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
BLACK & BLUESTEIN Jerry Mayer’s dramedy about racial prejudice in 1963 St. Louis. The Other Space at Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 Fourth St., Santa Monica; opens March 15; perfs Sat., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 p.m.; thru May 3. (800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com.
DIETRICH & CHAVALIER, THE MUSICAL Jerry Mayer’s love story about Marlene and Maurice. The Other Space at Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 Fourth St., Santa Monica; Sun., March 16, 3 & 7 p.m. (800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com.
THE DYING GAUL Screenwriting, homosexuality and chat rooms collide in Craig Lucas’ drama. Elephant Theater, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; opens March 20; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru April 19. (323) 960-7745, www.plays411.com/dyinggaul.
THE ENTERTAINER John Osborne’s vaudeville metaphor for the decline of the British Empire. NoHo London Music Hall, 10620 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood; opens March 15; perfs Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru April 20. (818) 762-7883.
FAFALO Comic fantasy with Balinese masks and “huge, spectacular puppets,” by Stephen Legawiec. Miles Memorial Playhouse, 1130 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru April 13. (310) 842-5737, www.ziggurattheatre.org.
THE FULL MONTY Steelworkers go Chippendale, book by Terrence McNally, music and lyrics by David Yazbek. Morgan-Wixson Theatre, 2627 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru April 12. (310) 828-7519, www.morgan-wixson.org.
INVASION OF THE MINNESOTA NORMALS Jen Ellison’s dark comedy about 1950s personality tests. Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A., Opens March 15; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru April 19. (323) 960-5771, www.plays411.com/mninvasion.
OTHELLO The Globe in Topanga, 1909 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga; Fri.-Sat., 7:30 p.m.; Sun., 5 p.m.; thru April 27. (310) 455-9400, www.shakespeare-usa.com.
RICHARD III Shakespeare’s history. Colony Theatre, 555 N. Third St., Burbank; March 18-21, 8 p.m. (818) 558-7000.
SECRETS OF THE TRADE Ambitious young actor finds a Broadway mentor, in Jonathan Tolins’ play. Black Dahlia Theatre, 5453 W. Pico Blvd., L.A., Opens March 15; Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru April 20, (No perf March 23.). (800) 838-3006, www.thedahlia.com.
THE VIOLET HOUR Publisher ponders printing, circa World War I, by Richard Greenberg. Theatre Tribe, 5267 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru April 19. (800) 838-3006, www.theatretribe.com.
CINDERELLA New take on the classic tale, music and lyrics by Lloyd J. Schwartz. Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, L.A.; Sat., 1 p.m.; thru June 28. (323) 851-7977.
JEKYLL & HYDE Robert Louis Stevenson’s story of good and evil, book and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse, music by Frank Wildhorn. Fred Kavli Theatre for the Performing Arts, Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 16. (805) 449-2787.
GO JOAN RIVERS: A WORK IN PROGRESS BY A LIFE IN PROGRESS Writer-performer Joan Rivers’ confessional play shows the comic legend as both an unapologetically shticky standup preoccupied with female anatomy and the effects of plastic surgery, and as an existential show-business survivor who’s still going strong at 74. These conflicting impulses create a balancing act that Rivers, under Bart DeLorenzo’s soft-touch direction, navigates with ease and intimacy. Douglas Bernstein and Denis Markell also co-wrote the show. (SM). Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Westwood; Tues.-Thurs., 7:30 p.m.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 4 & 8:30 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; thru April 6. (310) 208-5454, www.geffenplayhouse.com.
GO L’EFFLEUR DES SENS Choreographer-director Cati Jean has MC Gregg guide us through this French-style cabaret that consists of nine fleshy, erotic dances performed by the host and a bevy of seven beauties with jaw-dropping precision. The girlie-magazine fantasies that the dances conjure border on the fetishistic, with jail-stripe thigh-highs and lingerie, legs that go all the way up, torsos that sway while the doll-faced women bear expressions of calculated disinterest, or come-hither stares. Gregg’s improvised humor borders on the puerile, but the dancers’ dexterity and skill are beyond reproach. (SLM). King King, 6555 Hollywood Blvd., L.A., Every other Thursday, 9 p.m.; thru May 29. (323) 960-9234, www.kingkinghollywood.com.
RED HERRING Michael Hollinger’s Red Scare comedy. Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach; Sat.-Sun., 2 p.m.; Tues.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru March 16. (949) 497-2787.
THE SEVEN Will Power’s hip-hop take on the Greek tragedy Seven Against Thebes. La Jolla Playhouse, 2910 La Jolla Village Dr., La Jolla; Sun., 7 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 2 p.m.; Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m.; thru March 16. (858) 550-1010.
SOME GIRL(S) Writer-director Neil LaBute’s play nudges us to believe that he’s re-examining gender relations through the perspectives of one solipsistic Lothario named Guy (Mark Feurenstein) and four ex-girlfriends, whom he somehow persuades to meet him (one at a time) at various motel rooms around the country in order to set things right, before he plunges into marriage with an offstage fiancée. LaBute’s main point is storytelling, but his treatment of that idea is as distracted and frivolous as his central character. Lovely performances, however. (SLM). Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Westwood; Tues.-Thurs., Sat., 8 p.m.; Fri., 7:30 p.m.; Sat., 3:30 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m.; thru March 16. (310) 208-5454, www.geffenplayhouse.com.
SWEENEY TODD Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s musical tale of the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., L.A.; Tues.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 p.m.; Sun., 1 & 6:30 p.m.; thru April 6. (213) 628-2772, www.centertheatregroup.org.
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 Elphabas 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. (SLM). Pantages Theater, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., L.A.; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 1 & 6:30 p.m. (213) 365-3500.
ACCIDENTAL DEATH OF AN ANARCHIST Dario Fo’s farce, based on a true story from Italian politics. Unknown Theater, 1110 N. Seward St., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m.; thru March 29. (323) 466-7781, www.unknowntheater.com.
AFTER THE FALL Arthur Miller’s fictionalized take on his marriage to Marilyn Monroe. Open Fist Theater, 6209 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A., Wed.-Thurs., 8 p.m.; thru March 20. (323) 882-6912, www.openfist.org.
ALADDIN Nine O’Clock Players present Carol Weiss’ musical for kids, based on the Arabian fable. Assistance League Playhouse, 1367 N. St. Andrews Pl., L.A.; Sun., 2 p.m.; Sat., 2 p.m.; thru April 12. (323) 469-1970, assistanceleague.net.
GO ALL ABOUT WALKEN: THE IMPERSONATORS OF CHRISTOPHER 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 to new Walken frontiers, including an all-Walken Wizard of Oz and a threatening karaoke cover of “These Boots Were Made for ...” (AN)., www.plays411.com. Theatre 68, 5419 Sunset Blvd., L.A.; Thurs., 8 p.m.; thru April 3. (310) 663-4050.
