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
ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN Adaptation of Robert Fulghum’s inspirational best-seller, musical direction by Daniel Gary Busby. WHITEFIRE THEATRE, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; opens Fri., Aug. 31, 8 p.m.; perfs Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Oct. 7. (818) 990-2324 or www.plays411.com.
CALLING APHRODITE Velina Hasu Houston’s retelling of the true story of the Hiroshima Maidens, two Japanese sisters who traveled to New York for reconstructive surgery following the atom bomb blast. INTERNATIONAL CITY THEATRE, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach; opens Fri., Aug. 31, 8 p.m.; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Sept. 23. (562) 436-4610.
MATTER OF HONOR Michael J. Chepiga’s story of an African-American West Point cadet. PASADENA PLAYHOUSE, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena; opens Fri., Aug. 31, 8 p.m.; perfs Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 4 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; thru Sept. 30. (626) 356-PLAY or www.pasadenaplayhouse.org.
MODELOGUES Sarah Happel’s collection of monologues about beauty, fame and fashion. DORIE THEATER AT THE COMPLEX, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; opens Thurs., Sept. 6, 8 p.m.; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Oct. 14.www.modelogues.com.
PIRATES AND NINJAS: An Extravagant Adventure Simon Russell and Maria DeLuca’s “Pirates and Ninjians,” Eva Anderson’s “The Orb of the Seven Dragons” and Lissa Sherman’s “Pirates and Ninjas.” THEATRE OF NOTE, 1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hlywd.; opens Fri., Aug. 31, 9 p.m.; perfs Fri.-Sat., 9 p.m.; thru Sept. 22 (added “pay-what-you-dare” perf Sept. 15, mid.). (323) 856-8611 or www.enterthebluehouse.com.
SONDHEIM UNSCRIPTED Impro Theater improvs Sondheim-style opuses based on audience suggestions. THEATRE/THEATER, 5041 W. Pico Blvd., L.A.; opens Thurs., Sept. 6, 8 p.m.; perfs Thurs., 8 p.m.; thru Oct. 11. (323) 401-6162 or www.improtheatre.com.
THE SPOT Danny LeGare’s coming-of-age dramedy set in a bar. THE BANSHEE (FORMERLY THE GENE BUA THEATRE), 3435 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank; opens Thurs., Sept. 6, 8 p.m.; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Sept. 22. (818) 761-6551.
SYLVIA A.R. Gurney’s comedy about a man, his wife and his dog. META THEATER, 7801 Melrose Ave., L.A.; opens Fri., Aug. 31, 8 p.m.; perfs Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Sept. 23. (323) 993-7113.
TUG OF WAR Adaptation of Amy Richlin’s translation of Plautus’ Rudens, by Meryl Friedman. GETTY VILLA, 17985 Pacific Coast Hwy., Malibu; opens Wed., Sept. 5, 8 p.m.; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Sept. 29. (310) 440-7300.
BAD APPLES Mark Stein’s story of a suburban couple and the huge hole in their living room floor. RUBICON THEATER, 1006 E. Main St., Ventura; perfs Wed., 2 & 7 p.m.; Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Sept. 9. (805) 667-2900.
BLITHE SPIRIT Noel Coward’s comedy about a socialite haunted by a ghost. WILL GEER THEATRICUM BOTANICUM, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga; schedule varies, call for info; thru Sept. 29. (310) 455-3723 or www.theatricum.com.
GO CORTEO See New Reviews.
GO JERSEY BOYS This megahit musical chronicle of the Age of Harmony, with a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, traces the rise, fall and Vegas afterlife of singer Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The story is powered by the group’s classic songs (“Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” etc.), written by Bob Crewe (lyrics) and Bob Gaudio (music). The show strikes a judicious balance between feel-good family fun and dysfunctional-family train wreck. Des McAnuff’s production hits all the right notes, although a little more darkness would have gone a long way. Center Theatre Group at the AHMANSON THEATRE, 135 N. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; schedule varies, call for info; thru Aug. 31. (213) 628-2772. (SM)
GO THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES Missy, Suzy, Betty Jean and Cindy Lou (Kim Huber, Bets Malone, Julie Dixon Jackson and Kirsten Chandler) are pleased as punch to entertain at their senior-class prom. As it’s 1958, tonight’s track list is pure bubblegum, soured up by cat fights over stolen songs and stolen boyfriends. Playwright-director Roger Bean, however, is only half-successful in manufacturing drama and character development. EL PORTAL THEATRE, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Oct. 28. (888) 505-7469. (AN)
MENOPAUSE THE MUSICAL Jeanie Linders’ musical about uncomfortably hot times in the city. LAGUNA PLAYHOUSE, 606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach; Tues.-Sun., 7:30 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Sept. 2. (949) 497-2787.
