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Theater to See in L.A. This Week, Including an All-Female Hamlet

No Pick this week, but a nod from Neal Weaver for the family comedy-drama The Bells of West 87th at Greenway Arts Alliance. See below for all the latest new theater reviews and stage listings.

Plays informed by dreams and dream-states are the subject of this week's theater feature: Pericles, Prince of Tyre at A Noise Within, and The Miss Julie Dream Project co-presented by Fell Swoop Playwrights and Son of Semele.

NEW THEATER REVIEWS, scheduled for publication September 12, 2013:

GO: THE BELLS OF WEST 87TH. Elin Hampton's play derives its comedy from the antics of an eccentric family. At 39, Molly (Cameron Meyer) has never escaped from the tyranny of her critical, exploitative parents, who have decided she's a lesbian because she won't wear makeup, and taunt her about her lack of a social life. Dad Eli (Robert Towers) is an elderly leprechaun obsessed with performing magic tricks and keeping the world informed of the state of his prostate. Domineering Mom Ida (Carol Locatell) walked out on Eli five years ago, and moved in with Molly. Now Molly has acquired a beau, Chris (James Marsters), an amateur poet who works at a miniature golf course, and she brings him home to meet the family, with predictably messy results. Superficially, the piece resembles You Can't Take It with You, but that play's sunny disposition is replaced by a more jaundiced view, as Molly strives to escape her tyrannical family. This is essentially sitcom stuff, but it's cleverly written and acted expertly by a solid ensemble, including Dagney Kerr as Molly's glamorous married sister. Director Richard Pierce keeps things moving briskly on the handsome, two-room set designed by Jeff McLaughlin. Greenway Court Theatre, 544 N. Fairfax Ave.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m.; through Oct. 13. (323) 655-7679, greenwayarts.org. (Neal Weaver)

COYOTE ON A FENCE

Rob Nagle and Cody Kearsley
Rob Nagle and Cody Kearsley
Jujube Zaoer

Solid performances by Rob Nagle and Cody Kearsley as death-row inmates in side-by-side cells distinguish Theatre Arts' production of Bruce Graham's 2000 social-issue drama. College-educated John Brennan (Nagle, in a contemplative and wise performance) edits the prison newspaper and writes eloquent obituaries for the men being executed in their Alabama penitentiary with alarming frequency and considerable public outcry. Brennan's statements in a BBC documentary have gotten him in trouble with prison management but also have drawn the attention of slightly condescending N.Y. Times journalist Sam Fried (Benjamin Cooper Mathes), who finds Brennan's eulogies to be simplistic and romantic. Fried is also Jewish, which explains his antipathy for the young man in Brennan's adjoining cell -- a zealous anti-Semite and unapologetic member of the Aryan brotherhood (Kearsley, in a wonderfully childlike performance), who believes he's heading directly into the arms of God after killing 37 blacks in a church bombing. The play recycles eternal questions of evil and forgiveness, but James Warwick stages Graham's absorbing if dramaturgically crude drama with keen sensitivity and nuance. Shawna DuChamps nicely portrays prison guard Lisa Valenzuela, though her monologues to an unseen reporter are packed with platitudes. Also, Brennan reads us letters he's already written. Even an actor as fine as Nagle can't give that device credence. Theatre Arts at Arena Stage, 1625 N. Las Palmas Ave., Hlywd.; Sat., Sept. 14, 5 & 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 15, 4 & 7 p.m. (323) 463-2500, eventbrite.com (Steven Leigh Morris)

HAMLET

Kimberleigh Aarn and Lisa Wolpe
Kimberleigh Aarn and Lisa Wolpe
Enci Box

An all-female production of Hamlet -- why?! The gender-bending (and multicultural) casting permits this motley cast of women to tackle the tragedy's meaty classic roles but adds nothing to the production. Rather, it distracts and detracts. Lisa Wolpe and Natsuko Ohama co-direct and star (as Hamlet and Polonius, respectively) in a lively rendition that gallops toward its (implied) bloody finale. Yet this tragedy could have used a firmer hand on the reins. Some perfs are good, others woeful. Emphatic gestures and shouted delivery, as well as the random sound design, rob the text of its subtleties, making this Hamlet for Dummies. Wolpe's interpretation of the gloomy Dane is bitter, sarcastic, playful and energetic as she roughs up both Ophelia and Gertrude in tempestuous scenes. Unfortunately, Wolpe also sometimes rushes her delivery of the scintillating text. Ophelia (Chastity Dotson) is excellent in her descent from confusion into insanity, while the majestic set of faux stone, with its trapdoor for the grave scene, is superb, including its upstairs realm for the lumbering, un-wraithlike ghost of Old King Hamlet (Elizabeth Swain). The swordplay is excellent; the rest is -- silence. Los Angeles Women's Shakespeare Company and the Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., W.L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; (some Wed. & Thurs. performances; call for schedule); through Oct. 27. (310) 477-2055, odysseytheatre.com. (Pauline Adamek)


IN MY CORNER 

Joe Orrach
Joe Orrach
Enci Box

The theme of fathers and sons occupies well-trodden ground in the theater, but Joe Orrach's exploration of his relationship with his Puerto Rican father is unique in its presentation. Having been a professional boxer and tap dancer, Mr. Orrach is hardly an average Joe, and he and co-writer Lizbeth Hasse infuse this solo show with elements of his former lives, cleverly employing choreography, a jump rope and a speed bag in the storytelling ... not to mention a live jazz trio. Headed by nimble pianist and musical director Matthew Clark, the musicians provide a rich rhythmic and melodic undercurrent to the show, with a sound that's at times reminiscent of another Bay Area jazz virtuoso, Vince Guaraldi. Director Jeremiah Chechik helps Orrach combine the storytelling with the physicality of the show (such as using the speed bag as a dance partner) and, with lighting designer Briana Pattillo, creates some solid visuals onstage (especially the boxing ring). However, this former pugilist doesn't land as many punches as he ought to; despite his fascinating source material, the show meanders between episodes, lacking a strong enough dramatic throughline to build emotional momentum. Also, other than his father's character, none of the rest of Orrach's family is as well developed in the piece. Still, with some reworking, Orrach and Hasse could potentially turn Joe's multifaceted life experience and talents into a knockout of a show. Odyssey Theater, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., W.L.A; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; through Nov. 3. (310) 477-2055, ext. 2., odysseytheatre.com. (Mayank Keshaviah)


LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS

Carmelita Maldonado and Sara Aceves
Carmelita Maldonado and Sara Aceves
Ed Krieger

Adapter and director Ramon Monxi Flores weaves Mayan mythology into this otherwise predictable message drama about a gangbanger and his uncertain journey toward redemption. Originating from a 1992 script by Victor Tamayo, which focused primarily on drug abuse, the familiar plot revolves around Carlos (Johnny Ortiz), a parentless youth living an empty, violent existence. Street life and drug dealing leave him little time for his girlfriend, Liz (Sara Aceves); that changes when she becomes pregnant and opts, to his dismay, for an abortion. Under Flores' direction, lighting (Sohail Najafi), sound (Andrew Graves) and set design (Marco Deleon) easily eclipse both the boilerplate dialogue and the nonprofessional performances. (Exceptions include Joshua Duron as a twitchy addict, Wali Habib as a shooting victim and Xolo Mariduena as Carlos' younger self.) The production's most striking element is Victor Yerba's fabulous Maya dancing; it, along with other production elements, ties the narrative to an ancient means of salvation. Casa 0101, 2102 E. First St., Boyle Heights, Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 5 p.m.; through Sept. 29. (323) 263-7684, casa0101.org. (Deborah Klugman)


LILY ANN'S "LOVE YOU" Some shows somehow succeed in being fun or entertaining in spite of an overload of faults. Such is the case -- sort of -- with this cabaret- style musical comedy by Beyonde Productions, with book, music and lyrics by Lily Ann. Brimming with groan-inducing shtick, it takes place in a Hollywood nightclub owned by Nicolas Caged (Austin Springer), a red-bedizened Elvis impersonator, whose singing and cache of antics are bad in a laughable sort of way. The star of the evening is the ultra-sexy Mary Lynn (Yvette Nii), who does sing a bit better, and whose desperately stretched sequined dresses garner sympathy from the audience. Mary Lynn is being courted by the "other" Elvis impersonator, Charles Love (Jamie Lane) and country-boy hunk Toby Kiss (Jesse Welch, who actually can sing). In addition to a slew of mediocre songs and music, the evening includes a return-to-the-'60s dance routine, some nifty conga playing by Bob Hardly (Jah-Amen Mobley) and a cheeky murder mystery. Black Box Theatre, 12420 Santa Monica Blvd., W.L.A.; Sat., 8 p.m.; through Oct. 12. (818) 220-4326. (Lovell Estell III)


GO: The Miss Julie Dream Project: A surreal riff on August Strindberg's legendary heroine, Miss Julie. Mina, an actress eager to take on the celebrated role, finds herself in a nightmarish struggle with the character, as this time Julie refuses to accept her tragic fate. Written by Meghan Brown, Samm Hill, J. Holtham, Abbe Levine, Michelle Meyers, Tira Palmquist, Emily Brauer Rogers, Brenda Varda, and Kyle T. Wilson. Directed by Katie Chidester. Fri., Sept. 13, 8 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 14, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 15, 6 p.m. Son of Semele, 3301 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, 213-351-3507, See theater feature.


