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Theater Listings 

For the week of March 28-April 3

Tuesday, Mar 25 2008
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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.

Related Stories

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.

Larger Theaters

Reviews by Paul Birchall, Lovell Estell III, Mayank Keshaviah, Deborah Klugman, Steven Mikulan, Steven Leigh Morris, Amy Nicholson, Tom Provenzano and Neal Weaver.

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)

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., Wstwd.; 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., Hlywd., Every other Thursday, 9 p.m.; thru May 29. (323) 960-9234, www.kingkinghollywood.com.

MASK If this can’t draw a youth audience, nothing can. To its credit, the new musical by Anna Hamilton Phelan (book), Barry Mann (music) and Cynthia Weil (lyrics) doesn’t pander to the sentimental “fatal disease of the week” syndrome that’s built into its spine. After UCLA doctors tell 15-year-old Rocky (Allen E. Reed) and his meth-addicted biker mom, Rusty (Michelle Duffy), that the craniodiaphyseal dysplasia that has been progressively contorting Rocky’s face since he was an infant would lead to his demise within months, the diagnosis is mercifully ignored both by Rocky and the musical itself. (Rusty sings that if she kept digging a grave each time they said her boy would die, she could be eating chow mein in China by now.) The story’s core, spun from Peter Bogdanovich’s 1985 movie starring Cher and Eric Stoltz (Phelan was the screenwriter), focuses on the curiously and beautifully adept mothering skills of Rusty and those of her biker tribe, headed by barrel-bellied Dozer (Michael Lanning). Young Rocky — remarkably well-balanced emotionally and an adept scholar — struggles to fit in to his new school, Azuza High, in the San Gabriel Valley. (The real-life Rusty and Rocky lived in Covina and Glendora. Rusty died two years ago in the aftermath of a motorcycle crash in an Azuza intersection; she had recently served a prison term for meth use. Unmentioned in this musical is that she had another son, Joshua, who died of AIDS at age 32.) Unlike in The Phantom of the Opera or Wicked , here the “mask” doesn’t stand for much that’s larger than itself; though it suffers during moments of straining to be epic, Mask is a chamber piece about the tugs and pulls between a wounded mother and her afflicted son, a perfectly amiable and moving domestic musical supported by Mann’s pop ballads and Weil’s often very witty lyrics, ranging from the school-daze farce of High School Musical to the heroic and largely pointless gush of a rock opera. Under Richard Maltby Jr.’s carefully modulated direction, this work-in-progress has many assets. As Rusty, Duffy’s performance and voice are both sublime, as is Robert Brill’s revolving set that features a silhouette of the San Gabriel Mountains punctuated by industrial-scale power lines — talk about capturing a locale with a few symbols. Now this promising musical needs to do the same. Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena; Tues.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sat., 4 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m. (no perfs April 2; added perf April 2, 2 p.m.; thru April 20. (626) 356-PLAY. (Steven Leigh Morris)

GO SWEENEY TODD This is the perfect moment for Sweeney Todd. Set during “hard times,” it’s the story of a Fleet Street barber (David Hess) who slits the throats of his customers before sliding their corpses down a chute to the pie shop below, owned by Sweeney’s partner and love interest, Mrs. Lovett (Judy Kaye), who grinds up the deceased into meat pies. John Doyle’s taut concert-style staging has each of the actors double and tripling on musical instruments, thereby providing the company’s accompaniment. The results in two and a half hours of unfettered bliss. (SLM) Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; Tues.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 p.m.; Sun., 1 & 6:30 p.m.; thru April 6. (213) 628-2772, www.centertheatregroup.org.

WEST BANK, UK An irreverent take on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Oren Safdie and Ronnie Cohen’s musical creates strange bedfellows in Israeli Assaf (Jeremy Cohen) and Palestinian Aziz (Mike Mosallam), who are forced to share a London flat when Assaf returns home after breaking up with his German girlfriend (the first in a series of improbably humorous juxtapositions). The two refuse to live together, so their American landlord, NYC (Janine Molinari), is called upon to arbitrate. However, her loyalties are split between the handsome arms dealer (Assaf) and the enticing drug dealer (Aziz). Receiving no assistance, the roommates decided to make the best of a bad situation, getting close and sharing more than just the flat. The songs, spanning a range of musical styles, lampoon the history of the Middle East conflict as well as its modern incarnations. Cohen’s voice is the strongest, but there are few solos in the ensemble-driven piece, which includes numbers such as the dueling “My Hometown,” the plaintive “Let Me Come Visit America” and the tensely hilarious “Tea Time.” Both Molinari and Anthony Patellis play multiple secondary characters, including reporters, Assaf’s paramour and Aziz’s uncle, plus a couple of suicide bombers. While the cast has good energy, Safdie’s direction lets the heavily allusive material hang too ambiguously between being a bawdy comic romp and a story about real people. Malibu Stage Company, 29243 Pacific Coast Hwy., Malibu; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 4 p.m.; thru April 13. (310) 589-1998. (Mayank Keshaviah)