GO A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAMDoubling as indignant, contemptuous Hippolyta and the comparatively sprightly Titania, director Melissa Chalsma directs a minimalistic, muscular outdoor romp, chiseling the play through the power of broad gestures, spitfire timing and lucid speech. Competing with night dew and helicopters, it’s also nice to see Chalsma take a directorial risk, playing the farcical “Pyramus and Thisbe” slapstick with a lugubrious twist that approaches the poignant tonality of its mirror image, Romeo and Juliet. Independent Shakespeare Company on the South Lawn of BARNSDALL PARK, 4800 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; in rep; thru Sept. 2. (818) 710-6306. (SLM)
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)
GO THE COMPLICATIONS OF PURCHASING A POODLE PILLOW The brilliance of Mary Lynn Rajskub’s standup act stems from a kind of bewildered, inarticulate persona who goes off on digressions and deliberately neglects to finish stories. The disarray is a con; by show’s end, it all adds up. Because of Chloe – her character on Fox’s 24 -- she says she was invited to a counter-terrorism panel hosted by Rush Limbaugh, who, in a moment of introduction, accidentally kissed her on the lips. After rumors of their affair spread around the country, she e-mailed Limbaugh, asking for a date — the response was blistering. If none of this is actually true, it’s even more impish and delightful. Steve Allen Theater at the CENTER FOR INQUIRY–WEST, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Sun., 8 p.m.; (no perfs first Sunday of every month); indef. (800) 595-4TIX. (SLM)
GO DANNY AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA I’m not really a fan of Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, John Patrick Shanley’s 1984 “Apache dance” for two actors. A richly textured examination of generic emotions, it’s been done here so often because it offers a showcase for a man and woman who meet in a Bronx bar to play the walking wounded from the lower depths, slide into a moonlit fantasy of love and marriage in her modest bedroom, and then wake to find themselves in a wrestling match with that same fantasy. But actors Deborah Dir and Daniel De Weldon play out Shanley’s Apache dance with scrupulous honesty and attention to the details of blackened knuckles and bruised pasts, we see the art and craft of being, the sacred authenticity of it in a world of fakery. ELEPHANT PERFORMANCE LAB, 1076 N. Lillian Way, Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Sept. 1. (323) 960-7753. (SLM)
DO DO LOVE Laura Richardson’s “comedy with drama” about four eccentric characters. OPEN FIST THEATER, 6209 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Mon.-Tues., Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Sept. 1. (323) 882-6912.
GO A DOLL’S HOUSE See New Reviews.
EAVESDROPPER In Andrew Libby’s slightly funny, messy comedy, the mise en scène is an apartment where a large, clamant group of young people have gathered for some good times. Unbeknownst to the revelers, an uninvited guest (Pedro Shanahan) slips in and hides behind the shower curtain, his sinister presence embellished by a Mohawk hairdo, Goth makeup and drug-addled stare. The scenario is redolent of a wild frat party, with plenty of sex, drugs, booze and hell-raising. The rotating cast of 50-plus can’t do much good with this moribund material. No director is credited, and the reason is obvious. THE COMPLEX, 6470 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd. Fri.-Sat., 8 & 10 p.m.; Sun., 8 p.m.; thru Sept. 2. (323) 365-8305. (LE3)
GO GROUNDLINGS YEARBOOK See New Reviews.
