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
Opening This Week
AMERICAN KLEZMER West Coast Jewish Theater’s musical comedy about a band of musicians who emigrate from Russia. Egyptian Arena Theater, 1625 N. Las Palmas Ave., Hlywd.; previews Fri., Jan. 27, 8 p.m.; opens Sat., Jan. 28, 8 p.m.; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 19. (323) 860-6620.
APPLES + VODKA = SALVATION Frazzled teachers come undone in class. Hollywood Court Theater, Hollywood United Methodist Church, 6817 Franklin Ave., Hlywd.; opens Sun., Jan. 29, 3 & 5 p.m.; perfs Sun., 3 & 5 p.m.; thru Feb. 26. (323) 692-8200.
ASIAN BIRD FLU OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST Asian-American sketch-comedy chaos, courtesy the 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors. GTC-Burbank, 1111-B W. Olive Ave., Burbank; previews Wed., Feb. 1, 8 p.m.; opens Thurs., Feb. 2, 8 p.m.; perfs Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 12. (818) 754-4500.
ASPHALT Stage adaptation of Carl Hancock Rux’s debut novel about a “kaleidoscopic post-apocalyptic city.” REDCAT, W. Second and S. Hope sts., dwntwn.; Thurs.-Sat., Feb. 2-4, 8:30 p.m. (213) 237-2800.
BANNED PLAYS Area 101, 1051 N. Cole Ave., Stage B, Hlywd.; opens Fri., Jan. 27, 8 p.m.; perfs Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 7:30 p.m.; thru March 4. www.guerrilatheatre.com. See Stage feature.
BERT N’ EDDIE Dick De Benedictis’ musical account of the friendship between black performer Bert Williams and a young Eddie Cantor. Pierce College Theater, 6201 Winnetka Ave., Woodland Hills; opens Fri., Jan. 27, 8 p.m.; perfs Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 5. (818) 991-1485.
DON JUAN, THE TRICKSTER OF SEVILLE Dakin Matthews’ new translation. NewPlace Theater Center, 4900 Vieneland Ave., N. Hlywd.; opens Sat., Jan. 28, 8 p.m.; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 26. (818) 506-8462.
DRAGON TALES LIVE: Missing Music Mystery The PBS kids show, live on stage. Pantages Theater, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs., Feb. 2, 7 p.m.; Fri., Feb. 3, 10:30 a.m. & 7 p.m.; Sat., Feb. 4, 10:30 a.m. & 2 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 5, 1 & 4:30 p.m. (213) 365-3500.
THE ELEPHANT MAN Doctor befriends deformed freak in Bernard Pomerance’s drama. Victory Theater Center, 3326 W. Victory Blvd., Burbank; opens Fri., Jan. 27, 8 p.m.; perfs Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 26 (added perf Feb. 26, 7 p.m.). (818) 841-5421.
THE GOOD BODYVagina phenomenon Eve Ensler gives a full-body monologue. Wadsworth Theater, Veterans Administration, 11301 Wilshire Blvd., Bldg. 226, W.L.A.; opens Tues., Jan. 31, 7:30 p.m.; perfs Tues.-Thurs., 7:30 p.m.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 & 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 12 (Q&A perf Feb. 2). (213) 365-3500.
THE GROUNDLINGS: 00Sunday The only comedy troupe with a license to kill. Groundling Theater, 7307 Melrose Ave., Hlywd.; opens Sun., Jan. 29, 7:30 p.m.; perfs Sun., 7:30 p.m.; indef. (323) 934-4747, Ext. 37.
HAMLET MET Theater, 1089 N. Oxford Ave., Hlywd.; opens Fri., Jan. 27, 8 p.m.; perfs Fri.-Sun., 8 p.m.; thru March 19. (323) 957-1152.
LAST WALTZ Interdisciplinary ensemble performance “seeking to access spiritual states beyond the world of reality and explore alternate modes of performed expression.” Miles Playhouse, 1130 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica; opens Thurs., Feb. 2, 8:30 p.m.; perfs Thurs.-Sun., 8:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 5. (310) 392-9396.
THE LION IN WINTER James Goldman’s play about King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, circa Christmas 1183. Theater West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West; opens Fri., Jan. 27, 8 p.m.; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru April 1. (323) 851-7977.
THE MERCY SEAT Neil LaBute’s play about a man who cheated death on 9/11 by cheating on his wife. MET Theater, Great Scott Theater, 1089 N. Oxford Ave., Hlywd.; opens Fri., Jan. 27, 8 p.m.; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 25. (323) 957-1152.
