Is there anything more exciting than the prospect of an upcoming theater season? The offerings from the valley’s varied companies always provide a huge variety—and the 2013-2014 season is no exception. I can’t wait!
Below, you’ll find comments from the theater companies that had announced their schedules and shared their information with us as of our press deadline; we will add more at CVIndependent.com as other companies report back to us.
Don’t miss my reviews of many of these plays, both online and in the Independent’s monthly edition, launching in October!
Desert Rose Playhouse
HOUSE OF THE RISING SON, by Tom Jacobsen: Sept. 27-Oct. 27
THE MOST FABULOUS STORY EVER TOLD, by Paul Rudnick: Nov. 15-Dec. 22
NITE CLUB CONFIDENTIAL, by Dennis Deal: Jan. 10-Feb. 16
An untitled new play, by Dan Clancy: March 21-April 20
THE HAUNTED HOST, by Robert Patrick: May 2-June 1
Jim Strait and partner Paul Taylor report that the season for their LGBT playhouse begins with a Southern gothic, Los Angeles-New Orleans show; think “Anne Rice meets Tennessee Williams.” House of the Rising Son features ghosts, graves, special effects, and a post-Katrina/Rita all-male dynasty. Eek!
The Most Fabulous Story is a re-writing of the Old Testament. “It starts in Eden. Adam looks over the fence, and it all goes to hell in a handcart! They invent civilization, wind up in Noah’s Ark (where the bartender is a rhinoceros, and there is an amorous pig), get enslaved by a fabulous pharaoh, and wind up at the Nativity. The second act is in contemporary New York.”
Nite Club Confidential is “a film-noir musical, a cross between Sunset Boulevard and All About Eve. Stars on the rise and a diva on the rocks! Very stylistic, with American songbook music plus new original music. … It takes place in the Eisenhower years.”
The Haunted Host was one of the very first gay plays in New York, and is now celebrating its 50th anniversary. Strait acted in a performance in San Diego in 1983, and it was reportedly the first show that Harvey Fierstein ever did.
In addition, Desert Rose will feature a special attraction in March: Dorothy Kirk, a 65-year-old monologist. Strait muses, “I love a storyteller. We don’t get a lot of lesbian participation, so this will change that. It is charming!”
Tickets go on sale in August; www.desertroseplayhouse.org.
Coachella Valley Repertory
MASTER CLASS, by Terrence McNally: Oct. 23-Nov. 10
THE STORY OF MY LIFE, by Brian Hill and Neil Bartram: Dec. 4-22
A PERFECT GANESH, by Terrence McNally: Jan. 22-Feb. 9
FRANKIE AND JOHNNY IN THE CLAIR DE LUNE, by Terrence McNally: March 19-April 6
Louise Ross, the theater’s PR lady, is “really excited” about this season’s theme.
“McNally is one of America’s greatest playwrights, and we’re doing a collection of his work,” she says.
The 84-seat theater, raked for visibility, is the home of Ron Celona’s brainchild. The first Wednesday and Thursday of each show are considered preview nights (with tickets $30 instead of the usual $40); that first Thursday is also a “talkback,” featuring an audience Q&A.
“McNally has a way of being thought-provoking and entertaining at the same time. He brings controversial subjects into life situations, and makes you want to talk about what you’ve seen afterward,” says Ross.
I saw Master Class, about a celeb teaching opera, years ago in L.A., and it was stunning, with everything depending on the role of Maria Callas. Frankie became a movie, marvelous with Pacino and Pfeiffer. Ross told me about a stage version with Stanley Tucci and Frances Sternhagen—and why this show has an audience advisory due to language and brief nudity, a first for CV Rep.
Ganesh is a search for The Exotic by two white ladies in India. “It starts with an ordinary situation and becomes this whole other world,” says Ross, “about your bucket list.”
More info at www.cvrep.org.
EXQUISITE POTENTIAL, by Stephen Kaplan: Nov. 22-Dec. 1
INVASION OF PRIVACY, by Larry Parr: Jan. 31-Feb. 9
SIXTH ANNUAL PLAYREADING SERIES, April 11-19
Artistic director Michael Shaw co-founded this 5-year-old group, known for its play-reading series on which the audience votes, with the winner produced the following year. Last season brought a tie—so both plays are being produced this coming season.
Exquisite playwright Stephen Kaplan came to the reading (and was very pleased), and intends to be here again for the production. “It’s brilliant, clever, one of the most interesting story lines ever,” enthuses Shaw. The comedy-drama deals with a man who believes his 3-year-old son is the Messiah—to the surprise of his rabbi and his pregnant wife.
The second play resonates with Shaw, who once lived in Central Florida, where it is set. Invasion is about a relationship that becomes a libel suit—one that really went to the Supreme Court in the 1940s. Shaw knows the life depicted in the play well. “I had alligator stew often, and my dad used to catch wild turkeys and snapping turtles for dinner. I want to hang moss for this show!”
Considering everything happening news, these topics are as timely as ever, Shaw says.
“Tickets will be on sale in July!” promises Shaw, who keeps the ticket prices to a sensible $18-$22; www.dezartperforms.com.
THE MOUSETRAP, by Agatha Christie: Nov. 1-10
MARRIED ALIVE, by Sean Grennan and Leah Okimoto: Dec. 6-15
BLAZING GUNS AT ROARING GULCH: Jan. 24-Feb. 2
THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL: March 14-23
The Joslyn Center’s Arthur Newman Theatre in Palm Desert is now home to the Desert Theatreworks, with Lance Phillips-Martinez at the helm. He tells me that Mousetrap is the longest-running play in the world—and it already had that distinction when I saw it back in London in 1966! It’s a whodunit murder-mystery, of course.
Married is a new musical which he describes as “zany,” with newlyweds and “oldyweds” looking at marriage. Blazing is an old-fashioned “mellerdrammer” in the Wild West, with songs, skits and a very hissable villain.
Trailer is a musical that is “the theatrical equivalent of a bag of Doritos,” says Phillips-Martinez, “at Armadillo Acres in Florida—a fun, fun, fun time!”
It’ll be exciting to watch this new company as it enters the desert’s theatrical community; www.dtworks.org.
Palm Canyon Theatre
THE SOUND OF MUSIC: Oct. 4-13
AVENUE Q: Nov. 8-17
SHREK: Dec. 6-22
LES MISERABLES: Jan. 24-Feb. 9
9 TO 5: Feb. 28-March 9
JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR: April 4-20
THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE: May 2-11
SEUSSICAL THE MUSICAL: July 11-20
This coming season, the downtown Palm Springs mainstay is focusing on big Broadway shows—and they’re throwing in a “classic series” of one-weekend shows as well. We’d tell you more, but nobody from the theater got back to us before our press deadline; www.palmcanyontheatre.org.
Watch CVIndependent.com frequently for updates, reviews and theater news. Enjoy!