By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
CLOSER THAN EVER This show is basically a musical monologue collection, with each song telling a different story, some touching and some funny. Director Mike Mahaffey has assembled a talented quartet of singers who have the acting chops to illumine underlying emotional realities. Karen DeThomas provides lively choreography, while musical director Debbie Lawrence admirably shapes and blends the ensemble numbers, and provides fine accompaniment on the electric keyboard. Knightsbridge Theater, 1944 Riverside Dr., Silver Lake; Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m.; indef. (323) 667-0955. (NW)
DO YOU FEAR WHAT I FEAR? See New Reviews.
GO DREAMLAND Producer Lenetta Kidd’s aerialist/magic-act cabaret is a musical-theater cross between Pussycat Dolls Live, Chippendalesand Cirque du Soleil. Ray Pierce’s direction is so slick, you can’t believe you’re not in Las Vegas. White Lotus, 1743 Cahuenga Blvd., Hlywd.; Wed.-Thurs., dinner at 8 p.m., show 9 p.m.; indef. (323) 463-0060. (SLM)
HANGING ALICE After a circus elephant goes on a rampage, it’s up to prosecutor Ward Brando (a fine turn by McCaleb Burnett) to present the case at trial. Opposing him is a gabby, headstrong defense attorney (Stana Katic), trying to save the murderous beast from the noose. Writer-director Rick Pagano attempts to skewer Southern culture, mores, womanhood and even racist politics but does so in a heavy-handed, awkward manner with a script that is far too wordy and unfocused. Even so, Sam Hennings is a hoot as the back-slapping, good ol’ boy Senator Phil. Elephant Performance Lab, 6324 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Jan. 29. (323) 965-9996. (LE3)
I’M NOT PAYING FOR THIS! Varla Jean Merman (Jeffery Roberson) returns with new songs, stories and videos. L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center’s Renberg Theater, the Village at Ed Gould Plaza, 1125 N. McCadden Pl., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 5. (323) 860-7300.
IT CAME FROM BEYOND 1950s kids are transported to a fantasy world via their favorite comic book, in Cornell Christianson and Norman Thalheimer’s sci-fi musical. Write Act Theater, St. Stephen’s Church, 6128 Yucca St., Hlywd.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 & 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 25. (323) 769-6231.
I WROTE THIS! The Sacred Fools perform plays they wrote as children. Plus, comedy duo Ten West. Sacred Fools Theater, 660 N. Heliotrope Dr., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 4 (added perf Jan. 29, 2 p.m., with Q&A). (310) 281-8337.
JANET KLEIN AND HER BORSCHT BELT BABIES Klein recruited her company from older performers who actually appeared in vaudeville, or descendants of those who did; her show feels pleasantly caught in a 1930s time warp. As a performer, Klein combines the coyness of a silent-movie ingénue with mannered mock-naughtiness. Steve Allen Theater at the Center for Inquiry West, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri., 8 p.m.; indef. (323) 960-7785. (NW)
LOS MUERTOS Russian-born Yevgeny is a mean-spirited alcoholic bully occupying a one-room Hollywood apartment with his cancer-stricken lover. Written by Timothy McNeil and directed by David Fofi, this meditation on death ripples with melodrama that strains the bounds of the plausible. With his ersatz accent and over-the-top histrionics, McNeil is the production’s greatest albatross. Elephant Theater, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sun., 8 p.m.; thru Jan. 29. (323) 960-7822. (DK)
THE MANOR: Murder and Madness at Greystone The audience follows actors’ fictionalized re-enactment of mysterious true events. Greystone Mansion, 905 Loma Vista Dr., Beverly Hills; Sat.-Sun., Jan. 21-22, 1 p.m.; also Feb. 25-26, March 18-19. (310) 364-0535.
ME2 Courtney Fine goes on the date from hell. Masquers Cabaret, 8334 W. Third St.; Wed., 7:30 p.m.; Sat., 9:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 18. (310) 590-7229.
GO MOTHER ON FIRE With her trademark manic energy and merciless eye for detail, writer-performer-humorist Sandra Tsing Loh tackles the unsexiest of subjects — her kids’ education — and comes up with a trenchant, mostly fluid show that’s thought-provoking when it’s not funny. Directors David Schweizer and Bart Delorenzo make good use of space, and of Loh’s physicality — amid the yuks, it’s easy to forget she moves like a dancer. 24th Street Theater, 1117 W. 24th St.; Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 19. (800) 838-3006. (Erin Aubry Kaplan)
NAKED DECEPTION Writer-director-actor Paul Vander Roest and writer-actor Bruce Hart’s comedy centers on three gay couples, in more or less stable relationships, till they’re invaded by a handsome, sulky, sociopathic hustler and would-be actor. He gains entry by pretending to be the unknown houseguest they’re expecting, and creates havoc in each of the three households with his lies, manipulations, multiple seductions and a bit of blackmail. Despite the prevailing amateurishness, there are some solid laughs, dollops of wit and some engaging performances. Vanderhart Productions at Studio/Stage, 520 N. Western Ave., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 19. (323) 960-7738. (NW)
THE OKAPI World premiere of Rahn D’Agostino’s “wild, lucid dream.” Next Stage Theater, 1523 N. La Brea Ave., Second Floor, Hlywd.; Thurs., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 9. Info/resv., email@example.com.
GO PAPA Playwright John deGroot’s one-man show, starring Adrian Sparks, displays Ernest Hemingway in full sunset glory as self-mythologist, raconteur and critic of American small-mindedness. Downing Bloody Marys, he broods over growing up in a female-dominated family, regales us with gossip about F. Scott Fitzgerald and grumbles about his four marriages. Under Martha Demson’s relaxed direction, Sparks is a brawling, profane and surprisingly likable Hemingway who guides us along an anecdotal safari of his life. Open Fist Theater, 1625 N. La Brea Ave., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 18. (323) 882-6912. (SM)