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
ISMS Short plays by Jim Eshom. ZJU Theater Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8:30 p.m.; thru April 5. (818) 202-4120.
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. Under playwright-director Roger 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., N. Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru April 27. (818) 508-0281.
MY HEART’S IN THE HIGHLANDS William Saroyan’s story of a broke poet and his son. Luna Playhouse, 3706 San Fernando Road, Glendale; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 30. (818) 500-7200, www.itsmyseat.com.
GO MY THING OF LOVE 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 (johanna McKay and Josh Randall) that soon begins to simmer, then quickly boils over into a full-blown war over infidelity that defines Gersten’s fascinating play. McKay’s offers a virtuoso performance, and Randall keeps pace with her. Darin Anthony directs. (TP) GTC Burbank, 1111-B W. Olive Ave., Burbank; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru April 5. (800) 838-3006, www.syzygytheatre.org.
OF MICE AND MEN On the page, John Steinbeck’s 1937 play may seem predictable, but given a production as eloquent as this one, predictability segues into tragic inevitability. Also, it was a delight to see so many teenagers in the audience enraptured by this staging. The tale of huge Lennie Small (here played brilliantly and movingly by Sean Branney), whose massive strength overpowers his limited mental capacity, can only lead to a doom that we anticipate with dread. Lennie is obsessively drawn to small, soft animals, but his brute physical power makes his affectionate caresses accidentally lethal. His loyal companion, George (Andrew Leman), tries vainly to keep Lennie out of trouble as they racket along from job to uncertain job as ranch hands, but when Lennie encounters the boss’s pretty, blonde, flirtatious daughter-in-law (Annie Abrams), the outcome can only be catastrophic. Steinbeck’s play depicts the strong, loving, unequal friendship between George and Lennie, and presents an indelible picture of Depression-era life in racially segregated rural California. The ranch hands are depicted with respectful sympathy: the elderly, one-handed Candy (Barry Lynch); the tough, knowing mule-wrangler Slim (Mark Colson); and the crippled black man Crooks (Thomas Boykin). They, and the fine supporting cast, are expertly led by director Rebecca Marcotte on David Robkin and Arthur McBride’s atmospheric unit set. Theatre Banshee, 3435 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru April 13. (818) 846-5323, www.theatrebanshee.org.
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.
SEX, DRUGS AND MINIVANS The typical Lisa Ann Orkin tale is a monologue you’d overhear at brunch — a stream of consciousness gush that makes room for offensive jokes but none to take a breath. Her topics are de rigueur for a divorcée: ex trauma, meddling mothers and changing bodies with unfamiliar terrains of back hair. What sets her apart is her charismatic delivery and willingness to plumb her most embarrassing depths, which makes her feel like the insta–best friend you just hugged in the ladies room. Her latest show punctuates itself with cheery anthem rock that underscores her climb out of postdivorce depression, sung karaoke style by her, Nora Linden Titner and Carol Ann Thomas. Two Roads Theater, 4348 Tujunga Ave., Studio City, Last Sunday of every month, 8 p.m.; thru May 25. 818-465-0150.
GO TRACERS Leon Shanglebee’s angry, adrenaline-steeped production of Jon Difusco’s play about U.S. soldiers in Vietnam is less interested in politics than in crafting kaleidoscopic portraits of a group of men under unbearably adverse circumstances. With an ensemble of performers who are uncommonly believable playing young soldiers, the stage all but teems with testosterone and aggression. (PB) Little Victory Theatre, 3324 W. Victory Blvd., Burbank; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 4 p.m.; thru April 6. (818) 841-5422, www.lisaannorkin.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 30). (626) 256-3809.
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