OVER THE RIVER AND THROUGH THE WOODSNew comedy by Joe DiPietro. La Mirada Theater, 14900 La Mirada Blvd., La Mirada; opens Fri., Jan. 27, 8 p.m.; perfs Tues.-Thurs., 7:30 p.m.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2:30 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 & 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 12. (562) 944-9801.
ROCK OF AGES Laura Bell Bundy, Dan Finnerty, Chris Hardwick and Kyle Gass star in this 1980s Sunset Strip musical. Vanguard Theater, 6021 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; opens Sat., Jan. 28, 8 p.m.; perfs Fri., 7 p.m.; Sat., 8 p.m.; Thurs., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 18. (800) 595-4849.
THE SHELTER U.S. premiere of Valery Belyakovich’s adapation of Maxim Gorky’s The Lower Depths. Odyssey Theater, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., W.L.A.; previews Fri., Jan. 27, 8 p.m.; opens Sat., Jan. 28, 8 p.m.; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru March 5. (310) 477-2055.
Reviews by Lovell Estell III, Martín Hernández, Deborah Klugman, Steven Mikulan, Steven Leigh Morris, Amy Nicholson, Tom Provenzano and Neal Weaver.
BOSTON MARRIAGE L.A. premiere of David Mamet’s drawing-room comedy. Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Wstwd.; previews Tues.-Thurs., Jan. 31-Feb. 2, 7:30 p.m.; Fri., Feb. 3, 8 p.m.; Sat., Feb. 4, 4 & 8:30 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 5, 2 & 7 p.m.; Tues., Feb. 7, 7:30 p.m.; opens Wed., Feb. 8, 7:30 p.m.; perfs Tues.-Thurs., 7:30 p.m.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 4 & 8:30 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; thru March 12. (310) 208-5454 or (213) 365-3500.
THE CHERRY ORCHARD Chekhov’s tale of an ?aristocratic family on the verge of bankruptcy. Center Theater Group, Mark Taper Forum at the Music Center, 135 N. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; previews Thurs.-Sat., Feb. 2-4 & 9-11, 8 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 5, & Sat., Feb. 11, 2:30 p.m.; opens Sun., Feb. 12, 2:30 p.m; perfs Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2:30 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 & 7:30 p.m.; thru March 19. (213) 628-2772.
CITY OF ANGELS Larry Gelbart spoofs ’40s detective movies in this Hollywood satire with music by Cy Coleman and lyrics by David Zippel. Reprise! at the Freud Playhouse, UCLA, Wstwd.; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 5. (310) 825-2101.
DIVA See New Reviews.
GO THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF HEDDA GABLER Jeff Whitty’s new, commissioned comedy provides the seduction of presenting literary characters, and some very funny jokes from the way they intersect. Act 2, for instance, opens with a rowboat named African Queen containing the kerchiefed slave Mammy, from Gone With the Wind, having the best of times with Steven and Patrick, a datedly swishy, ’60s gay couple from Boys in the Band, while Hedda Gabler’s fastidious, bespectacled husband, George Tesman, sits in the back rowing. The premise is that these literary characters endure in misery because that’s how classical lit characters suffer — which is why they’re immortal. From this wondrous flight of fancy, Whitty’s play falls, like Icarus, from the effects of the blazing reality that whatever his ending, Hedda and Mammy and Medea will still be there, miserable, when we re-enter the street. South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa; Tues.-Fri., 7:45 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 2 & 7:45 p.m.; thru Jan. 29. (714) 708-5555. (SLM)
I’M NOT PAYING FOR THIS! See New Reviews.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST Lynn Redgrave stars as Lady Bracknell in Oscar Wilde’s comedy. Ahmanson Theater, Music Center, 135 N. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7:30 p.m.; thru March 5 (no eve perfs Feb. 5 & 19 & March 5; added 2 p.m. perfs Feb. 16 & March 2). (213) 628-2772.
MAMMA MIA! You know you love ABBA, just admit it. Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, Fred Kavli Theater, 2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 5. (805) 449-2787. Also at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, Feb. 8-12. (213) 365-3500. And at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center, Feb. 14-19. (714) 740-2000.
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING The Aquila Theater Company’s offbeat take on the Shakespeare comedy. La Jolla Playhouse, 2910 La Jolla Village Dr., La Jolla; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 19. (858) 550-1010.