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., Hlywd.; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 1 & 6:30 p.m. (213) 365-3500.

Smaller Theaters

Hollywood, West Hollywood, Downtown

GO ACCIDENTAL DEATH OF AN ANARCHIST Near the end of Diana Wyenn’s staging of Dario Fo’s farce about the police cover-up of a detainee’s “accidental” plunge from their window, one of the actors breaks into a screed about the hypocrisy of U.S. policy in Iraq. The other actors plead to return to Fo’s play, written before the Carter administration. Mysteriously and comically, the screed beautifully breaks the action in a play where such breakage is routine. On its own terms, the farce takes a while to heat up, despite the ensemble’s best efforts. The ensemble gives heroically insane performances. (SLM) Unknown Theater, 1110 N. Seward St., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru March 29. (323) 466-7781, www.unknowntheater.com.

ALADDIN Nine O’Clock Players present Carol Weiss’ musical for kids, based on the Arabian fable. Assistance League Playhouse, 1367 N. St. Andrews Pl., Hlywd.; 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) Theatre 68, 5419 Sunset Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs., 8 p.m.; thru April 3. (310) 663-4050, www.plays411.com.

GO ALL THE HELP YOU NEED: THE ADVENTURES OF A HOLLYWOOD HANDYMAN In his one-man show that chronicles life as a Hollywood handyman, Tim Ryan Meinelschmidt describes getting into show business, his first performance on Broadway and moving to Los Angeles, where he started handyman work during an actors’ strike. Toward the end, the piece turns darker, describing a terrible incident that Meinelschmidt witnessed in Tarzana. (MK) MET Theater, downstairs in the Great Scott Theatre, 1089 N. Oxford Ave., Hlywd.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru March 30. (323) 960-7740, www.plays411.com.

GO THE BOYCHICK AFFAIR: THE BAR MITZVAH OF HARRY BOYCHICK 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) Hayworth Theater, 2509 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru April 27. (800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com.

GO THE COMMON AIR In his solo performance (co-written with director Robert McCaskill), Alex Lyras plays a series of travelers in the environs of JFK during a terrorist bomb scare that leaves most of them stranded. In a pro forma technique for solo shows set in airports, six characters in search of an airplane intersect through fleeting conversations while waiting to depart to various stations in life. Yet Lyras settles into a larger view of global solipsism, as each character has some refrain about inventing his own reality. Lyras plays the all-male sextet with precision, distinction and dazzling intellect. (SLM) Theatre Asylum, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru April 26. (323) 962-0046.

CLOSER A sharp, savvy, often visceral work, Patrick Marber’s unblinking probe into the modern-day battle of the sexes emerges bloodless and unaffecting under Vincent Duque’s direction. Structured in short, biting segments, Marber’s caustic tale revolves a quartet of sexual trysts and emotional pyrotechnics. The production’s glaring problem stems from a lack of chemistry among the actors, despite some competent and even sympathetic portrayals. (DK) El Centro Theatre, 804 N. El Centro Ave., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru March 29. (323) 960-7724, www.plays411.com/closer.

GO CRIME AND PUNISHMENT Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s seminal profile of a killer with a moral imperative to dispose of a miserly old pawnbroker 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., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m.; thru April 13. (323) 462-8460.

’DA KINK IN MY HAIR Trey Anthony’s story of the “womyn” passing through a West Indian hairdresser’s salon.com. Actor’s Playpen, 1514 N. Gardner St., Hlywd.; Mon., Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru March 30. (323) 874-1733, www.plays411.

GO DICKIE & BABE: THE TRUTH ABOUT LEOPOLD & LOEBNathan 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., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 30. (323) 661-9827, www.theblank.com.

