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
AGING WITH GRACE The 18th annual New Works Festival kicks off with a reading of Frank Farmer’s romantic comedy. Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach; Sat., March 29, 2 p.m. (562) 494-1014.
DEEP TISSUE COMEDY RELEASE II: THE QUICKENING Late-night sketch comedy, courtesy Theatre Neo. Secret Rose Theater, 11246 Magnolia Blvd., N. Hlywd.; opens March 29; perfs Fri.-Sat., 10:30 p.m.; thru May 2. (323) 769-5858.
DON JUAN Moliere’s story of the Spanish libertine. (Call for added perfs.) A Noise Within, 234 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale; Sat., March 29, 8 p.m.; Sun., March 30, 2 & 7 p.m.; April 2-4, 8 p.m. (818) 240-0910, www.anoisewithin.org.
FLAVIO MEDIUM DE LOS MUERTOS One-man comedy by Mike Okarma about a medium who speaks to the dead. Underground Theater, 1312 N. Wilton Pl., Hlywd.; opens March 31; perfs Mon., 8 p.m.; thru April 28. (323) 919-8415.
FORTINBRAS Lee Blessing’s sequel to Hamlet. Secret Rose Theater, 11246 Magnolia Blvd., N. Hlywd.; opens March 28; perfs Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru May 3. (323) 769-5858, www.theatreneo.com.
PICNIC William Inge’s drama about a drifter in a Kansas town. Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach; opens March 28; perfs Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru April 27. (562) 494-1014, www.lbph.com.
TALLGRASS GOTHIC Melanie Marnich’s gothic drama set in the rural Midwest. Sacred Fools Theater, 660 N. Heliotrope Dr., Hlywd.; opens April 1; perfs Tues.-Wed., 8 p.m.; thru May 7. (310) 281-8337.
THING TO THING TO THING: FROM CRAZY TO SANE WITH BIOFEEDBACK, AUTISM AND THE BRAIN Lynette Louise’s one-woman show. Janet and Ray Scherr Forum Theater, Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks; opens April 3; perfs Thurs., 7 p.m.; thru May 1. (805) 449-2787, www.ticketmaster.com.
THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE A production of William Saroyan’s 1940 Pulitzer Prize-winning play in honor of the playwright’s centennial. Pacific Resident Theatre, 703 Venice Blvd., Venice; opens March 29; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru June 1. (310) 822-8392, www.pacificredsidenttheatre.com.
TIME’S SCREAM AND HURRY Paul Hoan Zeidler’s drama links three urban monolgues. Elephant Performance Lab, 1076 N. Lillian Way, Hlywd.; opens March 28; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru May 3. (323) 960-7712, www.plays411.com/time.
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.
CULTURE CLASH IN AMERICCA In a retreat from their starkly political works, Water & Power and Chavez Ravine , the Clash are back with lighter but no less important fare. Their fast-moving sketch comedy skewers and celebrates America’s multiple cultures, while ultimately proving, without irony, that we are all one, as in “E Pluribus Unum.” Whether enacting a married Cuban-Nordic couple from Miami, a lesbian pair from the Bay Area or a day laborer looking for work at the Home Depot, Richard Montoya, Herbert Siguenza and Ric Salinas deliver hilarious comedy without ever disparaging the humanity of their characters. Their subjects are created in three dimensions. This outing, devised to focus on Orange County, is a delightful riff on the disparate individuals and communities that make America such a fascinating place. They point out, interestingly and perhaps accurately, that it is only those born in the USA who have a negative take on the nation. Every non-native in this swirling evening longs to become a legal part of the legendary freedom and opportunity that the Constitution and American folklore promise. Under the gentle and generous direction of David Emmes, the humor is intense and never cynical. South Coast Repertory Theatre, 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa; Wed.-Sun., 7:45 p.m.; mat Sun., 2 p.m.; thru April 6. (714) 708-5555. (Tom Provenzano).
FAFALO Writer-director Stephen Legawiec’s beguiling, madcap farce is a breezy collection of gags, dances and mummery — but the show’s underpinnings are an unexpectedly varied amalgam of commedia dell’arte , Kabuki-like ritualized movement and Saturday-morning cartoons. The kingdom of Galliandra is without a king. Royal Chancellor Bogezmo (a splendidly blustery John Achorn) consults the nation’s Book of the Elders and discovers that the only possible candidate for the job is big-nosed Fafalo (Jon Monastero), a rascally thief and all-around idiot. Fafalo is happy to take the gig, but complications ensue when a diabolical sorcerer (Achorn again) swoops into town, vowing to destroy the kingdom if he is not given a hidden magical treasure. With joyful acrobatics, perfectly timed jokes and gleeful mugging, Legawiec’s production possesses a timeless feel-good silliness. The performers, gaily caparisoned in designer Nyoman Setiawan’s gorgeous masks — all glorious honking hook shnozzes and leering overbites — clown it up with graceful hilarity that belies the precision of Legawiec’s tightly focused blocking and the intricacy of Li-Ann Lim’s delicate choreography. The stage crackles with ingenuity and creativity, from the scene in which three gigantic puppets, playing the Town Elders, trundle onto the stage to terrify a bug-eyed Fafalo, to the unexpectedly pyrotechnical moment in which the beautiful love interest, Linga (Anna Heinl, who conveys loveliness even through her ginormous-nosed mask) finally solves the puzzle that saves the day. A Ziggurat Theatre Ensemble production at Miles Memorial Playhouse, 1130 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru April 13. (Paul Birchall)