GO PERMANENT COLLECTION (Note: This review is of a production that opened last year and has transferred to the current venue.) Thomas Gibbons sets his eloquent and revelatory drama in and around a suburban gallery of mostly Impressionist masters, where the new director — an African-American executive from the business world — clashes with the museum’s white director of education over adding African treasures to the main exhibit, setting off a maelstrom of public charges. The knot of bigotry in this country is wound so tightly with guilt and indignation, it’s beyond rational discussion, yet in his play Gibbons loosens it ever so slightly, through the woman who stands between the two gallant, stubborn opponents. Harry J. Lennix and Dwain Perry co-direct this quite wonderful production. Robey Theater Company and the Greenway Arts Alliance at the Kirk Douglas Theater, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 12. (213) 628-2772. (SLM)
THE PRICE Arthur Miller’s story of two brothers. A Noise Within, 234 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 5 (no perf Jan. 27; no eve. perf Feb. 5). (818) 240-0910, Ext. 1.
700 SUNDAYS Wilshire Theater, 8440 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 & 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 18 (no perfs Jan. 30-Feb. 5). (213) 365-3500. See Stage feature.
SWEENEY TODD A lecherous judge ends up as delicious meat pie in the Stephen Sondheim musical thriller. East West Players at the David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center for the Arts, 120 Judge John Aiso St., Little Tokyo; previews Thurs.-Sat., Feb. 2-4, 8 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 5, 2 p.m.; opens Wed., Feb. 8, 8 p.m.; perfs Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 5. (213) 625-7000, Ext. 20.
GO 2 PIANOS 4 HANDS The charm of playwrights Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt’s presumably autobiographical story comes from its simplicity: Two actor-musicians (Richard Carsey and Tom Frey) playing beautifully on two grand pianos while rushing in and out of scores of characters. They parody eccentric music teachers who range from incompetent to insufferable. Large scrims surrounded by fancy picture frames offer grotesque shadows of angry parents, through Steve Lucas’ ingeniously understated set and lighting. Finally, this play is about the music, and the performers provide that with skill. Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 5. (949) 497-2787. (TP)
Hollywood, West Hollywood, Downtown
AMERICAN IDLE In his domestic comedy-drama, playwright-director Edward Ryan is so angry at America’s pointless warmongering and the termination of a social contract that’s been honored since WWII, his play indulges in pedantic binges. Ryan’s range of concerns is heroic, but the buffeting of styles between a farce by Dario Fo (an examination of symptoms) and a tragedy by Arthur Miller (an examination of causes) lands American Idle in a thicket of opinions that seem obvious, even as the play reaches for something loftier. The Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 11. (310) 228-6237. (SLM)
ANGRY JELLOW BUBBLES The New York women’s theater ensemble brings song, dance, comedy and drama to the Artworks Theater, 6569 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m.; thru Jan. 27. (323) 769-5808.
ANNIE KORZEN: Straight From the Mouth! It’s sassy Annie versus the world in this evening of comedy and music. Acme Comedy Theater, 135 N. La Brea Ave., Hlywd.; Thurs., 8 p.m.; thru March 16. (323) 525-0202.
ARSENIC AND OLD LACE Senior sisters murder by poison in Joseph Kesselring’s comedy. Knightsbridge Theater, 1944 Riverside Dr., Silver Lake; Sat., 5 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 18. (323) 667-0955.
THE BACHELORETTE PARTY Donald Welch’s eve-of-marriage dramedy. Theater District at the Cast, 804 N. El Centro Ave., Hlywd.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 7 p.m.; indef. (310) 346-3343.
BARK! Canine musical from the dog’s point of view. Coast Playhouse, 8325 Santa Monica Blvd., W. Hlywd.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 19. (800) 595-4849.
GO BIG NEWS I.O. West’s sketch-comedy troupe fashions a new program every Thursday inspired by news stories; the evening I attended, their broad satire scored more comedic hits than misses. The show’s funniest sketch — “Brokeback White House” — portrays affection between Bush and Cheney attaining the passionately fevered pitch of the desperately thwarted lovers in the film. I.O. West, 6366 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs., 8 p.m.; indef. (323) 962-7560. (DK)
BILL W. & DR. BOB Samuel Shem and Janet Surrey’s story of Alcoholics Anonymous. Theater 68, 5419 Sunset Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Jan. 29. (323) 960-7827.
