Ah, yes, the auguries of autumn. When the leaves transform into brilliant hues of crimson, lavender and gold. When the air blows crisp and cool, portending the frosty nights to come. When the fulsome bounty of the Earth is harvested and stored in readiness for the frigid winter ahead.
Okay, so none of that shit happens around here. But the official beginning of fall on the calendar is less than a month away, and traditionally, theaters launch their new seasons in early September. Of course, that's not the case at most OC theaters, which don't have the luxury of taking the summer off so they can do things like pay the rent.
Here is your official, 100 percent money-back guaranteed, no-strings-attached OC fall theater preview—or at least the plays we're most interested in or had something to do with. . . .
Monuments. This opened last week but runs three more weekends. It's the return to OC of a play written and directed by Steve Spehar that blew audiences away back in the late 20th century in two productions. It's a trippy, metaphysical cocktail, as one Los Angeles Times critic put it back in 1990-something, and the account of a once-lauded avant-garde theater director determined to stage his own death, as outlined in a dream, is also a lot of fun. Full disclosure: The now-New Orleans-based Spehar is currently using my laundry facilities and shower during his stay for this run, and I helped out on the show. That spells Conflict of Interest. STAGEStheatre, 400 E. Commonwealth, Fullerton, (714) 525-4484; www.stagesoc.org. Through Sept. 11.
All The Way. Robert Schenkkan, who wrote one of the masterpieces of American Theater, the nine-play "The Kentucky Cycle," returned to epic drama in 2012 with this one, the first part of a two-play set about Lyndon Johnson's triumphant, turbulent and, ultimately, tragic reign as American president. It's a fantastic piece, and while this production won't star Walter White, a.k.a. Heisenberg, a.k.a. Bryan Cranston, who won a Tony for it on Broadway and is up for an Emmy for his work on the HBO film, it should still be an incredibly powerful, potent piece. South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 708-5555; www.scr.org. Sept. 2-Oct. 2.
WTC View and Accidental Dancers. Both of these works from OC's premier theater company focusing on works relevant to the LGBT community and its allies are sure to be poignant and heartbreaking. The first, written by Brian Sloan, is, according to the company's website, "a story of grief, guilt, survival and reconciliation [as] a gay man searches for a roommate to live in an apartment with a view of a plume of smoke and dust." The second, written by Stephen Ludwig, is based on personal experience and a heartbreaker of a play about the fleeting nature of relationships and genuine intimacy penned by a soulful OC playwright who sadly shuffled off this mortal coil three years ago. It won an OC Weekly Theater Award for Best New Play in 2000. Theatre Out, 402 W. Fourth St., Santa Ana; www.theatreout.com. WTC View, Sept. 2-24; Accidental Dancers, Nov. 11-26.
Red Scare On Sunset. Charles Busch is American theater's answer to American film's John Waters. He's culty, campy and witty as fuck. This is a spoof of the 1950s Hollywood-blacklist debacle, and it's as entertaining as six guys blowing seven dicks—if that's your thing. On a side note, Costa Mesa Playhouse's 51-year-old theater's future is in doubt. The Newport Mesa School District, which owns the building, is seriously contemplating not extending the lease when it ends next June. Go raise hell about that. Costa Mesa Playhouse, 661 Hamilton St., Costa Mesa, (949) 650-5269; www.costamesaplayhouse.com. Sept. 9-Oct. 2.
Seminar. Theresa Rebeck is a hot commodity and boasts a pretty stellar résumé, considering she's written for TV shows ranging from Law and Order to NYPD Blue. Her theater work, according to a New York Times story in 2007, tends to focus on things such as "betrayal, treason and poor behavior. A lot of poor behavior." This 2011 dark comedy about an arrogant writing teacher locking horns with four aspiring novelists receives its Orange County premiere with this production. Chance Theater, 5522 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim, (888) 445-4212; chancetheater.com. Sept. 23-Oct. 23.
The Real Desperate Zombies of Orange County. No idea what this play at Stage Door Repertory Theatre is about, but it's a safe bet it has something to do with desperate zombies in Orange County. It's also a musical revue. And that just oozes FUN! Stage Door Repertory Theatre, 1045 N. Armando St., Anaheim, (714) 630-7378; www.stagedoorrep.org. Oct. 22-30.