Daniel J. roberts and Bruce Ladd in A Perfect Likeness, in which Lewis Carroll meets Charles Dickens
Lewis Carroll meets Charles Dickens in Daniel Rover Singer's play on the literati at South Pasadena's Fremont Centre Theatre, called A Perfect Likeness
. Our critic Deborah Klugman enjoyed it so much, it's this week's Pick.
Warm-hearted reviews also for Barrymore (Good People Theater Company at Greenway Arts Alliance), which is also this week's stage feature; Tom Dudzick's Miracle on South Division Street at Burbank's Colony Theatre; and Eric Rockwell and Joanne Bogart's parody of musicals: and The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!) (Chromolume Theatre at the Attic).
See below for all the latest new theater reviews and region-wide stage listings.
NEW THEATER REVIEWS, scheduled for publication November 13, 2013:
Gordon Goodman as John Barrymore
William Luce's two-man show about John Barrymore trying to revive his moribund acting career in 1942. Good People Theater Company at Greenway Arts Alliance. See theater feature.
BREAKING AND ENTERING
Matthew Sklar and Katherine Canipe
You'll enjoy this twist on the curmudgeonly writer-meets-idealistic student trope more if you approach it as less a work of naturalism than a playful dive into the macabre. Colin Mitchell, creator of theater website L.A. Bitter Lemons, has written a screwball horror story that's a backhanded paean to J.D. Salinger. While it's steeped in fondness and black humor as it deconstructs our fascination with author mystique, the characters lack the flesh and blood to give what cleverness there is staying power, or the audience enough reason to care. An ambitious postgrad (Katherine Canipe) invades her idol's (Matthew Sklar) house during a power outage and refuses to leave until he writes the prologue to her novel, setting in motion events she claims her manuscript has predicted. Director Sebastian Muñoz has the actors declaim to the audience rather than interact. We skate along the surface of these characters, who are updated versions of essentially stock types. Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8:30 p.m.; through Nov. 29. (818) 202-4120, zombiejoes.homestead.com. (Jenny Lower)
IT'S THE BIZ
Jeff Sable and Paul Mischeshin
It's 1983 in Michael Grossman's show-business melodrama, and an aspiring young screenwriter Marty (Paul Mischeshin) is hired to be the assistant to honorable talent agent Wally (Kelly Gullett). If the idea of an honorable agent sounds oxymoronic -- well, not to worry, these things are relative. As he learns the ropes, Marty's assistance in putting out his boss's fires with a petulant actor (Hunter Smit), a flaky writer (Jeff Sable) and Wally's former business partner (Dyan Kane) quickly make him realize that tinsel can still be dreary, even if it glitters. Grossman's script is a plodding, artificially strung-out device that's top-heavy with showbiz clichés and disappointingly banal dialogue. Director Paul Morgan Fredrix's trudging production, full of halting, shuffling blocking and odd pauses, does the well-intentioned performers no favors. Still, Mischeshin's boyishly awkward Marty is an amusing dead ringer for Christopher Reeve's Clark Kent, though Albany's wheeling-dealing Wally is perhaps too inscrutable and businesslike to engender much passion, either positive or negative. Promenade Playhouse, 1404 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica; Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; through Nov. 24. (323) 960-4443, plays411.com/itsthebiz. (Paul Birchall)
GO: MIRACLE ON SOUTH DIVISION STREET
Meghan Andrews and Ellen Crawford
When playwright Tom Dudzick was growing up in Buffalo, N.Y., in the 1950s, one local landmark was a 20-foot shrine for the Blessed Virgin, beside a small barbershop. According to local legend, the shrine was erected by the barber after the Blessed Mother appeared in his shop one Christmas Eve. Dudzick latched onto the story and used it as the basis for this fictionalized account. The barber's daughter, Clara Nowak (Ellen Crawford), is still, 65 years later, the keeper of the shrine. A devout Catholic (she's appalled by the notion that Jesus might actually have been Jewish), she has turned her three grown children into shills to attract visitors -- and contributions -- to the shrine. But they're growing restive. Garbage collector Jimmy (Brian Ibsen) secretly has a Jewish girlfriend. Ketchup bottler Beverly (Meghan Andrews) is more interested in bowling. Would-be actress Ruth (Karianne Flaathen) is creating a one-woman show based on the inside story behind the family legend. But her revelations transform the legend -- and the family. Dudzick has written a slick, funny comedy, Brian Shnipper directs it with panache and the skillful actors expertly mine the comic possibilities. Colony Theatre, 555 N. Third St., Burbank; Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m., Sat., 3 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m. (no perfs Nov. 28-Dec. 1); through Dec. 16. (818) 558-7000, colonytheatre.org. (Neal Weaver)
GO: THE MUSICAL OF MUSICALS (THE MUSICAL!)
