Something's cooking at Laguna Playhouse. That would be the West Coast premiere of the James Valq-Fred Alley musical The Spitfire Grill, playing the Southern California theatre Oct. 29-Dec. 1.
The Spitfire Grill joins the West Coast premiere of Richard Dresser's Rounding Third, the U.S premiere of Lovers at Versailles and two world premieres, Jumping for Joy by John Marans (Old Wicked Songs) and Mr. Shaw Goes to Hollywood by Mark Saltzman (The Tin Pan Alley Rag).
Spitfire Grill, based on the Lee David Zlotoff film, is the story of Percy, a young woman with a criminal past who becomes a resident in tiny Gilead, Wisconsin. There she's met with suspicion by the residents, who are haunted by a previous tragedies. A recording of The Spitfire Grill's score was released on April 29.
Jumping for Joy, from Pulitzer finalist Marans, is a dark comedy, planned for the Sept. 3-Oct. 6 slot. In the play, a prodigal son returns home to put his ailing father and troubled sister away, but as he remembers the joys of his childhood, he wrestles with the family's expectations that he'll stay with them.
Like his Tin Pan Alley Rag, which imagined a meeting between Irving Berlin and Scott Joplin, Saltzman recreates George Bernard Shaw's trip to Los Angeles in Mr. Shaw Goes to Hollywood, playing April 1-May 4, 2003. In 1933, when Shaw and his wife visited California, he had lunch with some of Hollywood's great names including Louis B. Mayer, William Randolph Heart and Marion Davies, Clark Gable, John Barrymore and Charlie Chaplin. Mr. Shaw shows one interpretation of how the socially aware, crusty playwright might have reacted to the greed, gold and good times represented by Hollywood in its early heyday. Lovers at Versailles is the third bittersweet comedy by Irishman Bernard Farrell Laguna Playhouse has imported to California (after Stella by Starlight and Kevin's Bed). Playing Feb. 18-March 23, 2003, Lovers at Versailles takes place after the death of Stephen Sullivan, who has left three women behing. His widow wants to discover his secret life; his youngest daughter wants to move up the social ladder and the eldest wants another chance to be happy. Lovers at Versailles premiered at Dublin's Abbey Theatre in March, 2002.
Completing the Laguna season is the West Coast premiere of Rounding Third by the author of Gun-Shy. Set in the midst of a little league team, the twisted comedy is a tale of two Dads, both coaches and fathers of baseball-playing boys. But one of them develops an obsession with the game that goes beyond normal reason. Rounding Third plays May 27-June 29, 2003.
Opening the season will be a revival of Always, Patsy Cline, playing July 9-Aug. 11, 2002. One slot, Jan. 1-Feb. 2, 2003, has not been filled.
The Laguna Playhouse is located at 606 Laguna Canyon Road in Laguna Beach. For subscription information, call (949) 497-ARTS.
— By Christine Ehren