By Catherine Wagley
By Catherine Wagley
By Wendy Gilmartin
By Jennifer Swann
By Claire de Dobay Rifelj
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Catherine Wagley
By Zachary Pincus-Roth
A TUNA CHRISTMAS Sequel to Greater Tuna, starring Mindy Sterling and Patrick Bristow. THEATRE ASYLUM, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Jan. 6. (323) 960-7753 or www.plays411.com/tunachristmas.
A CHARLIE JAMES BROWN CHRISTMAS The 1965 “Peanuts” holiday special, to the tunes of the Godfather of Soul. FALCON THEATRE, 4252 Riverside Dr., Burbank; Wed.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 4 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 4 & 7 p.m.; thru Jan. 20. (818) 955-8101.
THE DESK SET William Marchant’s 1956 comedy centers on Bunny Watson (Michele Bernath), the resourceful head of the research department. However, she’s threatened by efficiency expert Sumner (Robert Gallo), who hints that her department might be replaced by the new “electronic brain” called Emmarac. The play climaxes with a clever face-off between Bunny and the humongous computer. Unfortunately, the rest of the play fails to live up to its climactic scene, and director Doug Engalla’s lackluster production offers little help. LONNY CHAPMAN GROUP REPERTORY THEATRE, 10900 Burbank Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Dec. 29. (818) 700-4878. (NW)
A DOLL HOUSE Blame Oprah that Henrik Ibsen’s melodrama about a sheltered wife who empowers herself by leaving her paternalistic husband has irrevocably lost its shock value. What remains is a fatalistic, long-winded and aging play that needs a fresh approach. Aramazd Stepanian’s production, updated to the 1950s, draws the play into the world of an I Love Lucy episode: Georgan George’s Nora is a dizzy schemer with flaming red hair and pearls. This approach would be worth exploring more deeply, Instead, this friendly but tepid revival simply can’t shake off the dust. LUNA PLAYHOUSE, 3706 San Fernando Road, Glendale; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m. (no perfs Dec. 28-29 & Jan. 4-5); thru Jan. 19. (818) 500-7200. (AN)
GO Paging Dr. ChutzpahInspired by ’60s sex farces and ribald Vaudeville skits, playwright Mark Troy’s comedy is a romp that rolls by on director Lynne Moses and her cast’s commitment to the play’s zany shenanigans. Dr. Lester Oronofsky (Marq Del Monte) is considered top psychiatrist in Manhattan. But one wonders how he hasn’t gotten slapped with a sexual-harassment lawsuit due to his predilection for seducing his patients. You’re in for a wacky night, punctuated by Troy’s snappy one-liners, Moses’ breezy staging, and Del Monte’s lecherous leer and Yiddish kvetching. SIDEWALK STUDIO THEATRE, 4150 Riverside Dr., Burbank; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Jan. 26. (818) 558-5702. (MH)
TWIST With its larger-than-life drag queens, boys being caned in their underwear, and song-and-dance numbers about torrid gay sex, composer-playwrights Gila Sand and Paul Leschen’s queer rock musical reinvention of Charles Dickens’ famous tale puts the “twisted” into the story of Oliver Twist. It’s not for want of trying that director Paul Storiale’s production doesn’t quite jell, but the staging’s hampered by awkward pacing problems, clumpy choreography and unfocused comic timing. Still, the ensemble’s voices are top drawer. AVERY SCHREIBER THEATER, 11050 Magnolia Blvd, N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Dec. 30. (866) 811-4111. (PB)
THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA See new reviews. Shakespeare’s play, set in Edwardian England. WHITMORE-LINDLEY THEATRE CENTER, 11006 Magnolia Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3:30 p.m.; thru Jan. 13. (310) 497-2884
GO WINTER WONDERETTES is creator-director Roger Bean’s holiday sequel to his long-running musical, The Marvelous Wonderettes, that mythical amateur female girl band from the late ’60s. This time, the Wonderettes entertain at the Harper Hardware Christmas party. Complications ensue when the boss vanishes — and the envelopes holding the Christmas bonuses unexpectedly turn out to hold an unpleasant surprise. One can’t help wishing that Bean’s frolic contained a stronger narrative spine, but the production is, in most other respects, the perfect Christmas revue. EL PORTAL FORUM THEATRE, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Wed.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; thru Dec. 31. (888) 505-SHOW. (PB)
GO YO HO HO! A PIRATE’S CHRISTMAS In this swashbuckling holiday musical for children (written and directed by James J. Mellon, with songs by Mellon and Scott DeTurk), a crew of intellectually challenged pirates led by Black-Eyed Johnny (Jonathan Zenz) set off in their politically correct ship, The Flying Dutch-Person, thinking they’re headed for the balmy South Seas. But navigator Tusk (J.R. Mangles) looks at his map upside down, so they wind up at the North Pole. At 75 minutes, the show’s not too long for the under-12 crowd, with plenty of comic action. NOHO ARTS CENTER, 11136 Magnolia Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri., 7:30 p.m.; Sat., 1 & 7 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Dec. 30. (818) 508-1701, Ext. 7. (NW)
AFTER-PLAY Two couples dine in a Manhattan restaurant, in Anne Meara’s serio-comedy. LONG BEACH PLAYHOUSE, Studio Theatre, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Jan. 14 (no perfs Dec. 28-29; added perfs Jan. 6 & 13, 2 p.m.). (562) 494-1014.
@HEART J-Powers’ epistolary drama uses e-mail and instant messaging to tell an old-fashioned story of love and war. Following 9/11, idealistic young Harris (Mikey Myers) feels like he must do something, so he enlists in the Army, with the wholehearted support of his doting wife, Jennifer (Jessica McClendon). The moral of J-Powers’ drama — caught between a tear-jerker and a polemic — seems to be that warrior adventuring is ultimately vanity, while the brave are often left behind. Director Paul Linke’s static production mainly consists of the two performers seated behind a pair of laptops. RUSKIN GROUP THEATRE, 3000 Airport Ave., Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Jan. 20. (310) 397-3244. (PB)
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