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
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM WILL GEER THEATRICUM BOTANICUM, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga; schedule varies, call for info; thru Sept. 30. (310) 455-3723 or www.theatricum.com.
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM In Shakespeare’s most sprightly (and sprite-filled) comedy, the goings on, staged by director Chrisanne Blankenship, unfold in the environs of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery — and if you don’t think the funereal location adds a certain frisson of darkness to the play’s usual merriment, you are having your own midsummer night’s dream. Blankenship’s production is appealingly acrobatic and playful, with crisply timed slapstick. Yet the acoustics are frequently dreadful. Still, the performances are high spirited and genial. Tall Blonde Productions at HOLLYWOOD FOREVER CEMETERY, 6000 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri. & Sun., 8 p.m.; thru Sept 2. (800) 595-4849. (PB)
GO RICHARD IIis known as something of an idler who squandered the royal bank account on nothing in particular and then, to make up the deficit (and in order to start a little war in Ireland), seized the land of noblemen and leased it out. In Shakespeare’s play, John of Gaunt (director Joseph Culliton) accuses Richard of being more of a landlord than a king. But Richard was never interested in polls. In Culliton’s outdoor, bare-bones staging, David Melville plays Richard with this actor’s trademark levity — blithe, bored and deaf to the appeals of others. Independent Shakespeare Company at BARNDSDALL PARK, SOUTH LAWN, 4800 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Free; in rep, call for schedule; thru Aug. 31. (818) 710-6306. (SLM)
SIDE BY SIDE BY SONDHEIM Tribute to composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim. WEST VALLEY PLAYHOUSE, 7242 Owensmouth Ave., Canoga Park; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m.; thru Sept. 9. (818) 884-1907.
THE TEMPEST WILL GEER THEATRICUM BOTANICUM, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Sept. 30. (310) 455-3723 or www.theatricum.com.
GO TRYING See Stage feature.
GO WICKED In this musical riff on the witches of Oz (by Stephen Schwarz and Winnie Hollzman), Joe Mantello directs a marvelous spectacle that looks like a diversion but is actually quite the opposite. Eden Espinoza as the green-skinned, bespectacled girl-witch Elphaba has a contagiously smart appeal. After recognizing that Elphaba’s not going to power-play along with the Wizard’s (John Rubinstein) Stalinist shenanigans, Mrs. Morrible (the delightful Carol Kane), starts a witch hunt for the girl, and the whole thing starts to resemble some of the tawdrier chapters in American history. PANTAGES THEATER, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 1 & 6:30 p.m.; indef. (213) 365-3500. (SLM)
GO ZORRO IN HELL Zorro, the post-WWI creation of pulp writer Johnston McCulley, became the avatar of masked comic book heroes everywhere and, somewhat improbably, an inspiration for Chicano pride. Or did he? Culture Clash (Richard Montoya, Herbert Sigüenza and Ric Salinas) investigates the Zorro myth and history through a rollicking, sometimes untidy farce that suffers from an unfocused Act 2 but still delivers provocative comedy. Tony Taccone directs. RICARDO MONTALBÁN THEATRE, 1615 Vine St., Hlywd.; Wed.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2:30 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 & 7:30 p.m.; thru Sept. 9. (877) 359-6776. (SM)
Hollywood, West Hollywood, Downtown
GO BAD SEED Director-performer Danny Schmitz’s low-tech remake of Maxwell Anderson’s 1954 Broadway play about a psychopathic 8-year-old tyke traffics in such high camp that Schmitz positions a gymnast-dramaturge (Kyle Blitch) — script in hand — on top of the living room fridge. From that height, like a referee, he throws down a white tissue whenever the uproarious cast veers off text. Most surprising is how every syllable of the ludicrous exposition is word perfect. Except for a few slack bits, the audience is kept laughing to the risk of asphyxiation. Buzzworks Theatre Company at the LOUNGE THEATRE, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m., plus some Sun. & Thurs. shows; thru Sept 23. (323) 960-5563. (AN)
BEAUTIFUL MORNING Julien Schwab’s intertwined tale of the lives of three friends over 40 years. EGYPTIAN ARENA THEATER, 1625 N. Las Palmas Ave., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Sept. 16. (866) 811-4111 or www.theatermania.com.
GO THE CAR PLAYS Given that this is a city whose inhabitants live and die by their cars, this unique melding of site-specific theater and freeway crawl should be hailed as a local treasure. The production consists of 15 one-act plays, performed in 15 different cars in the theater parking lot. It’s quite amazing how many stories can be told in the front seat of a car, and the production’s voyeuristic appeal is undeniable: You fee like a ghost popping in and out of the characters’ lives, in plays that are brief and quite charming. Moving Arts and the Steve Allen Theater in the parking lot of the CENTER FOR INQUIRY–WEST, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; call for schedule; thru Oct. 7. (866) 811-4111. (PB)
GO THE CATSKILL SONATAArthur Godfrey Show writer Dave Vaughn (Kip Gilman) is a freeloading cynic spending a summer in the late 1950s at a struggling resort owned by an old friend, Anne Rosen (Lisa Robins). When he’s not chugging screwdrivers and smoking pot, Dave schools waiter and wannabe writer Irwin Shikovsky (Daryl Sabara) while putting the moves on concert pianist Rae Isaacs (Lisa Chess) — and whatever other skirt takes Dave’s mind off his marriage. While nothing really happens in this 90-minute one-act, playwright Michael Elias so superbly lays out a sadly funny world of thwarted ambitions and intentions that we hardly notice how sedentary the story is. Director Paul Mazursky expertly guides his talented ensemble through this Chekhovian terrain. MATRIX THEATRE, 7657 Melrose Ave., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Sept. 2. (800) 838-3006. (SM)