THE NEW SITUATION

Joshua M. Bott
Joshua M. Bott
Richard Yniguez

In playwright-director Carlo Allen's comedy, when schoolteacher Francisco (Joshua M. Bott) gets pink-slipped, he and his agoraphobic sister, Antonia (Susan M. Flynn), are forced to take out a Craigslist ad looking for boarders. Fortunately, their new lodgers -- gay, middle-aged museum docent Constantine (Jordan Preston) and womanizing restaurant manager Rudy (author Allen) -- join the siblings to become a close-knit family unit. They all celebrate their friendship by going off to get colonoscopies. And that's the play. Allen is to be commended for crafting a comedy whose characters face issues of reaching middle age. Sadly, though, the play is a dramatically maladroit work -- and the halting line readings, unfocused blocking and weird pacing jags of Allen's staging benefit the piece little. Although Flynn's comic timing provides a few moments of artistic craftsmanship, the plodding writing and other cast members' onstage awkwardness doom the piece. Promenade Playhouse, 1404 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 5 p.m.; through Sept. 28. (800) 836-3006, thenewsituation.brownpapertickets.com. (Paul Birchall)

GO: Pericles, Prince of Tyre: William Shakespeare's adventurous tale of Pericles, King Antiochus, and Dionyza, the King's daughter. Directed by Julia Rodriguez-Elliott. Starting Sept. 14, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 15, 2 & 7 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 20, 8 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 21, 2 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 22, 2 p.m.; Fri., Oct. 11, 8 p.m.; Sat., Oct. 12, 2 & 8 p.m.; Wed., Oct. 30, 8 p.m.; Thu., Nov. 7, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 24, 2 & 7 p.m. Continues through Sept. 28. A Noise Within, 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, 626-356-3100, www.anoisewithin.org. See theater feature.


TWILIGHT ZONE UNSCRIPTED

the ensemble of Impro Theatre
the ensemble of Impro Theatre
Chelsea Sutton

There is good reason for live improv's reputation as the high-wire balancing act of comedy. But even the Flying Wallendas can have an off night. And in the case of Impro Theatre's long-form send-up of Rod Serling's 1960s sci-fi anthology classic, "off" can prove very deadly indeed. Directed by Jo McGinley and Stephen Kearin, the Impro troupers (who on this evening included Lisa Fredrickson, Brian Michael Jones, Brian Lohmann, Nick Massouh, Michele Spears, Floyd VanBuskirk and director McGinley) ad-lib four half-hour episodes from audience suggestions, replete with spot-on riffs of the series' signature Serling monologues. MVPs VanBuskirk, Fredrickson and Lohman each managed to knock at least one of their teammates' uninspired curves high into the stands. In between, however, the proceedings were a pointed reminder of why the outer limits of an improvised sketch remains four minutes: In live comedy, laughless seconds can seem like dog years to an uncaptivated audience. Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank; Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 4 p.m.; through Sept. 29. (818) 955-8101, falcontheatre.com. (Bill Raden)

ONGOING SHOWS REGION-WIDE

Adults, Keep Out: A Merry Musical for Adults Only: This musical comedy by Evelyn Rudie and Chris DeCarlo (with music by Matthew Wrather) comes with its own warning, right in the title -- and, unfortunately, discerning theatergoers would be well advised to heed the admonition. The show purports to take place in a land of make-believe, where several kids embark on a quest to an enchanted lake of wisdom. The issues here are not related to the execution -- DeCarlo's staging is lively and spirited, while the unusually likable ensemble of extremely fresh-faced and appealing young performers assay their parts with enthusiasm and genuine vocal talent. However, the play itself, a schematic and derivative fantasy tale couched in flatfooted dialogue and tinny musical numbers, is disappointing. The message of Rudie's play -- that young folks grow out of their childlike imaginative worlds -- is by no means dismissable, but the clunkiness of the writing never allows the piece to succeed as either a genuine children's myth or an ironic adult tale. (Paul Birchall). Saturdays, 7 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Sept. 29. The Other Space at Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 Fourth St., Santa Monica, 310-394-9779, www.santamonicaplayhouse.com.
Ah, Wilderness!: Eugene O'Neill's idyllic American comedy, about a young man, his young love, and his coming-of-age. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2:30 p.m. Continues through Oct. 13. Actors Co-op, 1760 N. Gower St., Los Angeles, 323-462-8460, www.actorsco-op.org.
Auto Parts: Writer-director Steve Sajich's play consists of four tenuously interrelated scenes, centering on the murder of a hooker. For reasons best known to Sajich, the four scenes are juggled in performance, with the audience deciding what their order will be. But this seems like a mere gimmick, designed to keep us from realizing just how thin and unsubstantial the play is. Two of the scenes, involving a randy, unfaithful husband (Frank Noon), his jealous and frustrated wife (Kate Kelly) and a prostitute (Angela Stern) carry the plot. The other two peripheral scenes concern a father-son team of thieves (John J. Malone and Jack David Frank) who discover the murdered woman's body but can't report it lest it reveal their crime, and a couple of police detectives (Ben Sharples and Deanna Watkins) on a stakeout as part of the murder investigation. The actors acquit themselves well but can't overcome inept dramaturgy. (Neal Weaver). Fri., Sept. 13, 8 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 20, 8 p.m. Fremont Centre Theatre, 1000 Fremont Ave., South Pasadena, 626-441-5977, www.fremontcentretheatre.com.
bare: A Los Angeles revival of Jon Hartmere's pop opera about a Catholic school relationship between two roommates, Jason and Peter. Fridays, Saturdays, 8:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 2:30 p.m.; Sundays, 7:30 p.m. Continues through Sept. 22. Hayworth Theatre, 2511 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-213-6955, www.thehayworth.com.
Beethoven and Misfortune Cookies: For 11 years, Kabin Thomas was a popular and respected professor of music at the University of Arkansas, until he was fired in 2006, ostensibly for his frequent use of profanity in his lectures. Kabin, an African-American, also apparently offended Southern sensibilities when he displayed a photo of a lynching during a lecture on Billie Holliday and the song "Strange Fruit." His story is the subject of Joni Ravenna's drama, with the affable, burly Ernest Harden Jr. doing the honors as Thomas, portraying the character as equal parts inspired academic and street-corner rabble rouser. Subject matter isn't the problem here so much as lax structure and writing. Ravenna's script is primarily formatted as a series of casual lectures, sans questions, and the instructor tends to ramble. That's especially true in Act 1, while in Act 2, narrative gaps and the lack of coherency becomes a problem: The play chronicles Thomas' new life in Los Angeles, as well as his struggle with personal demons. Under T.J. Castronovo's direction, Harden's performance is satisfactory but not impressive. (Lovell Estell III). Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Sept. 15, plays411.com/beethoven. The Met Theatre, 1089 N. Oxford Ave., Los Angeles, 323-957-1152, www.themettheatre.com.
GO: The Bells of West 87th: Elin Hampton's play derives its comedy from the antics of an eccentric family. At 39, Molly (Cameron Meyer) has never escaped from the tyranny of her critical, exploitative parents, who have decided she's a lesbian because she won't wear makeup, and taunt her about her lack of a social life. Dad Eli (Robert Towers) is an elderly leprechaun obsessed with performing magic tricks and keeping the world informed of the state of his prostate. Domineering Mom Ida (Carol Locatell) walked out on Eli five years ago, and moved in with Molly. Now Molly has acquired a beau, Chris (James Marsters), an amateur poet who works at a miniature golf course, and she brings him home to meet the family, with predictably messy results. Superficially, the piece resembles You Can't Take It with You, but that play's sunny disposition is replaced by a more jaundiced view, as Molly strives to escape her tyrannical family. This is essentially sitcom stuff, but it's cleverly written and acted expertly by a solid ensemble, including Dagney Kerr as Molly's glamorous married sister. Director Richard Pierce keeps things moving briskly on the handsome, two-room set designed by Jeff McLaughlin. (Neal Weaver). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 6 p.m. Continues through Oct. 13. Greenway Court Theater, 544 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, 323-655-7679, www.greenwayarts.org.
GO: Bob Baker's It's a Musical World!: Nearly three decades ago, this reviewer attended a production of The Nutcracker with his daughter, and was surprised how thoroughly enjoyable this "children's show" was. Similarly, while It's a Musical World reveals no surprises, the production at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater is a kick from start to finish, and there's even free ice cream after the performance. It's essentially a musical variety show staged in a large carpeted room with chandeliers, immense red curtains and lots of space for the kiddies to take a front-row seat. The musical selections are culled from country, pop, classical, R&B, rock and familiar musicals, and there's even a marionette from Azusa who sings an enchanting aria. Here is a universe of puppets of all shapes, sizes and artful imaginings. The costuming is an eye-catching panorama of colors and styles, and the puppeteers dazzle with their skills. On display are a troupe of clowns, some ice skaters outfitted in turn-of-the-century garb, a garrulous Eskimo, a burlesque chorus, a disco duet featuring "Turn the Beat Around" and a grand American finale performed with the Statue of Liberty as a backdrop. (Lovell Estell III). Saturdays, Sundays, 2:30 p.m.; Tuesdays-Fridays, 10:30 a.m. Continues through Sept. 29, $15. Bob Baker Marionette Theater, 1345 W. First St., Los Angeles, 213-250-9995, www.bobbakermarionettes.com.
Live Arts Exchange (LAX): Local artists perform interdisciplinary dance, theater, art, and music pieces. Visit liveartsexchange.org for a complete schedule of events. Sept. 19-22; Sept. 24-Oct. 6, liveartsexchange.org. Bootleg Theater, 2200 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, 213-389-3856, www.bootlegtheater.org.
Breath and Imagination: The Story of Roland Hayes: The story of Roland Hayes, the son of slaves, who grew up to be the first world-renowned African American classical singer. Written by Daniel Beaty. Starting Sept. 14, Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Saturdays, 3 p.m. Continues through Oct. 13. Colony Theatre, 555 N. Third St., Burbank, 818-558-7000, www.colonytheatre.org.
A Bright Room Called Day: It almost sounds like the setup to a Borscht Belt joke: A Freudian (Nicole Monet), a gay Reichian (Graham Kurtz), two Stalinists (Laura Crow, Mark Jacobson), a Trotskyite (standout Miles Warner), an artist (Erin Anderson) and an actress (Teya Patt) walk into a room. The Trotskyite says, "History repeats itself; first it's tragedy, then it's farce." The punch line to Tony Kushner's 1985 meditation on the irrational forces that negate humankind's march of progress is that the room is in 1932 Berlin, the tragedy is Hitler's rise to power and the farce is fascism's seeming recapitulation in our times. Director Jeremy Lelliott's lush revival has wisely replaced an original thread of Reagan-era editorializing with a series of militaristic dance numbers by choreographer Carly Wielstein. And while that pushes the piece closer to a sort of pedantic half-Cabaret, Lelliott's naturalistic pitch is unable to obviate the play's nagging and tedious tendentiousness. (Bill Raden). See Stage feature: http://www.laweekly.com/2013-09-05/stage/tony-kushner-bright-room-called-day/full/. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7:30 p.m. Continues through Sept. 15. Lost Studio, 130 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, 323-871-5830.
The Burnt Part Boys: A coming-of-age musical about a group of teenagers in a West Virginia coal mining town, featuring an Appalachian-inspired score. Book by Mariana Elder, music by Chris Miller, lyrics by Nathan Tysen, directed by Richard Israel. Starting Sept. 14, Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Oct. 20. Third Street Theatre, 8115 W. Third St., Los Angeles, 323-655-9232.


