21 Best Things to Do in L.A. This Week

Body painters compete at the Springs: See Saturday.
Body painters compete at the Springs: See Saturday.
Photo by FILIPPO iOCO

fri 5/15

Political commentator Cokie Roberts discusses her latest book, Capital Dames: The Civil War and the Women of Washington, which sheds light on the new roles in the early 1860s of women in the nation's capital, namely those who contributed to politics, health care and social services. These women kept the Union unified and risked their lives working as nurses, journalists and even spies. Using newspaper articles, government records and private correspondence, Roberts highlights a cast of important characters, from Mary Todd Lincoln and American Red Cross founder Clara Barton to abolitionist and feminist Jessie Benton Frémont. The Huntington, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino; Fri., May 15, 7:30 p.m.; free. (626) 405-2100, huntington.org. —Siran Babayan

Only a select few directors have vacillated between narrative and nonfiction filmmaking to the same extent as Jonathan Demme. The Oscar-winning director of The Silence of the Lambs is also a noted documentarian and, in the case of Stop Making Sense, concert-filmmaker as well. The Egyptian screens his unique, adored Talking Heads movie — considered by many the best of its kind — along with Chris Blum’s Big Time (same idea, only with Tom Waits) tonight at 7:30. Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd.; Hollywood; Fri., May 15, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Michael Nordine

Drag Race winner Bianca del Rio: See Sunday.
Drag Race winner Bianca del Rio: See Sunday.
Courtesy of RuPaul's DragCon

sat 5/16

"Mikael B and Thomas Fryd: Emerging Alchemy" is the second exhibition in Project Gallery's new Westside space, and the first showing of a multimedia collaboration between street and studio painter Mikael B. and fashion and fine art photographer Thomas Fryd. Fryd creates surreal, elaborately transformed photos of expressive human anatomy; then Mikael B. gives them a dynamic digital dimension, prints them on canvas and finally treats them with all the eclectic tools in a modern painter's repertoire. The results are abstract and narrative, sexy and scary, strange and familiar — and, now, thanks to toy designers and fabricators Pretty in Plastic, two images skip the canvas and become seductive, playful sculptures, rebooting the sensual mayhem that inspired the whole idea. Project Gallery, 1625 17th St., Santa Monica; Sat., May 16, 7-10 p.m.; exhibition continues by appointment through June 11; free. (213) 453-9214, projectgallery.com. —Shana Nys Dambrot

For Directors' Choice, Los Angeles Ballet's ninth-season finale, artistic directors Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary selected masterworks by legendary choreographers Ji0x0159i Kylián, José Limon and George Balanchine to showcase LAB's range and polish. Choreographed during the Soviet invasion of his native Czechoslovakia, Kylián's Sechs Tanze (Six Dances) sets dancers in powdered wigs cavorting to Mozart with a brilliant combination of humorous cultural commentary and darker observations on conflict. Limón's The Moor's Pavane captures Shakespeare's Othello, pared to its essentials in a courtly quartet. Finally, Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto #2, one of George Balanchine's full-blown tutu ballets, calls for demonic dancing. Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, 1935 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Redondo Beach; Sat., May 16, 7:30 p.m. Also at Alex Theatre, 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale; Sat., May 30, 7:30 p.m.; and at UCLA Royce Hall, 340 Royce Drive, Westwood; Sat., June 6, 7:30 p.m.; $31-$99, students, children & seniors 20 percent discount. (310) 998-7782, losangelesballet.org. —Ann Haskins

Even more difficult than switching from fiction to documentary was the transition from the silent era to talkies, a rare feat accomplished by the one-of-a-kind Frank Capra. Before his all-time-great romantic comedy It Happened One Night and such tales of uplift as It’s a Wonderful Life, Capra was directing soundless pictures like 1928’s Submarine. As part of its monthly Silent Treatment program, which reminds viewers of the medium’s visual origins on the first Saturday of every month, Cinefamily is screening the black-and-white blockbuster on 35mm. Cinefamily/Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax; Sat., May 16, 2 p.m.; $12. (323) 655-2510, cinefamily.org. — Michael Nordine