ALL THE HELP YOU NEED: THE ADVENTURES OF A HOLLYWOOD HANDYMAN Tim Ryan Meinelschmidt’s experiences as an actor turned jack-of-all-trades., www.plays411.com. MET Theater, downstairs in the Great Scott Theatre, 1089 N. Oxford Ave., L.A.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru March 30. (323) 960-7740.
AMERICA’S NEXT TOP BOTTOM: CYCLE TWO The title tells you all you need to know. This “reality show” lampoon follows the contest show format, with a lanky, trailer-trash drag queen hostess, Trina Sugg (Drew Droege), and several contestants who must participate in talent competitions including belching, diva impersonation, and arm-wrestling. The humor is mostly anatomical, with references to Boy Butter and lines like, “I started out as a tight end and then switched over to wide receiver.” The show was created by Michael Matthews, Jason Moyer, Efrain Schunior and the cast. (NW). Celebration Theatre, 7051-B Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; Fri., 10:30 p.m.; thru March 15. (323) 957-1884, www.celebrationtheatre.com.
GO THE BOYCHICK AFFAIR: THE BAR MITZVAH OF HARRY BOYCHICK THE BOYCHICK AFFAIR: THE BAR MITZVAH OF HARRY BOYCHICK Where’s Harry? All the guests have arrived, but bar mitzvah boy Harry (Greg Mikurak) and his father, Aaron (Barry Papick), have gotten lost on their way to the temple. The wait for Harry allows the audience to mix freely with the actors in writer-director Amy Lord’s hilarious interactive comedy. As the performance progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult to tell audience members from cast members, much to Lord’s credit as writer and director. (Sandra Ross)., www.brownpapertickets.com. Hayworth Theater, 2509 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru April 27. (800) 838-3006.
CLOSER Four strangers’ relationships become entangled, in Patrick Marber’s study of modern sexuality., www.plays411.com/closer. El Centro Theatre, 804 N. El Centro Ave., Hollywood; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru March 29. (323) 960-7724.
GO CRIME AND PUNISHMENT Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s seminal profile of a killer with a moral imperative to dispose of a miserly old pawn broker gets boiled down to a lean and surprisingly effective 90-minute drama in Marilyn Campbell and Curt Columbus’ adaptation. Three actors portray multiple roles, condensing Dostoyevsky’s theology, philosophy and pscho-drama into a kind of dream, with riveting performances by Ben Hunter, Suzanne Friedline and Paul Witten. The main drawback is that Ken Sawyer’s sculpted staging has movie music played against entire scenes. (SLM). Actors Co-op, 1760 N. Gower St., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m.; Sat., 2:30 p.m.; thru March 15. (323) 462-8460.
GO DICKIE & BABE: THE TRUTH ABOUT LEOPOLD & LOEB Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb get reinvented in Daniel Henning’s exhaustively researched play, which largely devotes its focus to the formative years of the boys’ friendship. Rumors of the pair’s homosexual affections follow them all the way to the Chicago courthouse, where they stand charged with murdering a child. Some moments cry out for deletion, but the actors carve out two distinct personalities and carry out Henning’s attempt to present the pair as both villains and victims of their own fantasies. (SM). The Blank Theatre, 6500 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 30. (323) 661-9827, www.theblank.com.
EYE MOUTH GRAFFITI BODYSHOP & 20 PLAYS IN 20 MINUTES And the Beat goes on. The poetry in Ron Allen’s choreo-poem about the ultimate short circuit in the city’s grid (violence, erotic provocation, spiritual ennui and poetry) is electrically charged and often more declarative than evocative (“Skin is a coffin ... Chance is the road to Nirvana ... Ten-cent orgasms of telemarketing heroes”). The experience feels assailed by a street-corner poet, whose words are enacted by an ensemble of 12, a feeling that’s as invigorating and discomfiting as standing in the cold breeze of an alleyway. Jemal McNeil’s sharp direction and Drew D’Andrea’s sassy choreography expand the words into relationships and movement that’s both ritualized and saucy — largely played out around a stage-center shrine that embodies the city’s detritus. The performances, by dancers Brixey Blankenship, Victoria Brown, Aaron Davis and Kalen Salima and actors Justin Alston, Phillip C. Curry, David Ibrahim, Jo D. Jonz, Lynn Odell, Marja-Lewis Ryan and Wendi West, are first-rate. Nonetheless, it’s hard work to keep fathoming lines such as “Take the air from the lip of heavy want/Take this raw weight on my tongue/This sweet tobacco of indulgence ...,” only to watch the ensemble gunned down by rifle fire. This poem’s despondency is more assumed than earned — assumed from the brutal experience of the streets and the love of language — yet 90 minutes of assumption, in place of debate, becomes more blistering than inviting, despite the oozing sensuality of the music and dance. Theatre of NOTE, 1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hlywd.; Wed.-Thurs., 8 p.m.; thru March 27. (323) 856-8611 or www.theatreofnote.com. (Steven Leigh Morris)
THE FLU SEASON In Will Eno’s promising play, a Man (Tim Wright) and a Woman (Jamey Hood) meet in a psychiatric institution and fall in love. Two characters named Prologue and Epilogue (Michael McColl and Christopher Goodson, respectively), narrate the scenes we are about to watch. More narrators (David Fruechting and Christina Mastin) also take a hand at editorializing. There is some funny, provocative repartee here, but our interest sags beneath the weight of Eno’s self-referential irony. Jonathan Westerberg directs. (SM). [Inside] the Ford, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East, L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; thru March 29. (323) 461-3673.
GO FROZEN The chill in Bryony Lavery’s 2004 play creeps up on you. In the first half-hour, we learn of a girl’s abduction somewhere in the north of England through a series of interweaving monologues told by the child’s mother (Jenette Goldstein) and the pedophile (Hugh Mason) who led the girl to his van. Add to the mix a visiting American clinical psychiatrist (Deanne Dawson) out to prove that serial killers’ absence of compassion stems from a brain dysfunction rather than inherent evil. With this, the play probes how we come to be humane, and Billy Hayes’ detailed staging brings renders the play with awesome beauty. (SLM). Lillian Theatre, 1076 Lillian Way, L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru March 22. (323) 960-5521.
GO GROUNDLINGS SWIMSUIT EDITION Drawing on a variety of current themes and issues, the Groundlings shine in their newest show that, following a Groundlings tradition, has nothing to do with the title. Featuring strong comedic writing, the sketches also incorporate music, including “Womanisms,” a song about (f)e-mails women forward to each other. Director Karen Maruyama keeps the evening moving at a brisk pace, never letting the audience settle into apathy. (MK). Groundling Theater, 7307 Melrose Ave., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sat., 10 p.m.; thru April 19. (323) 934-9700.