GO HAVANA BOURGEOISPolitics is “just a bunch of old rich white men fighting over money” proclaims Manuel (Theodore Borders), the Afro-Cuban errand boy at an advertising agency in 1958 Havana. The statement portends the communist revolution, which slowly but surely transforms the life of each employee in the agency’s art department during the course of Carlos Lacámara’s play. Despite the at times heavy and political nature of the drama, humor undercuts the tension. Director Jon Lawrence Rivera brings to life the well-delineated characters of Lacámara. A Fixed Mark Production at THE HAYWORTH THEATRE, 2509 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Sept. 16. (213) 389-9680. (MK)
GO HEADS EM Lewis’ intense drama portrays the nightmare of four Western hostages in Iraq. American engineer Harold Wolfe (James Eckhouse) has been held in isolation for six months when Caroline (Beth Broderick), a British Embassy employee, is tossed into his tiny, dank holding cell, gagged and blindfolded. Meanwhile, in a neighboring cubicle, two journalists (Jeremy Gabriel and J. Richey Nash) clash over whether to attempt an escape. Under Darin Antony’s direction, the question of who we are beneath our posturing lands with such force, it jangles the nerves long after the play has ended. THE BLANK THEATRE, 6500 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Sept. 23. (323) 661-9827. (DK)
GO THE IDIOT BOX Michael Elyanow’s beguiling parody of sitcoms unfolds in a capacious New York penthouse shared by six friends. This disparate group provides comic fodder for most of the first act, as they become embroiled in familiar sitcom foibles embellished with laugh tracks. Just when you get the impression that this is all nothing more than an trivial sitcom run amok, the mood subtly darkens, the sound effects cease and reality intrudes. Elyanow’s intelligent script is rife with humor and irony, and is superbly augmented by Jeremy B. Cohen’s perceptive direction of the fine cast. NEW OPEN FIST THEATRE, 6209 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat, 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m., thru Sept. 8. (323) 882-6912 (LE3)
GO THE IDIOTSSomewhere between the insanity of Monty Python, the cynicism of Penn and Teller and the stupidity of the Three Stooges exists this bizarre comedy by writer-performers Craig Anton and Ron Lynch. The conceit framing their wild physical and verbal antics is the reunion of two rivals — respectively the sons of Watson and Crick, who discovered DNA. With the appearance of a guest comic, the hour show flies by with humor and even some human insight and pathos beneath the Idiots’ smug stupidity, a sadness that stems from their emotional slavery to their much smarter and famous fathers. STEVE ALLEN THEATER, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., Los Feliz; last Thurs. of the month, 8 p.m.; indef. (800) 595-4TIX. (TP)
GO INVASION! THE MUSICAL After a mysterious light appears in the sky, the inhabitants of Tucker County, New Mexico, panic and demand answers from Sheriff Brewster (Will Harris), a potbellied mountain of a man who loves liquor and X-rated jokes. Things get stranger when old man Fletcher (Ben Giroux) turns up without genitals, walking like a zombie and chanting the names of menu items from a Mexican restaurant. Playwright-director Aaron Matijasic’s book and lyrics leave no ethnic group unskewered, and the fine ensemble’s physical comedy stays at just the right pitch. HUDSON BACKSTAGE THEATRE, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Sept. 23. (323) 960-7612 (LE3)
GO JUNK: A ROCK OPERAScandinavian band Brainpool’s decade-plus career ranges from sugary pop to this anticorporate musical that draws on influences as varied as ELO, Meatloaf, Madame Butterfly and Michael Moore. At the headquarters of Junk Inc. (a fascist conglomerate with a tabloid and nightclub), the office drones live in ecstatic fear of The Man, who struts around in Lucifer’s red suit and preys on their self-esteem. The winsome, fanciful music overwhelms the lyrics and plot, which seems to be that diva Martina has big ambitions, but her boyfriend Hanes keeps singing about quitting Junk to work with his hands. The large ensemble invests in the show’s simplistic, agreeable politics with passion, whirling around in neon brights to director Shakina Nayfack and co-choreographer Raime Becker’s mash of moves that recall capoeria, cheerleading and, of course, marionettes. LYRIC THEATRE, 520 N. La Brea Ave., L.A.; Thurs.-Sun., 8 p.m.; thru Sept. 30. (AN)