GO:
Captain Dan Dixon vs. The Moth Sluts From the Fifth Dimension:
A nicely acted, crisply directed and neatly written piece of 1950s sci-fi comedy, featuring nearly naked, green-painted, go-go-dancing space aliens -- what's not to love?! Playwright Matthew Sklar stars as Captain Dan Dixon in his creature-feature retro romp through space. Panels of switches, buttons and analog meters signify the interior of a spacecraft as he and his crew of seven rockets into the fifth dimension, causing a purring, whirring sextet of moth-like minxes to materialize. Clad in teeny, gold-lamé hot pants, white go-go boots and pasties, the jiggling, shimmying erotic powers of the Vulvulans gradually infect the brains of almost all on board. The only person apparently immune is Dr. Canigulus (incisively portrayed by Jonica Patella), the ship's brainiac -- thanks to her massive, mutant cerebellum. It's up to her to decipher the true intentions of these insectile invaders. Sebastian Muñoz directs his cast of 14 extremely well; all have fun with the rapid-fire '50s lingo, playing the trashy, B-movie sexploitation tone straight without overly camping it up. Jeri Batzdorff and Corey Zicari (also a blond-wigged moth slut) created skimpy costumes for the babes and Star Trek-inspired suits for the crew. R. Benjamin Warren devised the clever props. Gloria Baraquio is great as Urania, the ship's android and captain's concubine, unhappily ousted by statuesque moth leader Empress Syphla (a sexy and sinister Katherine Canipe). (Pauline Adamek). Fridays, Saturdays, 8:30 p.m. Continues through Sept. 14. Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, 818-202-4120, zombiejoes.homestead.com.

