With the arrival of 2014 comes a new crop of local theater productions, four of which are chomping at the bit to get on stage this weekend.
Leading the pack from South Coast Repertory is "Trudy and Max in Love," by Zoe Kazan, which kicks off the year on SCR's Julianne Argyros Stage. The romantic comedy with a twist will play through Jan. 26.
The Laguna Playhouse will be back in business with "Ring of Fire," based on the life and career of Johnny Cash. Performances will be given through Feb. 2.
"Man of La Mancha," the musical derived from the novel "Don Quixote," will follow its impossible dream weekends until Feb. 1 at the Huntington Beach Playhouse, where musicals seem to have taken over the community theater's schedule.
The Westminster Community Theatre is the fourth venue to open this weekend. It will present the comedy "Boeing Boeing," which focuses on complicated romance as one guy balances seeing three stewardesses. It's on stage through Jan. 25.
The Disney favorite "Beauty and the Beast" opens Jan. 14 and plays for just six days, through Jan. 19, at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa.
The following week will find Lillian Hellman's drama "The Children's Hour" arriving Jan. 24 at the Newport Theatre Arts Center in Newport Beach. The story about two women victimized by little girls' lies will be on stage through Feb. 23.
The musical "The Light in the Piazza," with a score by Adam Guettel — grandson of the iconic composer Richard Rodgers — arrives at South Coast Repertory's Segerstrom Stage on Jan. 24 and will play through Feb. 23.
Back at the Segerstrom Center, the stage version of the Oscar-winning musical "Chicago" opens Jan. 28 and also runs for just one week, through Feb. 2, with actor John O'Hurley featured as the legal eagle defending murderous ladies.
The Costa Mesa Playhouse will kick off 2014 on Feb. 8 with a rarely produced Stephen Sondheim musical, "Assassins," about people who killed, and tried to kill, U.S. presidents. The show will be on stage through March 9.
That same weekend will find an abbreviated attraction, "Love, Loss, and What I Wore," by Nora and Delia Ephron, playing for a single weekend — three performances with three different casts — at the Stage West theater on the campus of Golden West College.
Finally, "The Wizard of Oz," a stage musical based on the classic movie, arrives at the Segerstrom Center on Feb. 11. This one — featuring new songs by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber — has an "extended" run of two weeks, closing Feb. 23.
After "Wizard," local theater operators will pause for a few weeks to catch their breath before bouncing back in March with such attractions as "The Great Gatsby," "California Suite" and a stage rendition of the classic TV series "I Love Lucy." Stay tuned.
TOM TITUS reviews local theater for the Daily Pilot.