HARM’S WAY Shem Bitterman’s play is a thoughtful, stateside view of America’s actions in Iraq, centered on an Army atrocity that is investigated by a military father (Jack Stehlin) whose daughter (Katie Lowes) falls in love with the case’s chief suspect (Ben Bowen). While it doesn’t completely fulfill its dramatic potential, the two-hour show, directed by Steve Zuckerman, mostly avoids editorializing, preferring instead to question how good people do terrible things. (In rep with Man.gov.) A Circus Theatricals Studio Theater production. (SM). Hayworth Theater, 2511 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; Sat., 8 p.m.; thru March 15. (323) 960-1054.
ICELAND Roger Guenveur Smith’s globetrotting saga of a painter and a dancer. REDCAT, W. Second & Hope sts., L.A.; Sat., March 15, 8 p.m.; Sun., March 16, 3 p.m. (213) 237-2800.
GO JAMES JOYCE’S THE DEAD Under Charles Otte’s tender staging, Richard Nelson’s adaptation of James Joyce’s literary gem is nothing short of superb. Nelson’s book stirs and then sweetens all of the poignant subtleties of Joyce’s prose, and it’s all neatly complemented by Nelson and Shaun Davey’s music and lyrics, under Dean Mora’s splendid musical direction, in which the oft-singing characters are accompanied by piano, cello, violin and some Celtic percussion. During a Christmas holiday party, food, song, dance, revelry and music are richly displayed; but inexorably, some portent of change looms. (LE3). Open Fist Theater, 6209 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru April 12. (323) 882-6912, www.openfist.org.
L.A. WOMEN: FROM THE ASHES TO THE STAGE Scenes about the diverse ladies of Los Angeles, by Jennifer Tracy and Sabrina Hill. Bang, 457 N. Fairfax Ave., L.A.; Sat., 8 p.m.; Thurs., 8 p.m.; thru March 20. (323) 653-6886.
GO THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT Though frayed at the edges in both the writing and the production, Stephen Adly Guirgis’ contemporary NYC trial of Judas (Robert Mollohan, still in biblical garb) — set in the “Hope Street” purgatorial subway station, with the stairwells of Danny Cistone’s set clearly marked “Uptown” and “Downtown” — offers an invigorating meditation on the paradoxical essences of forgiveness and revenge built into the core of our cultural mythology. Even with its comic approach, Guirgis’ play isn’t as glib as the works of Christopher Durang — another Catholic comedic playwright confounded by his theology. Yet Guirgis’ argumentation doesn’t come close to that of the literary masters in that realm of debate — Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Mikhail Bulgakov. This play falls somewhere between a historical pageant, a trial and a farce (Don Rickles is called in for questioning, just for the joke). There are really nice lead performances by Danny Nucci’s ingratiating prosecuting attorney, Katy Jacoby’s defense attorney with personal crises, and Max Middleton’s impatient judge. Some supporting performers are difficult to hear, and when the play turns “meaningful,” via earnest speeches near the end, it completely unravels, at least in this production. Still, it’s smart and funny enough to deserve its audience. Theatre 68, 5419 Sunset Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m.; thru March 30. (323) 960-7827. (Steven Leigh Morris)
GO THE LAST SCHWARTZ In her witty, thoughtful play, Deborah Zoe Laufer questions the role of family and religious traditions. As the Schwartz children gather in their now empty childhood Catskills home to honor their father’s Yarzheit (the one-year anniversary of his death), an outsider stirs up issues the family prefers left undisturbed. Lee Sankowich’s direction is first-rate and designer Giulllio Perrone’s set suggests an atmosphere of barrenness, an apt metaphor considering the clan’s regretful past and uncertain future. (Martin Hernandez). Zephyr Theater, 7456 Melrose Ave., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; thru April 27. (323) 852-9111.
LOVE STRUCK Marie Barrientos and Odals Nanin’s romantic comedy about two Latinas in love and lust. Macha Theatre (formerly the Globe Playhouse), 1107 N. Kings Road, West Hollywood; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru March 30. (323) 960-7829.
MAN OF LA MANCHA The Veterans Center for the Performing Arts “celebrates military veterans by developing and producing their original works, as well as examining existing works from a military perspective.” In keeping with that philosophy, the first scene of this Dale Wasserman musical is set in the mental ward of a veterans’ hospital, where author Miguel Cervantes is a patient. The play becomes grand improvisation involving only Cervantes/Quixote (Eric Tucker) and another patient, the Sergeant Major (Stephan Wolfert), known collectively as Deux Bites. Limiting the cast to two actor-singers (plus guitarist/musical director Ali Nikou) tends initially to make the piece seem like a stunt, with each of them juggling multiple roles and donning a wild array of hats, skirts, tatty wigs and accents. It’s clever, inventive and anti-illusory: Wolfert sports a full beard, giving his Aldonza a decidedly rakish air. Costumes and props are improvised, and the Don’s armor consists of hockey shin guards, a plastic tablecloth cape, and a gilded bedpan for a helmet. Both actors are versatile and capable, and, once we get used to their approach, they deliver an engaging and sometimes hilarious version of the play. Veterans Center for the Performing Arts, 446 S. La Brea Ave., L.A.; Sun.-Mon., 7 p.m.; thru April 21. Free, resv. required. (323) 533-2847 or email@example.com. (Neal Weaver)
MAN.GOV Shem Bitterman’s drama, set during the buildup to the second U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, studies the predicament of a senior-level government arms inspector, who finds himself in the precarious and demoralizing position of having to report on the possibility that Saddam Hussein is hiding weapons of mass destruction, though there’s no evidence to support that conclusion. Steve Zuckerman’s spartan staging, however, plays to Bitterman’s strengths: the smart, lean writing and the perversely honest relationships among family and rivals. (SLM) A Circus Theatricals Studio Theater production. Hayworth Theater, 2511 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; Fri., 8 p.m.; thru March 15. (323) 960-1054.
MR. MARMALADE Noah Haidle’s dark comedy about a young girl’s imaginary friend., www.3KO.org. Gardner Stages, 1501 N. Gardner St., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru March 29. (818) 685-9939.
GO MY THING OF LOVE The language of Alexandra Gersten’s caustically funny and equally painful examination of a crumbling marriage navigates perfectly between heightened lyric fancy and earthy reality. We begin with an ordinary breakfast routine between spouses that soon begins to simmer, then quickly boils over into a full-blown war over infidelity that defines Gersten’s fascinating play. Johanna McKay offers a virtuoso performance as Elly, a frumpy housewife who throws down the gauntlet over her husband’s affair. As husband Jack, Josh Randall keeps pace with McKay, making their epic battle as exciting and moving as the best of Edward Albee’s early work. Kelly (Heather Fox) — the gorgeous, simple yet unapologetic object of Jack’s straying — is so comically brittle that the intensity of this production continues to grow. Only a bizarre set piece, in which a loony guidance counselor (played with caricatured frenzy by John Schumacher) comes to castigate Elly about her parenting, rings false. Fortunately, this scene fades from memory in Darin Anthony’s otherwise exquisite staging. Sherry Linnell’s witty costume design is best exemplified by Elly’s ugly, slobby sweats. Tom Buderwitz’s naturalistic home interiors are set against a too-slick set of walls that detract from the über-reality of much of the play’s action. GTC Burbank, 1111-B W. Olive Ave., Burbank; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m. (added perf Thurs., March 27, 8 p.m.); thru April 5. (800) 838-3006. A Syzygy Theatre Group production. (Tom Provenzano)
OLD TIMES Harold Pinter’s enigmatic study of memory and relationships. Lost Studio, 130 S. La Brea Ave., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 4 p.m.; thru April 13. (323) 871-5830.