GO IT’S JUST SEX Writer-director Jeff Gould’s clever comedy relies on the familiar device of a dangerous party game to send its plot spinning, but that familiarity turns provocative and surprisingly enlightening. When Joan (Carolyn Hennesy) finds her husband, Phil (Eric Lutes), inflagrante with a hooker (Tiffany Ellen Solano) in their living room, she’s doubly furious because she’s expecting guests for a party. Gould steers his terrific cast with an unerring eye, and designer Gary Guidinger provides the handsome set. ZEPHYR THEATRE, 7456 Melrose Ave., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Sept. 23. (323) 960-7721. (NW)
GO THE LADY IN QUESTIONLilly Thomassian’s over-the-top direction meshes perfectly with Charles Busch’s hilarious parody of noir thrillers. Set in 1940 Germany, Professor Mittelhoffer and his daughter, Heidi, are at the train station trying to flee. Arriving rather than leaving, world-renowned pianist Gertrude Garnet and her companion Kitty disembark from their train only to find that their hotel has been shut down. As if by chance, the two meet the Nazi Baron Wilhelm who invites the ladies to stay in his castle. But unbeknownst to the baron, there’s a plot afoot to spring Germany’s greatest actress from prison. R. Christoffer Sands is fabulous as Gertrude, a glamazon who’s all quivering chin and moist eyes. ASYLUM THEATRE, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Sept. 2. (800) 838-3006. (SR)
THE LARK This production of Jean Anouilh’s play about Joan of Arc, translated by Lillian Hellman and directed by Robert Craig, is well done. Amanda Karr is an eloquent, spunky Joan, and the clerical forces lined up to destroy her are forcibly presented. The play shows a barbarous assault by a horde of self-righteous Catholics on a naive girl, who, if a man, would surely have been hailed as a hero. Brian Reindel’s set, Vicki Conrad’s costumes and Mike Mahaffey’s fight choreography are all first rate. The play sounded fresh in 1953, but in a new century of shorter attention spans, it drowns in verbosity. KNIGHTSBRIDGE THEATRE, 1944 Riverside Drive, L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; indef. (323) 667-0955. (NW)
THE MAGIC STRING Nicole Hoelle’s story of “a misanthropic writer, an obsessive compulsive salesman and a love-lorn waitress.” THE NEXT STAGE, 1523 N. La Brea Ave., Second Floor, Hlywd.; Thurs., 8 p.m.; thru Sept. 27. (323) 243-5051 or www.myspace.com/themagicstring.
GO ONE FELL SWOOP Playwright Robert J. Litz does to politics what Joe Orton did to morality. With a Dem pres now in charge, Judge Richard Barron (Gregory Mortensen) — an advocate of privacy rights — is about to be nominated to the Supreme Court. The machine that kicks into play, as depicted by Litz, is a parade of duplicitous Beltway gamers and vapid TV pundits whose aim is to circumvent the truth with the kind of white noise. Christopher Game’s production occasionally trips over itself, but this marks a high point for new political dramas. ELEPHANT THEATRE COMPANY, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Sept. 1. (323) 960-4410. (SLM)
OUT OF YOUR MIND! Theatergoers sip wine at a tasteful private home until a pushy assistant director (Patrick Censoplano) announces the first of Steven Kane’s two short plays, In the Night of the Bed. The man (Andrew Macbeth) claims to be an extra, only this isn’t a movie, but Molly’s (Kelly Anne Ford) dream, and the rest of the cast are the regrets and pains she revisits every night. Less pat and engaging is Rhinovirus, a chipper sci-fi saga set in a future New New York where pain, suffering and disease have been criminalized. Under Jane Lanier’s direction, the staging is intimate but the acting is as broad as the Grand Canyon. GuerriLA Theatre at a PRIVATE RESIDENCE, 2806 Nichols Canyon Place, L.A.; schedule varies, call for info; thru Dec. 8. (818) 972-2467. (AN)
THE OUTSKIRTS OF PARADISE The parameters of playwright Jamie Virostko’s tale of family dysfunction will at first seem quite familiar — a family get-together over a holiday weekend gradually turns into a veritable No Exit of backbiting, recriminations and burnt dinner entrées. Virostko’s dialogue is heartfelt and poignant, hanging in limbo on a formless plot. Director Adam Legg’s laggardly paced production adds inappropriate weight and listlessness at times. Still, by the end of the show, we’ve started to feel we’ve been with wonderfully familiar people whom we actually know. Alliance Theater at THE MET, 1089 N. Oxford Ave., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Sept 15. (323) 223-6564. (PB)
PROOF David Auburn’s drama about a mathematician’s daughter. ACTORS CIRCLE THEATRE, 7313 Santa Monica Blvd., W. Hlywd.; Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Sept. 8. (323) 882-8043 or www.actorscircle.net.