GO THE BOOK OF LIZ In Amy Sedaris and David Sedaris’ comic fable, Ann Magnuson is sweet, goofy Sister Elizabeth Donderstock, a buck-toothed member of the Cluster Haven “Squeamish” community (a parody of the Amish), sent on a Candide-like journey into a sugar-and-spicy Prairie Home Companion world. Blank Theater Company at 2nd Stage Theater, 6500 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 26. (323) 661-9827. (SLM)
GO THE BREAK-UP NOTEBOOK: The Lesbian Musical Based on the successful play by Patricia Cotter, composer-lyricist Lori Scarlett’s adaptation follows the travails of a woman who has been dumped by her girlfriend and is desperate to find new love. Scarlett’s generally excellent score only occasionally falls into the kind of contemporary light pop that so often inhabits modern musicals. Most of the songs are heartfelt or truly funny, and all carry the story forward. Under Sue Hamilton’s fine direction, the cast breezily handles an array of characters while ably carrying the tunes with humor and commitment. Hudson Backstage Theater, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 12. (323) 960-5563. (TP)
GO THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV Unlike other adaptations of the Russians we’ve seen here over the past decade, the Circle X actors are all in the same play: fiery, manic, desperate in their sundry searches for purity and in their fight against their own depravities. Anthony Clarvoe’s play crosses the ocean and the centuries with a comparatively light heart and some American colloquialisms, playing up the humor so that the comedy feels closer to Chekhov and Bulgakov than Russian lit’s prince of darkness. Circle X Theater Company at [Inside] the Ford, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 4. (213) 804-5491. (SLM)
THE CATHOLIC GIRL’S GUIDE TO LOSING YOUR VIRGINITY A 24-year-old virgin vows to go all the way before her next birthday, in Annie Hendy’s world-premiere comedy. Hudson Guild Theater, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Wed., 8 p.m.; thru March 1. (323) 960-7753.
CHICKEN PARMIGIANA Tracy Esposito’s one-woman show. Complex Theater, 6470 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Tues., 8 p.m.; thru Jan. 31. (212) 726-1916.
CHOICE WORDS See New Reviews.
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)
GO DO YOU FEAR WHAT I FEAR? David Jahn knows quite a bit about the subject of fear and the deleterious impact it can have on one’s life. His first dose of paralyzing fear was administered by a well-meaning but zealous teacher who instructed him about the dangers of provoking God’s wrath. Not long afterward, an ulcer ensued, followed by family changes, Ritalin therapy, a love affair with his best friend and the gradual, painful journey to self-acceptance as a gay male. Through the bleak subject matter, Jahn skillfully mimics a gallery of characters and spices the show with outrageously funny singing and dancing, under Robert and Ian Tucker’s sharp direction. Elephant Asylum Theater, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 12. (323) 960-4412. (LE3)
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)
GO GROUNDLINGS SUPER SQUADRON: Defenders of the Universe While there are a few clunkers, director Jim Rash and his sketch-comedy cohorts are sharpest when delving into topical and political ground. In “The Incredible Bolt,” our U.N. Ambassador John Bolton (Hugh Davidson) delivers ignominious testimony before the body he despises and suffers an apoplectic fit of rage that riotously reveals his true identity. Self-indulgence is skewered as NPR personalities Ira Glass (Jim Cashman) and Sarah Vowell (Stephanie Courtney) glibly report their own life-threatening dilemma in “This American Life.”But “Old West”offers a lame joke on frontier hookers, and “The Trial”is just a silly riff on an eccentric juror. Groundling Theater, 7307 Melrose Ave.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 8 & 10 p.m.; indef. (323) 934-4747. (MH)
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.; thru Jan. 28. (323) 965-9996. (LE3)
IT CAME FROM BEYOND! See New Reviews.
IT’S TOO BAD STUPIDITY ISN’T PAINFUL Sarah Hyland’s one-woman show. Masquers Cabaret, 8334 W. Third St., W. Hlywd.; Thurs., 9:30 p.m.; thru March 9. www.?masquerscabaret.com
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)
JUDY AT THE STONEWALL INN See New Reviews.
LETTING GO OF GOD Julia Sweeney’s one-woman show about religion, God and “the nature of self.” Groundling Theater, 7307 Melrose Ave., Hlywd.; Mon., Jan. 30, 8 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 12, 11 a.m.; Mon., Feb. 13, 8 p.m.; also Feb. 28, March 5, 14, 21, 26 & 28; Sun. perfs 11 a.m., Tues. perfs 8 p.m. (323) 934-4747.
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)
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., firstname.lastname@example.org.
OTHELLO MET Theater, 1089 Oxford Ave., Hlywd.; Wed.-Thurs., 8 p.m.; thru March 16. (323) 957-1152.
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, 6209 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 18. (323) 882-6912. (SM)
GO REGRETROSEXUAL In a funny, sharply observed commentary on the strange byways that sexual confusion can lead to, comedian/monologist Dan Rothenberg turns the usual coming-out story on its ear: He’s trying to come out as straight. After moving to Los Angeles, Rothenberg began to move in gay circles, where he got the kind of gratifying attention from gay men that he’d never received from women. Then nature revolted. He faced the same problems a gay man faces while trying to convince himself he’s straight. Louie Liberti directs Rothenberg’s finely articulated performance. Lounge Theater, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m., thru Jan. 27. (323) 969-4790. (NW)
ROMEO AND JULIET Next Stage, 1523 N. La Brea Ave., Second Floor, Hlywd.; Fri.-Sun., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 11. (310) 383-6644.
