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
RAY BRADBURY’S NOEL Two Bradbury shorts, plus a reading by the author. FREMONT CENTRE THEATRE, 1000 Fremont Ave., South Pasadena; Sun., Dec. 9, 3 p.m.; Sat., Dec. 15, 8 p.m. (323) 960-4451 or www.plays411.com/raybradbury.
SANTASIA: A HOLIDAY COMEDY Holiday sketch comedy, film parodies and musical farces. WHITEFIRE THEATRE, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Dec. 22 (aded perfs Dec. 9 &16, 3 p.m.; Dec. 24-25, 8 p.m.). (818) 990-2324.
SHAKESPEARE’S R & J Four boys in a puritanical Catholic high school obtain a copy of Romeo and Juliet and read it aloud, sharing the roles. The project becomes a voyage of discovery in which they must deal with disturbing ideas and feelings regarding gender, repression and their own sexuality. Most of the words in Joe Calarco’s script are Shakespeare’s, and director Derek Charles Livingston opts to treat Calarco’s framing device perfunctorily. So what we see is not dangerous adolescent exploration, but a fully rehearsed production with revelations already processed. The Production Company at THE CHANDLER STUDIO, 12443 Chandler Blvd., N. Hlywd; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m., Sun., 3 p.m., thru Dec. 8. (800) 838-23006. (NW)
SUBURBAN SHOWGIRL “If you find your passion — that’s a gift!” claims writer-performer Palmer Davis in her sprightly, if slight, solo show. In her autobiographical monologue, Davis recounts stories of a California girlhood in which her parents first dragged her to ballet class in an attempt to keep her from “hanging out at the beach smoking pot” — the first in a series of anecdotes about her career as a pro dancer. The vignettes are liberally peppered with gorgeous dance interludes. Director Leslie Welles brings structure and energy to the genial work, which is otherwise as light as the gauze in Davis’ showgirl costume. THEATRE UNLIMITED, 10943 Camarillo St., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 4 & 8 p.m.; thru Dec. 15. (323) 960-7780. (PB)
THE SURFIN’ SNOWMAN BIG HOLIDAY WAVE! Music and lyrics by Christopher Reiner, written by Denise Devin and Zombie Joe. ZJU THEATER GROUP, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Sat.-Sun., 1 p.m.; thru Dec. 16. (818) 202-4120.
GO TONIGHT AT EIGHT-THIRTY Noel Coward’s 1936 experiment with a repertory of one-acts emerges with vivacity from the vault of museum theatrics over two evenings. John Iacovelli’s elegant, moveable sets and A. Jeffrey Schoenberg’s gorgeous costumes are perfectly lit by Jose Lopez. The plays are slightly weaker in Part 1: “Star Chamber,” for example, presents a motley group of theater folk planning a charity function. Coward cut it from the 1936 and 1937 editions of the anthology, and this company should have followed suit. Part 2 of the cycle is nearly flawless, mostly because it boasts some of Coward’s most elegant and mature work, but also because of the sparking combination of directors and actors. Antaeus Theatre Company at DEAF WEST THEATRE, 5112 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 & 7:30 p.m.; thru Dec. 23. (866) 811-4111. (TP)
TWIST Pop-rock musical based on Oliver Twist, book and lyrics by Gila Sand, music by Paul Leschen. AVERY SCHREIBER THEATER, 11050 Magnolia Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Dec. 30 (no perf Dec. 23). (866) 811-4111.
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)
YO HO HO! A PIRATE’S CHRISTMAS Santa Claus is kidnapped by pirates, music and lyrics by Scott De Turk & James J. Mellon, book by James J. Mellon. NOHO ARTS CENTER, 11136 Magnolia Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 7:30 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Dec. 30. (818) 508-7101 or www.nohoartscenter.com.
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. 21-29; added perfs Dec. 9, Jan. 6 & 13, 2 p.m.). (562) 494-1014.
GO ALWAYS . . . BUT NOT FOREVER Playwright Henry Jaglom’s Bergmanesque marital comedy focuses on the frenzied desperation of young wife Dinah (frequent Jaglom muse Tanna Frederick), who’s reeling from the recent unraveling of her marriage to handsome writer Jack (David O’Donnell). Although the play’s overwritten midsection is occasionally inert, Frederick’s ferocious acting turn stirs it back into motion: Her performance rings powerfully with emotional pain. With her frowsy cascade of red hair and crackling, animated eyes, she often appears on the edge of madness. Sweet and affecting supporting turns are also offered by Kelly DeSarla and by O’Donnell’s increasingly bewildered Jack. EDGEMAR CENTER FOR THE ARTS, 2437 Main St., Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., Dec. 7-8, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 9, 5:30 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., Dec. 14-15 & 21-22, 8 p.m.; Thurs., Dec. 16 & 20, 7:30 p.m. (310) 392-7327. (PB)
. . . AND BABY MAKES TWO, AN ADOPTION TALE Nanci Christopher’s account of her attempt to adopt. The Other Space at the SANTA MONICA PLAYHOUSE, 1211 Fourth St., Santa Monica; Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Dec. 22. (310) 394-9779.