provide at least some comic relief.
“A good comedy is hard to come by,’’ said Seema Sueko, director and associate artistic director of The Pasadena Playhouse. But the company has found one in, “Real Women Have Curves” (Sept. 8 through Oct. 4). “Comedies are such an inviting way for us to grapple with the challenges of life. Wrapped up in ‘Real Women Have Curves’ are issues of body image, fair wages, and immigration, but playwright Josefina López delivers them to us with heart and laughter.”
“Real Women Have Curves’’ is a comedy about five full-figured women who are racing to meet an impossible deadline and keep their small sewing factory alive. It also showcases the strength of women working together.
“It was selected because it’s an excellent piece of theater that, in the specificity of this story, universally speaks to all people, men and women, young and old, from all communities,” Sueko said.
Main Street Theatre Company
At the Main Street Theatre Company at the Lewis Family Playhouse in Rancho Cucamonga, the focus is on children.
Mireya “Murry” Hepner wants young people to learn about and appreciate theater and says comedy is the best introduction.
“We want to show children how a play is made and productions like our upcoming ‘Fairytales Unscripted’ is a great example,’’ said Hepner, a producer at the the company.
It focuses on child-friendly performing arts and serves elementary and middle schools within a 40-mile radius, along with their families, with weekday and weekend performances.
“Fairytales Unscripted,’’ running from Jan. 30 to Feb. 14, is directed by Dan O’Connor and Jo McGinley. It will bring the improvisational troupe Impro Theatre to the Victoria Gardens Cultural Center site with completely improvised re-telling of classic fairy tales.
“Impro Theatre is an amazing group of artists who create a play before your eyes as opposed to sketch comedies. There is a beginning and an end. What will happen? I’m excited to see because every performance will be different because the artists involve the audience,’’ Hepner said.
Long Beach Playhouse
The Long Beach Playhouse has “Hay Fever’’ this season.
Long Beach Playhouse spokesman Andrew Vonderschmitt said comedies simply add, well, comic relief. “A balance is always preferable in an overall season and fall is only part of our season,’’ he said.
The comedy will come to the company’s main stage after an earlier run of “Jesus Christ Superstar.’’
“Hay Fever,’’ is described as a “farcical comedy of manners” from Noel Coward. Here, a seemingly quiet weekend away takes an abrupt turn into a battleground of intellectual wordplay. The show will run from Nov. 7 to Dec. 5. The director will be Jim Rice.
A Noise Within
Maybe it’s the shorter days with less light or there’s more of an appetite for drama, but fall does tend to be more introspective in the theater, said Julia Rodriguez-Elliott, who will be directing “A Flea In Her Ear’’ at A Noise Within in Pasadena, Sept. 6–Nov. 22.
She called “Flea” an “anecdote to the end of summer blues” yet one offering a fresh start before the stresses of the fall season grab hold. “It’s just plain fun,’’ she said with a laugh.
The story centers around the revolving beds and doors of a relationship in disrepair. It is a new version of Georges Feydeau’s work, what she believes to be one of the greatest farces ever written.
“This work shows how having a flea in our ear can really turn our lives upside down. I’m excited about it because it’s going to be a wonderful crazy ride,’’ Rodriguez-Elliott said.
Although comedies are aimed at producing laughter, that doesn’t mean they’re simple to write or direct, according to Randall Arney, artistic director at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles.
“We’re always seeking to produce, put simply, the very best plays regardless of genre. Great comedy is extraordinarily difficult to write and we’re pleased to have such an embarrassment of riches in our more comedic offerings this season,’’ said Arney.
First off at the Geffen will be “These Paper Bullets! A Modish Ripoff of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.”
Defining a comedy can be difficult, too.
“The breadth and type of play that can be housed within a broad “comedy” category is really quite extraordinary and fluid,” Arney said. “Some of the very best plays considered squarely in a dramatic genre do what great playwriting, regardless of genre, should — draw an audience into the work with approachable, funny characters and situations. The plays then turn, over the course of the evening, from this initial context and make some serious, truly profound points about the human experience.”