Christina Morrell, Jason Peter Kennedy, Eduardo Enrikez and Jean Altadel
Eric Rockwell and Joanne Bogarts's amusing creation is actually an anti-musical musical parsed out into five acts, all of which parody the styles and works of famous composers and lyricists of the genre, all with the same mundane theme: "I can't pay the rent." Four actors play all the roles. Corn is in the style of Rodgers & Hammerstein, with references to Oklahoma, South Pacific and others. Jidder (Eduardo Enrikez) will force June (Jean Altadel) to marry him if she can't pay rent, but her true love, Big Willy (Jason Peter Kennedy), saves the day. A Little Complex is a nod to Stephen Sondheim and casts Jitter as an unhinged, frustrated artist and landlord, with bad intentions toward the equally neurotic Jeune. Dear Abby is pure Jerry Herman (Mame, Hello Dolly), where Mr. Jitters forgets the rent and goes gloriously drag queen, while Aunt Abby (Christina Morrell) plays matchmaker. Aspects of Junita is a poke at Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera and Cats, with Jitter as the masked madman/impresario and Junita as his romantic interest. Speakeasy is a bawdy take on Kander & Ebb's Chicago and Cabaret. All five segments are a hoot. Kristin Towers-Rowles' direction is excellent, as are the cast performances, but the real star is musical director Richard Berent and his dazzling piano. Chromolume Theater at the Attic Theatre & Film Center, 5429 W. Washington Blvd., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; through Dec. 8. (323) 510-2688, crtheatre.com. (Lovell Estell III)
PICK OF THE WEEK: A PERFECT LIKENESS
Daniel J. roberts and Bruce Ladd in A Perfect Likeness, in which Lewis Carroll meets Charles Dickens
Charles Dodgson, more popularly known as Lewis Carroll, was a fascinating study in contrasts: a conservative, reticent, religiously devout lecturer in mathematics whose incredible imagination bred Alice in Wonderland and other wildly fantastical novels and poems. In writer-director Daniel Rover Singer's 90-minute two-hander A Perfect Likeness, the prim Dodgson (Daniel J. Roberts) spends an afternoon with an even more celebrated literary icon, Charles Dickens (Bruce Ladd), struggling to reconcile his prior adoration for the universally acclaimed older writer with an appalled response to Dickens' rough language, bald earthiness and frank skepticism. Singer's script lends equal weight to both characters, but from the opening curtain Roberts seizes the limelight, with a pitch-perfect portrayal of a personage who might easily have been reduced to caricature. Ladd, a bit too stagily flamboyant at first, gains firmer footing as each character's secrets spill out and the encounter grows more intimate. Aficionados of either writer will appreciate the scenario's biographical detail, but this isn't a biopic and you don't have to be interested in 19th-century British literature to appreciate the play's odd-couple jousting and emotional poignancy. A scene in which Dodgson goes into a trance to reveal his nagging torments is optimally underscored by designer Will Hastings' lighting. Fremont Centre Theatre, 1000 Fremont Ave., S. Pasadena; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; through Dec. 22. (626) 441-5977, fremontcentretheatre.com (Deborah Klugman)
12 ANGRY MEN The most effective moment in Sheldon Epps' stately revival of Reginald Rose's hoary civics lesson of a 1950s courthouse crowd-pleaser may be when Brian L. Gale's crisp lights first come up on Stephanie Kerley Schwartz's purposefully ponderous set. Though supposedly a jurors room in Manhattan's Criminal Courts building, Kerley Schwartz's chilling modernist assemblage of heavy cast-concrete piers and steel security grilles cannily embodies the crushing institutional weight of America's racially flawed penal system. That note is emphatically underlined by Epps' half-white, half-black casting and some script tinkering that exaggerates the racist Juror 10 (Bradford Tatum) into a foul-mouthed member of the Aryan Nation. And while Jason George (in the Juror 8 role created by Henry Fonda) capably yet again persuades a recalcitrant (and nicely restrained) ensemble to set aside personal prejudice for pure reason, Epps' decision to set such a naturalistic play in the present while preserving its all-male casting creates an awkward anachronism. Though the biracial ensemble successfully refocuses the drama on race, the spectacle of a Manhattan (where the text says the play is set) or L.A. (where it's being performed) jury so glaringly bereft of women (or Latinos or Asian-Americans) pushes the conceit beyond the pale. Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena; Tues.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sat., 4 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; through Dec. 1. (626) 356-PLAY, pasadenaplayhouse.org. (Bill Raden)
WHY I DIED, A COMEDY!