GO ROUTE 99: Orange Star Dinner Show Catchy Midwestern-themed ditties, lively dance numbers, effulgent costumes and a quirky, sometimes esoteric, sense of humor fill this evening of spectacle and song from writer-director-choreographer/co-composer Ken Roht. It is at once an homage to and a satire of dinner theater, which takes place in a fictional Wyoming roadside attraction run by the eponymous Orange Star. Mix in a singing cowboy waxing sentimental about his dead dog and a preteen periodically stealing focus with hilarious, tone-deaf interpretations of musical-theater standards, and you’ve got one memorably raucous ho-down. Evidence Room, 2220 Beverly Blvd.; Thurs.-Sun., 8 p.m.; thru Jan. 29. (213) 381-7118. (Luis Reyes)
GO SERIAL KILLERS Creating new material every week for the stage is an insane undertaking, and here Sacred Fools takes on the challenge with tenacity and balls. Ten-minute episodes of five different ongoing plays trump across the stage every week. At the end of the evening, the audience chooses three that will return with a new episode the following week. In the hands of lesser craftsmen, the endeavor could easily turn into mush. But most of the serials presented on the night I attended were well worth the challenge of an 11 p.m. curtain. Sacred Fools Theater, 660 N. Heliotrope Dr., Hlywd.; Sat., 11 p.m.; thru March 25 (no perfs Feb. 11 & 18). (310) 281-8337. (Luis Reyes)
SEXUAL PERVERSITY IN CHICAGO David Mamet made a successful landing with his caustically humorous 1974 one-act exploring a skirmish on the Chicago front of the war between the sexes. While Mamet displays sparks of his storied knack for terse and profane dialogue, the play consists of such brief scenes that, while funny and disturbing, the vignette structure stifles character development. Within that frame, director Paul Wagar’s cast delivers satisfactory yet superficial performances. Ark Theater Company, 1647 S. La Cienega Blvd.; Thurs. & Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 19. (323) 969-1707. (MH)
GO SHUFFLE, SHUFFLE, STEP Theatre/Theater inaugurates its capacious new venue with this bill of one-acts by Samuel Beckett, under R.S. Bailey’s well-calibrated direction. Bailey does a fine acting turn in Krapp’s Last Tape as the gray-haired, wheezing and decrepit Krapp, caught in the merciless tentacles of doubt and despair, reduced to listening to a tape from 39 years ago that chronicles a love affair and a time “when there was still a chance of happiness.” Theatre/Theater, 5041 W. Pico Blvd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m. (Krapp’s Last Tape, every performance; Footfalls, Fri. only; Rough for Theatre One, Sat. only) ; thru Feb. 11. (323) 466-3134. (LE3)
SORDID LIVES Del Shores’ white-trash comedy. Zephyr Theater, 7456 Melrose Ave., W. Hlywd.; previews Fri. & Tues., Jan. 27 & 31, 8 p.m.; Sat., Jan. 28, 3 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 29, 7 p.m.; opens Fri., Feb. 3, 8 p.m.; perfs Tues. & Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru April 23. (800) 595-4849.
GO SOUTHERN BAPTIST SISSIES Playwright Del Shores has a visceral hatred for the rigidity, intolerance and homophobia of the Baptist Church, but his loathing is tempered by a nostalgic love for the Texas church he grew up in, and these conflicted feelings make his play both funny and moving. He centers his tale on four gay boys whose lives are blighted by the self-hatred the church engenders. As a director, Shores is a consummate showman, assembling a well-nigh perfect cast, and punctuating the church scenes with sly verbal wit. Note: Several roles are double-cast. Far From Right Productions at the Zephyr Theater, 7456 Melrose Ave., W. Hlywd.; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 & 7 p.m.; thru April 2. (800) 595-4849. (NW)
STUCK Michael Traynor’s feeble direction and unfocused performances weaken Jessica Goldberg’s new play about two girls trying to escape their Midwestern town. Traynor’s staging seems at times to counter rather than complement the action, and the payoff of a chilling denouement falls flat from the production’s misunderstanding of the story’s irony and the cast’s penchant for mugging. Meta Theater, 7801 Melrose Ave., Unit 3, W. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 5. (323) 445-6632. (Luis Reyes)
SUBURBAN MOTEL George F. Walker’s one-acts set in a seedy motel. The Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 11 (no perf Feb. 5). (310) 281-7779.
GO THE TOMORROW SHOW Late-night variety show created by Craig Anton, Ron Lynch and Brendon Small. Steve Allen Theater at the Center for Inquiry West, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Sat., mid.; indef. (323) 960-7785.
