Is OC Theater Still Worth Your Time in 2013?

Categories: Theater
Henry DiRocco/SCR
Motherfuckers without the hat

In a little more than a year, Orange County lost two of its edgiest, longest-established storefront theaters: The Monkey Wrench Collective, which closed in December 2011, and the Hunger Artists Theatre Co., which closed in November. Both announcements were disheartening because, together (if you count the Monkey Wrench's original incarnation as the Rude Guerrilla Theatre Ensemble), they shared a collective 30 years of producing (16 for Hunger Artists, 14 for Monkey Wrench) and offered scores of plays ranging from Sarah Kane and Mark Ravenhill to Samuel Beckett and Hedwig and the Angry Inch. But this is hardly a death knell for local theater. Sure, the Laguna Playhouse is just a rental these days, just another community theater in a very big space, but South Coast Repertory remains a formidable presence and gained an infusion of energy when Marc Masterson stepped up as artistic director in 2011. And three producing entities either opened in 2012 or greatly ramped up their offerings: Stage Door Repertory and the Galley Theater in Anaheim, plus the Mysterium Theatre in Orange. Time will tell if they can gain the traction to join the Chance Theatre, the Maverick Theater, STAGEStheatre and Theatre Out, all of which seem to be doing fine in these rough economic times.

The following is a list of the most intriguing plays being offered over the next six months or so in local theater:

CHANCE THEATER: The season kicks off with Triassic Parq, a musical parody of Jurassic Park told from the perspective of the dinosaurs (Jan. 25-Feb. 24). In April, the Chance stages a joint production of the groundbreaking play The Laramie Project and its follow-up piece, The Laramie Project: 10 Years After. In July, the Andrew Jackson musical (really) Bloody Bloody Jackson takes the stage, followed in late September by a rarely performed piece by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Donald Margulies, Time Stands Still, about a photojournalist who barely survives a bomb blast in Iraq.

MAVERICK THEATER: Brian Newell's fusion of cinema and stage is in full flower this year, as the first four mainstage shows all have something to do with film. Opening Jan. 11 is Yasmine Reza's four-character play God of Carnage, which was turned into a Roman Polanski film, Carnage. That's followed by Amadeus on Feb. 15, the musical adaptation of Legally Blonde on April 10 and the most interesting sounding of all: his adaptation of The Sting, which opens May 30.

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