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Mold Wins a Star Turn in ‘Lagunatics’

Gregg Barnette, left, and Randy Hatfield in a riff about Laguna’s gay community in “Lagunatics,” which opens Friday, Jan. 17, at the Forum Theater. Photo by Mitch Ridder

Gregg Barnette, left, and Randy Hatfield in a riff about Laguna’s gay community in “Lagunatics,” which opens Friday, Jan. 17, at the Forum Theater. Photo by Mitch Ridder

To the dismay of many locals, October 2013 passed without “Lagunatics,” the annual spoof of life in Laguna Beach–it’s happenings, foibles and fodder for thought, debate and occasionally snickers. Instead 2014 will see two “Lagunatics,” one that opens this Friday, Jan. 17, and the other in October in the production’s usual time slot.

Four days before the scheduled opening of “Gagtime: Lagunatics 2013” as dress rehearsals were underway, the appearance of black mold in the rented performance space and suspicions that it might be toxic sidelined the show.

Ensuing tests proved the fungal nuisance to be benign, but the show was nonetheless called off. The good thing, if there was one, is that the Forum Theater on the Festival of Arts’ grounds was cleaned and freshened up, said Bree Burgess Rosen, who performs in the show and co-writes the yearly spoofs and send-ups with another local resident, Chris Quilter.

At the time, Rosen was uncertain if the show could shift to January, citing concerns that some cast members might be unavailable due to scheduling conflicts. It turns out that only two cast members, Ron Dyer and Debbie Meeker, had to drop out, she said.

“We’ve replaced Ron’s original song with a tender ballad about mold sung by Randy Hatfield,” wrote Quilter via e-mail. “Losing Ron from the show’s traditional drag number was a bitter pill: We had to replace him with a girl pretending to be a guy pretending to be a girl. Let’s see if the audience will spot her.”

“Lagunatics” newcomer Bailey Jaeger will reprise Debbie Meeker’s song about the ravages of over-privilege.

Most of the original script will remain intact, though some new material was added to reflect more recent

Steve McIntosh leads the cast of “Gagtime: Lagunatics 2014,” the annual roast of the town’s antics, which opens this Friday, Jan. 17. Photo by Mitch Ridder

Steve McIntosh leads the cast of “Gagtime: Lagunatics 2014,” the annual roast of the town’s antics, which opens this Friday, Jan. 17. Photo by Mitch Ridder

developments in town, Rosen said. These include a new song about sand artist Jim Denevan’s work on Main Beach, the new mold song and tweaks to the lyrics of a song about the recently scaled back village entrance project, she said.

Long-time narrator Bill Harris’s lines also were updated with mold mentions, though the show’s choreographer Paul Nygro was, alas, not be on hand to put requisite last touches on the show.

The show’s original sets, however, will remain as is. “Our sets are a bit off. We are leaving the October set of the village entrance up since we don’t have the resources to redesign and rebuild. All that went for new ads and printed material.”

Another change comes from Rosen’s own singing, due to an altered breathing style induced by the chemo therapy sessions she endured last year while battling lung cancer. “I did not want to talk about that last year and have people worry about me throughout that show. Now I may be tired at times, but I’m not sick,” she said.

Her latest worry stems from flu season, which might affect performers. “We had three people out sick last week, but the cast will perform even while sick. We will muddle on through. The show must go on,” she said.

Even if slightly altered, “Gagtime’s” gems will not be lost. Expect the requisite jibes over dancing goats, tourists and traffic. Others in for ribbing are Laguna Playhouse’s surfeit of one-man shows, Laughter Yoga and tree cutting on Forest Avenue. And, let’s not forget the cops breaking up a battle royal between two belly dancers at the Marine Room Tavern following last year’s Patriots Day Parade.

“You can’t make this stuff up,” said Rosen, who already is tossing around new material for 2014’s October show with Quilter. “Laguna is an accommodating village; it never fails to provide material.”

 

“Gagtime: Lagunatics 2013” runs weekends Jan. 17-26, at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 6:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. for the Jan. 26 Gala. Tickets: www.nosquare.tix.com

 

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