Playhouse offerings: A comedy and a musical offer theatergoers new opportunities at the end of June

By THERESA KEEGAN

This month’s offerings at the Laguna Beach Playhouse are not only entertaining, they’re also fleeting. Whether you’d like a hearty laugh or are ready to sing along and learn about some American history, the Playhouse has programs suited for all ages.

The fun starts with a showing of The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron? on June 26 and 27, while Woody Sings – The Musical Legacy of Woody Guthrie takes to the stage June 29 and 30. Each is entertaining in its own way.

Robert Dubac’s solo show (The Male Intellect) about the differences between men and women has been going strong for almost 30 years.

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Courtesy of Robert Dubac

Actor, playwright and stand-up comedian Robert Dubac will perform his popular one-man show “The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron” at the Playhouse for two shows

“It’s a show about a guy who is sincere and trying to figure out women,” he said. Dubac started thinking about the show while performing as an actor on soap operas. The men were consistently being represented as “tiresome tropes.” Elsewhere, he saw men being portrayed as the “dumb old dad.”

He started writing some comedy skits about the situation, and ultimately it evolved into what he conversationally refers to as “The Male Intellect.” He never imagined it would still be going strong decades later and has been translated into numerous languages. At one point the demand for the play was so great there were multiple actors performing the show at different theaters throughout the world.

“This thing became its own industry,” said Dubac. “It’s one reason I stopped doing the acting I was doing.”

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Courtesy of Robert Dubac

Actor Robert Dubac assumes the role of multiple male characters in the show on June 26 and 27

Although the Santa Barbara resident has modified the script throughout the years to reflect societal expectations, particularly the #MeToo movement, the premise remains the same.

“I just evolve the content of it,” said Dubac. “I don’t think there’s a reason to make a sequel. Basically, the guy in the show is loosely based on somebody like me…It’s any guy who is tired of these clichés (about men and women) but doesn’t know how to get out of it.”

He divides the stage by having the “male brain” on the left hand side and the female brain on the right. The crux he is trying to figure out is what do women want. “He’s just trying to find some sort of balance.”

The set is visited by multiple characters, all played by Dubac, drinking a beer. Many are stereotypical men offering advice in a hilarious manner.

“There’s a little kernel of knowledge he can glean from each of them,” said Dubac. Meanwhile the audience appreciates the variety of people he portrays, doing nothing more than adding a pair of eyeglasses, or a vest, but each assuming very different qualities. He credits his former work as a stand-up comedian as laying the foundation for the show’s success.

“Once I could see it resonated (with audiences) I knew I was onto something,” said Dubac. “It’s one of those shows that appeals across ages, from teenagers to octogenarians.”

Following the two mid-week evening performances of Male Intellect, the Playhouse will take on a different scenario when the national premiere of Woody Sings opens over the weekend.

“Woody is a program developed over many years,” said David Lutken, lead singer and guitarist. “It’s a concert version of the musical Woody Sez.”

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Courtesy of David Lutken

Musician and actor David Lutken will portray Woody Guthrie in the upcoming performance of “Woody Sings” at the Laguna Playhouse

Each show depicts the songs of American folk singer Woody Guthrie. However, the musical, which was based on Guthrie’s newspaper column of the same name, is a more elaborate production. The songs included multiple stage sets and scenes as well as the songs. But now Woody Sings allows Guthrie’s music to be celebrated without the time and commitment of a full-blown theatrical show. The music will include “This Land is Your Land,” “Bound for Glory” “Roll on Columbia” and many other all-time favorites.

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“Coming out of the pandemic, a lot of places are doing scaled-back things to get people back into the theater,” said Lutken. “When Laguna reached out to me about a different version I was really excited at this opportunity.”

He in turn reached out to other musicians, ultimately bringing on three people to accompany him on stage, all of whom have a connection to Guthrie’s work.

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Courtesy of David Lutken

Actor David Lutken (above) sees many similarities in his life with American folk musician Woody Guthrie, whom he will portray at the Laguna Playhouse

“I’ll be doing some talking about the origins of the songs,” said Lutken, “telling the audience a little bit of the conditions he (Guthrie) saw that brought him to write the things he wrote.”

Having gained notoriety as a leader in the folk music scene, Guthrie’s ballads often included political commentary and embraced socialism. At the end of writing “This Land is Your Land,” Guthrie signed the sheet and wrote “All you can write is what you see.”

Lutken credits his progressive preschool teachers for his own love of Guthrie, as well as the resonating lyrics that reflect his own experiences, with everything from a Texas background, parents affected by the Dust Bowl right on through to a family member losing his farm to a bank foreclosure.

“This kind of music has always been in my repertoire,” said Lutken. “It’s classic for so many reasons. This concert will really represent his (Guthrie’s) work.”

For more information about these shows and to purchase tickets, click here.


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