Coyote on a Fence: Solid performances by Rob Nagle and Cody Kearsley as death-row inmates in side-by-side cells distinguish Theatre Arts' production of Bruce Graham's 2000 social-issue drama. College-educated John Brennan (Nagle, in a contemplative and wise performance) edits the prison newspaper and writes eloquent obituaries for the men being executed in their Alabama penitentiary with alarming frequency and considerable public outcry. Brennan's statements in a BBC documentary have gotten him in trouble with prison management but also have drawn the attention of slightly condescending N.Y. Times journalist Sam Fried (Benjamin Cooper Mathes), who finds Brennan's eulogies to be simplistic and romantic. Fried is also Jewish, which explains his antipathy for the young man in Brennan's adjoining cell -- a zealous anti-Semite and unapologetic member of the Aryan brotherhood (Kearsley, in a wonderfully childlike performance), who believes he's heading directly into the arms of God after killing 37 blacks in a church bombing. The play recycles eternal questions of evil and forgiveness, but James Warwick stages Graham's absorbing if dramaturgically crude drama with keen sensitivity and nuance. Shawna DuChamps nicely portrays prison guard Lisa Valenzuela, though her monologues to an unseen reporter are packed with platitudes. Also, Brennan reads us letters he's already written. Even an actor as fine as Nagle can't give that device credence. (Steven Leigh Morris). Sundays, 4 & 7 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 14, 5 & 8 p.m. Continues through Sept. 15. Arena Stage at Theater of Arts, 1625 N. Las Palmas Ave., Los Angeles.
GO:Dancing on the Edge: Presented on Zombie Joe's Underground's tiny, bare stage, Dancing on the Edge borrows from the company's long-running spectacle of disgustingly funny horror tableaux, Urban Death, in that it consists of almost two dozen dancelets, all in under an hour. And though one ballerina gets shot in the stomach midleap, such glibness is tempered by a more mature investment in themes ranging from despondency -- "Hurt," choreographed by Carrie Nedrow and performed with spasmic rigor by JJ Dubon -- to jealousy to redemption. The recorded musical selections range from Nine Inch Nails to Debussy. The dancing styles are all over the map, from ballet to hip-hop, and the execution by the dancers is superb. (Steven Leigh Morris). Saturdays, 11 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 15, 7 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 22, 7 p.m. Continues through Sept. 21. Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, 818-202-4120, zombiejoes.homestead.com.
Death of a Salesman: Arthur Miller's 1949 play about father and salesman Willy Loman, and his struggle to hold on to the American dream. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays, 2:30 p.m.; Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Sundays, 7:30 p.m. Continues through Sept. 29. South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, 714-708-5555, www.scr.org.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep: An adaptation of Philip K. Dick's 1968 science-noir totem about the bounty hunter Rick Deckard and his task of hunting down rogue androids. Written by Edward Einhorn, directed by Jaime Robledo. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Oct. 19. Sacred Fools Theater, 660 N. Heliotrope Drive, Los Angeles, 310-281-8337, www.sacredfools.org.
The Dream of the Burning Boy: A mystery unfolds when Dane, a popular high school students, dies unexpectedly following a meeting with his English teacher. Written by David West Read. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Oct. 13. Malibu Playhouse, 29243 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, 310-589-1998, www.malibuplayhouse.org.
The End Of It: A new play by Paul Coates, about three couples who simultaneously confront the possible dissolution of their twenty-year relationships. Starting Sept. 14, Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 5 p.m. Continues through Oct. 20. Matrix Theatre, 7657 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, 323-852-1445, www.matrixtheatre.com.
Fool For Love: Sam Shepard's drama about Eddie, a rodeo stuntman, and May, his lost love, whom he has found living at a motel in the Mojave Desert. Directed by Gloria Gifford. Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7:30 p.m. Continues through Sept. 29. T.U. Studios, 10943 Camarillo St., North Hollywood, 818-205-1680.
Frank and Ava: It's hard to imagine at this late date what new light a stage play could shed on the tumultuous, six-year, 1950s tabloid marriage of Hollywood icons Frank Sinatra (Rico Simonini) and Ava Gardner (Stefany Northcutt). And if playwright Willard Manus' two-character drama is any indication, the answer turns out to be very little. That's not to say that Manus' straightforward biographical survey isn't thorough in its chronicle of the pair's fierce ambitions, insecurities and appetites for both alcohol and marital infidelity, or what inevitably happens when that combustive combination is subjected to the unforgiving accelerant of wealth and celebrity. To that end, Simonini (who bears a passable physical resemblance to a 40-something Sinatra) and Northcutt capably trace the eventful outlines of the story, but neither Manus nor director Kelly Galindo's staging ultimately convinces in illuminating the mysterious charisma of the evidently rather venial couple or why we still care. (Bill Raden). Sundays, 5 p.m. Continues through Sept. 29, hollywoodfringe.org/projects/1371. Three Clubs Cocktail Lounge, 1123 Vine St., Los Angeles, 323-462-6441, www.threeclubs.com.
Prometheus Bound: A new production of the classic Greek tragedy by The CalArts Center for New Performance. The set features the use of a twenty-three foot, five ton revolving metal wheel, to which the protagonist, Prometheus, is permanently bound. Mondays, Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through Sept. 28. Getty Villa, 17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, 310-440-7300, www.getty.edu.
GO: Groundlings Online University: See Stage feature: http://www.laweekly.com/2013-08-22/stage/groundlings-el-grande-coca-cola/full/. Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 8 & 10 p.m. The Groundlings Theater, 7307 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, 323-934-9700, www.groundlings.com.
Hamlet: An all-female production of Hamlet -- why?! The gender-bending (and multicultural) casting permits this motley cast of women to tackle the tragedy's meaty classic roles but adds nothing to the production. Rather, it distracts and detracts. Lisa Wolpe and Natsuko Ohama co-direct and star (as Hamlet and Polonius, respectively) in a lively rendition that gallops toward its (implied) bloody finale. Yet this tragedy could have used a firmer hand on the reins. Some perfs are good, others woeful. Emphatic gestures and shouted delivery, as well as the random sound design, rob the text of its subtleties, making this Hamlet for Dummies. Wolpe's interpretation of the gloomy Dane is bitter, sarcastic, playful and energetic as she roughs up both Ophelia and Gertrude in tempestuous scenes. Unfortunately, Wolpe also sometimes rushes her delivery of the scintillating text. Ophelia (Chastity Dotson) is excellent in her descent from confusion into insanity, while the majestic set of faux stone, with its trapdoor for the grave scene, is superb, including its upstairs realm for the lumbering, un-wraithlike ghost of Old King Hamlet (Elizabeth Swain). The swordplay is excellent; the rest is -- silence. (Pauline Adamek). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Wed., Sept. 18, 8 p.m.; Thu., Sept. 26, 8 p.m.; Wed., Oct. 2, 8 p.m.; Thu., Oct. 10, 8 p.m.; Wed., Oct. 16, 8 p.m.; Thu., Oct. 24, 8 p.m. Continues through Oct. 27. Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-477-2055, www.odysseytheatre.com.
In My Corner: The theme of fathers and sons occupies well-trodden ground in the theater, but Joe Orrach's exploration of his relationship with his Puerto Rican father is unique in its presentation. Having been a professional boxer and tap dancer, Mr. Orrach is hardly an average Joe, and he and co-writer Lizbeth Hasse infuse this solo show with elements of his former lives, cleverly employing choreography, a jump rope and a speed bag in the storytelling ... not to mention a live jazz trio. Headed by nimble pianist and musical director Matthew Clark, the musicians provide a rich rhythmic and melodic undercurrent to the show, with a sound that's at times reminiscent of another Bay Area jazz virtuoso, Vince Guaraldi. Director Jeremiah Chechik helps Orrach combine the storytelling with the physicality of the show (such as using the speed bag as a dance partner) and, with lighting designer Briana Pattillo, creates some solid visuals onstage (especially the boxing ring). However, this former pugilist doesn't land as many punches as he ought to; despite his fascinating source material, the show meanders between episodes, lacking a strong enough dramatic throughline to build emotional momentum. Also, other than his father's character, none of the rest of Orrach's family is as well developed in the piece. Still, with some reworking, Orrach and Hasse could potentially turn Joe's multifaceted life experience and talents into a knockout of a show. (Mayank Keshaviah). Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Nov. 3. Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-477-2055, www.odysseytheatre.com.
GO: In the Next Room, or The Vibrator Play: In Sarah Ruhl's smart and pointed satire In the Next Room, or The Vibrator Play, it's not just middle-class Victorian women who are sexually clueless: it's their men as well. The time is the 1880s, and man of science Dr. Givings (Michael Oosterom) is using a primitive electronic vibrator to treat "hysterical" female patients, who depart reinvigorated and refreshed while his own unhappy wife, Catherine (Joanna Strapp), eavesdrops enviously in the adjoining room. Eventually Catherine summons the courage to surreptitiously invade her husband's office and discover for herself the pleasurable side effects of this pioneering modality. Directed by August Viverito, the play successfully extends well beyond burlesque, sporting shades of Ibsen while focusing on the struggles between the sexes, along with the loneliness, boredom and frustration of traditionally obedient women's lives. At first this production's opening-night presentation seemed stagey and less than ideally crisp, but it gathered steam as the performers grew limber and confident and immersed themselves in the story. Some of the most hilarious moments arise around Yael Berkovich's portrayal of Mrs. Daldry, a formerly weepy neurotic whose vocal responses to the doctor's treatment soar to operatic realms. By contrast, the play's most moving highlights are embodied in Candace Nicholas-Lippman's fine rendering of Elizabeth, the African-American wet nurse hired to breastfeed Catherine's baby when Catherine's own milk stops flowing. An honest working woman mourning the death of her own infant, she hasn't the luxury of the antics of the spoiled upper classes. It is she who enlightens the other ladies about the true nature of the sensations they are experiencing for the first time. (Deborah Klugman). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Sept. 28. Secret Rose Theater, 11246 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, 877-620-7673, www.secretrose.com.
Ise Lyfe: Pistols & Prayers: A spoken word hip-hop theater piece, written and performed by artist and educator Ise Lyfe of HBO's Def Poetry Jam. The production is a sociopolitical commentary, blended with a glimpse into Lyfe's coming of age as a man, artist, and advocate for social change. Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Nov. 27. Greenway Court Theater, 544 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, 323-655-7679, www.greenwayarts.org.
Just Imagine: Although the wow factor is missing, aficionados of John Lennon probably will appreciate this tribute to the iconic musician, which juxtaposes renditions of his most famous songs with a narrative of his life. Lennon impersonator and lead singer Tim Piper addresses the audience in a confiding manner as he relates events in Lennon's life -- his troubled boyhood in Liverpool culminating in the death of his mother, up through The Beatles, his marriage to Yoko Ono and his transformation into a family man and spokesman for the counterculture antiwar movement. There are no surprises in writer-director Steve Altman's script, and watching and listening to Piper, an American donning a Liverpool accent, failed to persuade me that I was hearing the real McCoy. That said, Piper's backup band, Working Class Hero, performs well and provides an opportunity for those who wish to reimagine the legend to do so. (Deborah Klugman). Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Dec. 29. Hayworth Theatre, 2511 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-213-6955, www.thehayworth.com.
Klepto-MANIA: A Night of Time-Travel, Bullfighting, and Love: Opening this bill of one-acts is Samantha Macher's "Brechtian comedy," The Arctic Circle *and a Recipe for Swedish Pancakes. Unfortunately, it's a dreadfully unwieldy affair parceled out in 28- plus scenes that chronicle the amorous life and exploits of Elin (Katie Apicella). Narrated by Amy Scribner, it constantly shifts back and forth in time and place, which makes for a theatrical experience that quickly goes from annoying to mind numbing. There are way too many scenes that are nothing more than trifles, and McKerrin Kelly's direction is consistently labored. If there is any redemption, it's in the acting, which isn't bad. Robert Plowman's The Matador manages to be entertaining, in spite of hanging around too long. Directed by Todd Ristau, and spiced with an engaging pinch of camp, it tells the story of a much heralded matador (played with ticklish panache by Mark Ostrander) who gets more than he can handle when he encounters an unusual bull (choreographer Susanna Young) and an admiring female (Emma Sperka). Studio/Stage, 520 N. Western Ave., L.A., Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; through Sept. 22. (Lovell Estell III). Tickets & info: www.kleptotheatreworkshop.com. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through Sept. 22. Studio Stage, 520 N. Western Ave., Los Angeles, 323-463-3900, www.studio-stage.com.
L.A. Theatre Works: Reasons To Be Pretty: Thomas Sadoski reprises his Tony-nominated role in Neil LaBute's drama about the modern obsession with physical beauty. The lives of two couples are disrupted when Greg's offhand remark that his girlfriend is not pretty gets back to her. Performed radio theater-style. Thu., Sept. 19, 8 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 20, 8 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 21, 3 & 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 22, 4 p.m. James Bridges Theater, 1409 Melnitz Hall, Westwood, 310-206-8365.
The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later: A project that investigates how the town of Laramie, Wyoming has been affected by the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard and the media frenzy that followed. Written by Moisés Kaufman, Leigh Fondakowski, Greg Pierotti, Andy Paris and Stephen Belber, and directed by Ken Sawyer. Presented by the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center's Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through Nov. 16. Davidson Valentini Theatre, 1125 N. McCadden Place, Los Angeles, 323-860-7300, www.lagaycenter.org.
Light in the Darkness: Adapter and director Ramon Monxi Flores weaves Mayan mythology into this otherwise predictable message drama about a gangbanger and his uncertain journey toward redemption. Originating from a 1992 script by Victor Tamayo, which focused primarily on drug abuse, the familiar plot revolves around Carlos (Johnny Ortiz), a parentless youth living an empty, violent existence. Street life and drug dealing leave him little time for his girlfriend, Liz (Sara Aceves); that changes when she becomes pregnant and opts, to his dismay, for an abortion. Under Flores' direction, lighting (Sohail Najafi), sound (Andrew Graves) and set design (Marco Deleon) easily eclipse both the boilerplate dialogue and the nonprofessional performances. (Exceptions include Joshua Duron as a twitchy addict, Wali Habib as a shooting victim and Xolo Mariduena as Carlos' younger self.) The production's most striking element is Victor Yerba's fabulous Maya dancing; it, along with other production elements, ties the narrative to an ancient means of salvation. (Deborah Klugman). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 5 p.m. Continues through Sept. 29. Casa 0101, 2102 E. 1st St., Los Angeles, 323-263-7684, www.casa0101.org.
Lily Ann's LOVE YOU!: Some shows somehow succeed in being fun or entertaining in spite of an overload of faults. Such is the case -- sort of -- with this cabaret- style musical comedy by Beyonde Productions, with book, music and lyrics by Lily Ann. Brimming with groan-inducing shtick, it takes place in a Hollywood nightclub owned by Nicolas Caged (Austin Springer), a red-bedizened Elvis impersonator, whose singing and cache of antics are bad in a laughable sort of way. The star of the evening is the ultra-sexy Mary Lynn (Yvette Nii), who does sing a bit better, and whose desperately stretched sequined dresses garner sympathy from the audience. Mary Lynn is being courted by the "other" Elvis impersonator, Charles Love (Jamie Lane) and country-boy hunk Toby Kiss (Jesse Welch, who actually can sing). In addition to a slew of mediocre songs and music, the evening includes a return-to-the-'60s dance routine, some nifty conga playing by Bob Hardly (Jah-Amen Mobley) and a cheeky murder mystery. (Lovell Estell III). Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Oct. 12. The Black Box Theater, 12420 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-979-7078.
Little Shop of Horrors: A comedy-horror rock opera based on the 1960 movie. Book and lyrics by Howard Ashman, music by Alan Menken. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Oct. 19. Westchester Playhouse, 8301 Hindry Ave., Los Angeles, 310-645-5156, www.kentwoodplayers.org.
Lost Girls: Award-winning playwright John Pollono's new drama about a working class couple, struggling to redefine family. When their seventeen-year-old daughter goes missing during a winter blizzard, former high school lovers are forced to confront their tragic history. Starting Sept. 14, Saturdays, 5 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m.; Mon., Sept. 16, 8 p.m.; Mondays, 8 p.m.; Mon., Oct. 28, 8 p.m.; Mon., Nov. 4, 8 p.m. Continues through Oct. 14. Rogue Machine Theatre, 5041 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, 855-585-5185, www.roguemachinetheatre.com.
MenApause: A dramedy about midlife crises and the relationships that suffer from them. Fri., Sept. 13, 8 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 14, 8 p.m. Stage 52 Theatre, 5299 W. Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-549-9026.
GO: Merlin: The Untold Adventures: Begat of a demon, gifted with second sight and shape-shifting powers, the druid Merlin provides much of the momentum of the Arthurian legend. In the process of retelling the fabled wizard's backstory, playwright-director Ellen Geer has concocted a high fantasy with a strong antiwar flavor. The work's emphasis on meshing threads of pagan philosophy and Christian references -- with a side trip to mythical Atlantis thrown in for good measure -- can cause matters to become a little thematically and dramatically muddled. Yet Geer's brisk and buoyant direction makes excellent use of her atmospheric venue, incorporating a moody electronic ambiance alongside some elegant pageantry, thoughtful fight choreography and enchanting choral interludes. Lead Melora Marshall at times overplays her Merlin with a borderline cartoonish physicality, but it is a performance overall grounded in the epic earnestness and warm humor of Geer's text. (Mindy Farabee). Sat., Sept. 14, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 15, 7:30 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 20, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 22, 7:30 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 27, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 29, 7:30 p.m., $25-$35. Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga, 310-455-3723, theatricum.com.
GO: A Midsummer Night's Dream: As Bottom, performer Katherine Griffith may be the best reason to see this amusing but somewhat quotidian presentation of Shakespeare's seasonal classic. Cast across gender by directors Melora Marshall and Willow Geer, Griffith's likable blowhard garners a plurality of the laughs, along with his proletarian colleagues, whose presentation of Pyramus and Thisby before Theseus' court is this production's comic highlight. By contrast, the antics of Shakespeare's quartet of quarrelsome lovers, which includes Geer as a peevish Helena, are mostly played by-the-numbers and lack a fresh edge. As Titania, Marshall exudes a mercurial flamboyance and a capricious sense of entitlement that has one rooting, ever so momentarily, for Oberon (an attention-commanding Michael McFall). Though I invariably shun the word "adorable," I have no other description for months-old Wren Scaturro, who appears as the changeling child, taking her bow with the rest of the ensemble with faint, smiling aplomb. The charm of an outdoor proscenium and the added enhancement of designer Katherine Crawford's costumes, especially for Titania, Oberon and Puck (cross-gender cast Sabrina Frame) help simulate the requisite magic. (Deborah Klugman). Sat., Sept. 14, 4 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 22, 3:30 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 28, 8 p.m. Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga, 310-455-3723, theatricum.com.
A Midsummer Night's Dream: Shakespeare's classic summer tale about foolish humans, blind love, and the magic of the forest. Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 27, 8 p.m. Continues through Sept. 29. Studio Theatre at Cal Poly Pomona, 3801 W. Temple Ave., Building 25, Pomona, 909-869-3900.


