The new year means another season of performances at the Coastal Repertory Theatre.
The 2022 program includes six upcoming plays: “Noise Off”, by Michael Frayn, directed by Debi Durst, from February 11 to 27; “The Cemetery Club”, by Ivan Menchell, directed by Gail Erwin, from March 25 to April 10; “Angels in America”, by Tony Kushner, directed by Gary Stanford Jr., from June 17 to July 3; “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” directed by Paul Smith, Aug. 5-28; “Murder on the Nile” by Agatha Christie, directed by Bran Friedman, from September 3 to October 31. 23 (no shows October 14-16); and the season finale, “Christmas in Oz,” directed by Danny Martin, from December 1-18.
The opening comedy, “Noise Off,” premiered in theaters a decade ago and was a huge hit.
“It’s one of my favorite plays of all time,” Durst said. “Doors and pegs, that’s what it’s all about. It’s just really fast. It’s funny, it’s witty.”
The comedy is a play within a play in which Act 1 and Act 3 take place on stage, but for Act 2 the setting is reversed so that the audience watches the action unfold behind the scenes. The plot follows a cast and crew reunited while touring England.
“The actors are off stage shouting their lines from the first act like they’re performing the play they’re supposed to be performing, and then all of this shenanigans happen on stage, which is supposed to be backstage,” Durst said.
Durst added that before and after Act 2, sometimes even the change of scenery gets applause.
“I have a crackerjack cast, and I’ve worked with almost everyone before,” Durst said. “They’re all so good. All the comedy is going to come out, and it’s going to be great.
This will be Durst’s directorial debut at the Coastal Repertory Theater, but she has directed throughout the Bay Area, including the Pacifica Spindrift Players, Palo Alto Players and Left Coast Theater Co. The director has always wanted to expand her coastal horizons beyond Spindrift, so she brought “Noise Off” to theater in 2019.
Each year, the programming of the shows is selected by an artistic committee of the theater made up of a few members of the board of directors and a reading committee of plays of about seven people, from former directors to people who come to see a lot of theatre.
“It’s organized in such a way that there is hopefully a wide representation of people’s choices and what they would like to see,” said Erwin, theater director and head of the artistic committee.
In February, directors and people with suggestions come to present their shows and why the theater should do it. Then, after the artistic committee has chosen a season, they make their programming recommendation to the board of directors, who vote on it. If approved, the theater begins recruiting directors and begins planning.
“Noises Off” has been postponed for two years due to COVID-19, and Durst and the theater are thrilled it’s finally happening.
“When Gail (Erwin) told me this was going to be their season opener, I was like, ‘Oh, huzzah! I finally get to lead and get down to Half Moon Bay and see the people and theater because it’s been so long,” Durst said. “It’s really, really good to be back in theater and to know that we’re going to be doing live theater again.”
Erwin will direct “The Cemetery Club”, a funny and sweet story of a group of widows who visit the graves of their husbands together. All cope in different ways, and the friends adjust as the drama ensues.
“It’s basically about how they deal with this really big thing in their life, the absence of their husbands, and the grief and the adjustments of getting older and all the things that go with it. And they’re still trying to maintain their friendship because it’s really important to them,” Erwin said.
The art director is also particularly excited about “Angels in America,” with Stanford as the director.
“Iconic is an overused word, but damn it’s pretty iconic,” Erwin said. “It’s a show that’s considered a true modern classic, I have to say. It’s about the AIDS crisis and everything that comes with it, with lots of characters, and just a nice vision from Tony Kushner.
The Coastal Repertory Theater will require all employees, performers, crew and volunteers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. All staff will be required to wear masks inside the theater, and performers will be permitted to remove their masks while actively performing.
For spectators, proof of full COVID-19 vaccination is required for ages 12 and up. Ticket holders under the age of 12 will be required to present proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test within 72 hours of the performance. Spectators are required to wear masks.
“We’re really excited to do them all,” Erwin said. “I think they’re all really fun and wonderful shows.”
For more information on the upcoming season or to purchase tickets, visit coastrep.com.