Here’s a list of comedies on stage around Southern California this season:
Antaeus Theatre Company: “Uncle Vanya,’’ Oct. 15-Dec. 6; “Bed,’’ Jan. 23-Feb. 28. 5112 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. $30-$34.
Greenway Court Theatre: “Breathing Room,’’ Oct. 3-Oct. 25. 544 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles. $25.
Geffen Playhouse: “These Paper Bullets! A Modish Ripoff of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing,” Sept. 8-Oct. 18. $32-$82; “Outside Mullingar,’’ Nov. 10-Dec. 20. $32-$76. “Barcelona,’’ Feb. 2-March 13. $32-$76. “Sex With Strangers,’’ March 1-April 10. $60-$76. “Stage Kiss,” Apr 5-May 15. $32-$76. Gil Cates Theater, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Los Angeles. $32-$82.
International City Theatre: “A Walk in the Woods,’’ Apr 29-May 22; “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” June 10-July 3. 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach. $34-$54.
LA Theatre Works: “The Money Shot,’’ Jan. 28-31. James Bridges Theater, on the UCLA campus Melnitz Hall, 235 Charles E. Young Dr. N, Los Angeles. $15-$60.
Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center: “Room on the Broom,’’ Oct. 24. 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road, Santa Clarita. $10 and $15.
Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts: “The Ugly Duckling,’’ Oct. 10-18. Lovelance Studio Theater, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills. $25-$35. “The Lightning Thief,’’ Apr 8-9. Bram Goldsmith Theater, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills. $25-$35. ; “The Girl Who Forgot to Sing Badly,” Apr. 30-May 8. Lovelace Studio Theater, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills. $15.
Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’’ June 5-Sept. 25. 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga. $10-$39.50.
California Reportory Company: “Bird In The Hand,’’ Apr. 8-Apr. 17. Cal State Long Beach Players Theatre, 1250 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach. $14-$17.
Long Beach Playhouse: “Hot l Baltimore,’’ Sept. 26-Oct. 24; “Hay Fever,’’ Nov. 7-Dec. 5. 5021 E. Ahaheim St., Long Beach. Tickets start at $20.
Norris Theatre (Palos Verdes Performing Arts): “’Til Death Do Us Part: Late Nite Catechism,’’ Oct. 17. 27570 Norris Center Drive, Rolling Hills Estates. Tickets start at $48.
A Noise Within: “A Flea in Her Ear,’’ Sept. 6-Nov. 22; “You Never Can Tell,” March 6-May 15. 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, $40-$62
The Pasadena Playhouse: “Real Women Have Curves,’’ Sept. 8-Oct. 4; 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena. $37-$125. Lythgoe Family Productions: “Peter Pan and Tinkerbell: A Pirate Christmas,’’ Dec. 9-Jan. 3, Panto at The Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena. Tickets not on sale yet.
The Grove Theatre: “The 39 Steps,’’ Oct. 3-Oct. 11. “TranceNosis,’’ Oct. 30. 276 E. 9th St., Upland. Tickets start at $12.
Lewis Family Playhouse: Presented by MainStreet Theatre Company “Elephant & Piggie’s We Are In A Play,’’ Oct. 10, 17, 18, 24, 25; “Fairytales Unscripted,” Jan. 30-Feb. 14. 12505 Cultural Center Drive, Rancho Cucamonga. $16 and $18.
Repertory Opera Company: “The Manly Men of Opera,’’ Aug. 21. First Christian Church, 1751 N. Park Ave., Pomona. $40.
3D Theatricals: “The Addams Family,’’ Oct. 10-25 at Plummer Auditorium, 201 E. Chapman Ave., Fullerton, and Oct. 31-Nov. 8 at The Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, 1935 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Redondo Beach. $20-$70.
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