ON AN AVERAGE DAY John Kolvenbach’s 2000 play about about two brothers in a hovel crunching through the wreckage features two actors (Johnny Clark and Stef Tovar) in gritty, emotive portrayals. The rhythms of conflict and reconciliation play themselves out in a redundant cycle of crescendo and decrescendo, under Ron Klier’s carefully wrought direction, and both actors are terrific. (SLM). Elephant Theater, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru March 22. (323) 860-3283.
ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST Adaptation of Ken Kesey’s novel, by Dale Wasserman. Knightsbridge Theater, 1944 Riverside Dr., L.A.; Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m.; thru April 6. (323) 667-0955.
ORANGE FLOWER WATER Craig Wright’s story of small-town adultery. Lyric Theatre, 520 N. La Brea Ave., L.A.; Thurs., Sat., 8 p.m.; thru April 5. (323) 939-9220.
ORANGE LEMON EGG CANARY: A TRICK IN FOUR ACTS Playwright Rinne Groff’s poignant and often beguiling drama depicts the complex parallels between love and magic, equating the irrationality of romantic love with the trickery and misdirection of a magician. Handsome, professional magician Great (Brett Schneider) dazzles crowds with his amazing card tricks, but in his private life, he’s a faithless manipulator with a history of breaking the hearts of his various stage assistants, who happen to be his lovers as well. Schneider is a charismatic and appealing performer, impressive as both an actor and a magician. (PB)., www.plays411.com/orange. The Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru April 5. (323) 960-7862.
GO POINT BREAK LIVE! Jaime Keeling’s merciless skewering of the 1991 hyper-action flick starring Keanu Reeves and Gary Busey is loaded with laughs as well as surprises, like picking an audience member to play Reeve’s role of Special Agent Johnny Utah. The city’s banks are being hit by a gang of robbers known as the Ex Presidents, surfers who always wear the masks of former chief executives while making their withdrawals (in this version Ms. Condi Rice makes an appearance). Utah gets his man, but not before a Grand Guignol scene of blood and guts that’s so hideously over the top you can’t stop laughing. (LE3). Charlie O’s Lounge, Hotel Alexandria, 501 S. Spring St., L.A.; Sat.-Sun., 7 p.m. (866) 811-4111, www.CharlieOsLounge.com.
GO POOR BEAST IN THE RAIN It sometimes seems that Irish writers are the only ones who can still write a traditional, realistic genre drama with conviction, and without deconstructing, satirizing or saturating it in irony. Billy Roche’s play is set in a betting shop in the town of Wexford, during the All-Ireland Hurling Finals. It’s a skillfully written piece, beautifully acted and finely articulated by director Wilson Milam. The production’s only serious defect is that the Irish dialect is occasionally almost impenetrable. (NW). Matrix Theatre, 7657 Melrose Ave., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru March 16. (323) 852-1445.
PROVE IT ON ME Lindsay (Aynsley Bubbico), a wealthy white flapper, argues that you can’t see skin color in the dark. Lesbian blues singer Georgia Brooks (Sweet Baby J’ai) knows better. And so Dee Jae Cox’s expository, repetitive play, set during the Harlem Renaissance, bats around the same old dichotomies of white-versus-black and rich-versus-poor as though mentioning hot buttons is the same thing as exploring them. Kelly Ann Ford directs. (AN)., www.plays411.com/proveit. Stella Adler Theatre, 6773 Hollywood Blvd., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; Sat., March 15, 3 p.m.; Sat., March 29, 3 p.m.; thru March 30. (323) 960-7721.
GO REGRETROSEXUAL: THE LOVE STORY Straight comedian Dan Rothenberg spent two years in San Francisco dating men so he wouldn’t face rejection from his best friend, who was just coming out of the closet. This is only the most bizarre of Rothenberg’s neuroses which he let spill in his earlier, one-man show. Two years later his equally psychologically damaged wife, Colleen Crabtree, joins him to create this touching and hilarious two-hander that follows their courtship. Richard Kuhlman’s light director’s touch switches directions whenever the play begins to move toward either bathos or goofiness. (TP)., www.plays411.com/regretrosexual. Hudson Guild Theater, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru April 12. (323) 960-7822.
ROAR OF THE TIGER: THE LEGEND OF TOKYO ROSE Glenn Conner Johnson’s reconstruction of the life and persecution of Iva Toguri (Momo Yashima) has the makings of epic-style political theater but falls flat in this production directed by Johnson, who employs taiko drumming, a Kabuki tiger head dress and an ensemble-driven presentation to explain Toguri’s actions and fate. Yet nearly every other scene is explained by a narrator (Ralph Brannen) before it unfolds, making the 70-minute Act 1 cry out for trims. (SM). Egyptian Arena Theater, 1625 N. Las Palmas Ave., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 23. (323) 222-1728.
SCOTTASTROPHE True stories of personal catastrophe by Scott Thompson of The Kids in the Hall. STEVE ALLEN THEATER, at the Center for Inquiry-West, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., L.A.; Fri., 8 p.m.; thru March 14. (323) 666-4268.
SEASCAPE WITH SHARKS & DANCER Don Nigro’s beachside love story. Lyric Theatre, 520 N. La Brea Ave., L.A.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru April 6. (323) 939-9220.
SERIAL KILLERS Late-night serialized stories, voted on by the audience to determine which ones continue. Sacred Fools Theater, 660 N. Heliotrope Dr., L.A.; Sat., 11 p.m. (310) 281-8337.
GO 1776 Events of the American Continental Congress are laid out in Peter Stone and Sherman Edwards’ 1969 musical with droll wit. Firebrand John Adams (Bruce Ladd), wise reprobate Ben Franklin (Larry Lederman) and Thomas Jefferson (Ben Hensely) are the centerpieces for the saga of frustrated efforts to persuade the colonists to stop being British. You’d think that Jefferson was a reluctant slaveowner, while South Carolina’s Edward Rutledge’s (Stephen Van Dorn), a southern blowhard. In fact, it may have been the other way around, which would have been a more interesting musical. The ensemble is as grand as Richard Israel’s staging. (SLM). Crossley Theater, 1760 N. Gower St., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m.; Sat., 2:30 p.m.; thru March 16. (323) 462-8460.
