By Anthony D'Alessandro
By Catherine Wagley
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
RIVERDANCE Irish dancing spectacle. Pantages Theater, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 1 & 6:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 19. (323) 468-1770.
GO ROCK OF AGES In this flashy jukebox musical, the Rock of Ages is a rock club on the Sunset Strip. Busboy/janitor Drew wants to be a rock star, when he isn’t longing for waitress Sherrie, but Sherrie’s seduced by singer Stacee Jaxx and lured into becoming a stripper. Meanwhile, an evil German capitalist wants to buy up the messy Strip and turn it into neat strip malls. Though the plot doesn’t make much sense, even to the characters, it’s gussied up with a huge singing and dancing ensemble who constantly bump, grind and perform acts of simulated fornication in scanty costumes. If you like the Golden Oldies of ’80s rock, this may be your cup of tea. It isn’t mine, but director Kristin Hanggi and the attractive, talented cast eventually won me over. Prospect Pictures at Vanguard Hollywood, 6021 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs., 8 p.m.; Fri., 6 p.m.; Sat., 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 18. (800) 595-4849. (NW)
700 SUNDAYS Billy Crystal’s one-man show is a loving family memoir of growing up in the 1950s and ’60s on Long Island — and a tribute to sentimental self-indulgence. At two hours and 40 minutes, Crystal’s peformance feels as though it needs a semester break instead of an intermission. Wilshire Theater, 8440 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 & 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 18. (213) 365-3500. (SM)
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; Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 5. (213) 625-7000, Ext. 20.
SMALLER THEATERSHollywood, 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., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 11. (310) 228-6237. (SLM)
GO AMERICAN KLEZMER Aided by composer Ilya Levinson’s lively tunes and lyricist Owen Kalt’s engaging lyrics, this entertaining musical, set in 1910, builds its plot around a Jewish woman who longs to be a singer. Defying family and tradition, she departs her small Russian village for America, where she struggles to support herself and her pregnant, divorced sister until finally agreeing to marry a wealthy man she doesn’t love. Conventionally directed by Herb Isaacs, the book by Joanne Koch and Sarah Blacher Cohen offers few surprises, but the live klezmer band showcases the best of this musical tradition. Zale Morris’ period costumes compensate well for the minimal set. West Coast Jewish Theater at the Egyptian Arena Theater, 1625 N. Las Palmas Ave., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 19. (323) 860-6620. (DK)
APPLES + VODKA = SALVATION Frazzled teachers come undone in class. Hollywood Court Theater, Hollywood United Methodist Church, 6817 Franklin Ave., Hlywd.; Sun., 3 & 5 p.m.; thru Feb. 26. (323) 692-8200.
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.
BANNED PLAYS The 10 scenes culled from once-censored plays would raise nary an eyebrow today. Still, someone found them controversial in their time, and though the performances lean mostly to the pedestrian, a few reach the profound, under Michael Donovan’s understated direction. Perhaps selections outside of American or European shores, where playwrights’ words could bring torture and/or death, may have raised the dramatic stakes the show strives for but never quite reaches. GuerriLA Theater at Area 101, 1051 Cole Ave., Stage B, Hlywd.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 7:30 p.m.; thru March 4. (323) 850-3240. (MH)
BARK Directed by Kay Cole, this unusually popular musical by Gavin Geoffrey Dillard and Robert Schrock explores the highs and lows of six canines who are all passing time at the Doggie Daycare Center. Known as “the Pack,” the canines appear onstage (not in doggie costumes) and skillfully mimic the habits and manners of man’s best friend. That’s really the show’s cutesy, facile essence. There is no plot, but each dog has a distinguishable personality. The show’s most compelling elements are David Troy Francis’ songs, ranging from the sublimely reflective to the hilarious. Coast Playhouse, 8325 Santa Monica Blvd.; W. Hlywd; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat. 3 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru April 2. (800) 595-4849 (LE3)
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)