Katie Rubin's energetic solo piece presents a typical tale of the struggling actor who, yearning for success, ventures on a journey of spiritual discovery and then cobbles together a string of experiences and calls it a show. The result is a meandering yarn featuring miscellaneous miracles and offering little insight with no clear resolution. Rubin switches between direct audience address and conversations with imagined, random characters, adopting various accents throughout as some kind of showcase of her abilities. She emulates a Jimmy Durante type to depict her gruff manager, Stan, a pep-talking bully who badgers her to build a funny show, urging her, "Keep it simple -- tell a fucking story!" Keyed up and wildly gesticulating, Rubin divulges her episode of deep depression, which prompts an investigation of Sufi mysticism. As an exasperated Stan laments toward the end of the show, his accent mysteriously absent, "I just don't understand what you're doing here." Neither do we. Hudson Theatres, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; through Nov. 23. (323) 960-7780, katierubin.com. (Pauline Adamek)
ONGOING SHOWS REGION-WIDE
Barrymore: In 1942, John Barrymore sits in an empty theater where he and his loyal prompter, Frank, attempt to run lines for a much anticipated reprise of Barrymore's Richard III. Written by William Luce. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through Dec. 1. Greenway Court Theater, 544 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, 323-655-7679, www.greenwayarts.org.
Beethoven and Misfortune Cookies: The true story of Kabin Thomas, a musician and Professor of Music at the University of Arkansas, who moves to Hollywood and appears in a reality TV show after he is fired for teaching a lesson about the song "Strange Fruit." Written by Joni Ravenna, directed by T.J. Castronovo. Sun., Nov. 17, 5:30 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 24, 5:30 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 1, 5:30 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 15, 5:30 p.m. Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-477-2055, www.odysseytheatre.com.
The Black Suits: There are many reasons why boys get together to form rock bands. But perhaps the most universal was given by Richard Hell when he famously explained, "I wanted to get laid." Unfortunately, nobody in Joe Iconis and Robert Emmett Maddock's vapid garage-band musical stands a chance in that department, at least not based on Iconis' undistinguished and anodyne, retro-pop-inflected score. Iconis and Maddock's book retreads an overly familiar tale of four high school misfits (Coby Getzug, Jimmy Brewer, Will Roland and Harrison Chad) who form a group to escape the mundanity of their suburban Long Island existence and compete in a local battle of the bands. As the story's predictable clash of artistic temperaments and generic teen angst plays out, neither John Simpkins' bland staging nor Charlie Rosen's curiously gutless music direction are able to evoke the sense of transgressive rebellion or raw sexual energy present in even the most inchoate of three-chord teenage garage rock. (Bill Raden). Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 1 & 6:30 p.m. Continues through Nov. 24. Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City, 213-628-2772, www.centertheatregroup.org.
Bob Baker's Holiday Spectacular: One of the theater's most requested shows, which has charmed audiences for generations. The Wizard of Fantasy and his sidekick Demi Star embark on a magical journey with a cast of over 100 exquisitely designed marionettes. Saturdays, Sundays, 2:30 p.m.; Tuesdays-Fridays, 10:30 a.m. Continues through Jan. 5. Bob Baker Marionette Theater, 1345 W. First St., Los Angeles, 213-250-9995, www.bobbakermarionettes.com.
Bob Hope's Birthday: Jeri Batzdorff's sweet and zany "pre-holiday" dramedy about a grandmother with Alzheimer's disease, whose caregiver leaves suddenly, bringing reluctant family members together to care for her. Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through Nov. 24. Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, 818-202-4120, zombiejoes.homestead.com.