GO SEXY LAUNDRY In the American premiere of Michele Rimi’s look at making love in middle age, Alice Lane (Frances Fisher) brings her reluctant husband, Henry (Paul Ben-Victor), along with a copy of Sex for Dummies, to a fabulously expensive hotel in hopes of rekindling their romance. Alice and Henry’s conversation quickly degenerates into sparring that provides much hilarity, between the barbs are painful and touching moments of a couple scraping the dark corners of their marriage. Gary Blumsack’s direction is equally nuanced and dynamic. (MK). Hayworth Theater, 2509 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru March 16. (213) 289-9860.
SHAME Stephen Morey and Paul Rebillot’s take on homosexuality from the Christian perspective. (Note: contains nudity.). Theatre Asylum, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 & 7 p.m.; thru March 23. (323) 962-0046.
GO SILVER FOR GOLD: THE ODYSSEY OF EDIE SEDGWICK The beatification of Andy Warhol protégée Edie Sedgwick began in the 1980s with the Stein-Plimpton biography, Edie, and took off with songs such as Adult Net’s “Edie” and films like the posthumously released Ciao! Manhattan. David J, formerly of the bands Bauhaus and Love and Rockets, attempts to sketch the terrible arc of Sedgwick’s Icaran flight and fall without resorting to the narrative slogging that typifies pop hagiography. He mostly succeeds, by writing and directing what is essentially a one-woman show starring Monique Jenkinson, whose manic, writhing Sedgwick crystallizes moments from her tormented childhood and a later fashion-frenzied life fueled by drugs and vodka. There’s no “I did this, then went there, and the next day I met Paul America.” Instead, it’s 75 minutes of choreography, live music, expressionistic silhouettes and lots of stage fog. Steven Oliver Price plays the show’s other character, Norich — a horse-headed invalid who rolls across the stage in a wheelchair to somber effect, representing Sedgwick’s dreamy adoration of horses. David J’s vocals lead a tight band whose songs tell a story that is funny and affecting without begging for sympathy for their subject. But did he really have to have Sedgwick say, “The biggest scars are the ones inside ... the kind you can’t see”? Lloyd Reece’s crepuscular lighting and Ego Plum’s clear sound design are especially effective. MET Theatre, 1089 N. Oxford Ave., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru March 16. (323) 960-7846. (Steven Mikulan)
STADIUM DEVILDARE: BATTLE FOR G*DZILLA X Playwright Ruth Margraff’s engrossing opus is an ungodly anime-style love child of Finnegans Wake and American Gladiators. Although the narrative imperfections and marginally impenetrable writing threaten to overburden the show, the creativity of co-directors Richard Werner and Karen Jean Martinson’s production makes for jaw-droppingly weird fun. Still, the hilarious ensemble work boasts exciting turns, while the romance is unexpectedly tender. (PB). Theatre of NOTE, 1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru March 23. (323) 856-8611, www.theatreofnote.com.
GO STUPID KIDS Playwright John C. Russell might have been a fly on the wall in the school cafeteria when he wrote this endearing and insightful teen drama about sex and power in a suburban American high school. Jim (Michael Grant Terry) and Judy (Tessa Thomson) are two blessedly beautiful people, attracted to each other and with enough quirkiness to keep them from running with the herd. They get tested when the ruling school clan demands that Jim and Judy cut their ties to their loyal, “geeky”and gay friends. Directed by Michael Matthews, the four-person ensemble is spot-on from first moment to last. (DK). Celebration Theatre, 7051-B Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru April 6. (323) 957-1884, www.celebrationtheatre.com.
GO THRILL ME: THE LEOPOLD & LOEB STORY Stephen Dolginoff’s 2003 musical strolls down murder’s memory lane to the case of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, the two precocious law students whose thrill-killing of 14-year-old Bobby Franks shocked Jazz Age America. Librettist and composer-lyricist Dolginoff compresses the 1924 crime into an 85-minute story populated only by the killers, drawing us into an erotically claustrophobic and believable relationship. Director Nick DeGruccio, knowing the difference between thrill and shock, steers the evening away from Grand Guignol. (SM)., www.plays411.com/thrillme. Hudson Backstage Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 & 7 p.m.; thru March 16. (323) 960-4429.
THE TIME MACHINE It’s a safe bet that writer-director Phil Abatecola and producer-performer Julian Bane are big fans of this H.G. Wells science-fiction classic and have always wanted to stage it. The story tells of a Time Traveler (Bane) propelled hundreds of thousands of years into the future; there he attempts to liberate a defenseless community of young people called the Eloi from their carnivorous oppressors, the Morlocks. This adaptation appropriates chunks of dialogue and even the prop time machine from the film on which it’s based. The tech elements are proficient, the performances, less so. (DK)., www.timemachinetheplay.com. Women’s Club of Hollywood, 1749 N. La Brea Ave., L.A.; Fri., Sun., 8 p.m.; thru March 14. (310) 473-4422.
THE TOMORROW SHOW Late-night variety show created by Craig Anton, Ron Lynch and Brendon Small. STEVE ALLEN THEATER, at the Center for Inquiry-West, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., L.A.; Sat., midnight. (323) 960-7785.
GO VARLA JEAN MERMAN LOVES A FOREIGN TONGUE Drag star Jeffery Roberson’s alter ego (spawn of Ernest Borgnine and Ethel Merman) regales us with her insanely banal reflections on traveling abroad. Her observations are blithely condescending (“Foreign people aren’t like us”), while Varla’s conversations with audience members prove to be exquisitely crass. (“How do you say, ‘This sore is not contagious’?”) The familiar Varla Jean personality traits are all here: jawdropping shallowness, abject professional failure and incurable nymphomania. But Robeson’s character also turns a neat trick that makes the evening slightly political. (SM). Ultra Suede, 661 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood; Thurs., 7:30 p.m.; thru March 27, www.groovetickets.com.
GO VICTORY Athol Fugard’s newest play takes a hard look at exactly what “freedom” means, nearly 20 years after the end of South African apartheid, revealing Fugard’s transition from artist-advocate to tragedian. A mixed-race teenage girl, Vicky (Tinashe Kajese), and an accomplice (Lovensky Jean-Baptiste) loot the home of the old man (Morlan Higgins) who helped teach Vicky to read. So much for the new South Africa. The three performances are ravishingly beautiful under Stephen Sachs’ thoughtful and loving direction. (SLM). Fountain Theater, 5060 Fountain Ave., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 23. (323) 663-1525, www.fountaintheatre.com.
THE WOMEN OF JUAREZ Ruben Amavizca’s story of murder and corruption. (Perfs alternate in English and Spanish; call for schedule.). Frida Kahlo Theater, 2332 W. Fourth St., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m.; thru April 20. (213) 382-8133.
