Feel like having a good cry? A good laugh? Or maybe you crave a dose of glamour? Whatever you desire, local stages are happy to oblige. From Thousand Oaks to Ojai, we’re lucky to live where meaningful, entertaining and enlivening live theater is at our feet. All you have to do is pick a show or two (or more, if you’re so inclined) and let yourself go. Here’s just a sampling of what’s coming up.
Camarillo Skyway Playhouse presents I Do! I Do!, a musical that follows a pair of newlyweds from the wedding day to their last days in the house they shared for 50 years. This intimate portrait of a marriage begins Oct. 6. (skywayplayhouse.org)
Becky’s New Car, on stage now at the Santa Paula Theater Center through Oct. 2, is about a woman staring down her future and not liking what she sees. “You reach a certain age where suddenly you’re just invisible. I wanted to be seen.” That line from the play, says Cynthia Killion, who plays Becky, “is basically what the whole play is about.” When Becky gets the chance to change her life, will everything spin out of control? Or will she take the wheel and never look back? (www.santapaulatheatercenter.org)
Women take center stage at the Elite Theatre Company, too. The perennial tearjerker Steel Magnolias is onstage until Oct. 1. The Lark, Jean Anouilh’s classic play (translated and adapted by Lillian Hellman) about Joan of Arc, follows on Oct. 20. Which isn’t to say that men won’t get their due: Local playwright Michael Perlmutter’s Directing Hamlet will have a short run on the main stage Oct. 6-15. Following the combative relationship between an actor and director working on a production of Hamlet, this original drama explores the themes of talent, limitation, family, isolation and art with depth and nuance. (www.elitetheatre.org)
Opera by the Glass brings a doomed woman to life with Donizetti’s Anna Bolena at the Museum of Ventura County, Nov. 17-19. Although the opera takes place during the court of King Henry VIII, co-producer and soprano Dianna Burdick says, “It’s very topical. It holds a magnifying glass up to our own society.” (http://www.facebook.com/operabytheglass) On the lighter side, the Ventura County Gilbert and Sullivan Repertoire Company presents the comic opera Patience, about the love triangle between a moody poet, a milkmaid and her childhood sweetheart. The lively musical will play at the Hillcrest Center for the Arts Oct. 6-22. (www.vcgsrc.org)
A different take on love and betrayal can be seen in Shakespeare’s Cymbeline at California Lutheran University (Nov. 9-19). The “classification-defying play” has everything from kings and clowns to sword fights and prat falls. (http://www.callutheran.edu/college-arts-sciences/theatre-arts). Playhouse 101 also celebrates Shakespeare this fall, hosting California Shakespeare Company’s production of Othello (Sept. 22-Oct. 14). Producing Artistic Director Jeff Wallach says, “We’re excited about the upcoming season,” which also includes nights of improv, music, karaoke, one-acts and new works, as well as productions by the popular Curtain Call Youth Theater. (http://www.playhouse101.com)
Ojai Art Center Theater gives theater lovers something to do over Thanksgiving weekend, with the Marx Brothers classic Animal Crackers opening Nov. 24. Proving that the Bard’s popularity endures throughout the county, Macbeth takes the stage March 16. Also coming in 2018 are On Golden Pond (Jan. 19), Bakersfield Mist (May 4) and 33 Variations (June 22). Artistic Director Richard Camp says that this selection of productions “ties together the acting, music and art communities . . . in a new, forward-thinking concept . . . that promises to make a bold challenge to the future of the theater.” (ojaiact.org)
Several venues will be giving some American classics their due. Cabaret comes to the
Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center starting Sept. 9 (www.simi-arts.org). Moorpark College Performing Arts Center presents A Streetcar Named Desire (opening Oct. 12; www.moorparkcollege.edu/departments/academic/theatre-arts/performing-arts-center). High Street Arts Center’s upcoming season features My Fair Lady (on stage now through Sept. 17), Grease, Singin’ in the Rain, Mister Roberts, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (www.hsac45.com). Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat opens Oct. 13 at 5-Star Theatricals, formerly Cabrillo Music Theatre. (5startheatricals.com)
For mystery lovers there’s A Murder is Announced, a “classic Agatha Christie puzzle” at Conejo Players Theatre (Oct. 20 to Nov. 19; www.conejoplayers.org). Then there’s Incognito at the Rubicon (Sept. 13-Oct. 1). The play by Nick Payne is a different sort of mystery about “the intersection between memory and identity.” Rubicon also offers the provocative drama Taking Sides (Oct. 25-Nov. 12), focusing on German conductor and composer Wilhelm Furtwängler, who remained in the country while many of his contemporaries left after Hitler rose to power. Was he loyal to his orchestra, a Nazi collaborator or merely naive? (http://www.rubicontheatre.org)
The list of upcoming plays in Ventura goes on, and several companies are still finalizing their lineups, so be sure to check with your favorite theater for exact dates, times and productions. What won’t change: an ever-present opportunity to see a beloved classic or a brave new work. Anything is possible when you step out of your own world and into the limitless realm of the theater.