RESTING IN PIECES Sam Bobrick’s wacky funeral comedy. THEATRE 68, 5419 Sunset Blvd., Suite D, Hlywd.; perfs Wed.-Thurs., 8 p.m.; thru Oct. 4. (323) 960-7827.
RUMORS OF OUR DEATH See New Reviews.
SIGHT UNSEEN Donald Margulies’ portrait of an artist. ART/WORKS THEATRE, 6569 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Sept. 1. (323) 960-4418.
SPOOK NIGHT A dramedy featuring a behind-the-scenes look at modern black stand-up comedy through the eyes of legendary minstrel performer Bert Williams. LILLIAN THEATRE, 1076 Lillian Way, Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Sept. 30. (323) 960-4443 or www.plays411.com/spooknight.
THINGS YOU SHOULDN’T SAY PAST MIDNIGHT Peter Ackerman’s “comedy in three beds.” LYRIC-HYPERION THEATER, 2106 Hyperion Ave., Silver Lake; perfs Tues.-Thurs., 8 p.m.; thru Sept. 27. (323) 906-2500.
THE TOMORROW SHOWLate-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 ZANNA DON’T There’s something strange about a gay-friendly musical in which the characters are homosexuals at the beginning, but magically turn straight by the end. Is this lurking gay self-hatred, or perhaps a cross-over strategy? Writer-composer Tim Acito (with additional material by Alexander Dinelaris) has created a clever, fast-moving show that relies more on charm than logic. Director Nick DeGruccio shepherds a young cast through a crowd-pleasing romp. Musical direction, choreography and technical credits are all top-notch. West Coast Ensemble at the LYRIC-HYPERION THEATRE, 2106 Hyperion Ave., Silver Lake. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m., Sun., 3 p.m.; indef. (323) 906-2500. (NW)
ALICE IN WONDERLAND THRU THE LOOKING GLASS Lewis Carroll’s dream with songs (by Christopher Reiner), is re-imagined by Alice’s great-granddaughter (Jessica Amal Rice). “Dream your own dreams,” Alice’s Sister (Jana Wimer) counsels the kid before Alice takes a nap, and we’re off. The 70-minute production’s arch and unmodulated presentational style becomes something of a shriek fest, The piece nonetheless flies to dystopia on the cleverness and the whimsy of co-directors Denise Devin and Zombie Joe’s adaptation, in conjunction with their blazingly theatrical impulses. ZOMBIE JOE’S UNDERGROUND, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8:30 p.m.; thru Sept. 8. (818) 202-4120. (SLM)
ARSENIC AND OLD LACE Joseph Kesselring’s comedy about lethal spinsters. LONNY CHAPMAN GROUP REPERTORY THEATRE, 10900 Burbank Blvd., N. Hlywd.; perfs Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Sept. 23. (818) 700-4878 or www.lcgrt.com.
THE BENCH Ten new short plays by the Actors Workout Studio’s Writers Workshop. ACTORS WORKOUT STUDIO, 4735 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Sept. 2. (818) 506-3903.
GO CESAR & RUBEN Most of Ed Begley’s spirited musical tribute to labor activist Cesar Chavez (Danny Bolero) and L.A. Times labor reporter Ruben Salazar (Mauricio Mendoza) essays Chavez’s story. In Act 2, we learn of Salazar’s tragic shooting by an L.A. County Sheriff’s deputy at a 1970 Vietnam War protest. For the sake of balance and the underlying reasons that these two men meet, more needs to be dramatized about the Latino journalist. Under Begley’s smart direction, Bolero and Mendoza are rock solid, and the lives of their characters unfold with compelling interest. NOHO ARTS CENTER, 11136 Magnolia Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 & 8 p.m.; thru. Sept. 9. (818) 508-7101. (LE3)
CONFESSIONS OF A CATHOLIC CHILD Elizabeth Appell’s comic drama about an elderly woman’s plan for suicide. Virtual Theatre Project at DEAF WEST THEATRE, 5112 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Sept. 23. (323) 663-0112.