GO TRIPTYCH A backstage dressing room encounter sets off Edna O’Brien’s savvy, three pronged one-act, a lyric work that explores a woman — or women — scorned. Under Robin Gammell’s direction, this smart, polished production registered solidly on track opening night with a satisfying destination not yet in sight. Laura Fine’s set and Jeffrey A. Burke’s lighting create an elegant, uncluttered ambiance that contrasts with the ladies’ tortuous passions, while Gelareh Khalioun’s varying costumes artfully complement each character. Some roles are double-cast. Nomad Theater Company at the Matrix Theater, 7657 Melrose Ave., W. Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 12. (866) 966-6623. (DK)
VON LUTZ Dennis Miles’ new play is a rich stew — equal parts Jean Cocteau’s Enfants Terribles and Greek tragedy, with a dash of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd. Yet the work is not derivative, as its most prominent feature is Miles’ own brand of dysfunctional family values. Miles is an accomplished writer, with a gift for florid arias, but his plotting here is rudimentary and is not much helped by Jon Lawrence Rivera’s workmanlike direction. Lillian Theater, 1076 N. Lillian Way, Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 12. (866) 811-4111. (David Mermelstein)
GO WHAT’S MY LINE? is an homage to the CBS game show in which a team of celebrity panelists attempted to guess the occupation of the contestant. In this stage version, director Jim Newman brings back the gentility of yore, with host J. Keith van Straaten stepping into the spit-and-polished shoes of predecessors Wally Bruner and Larry Blyden. Amazingly, this doesn’t parody the original show but offers a replica sample of a vintage pop culture. Acme Comedy Theater, 135 N. La Brea Ave., Hlywd.; Wed., 8 p.m.; indef. (323) 525-0202. (SLM)
GO WRECKAGE Perhaps being adopted led to comedian Lauren Weedman’s insatiable appetite for validation. A female Robin Williams, Weedman spins through dizzying impersonations of multiple characters like a tornado, with perfect timing that’s somehow manic and blithe in the same breath. She sustains a beguiling smile while undercutting every moment of tenderness with, “just kidding.” This eventually leads you to ask, when will she stop kidding and commit to something sincere — which is exactly the show’s point. Upright Citizens Brigade at the Tamarind Theater, 5919 Franklin Ave., Hlywd.; Fri., Jan. 27, 9:30 p.m. (323) 908-8702. (SLM)
BOB’S HOLIDAY OFFICE PARTY Rob Elk and Joe Keyes’ seasonal satire on corporate greed, small-town values and alcohol abuse. Third Stage, 2811 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank; Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 11. (818) 842-4755.
CASH ON DELIVERY An unemployed bloke scams the welfare system in this British farce. Glendale Center Theater, 324 N. Orange St., Glendale; Wed.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 & 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 11. (818) 244-8481.
DECEIT Since Bruce Kimmel’s melodrama hinges entirely on misinformation and gimmicks, it’s impossible to describe his murder mystery without giving the game away. Who is killed and why is a vexing question. In Act 1, we see a grisly murder (committed, oddly enough, with a lady’s safety razor). It soon appears that two out of the three characters are dead, though there’s still an act to go. The actors strive in vain to flesh out sketchy characters, but set designer Matt Scarpino provides a handsome and clever interior, with a scrim wall that allows us to see the offstage skullduggery. Kritzerland Theater Company at El Portal Forum Theater, 5269 Lankershim Ave., N. Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 19. (800) 595-4849. (NW)
GO ECSTASY AND THE ICE QUEEN Justine Moore offers a darkly funny reminiscence of growing up in Taos, New Mexico, where the Native Americans’ traditional culture was disrupted by white hippies who moved there in the late ’60s. Moore demonstrates a facility for vocal nuance, creating distinct identities for the characters. Whitefire Theater, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; third Sun. of the month, 7 p.m.; thru March 19. (323) 960-7740. (Sandra Ross)
GREETINGS! It’s unhappy holidays for a Catholic mom and dad when their son brings home his Jewish atheist fiancée. Lonny Chapman Group Repertory Theater, 10900 Burbank Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 4. (800) 700-4878.
HEROTIQUE-AAHH .?.?. 3 Blacque Chix promote the erotic power of women over 40. Fremont Center Theater, 1000 Fremont Ave., S. Pasadena; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 26. (626) 441-5977.
