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
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 March 12. (323) 960-5563. (TP)
CHOICE WORDS Based on true events, the hourlong play, Hector Hill’s first as playwright, serves basically to educate us to the torments of OCD sufferers. The dialogue also spins off into social and philosophical issues such as abortion and the intrinsic value of life. Unfortunately, there are no fully fleshed characters or plot to grab onto. Under Sal Romeo’s direction, Hill sounds tiresomely one-note as the voice of ignorance. Laurelgrove Theater Company at the Hollywood Court Theater, United Methodist Church, 6817 Franklin Ave., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 25. (323) 692-8200. (DK)
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 illuminate 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)
THE CREDEAUX CANVAS Roommates hatch a plan to forge a nude painting but end up in a love triangle, in Keith Bunin’s play. 2100 Square Feet Theater, 5615 San Vicente Blvd., L.A.; Tues.-Sun., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 19 (added perfs Sun., Feb. 12 & 19, 2 p.m.). (323) 960-4420.
GO THE DANCE Jason White and Aaron White’s keen-eyed and riotous hourlong history of blackface minstrel shows lets the facts do the talking, from 2500 B.C. to Al Jolson. We’re shown the mongrelized usurpation of African rhythms, musical structure and dance for the entertainment of white audiences reluctant to get any closer to black culture than an Irishman in greasepaint. The duo build a devastating indictment against thug life media stars, posturing gangstas with gats chasing just as injuriously after the dollar as the painted-up and banjo-wielding performers of a century earlier. With this memorable and worthy show, White and White accomplish two rare hat tricks: a seamless blend of entertainment and intellectualism, and a Q&A where everyone stayed. Inthacut Productions at the Kaos Network CineFreestyle Theater, 4343 Leimert Blvd., Leimert Park; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 25; free. Online reservations at www.inthacut.net. (AN)
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. 26. (323) 960-4412. (LE3)
FORK Courtney Rundell’s multimedia exploration of domestic violence and incest from a child’s perspective. Brick Box Theater, 1608 Cosmo St., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 4 p.m.; thru March 4. (323) 960-1056.
GRANDPA’S TRUTH An African-American boy gets a lesson in bigotry. Inglewood Playhouse, 714 Warren Lane, Inglewood; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 4 p.m.; thru Feb. 19. (866) 468-3399.
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)
HAMLET MET Theater, 1089 N. Oxford Ave., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sun., 8 p.m.; thru March 19. (323) 957-1152.
IT CAME FROM BEYOND! The most inventive aspect of the show is writer Cornell Christianson’s dual storyline, the first being that of a dork in high school who’s reading a comic book to find the secret to completing his science experiment; the other is the actual story of the comic book, which features the same actors in parallel roles. But dull humor and belabored plotting spoil the potential of the conceit. Stephen Michael Schwartz and Norman Thalheimer’s songs, though somewhat forgettable, are far cleverer than the book. The result is a bopping two hours of obvious innuendoes. Write Act Theater, 6128 Yucca St., Hlywd.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 & 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 25. (323) 960-4429. (Luis Reyes)