Breaking and Entering: A darkly comic thriller about W.J. Trumbull, a Salinger-esque figure, whose hermetic existence is threatened when an obsessed fan breaks into his home. Written by Colin Mitchell, directed by Sebastian Muñoz. Fridays, Saturdays, 8:30 p.m. Continues through Nov. 29. Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, 818-202-4120, zombiejoes.homestead.com.
By the Bog of Cats: Marina Carr's Irish drama, based on Euripides' tragedy Medea. Hester Swain, a tinker who lives on the bog, is cast aside when her husband decides to marry a younger and wealthier woman. The past unravels in a whirlwind as Hester makes a final stand to reclaim the life she once knew. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Dec. 8. The Banshee, 3435 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, 818-846-5323, www.theatrebanshee.org.
Citizen Twain: Val Kilmer writes and stars in this portrayal of the great American writer. Thu., Nov. 21, 7:30 p.m.; Fri., Nov. 22, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 23, 2 & 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 24, 2 p.m. Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, 949-497-2787, www.lagunaplayhouse.com.
The Columnist: Joseph Alsop's scathing newspaper column extolled Kennedy's Camelot and advocated an escalation of the war in Vietnam, but the journalist could never reveal his life as a closeted gay man. A humorous new drama, written and directed by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer David Auburn. Fri., Nov. 15, 8 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 16, 3 & 8 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 17, 4 p.m. James Bridges Theater, 1409 Melnitz Hall, Westwood, 310-206-8365.
GO: Creditors: A despondent young artist, Adolf (Burt Grinstead), laments his problematic marriage, pouring his heart out to a new acquaintance, Gustav (Jack Stehlin), at a Swedish seaside resort. But as Gustav pries secrets from the weak-willed husband, smoothly poisoning him against his divorcée wife, Tekla (Heather Anne Prete), we observe tantalizing clues, revealing that this friendly fellow somehow knows too much. Incisively directed by David Trainer, playwright David Grieg's new version of August Strindberg's turn-of-the-century psychological thriller Creditors is a talky play that draws you in with its hypnotic spell. Grinstead is good as the crippled artist, whose crutches and poorly functioning legs are emblematic of his stunted emotionality and ready manipulation. Prete is great as the gallivanting wife, as she willfully misunderstands her husband when he confronts her with trumped-up accusations. Stehlin is phenomenal as the older man harboring dark motives, though his vindictive agenda is revealed before the play's devastating if melodramatic conclusion. The character itemizes his justification in a blistering tirade and your sympathies waver toward him -- just for a moment. Bitterly cynical but engrossing, Creditors is strictly for those who enjoy an intellectual argument spiked with misogyny and cyanide. (Pauline Adamek). Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Nov. 17. Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-477-2055, www.odysseytheatre.com.
Dallas Non-Stop: Girlie Capistrano is a provincial girl with big city dreams, living in Manila and working at the American Spirit Airlines call center. She's been obsessed with the American soap Dallas since she was a little girl. Written by Boni B. Alvarez and directed by Playwrights' Arena Founder and Artistic Director Jon Lawrence Rivera. Starting Nov. 16, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m.; Mon., Nov. 18, 6 p.m.; Mon., Nov. 25, 8 p.m.; Mon., Dec. 2, 6 p.m.; Mon., Dec. 9, 8 p.m. Continues through Dec. 9. Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave., Los Angeles, 323-644-1929, www.atwatervillagetheatre.com.
Delusion: Masque of Mortality: A Los Angeles-based horror event, running for its 3rd year. Every show-goer becomes their own protagonist in this interactive story, which takes place in the plague-riddled 1930s, with doctors promising not only a cure to the plague, but a life free of human limitations as well. Fri., Nov. 15, 7 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 16, 6 p.m.; Thu., Nov. 21, 7 p.m.; Fri., Nov. 22, 7 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 23, 6 p.m., www.enterdelusion.com. Bethany Presbyterian Church, 1629 Griffith Park Blvd., Los Angeles.