GO:
The Miss Julie Dream Project: A surreal riff on August Strindberg's legendary heroine, Miss Julie. Mina, an actress eager to take on the celebrated role, finds herself in a nightmarish struggle with the character, as this time Julie refuses to accept her tragic fate. Written by Meghan Brown, Samm Hill, J. Holtham, Abbe Levine, Michelle Meyers, Tira Palmquist, Emily Brauer Rogers, Brenda Varda, and Kyle T. Wilson. Directed by Katie Chidester. Fri., Sept. 13, 8 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 14, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 15, 6 p.m. Son of Semele, 3301 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, 213-351-3507, See theater feature.



The New Situation:

In playwright-director Carlo Allen's comedy, when schoolteacher

Francisco (Joshua M. Bott) gets pink-slipped, he and his agoraphobic

sister, Antonia (Susan M. Flynn), are forced to take out a Craigslist ad

looking for boarders. Fortunately, their new lodgers -- gay,

middle-aged museum docent Constantine (Jordan Preston) and womanizing

restaurant manager Rudy (author Allen) -- join the siblings to become a

close-knit family unit. They all celebrate their friendship by going off

to get colonoscopies. And that's the play. Allen is to be commended for

crafting a comedy whose characters face issues of reaching middle age.

Sadly, though, the play is a dramatically maladroit work -- and the

halting line readings, unfocused blocking and weird pacing jags of

Allen's staging benefit the piece little. Although Flynn's comic timing

provides a few moments of artistic craftsmanship, the plodding writing

and other cast members' onstage awkwardness doom the piece. (Paul

Birchall). Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 15, 5 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 20, 8

p.m.; Fri., Sept. 27, 8 p.m. Continues through Sept. 28. Promenade

Playhouse, 1404 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica, 310-656-8070,

www.promenadeplayhouse.com.


GO: The Old Settler: John Henry Redwood's bittersweet romantic comedy The Old Settler

is set in 1943 Harlem in the comfy home (a handsome set by Thomas

Brown) of middle-aged sisters Elizabeth (Ruby Hinds) and Quilly (Jolie

Oliver). Elizabeth is dignified and restrained, while her sister is

outspoken and nit-picky. These church-going ladies are often like oil

and water, but there's an unmistakable sisterly love and devotion that

underpins the acrimony. Their bond is tested when Elizabeth decides to

take in as a renter the handsome, ultra-countrified Husband Witherspoon

(John R. Davidson). He's come up from the South looking for his

sweetheart, Lou Bessie (played with sass and attitude by Crystal

Garrett), who is only interested in a good time and the man's money. It

isn't long before Husband and Elizabeth are tenderly eyeing one another.