GO ECCENTRIC Ernest Hemmings’ gruesomely funny play is a cynicism-fest about promiscuity and marital frustration. The Winkermans (James Thomas Gilbert and Rachel Sorsa Khoury) are a caustic pair — highly sexual and bitterly acidic with each other. The solution to their woes, they believe, is to bring in another woman to spice things up. David L. Stewart’s smart, focused direction captures the play’s every nasty moment, resulting in a hilarious evening that makes one feel a bit dirty for having enjoyed it. RIPRAP STUDIO THEATRE, 5755 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Sept. 29. (818) 990-7498. (TP)
THE GINGERBREAD LADY Neil Simon’s dramatic comedy about a post-rehab cabaret singer. SIERRA MADRE PLAYHOUSE, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre; perfs Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m.; thru Sept. 22. (626) 256-3809.
Inside OutDillon Street presents one-acts by Mark Harvey Levine and Ivan Borodin. WHITMORE-LINDLEY THEATRE CENTER, 11006 Magnolia Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Sept. 16. (323) 882-1268 or www.plays411.com/insideout.
KING OF THE CITY: An Evening With Al Capone Robert Gallo’s one-man show. LONNY CHAPMAN GROUP REPERTORY THEATRE, 10900 Burbank Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Sat., 2 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Sept. 22. (818) 700-4878 or www.lcgrt.com.
GO LUCY & THE WOLF See New Reviews.
MURDER AT THE HOLLOW Agatha Christie’s thriller about a movie star living in a country village. NOHO LONDON MUSIC HALL, 10620 Magnolia Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Sept. 2. (818) 762-7883.
NEW TRADITIONS Collaborative work about heritage and ancestry by the hereandnow theater company. ARMORY NORTHWEST, 965 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena; Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Sept. 1. (626) 792-5101.
GO PARADISE LOST: Shadows and WingsEric Whitacre and David Noroña’s musical creates a postapocalyptic world in which attractive young angels who sing, dance and practice martial arts live in a kind of Mad Max Thunderdome, where they await the return of the warrior parents who left them there years ago. Ably directed by Michael Michetti, this fantasy incorporates anime, Eastern theater techniques and big-ass Broadway numbers — and electronica! Despite an archly formulaic plot, the show somehow soars above its own romantic bombast. THEATER @ BOSTON COURT, 70 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena; Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Sept. 2. (626) 683-6883. (SM)
THE TENDER TRAP Max Shulman and Robert Paul Smith’s revival of a classic Broadway show. STAGE DOOR THEATRE, 28311 Agoura Rd., Agoura Hills; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun. 2 p.m.; thru Sept. 15. (818) 889-5209.
GO TITUS ANDRONICUS If you thought today’s slasher movies were gruesome, check out this rarely performed early Shakespeare classic, generally regarded as historically fascinating literary crap. Natasha Vargas-Cooper’s sturdy direction comes with requisite dark humor applied to this loud, long gore fest relocated from ancient Rome to 1930s Italy under the fascists. While the spray-on gray in 20-something Charles Pasternak’s hair does not convince one of Titus’ maturity, the stentorian tone of his line deliveries does. Porters of Hell’s Gate at the WHITMORE-LINDLEY THEATER CENTER, 11006 Magnolia Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 4 p.m.; thru Sept. 9. (310) 497-2884. (MH)
WAIT UNTIL DARK Frederick Knott’s thriller about the search for a heroin-laced doll. RAVEN PLAYHOUSE, 5233 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Sept. 2. (818) 960-5770 or www.ravenplayhouse.com.
ALL ABOARD: The U.S.S. Friendship An interactive murder mystery set on the high seas, written by Evelyn Rudie and directed by Serena Dolinsky. SANTA MONICA PLAYHOUSE, 1211 Fourth St., Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., Aug. 31-Sept. 1, 7:30 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., Sept. 1-2, 2 p.m. (310) 394-9779 or www.santamonicaplayhouse.com.
GO GULLIVER’S TRAVELS Joshua Zeller’s bawdy, scatological adaptation of Jonathan Swift’s political satire rockets by, yet loses none of its Augustan bite. Lemuel Gulliver (the likable Keythe Farley) is the ship surgeon who voyages to four “remote nations of the world,” finding, along the way, increasingly unflattering reflections of contemporary human behavior. Zeller’s telling of the classic only rarely strains to draw direct parallels with the 21st century, but by evening’s end, we don’t feel some sense of a larger story. P. Adam Walsh directs the enthusiastic ensemble. Actors’ Gang at the IVY SUBSTATION THEATER, 9070 Venice Blvd., Culver City; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Sept. 8. (310) 838-4264. (SM)
GO THE HASTY HEART See Theater Pick.