THE DYING GAUL Craig Lucas’ decade-old play, set in 1995, receives a commendable L.A. premiere under Jon Lawrence Rivera’s taut yet compassionate direction. Robert (Patrick Hancock) is a screenwriter about to sell his first script. Hollywood producer Jeffrey (Ken Arquelio) wants to buy Robert’s screenplay — if Robert, who recently lost his companion to AIDS, will heterosexualize his gay-themed love story. We soon learn two lessons: A million dollars cuts away a lot of gay pride, and macho movie producers are never what they seem. The fire behind the play, though, is Jeffrey’s wife, Elaine (Mary-Ellen Loukas), a pensive beauty who becomes obsessed with Robert. Using information purloined from Robert’s psychiatrist (Nick Salamone), she impersonates the screenwriter’s dead lover in Internet chat-room conversations with him. Lucas’ play is a funny tragedy peopled with intelligent figures who make stupid decisions. Rivera’s actors display an emotional grace even as their characters unravel — Arquelio especially exudes the dark intensity of a man who naturally deceives himself and others in pursuit of what he believes is true. “You can do anything you want,” he tells Robert, “as long as you don’t name it for what it is.” Gary Lee Reed’s simple set makes efficient use of upstage sliding panels, though the stage’s center of gravity will appear seriously distant for audience members closest to the theater’s entrance. Bonnie Bailey Reed deserves credit for recreating a world, now merely 13 years ago, that seems so distant because of its brick-sized cell phones and double-floppy-drive laptops. Elephant Theatre, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 pm.; thru Apr 19. (323) 960-7745. A Master Class Players Production. (Steven Mikulan)

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.; thru March 29. (323) 461-3673.

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.

IMAGOFEST Three one-acts: The Divorce Party by Matt Sauter, The Other Side to Everything by Alex Aves, and Twice on Sunday by Allan Smith. Stella Adler Theatre, 6773 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sun., 8 p.m.; thru April 6. (323) 465-4446, www.plays411.com/imagofest.

GO INVASION OF THE MINNESOTA NORMALS In Jen Ellison’s play, Ruth McKinley (Deborah F. Reed) plays hostess on a rainy night in a 1950s Chicago suburb. As the guests arrive, they remark on the absence of her husband, but nonetheless consume considerable liquor, enjoying snide chitchat and questions from a personality test that Roy had brought home a few days earlier. Tensions escalate, cracking the veneer of domestic Midwestern tranquillity. Melissa Denton’s deft direction of a great cast keeps multiple balls in the air. (MK) Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru April 19. (323) 960-5771, www.plays411.com/mninvasion.

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., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru April 12. (323) 882-6912, www.openfist.org.

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock opera about the son of God. The Attic Theatre and Film Center, 5429 W. Washington Blvd., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru April 27. (323) 525-0600, www.plays411.com/jcs.

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 — offers an invigorating meditation on the paradoxical essences of forgiveness and revenge. There are really nice lead performances by Danny Nucci, Katy Jacoby and Max Middleton. Some supporting performers are difficult to hear, but Robert Rothbard’s production is smart and funny enough to deserve its audience. (SLM) Theatre 68, 5419 Sunset Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m.; thru March 30. (323) 960-7827.

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., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; thru April 27. (323) 852-9111.

THE LOST PLAYS OF TENNESSEE WILLIAMS Jack Heller portrays the eponymous geezer in “Mister Paradise,” a character much like the aging playwright himself, in the first of a trio of beautifully staged and performed slice-of-life one-acts about the ravages of growing old. Each is taken from a collection of Williams’ plays discovered after his death and assembled in a 2005 anthology. Mister Paradise is an alcoholic poet squandering the remainder of his life in obscurity in the French Quarter. A beautiful Ph.D. candidate (Melissa Lechner) found a battered book of his works under a table leg in a book shop. She also found herself moved and inspired by the poems. She arrives at his door with the aim of “returning him to the world.” This brittle-tender story is a gorgeous, Beckettian meditation of mortality and eternity, and the ownership and higher purpose of literature, expertly staged by Robert Burgos. “The Palooka” is a boxing drama that also studies aging, but through an old fighter (Timothy V. Murphy) trying to adopt a new identity to mask his “washed-out” reputation. Under Brian Foyster’s direction, William Mahoney and Jason Lopez also turn in chiseled performances as, respectively, a trainer and a young boxer. “And Tell Sad Stories of the Deaths of Queens” shows the gay origins of Blanche Dubois. Also set in the French Quarter, it shows a brutish sailor’s (Chris Rydell) visits to the apartment of a trasvestite-landlord, Mr. Delaney (Foyster), who takes the younger stud’s contempt as a sign of affection. The play dances in the world of closeted yearnings, more horror at aging, and includes a pair of very fey tenants (Chris Carver and Jonathan Runon) who flesh out Mr. Delaney’s limp-wristed world of interior design. Interesting historically, the play’s larger point now sits on the museum shelf of cliché. It boasts another round of sterling performances, this time under Heller’s direction. Danny Cistone designed the detailed, era-specific sets, and Dana Campbell’s costume design contributes to the verisimilitude. L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center, Davidson/Valentinie Theatre, 1125 McCadden Pl., Hlwyd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru June 8. (323) 860-7300. (Steven Leigh Morris)