The Muppet Movie Sing-Along: See SaturdayEXPAND
The Muppet Movie Sing-Along: See Saturday

Many in Generation X have The Muppet Movie memorized, and chances are that their kids know the 1979 classic family film pretty well, too. At Sing-Along With The Muppet Movie, you'll have the chance to show off the fact that you know every word of "Rainbow Connection." The screening is heavy on audience participation, and IBEX Puppetry, the company founded by Jim Henson's daughter Heather, is there to help the crowd with puppets, kites and shadows. This is a rare opportunity when you don't have to worry when you bring your rambunctious kids to the theater, so take it. Arcadia Performing Arts Foundation, 188 Campus Drive, Arcadia; Sat., May 16, 2 p.m.; $15. (626) 821-1781, arcadiapaf.org. —Liz Ohanesian

Orange Is the New Musical gives the Netflix hit the parody-musical treatment. Fifteen original songs are sung by a cast of more than 30 — including a guy in the role of Laura Prepon's character. Kefi Studio, the Los Angeles–based creative collective producing the show, hopes a few cast members from the series will be in attendance, but either way, the musical aims to be a loving lampoon of the prison dramedy. Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring St., downtown; Sat., May 16, 8 p.m.; $35. (866) 811-4111, kefistudio.com. —Katie Buenneke

Intrepid cinephile that you are, you’ve no doubt seen David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive enough times to recite the Cowboy’s cryptic speech word for word. But have you ever seen it?...?in a cemetery? Such is the opportunity that awaits you this eve at Hollywood Forever, where one of the greatest films of our young century may be seen on a rather large screen. What actually happens in Lynch’s Hollywood reverie remains open to interpretation some 14 years later, so putting together the many puzzle pieces is as unique a thrill the tenth time as it is the first. Mulholland Drive may be enigmatic (if not outright unknowable), but it isn’t uninviting. Hollywood Forever Cemetery, 6000 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; Sat., May 16, 8:30 p.m.; $14. (323) 221-3343, cinespia.org—Michael Nordine

The historical roots of body painting run deep, but its current popularity has soared enough to spawn a reality competition show, Skin Wars. That show's judge, body painter Craig Tracy, is one of the judges at Body Fine Art Competition, along with KCRW DJ Jason Bentley and others. A newcomer to the competitive body-painting scene, the event brings together skin painters and photographers while adding a local nightlife touch. Club promoters the Boulet Brothers (Dragula) will host the competition, while dance troup Bijoulette and musician Robbie Fitzsimmons bring on the entertainment. Stick around for the afterparty, featuring DJs Wolfie, Uru Majik and iPunx. The Springs, 608 Mateo St., downtown; Sat., May 16, 7 p.m.; $20 (advance), $25 (door), $50 (VIP). (213) 223-6226, bodyfineart.com. —Liz Ohanesian

sun 5/17

If you spend your days on Facebook arguing with Drag Race–loving pals over who needs to "sashay away," then head to RuPaul's DragCon this weekend. The first convention of its kind, DragCon brings together the drag queens we love from Logo's hit competition series. Past contestants — including Bianca del Rio and Raja — will be on hand, alongside season-seven competitors. Get tips on pageant-queen glamour, wig styling and tucking from the experts. Check out screenings of Paris Is Burning and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Sunday's highlight is the keynote address from RuPaul. Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 S. Figueroa St., downtown; Sat.-Sun., May 16-17, 10 a.m.; $30 (day pass), $50 (weekend pass). (213) 741-1151, rupaulsdragcon.com. —Liz Ohanesian

