Plays by Murray Schisgal, Dario Fo, Clifford Odets, Ray Cooney, James Prideaux and Tom Dulack have been slated by El Portal Center for the Arts during its 2001 season. Among the theatre artists who will be participating in the new season are Meredith Baxter, Paxton Whitehead, Charles Nelson Reilly and Robert Mandan.
The Center's kick-off attraction is Shooting Craps, Dulack's play about the lady mayor of a Connecticut city who is trying to bring an Indian gaming casino to the town-- with the help of her Mafia-connected Uncle Carmine. The political satire will be directed by the Center's artistic director, Jeremiah Morris, and will run Feb. 2-25, 200l.
Whitehead, Mandan and Cooney will star in the latter's Out of Order, a raunchy farce set in a posh London hotel suite where a Conservative member of Parliament has arranged a tryst with the opposition leader's secretary. April 27-May 20. The world premiere (in collaboration with Sacramento Theatre Company) of Schisgal's We Are Family follows June 22-July 15, directed by Peggy Shannon. It is a new take on the battle of the sexes.
Prideaux's The Last of Mrs. Lincoln, with Reilly directing, is the final mainstage play on the schedule, Sept. 11-13. A portrait of Mary Todd Lincoln, it was first seen on Broadway in 1973 starring Julie Harris.
Plays about Jewish, Italian and Irish family life permeate the 99-seat Circle Theatre's 2001 season. They are: Vacation in Paraguay, by Richard Levine (Jan. 19-Feb. 18); The Lucky O'Learys, written and directed by Jim Brochu (March 16-April 15); Odets' Awake and Sing, directed by Assad Kelada, June 15-July 15; and Fo's We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay!, Aug. 24-Sept. 23.El Portal Center also houses an art gallery showcasing well known and emerging artists, a studio theatre space for play readings, and a full education department aimed at LAUSD public schools. The Center is located at 5269 Lankershim Blvd. in North Hollywood, two blocks away from the new Metro Subway station. For tickets and information call (818) 508-4200.
-- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent