Photo courtesy of the Long Beach Playhouse

For Andrew Vonderschmitt, a perfect theatre season is like creating a good, balanced meal.

“I was hoping to bring some classics to the stage while still offering a new play or two,” said Vonderschmitt, Long Beach Playhouse artistic director, referring to the upcoming season. “I think I’ve found a good mix.”

The 2014-2015 playhouse season will include beloved classics like “A Christmas Carol” and “Death of a Salesman,” as well as lesser known productions like “The 39 Steps” and “Arms and the Man.”

Vonderschmitt says his ultimate goal with this season is to move his audience and introduce the Playhouse to new people. In order to do this, he says, he tries to pick a balance that will be enjoyed by current as well as prospective theatre goers.

The Playhouse’s 2014-2015 season is listed below, along with descriptions provided by the theatre.

September 27 – October 25, 2014
“The 39 Steps” by Patrick Barlow, John Buchan
Do you love mysteries?  Do you love physical comedy?  Are you a Hitchcock aficionado?  Then The 39 Steps is the show for you.  Imagine Monty Python presenting a maddeningly fast-paced tribute to Hitchcock and playing all the parts.  Revolving around a mysterious organization called “The 39 Steps,” this production will take you on a wild manhunt, thrill you with strangely imaginative special effects, and introduce you to more than 150 zany characters (played by 4 performers). This Tony and Drama Desk Award-winning treat is packed with nonstop laughs, madness, mayhem, murder, and some good old-fashioned romance.

November 8 – December 6, 2014
“Arms and the Man” by George Bernard Shaw
It is 1885, the height of the Serbo-Bulgarian war. An armed soldier breaks into a young woman’s bedroom and demands refuge.  Doesn’t sound much like a comedy, but coming from the fertile mind of George Bernard Shaw, these events set in motion a witty look at governmental posturing, infidelity, social structures, and the passionate pursuit of chocolate creams. Will young Raina marry her war hero? Will social lines be crossed to find true love? Will romantic affairs be revealed? Will duels be fought over faithfulness and sweets?  Watch as national and moral borders blur in this brilliant comedy of manners.

December 13 – 21, 2014
“A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, adapted by Gregory Cohen
Returning for its third incarnation at Long Beach Playhouse, this quick-paced, highly theatrical re-telling of Charles Dickens’ classic tale of sin and redemption will delight the entire family.  In nineteenth century England, the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future show tight-fisted miser Ebenezer Scrooge the poverty of his material wealth and the blessings that come with generosity. Can they convince him to change before it’s too late? This production will be the Christmas party needed to set you and your loved ones on the path to holiday cheer.

January 17 – February 14, 2015
“Murder on the Nile” by Agatha Christie
Is there any better way to celebrate a marriage than a romantic honeymoon aboard a paddle steamer cruising down the Nile?  There must be, especially if the bride ends up dead and the groom grievously wounded. In this classic by the modern mistress of mystery, we travel through the Dark Continent along with master sleuth Canon Pennefather as he uncovers an audacious conspiracy and brings the criminals to justice.  Passion, jealousy, infidelity, and murder make this a honeymoon cruise you will not soon forget.  Play along and see if you can solve the crime before all is revealed.

February 28 – March 28, 2015
“The Real Thing” by Tom Stoppard
The brilliantly witty and biting writing talents of the author of The Real Inspector Hound and Shakespeare in Love  makes every moment of this backstage comedy intellectually and emotionally engaging.  An articulate and romantically idealistic playwright receives a challenge from his wife—take the inept play of a “political prisoner” named Brodie and rework it into a theatrical triumph.  In the process, the writer must show his wife that Brodie is more of a thug than a victim of political repression, all the while challenging his own long-held concepts of love, marriage and fidelity.

April 11 – May 9, 2015
“By the Way, Meet Vera Stark” by Lynn Nottage
In a new dramatic comedy from Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Lynn Nottage, this funny yet thoughtful play draws upon the screwball films of the 1930s to take an insightful look at racial stereotypes in Hollywood. Based on a true story, By The Way, Meet Vera Stark is a journey through the life of an African-American maid and actress and her relationship with her boss, a white Hollywood starlet. Jumping from a low-rent apartment to a Hollywood mansion, from 1930s show-biz to a 21st Century historical seminar, racial imagery and cinematic fame have never been more entertaining.

May 23 – June 20, 2015
“Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller
Willy Loman has become the quintessential image of the traveling salesman, forever chasing his dream of success, but always falling short of true contentment and happiness.  Presented in a series of dreamlike flashbacks, we see the failing philosophy of Willy’s life, even as he stubbornly hangs onto the need to be liked. Seeing his failed  dreams reflected back from his sons, his hopes and regrets are shared by everyone who has questioned life choices.  This is truly a thrilling work of deep and revealing beauty by one of the true masters of American Drama.

July 11 – August 15, 2015
“Jesus Christ Superstar” with Lyrics by Tim Rice | Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Jesus Christ, the world’s first superstar! This thrilling rock-opera takes a sometimes irreverent, always impassioned look at Jesus’ last days.  As Judas begins to question the motivations and methods of his friend and mentor, emotion and true belief is put to the test. Propelled by a stirring score by the creators of Phantom of the Opera and Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar illuminates the transcendent power of the human spirit with a passion that goes straight to the heart. A true classic of modern musical theatre, you’ll never get closer to this biblical story than at the Long Beach Playhouse.

Disclaimer: Long Beach Post Executive Editor Brian Addison sits on the board of the Long Beach Playhouse.