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, W. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru March 30. (323) 960-7829.

MAN OF LA MANCHA Limiting the cast in Dale Wasserman’s adaptation of Cervantes’ story to two actor-singers (Stephan Wolfert and Eric Tucker), 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. 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. (NW). Veterans Center for the Performing Arts, 446 S. La Brea Ave. (alley entrance at Mortise & Tenon), L.A.; Mon., Sun., 7 p.m.; thru April 21. www.veteranvoices.org.

GO MR. MARMALADE Four-year-old Lucy (Heather Ann Smith) is learning that boys are impossible, so she plays house with her imaginary friend, Mr. Marmalade (Scott Brady), who batters his assistant (David Jay Barry), checks his BlackBerry all through teatime and blows her off with lame excuses. Why Lucy conjures up an abusive, coke-head playmate is left for her future therapist. In this savagely funny comedy, playwright Noah Haidle and director Stephen Ferguson integrate adult humor with a keen kids’-eye view. Gardner Stages, 1501 N. Gardner St., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru March 29. (818) 685-9939, www.3KO.org.

THE MUSICAL COMEDY MURDERS OF 1940 John Bishop’s musical comedy murder mystery. The Space, 665 N. Heliotrope Dr., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru May 11. (323) 661-2585, www.dreamhouseensemble.com.

GO OLD TIMES In paying such scrupulous attention to the comic underpinnings of Harold Pinter’s classic, director John Pleshette sidesteps the monotony that often seeps into the staging of the play. The plot is deviously simple and fertile ground for the darkly funny musicality in the prose that Pinter is renowned for. A married couple, Deeley (Dan Cowan) and Kate (Cecilia Specht), who occupy a farmhouse by the sea, await the arrival of Kate’s longtime friend and former roommate, Anna (Cerris Morgan-Moyer). Let the mind games begin, where past and present inexorably collide. Excellent performances. (LE3) Lost Studio, 130 S. La Brea Ave., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 4 p.m.; thru April 13. (323) 871-5830.

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. As Great, Brett Schneider is a charismatic and appealing performer, impressive as both an actor and a magician. (PB) The Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru April 5. (323) 960-7862, www.plays411.com/orange.

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.

POUR SOME SUNDAY ON ME All-new sketch and improv by the Sunday Company. Groundling Theater, 7307 Melrose Ave., L.A.; Sun., 7:30 p.m. (323) 934-9700.

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) Stella Adler Theatre, 6773 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; Sat., March 29, 3 p.m.; thru March 30. (323) 960-7721, www.plays411.com/proveit.

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 — one of the neuroses 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) Hudson Guild Theater, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru April 12. (323) 960-7822, www.plays411.com/regretrosexual.

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.

 GO SECRETS OF THE TRADE In his sharp, funny comedy drama, Jonathan Tolins explores the ambiguities of the mentor-pupil relationship. Gay teenager Andy Lipman (Edward Tournier) longs for a career in the theater and idolizes Martin Kerner (John Glover), a legendary, Tony-winning writer-director. Dad is delighted, but Mom (Amy Aquino) fears Kerner’s out to seduce her boy. Tolins knows the milieu well, and Glover offers a flamboyantly flawless star turn. Director Matt Shakman finely balances comedy with emotional probing. (NW) Black Dahlia Theatre, 5453 W. Pico Blvd., L.A.; Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru April 20. (800) 838-3006, www.thedahlia.com.

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 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 sparring provides much hilarity, but 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 April 6. (213) 289-9860.

