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Theater preview: Summer shines spotlight on reimagined classics, award-winning dramas

(Joy Chen/Daily Bruin staff)

By Natalie Ralston, Victoria Munck, Sydney Gaw, and Reid Sperisen

July 7, 2024 2:08 p.m.

This post was updated July 7 at 6:53 p.m.

Theater’s most vibrant productions are heating up the summer stage.

This season, Los Angeles is shining with lively adaptations and contemporary dramas that will surely move audiences. Including Tony Award-winning musicals and Emmy Award-winning directors, this summer’s theatrical slate promises a buzzing lineup.

Read on for the Daily Bruin’s sizzling summer seat picks.

(Courtesy of Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade)
Peter Pan takes the spotlight dressed in his all-green ragtag ensemble fit for adventure. Featuring an Emmy Award-winning director, the fantasy musical will be staged at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre starting July 9. (Courtesy of Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade)

Peter Pan (Hollywood Pantages Theatre)

When “Peter Pan” comes to town, anyone can fly to the theater.

The musical fantasy production’s national tour will arrive at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre for two dozen shows between July 9 and July 28, with tickets starting around $57. Directed by Emmy Award winner Lonny Price, the show will feature enduring songs such as “I Won’t Grow Up” and “Neverland.” Attendees can expect more than two hours of Broadway music, interspersed with choreographed flying sequences.

The story of “Peter Pan” follows the titular character, a boy who remains eternally youthful, as he interacts with the Darling children and spirits them away on a spontaneous trip to his island abode, Neverland. The original play was published by Scottish playwright J.M. Barrie in 1904 and also features characters such as Pan’s fairy sidekick Tinker Bell, his pirate nemesis Captain Hook and a particularly ravenous crocodile. The Broadway edition of “Peter Pan” elevates the story by reframing previously discriminatory depictions of Native Americans and incorporating characters of several Indigenous backgrounds, a change made possible through the contributions of playwright Larissa FastHorse.

This retelling of “Peter Pan” is sure to offer a mischievous adventure the whole family can enjoy.

– Reid Sperisen

(Courtesy of Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade)
Attending her 35th birthday party and fighting pressure to settle down from her coupled-friends, the unmarried protagonist of “Company,” Bobbie, stands center stage in a vibrant red set. The five-time Tony Award-winning adaptation is set to grace Los Angeles starting July 30. (Courtesy of Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade)

Company (Hollywood Pantages Theatre)

Broadway’s biggest birthday party is celebrating in LA this summer.

Beginning July 30, the beloved musical comedy “Company” will take center stage at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre. This modernized interpretation of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s 1970 classic brought home five Tony Awards in 2022 before embarking on its current North American tour. With ticket prices beginning at $54.75, viewers can RSVP for the vibrant and intriguingly poignant event before the candles are blown out for good Aug. 18.

While Sondheim and Furth’s original production focalized Robert, a 35-year-old bachelor, this contemporary revival swaps the genders of its cast to protagonize an unmarried woman named Bobbie instead. As she celebrates her birthday with five committed couples, Bobbie spends the duration of the show examining her friends’ relationships, reflecting on her single status and wrestling with immense pressure to settle down. Paired with three-time Tony-winning director Marianne Elliott’s viscerally relevant 21st-century lens, fan-favorite numbers such as “The Ladies Who Lunch” and “Being Alive” shape a modern story of both independence and connection.

While misery may love company, this musical is sure to please its crowd.

– Victoria Munck

(Courtesy of Pasadena Playhouse)
The protagonist of the critically acclaimed play “Cyrano de Bergerac” is portrayed in motion to depict his overpowering insecurity, the length of his nose. The witty comedic drama is coming to LA starting Sept. 4. (Courtesy of Pasadena Playhouse)

Cyrano de Bergerac (Pasadena Playhouse)

After years in the dark, “Cyrano de Bergerac” reawakens.