THE ALL-FEMALE 1929 SKIDOO REVIEW Revue of music, dance and comedy skits from yesteryear, by Eugene H. Butler. Actors Forum Theatre, 10655 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru April 13, (No perf March 23.). (818) 506-0600.
A GOOD SMOKE Writer-director Don Cummings adeptly captures the chaos enveloping a collapsing family in his dark, one-act comedy. Eldest son Dave (Henry Gummer) has returned to his family’s home in the hopes of straightening out the latest mess. His direction is as fast-paced as the dialogue, and Barbara Gruen delivers a tremendous performance as a deceptive matriarch, a manipulative drug addict. (Sandra Ross). Chandler Studio, 12443 Chandler Blvd., Valley Village; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru March 29. (800) 838-3006.
HENRY IV, PART ONE Shakespeare’s history plays sometimes seem like pageants, with one or two star performers presiding over a mere spectacle, full of alarums and excursions. But in more able hands, they’re revealed as huge ensemble pieces, with every role a gem, given an actor who can fill it. Here, we’re presented with the ailing King Henry (Robertson Dean), his seemingly scapegrace son Prince Hal (Freddy Douglas), and Hal’s disreputable mentor and sidekick, the fat knight Falstaff (co-director Geoff Elliott). And Hal, determined to restore honor to his name, becomes the mortal rival of the willful, tempestuous Harry Hotspur (J. Todd Adams). Directors Elliott and Julia Rodriguez-Elliott give the piece a traditional and admirably straightforward production, garnished with Michael C. Smith’s handsome set, Soojin Lee’s lavish costumes, and rousing battle scenes excellently choreographed by Kenneth R. Merckx. Elliott gives us a flamboyant and funny Falstaff, but never taps into the earthy, cynical wisdom that Stacy Keach and John Goodman found in the role. Douglas provides a stalwart Hal, with admirable support from a large cast. Yet Adams’ passionate and athletic Hotspur comes close to dominating the production. One wishes for greater verbal clarity, particularly in the early scenes, but it is, overall, an exciting production. A Noise Within, 234 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale; in rep, call for schedule; thru May 18. (818) 240-0910, Ext. 1, or www.ANoiseWithin.org. (Neal Weaver)
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME This adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel (book and lyrics by Gary Lamb, music by William A. Reilly) is more like an old-fashioned operetta (with a dash of 19th-century melodrama thrown in) than a modern musical. There’s something enduringly touching about the hopeless love of the hideous, deformed bell ringer, Quasimodo (Bill Mendieta), for the beautiful Gypsy girl Esmeralda (Amy Bloom). But the adapters have been too faithful to the original novel: The Gypsy is so deceived by the transparently vicious guardsman that she often seems like a ninny. (NW)., www.crowncitytheatre.com. St. Matthew’s Lutheran GLBT Church, 11031 Camarillo St., North Hollywood; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m. (818) 942-6684.
GO THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES In their cotton-candy chiffon dresses, songbirds Missy, Suzy, Betty Jean and Cindy Lou (Kim Huber, Bets Malone, Julie Dixon Jackson and Kirsten Chandler) are pleased as punch to entertain their senior-class prom. As it’s 1958, tonight’s track list is pure bubblegum pop, 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 from the story’s personality clashes and a looming prom-queen vote. Under Bean’s hand, the ladies are fine comedians and even finer singers, and the show gets a punch of energy in Act 2. (AN). El Portal Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 30. (818) 508-0281.
THE MINT JULEPS TRILOGY Nick Zagone’s one-act about 20-somethings pondering the opposite sex. LIZARD THEATER, 230 W. Main St., Alhambra; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru March 15. (626) 403-1177, www.lizardtheater.com.
MY HEART’S IN THE HIGHLANDS William Saroyan’s story of a broke poet and his son., www.itsmyseat.com. Luna Playhouse, 3706 San Fernando Road, Glendale; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 30, (No perfs March 21-23.). (818) 500-7200.
MY THING OF LOVE Dark comedy about a wife, her husband and his mistress, by Alexandra Gersten., www.syzygytheatre.org. GTC Burbank, 1111-B W. Olive Ave., Burbank; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; Thurs., March 27, 8 p.m.; thru April 5. (800) 838-3006.
OF MICE AND MEN John Steinbeck’s American drama. The Banshee, 3435 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru April 13. (818) 846-5323, www.theatrebanshee.org.
OTHELLO Director Lisa Wolpe sets Shakespeare’s passionate play in 1930s Fascist Italy, illuminating little of its complexity. From the outset, Fran Bennett’s title character fails to radiate the wisdom, nobility or charisma that might attract his wife, Desdemona (Nell Geisslinger) — many decades his junior — or the soldiers under his command who profess to admire him. Only Geisslinger lands on target, as a gracious and ladylike Desdemona who later persuasively pleads for her life. (DK). Boston Court Theatre, 70 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 23. (626) 683-6883.
PAGING DR. CHUTZPAH Inspired 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 the 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. (Martin Hernandez). Sidewalk Studio Theatre, 4150 Riverside Dr., Burbank; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru March 23. (818) 558-5702.
PERILOUS! THE RETURN OF PENELOPE PERIL Late-night musical-comedy serial. Eclectic Company Theatre, 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Valley Village; Fri.-Sat., 10:30 p.m.; thru March 15. (818) 508-3003, www.eclecticcompanytheatre.org.
POE-FEST Zombie Joe presents The Pit and The Pendulum, The Tell-Tale Heart and The Bells. ZJU Theater Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood; Fri., 10:30 p.m.; Sat., 6:30 p.m.; Sun., 4:30 p.m.; thru March 16. (818) 202-4120.
RAVENSRIDGE It’s 1992 and West Virginia steelworker Will Torrey (Vaughn Armstrong) is out on strike against a mill with a distant owner. Really distant — in Moscow, thanks to a corporate-crime indictment. Nevertheless, along with another union member (Emily Adams), Will flies to the former Soviet Union to confront the exiled owner. In T.S. Cook’s play, director James Reynolds emphasizes the talkiness between quick-tempered Will and a dour Russian investigator (Robert Trebor). The play nevertheless shows a refreshing courage to raise questions about the increasingly rigid stratification of America’s classes. (SM). Fremont Centre Theatre, 1000 Fremont Ave., South Pasadena; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru March 30. (866) 811-4111.
