Five Unique Plays Highlight a New Season at The Studio at Long Beach Playhouse

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The Studio at Long Beach Playhouse continues to push the envelope with a lineup of five disparate plays that all have something to say. 

“The main benefit of having our second stage, The Studio, is that we can produce a different kind of work,” said Andrew Vonderschmitt, executive and producing artistic director, “We can delve into psychological places that wouldn’t be a good fit on our more traditional Mainstage. Not to mention the sex and violence that some of these offerings require.”

The season (Full lineup below) has many things to offer even the most discerning theatre goer. From shows like Marat/Sade, a gritty play set in an insane asylum where the Marquis de Sade stages a play about the French Revolution to reasons to be pretty, Neil LaBute’s indictment of modern beauty standards, the season takes us down a rabbit hole of meaning. Sweeney Todd brings revenge, cannibalism, and a striking musical score to our intimate stage while an all female version of The Importance of Being Earnest magnifies the rigid social and gender norms of Victorian British Society.  Lysistrata brings the idea of Make Love Not War to the fore when a group of women are tired of war and use the main tool at their disposal (at that time, Ancient Greece) to stop the war, sex.

In choosing to do an all female cast of Earnest we considered that, “There are a lot of iconic roles out there that actors do not get a chance to perform because in one way or another they don’t fit the part.” Phie Mura, director ruminates on unconventional casting. And furthermore, using an all female cast really highlights the gender norms we are all so comfortable with in the standard British Drawing Room comedy.

The lineup starts in April with opening nights on Saturdays.

1. April 30  – May 28, 2016
Lysistrata by Aristophanes adapted by James Rice

Lust, power struggles, and loyalty test both genders in this raucous trip into the past, proving some issues never change – war or love, which wins? what’s the only way to keep men from going to war?  Well, in ancient Greece, a young lady named Lysistrata devises a plan to do just that.  Her solution?  Withhold the one thing men care about more than killing the enemy – sex.  In this earliest of comedy dealing with the war between the sexes, the women of Greece go on a sex-strike until a peace treaty is signed.

2. June 11 – July 9, 2016
Marat/Sade or
The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat As Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis De Sade by Peter Weiss

When the Marquis de Sade, an inmate of the Asylum of Charenton, chooses to stage a theatrical production based on the murder of Jean-Paul Marat, the lines between reality and art blur and eventually disappear completely.  Taking place following the French Revolution, this play-within-a-play delves into political intrigue and dark humor, as a revolution of the mind develops against the powers-that-be that run the asylum.  The fight against suppression and freedom of thought is brought to life through brilliant dialogue and the passion of the disenfranchised.

3. July 23 – August 20, 2016
reasons to be pretty by Neil LaBute

In this modern love story about the impossibly difficult challenges of being a loving couple, we are introduced to two young adults whose relationship is threatened by a slip of the tongue.  When Greg is overheard explaining that he loves Steph even though she only has “normal” looks unlike the amazingly pretty new girl at work, all hell breaks loose.  The issues of love, friendship, honesty, and lies, are brought to life in witty banter and frustratingly true slice of life moments. Funny, sweet, and true, these characters will anger, frustrate, amuse, and worm their way into your hearts.

4. September 3 – October 1, 2015
The Importance of Being Earnest  by Oscar Wilde
Adapted by Phie Mura for an all Woman Cast

This classic satire is brought to new life in this all-woman production, as the female sensibilities of the performers bring new light to the gender stereotypes so crucial to the convoluted machinations of this comedy of manners.  Fast, funny, and entirely female, Earnest is guaranteed to reignite the audiences love of high British farce. Algernon and Jack, both devout bachelors, have fallen in love, but their love interests know them only as “Ernest,” a name every woman in London seems unable to resist.  Mistaken identity, social mores, and love-born mistruths are brilliantly skewered by the master, Oscar Wilde.

5. October 15 – November 12, 2015
Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler

Stephen Sondheim’s brilliant foray into bloodlust and revenge is being given an intimately terrifying and darkly humorous re-telling in the Studio Theatre. The infamous tale of Sweeney Todd, an unjustly exiled barber, follows his blood-soaked return to 19th century London as he seeks vengeance against the lecherous judge who framed him, ravaged his young wife, and keeps his daughter a virtual prisoner in his house.  Close shaves, razor-sharp wit, and unsettlingly delicious meat pies (with a secret ingredient), combined with Sondheim’s brilliant and disturbingly beautiful music, will delight even the faint of heart.

Adults are: Fridays, $20; Saturday & Sundays, $24.00, seniors $21.00, and Students $14.00.

Tickets are available at www.lbplayhouse.org, or by calling 562-494-1014, option 1.

Long Beach Playhouse is located at 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach, CA, 90804, right across from the Long Beach Recreation golf course. The Playhouse is community-supported theatre with programs and events that cut across age, gender, ethnic, and cultural boundaries.

Performances are 8 p.m. Friday, and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. The box office is open Wednesday-Saturday from 3:00-8:00 pm and Sundays from 1:00-2:00 pm on scheduled matinees.

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