Hamilton, Hendrix, Elvis, the Khmer Rouge and Other Reasons to Look Forward to Local Theater in 2018

If you add the numbers in the year 2018, you get 11, which means, as all the savvy kids know, that 11 is the magic number of this new year. Bet it all on 11! Buy 11 Hot Pockets for the price of 10! Vote Nov. 6 against your local Republican congressman 11 times!

And here are 11* reasons to give a shit about local theater in the first half of year 11, uh, 2018!

Elvis ’68. It’s a year of revivals at Fullerton’s Maverick Theater, and this one should be its biggest. This theatrical retelling of Presley’s 1968 TV comeback filled the house back in 2014, and considering Elvis is right up there with death and taxes in things that can’t be avoided, it ought to pack them in again. Maverick Theater, 110 E. Walnut Ave., Fullerton, (714) 526-7070; www.mavericktheater.com. Jan. 12-Feb. 25.

The Car Plays. This is a site-specific piece staged as part of the Segerstrom Center’s always-intriguing Off Center Festival. Audience members see five 10-minute plays, but here’s the catch: They sit in cars, and most of the action also takes place inside the vehicle or right outside of it. Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 556-2787; www.scfta.org. Jan. 19-28.

The Hendrix Project. Also part of the Off Center Festival, this show is set on the last New Year’s Eve of the 1960s, which was also the last of Jimi Hendrix’s life. Twelve of the musician’s “disciples” have come to bear witness to the man and his Band of Gypsys during a concert at NYC’s Fillmore East Auditorium. It’s conceived and directed by Roger Guenveur Smith, who is as brilliant as they come, and developed in cooperation with Experience Hendrix LLC, which owns Hendrix’s publicity rights. Segerstrom Center for the Arts; www.scfta.org. Feb. 1-3.

Cambodian Rock Band. Set in both present-day America and in the darkest days of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, this Lauren Yee/Dengue Fever piece is “part comedy, part mystery, part rock concert.” It’s also a world premiere and ranks among the most unusual new plays mounted by SCR. South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 708-5555; www.scr.org. March 4-25.

The Crucible. Always timely, Arthur Miller’s 1953 play juxtaposing the Salem Witch Trials against the rabid McCarthyism of the late 1940s seems even more relevant in Trump America 2018. Attic Community Theater, 2834 S. Fairmont Ave., Costa Mesa, (714) 662-2525; www. attictheater.weebly.com. March 16-April 8.

Shrew! Amy Freed is one of the finest writers to grace South Coast Repertory’s boards over the past 20 years, and this play couldn’t seem any timelier. Once again re-imagining history, Freed turns the tables on Shakespeare’s oft-produced, oft-pilloried The Taming of the Shrew (you know, the one in which the woman gets physically and mentally abused by a man and LOVES it?) by having it written by a 16th-century woman. South Coast Repertory; www.scr.org. March 24-April 21.

Good People. David Lindsay-Abaire is one of this country’s top playwrights, and the Chance staged an impeccable production of his Rabbit Hole several years ago, so there’s little reason to think this one won’t be as good. It’s a story about a struggling single mother forced to turn to an old flame, now wealthy physician, for help. Chance Theater, 5522. E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim, (888) 455-4212; chancetheater.com. April 20-May 20.

Urinetown. Plenty of intriguing things are on tap at STAGES this year, ranging from a “new” play by William Shakespeare to the return of unscripted long-form improv based on Tennessee Williams characters. But the two times this Mark Hollmann-Greg Kotis anti-musical set in a bizarre city in which you gotta pay to pee have been staged by local theaters (Costa Mesa Civic Playhouse, the Maverick), the results have been hilarious. STAGEStheatre, 400 E. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, (714) 525-4484; www.stagesoc.org. April 20-May 20.

Hamilton. Yes, it’s finally here. This is the national touring production of a show that is still running on Broadway, as well as Chicago and Los Angeles. What does that mean? Well, you’re probably not going to see any of the same people who shamed Vice President Mike Pence, at least in the major roles, but you’re going to see the same play and hear the same music that made this the Biggest Theatrical Thing of this century. Segerstrom Center for the Arts; www.scfta.org. May 8-27.

Big Fish. This is a musical adaptation of the 1998 Daniel Wallace novel and 2003 Tim Burton film about a man on his deathbed whose son embarks on an imaginative journey to figure out fact from fantasy in his father’s stories. Chance Theater; chancetheater.com. June 29-July 29.

*Sure, that’s only 10, not 11. You really think we believe in superstitious claptrap?!

Joel Beers has written about theater and other stuff for this infernal rag since its very first issue in, when was that again???

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