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
ALICE SIT-BY-THE-FIRE J.M. Barrie’s comedy about a mother reunited with her children after serving five years of military duty. PACIFIC RESIDENT THEATRE, 703 Venice Blvd., Venice; opens Sat., Dec. 29, 8 p.m.; perfs Tues.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 10. (310) 822-8392.
THE VAMPIRES Chris Berube’s story of an outcast vampire clan. THE NEXT STAGE, 1523 N. La Brea Ave., Second Floor, L.A.; opens Sat., Dec. 29, 8 p.m.; perfs Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Jan. 26. (323) 850-7827.
ATLANTA Elements of Marcus Hummon and Adrian Pasdar’s brand-new American Civil War musical have appeal, but their synthesis results in a train-wreck. Hummon’s music and lyrics consist of a very pleasing amalgam of James Taylor and Ry Cooder’s musical stylings plus some gospel. Hummon and Pasdar’s story idea has its merits as well, despite cliches — a Yankee soldier in Confederate disguise, a Confederate colonel’s penchant for Shakespeare. The larger problem is the creators’ attempt to exploit Southern gothic rather than explore it. Randall Arney directs. GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Wstwd.; Tues.-Thurs., 7:30 p.m.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 4 & 8:30 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; thru Jan. 6. (310) 208-5454. (SLM)
GO The Color PurpleBook writer Marsha Norman and composer-lyricists Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray’s stage adaptation of Alice Walker’s 1982 Pulitzer Prize–winning novel is a surprisingly faithful and melodic compression of Walker’s epistolary narrative about a Southern black woman (Jeannette Bayardelle) beaten down almost from birth, but whose resilience allows her to survive. Although Act 2 suffers from an inevitable sugar rush, director Gary Griffin gets great efforts from a huge ensemble. Center Theatre group at the ahmanson theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; Tues.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6:30 p.m.; mats Sat., 2 p.m. & Sun., 1 p.m.; No perfs Dec. 25, Jan. 1 & March 5 or evenings Feb. 3 & March 9; added perfs Dec. 27, Jan. 31 & March 6, 2 p.m. & Dec. 31, 8 p.m.; Perf March 4 is 7:30 p.m.; Thru March 9. (213) 972-7231. (Sm)
GIRLS NIGHT: THE MUSICAL Five female friends hang out, reminisce, bitch and sing. CORONET THEATRE, 366 N. La Cienega Blvd., W. Hlywd.; Tues. & Thurs., 7:30 p.m.; Wed., 2 & 7:30 p.m.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 4 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Jan. 6. (310) 657-7377.
The Kid From BrooklynSee New Reviews.
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)
ALL THIS, & HEAVEN TOO “I stopped believing in things when Diana Ross started playing rodeos,” laments aging queen Terry (Sammy Williams), who along with his band of gay brothers has seen better days. Now all over 40, they’ve assembled to honor the just-deceased Boomie (James Warnock). Over the course of Dick DeBenedictis’ 10 breezy musical numbers, they mourn the end of the disco era and wax nostalgic for the bathhouses of yore. Though its heart is in the right place, Bill Dyer’s play seems like a time capsule, a comfort food buffet of soft shoe numbers and references to the Andrews Sisters. MACHA THEATRE, 1107 N. Kings Rd., W. Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Dec. 30. (323) 960-7776. (AN)
ANYTHING In Tim McNeil’s comedy, Early Landry (McNeil) is a transplanted Southerner still grieving for his wife, while also tamping down the demons that have caused him to attempt suicide four times. His next-door transvestite prostitute neighbor Freda (Louis Jacobs) has just been dumped by her more-or-less straight boyfriend (Max Williams). The rebounding Early and Freda take a while to reach eye level for the romance that inevitably follows. McNeil and Jacobs are personable actors, but David Fofi’s direction doesn’t nudge them off their single-note performances. Elephant Theater Company at the LILLIAN THEATER, 1076 N. Lillian St., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Jan. 13. (323) 960-4410. (SM)
A CHRISTMAS TWIST See New Reviews.
CINDERELLA New take on the classic tale, music and lyrics by Lloyd J. Schwartz. THEATRE WEST, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, Hlywd.; Sat., 1 p.m.; thru March 29. (818) 761-2203.
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.; indef. (no perfs first Sunday of every month). (800) 595-4TIX. (SLM)