Laguna Playhouse Presents Bets Malone as Mae West in DIRTY BLONDE

Laguna Playhouse Presents Bets Malone as Mae West in DIRTY BLONDE

Laguna Playhouse is proud to announce a very special event, the Coyote Stageworks, Founding Artistic Director Chuck Yates, production of Bets Malone starring as Mae West in DIRTY BLONDE, written by Claudia Shear and directed James W. Gruessing, Jr.. DIRTY BLONDE will perform six performances only, Thursday, April 26 through Sunday, April 29 at Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road in Laguna Beach.

Explore the phenomenon of the legendary Mae West, one of America's most enduring and controversial pop culture icons, in this sparkling romantic comedy with music about a guy, a gal, and their mutual admiration for one voluptuous blonde. Magically woven into the story is a celebration of songs and laughter of Mae West's racy life and saucy career. The New York Times described it as "Hands down the best new American play of the season..." and said it allowed "Mae West to shock and delight once again."


Bets Malone (Jo/Mae) is pleased to return to the beautiful Laguna Playhouse in a show she had the pleasure of doing earlier this year for Coyote Stage Works in Palm Springs. She originated the role of Suzy Simpson in The New York production of The Marvelous Wonderettes, and can be heard on three Wonderette cast recordings, as well as the original cast recording of Honky Tonk Laundry. Regional: Aida, Seussical, Titanic, Big Fish, Pride and Prejudice, Mary Poppins, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Sweeney Todd, 1776, Ragtime, On The Town, Evita, Children Of Eden, Annie Get Your Gun, Once Upon A Mattress And Love, Loss and What I Wore. Her vocal talents can be heard as Talulah the Monkey in Barbie as the Island Princess and the singing voice of Velma in Scooby Doo And The Music Of The Vampire, both available on DVD. Up next, Mamma Mia for Moonlight Stage Productions and Fun Home for the San Diego Rep.

Steve Gunderson (Charlie) National Tour: The Grapes of Wrath. Regional: La Jolla Playhouse (His Girl Friday, The Nightingale, Memphis), Old Globe Theatre (Hadrian VII, A Trip To Chinatown, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Suds), Cygnet Theatre (Sweeney Todd, On The Twentieth Century, Parade, Dirty Blonde), San Diego Rep (Romance, Miss Witherspoon, Detroit), Lambs Players Theatre (An Ideal Husband, You Can't Take It With You), as well as major roles at Pasadena Playhouse, La Mirada Theatre, Laguna Playhouse, Alliance Theatre, New Village Arts, Cabrillo Music Theatre, Candlelight Pavilion, American Stage Theatre, Rubicon Theatre, North Coast Rep, Diversionary Theatre, Center Repertory Company, others. He co-created and starred in the Off Broadway musicals Suds and Back To Bacharach & David, and also appeared in New York in Butley, Street Scene, Forever Plaid and Hopi Prophecies. He won the 2016 Creative Catalyst Award for his new musical The Artificial Woman. He has won several Craig Noel Awards (San Diego critics) including Actor of the Year, Dean Goodman Choice Award (Bay Area), and a Desert Theatre League award for Music Direction for Suds at Coyote Stageworks. He has done voices on King of the Hill and Beavis & Butthead, and recently did the voices for Carl Sandburg, Fiorello La Guardia and Sinclair Lewis for the documentary American Socialist: The Life & Times of Eugene Victor Debs.

