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Letting loose a loud laugh, tearing up when you least expect, or joyfully following the lyrics of a familiar song in your head with the professionals — these are just three ways you know that your theater experience is a rousing success. Add to that a whole bus load of friends and family who are along for the experience and you have yourself an epic group trip. For help finding the right destination for your next big theater trip, consider the following five Broadway touring productions.

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Wicked

Segerstrom Center for the Arts
600 Town Center Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 556-2787
www.scfta.com

Two dozen performances of “Wicked,” called “Broadway’s biggest blockbuster” by The New York Times, are slated through March 6 at Orange County’s most prominent theater. This story of two girls who meet and become the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda The Good Witch in Oz predates Dorothy’s visit from Kansas while bringing to light some of the peculiarities of this unpredictable emerald place. Sensational musical numbers are the backbone of this production which will have you humming “Popular” as you head back on the bus to your original destination.

 

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Dirty Dancing

SNH Golden Gate Theater
1 Taylor St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
(888) 746-1799
www.shnsf.com

Straight from the Great White Way, “Dirty Dancing” is on the boards at San Francisco’s opulent Golden Gate Theater, an art deco masterpiece known for hosting touring Broadway shows throughout the decades. This take on the 1987 cult movie in which “nobody puts Baby in the corner” debuted a decade ago in Australia, went to London’s west end and then ended up as a hit in New York City. That said, the North American touring production stays true to the plot of the film while its music, like “Hungry Eyes” and “I Had the Time of My Life,” still resonates. And don’t worry — sensual dancing is still a big Dirty Dancing theme as the players rock out while teenaged Baby takes a vacation with her clan in the Catskills. The year is 1963 and the allure of older man Johnny Castle is real. Really real.

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The Book Of Mormon

Community Center Theater
Sacramento Convention Center
1301 L St. Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 808-5181
www.sacramentocommunitycentertheater.com

If you want to witness what Entertainment Weekly called “the funniest musical of all time,” hurry and get tickets to “The Book of Mormon,” otherwise known as BOM. This hit Broadway musical takes up residence in Sacramento’s Community Center Theater between March 9 and March 20. Not for the easily offended, BOM takes on the plight of LDS Church missionaries in a hilarious manner that has to be seen to be understood. Jon Stewart of The Daily Show was extremely astute, as usual, when he stated that this century’s biggest hit play is “a crowning achievement [that is] so good it makes [you] angry.” See if you agree.

 

Once

Hollywood Pantages Theatre
6233 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 468-1770
www.hollywoodpantages.com

Not only does the Pantages Theatre give you the feeling of the Golden Age of Hollywood in its art deco magnificence, but “Once,” taking the boards at this legendary house from March 15th through 20th, shows why the musical won eight Tony Awards in 2012. This is a return engagement for this particular offering, which is based on the Academy Award-winning film about an Irish musician and a Czech immigrant who share the love of music so much so that they collaborate in more ways than one.

 

An Act Of God

SHN Golden Gate Theatre
1 Taylor St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
(888) 746-1799
www.shnsf.com

Vanity Fair called this new hit play “sinfully funny.” The comedy, starring Sean Hayes and directed by two-time Tony winner Joe Mantella, runs from March 29 through April 17 at the the City by the Bay’s SHN Golden Gate Theatre. The comedy plays out over a 90-minute period in which the Almighty and His dear Angels dig deep about all kinds of subjects so heavy that the material turns humorous while still producing much to ponder. Note: “An Act of God” is recommended for theater-goers ages 13 and older.

 

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This article was written by Jane Lasky of Examiner.com for CBS Local.