Love, despise or just don't give a general damn about them, musicals continue to reign supreme in American theater. They get the most attention, the most butts in seats per venue, and are pretty much what most god-fearing Americans care about when it comes to theater.
And if you're a fan of the bright lights and the (mostly) thin ideas of big, boffo Broadway musicals, you're in the right place for the next couple of weeks — Orange County. From Big Fish to Pippin to Stephen Sondheim, here's three Broadway shows or events happening in OC, or right next door, this week:
Big Fish at Musical Theatre West
Long Beach hosts the West Coast premiere of this critically acclaimed 2013 Broadway musical Big Fish now through Nov. 16. Musical Theatre West, whose main-stage shows happen at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center located on the campus of Cal State Long Beach, scored a coup with landing Big Fish, which is based on a Daniel Wallace novel that was adapted into a Tim Burton-directed film in 2003. Although the show didn't last long on Broadway (only 98 performances), it received high praise for its scope and imagination, if not always for its execution.
Even though Big Fish is a new musical — it's the fourth that MTW has landed exclusive rights for in its long history — this production uses the same sets and costumes that were used on Broadway, although hopefully after a bit of laundering. Executive Director Paul Garman saw the show in New York and thought highly enough of it that he negotiated the rights, even though local audiences may be unfamiliar with it. It runs through this Sunday and at least one person who has seen the show in Long Beach dug it.
Big Fish , Carpenter Performing Arts Center, 6200 E. Atherton St., Long Beach, (562) 856-1999. Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m. Thru Nov. 16. Tickets begin at $20. www.musical.org.
Into the Woods Reunion/Retrospective at Segerstrom
On Sunday, Stephen Sondheim, Bernadette Peters and other major players in the original mounting of Into the Woods, one of the most successful musicals to ever cavort on the Great White Way, will participate in a reunion of the show in Costa Mesa.
You won't see the full production of Into the Woods at the Segerstrom Center, but if you're a fan of the show, which premiered in 1987 and has seemingly been running somewhere every night since, this reunion/retrospective/moderated panel should be catnip.
While several songs from the show featuring the original talent, such as Peters and six other original cast members are included in the evening, it's the presence of co-creators Sondheim and James Lapine that will add context to the deal. And since it's moderated by Mo Rocca, it probably will not be a dry, dreary affair.
Into the Woods remains a hot commodity. A production ran this summer at the theater where the original launched, San Diego's Old Globe Theatre, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's production will be mounted next month in Beverly Hills and, most notably (and, let's be honest, probably the real reason why this reunion is taking place right now) a big, fat-budgeted film version opens on Christmas.
Into the Woods Reunion, Segerstrom Center for the Performing Arts, (714) 556-2787. Sun., 1 p.m. & 6 p.m. Tickets start at $59. www.sctfa.org
Pippin at the Segerstrom
Next week, the national tour of Pippin, which won the 2013 Tony for Best Revival and is currently playing to sold-out crowds in New York and Los Angeles' Pantages Theater, opens in Costa Mesa.
The Segerstom's Center production of Pippin is the second stop of the national tour of the musical that won four Tony Awards the 2013. The Circus du Soleil-like show, which features aerial acrobatics and a bunch of other dazzling accoutrements that critics have fawned over (and which hopefully obscures the rather limp book), will be fresh off its sold-out run at the Pantages Theatre. Two new faces will join this cast, that of Kyle Dean Massey, who played the role during some of its Broadway run, as well as Lucie Arnaz, who played Berthe on Broadway. Most of the other main players from the Pantages show return, including Joel Rubinstein, who created the role of PIppin in the original 1972 Bob Fosse-directed production, as Charlegmane.
Pippin, Segerstrom Center for the Performing Arts, (714) 556-2787.Opens Nov. 11. Tues.-Fri., 7:30 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 7:30 p.m.; Sun., 1 & 6:30 p.m. Thru Nov. 23. Tickets begin at $29.