Larry Raben (Man) returns to Laguna Playhouse after appearing as Ross in Bright Ideas and Man #1 in I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change (also Off-Broadway and LA Coronet Theatre). He appeared on Broadway as Leo Bloom in Mel Brooks' The Producers (a role he also played in the entire Las Vegas run). Other favorites: Dr. Frankenstein in Young Frankenstein (Moonlight Amphitheater), Sir Robin inSpamalot, Patrick in The Andrews Brothers, Forbidden Broadway vols. I & II (MusicTheatre West), Serge in Art (Coyote StageWorks), Albert in Bye Bye Birdie (Sacramento Music Circus), Lt. Frank Cioffi in Curtains and Gilbert in Betty Blue Eyes (MTWichita), Hysterium in ...Forum (Reprise!/South Bay CLO/Cabrillo), Felix in The Odd Couple, Man-In-Chair in Drowsy Chaperone and Robert in Boeing-Boeing(Norris), Ensign Pulver in Mr. Roberts and Grandpa Who in How The Grinch Stole Christmas (Old Globe Theatre), Cornelius Hackl inHello Dolly! (Pittsburgh CLO), Jerry/Daphne in Sugar - The Some Like It Hot Musical (Gateway Playhouse) and many more. He can be seen as Sparky in Forever Plaid - The Movie on DVD. He is the proud author of a children's book, "Ibby Makes a Wish" available at

JAMES W. GRUESSING, JR. (Director) is delighted to be returning to Laguna Playhouse after last having appeared on-stage here as Edna Turnblad in Hairspray earlier this season. Regional directing credits include, Annie Get Your Gun, Dirty Blonde, Boeing-Boeing, Young Frankenstein, 1776, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Full Monty, Of Mice and Men, The Drowsy Chaperone, Noises Off, Arsenic and Old Lace, Guys and Dolls, The Odd Couple, Singing In The Rain and A Funny Thing...Forum, to name a few. Mr. Gruessing is also an accomplished performer having appeared regionally as The Monster in Young Frankenstein (Riverside), Hairspray (Riverside and Laguna Playhouse), The Headwaiter in She Loves Me (MTW), The Genie in Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular (Disney California Adventure), Franz Liebkind in The Producers (Cabrillo), Thenardier in Les Miserables and Nicely-Nicely Johnson in Guys and Dolls (Moonlight). He can currently be seen playing various roles in several shows around the Disneyland Resort.

Claudia Shear (Playwright) is an actress and playwright. She was nominated for the Tony Award, Best Play and Best Actress for her play Dirty Blonde. Shear first came to prominence at the New York Theatre Workshop in September 1993. Shear won an Obie Award, Special Citation and a 1994 Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Solo Performance. She adapted it for a 1995 presentation on the PBS series American Playhouse. For Dirty Blonde, her exploration of the life and career of Mae West, she earned Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations for both Best Play and Best Actress and won the Theatre World Award. Shear's acting credits include the films "It Could Happen to You" (1994) and "Living Out Loud" (1998) and a guest appearance as the "fake Monica" in "Friends" in 1994.Restoration, a play written by her, premiered in June 2009 at La Jolla Playhouse in La Jolla, CA. Shear appeared in the Broadway play by Michele Lowe, The Smell of the Kill, and co-wrote the book for the new musical based on the book Tuck Everlasting, also titled Tuck Everlasting.

The Design Team for DIRTY BLONDE features: Scenic Design by Josh Clabaugh; Lighting Design by Glenn Powell; Original Sound and Projection Design by David Engel; Sound and Projection Design Coordinator is Mike Ritchey; Costume Design by Bonnie Nipar; Properties Design is by Chuck Yates. The Production Stage Manager is Phil Gold.


DIRTY BLONDE will perform six performances only: Thursday, April 26 & Friday, April 27 at 7:30; Saturday, April 28 at 2:00pm & 7:30pm & Sunday, April 29 at 1:00pm & 5:30pm at Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road in Laguna Beach.

Tickets range from $55 - $75 and can be purchased online at or by calling (949) 497-ARTS (2787). Group discounts are available by calling 949-497-2787 ext. 229. Prices subject to change.

The box office is open Mondays - Saturdays: 11a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sundays: 11a.m. - 4p.m. (open until showtime on performance days).

For more information on all shows and programming visit

For more information on all shows and programming visit Laguna Playhouse is located at 606 Laguna Canyon Road in Laguna Beach.

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