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South Coast Repertory's 2010-11 season looks to the theater's past and future

March 26, 2010 |  5:58 pm

ThreeDays South Coast Repertory will give a nod to its past and its future with a 2010-11 lineup that includes one Shakespeare classic, a holiday favorite, the annual new works festival, three Southern California premieres and two plays directed by the Costa Mesa theater's two co-founders.

The season will begin with George Bernard Shaw's "Misalliance,"  the 13th Shavian show that South Coast has presented. The production, which will run Sept. 10-Oct. 10 on the Segerstrom Stage, will star Dakin Matthews and be directed by artistic director Martin Benson.

Sarah Ruhl's "In the Next Room (or the vibrator play)" will run Sept. 26-Oct. 17 on the Julianne Argyros Stage. Ruhl's "The Clean House" and "Dead Man's Cell Phone" also have appeared at SCR.

Gina Gionfriddo's "Becky Shaw," a comedy thriller about a modern-day Becky Sharp, is scheduled for Oct. 22-Nov. 21 on the Segerstrom.

Former SCR dramaturg Jerry Patch's adaptation of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" will play Nov. 27 -Dec. 26 on the Segerstrom, followed Jan. 9-30 on the Argyros by "Circle Mirror Transformation," Annie Baker's  comedy about acting students in a small Vermont town.

Mortals and fairies will collide in William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," directed by SCR associate artist Mark Rucker from Jan. 21-Feb. 20 on the Segerstrom.

An as-yet-unannounced production will appear March 13-April 13. Two world premieres will be presented as part of the 2011 Pacific Playwrights Festival in April and May.

Concluding the season May 13-June 12  on the Segerstrom will be Richard Greenberg's "Three Days of Rain," directed by SCR producing artistic director David Emmes. The play, a Pulitzer finalist,  received its premiere at SCR in 1997. This will be the 10th Greenberg production that South Coast has presented.

"When we were putting this season together we maybe were looking at our heritage a little bit," says Emmes, who co-founded the theater with Benson 46 years ago. Both men have announced that SCR is searching for a new artistic director and that once someone is named they will assume the title of founding director.

"But it wasn't a conscious thing," Emmes says. "And with us, it's not so much about looking backward but drawing upon some of the ideas and writers who have been important to us as we try to create a future season."

He says the lineup also reflects "some of the necessary belt-tightening that all theaters have had to do. And yet we think we found some exciting projects that may be slightly smaller in scope. We also still are doing some new pieces and coming back to plays that have bigger ambitions."

SCR has announced the three plays in the 2010-11 Theatre for Young Audiences season on the Argyros stage. "Sideways Stories From Wayside School," adapted by John Olive from Louis Sachar's Wayside School novels, will run Nov. 5-21.

Douglas Irvine's adaptation of J.M. Barrie's "Peter Pan" is set for Feb. 11-27, followed May 20-June 5 by "Lucky Duck" -- what SCR describes as " 'The Ugly Duckling' meets 'American Idol.' " The show has  music by "Dreamgirls" composer Henry Krieger, lyrics by Bill Russell and a book by Russell and Jeffrey Hatcher.

--Karen Wada

Photo: From left, John Slattery, Patricia Clarkson and Jon Tenney in the world premiere of Richard Greenberg's "Three Days of Rain" at SCR in 1997. Credit: From South Coast Repertory