Artscapes: Thought-Provoking Theatrical Premieres

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By Haylee Barber | NB Indy

The month will be filled with theatrical premieres as the Laguna Playhouse debuts a new production from the fertile mind of Hershey Felder and South Coast Repertory welcomes the Los Angeles based Ghost Road Company for an OC premiere.

Jack Lemmon Returns
Jack Lemmon Returns

Laguna Playhouse

Revered actor and pianist Hershey Felder has become renowned for his one-man shows revolving around famous composers (Gershwin, Beethoven, Bernstein, etc.) that have been staged at The Laguna Playhouse to great acclaim.

This time, Felder returns to The Laguna Playhouse not as an actor, but as writer and director of the west coast premiere of a one-man show called “Jack Lemmon Returns,” running now through June 22.

An integrated pseudo-biography, the play feature the story of the late academy-award winning actor Jack Lemmon, and stars his son, Chris Lemmon.

Known for films such as “Some Like it Hot” and “Save the Tiger,” the new play tells the story of Lemmon’s life through his own son’s voice.

Felder oversaw the project with the young Lemmon.

“Being able to work with Chris to present this piece has been an incredible joy because of Chris’ skill as an actor in the tradition of his father, and as a musician given that music was such an important part of his father’s life,” said Felder. “Having an insider’s view into Hollywood and the craft of one of its prodigal sons makes for an extremely satisfying event.”

After “Jack Lemmon Returns,” another Felder-directed play enjoys a brief return engagement at The Laguna Playhouse: “The Pianist of Willesden Lane,” runnin

The Pianist of Willesden Lane
The Pianist of Willesden Lane

g June 24 – 29.

Based on a true story, “The Pianist of Willesden Lane” is the story of Lisa Jura, a young Jewish pianist pursuing her dreams of playing in the Musikverein concert hall. Set in 1938 Vienna and Blitzkrieg-era London, it is a story of triumph, change, and survival in one of history’s darkest eras.

For tickets to The Laguna Playhouse, call (949) 497-2787 or visit LagunaPlayhouse.com.

South Coast Repertory & Ghost Road Theater

The Los Angeles-based Ghost Road Company comes to town this weekend with the Orange County premiere of “The Bargain and the Butterfly,” the final play in South Coast Repertory’s Studio SCR series that runs June 13 – 15.

According to press material, the play was developed from a free-form collaborative exploration, and is a thought-provoking journey into the mind and the fine line between genius and madness. Inspired by a Nathaniel Hawthorne short story called “The Artist of the Beautiful,” “The Bargain and the Butterfly” combines the science and fantasy of “Frankenstein,” the abstract tone of Samuel Beckett, and themes of innocence and loss from “The Glass Menagerie.”

The Bargain and the Butterfly
The Bargain and the Butterfly

Katharine Noon is the artistic director of the Ghost Road Company, a theatre ensemble founded in 1993 that creates original work for the stage. She talked about the collaborative process of developing “The Bargain and the Butterfly” in a Q&A with South Coast Rep.

“The company uses various techniques to create new work including improvisation, group writing and physically based methods for creating story and character,” said Noon. “Because the creation of space is integral to making the work, the company is always creating and re-creating the world of the piece throughout the workshop process. “

For tickets to “The Bargain and the Butterfly,” call (714) 708-5555 or visit scr.org.

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