The tragic comedy “Cyrano de Bergerac” is set to showcase its critically acclaimed adaptation in LA from Sept. 4 to 29 at the Tony Award-winning Pasadena Playhouse. Originally written in 1897, Edmond Rostand’s transformative five-act play lives on through the eyes of British playwright Martin Crimp, with ticket prices starting at $40. The riveting retelling excites fresh rhymes and reimagines the story’s troubled notions of unrequited love and crippling self-doubt in an impassioned tone.

Inspired by the historic French playwright Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac, Rostand attempts to answer the plot holes in the figure’s real life through his own fictional narrative. When the outwardly gifted and strong-willed man is overcome with love for his distant cousin and adored beauty Roxane, he is forced to confront his severe insecurities rooted in vanity. Meanwhile, Roxane remains enthralled by Christian de Neuvillette, but he is too shy to pursue her. The renowned narrative demonstrates inventive lyricism and invites audiences to a profound summer performance.

Whether it be a compelling love triangle, the modernized revision of an all-verse script, or the comedic thread throughout, “Cyrano de Bergerac” is sure to inspire and revitalize this summer.

– Natalie Ralston

(Courtesy of Geffen Playhouse)
A sleek leather glove balancing a lipstick-shaped cigarette hints at the alluring nature of the Gregory Award-winning play “Dragon Lady.” Spanning topics of female initiative and the Asian American immigrant experience, the show offers a comedic musical featuring diverse perspectives starting Sept. 4. (Courtesy of Geffen Playhouse)

Dragon Lady (Geffen Playhouse)

“Dragon Lady” will embody female agency and perseverance in LA this summer.

The semi-biographical musical will be making its LA premiere at the Geffen Playhouse from Sept. 4 to Oct. 6, with ticket prices starting at $36. “Dragon Lady” follows one matriarch’s confrontation with generational trauma, regret and forgiveness. The night before her 60th birthday, Maria Porkalob Sr. decides to share the dark secrets of her past with her granddaughter Sara. Having escaped a gang-controlled nightclub in Manila, Maria made her way to America, where she endured countless struggles to survive as an independent woman raising her family in unfamiliar territory.

Directed by Andrew Russell and written by Sara Porkalob, “Dragon Lady” is a two-act musical featuring a three-person band and a cameo appearance from the real Maria Porkalob Sr. “Dragon Lady” is the first installment of Sara Porkalob’s trilogy of matrilineal musicals, “The Dragon Cycle,” which explores a central female protagonist from each of three generations of Porkalob’s Filipino American gangster family. The play received three Gregory Awards in 2018, including Outstanding Sound/Music Design, Outstanding Actress in a Musical and Outstanding Musical Production. “Dragon Lady” promises viewers a poignant portrayal of one family’s complicated history. Through the production, Porkalob shares emotional insights into the Asian American immigrant experience.

For those looking to laugh, cry and be inspired by Porkalob’s witty humor, “Dragon Lady” guarantees an unforgettable performance.

– Sydney Gaw

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Natalie Ralston | Theater, film and television editor
Ralston is the 2024-2025 theater, film and television editor and Arts contributor. She was previously an Arts staff writer. Ralston is a fourth-year English student minoring in film, television and digital media from Murrieta, California.
Ralston is the 2024-2025 theater, film and television editor and Arts contributor. She was previously an Arts staff writer. Ralston is a fourth-year English student minoring in film, television and digital media from Murrieta, California.
Victoria Munck | Arts editor
Munck is the 2024-2025 Arts editor. She was previously an assistant Arts editor on the theater | film | television beat. Munck is a third-year communication student from Granada Hills, California.
Munck is the 2024-2025 Arts editor. She was previously an assistant Arts editor on the theater | film | television beat. Munck is a third-year communication student from Granada Hills, California.
Reid Sperisen | Music | fine arts editor
Sperisen is the 2024-2025 music | fine arts editor. He was previously an Arts contributor from 2023-2024. Sperisen is a third-year political science student minoring in professional writing from Stockton, California.
Sperisen is the 2024-2025 music | fine arts editor. He was previously an Arts contributor from 2023-2024. Sperisen is a third-year political science student minoring in professional writing from Stockton, California.
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