HOW I RUINED EVERYTHING In writer-director Natasha Levinger’s lightweight romantic comedy, men are from Mars, women Venus, and actors must come from a loopy satellite spinning just past Pluto. So discovers 20-something Kate when she ditches her staid but affectionate husband for Jack, a melodramatic artist. The largest stumbling block is its leading lady’s grating performance that suggests more evil twin Meg Ryan than Molière. Cast as a charmless, high-pitched egotist, Kate’s an unlikely fulcrum for any love triangle, which belabors the play’s inevitable thud of romantic redemption. Eclectic Company Theater, 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 18. (818) 508-3003. (AN)
IF YOU GET TO BETHLEHEM, YOU’VE GONE TOO FAR Mariette Hartley’s one-woman show, based on her memoir Breaking the Silence. Whitefire Theater, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 26. (866) 811-4111.
IN SEARCH OF ME Thirteen true-life stories. NoHo Actors Studio, 5215 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; indef. (818) 759-8201.
THE ITALIAN IN ME Catholic girl moves to Italy to study cinema, only to end up navigating “a sexual obstacle course,” in Dina Morrone’s play. Globe Playhouse, 1107 N. Kings Road, Hlywd.; previews Thurs., Jan. 26, 8 p.m.; opens Fri., Jan. 27, 8 p.m.; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m., thru Feb. 11; then Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 5. (323) 960-5521.
LOVE IN THE DMZ A military husband in 1968 Vietnam and his Kansan wife recite from their flood of correspondence in Julia Cameron’s play. Their glut of rambling letters is so stuffed with symbolic dreams and history lessons on napalm and brothels that, even though the running time is twice as long as needed, there’s no room for nuance, inference or accessibility. Actor’s Workout Studio, 4735 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Jan. 29. (866) 811-4111. (AN)
THE RABBI AND THE CHEERLEADER Sandy Wolshin’s journey from Raiderette to rabbi bride. Whitefire Theater, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; fourth Sun. of the month, 7 p.m.; thru April 30. (866) 811-4111.
REFLECTIONS OF A BLACK DEAF WOMAN Michelle Banks stars in her own play about the relationship between a deaf mother and her deaf daughter. Little Victory Theater, Victory Theater Center, 3324 W. Victory Blvd., Burbank; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 4 p.m.; thru Feb. 26. (818) 841-5422 or TTY (818) 843-9253.
SMELL OF THE KILL At the monthly dinner party of three college buddies, the plates have been cleared and the putters unsheathed, while in the kitchen, the wives debate knocking them off before dessert. Their husbands’ crimes are numerous, familiar and well-documented by Betty Freidan: infidelity, ennui, obsession and their uniform contributions to the missus’ feelings of unfulfillment.The sustained gossipy frission of Michele Lowe’s script drags here and there, never quite reaching venomous suspense, yet the ladies’ sharp performances give buoyancy to Lowe’s fleet of one-liners. NoHo Arts Center, Second Stage, 11136 Magnolia Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 12. (818) 765-8732. (AN)
STRING OF PEARLS See New Reviews.
SYLVIA A.R. Gurney’s comedy about a married man’s preoccupation with a stray dog. Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 18 (added perf Feb. 16, 8 p.m.). (626) 256-3809.
WIFE SWAPPERS Orange County swingers get down and dirty, in Justin Tanner’s play. Third Stage, 2811 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Jan. 28. (818) 842-4755.
BASH Neil LaBute’s trio of one-acts: Iphigenia in Orem, A Gaggle of Saints, Medea Redux. Odyssey Theater, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., W.L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru March 12. (310) 477-2055.
GO THE BATTLE: ABC Four actors playing multiple roles, and sharing the narration, depict scenes from cities, German and Japanese, broken by war. A boy remembers his father taken away in the night, and later visits him in prison, and, decades later, in an old-age home. A gentle wave goodbye through a suspended window frame is about as devastating an image of loss and separation as one is likely to find. David E. Frank, Bo Roberts and Paul M. Rubenstein effortlessly carry the play with sometimes arch style, but Sharon Gardner is particularly fine, with her pained, pale face, her throaty voice and unrelenting poise. City Garage, 1340½ Fourth St. (alley), Santa Monica; Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 5:30 p.m.; thru Jan. 29. (310) 319-9939. (SLM)
CHEERIOS IN MY UNDERWEAR (And Other True Tales of Motherhood) Amy Simon’s one-woman show about life as a stay-at-home mom. Empty Stage Theater, 2372 Veteran Ave., W.L.A.; last Sun. of the month, 3 p.m. (Mother’s Day perf May 14); indef. (310) 308-0947.
CINDERELLA The Rudie-DeCarlo musical fantasy, “for kids 2 to 102.” Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 Fourth St., Santa Monica; Sat.-Sun., 12:30 & 3 p.m.; thru Jan. 29. (310) 394-9779.
DIALECTICS OF THE HEART See New Reviews.
