It's the last issue of the last OC Weekly in the last year that America won't be great again, so what better time to focus our energies on what lies ahead for local theater in the first few months of the year 2017? The following is a round-up of the most intriguing plays opening in January on local boards. Sadly, none of them call the orange turd a big, disgusting piece of bellowing, megalomaniacal crapola . . . we think.
The Roommate, South Coast Repertory. Playwright Jen Silverman is on fire. Since The Roommate was staged at the 2015 Humana Festival of New American Plays, that play and others have been produced—or will be produced—on stages from New Haven and Baltimore to Cincinnati and San Francisco. This one is about an empty-nesting, fiftysomething woman who gets a roommate for the first time. It's dark and funny, and it gives a couple of “mature” actresses a chance to show their stuff. And considering the two lined up for this show are longtime SCR stalwarts Tessa Auberjonois and Linda Gehringer, it should be a keeper. 655 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 708-5555; www.scr.org. Jan. 3-22, 2017. $22-$79.
Rex and Bob's Excellent Misadventure, Stage Door Repertory Theatre. Hey, a world premiere courtesy of the hard-working crew at Stage Door Rep! Good to see. This musical, written and directed by Bill Lewis, is a mash-up of two of the venerable musicals in the American canon, My Fair Lady and The Music Man. That's all we know about it, although one graphic we've seen shows two dudes in a car, and who doesn't like a road trip with two dudes in a car? 1045 N. Armando Ave., Anaheim, (714) 630-7378; www.stagedoorrep.org. Jan. 14-Feb. 11, 2017. $22-$28.
Moby Dick, South Coast Repertory. This isn't the first theatrical adaptation of Melville's classic, if long-winded, tale of a big white whale and the guy hell-bent on killing it, but it may be the most intriguing. It's courtesy of Chicago's renowned Lookingglass Theatre Co. (but, as SCR head honcho Marc Masterson once reprimanded this lowly ink-stained wretch, it is NOT an import, but more of a co-production). The Chicago Tribune, which is a newspaper (remember those?), lavished praise on its premiere in 2015, calling it “fabulous” and one of the best things produced in 20 years by the acclaimed company. www.scr.org. Jan. 20-Feb. 19, 2017. $22-$79.
The Awkward Party, STAGEStheatre. Josh Nicols is the guru of improv theater in Orange County, and his improv company, Spectacles Improv Engine, is teaming up with STAGES to create an original unscripted play inspired, says the company's website, by “all the terribly awkward party moments you'd love to forget.” It's the kind of show in which the performers perform without much of a net, as the only thing that tethers them is an idea, rather than a script. That means every night is different, and it should be one of the more interesting things in the early days of the last year any of us will be alive. 400 E. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, (714) 525-4484; www.stagesoc.org. Jan. 21-22, Feb. 18-19 & 25-26, and March 4, 2017. $20-$22.
Claudio Quest, Chance Theater. Marshall Pailet is a stupid-talented playwright who is going places, and one day, the Chance Theater will be credited as helping to launch his career—although it kinda already has. His newest musical (he wrote one about the Loch Ness monster a couple of years ago) follows characters who are very reminiscent of those from a certain video-game franchise with the name Mario in the title. The New York Times, another newspaper, called it “delightfully bouncy,” and the show, according to the Chance's website, features “killer eggplants, a love-starved platypus” and an “8-bit existential crisis.” 5222 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim, (714) 455-4212; chancetheater.com. Jan. 27-0x000AFeb. 26, 2017. $31-$45.
Looking ahead: Brian Newell somehow secured the rights to adapt Michael Shaara's killer novel about the Civil War, Killer Angels, at the Maverick Theater in Fullerton (www.mavericktheater.com, May 5-June 24, 2017); SCR welcomes back one of the finest playwrights it's helped cultivate over the years, Amy Freed, and her play The Monster Builder (www.scr.org, May 5-June 4, 2017); the Chance is staging the musical Parade, which is rife with religious intolerance, political injustice and racial tension—and, hey, ain't that America for you and me? (chancetheater.com, June 30-July 30, 2017); and the only show that most people outside of you sad phuckers actually reading this even recognize as theater, Hamilton, posts up at Los Angeles' Pantages Theatre (hollywoodpantages.com, Aug. 11-Dec. 30, 2017). It ain't OC, but it's Southern California, and that's not the rest of this soon-to-be-great-again country, so stick your dick in some mashed potatoes and party like it's 2020.