Like the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery hosting it, and its historic Barnsdall hilltop surroundings, the annual City of Los Angeles Individual Artist Fellowships (C.O.L.A.) exhibition is a perennial jewel in the Department of Cultural Affairs' crown. Each year a small group of midcareer L.A. artists receives funds to support new work. This simple premise consistently yields surprising results — and this year fulfills that potential with powerful and daring offerings from artists including Kelly Barrie, Jeff Colson, Alexandra Grant, Harold Greene, Sherin Guirguis and Elizabeth Leister. Leister will execute a performed drawing at this afternoon's opening reception. Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, 4800 Hollywood Blvd., Los Feliz; Sun., May 17, 2-5 p.m.; free. Exhibition continues Thu.-Sun., 12-5 p.m., through June 28. (323) 644-6269, lamag.org. —Shana Nys Dambrot

mon 5/18

Last year's top winner at the California State Science Fair was a project titled "Enabling Situational Awareness: A Hat-Based Hands-Free Haptic Navigational Aid for the Visually Impaired." This year, expect nearly 1,000 young scientists from more than 400 schools to raise the bar as they compete for more than $50,000 in cash prizes. The entries span 22 categories, including chemistry, microbiology, physics, mathematics, electronics, zoology and behavioral science, and will be judged by hundreds of scientists and engineers. Though it's a two-day event, viewing hours for the public are Monday, with students on hand to answer questions. California Science Center, 700 Exposition Park Drive, Exposition Park; Mon., May 18, 3-4:30 p.m.; free. (323) 724-3623, californiasciencecenter.org. —Siran Babayan

The cast of Orange Is the New Musical: See Saturday
The cast of Orange Is the New Musical: See Saturday
Photo by Jillian Riti

Upcoming Events

tue 5/19

Fans of The Daily Show may be familiar with new 29-year-old correspondent Hasan Minhaj. (His recent story on animals getting high on pot in Oregon was an excellent piece of journalism.) The New York–based Minhaj also is a stand-up comic and storyteller. He's developed a one-man show at Sundance Institute's New Frontier Lab and appeared at the Moth, both times chronicling his experiences as a first-generation Indian-American growing up in Davis, California. Minhaj keeps things biographical in his new storytelling hour, Homecoming King, directed by Greg Walloch, which he's set to perform Off-Broadway later this year. UCB Sunset, 5419 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Tue., May 19, 8:30 p.m.; $5. (323) 908-8702, sunset.ucbtheatre.com. —Siran Babayan

Little information is available on Hell Squad and Suicide Battalion, two unrelated World War II movies from 1958, which in and of itself seems reason enough to see them. Add the fact that this double feature is screening on 35mm at the New Beverly (likely because the two evocatively titled movies are just the kind of forgotten curios that Quentin Tarantino has made a habit of bringing to greater attention) and you’ve got a pretty good reason to go out on a Tuesday night. Hell Squad tells of five American soldiers lost in Tunisia, Suicide Battalion a dangerous mission in the Philippines. New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax; Tue., May 19, 7:30 p.m.; $10. (323) 938-4038, thenewbev.com. —Michael Nordine

The news is rife with disturbing accounts of unexplained, racially motivated police shootings, prompting a much-needed dialogue that examines why law enforcement officers appear to be implementing increasingly martial tactics. A forum called The Militarization of America's Police Forces will feature Elizabeth Beavers, the legislative associate for militarism and civil liberties at the Friends Committee on National Legislation, and Norm Stamper, a former Seattle police chief and author of Breaking Rank: A Top Cop's Exposé of the Dark Side of American Policing. KPFK radio host Ian Masters moderates. Billy Wilder Theater, Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Tue., May 19, 7:30 p.m.; free. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu. —Tanja M. Laden

wed 5/20

Manhattan Beach's the Comic Bug puts the spotlight on out-of–left field creators with Indie Comics and Zine Day. Stock up on self-published works during the day and hang around for evening readings and signings from three locals. MariNaomi was nominated for an Eisner Award last year for Dragon's Breath and Other True Stories, a collection of anecdotal tales that mixes the funny with the heartbreaking, drawn in a wonderfully minimal style that puts the focus on the story. Matt MacFarland's appearance coincides with the release of his second issue of Dark Pants. J.T. Steiny is a prolific illustrator whose works often capture the idiosyncrasies of life in Los Angeles. The Comic Bug, 0x000A1807½ Manhattan Beach Blvd., Manhattan Beach; Wed., May 20, reading at 6 p.m.; free. (310) 372-6704, thecomicbug.com. —Liz Ohanesian

