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Pasadena theater season kicks off with a Neil Simon fav

May 28, 2019

Two fan-selected shows, a diverse set of directors and a mix of adventurous and tried-and-true stage works will aim to fill seats in the 2019-20 season at Pasadena Little Theatre, said board president Gregory R. Brown.

In addition, two fewer shows will be produced; so subscribers of the group’s 64th season won’t feel rushed to use their tickets.

“There are more than two weeks between any of the shows,” said Brown, who served on PLT’s play selection committee for several years.

The season will kick off June 14 with “Plaza Suite,” a Neil Simon comedy that PLT fans chose as an audience pick.

The theater’s board selected a female director, Leslie Barrera of Pearland, to helm the show, which will run through June 30 on the playhouse’s Russell Stage.

The second production, Neal LaBute’s “Fat Pig,” will be performed in PLT’s smaller black box theater, which seats half the audience of the big auditorium.

The offbeat dark comedy concerns a young professional who must balance his feelings for a plus-size librarian with insults about her from his peers.

Brown said the off-Broadway hit, which will be directed by PLT newcomer Yaya Smith, speaks to a number of contemporary issues, including body image.

Likewise, body image was a theme of “Real Women Have Curves,” which Crystal E. Mata directed to standing-room-only crowds in PLT’s Black Box last season.

The success of the comedy about female Mexican immigrants inspired PLT to produce a similar show on this season’s Russell Stage, with Mata directing Louis Santiero’s “Our Lady of the Tortilla” on May 8-24.

“Pandemonium strikes when the main character’s sister sees the face of the Holy Virgin in a tortilla,” said Brown.

Craig Trauschke of Pearland will direct a “Ravenscroft,” a Gothic thriller by Don Nigro, Oct. 11-27 for Halloween, while the Yuletide season will find Julie Owen of Clear Lake helming “A Doublewide, Texas Christmas” by the prolific comedy team of Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten.

The Dec. 6-22 offering is a follow-up to the trio’s rollicking comedy, “Doublewide, Texas,” in which Owen played Big Ethel Satterwhite in productions the past two seasons at Bay Area Harbour Playhouse in Dickinson.

A past president at PLT, Owen was recently recognized by the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce as “2019 Artist of the Year.”

On Nov. 15-24, the black box theater will host David Auburn’s “Proof.”

“It may not sell,” admitted Brown, considering the difficulty in marketing a small drama about a mathematician who struggles with mental illness, even though it won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for drama and best play at the Tony Awards.

The final Black Box show of the season will be another fan favorite, “The Glass Menagerie.” It will run March 20-29.

“Audiences have been asking us to do it for two years,” Brown said.

The Tennessee Williams classic will be presented in an “immersive” production, promised director, Alric Davis, a PLT newcomer who graduated in 2017 from Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Brown will direct the season’s fourth show on the Russell Stage. It’s a Roger Bean jukebox musical called “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?” whose score boasts “all music from the early ’60s,” said Brown.

“I haven’t directed a musical in a while, and these are songs, like “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me,” that I grew up with. They resonate with me,” he said.

“Why Do Fools Fall in Love?” is planned for Jan. 24 through Feb. 9,

“We hope this season will re-energize our audience and bring in new people, too,” said Brown.

Show times for PLT productions are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays, with one performance at 8 p.m. Thursday in the last week of each run.

The theater is at 4318 Allen-Genoa Road in Pasadena.

For further information, call 713-941-1758 or visit www.pasadenalittletheatre.org.

Don Maines is a freelance writer who can be reached at donmaines@att.net

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