45 SECONDS FROM BROADWAY Neil Simon’s behind-the-scenes study of theater folk. Kentwood Players at the Westchester Playhouse, 8301 Hindry Ave., Westchester; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 18. (310) 645-5156.
MADE IN TAIWAN Michelle Krusiec’s one-woman show about an Asian-American daughter’s experiences with sex, dating and her controlling, insensitive mother. Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Ave., Venice; Fri.-Sat., Jan. 27-28, 8 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 29, 7 p.m. Resv. required, (310) 823-0710.
MR. KOLPERT See Stage Pick.
NIGHT OF THE BLACK CAT Magical musical cabaret, set in Paris circa 1881. Note: Acts change every week. Edgemar Center for the Arts, 2437 Main St., Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 4. (310) 392-7327.
NO SHAME SEASON FOUR, PART DEUX: Declaring Victory and Pain All-new under-five-minute works, which may or may not include “dance pieces, rants, Dadaist constructions, serialized epics, corrupt magicians, chainsaw juggling, puppet abuse.” Powerhouse Theater, 3116 Second St., Santa Monica; Fri., 11 p.m.; thru May 19. (323) 646-0033.
GO RAYMOND CHANDLER’S THE BLUE DAHLIA Director Dan O’Connor adapted Raymond Chandler’s Oscar-nominated 1946 screenplay in a production that premiered at this venue in 1989. This is a remounting with a different cast — or casts — of a production that opened last year. The story is a murder mystery about the shooting death of a dress-shop owner shortly after her hot-headed sailor husband returns from the war to find her getting a bit too cozy with a local club owner. There are red herrings and wrong turns, a Mafia clan and a hard-boiled detective, but the point is really a small mystery wrapped in a big bubble of atmosphere. The central character is Los Angeles, shrouded in cigarette smoke and Chandler’s noir wit — not so much the city as a myth of the city that paved the way for Dragnet, and is now part of an international, bygone mystique. Pacific Resident Theater, 703 Venice Blvd., Venice; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 5. (310) 822-8392. (SLM)
TEENAGE PAPI: The Remix Butchlalis de Panochtitlan’s take on “interracial desire and prison-bitch politics.” Highways Performance Space, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., Jan. 27-28, 8:30 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 29, 2:30 p.m. (310) 315-1459.
TITANIC The doomed shipboard romance of Jack and Rose, told commedia dell’arte style (includes kazoo solo). Globe of America on the Queen Mary, 1126 Queens Hwy., Long Beach; Fri.-Sun., 8 & 10:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 11. (562) 499-6630.
THE TURN OF THE SCREW Jeffrey Hatcher’s adaptation of the Henry James ghost story. Pacific Resident Theater, 705½ Venice Blvd., Venice; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru March 12. (310) 822-8392.
ARMS AND THE MAN Anne Heche and Jeremy Sisto read the George Bernard Shaw play, to be recorded for later airing on the radio series The Play’s the Thing. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., L.A.; Wed.-Fri., Feb. 1-3, 8 p.m.; Sat., Feb. 4, 3 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 5, 4 p.m. (310) 827-0889.
DINNER WITH MELISSA PRITCHARD AND HER STORIES Readings of Pritchard’s stories, by Victor Williams, Caroline Rhea, Marin Hinkle and the author herself. Preceded by a buffet dinner, followed by a book signing. M Bar, 1253 N. Vine St., Hlywd.; Sun., Jan. 29, 6:30 p.m. www.wordtheatre.com.
AN EVENING OF CLASSIC LILY TOMLIN Sold out. Pepperdine University, Smothers Theater, 24255 Pacific Coast Hwy., Malibu; Fri., Jan. 27, 8 p.m. (310) 506-4522.
JAY JOHNSON: The Two and Only! The ventriloquist, who starred on the controversial 1970s sitcom Soap with his sidekick Bob, throws his voice onto more characters including “a subversive monkey and a withering tennis ball.” Brentwood Theater, 11301 Wilshire Blvd., Brentwood; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 & 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 19 (added Tues.-Thurs. perfs, call for info). (213) 365-3500.
LIAR Staged reading of Robert Tobin’s play about a predatory womanizer. MET Theater, 1089 N. Oxford Ave., Hlywd.; Mon., Jan. 30, 8 p.m. (323) 957-1152.
NOBODY LIKES A YAPPY SKIRT Confessionals by female comics. Lounge Theater, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Wed., Feb. 1, 7:30 p.m. (310) 922-1668.
SUGAR HAPPENS Rachel Bailit stars in a workshop performance of Sherry Coben’s one-woman show. Lee Strasberg Theater Institute, 7936 Santa Monica Blvd., W. Hlywd.; Wed., 7:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 22; free. (323) 650-7777.
—Compiled by Derek Thomas