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Originally published Friday, March 8, 2013 at 5:01 AM

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New plays: premieres in Seattle and Issaquah

Lots of the new on area stages in the coming week: a world premiere at Village Theatre, a local premiere at ArtsWest and a contemporary play at Hugo House.

Seattle Times theater critic

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This week’s theater openings have a contemporary slant: Among them are local premieres of a recent Broadway play and a mystery tale by Seattle dramatist Allison Gregory and a world-premiere musical in Issaquah.

“Trails”

The Eastside, and the Pacific Northwest in general, are home to many a fleece-wearing, REI-joining, hiker-skier and mountain lover. So it’s not surprising that Village Theatre would be attracted to the subject matter of the new musical “Trails,” which has its world premiere at the Issaquah venue Thursday. (The piece had its first staged reading there earlier, in the Village Originals series.)

The show isn’t set in the Cascades or the Olympic range, but in a popular hiking destination in the Eastern U.S.: the Appalachian Trail, which stretches some 2,200 miles through wilderness, between Georgia and Maine.

Written by Christy Hall, with a score by Jordan Mann and Jeff Thomson, “Trails” concerns two longtime male friends who follow the trail from Georgia to New England, encountering physical and emotional challenges along the way.

Eric Ankrim directs. And since the musical can’t go to the mountains, a man-made “mini-mountain” has been constructed on the Village stage.

Runs Thursday-April 21 at Village Theatre, Issaquah, and April 26-May 19 at Everett Performing Arts Center (425-392-2202 or www.villagetheatre.org).

“Cliffhouse”

Macha Monkey is giving us another play set in the Pacific Northwest wilds — with another agenda altogether. In Allison Gregory’s mystery drama, directed by Meghan Arnette, several strangers find themselves on vacation at a resort called Cliffhouse. It is run by a strange, rather sinister fellow named Cliff — who will make this a less than peaceful sojourn for his guests.

Macha Monkey is a Seattle troupe that focuses on modern scripts by women authors. It has a history with Gregory, who writes plays for both young and adult audiences, and divides her time between Seattle and Austin, Texas. The company produced her play “Fall Off Night” back in 2006.

Runs Friday-March 30 at Richard Hugo House, Seattle (800-838-3006 or www.machamonkey.org).

“Next Fall”

This romantic tragicomedy by Geoffrey Nauffts lasted only a few months on Broadway after Off Broadway success, but it was nominated for a Tony Award for its offbeat love story.

Opening its Seattle premiere on Wednesday at ArtsWest, the play tracks a meaningful New York affair between two men: a sardonic, Woody Allen-ish atheist and his lover, a sunny young actor and devout Christian who hides his homosexuality from his conservative Southern family.

After four years together, a serious accident tests the relationship and puts one of the men in close contact with the other’s parents — people who hold a worldview and beliefs very different from his own.

ArtsWest artistic director Christopher Zinovitch heads the cast, and Cindy Bradder directs.

Runs Wednesday-April 6 at ArtsWest, West Seattle; (206-938-0339 or www.artswest.org)

Misha Berson: mberson@seattletimes.com

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