GO TRACERS When considering director Leon Shanglebee’s powerful revival of the famous 1980 Odyssey Theater Ensemble play conceived by John DiFusco, one is tempted to draw parallels between the play’s Vietnam War setting and our own generation’s ill-advised war of American adventurism. Yet, such comparisons are ultimately misleading, for Shanglebee, in his angry, adrenaline-steeped production, is less interested in politics than in crafting kaleidoscopic portraits of a group of men under unbearably adverse circumstances. DiFusco’s drama can be called an impressionistic tragedy: In a series of scattershot vignettes, it tells the story of a group of young men, shipped off to Vietnam as cannon fodder. These include young Dinky Dau (Rommel Jamison), who bides his time between missions playing pointless card games and shooting up heroin, and intellectual soldier Professor (Christian Levatino), whose friendship with the platoon medic (Brian Barth) ends with an unexpected death. Shanglebee’s taut and feverish staging elegantly contrasts the boredom of squalid camp life with the horrendous terror that comes with abruptly facing death. With an ensemble of performers who are uncommonly believable playing young soldiers, the stage all but teems with testosterone and aggression. Jamison is particularly striking — his Dinky Dau’s boisterous good humor comes across as being just a hairsbreadth from hysteria — and moving turns are also offered by Levatino’s sensitive Professor and by James Thomas Gilbert’s Brooklyn-accented platoon rookie, Baby San. Little Victory Theatre, 3326 W. Victory Blvd., Burbank; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 4 p.m.; thru April 6. A Gangbusters Theater Production. (Paul Birchall)
TWELVE BAR BLUES Comedy sketches set in a bar, by Jay Huling. Raven Playhouse, 5233 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru March 22. (818) 206-4000, www.ravenplayhouse.com.
THE UNDERPANTS Steve Martin’s comedy, adapted from a play by Carl Sternheim, about dudes trying to get into a German housewife’s panties. Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m.; thru April 19, (No perfs March 9, 23 & 30.). (626) 256-3809.
THE WORLD GOES ‘ROUND Kander and Ebb revue, conceived by David Thompson. Eclectic Company Theatre, 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Valley Village; Fri.-Sat., 7 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 16. (818) 508-3003, www.eclecticcompanytheatre.org.
THE WORLD’S LARGEST RODENT The title of Don Zolidis’ comedy refers to a kind of guinea-pig colossus found in South America — the subject of a junior high school PowerPoint presentation that lands nerdy Billy (Andy Gobienko) in trouble from the start. PowerPoint title slides also introduce us to various low points of Billy’s existence, including a porn-model sister (Kim McKean), and a mother (Mary Carrig) whose failed suicide attempt has left her comatose. “Zany” is writ large. Mere desires don’t translate into a plot, however. The ensemble, under Tom Ormeny’s direction, has fun with the material. (SM). Victory Theatre Center, 3326 W. Victory Blvd., Burbank; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru April 13. (818) 841-5421.
GO ALICE SIT-BY-THE-FIRE J.M. Barrie’s 1919 comedy is a far more earthbound affair than his earlier success, Peter Pan, yet it still provides a sweet concoction of precocious observations, misinterpreted dialogue and send-ups of contemporary melodrama. Director Joe Olivieri delivers a production that is neither taxidermied relic nor overly precious giggle-fit, and gets a fine comic performance from Wigell. Barrie’s play floats through its three acts — a harmless bubble that perhaps stirred the ribald histrionics of Joe Orton’s What the Butler Saw and many another later farce. (SM). Pacific Resident Theatre, 703 Venice Blvd., Venice; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru April 20. (310) 822-8392.
GO THE BRIG Kenneth H. Brown’s play depicts a U.S. Marine Corps jail in Japan, the setting for his 1963 play, first performed by New York’s Living Theatre. For nearly two hours we watch the robotic routines of 10 prisoners (later joined by an 11th) as they are loudly ordered about by a crew of sometimes sadistic, mostly bored guards. This production, directed by original cast member Tom Lillard, is a remount of a 2007 Obie-winning effort. While virtually interchangeable, the prisoner ensemble of 11 actors performs frighteningly well, at turns morphing into a giant green caterpillar of movement. (SM). Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., L.A., Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., April 6, 2 p.m.; Sun., April 13, 7 p.m.; thru April 13. (310) 477-2055.
CARNAGE, A COMEDY Playwrights Tim Robbins and Adam Simon’s ferocious satire on the hypocrisy of American televangelism crackles with philosophical awareness and imaginative stagecraft. Yet, even in director Beth F. Milles’ tightly paced production, the play hasn’t aged well since its 1987 premiere. To raise money, corpulent televangelist Cotton Slocum (V. J. Foster) commences a marathon “holy” walk through the desert. The piece’s scattershot storyline is part heavy-handed tirade against religion and part symbolically overburdened surrealism, despite the cast’s perfect comic timing. (PB). Actors’ Gang at the Ivy Substation Theater, 9070 Venice Blvd., Culver City; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru March 29. (310) 838-4264.
THE CATHOLIC GIRL’S GUIDE TO LOSING YOUR VIRGINITY Annie Hendy’s comedy about a 24-year-old intent on losing her virginity before her next birthday., www.catholicgirlsguide.com. Pico Playhouse, 10508 W. Pico Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru March 15. (310) 491-5961.
GO THE CAVALIER JEW Writer-performer Jon Ross is Jewish and highly observant, but that doesn’t make him an observant Jew. Though he has tremendous affection for the joys of Yiddish, he has an inborn distrust of all organized religion. Instead, he celebrates Catskill comedians, derived from Yiddish tummlers. Much of his spiel is centered on the tale of his brother Ricky, and how a heroin addiction put the kibosh on Ricky’s successful business career. As compensation, Ricky embraced Orthodox Judaism, trying, as Ross suggests, to “out-Jew Dad.” Ross is a very funny man, yet a more thoughtful storyteller than standup. (NW)., BrownPaperTickets.com. Fanatic Salon Theater, 3815 Sawtelle Blvd., Mar Vista; Sun., 8 p.m.; thru March 16. (800) 838-3006.
CHILDREN OF A LESSER GODDESS Dorothy Spirus’ solo comedy. Found Theater, 599 Long Beach Blvd., Long Beach; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru March 29. (562) 433-3363.
EDGE Poet Sylvia Plath (Angelica Torn) starts writer-director Paul Alexander’s one-woman play at the brink of suicide, before walking us through the 30 years that led up to that moment. Torn seldom changes tone, except at Plath’s visit to her father’s grave, when the performance moves from bravado to bravura. (SM). Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 16. (310) 477-2055.
THE EULOGY Brynn Thayer stands before her father’s flag-draped coffin. Skilled at sports, seduction, and securities fraud, he had a big personality that sucked so much air from the room that her unhinged eulogy sounds like the first chance she ever had to speak. And she’s reveling in it, pointing out her dear old dad’s mistress Candy and the best fried/enemy she blames for his four year incarceration. It’s hard to tell how much of Thayer’s sharp-tonged and playful monologue is truth; biographical facts (like their respective careers in the soap opera and military industries) match up, but the slender and pert Thayer succeeds more in sketching the bold strokes of a father-daughter portrait than filling in the details that would give it depth. When her meltdown passes through venom to acceptance, the effect is unaffecting cutesiness, and the hints that his indulgences might have been inherited aren’t fully explored. Michael Learned’s direction is crisply comedic. (AN). Beverly Hills Playhouse, 254 S. Robertson Blvd., Beverly Hills; Sat., 8 p.m.; thru March 15.