Joan Rivers went to that comedy club in the sky less than a year ago, and already her daughter, Melissa Rivers, is pimping a memoir, The Book of Joan: Tales of Mirth, Mischief and Manipulation, about their relationship. Mother would be proud. In fact, Rivers describes being approached by a literary agent on the day of Joan's funeral. That's show business. Rivers lovingly looks back on life with one of the original insult comics, from traveling with Joan during her early Las Vegas years and meeting her father to reinventing red-carpet reporting. Rivers also shares stories about Joan's legendary plastic-surgery obsession, her love of airline food and room service and her least favorite celebrity (Tommy Lee Jones), as well as Joan's tips on etiquette and dating, including "Make sure he's straight." Barnes & Noble, 189 The Grove Drive, Fairfax; Wed., May 20, 7 p.m.; free. (323) 525-0270, barnesandnoble.com. —Siran Babayan

Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally
Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally

thu 5/21

When dancers talk about how their moves express their interior selves, it's easy to be skeptical. But what happens when dance moves are, literally, language? Deaf West Theatre continually turns disability into a theatrical advantage, as its signature blend of song and sign language has led to successful productions of Pippin, Big River (which moved to Broadway) and now Spring Awakening, Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik's 2006 musical about repressed German high school students. This production had a successful run downtown last year, and now it's popping up again in Beverly Hills for two weeks. Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills; Thu., May 21, through Sun., June 7; see website for showtimes; $19-$99. (310) 746-4000, thewallis.org. —Zachary Pincus-Roth

Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman's respective TV characters (the high-pitched socialite Karen Walker on Will & Grace and the mustachioed, deadpan man's man Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation) made them household names. Together, they're not only a great comedic duo but also a powerhouse couple who've been married for more than 10 years. In 2013, they starred in the two-person stage drama Annapurna. Tonight, they're going for comic relief, singing, dancing and telling randy jokes about how they keep their union strong. Take that, Dr. Phil! The Wiltern, 3790 Wilshire Blvd., Koreatown; Thu., May 21, 7 p.m.; $49.50. (213) 388-1400, wiltern.com. —Siran Babayan

As part of the Academy’s This is Widescreen series, François Truffaut’s Shoot the Piano Player and Jacques Demy’s Lola screen at the Pickford Center’s Linwood Dunn Theater. Truffaut’s follow-up to the devastating 400 Blows is one of the most action-driven and exciting films to come out of the French New Wave, and the most musically pleasing as well. Lola, Demy’s feature debut, gives Shoot the Piano Player a run for its money in that regard, boasting a score by living legend Michel Legrand, whose compositions have earned him three Oscars. Linwood Dunn Theater at the Pickford Center, 1313 Vine St., Hollywood; Thu., May 21, 7:30 p.m.; $5. (310) 247-3000, oscars.org. —Michael Nordine

Lucy Alibar was nominated for an Oscar for writing Beasts of the Southern Wild, which was based on her play. Now her new play, Throw Me on the Burnpile and Light Me Up, is getting a work-in-progress presentation at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. Alibar will be performing in the solo show, which blends magic and reality as a woman reflects on growing up in Florida with a defense attorney as a father — much as Alibar did. The play has a buzzy pedigree, coming from the Sundance Institute Theatre Lab in Boston and the Public Theater's Under the Radar Festival in New York this winter. Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City; Thu., May 21-Sat., May 30, 8 p.m.; Sun., May 31, 1 and 6:30 p.m.; $25. (213) 628-2772, centertheatregroup.org. —Katie Buenneke


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