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., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru April 6. (323) 957-1884, www.celebrationtheatre.com.

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., Hlywd.; Sat., midnight. (323) 960-7785.

VAMPIRE LESBIANS OF SODOM Charles Busch’s campy story of two vampiresses feuding through the ages. Bootleg Theater, 2220 Beverly Blvd., L.A.; Fri., 10:30 p.m.; thru March 28. (213) 389-3856, www.bootlegtheater.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 Valleys

THE ALL-FEMALE 1929 SKIDOO REVIEW In writer-director Eugene H. Butler’s sentimental variety show, Meme (Audrey Marlyn), a former vaudeville star, and her great-granddaughter Jordanna (Jenna Zillman) visit the elder’s theater the day before it’s to be torn down to make way for a Starbucks. After a grating stretch of exposition where Jordanna ’fesses ignorance of Jack Benny, Playbill and the Great Depression, Meme closes her eyes and the curtain rises. Butler doesn’t initially make a strong argument for vaudeville’s right to life; the opening ditty’s high point is a girl pretending to be a rooster. Yet the cast has able voices and energy to spare. Some bits are too shrill for the small space and the dancing is tentative, but the comedy skits perk up the act, particularly a cornball serial melodrama about a wife (Marian Tomas Griffin) who ditches her broke husband (Heather Wood) for the landlord (Kristi Leigh Snyder). That back then white women sang the blues was news to me, given that two years earlier Al Jolson slipped on blackface to do the same. Nevertheless, nimble piano player Billy Revel plinks along without missing a beat. Actors Forum Theatre, 10655 Magnolia Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru April 13. (818) 506-0600. (Amy Nicholson).

DAUGHTERS OF HEAVEN Michelanne Forster’s play about the Parker-Hulme murder. Alexia Robinson Studio, 2811 Magnolia Blvd., Burbank; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru April 26. (818) 842-4755, www.brittaniajonesproductions.com.

THE ENTERTAINER John Osborne’s vaudeville metaphor for the decline of the British Empire. See Theater feature. NoHo London Music Hall, 10620 Magnolia Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru April 20. (818) 762-7883.

FOOL FOR LOVE Sam Shepard’s story of two transient lovers. Avery Schreiber Theater, 11050 Magnolia Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru April 5. (818) 231-7994.

GALAXY VIDEO “Snippets of life and art” written and directed by Marc Morales. NOHO ACTORS STUDIOS, 5215 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru April 26. (818) 309-9439, www.thenohoactorsstudio.com.

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.; thru March 29. (800) 838-3006.

THE HISTORY OF BOWLING Contrary to the title, Michael Ervin’s sloppily crafted comedy is actually about the lighter side of being disabled. We are on a contemporary college campus where Lou (Tara Samuel), who has epilepsy and a load of emotional baggage, is teamed with the paraplegic Chuck (Danny Murphy) to write a paper for a gym class, in lieu of their handicaps. The pair decides to write about bowling for the disabled, but what gradually evolves is an unlikely romance between them, which is later complicated by Danny’s blind but charismatic roommate, Cornelius (Lynn Manning). In one of the play’s poignant and convincing moments, Cornelius and Lou share an evening under the stars that turns lightly sensual, though Ervin’s script doesn’t offer much of a story. In fact, at times the cheerleaders (Kristin Arnold, Anya Profumo, Chris Scoles, Danyelle Weaver, Kimi Winker) doing their slick routines during scene changes provides some of the more gripping entertainment. Sara Botsford directs. NoHo Arts Center, 1136 Magnolia Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru April 27. (818) 508-7101. Open at the Top Theatre Company. (Lovell Estell III)

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) St. Matthew’s Lutheran GLBT Church, 11031 Camarillo St., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m. (818) 942-6684, www.crowncitytheatre.com.

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.

GO THE VIOLET HOUR Richard Greenberg’s 2002 play is set on April Fool’s Day, 1919. A young, novice New York publisher (Thomas Burr) and his gay office assistant (Kyle Colerider-Krugh) try to deal with a mysterious machine that has just arrived. Pages it has been spewing out are of book proposals and accompanying manuscripts from the future. They stand appalled and self-consciously naked as they read how their era — and Seavering himself — will be judged by academics not yet born. Director Stuart Rogers brings out all the nuances of this funny yet melancholy fable about decisions and consequences. (SM) Theatre Tribe, 5267 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru April 19. (800) 838-3006, www.theatretribe.com.

