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Theater

TOM TITUS --

September 06, 2001

When the calendar turns to September, theatergoers undergo a unique

reinvigoration -- at least this one does -- shedding the languor from the

dog days of August in anticipation of new adventures under the

spotlights.

The official opening of the 2000-01 stage season will arrive this

weekend as Vanguard University in Costa Mesa mounts a musical revue

titled "The Road Most Traveled." It's a tuneful trip through the pitfalls

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of childhood, high school and college, directed by senior student Rachel

Hart. It will play two engagements spaced five months apart --- this

weekend and Feb. 21-24.

South Coast Repertory inaugurates its short season Friday with "The

Circle," an oldie from W. Somerset Maugham described as a "breezy

commentary on one generation's inability to learn from another's

misfortunes."

History repeats itself through Oct. 7 as SCR mounts a new slate of

plays on one hand and builds a brand new theater adjacent to the existing

complex on the other, thus necessitating a shortened season.

Orange Coast College's theater department -- which will be kept busy

with 11 productions during the new season -- will kick off its schedule

Saturday with several short comedies by Russian playwright Anton Chekhov

in OCC's Studio Theater. The program will run through Sept. 16.

After a pause of a week and a half, the greasepaint really hits the

fan as four productions open locally in the space of three days. Starting

things off will be the outrageous spoof "Forbidden Broadway," arriving

Sept. 19 at the Orange County Performing Arts Center for a brief,

five-day engagement.

I've had occasion to witness this irreverent troupe in action on three

occasions (including its offshoot, "Forbidden Hollywood"), and it's

always been a tremendous comic kick, with newer shows satirized each

year.

"The Lion in Winter," James Goldman's look at one of England's past

royal families that makes today's princes and princesses seem almost

normal, kicks off the new season Sept. 21 through Oct. 20 at the Newport

Theatre Arts Center. King Henry II and his imprisoned queen, Eleanor of

Acquitaine, battle both each other and their three contentious sons in a

power struggle laced with broad doses of comedy.

SCR's Second Stage will be open for business that weekend also,

starting off with the world premiere of "Hold Please" by Annie Weisman, a

play commissioned by SCR that delves into the psyches of women in the

workplace and questions just how far they've come. An all-female cast

will propel the modern comedy through Oct. 21.

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