Maybe you didn't get the memo, but the word alternative doesn't mean opposite; it means “different,” as in a different outcome, choice or path. Say, for instance, the choice between walking or riding your mom to the store.
So, if you've been aware, in any fashion, of this newspaper's status as an alternative newspaper for nigh unto 20 years, you are no doubt aware that what it decides to cover in terms of the performing arts is, well, different. Which is why even though instantly recognizable, done-to-death musicals such as Fiddler On the Roof, Cabaret, Phantom of the Opera, Footloose, Les Miserables and The Pirates of Penzance dominate local stages the next few months, we're not going to mention them in this summer preview—unless it comes with a big ol' dollop of snark. It's not that we don't wish the producers incredible financial success, nor that we don't eagerly look forward to the ubiquitous, unrelenting social-media updates from cast and crew about what an incredible experience being in this or that show is.
But we don't really give a fuck. Amateur bloggers and social-media posters are more than willing to inform the theater-going public about the limp-dicked and irrelevant. Hell, maybe even the Orange County Register will throw them a bone. But here, there is no soup. However, there are shows the hep cats are looking forward to this summer. . . .
A Bright New Boise. As the Chance Theater continues emulating both the consistent quality and interest in new or unfamiliar playwrights of its theatrical mentor of sorts, South Coast Repertory, it's no surprise it has chosen to produce a play by one of SCR's favorite writers at the moment, Samuel Hunter. This 2011 Obie Award winner for best playwriting is set in the spartan break room of a Hobby Lobby in Idaho, where some lost souls scramble for faith and forgiveness in a time when both are as much commodities as moral concepts. Chance Theater, 5522 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim Hills, (714) 777-3033; www.chancetheater.com. Sept. 25-Oct. 25.
Cock. Duh. Although a rooster is on this show's flier, the production comes with an advisory: There are sexual situations and full-frontal nudity. Considering Mike Bartlett's gritty play, which won an Olivier Award in 2010 for outstanding achievement, is about a guy who breaks up with his boyfriend, and then gets a girlfriend, we doubt the cock in question will be plumed in feathers. Long Beach Playhouse's Studio Theatre, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach, (562) 494-1014; www.lbplayhouse.org. June 13-July 11.
Darkside. Don't know much about this show except Garage Theatre jefe Eric Hamme said he heard Tom Stoppard (only one of the greatest English-language playwrights alive today) had written a radio play that incorporates Pink Floyd's iconic album The Dark Side of the Moon. Stoppard? Floyd? As in good, Roger Waters-era Floyd? Sign us up! Garage Theatre, 251 E. Seventh St., Long Beach, (562) 433-8337; thegaragetheatre.org. July 31-Sept. 5.
The Dragon Play. Just in time for those sad weirdos enduring withdrawals from Game of Thrones (sucks, doesn't it?), this play, written by Jenny Connell Davis, an emerging playwright getting all kinds of recognition all over the place, is about a teenage boy falling in love with a dragon. There's also something about a rocky marriage tottering even more when a “fire-breathing” ex-lover returns, but that doesn't sound half as interesting as a real dragon—and yes, they do exist. Chance Theater, 5522 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim Hills, (714) 777-3033; www.chancetheater.com. July 23-Aug. 23.
Green Man. A painter. A naked man painted green. An intern who looks like the nude guy. A sculptor of gargoyles whose fiancé is grayish in tone. Oh, there's also music. According to playwright Jim Knable, this is “a play about love, loss and other things made of stone.” It sounds like a trip, and this is the first time anyone on the West Coast can see it without leaving the only place real people want to live. STAGEStheatre, 400 E. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, (714) 525-4484; www.stagesoc.org. June 26-Aug. 1.
Next to Normal. This play about a mother and housewife suffering from crippling mental illness won the Pulitzer Prize in 2010, and a California Repertory Co. production in Long Beach last year confirmed it was no fluke. An intense and emotionally compelling show that elevates the musical genre to a place it rarely reaches (i.e., no tits, ass or stupid sentimental shit), it's one of the great American musicals of the 21st century. One More Productions at Gem Theater, 12852 Main St., Garden Grove, (714) 741-9550; www.onemoreproductions.com. June 18-July 12.
Romeo and Juliet. No, this isn't a typo. Yes, this is the one Shakespeare play that, if it disappeared tomorrow, wouldn't make a stir in the cosmic dust since everyone knows it so well. But this production seems different. It's a multicultural show from Shakespeare Orange County and the Vietnamese American Arts & Letters Association. It features Santa Ana's Mexican Folklórico troupe Relámpago del Cielo and is as much about the melting pot of 2015 central Orange County as it is star-crossed Veronese lovers. Strawberry Bowl Festival Amphitheatre, 12762 Main St., Garden Grove, (714) 590-1575; shakespeareoc.org. July 2-Aug. 1.
Shakespeare's R&J. No, this isn't a typo (see above). But this Joe Calarco play uses Shakespeare's text as a launching point to explore issues of identity and social construction as four schoolboys in a Catholic school meet secretly to read and talk about it. Long Beach Playhouse's Studio Theatre, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach, (562) 494-1014; www.lbplayhouse.org. July 25-Aug. 22.
Joel Beers has written about theater and other stuff for this infernal rag since its very first issue in, when was that again???