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.

Westside, Beaches

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.

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; Sat., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 p.m.; thru May 3.

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., W.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.; thru March 29. (310) 838-4264.

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.

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.

JEST A SECOND James Sherman’s sequel to Beau Jest. Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru April 6. (562) 494-1014.

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 turns 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.

GO NO CHILD ... Actress Nilaja Sun’s spirited one-woman show about her classroom experiences presents a roll call of frustrated characters who bring us face to face with a failed education system, while reawakening long-ago dreams of making a difference. The result is a story that never becomes predictable. (SM) Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City; Tues.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 p.m.; thru April 13. (213) 628-2772.

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.

THE SMARTEST MAN IN THE WORLD Musical biography of Albert Einstein, book by Russ Alben and John Sparks, lyrics by Russ Alben, music by Jerry Alben. Pico Playhouse, 10508 W. Pico Blvd., W.L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru May 11. (323) 860-6620, www.westcoastjewishtheatre.org.

 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. (Martín Hernández) Glendale Community College Planetarium, 1500 N. Verdugo Rd., Glendale; runs biweekly Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 6:30 p.m.; thru June 28. (626) 688-0778, www.spontaneousfantasia.com.

WHAT’S THE STORY? FESTIVAL OF NEW SOLO PLAYS By 15 writer-performers from Stacie Chaiken’s workshop. Powerhouse Theatre, 3116 Second St., Santa Monica; Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 8:30 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 6 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru April 6. (310) 396-3680, www.whatsthestoryla.com.

Special Events

THE CABARET: ROCK THE BOAT Nautical voyage with rock music, sketch comedy and urban dance numbers. Duke’s Riverboat, Rainbow Harbor, 200 Aquarium Way Dock, No. 4, Long Beach; opens April 3; Thurs.-Fri., 9 p.m.; Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m.; thru April 13, www.brownpapertickets.com/event/30052.

EDWARD THE KING Reading of David Brendan Hopes’ play. First Stage Theatre, 6817 Franklin Ave., Hlywd.; Mon., March 31, 7 p.m. (323) 850-6271.

AN EVENING OF LEGENDARY BINGO Fund-raiser for Media City Ballet Company, hosted by Lainie Kazan and Bruce Vilanch. Hamburger Mary’s, 8288 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Wed., April 2, 9-11 p.m. (310) 654-3800.

HOLLYWOOD ARTS COUNCIL’S 30TH ANNIVERSARY BLACK-TIE GALA AND 22ND ANNUAL CHARLIE AWARDS Hosted by Mitzi Gaynor. $175. The Jim Henson Company Lot, 1416 N. La Brea Ave., Hlywd., Sat., March 29, 6:30 p.m. (323) 871-2787, www.hollywoodartscouncil.org.

LOS ANGELES WOMEN’S THEATRE FESTIVAL Solo performances by women, organized by theme. Fri.: “Politically Speaking”; Sat.: “Identity”/”En Route”; Sun.: “Shades of Love”/”Uncut.” El Portal Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., March 28-29, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., March 30, 2 & 7 p.m. (866) 811-4111.

MOMS WHO WRITE Benefit performance of Cheerios in My Underwear (And Other True Tales of Motherhood) by Amy Simon. SANTA MONICA PLAYHOUSE, 1211 Fourth St., Santa Monica; Sun., March 30, 3:30 p.m. (310) 394-9779.

MYSTERIES EN BROCHETTE The beachside hotel dishes out dinner and mystery delights in its Saturday shows with four different performances that alternate., $75, includes dinner. Marina Del Rey Hotel, 13534 Bali Way, Marina Del Rey; Sat., 7 p.m. (310) 301-1000.

THE RUDY CASONI VARIETY SHOW Toby Huss sings and swings. STEVE ALLEN THEATER, at the Center for Inquiry-West, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; first Wednesday of every month, 8 p.m.; thru May 7. (323) 666-4268.

TALES OF SEX AND DEATH Readings by Tess Harper, Rae Dawn Chong, Christopher McDonald, others. ($40, includes brunch.) CANAL CLUB, 2025 Pacific Ave., Venice; Sun., March 30. (310) 915-5150, www.wordtheatre.com.

THRANCE CABARET Presented by the Outlaw Style Thrance Company. M BAR, 1253 N. Vine St., Hlywd.; Sun., March 30, 8 p.m. (323) 856-0036.

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