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On Theater: New SCR season blends classics, premieres

June 30, 2011|By Tom Titus

South Coast Repertory will begin its first season under new artistic director Marc Masterson with a trip back in time with Jane Austen followed by the world premiere of a modern drama set in the American Midwest.

The Costa Mesa professional theater's 2011-12 season gets underway Sept. 9 with the stage version of Austen's novel "Pride and Prejudice," which already has entertained audiences at Golden West College and Vanguard University. It's a story of five young sisters, all but one in pursuit of an eligible bachelor newcomer, and will be directed by Kyle Donnelly.

Come Sept. 25, the scene shifts to Plainview, Kan., the buckle on the Bible Belt, where a new high school biology teacher has a different notion of "How the World Began" than the townsfolk. Directed by Daniella Topol, it's being staged in association with the Women's Project Theater.

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Horton Foote's "The Trip to Bountiful," opening Oct. 21, follows an aging widow trapped in a tiny Houston apartment who yearns to return to her Gulf Coast town.

"The journey is filled with frequent humor and a tenderness that's both heartbreaking and life-affirming," said director Martin Benson.

As it has since 1980, Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," adapted for SCR by Jerry Patch, will come to center stage for the holiday season, opening Nov. 26 and playing through Christmas Eve. Director John-David Keller and "Scrooge" Hal Landon Jr. will be back for their 32nd productions of the classic.

Two street-savvy black hustlers take the stage in the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Topdog/Underdog" by Suzan-Lori Parks, opening Jan. 8. Directed by Seret Scott, the play is described as a "darkly funny hit about family grievances, sounds — and healing."

"I laughed out loud when I read it" is Masterson's comment about "Elemeno Pea," a new comedy by Molly Smith Metzler, which Masterson will direct. Two sisters with strikingly different lifestyles are featured in this show, opening Jan. 27.

"Sight Unseen," which SCR premiered 20 years ago, returns March 11 under the direction of David Emmes. Donald Margulies' drama focuses on a celebrated artist returning to find his first love and early inspiration. "Then it was Donald's breakthrough," Emmes said. "Today it's a modern classic."

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