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
THE HISTORY BOYS Alan Bennett’s gorgeous play about a Sheffield grammar school’s brightest students gunning for Oxford and Cambridge has landed in L.A. in a production that demonstrates the hazards of trying to replicate a vision born 7,000 miles away. They’ve plugged in new actors around an absent director (Nicholas Hytner of England’s National Theatre), whose staging Paul Miller has attempted to replicate. Big surprise, the sizzle ain’t there. Much of Bennett’s graceful repartee sounds like barking, though some musical chorales are perfectly orchestrated. AHMANSON THEATRE, 135 N. Grand Ave., Tues.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 p.m.; Sun., 1 & 6:30 p.m.; thru Dec. 9. (213) 972-7231. (SLM)
LA VIRGEN DE GUADALUPE, DIOS INANTZIN The Virgin Mary appears to a Mexican peasant, in Evelina Fernandez’s adaptation of the 16th-century text. (With English supertitles.) LOS ANGELES THEATRE CENTER, 514 S. Spring St., dwntwn.; Thurs.-Sat., Dec. 13-21, 8 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 15, 3 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 22, 3 & 8 p.m. (323) 461-3673 or www.thenewlatc.com.
LOVE SWEET LOVE World premiere musical, songs by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, book by C. Ben Wolfe. THOUSAND OAKS CIVIC ARTS PLAZA, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks; Fri., Dec. 7, 8 p.m.; Sat., Dec. 8, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 9, 2 & 7 p.m. (213) 480-3232.
THE RAT PACK: LIVE AT THE SANDS Re-creation of an early-’60s Las Vegas show by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. WILSHIRE THEATRE, 8440 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 1 & 6:30 p.m.; thru Dec. 16. (213) 480-3232.
RAY CHARLES LIVE! A NEW MUSICAL A recurring line from this long and repetitive musical homage to Ray Charles is “Don’t sugarcoat it!” Book writer Suzan-Lori Parks does just the opposite. There isn’t a moment in this story that wasn’t more forthrightly covered in the recent film Ray, leading us to wonder not only what this project is all about but why? The good news is that this production, under Sheldon Epps’ strong direction, really sparkles as spectacle, and Brandon Victor Dixon completely holds the stage as Charles. PASADENA PLAYHOUSE, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 4 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; thru Dec. 9. (626) 356-PLAY. (SM)
VIRGIN LOVE This “musical commedia” (lyrics by Tim Groff and music by A. Torres-Salazar) offers commedia dell’arte with a Latin beat. Athletic Arlecchino (Les Borsay) swings from chandeliers, but, despite his years, he’s still a virgin. He envies the swaggering lover Leandro (a zanily histrionic Lawrence S. Smilgys), who’s simultaneously cuckolding Pantalone (James Tumminia) and Panzanini (Torres-Salazar) with their wives (Nicole Ortega and Kikey Castillo). Act 1 is burdened by too much exposition, and not nearly as funny as it wants to be. Act 2 perks up with a multitude of slapstick encounters. There’s more raunchiness than wit, and Felipe Alejandro directs with a heavy hand. Ricardo Montalbán Repertory Theatre Company at THE RICARDO MONTALBÁN THEATRE, 1615 Vine St., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Dec. 8. (323) 461-0663. (NW)
GO WAITING FOR GODOT Superb acting and Andrew Traister’s astute direction make this a first-rate revival of Samuel Beckett’s tragic-comical masterpiece. The director has skillfully avoided the tedium and blandness that too often seeps into the staging of this play, while never losing sight of the play’s dour motifs. Robertson Dean as Vladimir and Joel Swetow as Estragon turn in strong, polished performances, with ineffable chemistry as their tramps endure the pangs of their meaningless ordeal. Mitchell Edmonds’ outsize presence as imperious wayfarer Pozzo seems to take over the stage, imbuing his role with equal parts Oxford don and pompous circus ringmaster. Meanwhile, his lackey, Lucky (Mark Bramhall), projects a creaturely, feral menace fused with comic élan. A NOISE WITHIN, 234 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale; in rep, call for schedule; thru Dec. 12. (818) 240-0910, ext. 1. (LE3)
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 THE WINTER’S TALE See New Reviews.
YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU George F. Kaufman and Moss Hart’s classic comedy. RUBICON THEATER, 1006 E. Main St., Ventura; Wed., 2 & 7 p.m.; Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Dec. 23. (805) 667-2900.
GO ALL ABOUT WALKEN So these eight Christopher Walken impersonators glide onstage, strutting and yowling and wearing bad wigs. Most are decent Walkens, and the best have mastered the piranha stare and elastic enunciation that snaps the ends of syllables like rubber bands. Walken’s gleeful insanity is realized when director Patrick O’Sullivan challenges his band of Walkens to new Walken frontiers, including an all-Walken Wizard of Oz and and a threatening karaoke cover of “These Boots Were Made for . . .” By the time the Walkens have killed each other off only to rise as zombies and to groove through a gangly version of “Thriller,” my ribs hurt so bad, I felt like I’d been mano a mano with Vincenzo Coccotti. PAUL GLEASON THEATER, 6520 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Mon., 8 p.m.; thru Dec. 17. (310) 663-4050. (AN)