The story of a May-December romance is an old one, but it receives a

charming and inventive treatment by Redwood, and also offers a sobering

glimpse into the pre-civil rights-era African-American experience. The

outcome is predictable, but this doesn't detract from what is a

thoroughly enjoyable production with emotionally vibrant performances

under the direction of William Stanford Davis. (Lovell Estell III).

Sundays, 3 p.m.; Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Oct. 27.

Pico Playhouse, 10508 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-204-4440,

www.picoplayhouse.com.


GO:
One Night in Miami
:

Although rooted in a historic event, Kemp Powers' period piece about a

meeting between Sam Cooke, Jim Brown, Malcolm X and Cassius Clay is

less about these gentlemen per se than it is about the struggle of

African-American men in general to deal with the ubiquitous racism that

continually challenges their manhood. The play takes place in a motel

room following Clay's victory over Sonny Liston in 1964. At 22, fresh

off his triumph, the young boxer (Matt Jones) is both less scarred and

less knowing than the others. He's also a recent convert to Islam, which

raises the eyebrows of Cooke (Ty Jones) and Brown (Kevin Daniels) --

both alcohol-imbibing, womanizing, pork chop-loving hedonists. Well

directed by Carl Cofield, the play heats up around the philosophical

divide between Malcolm (Jason Delane) an ideologue and devout Muslim who

scorns the White Establishment, and Cooke, a musician and player in the

music business who's successfully worked the system for his own gain.

(Sadly and ironically, both these men would be dead within a year.)

Powers' perspicacious script gives the performers plenty to work with,

and they make the most of it, bouncing off each other with savvy, skill

and humor. Delane is excellent as an understated Malcolm, struggling to

master not only his passions but his well-founded fear that his life is

in danger. A charismatic Jones augments an intense portrayal with his

gifted singing voice. Giovanni Adams and Jason E. Kelley add menace and

levity as Malcolm's bodyguards. (Deborah Klugman). Fridays, Saturdays, 8

p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Sept. 15. Rogue Machine

Theatre, 5041 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, 855-585-5185,

www.roguemachinetheatre.com.


Open House:

An audacious real estate salesman needs to sell an overpriced house

during an off season. Enter a seductive, mysterious woman new to

California who senses that something wrong has happened in the house, in

writer Shem Bitterman's third dramatic production at the Skylight

Theater. See Stage feature: http://www.laweekly.com/2013-08-01/stage/shem-bitterman-open-house/full/.

Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Sept. 22.

Skylight Theater, 1816 1/2 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, 323-666-2202.


Ordinary Days:

A comedic musical by Adam Gwon, directed by Angel Creeks. Four young

New Yorkers' lives intersect as they search for fulfillment, happiness,

love and cabs. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues

through Sept. 29. Victory Theatre Center, 3326 W. Victory Blvd.,

Burbank, 818-841-4404, www.thevictorytheatrecenter.org.


GO: Pericles, Prince of Tyre:

William Shakespeare's adventurous tale of Pericles, King Antiochus, and

Dionyza, the King's daughter. Directed by Julia Rodriguez-Elliott.

Starting Sept. 14, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 15, 2 & 7 p.m.;

Fri., Sept. 20, 8 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 21, 2 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 22, 2 p.m.;

Fri., Oct. 11, 8 p.m.; Sat., Oct. 12, 2 & 8 p.m.; Wed., Oct. 30, 8

p.m.; Thu., Nov. 7, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 24, 2 & 7 p.m. Continues

through Sept. 28. A Noise Within, 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena,

626-356-3100, www.anoisewithin.org. See theater feature.


GO: POINT BREAK LIVE!:

Creating a raucous, rocked-out party atmosphere by blasting preshow

music (think "Welcome to the Jungle" at ear-splitting volume), the

hilarious spoof show Point Break Live! offers super-soaked

excitement in a grungy Hollywood nightclub setting. What do we mean by

"soaked"? Let's just say you'd be wise to take them up on the $2 ponchos

for sale before the show. The low-tech, seat-of-the-pants, interactive

presentation of an abbreviated version of Kathryn Bigelow's slightly

corny 1991 cop surf drama is further camped up by a fun-loving cast. The

actor playing the central role of Johnny Utah -- memorably portrayed

onscreen by Keanu Reeves in his "Woah, dude" stoner phase -- is

recruited from among the dozen or so audience members who audition on

the spot and are rated by the audience. The rookie performer then goes

on to utter dialogue aided by cue cards. (Too bad opening night's guy

was virtually illiterate and inexplicably prone to channeling Forrest

Gump.) Utah's volatile detective partner, Pappas, is well played by Tom

Fugedi, though he would benefit from a bit more crazy Gary Busey and a

bit less Chris Farley in his performance. Tobias Jelinek is excellent as

the bizarrely spiritual crime boss/surfer guru Bodhi. The plastic

ponchos offer protection from the barrage of water spray, blood

splatters and -- uh -- other bodily fluids. Stupid fun. Booze available.

(Pauline Adamek). Sundays, 7:30 p.m. Continues through Sept. 29.

Dragonfly, 6510 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-466-6111,

www.thedragonfly.com.


The Pokémusical:

Winner of the 2013 Hollywood Fringe Festival's "Best Fringe Festival

Musical Award," this original satire follows the first journey of Ash,

Misty, Brock, Pikachu and the rest of the crew from the original games

as they traverse Kanto, this time with added song and dance. Book and

Lyrics by Alex Syiek. Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 11:59 p.m. Continues

through Sept. 28. Elephant Stages, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles.


R II: A new production of Shakespeare's Richard II,

conceived, adapted and directed by Jessica Kubzansky to be bare and

raw, performed by only three actors. Starting Sept. 14, Saturdays, 8

p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Wed., Oct. 2, 8 p.m.; Wed., Oct. 9, 8 p.m.

Continues through Oct. 13. Boston Court, 70 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena,

626-683-6883, www.bostoncourt.com.


GO: The Rainmaker:

A con-man/drifter walks into a small town, usually in the Midwest, and

seduces a vulnerable local female. He not only seduces her, he awakens

her to her true self and potential, which the opinions of others -- her

family and society -- have been suffocating. Oh, brother. Get the broom

and sweep off the cobwebs. In lesser hands than director Jack Heller's,

watching The Rainmaker would be like trudging through a slightly

dank, primeval marsh without rubber boots -- the kind of experience

where you might say, "Well, isn't this historic and curious. Where can I

dry my socks?" The production is saved in part by its linchpin, Tanna

Frederick's droll, rat-smart Lizzie. With subtlety and composure that

often belies the text, she knows who she is and what she wants. Though

the play is over-written, Frederick's performance lies so entrenched

beneath the lines, it's as though she absorbs the play's excesses so

that they don't even show. Her terrific performance is not enough to

turn the play into a classic, but it does provide enough of an emotional

pull to reveal the reasons why it keeps getting staged. (Steven Leigh

Morris). Fridays, Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 5 p.m. Continues

through Sept. 29. Edgemar Center for the Arts, 2437 Main St., Santa

Monica, 310-399-3666, www.edgemarcenter.org.


GO:Rapture, Blister, Burn:

The West Coast premiere of this new comedy, in which feminism's foibles

are challenged among three generations of women. The ladies share their

raucous and refreshing approaches to navigating work, love and family.

Written by Gina Gionfriddo, directed by Peter DuBois. See Stage feature:

http://www.laweekly.com/2013-08-29/stage/rapture-blister-burn-feminism/full/.

Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 3 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 7

p.m. Continues through Sept. 22. Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave.,

Los Angeles, 310-208-5454, www.geffenplayhouse.com.


Ready for the Storm:

Written, directed, produced by and starring Randall Gray, founder of --

wait for it -- Stages of Gray Theatre, this world-premiere jukebox

musical invites comparisons to another outsized vanity project: Tommy

Wiseau's so-bad-it's-good film The Room. However, this misguided

effort is unlikely to achieve similar cult status. When successful

musician Bobby (Mike Callahan) and actress Jenn (Debbie Kagy) quarrel on

their wedding day, Jenn threatens to walk. There the plot ceases, and

their insufferable waffling proceeds against a karaoke soundtrack of

ballads, pop songs and Broadway hits heavily weighted toward Wildhorn

and Cuden's Jekyll & Hyde. No specificity shapes the set,

inexplicably adorned with cast publicity stills, or the characters --

"Mom" (Lisa LaBella) never merits a first name, even from the man (Gray)

who claims to love her. Despite earnest performances and decent vocals

from the young stars (Kagy's voice is better than the script deserves),

nothing short of a total rewrite can salvage this show. (Jenny Lower).

Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Sept. 14, stagesofgray.com.

Stages of Gray, 299 N. Altadena Drive, Pasadena, www.stagesofgray.com.


