5299 W. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90016
Region: Mid-Wilshire/ Hancock Park
There's a reason Ralph Harris' solo show is returning to L.A. yet again. After earlier incarnations at the Stella Adler in 2008 and 2009 (the former under the title North Philly), this hugely entertaining, autobiographical account of a 40-something ladies' man facing possible fatherhood opens its longest run yet at Stage 52. Harris made his name in stand-up, and he skillfully delivers belly laughs throughout. But the paternity scare wrought by a long-lost ex-girlfriend is really just a frame on which to hang a richly woven tapestry of the people and experiences that have made him, in the end, more mannish than boyish. Harris is a marvel of mannerisms and verbal tricks, conjuring vivid, affecting portraits of his hot-tempered father, a crack-smoking uncle, his Burt Bacharach-loving grandfather and even the sensual, cocoa butter-rubbing friend of his mother, Miss Betty. Harris disappears so utterly into his characters that, even for the audience, resurfacing feels like waking from a dream. The show runs a shade long at 90 minutes without intermission, though director Oz Scott keeps things moving. In one of the evening's highlights, Harris channels his 7-year-old self in a whirling dervish of a monologue. Stage 52 Theatre, 5299 W. Washington Blvd., L.A., Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; through Nov. 4. (310) 671-6400, stage52la.com.
Sat., Oct. 13, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m.; Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 3 & 8 p.m. Starts: Oct. 13. Continues through Nov. 4, 2012