GO HOW THE OTHER HALF LOVES In Alan Ayckbourn’s 1969 romantic comedy, the action takes place in two separate homes. Characters move around the different-but-same locations in a collision of two dinner parties occurring in parallel dimensions. Ayckbourn’s comedy is as mannered as a play by Oscar Wilde, with the humor arising from the horny, uptight characters straining to avoid embarrassment or argument. Although director Barry Phillips’ production elegantly conveys the low farce and heartbreak of Ayckbourn’s bittersweet comic style, the play would benefit from more vigorous pacing. ODYSSEY THEATRE ENSEMBLE, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., W.L.A.; Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Sept. 2. (310) 477-2055. (PB)
KILLER JOE Acclaimed playwright Tracy Letts touches audiences ... inappropriately, with a voyeuristic journey that pushes the limits of decency and comedy. GARAGE THEATRE, 251 E. Seventh St., Long Beach; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Sept. 8. (866) 811-4111 or www.garagetheatre.org.
LIFE . . . DEATH . . . AND ENTERTAINMENT Susan Damante’s solo show about overcoming adversity. SANTA MONICA PLAYHOUSE, 1211 Fourth St., Santa Monica; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Sept. 1. (310) 394-9779.
GO MODERN ORTHODOX hangs on Michael Goldstrom’s blisteringly funny portrayal of an Orthodox Jewish Tartuffe, Hershel Klein, in Daniel Goldfarb’s schematic comedy. Diamond merchant Hershel bursts into Ben (Ross Benjamin) and girlfriend Hannah’s (Robyn Cohen) life, so that the unobservant couple suddenly find themselves in the middle of The Dybbuk. The comedy’s glee and cultural satire make up for its lapses in credulity, and Howard Teichman directs the action with the perfect interplay of farce and pathos. Theatre 40, on the campus of BEVERLY HILLS HIGH SCHOOL, 241 Moreno Drive (enter on Olympic due to road construction); in repertory, call for schedule; thru Sept. 9. (310) 364-0535. (SLM)
THE MYSTERY PLAYS See New Reviews.
PRIVATE LIVES Noel Coward's comedy about exes honeymooning in the same hotel. LONG BEACH PLAYHOUSE, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Sept. 29 (added perfs Sept. 2, 9 & 23, 2 p.m.). (562) 494-1014.
GO QUARTET See Stage feature.
SOME GREEKS ARE NOT IN THE RESTAURANT BUSINESS Greg Lewis’ solo comedy. BEVERLY HILLS PLAYHOUSE, 254 S. Robertson Blvd., Beverly Hills; Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Sept. 9. (310) 358-9936 or www.camelotartists.com.
TITUS THE CLOWNICUS “Shakespeare’s bloodiest and most macabre drama (Titus Andronicus) becomes rip-roaring family fare” in Angela Berliner’s adaptation. ACTORS’ GANG AT THE IVY SUBSTATION THEATER, 9070 Venice Blvd., Culver City; Sat.-Sun., 11 a.m.; thru Sept. 9. (310) 838-4264.
BOB BAKER: This Is Your Life! Charles Phoenix presents a puppet show extravaganza and tribute to puppeteer Bob Baker. BOB BAKER MARIONETTE THEATER, 1345 W. First St., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., Aug. 31-Sept. 1, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 2, 2 p.m. (213) 250-9995 or www.charlesphoenix.com.
DANCING QUEEN Cabaret dinner theater history of the Queen Mary cruise liner. Aboard the QUEEN MARY, 1126 Queens Hwy., Long Beach; Fri., 7:30 p.m.; Sat., 7 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Nov. 18. (562) 435-3511 or www.tibbiescabaret.com.
ESCAPE REALITY Steve Spill and Bozena Sparrow perform classic illusions. MAGICOPOLIS, 1418 Fourth St., Santa Monica; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; indef. (310) 451-2241 or www.magicopolis.com.
The Parlor-Palooza! An annual mega showcase of 10-minute mini-performances featuring comedians, musical satirists, cabaret and solo artists. STEINWAY HALL/FIELD'S PIANOS, 12121 W. Pico Blvd., W.L.A.; Sat., Sept. 1, 5 & 8:30 p.m. (310) 471-3979.
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.