GO: Rebecca's Gamble:

Issues of science, medical ethics and criminal law propel Art Shulman

and Robert Begam's provocative courtroom drama. Director Rick Walters

has transformed this small venue into a courtroom interior surrounded by

audience members, some of whom render a verdict at play's end. The

site-specific setting is used to good effect. The accused, Dr. Rebecca

Adler (Diane Linder), is charged with murder for her part in the cryonic

disposal of her terminally ill patient. Counsel for the defense is Joe

Purcell (Randy Vasquez), while the state is represented by Scott Novak

(Jerry Weil), with Judge Dale Fox (Henry Holden) presiding. The format

follows the procedures of a real court proceeding: Witnesses are called,

testimony is given, cross-examination is allowed and a verdict is

rendered. There are even a number of emotional outbursts, which are a

bit overworked. The compelling thing about this thoughtfully written

script is that it explores in detail some topical scientific, ethical

and legal subjects that are easily grasped. Cast performances, on

balance, are quite good, notwithstanding a few glaring instances of

botched lines. (Lovell Estell III). Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.

Continues through Oct. 6. Theatrecraft Playhouse, 7505 1/2 Sunset Blvd.,

Los Angeles, 323-876-1100.


GO: Red:

John Logan's Tony-winning play looks at the life and work of abstract

expressionist painter Mark Rothko, a soldier in the art wars of the 20th

century who helped to kill cubism and surrealism. In the play's now,

circa 1958-59, Rothko (Tony Abatemarco) is feeling threatened by the new

generation of Pop artists, including Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein and

Andy Warhol, who seem bent on killing abstract expressionism. When

Rothko receives a fat commission to paint a series of murals for the

Four Seasons restaurant in New York City's Seagram Building, he hires an

assistant, Ken (Patrick Stafford), whom he works like a dog and treats

with arrogance and irascibility -- but also educates along the way.

Their impassioned debate covers a multitude of ideas, including the

artist's need for a broad cultural background, the conflict (or

symbiosis) between the Dionysian and the Apollonian, and Rothko's

lifelong battle against depression. Director caryn desai provides an

impeccable production on JR Bruce's soaring set, and she's splendidly

served by her actors: Abatemarco eloquently captures Rothko's humor as

well as his fervor, while Stafford provides an indelible sketch of the

young man who's transformed by their association from shy nebbish to

militant challenger of the Master. (Neal Weaver). Fridays, 8 p.m.;

Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Sept. 15, $38-$45.

International City Theatre, Long Beach Performing Arts Center, 300 E.

Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, 562-436-4610, www.ictlongbeach.org.


Robert E. Lee: Shades of Gray:

A one-man dramatic portrait of one of U.S. history's most enigmatic

figures. Written by and starring Los Angeles Drama Critics' Circle

Award-winner Tom Dugan. Sundays, 2 p.m.; Wednesdays, 2 & 7 p.m.;

Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 p.m. Continues through Sept.

29. Rubicon Theatre Company, 1006 E. Main St., Ventura, 805-667-2900.


Rockstar:

A new musical featuring the music of the great pianist Franz Liszt and

others, written and performed by Hershey Felder and directed by Trevor

Hay. Starting Sept. 17, Tuesdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 2

p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m.; Thu., Sept. 26, 2 p.m. Continues through

Sept. 29. Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach,

949-497-2787, www.lagunaplayhouse.com.


Rodney King:

New light is shed on the man whose famous question "Can we all get

along?" continues to resonate 21 years after it was first posed to a

riot-torn Los Angeles in 1992. Created and performed by Roger Guenveur

Smith. Wed., Sept. 18, 8 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 21, 7 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 22,

6:30 p.m.; Thu., Sept. 26, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 28, 7 p.m.; Sun.,

Sept. 29, 4 p.m.; Thu., Oct. 3, 8 p.m.; Fri., Oct. 4, 7:30 p.m.; Sat.,

Oct. 5, 7 p.m.; Sun., Oct. 6, 1 p.m. Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820

Washington Blvd., Culver City, 213-628-2772, www.centertheatregroup.org.


The Royal Family:

The work's the thing in George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber's gentle 1927

spoof of the Barrymore dynasty, which forms the centerpiece of

Theatricum Botanicum's 40th-anniversary season. The venerable,

oak-nestled venue's own founding family fills in as the board-treading

Cavendish clan. Artistic director Ellen Geer slings Downton Abbey-worthy

zingers as dowager Fanny, while sister Melora Marshall and daughter

Willow Geer carry the torch as the next generations of theatrical

luminaries. All three women nail the benign entitlement and cozy

security that comes from knowing you're an institution, but the dated

material may be more thrilling for its cast than the audience. More

compelling than the distant Barrymores is the play's exploration of

pursuing the creative life at the cost of domestic and personal

stability. Director Susan Angelo wisely avoids interfering with her

cast's marvelous instincts, but a tighter rein would keep us from

sharing Marshall's bewilderment when the madcap pace proves too

frenetic. (Jenny Lower). Sun., Sept. 15, 3:30 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 21, 4

p.m.; Sat., Sept. 28, 4 p.m. Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N.

Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga, 310-455-3723, theatricum.com.


GO: A Short Stay at Carranor: Anticipating a reunion with her married former childhood sweetheart, Irene (1955 Miss America and Barnaby Jones

actress Lee Meriwether) enlists daughter Shelby (Corinne Shor) to ferry

her to the family's lakeside cabin, Carranor. The septuagenarian

divorcee dreads Chet (Don Moss) will break off their budding emotional

affair, while her righteous offspring bristles at a presumed seduction

that could leave her mother bereft. Reality, it turns out, proffers a

more complicated synthesis. Meriwether's performance offers the best

reason to see this production: Her stately grace brings dignity to a

portrayal that feels both effortless and fully realized. As her

conflicted paramour, Moss has the tougher battle but achieves a

remarkable degree of sympathy. The staging's major flaw is the

unerringly wrong-footed Shelby, who alienates even her husband with her

grating presence and relentless harping. Ultimately the hard-working but

miscast Shor can't salvage the character from its structural problems:

Shelby is supposed to be a dogmatic liberal, but her particular brand of

rigidity plays as distinctly more red-state. Yet the narrative resists

simplistic moralizing, and for a certain theatergoer may offer a

refreshing take on life's final analysis. John Gallogly's direction

trades the saccharine for the bittersweet, while Jeff Rack's cozy set

complements the December courtship. (Jenny Lower). Fridays, Saturdays, 8

p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Sept. 29. Theatre West, 3333

Cahuenga Blvd. W., Los Angeles, 323-851-7977, www.theatrewest.org.


Something to Crow About:

The Bob Baker Marionettes' musical "Day on the Farm." Saturdays,

Sundays, 2:30 p.m.; Tuesdays-Fridays, 10:30 a.m. Bob Baker Marionette

Theater, 1345 W. First St., Los Angeles, 213-250-9995,

www.bobbakermarionettes.com.


GO: Spumoni!:

Like the titular Italian dessert, this compilation of three one-act

comedies features three different flavors. In the solo piece "Booby

Prize," writer-performer Lizzie Czerner brings a Tracey Ullman-like

flamboyance to the tale of a woman cursed and blessed with a very buxom

figure, which brings her both ridicule and lascivious short-term

attention but no long-term relationships -- until she discovers that

there's a place in the world for busty women with low self-esteem.

Rebekah Walendzak directs. "Daddy Didn't Die, Did He?" is set at the

funeral of a Southern patriarch, and features writer-actors Will

Matthews and Casey Christensen playing a gaggle of predatory, mercenary

characters, including the deceased's scatterbrained widow, his three

competitive children, his Southern-belle housekeeper and a frantic

funeral director. The actors juggle multiple roles with speed and

versatility, aided by director Jeffrey Addiss. Another solo piece,

Keaton Talmadge's "Define: dif-fer-ent," is about a straight woman who's

thoroughly disconcerted to find herself attracted to a lesbian -- until

she discovers that gay relations can be as disillusioning as straight

ones. Talmadge (who inherited her first name from grandfather Buster

Keaton) is a hip, skillful and attractive performer, ably shepherded by

director Kelleia Sheerin. (Neal Weaver). Fridays, Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.

Continues through Sept. 21, plays411.com/spumoni. The Complex, 6476

Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-465-0383, www.complexhollywood.com.


St. Jude:

Written and performed by Luis Alfaro and directed by Robert Egan,

Alfaro faces his father's stroke and a flood of family memories with

poignant clarity and gentle humor. Sat., Sept. 14, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept.

15, 8 p.m.; Thu., Sept. 19, 8 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 20, 8 p.m.; Sat., Sept.

21, 4 p.m.; Tue., Sept. 24, 8 p.m.; Thu., Sept. 26, 9 p.m.; Sat., Sept.

28, 8:30 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 29, 1 p.m.; Tue., Oct. 1, 8 p.m.; Fri., Oct.

