OC Fall 2017 Theater Preview: Curvy Latinas, Deaf Weirdos and More!

Fall—or, as the elitist snobs like to say, autumn—begins this month, and, as usual, Orange Countians are agog with anticipation at all the marvels the season will display: searing heat, raging brush fires and no college football—though we do have a professional football team from San Diego with Los Angeles in its name that’s based in Costa Mesa and will play its first season in a soccer stadium in Carson.

Oh, and theater! Here’s a look at some of the more interesting plays on tap on local boards in the next few months, the last time any of us will ever ask, “Hey, what are you doing in autumn 2017 in Orange County?”

Killer Angels. Ripped from the pages of today’s headlines, this is the play that ignited the controversy over Civil War monuments in the South. No, it didn’t. But it is Brian Newell’s adaptation of Michael Shaara’s killer novel about Gettysburg, something that ran to sold-out audiences in the spring and returns for a limited, four-weekish engagement. Maverick Theater, 110 E. Walnut Ave., Fullerton, (714) 526-7070; www.mavericktheater.com. Sept. 1-24.

Kill Climate Deniers. Global stage premiere of Australian playwright/activist David Finnigan’s story (which has drawn the ire of the douchebags at Breitbart), told in the style of an action film that looks squarely at the battle against manmade extinction. Garage Theatre, 251 E. Seventh St., Long Beach, (562) 433-8337; www.thegaragetheatre.org. Sept. 1-Oct. 7.

Once. Used to be you had a better chance of a white male playwright with an Ivy League pedigree on the boards at OC’s premier theatrical purveyor than a musical. Well, you still get some of those, but during the past few years, we’ve been exposed to far more women playwrights and writers of color, and even the lowbrow ridiculously expensive genre of musical theater has surfaced on occasion. This Glen Hansard-Markéta Irglová musical is based on the 2007 film the two starred in, one that yielded the Academy Award for Best Song in 2008. It’s a smaller-scale production, with the actors playing their own instruments and set amid buskers in Dublin. And that means Guinness. South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 708-5555; www.scr.org. Sept. 2-30.

In a Word. This rib-splitting laugh-a-thon centers on the aftermath of a second-grade kid disappearing two years earlier from a gas station. Okay, so it’s very not funny, plot-wise, but the reviews of Lauren Yee’s new play (this is its Southern California premiere) suggest it is smart, moving and as much about language—and the spaces between our words—as the sobering situation. Chance Theater, 5522 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim, (888) 455-4212; chancetheater.com. Sept. 8-Oct. 8.

Real Women Have Curves. Long before female empowerment, immigration and cultural identity became politicized issues used to show how much Americans hate one another, they served as fascinating launching points for intriguing stories. Such as this 1990 Josefina López play set in a small East Los Angeles sewing factory featuring five “full-figured” Mexican-American women racing to meet draconian deadlines and trying to stay put—and prosper—in the land of opportunity. Costa Mesa Playhouse, 661 Hamilton St., Costa Mesa, (949) 650-5269; costamesaplayhouse.com. Sept. 8-Oct. 1.

Death By Design. Haven’t heard much about this Rob Urbinati play, other than it’s a mash-up of Noel Coward style and Agatha Christie plot and it’s a newer comedy (first produced in 2011). But considering so many of our community theaters have such soft-ons for murder mysteries and Coward style, one can’t help but wonder why it has taken so long to be produced here. Newport Theatre Arts Center, 2501 Cliff Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 631-0288; www.ntaconline.com. Sept. 15-Oct. 15.

Curve of Departure. This world premiere from Rachel Bonds, her third this year (!), is billed as a “warm and surprisingly funny family drama.” It is set in a hotel room the night before the funeral of a man who left his family years ago, which does not sound particularly warm, surprising or funny, but it definitely sounds familial and dramatic. South Coast Repertory; www.scr.org. Sept. 24-Oct. 15.

Tribes. Add this OC premiere of English writer Nina Raine’s 2010 play to the lexicon of Great Plays About Deaf People (seriously, there have been several—or so we’ve heard). This comedy is about a deaf child raised in a politically incorrect household who doesn’t meet another deaf person until he does, and then, well, stuff happens. Chance Theater; chancetheater.com. Sept. 24-Oct. 22.

Cabaret. Yes, this one’s done to death, but its most interesting thematic concern (forget the hokey love story) of artistic expression amid the ominous portent of rising fascism seems relevant these days, for whatever reason. Gem Theatre, 12852 Garden Grove Blvd., Garden Grove, (714) 741-9550; www.onemoreproductions.com. Sept. 28-Oct. 22.

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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