Waiting in the Wings: 2012 Theater Preview
Christopher Cappiello

As the applause dies down on 2011, we thought it would be fun to see what’s coming to Southland stages in 2012. Some of our finest companies haven’t yet made announcements about their programming, but here is a sampling of new plays, old plays, big splashy musicals and intimate solo shows that LGBT audiences will want to look out for in the coming months.

Expecting to Fly
In a guest production at the Elephant Space this month, Kiff Scholl directs this world premiere by Michael Hayden that finds two gay men re-examining the disintegration of their relationship. What went wrong? And can they ever recapture that perfect kiss?

American Idiot
Green Day’s hugely successful concept album of contemporary alienation included the statement, “Well maybe I’m the faggot America / I’m not part of the redneck agenda.” The 2010 Tony-nominated Broadway musical adaptation makes its way to the Ahmanson this spring, under the artful direction of Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening).

Fruit Fly
This winter, Leslie Jordan pitches his tent at the Celebration Theatre for his latest solo show, which tackles the question, “Do gay men really turn into their mothers?” The diminutive dynamo promises to regale us with a cascade of hilarious stories about the evolution of his relationship with his proper, religious mom.

Finding Fossils
The Road Theatre, admirably devoted to new work, presents the L.A. premiere of Ty DeMartino’s drama about a father and his gay son who face their rocky history over a dramatic Fourth of July weekend at the family’s cabin following a relative’s death. (Full disclosure: director Suzanne Hunt is a friend, but that doesn’t make her any less talented or this production any less promising.)

Design for Living
It will be fun to see what director Brian Shnipper (Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays) does with this raciest of Noel Coward comedies at the Celebration Theatre this summer. Although written more than 80 years ago, Coward’s ménage a trois among three friends—two men and a woman—results in all possible combinations of couplings at some point in the play.

The Illusion
Longtime classical troupe A Noise Within moved into some impressive new digs in Pasadena in 2011. If you’re looking for an excuse to check it out, try their spring production of Angels in America scribe Tony Kushner’s adaptation of this 17th-century fantastical tale of a father who enlists a saucy sorcerer to help reunite with his son.

Other Desert Cities
After his tumultuous tenure as creator of ABC’s Brothers & Sisters, out playwright Jon Robin Baitz returned to the theatre with what many have regarded as his best work yet. Set in the Palm Springs home of a Reagan-friendly political power couple, the play tracks the reactions to a grown daughter’s Christmas-visit admission that she’s writing a book about the family. New York casts have included Stockard Channing, Rachel Griffiths and Stacey Keach. Here’s hoping the Taper’s fall production finds similar talent.

La Cage aux Folles
Director Terry Johnson’s acclaimed 2010 Broadway revival of the Harvey Fierstein/Jerry Herman tuner began life at London’s intimate Menier Chocolate Factory, so it is smaller in scale and more touchingly human and heartfelt than the show has been historically played. The touring production coming to the Pantages this summer stars George Hamilton and Broadway vet Christopher Sieber as the longtime gay couple running the titular Riviera nightclub.

The Seagull
The Antaeus Company has become one of our most reliably strong theater troupes, and their double-cast productions offer the opportunity for return visits to see how the other half interprets the play. Chekhov is made for such skilled ensemble work, and it should be exciting to see what they do with the Russian master’s exploration of art, passion and unrequited love.

Stephen Sondheim’s melancholy 1971 musical about the reunion of a gang of Ziegfeld-style chorus girls in a crumbling theatre received a sparkling revival at D.C.’s Kennedy Center last year under the direction of Eric Schaeffer. The production—starring Bernadette Peters and a bevy of Broadway heavyweights—moved to the Great White Way last fall. In May it comes to the Ahmanson (sans Peters), a happy consequence of the cancellation of the planned Funny Girl revival.

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