4, 9 p.m.; Sat., Oct. 5, 4 p.m.; Sun., Oct. 6, 7 p.m. Kirk Douglas

Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City, 213-628-2772,

www.centertheatregroup.org.


Steel Magnolias:

Robert Harling's classic southern comedy-drama about Truvy's beauty

parlor and the women who regularly gather there. Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8

p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Oct. 6. East West Players, 120

N. Judge John Aiso St., Los Angeles, 213-625-7000,

www.eastwestplayers.org.


GO: The Taming of the Shrew: The slapstick, or batacchio,

which originated in the commedia dell'arte of 16th-century Italy, is a

wooden device used to create a loud, smacking sound. So it seems fitting

that in staging Shakespeare's contemporaneous tale of a headstrong

woman who finally meets her match, director Ellen Geer plays its

physical comedy to the hilt, incorporating slide whistles, drums and

other noisemaking devices to punctuate the onstage pratfalls, fisticuffs

and acrobatics. The choice is mostly effective, but it's Geer's

vivacious staging of the battle between Katharina (a hilariously

histrionic Willow Geer) and Petruchio (a charmingly macho Aaron Hendry)

that makes the show. Their terrifically torrential tango is complemented

by Petruchio's servant, Grumio (Melora Marshall), who delivers

perfectly pitched Shakespearean asides and wordplay, showcasing both

sides of the "wise fool." The remaining cast members, clad in Val

Miller's gorgeous period costumes, admirably execute their roles as

well. The play's conclusion, with its seeming support for the patriarchy

(or is it to be merely taken as farce?) is a bit jarring. Nonetheless,

this wonderful, sylvan hideaway, where 40 years ago its namesake founder

created a haven for artists, retains its rustic charm and remains an

excellent setting for a night of Shakespeare. (Mayank Keshaviah). Fri.,

Sept. 13, 8 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 21, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 29, 3:30 p.m. Will

Geer Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga,

310-455-3723, theatricum.com.


Tone Clusters:

A drama by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Joyce Carol Oates, about an

ordinary husband and wife who find themselves trapped under nightmarish

attention when their son is arrested as the alleged killer of a

neighborhood girl. The playwright will be present on opening night for a

panel discussion after the performance. Thu., Sept. 19, 8 p.m.; Thu.,

Sept. 26, 8 p.m.; Fri., Oct. 4, 8 p.m.; Sat., Oct. 12, 8 p.m. Will Geer

Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga,

310-455-3723, www.theatricum.com/index.html.

Twilight Zone Unscripted:

There is good reason for live improv's reputation as the high-wire

balancing act of comedy. But even the Flying Wallendas can have an off

night. And in the case of Impro Theatre's long-form send-up of Rod

Serling's 1960s sci-fi anthology classic, "off" can prove very deadly

indeed. Directed by Jo McGinley and Stephen Kearin, the Impro troupers

(who on this evening included Lisa Fredrickson, Brian Michael Jones,

Brian Lohmann, Nick Massouh, Michele Spears, Floyd VanBuskirk and

director McGinley) ad-lib four half-hour episodes from audience

suggestions, replete with spot-on riffs of the series' signature Serling

monologues. MVPs VanBuskirk, Fredrickson and Lohman each managed to

knock at least one of their teammates' uninspired curves high into the

stands. In between, however, the proceedings were a pointed reminder of

why the outer limits of an improvised sketch remains four minutes: In

live comedy, laughless seconds can seem like dog years to an

uncaptivated audience. (Bill Raden). Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.;

Sundays, 4 p.m. Continues through Sept. 29,

falcontheatre.com/twilight_zone_unscripted.html. Falcon Theatre, 4252

Riverside Drive, Burbank, 818-955-8101, www.falcontheatre.com.



Uncle Ho to Uncle Sam:

PlaywrightTrieu Tran recalls the harrowing journey he took from Vietnam

to Canada to the United States, and his quest to find some place to

belong. Written by Tran with Robert Egan and directed by Egan. Tue.,

Sept. 17, 8 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 21, 8:30 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 22, 8 p.m.;

Wed., Sept. 25, 8 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 27, 8 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 28, 4 p.m.;

Sun., Sept. 29, 7 p.m.; Wed., Oct. 2, 8 p.m.; Sat., Oct. 5, 8:30 p.m.;

Sun., Oct. 6, 4 p.m. Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver

City, 213-628-2772, www.centertheatregroup.org.


A View From the Bridge:

Many consider Arthur Miller's dramas moral tragedies, but you also can

think of them as mysteries, as their narratives contain events whose

true meaning only becomes clear at the end. Longshoreman Eddie (Vince

Melocchi) is a salt-of-the-earth type who thinks he's doing a good deed

when he lets a pair of his wife's distant cousins, both illegal

immigrants from the old country, move in with his family. He soon has

reason to rue this decision, though, as his lovely niece, Catherine

(Lisa Cirincione), falls in love with the more handsome of the two

cousins, Rodolpho (Jeff Lorch) -- and Eddie is destroyed by his own

inexplicably over-the-top jealousy. This is a mostly powerful, admirably

straightforward production by co-directors Marilyn Fox and Dana

Jackson, which stumbles slightly during the clumsy, frenetically staged

final sequence. The production is anchored by Melocchi's nicely gruff

Eddie, whose turn suggests a character swept along by passions he lacks

the articulacy to express. (Paul Birchall). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.;

Sundays, 3 p.m.; Thursdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Sept. 22. Pacific

Resident Theatre, 703 Venice Blvd., Venice, 310-822-8392,

www.pacificresidenttheatre.com.


WaveFest:

A theater festival comprised of three "waves" of short plays over six

weekends, centered on the theme "Go West." The plays will explore

stories of the Westside and Southern California through the lens of

history, neighborhood, culture, myths, and the entertainment industry.

For a complete schedule and line up visit SantaMonicaRep.org. Sat.,

Sept. 14; Sun., Sept. 15; Sat., Sept. 21; Sun., Sept. 22; Sat., Sept.

28; Sun., Sept. 29; Fri., Oct. 4; Sun., Oct. 6; Sat., Oct. 12; Sun.,

Oct. 13, www.SantaMonicaRep.org. Church in Ocean Park, 235 Hill St.,

Santa Monica, 310-399-1631, www.churchop.org.


What Doesn't Kill You: An Evening of One-Act Plays:

Each of two average, kitchen-sink tragedies, with some levity

throughout, take as their focus the troubled relationship between adult

daughters and their wayward, alcoholic parents. In You'll Just Love My Dad,

written by Stephanie Jones and Peter Schuyler, an old homeless guy

breaks into a home and starts snooping around before running himself a

bath. When Jennifer (Bree Pavey) arrives home, it doesn't take her long

to work out who's responsible, even though she hasn't seen her father,

Duke (Wayne Baldwin), for seven years. When her sister Cheryl (April

Morrow) shows up, babbling with excitement, the pair clashes on how to

deal with dear old annoying Dad. Pavey handles the play's slightly wacky

tone by maintaining a nice balance between hysteria and exasperated

resignation. Pavey also stars in -- and scripted -- It Feels Like Her,

the second, more in-depth study of a daughter who has given up on her

alcoholic mother. Stephanie Jones is great as the flawed parent,

especially in a tearful, confessional monologue. Barbera Ann Howard

convincingly portrays frail old Grammy. Cameron Hastings Britton is also

good in two roles. (Note: one-hour dinner break between the one-acts.)

(Pauline Adamek). Saturdays, 7 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through

Sept. 15. Loft Ensemble, 929 E. Second St. No. 105, Los Angeles,

213-680-0392, www.loftensemble.com.


What Kind of God?:

The world premiere of a new play by KPCC morning radio host Steve

Julian, which explores the price paid by victims of the Catholic Church

sex abuse scandal. Starting Sept. 14, Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.;

Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Oct. 20. Elephant Stages, Lillian

Theatre, 1076 Lillian Way, Los Angeles.


The Wizard of Oz:

Follow the yellow brick road to the Pantages for this fun, timeless

classic. This new production includes all the original songs plus new

music by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Tue., Sept. 17, 7:30 p.m.;

Wed., Sept. 18, 7:30 p.m.; Thu., Sept. 19, 7:30 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 20, 8

p.m.; Sat., Sept. 21, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 22, 1 & 6:30 p.m.;

Tue., Sept. 24, 7:30 p.m.; Wed., Sept. 25, 7:30 p.m.; Thu., Sept. 26,

7:30 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 27, 8 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 28, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun.,

Sept. 29, 1 & 6:30 p.m.; Tue., Oct. 1, 7:30 p.m.; Wed., Oct. 2,

7:30 p.m.; Thu., Oct. 3, 7:30 p.m.; Fri., Oct. 4, 8 p.m.; Sat., Oct. 5, 2

& 8 p.m.; Sun., Oct. 6, 1 & 6:30 p.m. Pantages Theater, 6233

Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, 800-982-2787, www.hollywoodpantages.com.



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