LIBERATING JESUS! Leonard Jacobson’s one-man show reevaulating the Christian savior. Edgemar Center for the Arts, 2437 Main St., Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., 7:30 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru April 6. (800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com.
GO THE LONDON CUCKOLDS In Edward Ravenscroft’s Restoration comedy (adapted and directed by Richard Tatum), sex, infidelity and calamity are given free reign. Three gents (Quincy Miller, Herb Mendelsohn, Charles Pacello) are first seen having a discourse over whether a wife who is virtuous, foolish or witty would be more faithful. In short order, the spouses of this clueless trio (Jessica Mills, Julie Granata and Catherine Cronin) provide the answer. The cast turn in excellent performances, and Tatum keeps the physical comedy and shtick at a perfectly modulated level. (LE3). Ark Theater Company, 1647 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru April 12. (323) 969-1707.
NO CHILD ... Nilaja Sun’s one-woman show set in a New York City public school. Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City; Tues.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 p.m.; thru April 13. (213) 628-2772.
ROBOTS VS. FAKE ROBOTS In playwright David Largman Murray’s penetrating dark comedy set in the year 6000, it’s still the cool kids against the dweebs, only this time, the cool kids are supersmart, superbeautiful robots, while the dweebs are, well, us. A godlike race of robots frolics in its own underground city, while its human creators live in squalor on the surface. Director Emily Weisberg’s production possesses a snap that draws us in from its first, dazzlingly choreographed moments, while the ensemble is enthralling. (PB). Powerhouse Theatre, 3116 Second St., Santa Monica; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru March 15. (310) 396-3680.
GO THE SAINT PLAYS Playwright Eric Ehn’s quintet of playlets based on the lives of Joan of Arc (Rowena Johnson), Rose of Lima (Anna Steers), George (Arber R. Mehmeti), Barbara (Deborah Lazor), and St. Dymphna (Rowena Johnson) has been sculpted together by director Anne Justine D’Zmura onto a giant sand pit. Scaffolding abounds. With live percussion, shadow puppets, and a kind of raw, vivacious theatricality, the vigorous ensemble puts on something like a clown show, with tones ranging from the whimsical to the macabre. (SLM). National Guard Armory, 854 E. Seventh St., Long Beach; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru March 15. (562) 985-5526.
TOP GIRLS Caryl Churchill’s study of career women. Promenade Playhouse, 1404 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica; Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru March 16. (310) 656-8070.
Theater Special Events
BACKSTAGE AT THE GEFFEN Honoring Walt Disney CEO Robert A. Iger and actress Annette Bening. Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Westwood; Mon., March 17, 8 p.m. (310) 208-6500, www.geffenplayhouse.com.
BEFORE THE DAWN/BOB LABEAU The Charlens Company’s concerto of dramatic pieces and songs. Mount Hollywood Congregational Church, 4607 Prospect Ave., L.A.; Sat., March 15, 8 p.m. (323) 640-3823.
GO CONCRETE FOLK VARIATIONS: CHAPTER ONE: DEATH OF A SUGAR DADDY Los Angeles, 1947, and the last thing you want to be is communist or homosexual. And for the city’s lesbian community, persecution looms with the hushed-up murder of a 70-year-old millionairess who had kept the LAPD in her purse. Such is the setting for writer-director-designer Susan Simpson’s noir serial puppet show. Reluctantly, gray-haired ex-beat cop Loretta Salt — half wood, half clay, all tough broad — investigates, her face etched by wrinkles and her taciturn nature balanced by a puppeteer who clues us in that when Loretta rubs her neck, she’s thinking about her dad. Simpson’s set is the size of a car windshield, and the episodes unfold in half increments (Chapter 1.5 debuts March 21). But this tone-perfect first installment hooks our attention with a killer mystery, moody narration and fascinating historicity that occasionally tips into whimsy — for example, when Salt and the victim’s girlfriend take the Red Car past the old Lincoln Heights bird farm, an ostrich is wheeled across the stage. The Manual Archives, 3320 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake; Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; thru March 22. (323) 667-0156, www.manualarchives.org.
MUSIC FROM GODSPELL Free concert benefiting the church’s music department. Metropolitan Community Church in the Valley, 5730 Cahuenga Blvd., North Hollywood; Fri., March 14, 8 p.m.; Sat., March 15, 4 & 8 p.m. (310) 854-9110.
MYSTERIES EN BROCHETTE The beachside hotel dishes out dinner and mystery delights in its Saturday shows with four different performances that alternate. Marina Del Rey Hotel, 13534 Bali Way, Marina Del Rey; Sat., 7 p.m. (310) 301-1000.
RUTLEMANIA Tribute to the Pre-Fab Four. Ricardo Montalban Theater, 1615 Vine St., L.A.; Sat., March 15, 8 p.m.; Sun., March 16, 5 p.m.; Wed., March 19, 8 p.m.; March 20-21, 8 p.m.
GO SPONTANEOUS FANTASIA With a title that proffers a less-than-subtle nod to another innovative work of animation, artist and composer J. Walt Adamczyk blends computer technology, visual imagery and music into a head-spinning good time. Armed with self-designed software, a computer touchpad, color controls and a joystick, Adamczyk sketches abstract images and shapes in real time that are projected on a domed planetarium ceiling as we just lie back and enjoy. Accompanied by his own and others’ compositions, Adamczyk takes us on a trip — sans LSD — through playfully psychedelic virtual worlds. “Autocasm 2007” starts with color-shifting, almost 3-D tubular shapes that Adamczyk has us swoop around as if on a helicopter ride, so as to view their many angles and textures. In “Nocturnes,” Adamczyk’s doodle of one line morphs, kaleidoscope-like, into multiples of itself to shape-shift from apparent deep-sea creatures to a plethora of ethereal compositions. “Autocasm: Gardens of Thuban” starts with a sunrise, as pod-shaped objects pop out of a desolate landscape and create a cosmic forest that, as Adamczyk moves the joystick for us to zoom over his cosmic creations, reminds one of those 1950s artist renderings of what other planets looked like once our rocket ships had landed. Glendale City College Planetarium, 1500 N. Verdugo Rd., Glendale; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 6:30 p.m.; thru June 28. (626) 688-0778. (Martín Hernández)
TOP SECRET: THE BATTLE FOR THE PENTAGON PAPERS Geoffrey Cowan and Leroy Aarons’ docudrama about the Washington Post investigation. (Performances are recorded for radio series The Play’s the Thing.) SKIRBALL CULTURAL CENTER, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Brentwood; Fri., March 14, 8 p.m.; Sat., March 15, 3 p.m.; Sun., March 16, 4 p.m. (310) 440-4500, www.skirball.org.