Disney's The Lion King: Marvel at the breathtaking spectacle of animals brought to life by award-winning director Julie Taymor, whose visual images for this show you'll remember forever. A five-time Tony award-winning production. Wed., Nov. 20, 1 & 7:30 p.m.; Thu., Nov. 21, 7:30 p.m.; Fri., Nov. 22, 8 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 23, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 24, 1 & 6:30 p.m.; Tue., Nov. 26, 7:30 p.m.; Wed., Nov. 27, 1 & 7:30 p.m.; Fri., Nov. 29, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 30, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 1, 1 p.m.; Tue., Dec. 3, 7:30 p.m.; Wed., Dec. 4, 7:30 p.m.; Thu., Dec. 5, 7:30 p.m.; Fri., Dec. 6, 8 p.m.; Sat., Dec. 7, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 8, 1 & 6:30 p.m.; Tue., Dec. 10, 7:30 p.m.; Wed., Dec. 11, 7:30 p.m.; Thu., Dec. 12, 7:30 p.m.; Fri., Dec. 13, 8 p.m.; Sat., Dec. 14, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 15, 1 & 6:30 p.m.; Tue., Dec. 17, 7:30 p.m.; Wed., Dec. 18, 7:30 p.m.; Thu., Dec. 19, 7:30 p.m.; Fri., Dec. 20, 8 p.m.; Sat., Dec. 21, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 22, 1 & 6:30 p.m.; Mon., Dec. 23, 7:30 p.m.; Tue., Dec. 24, 2 p.m.; Thu., Dec. 26, 2 & 7:30 p.m.; Fri., Dec. 27, 8 p.m.; Sat., Dec. 28, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 29, 1 & 6:30 p.m.; Mon., Dec. 30, 7:30 p.m.; Tue., Dec. 31, 2 p.m.; Thu., Jan. 2, 2 & 7:30 p.m.; Fri., Jan. 3, 8 p.m.; Sat., Jan. 4, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 5, 1 & 6:30 p.m.; Tue., Jan. 7, 7:30 p.m.; Wed., Jan. 8, 1 & 7:30 p.m.; Thu., Jan. 9, 7:30 p.m.; Fri., Jan. 10, 8 p.m.; Sat., Jan. 11, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 12, 1 p.m. Pantages Theater, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, 800-982-2787, www.hollywoodpantages.com.
GO:Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Mark Twain wrote, "Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody." So it is in Robert Louis Stevenson's classic novella of dual personalities and scientific overreach. This adaptation by Jeffrey Hatcher uses a cast of six actors, and is set in the dark alleyways of Victorian London, cleverly depicted in Ellen Lenbergs' set design of skewed lightposts and brick walls. In a portrayal infused with a convincing mix of arrogance and vulnerability, Stephen Van Dorn does the honors as Dr. Henry Jekyll, the ambitious physician who desires to find a door to the mind and "isolate the beast in man's nature." Isaac Wade and Mark Bramhall are equally effective as the murderous Edward Hyde (oddly, in this adaptation, throughout the performance, two actors switch off playing the character). Director Mary Jo Duprey opts for a less terrifying presentation of Hyde (see the film version with Spencer Tracy as hokey, hairy beast), which brings the psychic split into sharper relief. Hyde even has a love interest, Elizabeth Jelkes (Greyson Chadwick), which further underscores an elemental humanity. This philosophical retelling of this old tale is well done, and features a fine ensemble. Pablo Santiago's lighting schema is exceptional. (Lovell Estell III). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2:30 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 16, 2:30 p.m. Continues through Nov. 17. Actors Co-op, 1760 N. Gower St., Los Angeles, 323-462-8460, www.actorsco-op.org.
The Roman Catholic Mime Collective: A Divine Comedy Show: A troupe of three performing sketch comedy dedicated to celebrating the life of Jesus with wit, poignancy, and a dash of blasphemous adoration. Fri., Nov. 15, 10:30 p.m. Eclectic Company Theatre, 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Valley Village, 818-508-3003, www.eclecticcompanytheatre.org.
Elvis' Toenail: In 1961 Ireland, a group of factory workers discovers one of their coworkers is a young pregnant runaway. Written by Fionnuala Kenny, directed by Joe Banno. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Dec. 3. Sidewalk Studio Theatre, 4150 Riverside Drive, Burbank, 818-558-5702, www.sidewalkstudiotheatre.com.
GO: Endgame: "Nothing is funnier than unhappiness; it's the most comical thing in the world," chimes Nell (Jill Hill), one of the very unhappy souls in Samuel Beckett's 1957 absurdist classic, Endgame, about four pitiful characters trapped in a decrepit room as the outside world collapses in decay and sterility. Unlike the equally pitiful tramps in Waiting for Godot, there is no expectation of hope or purpose, just the agonizing passage of time, ending in an inevitable, painful demise. Nell's misery is shared with Nag (Mitchell Edmonds): Both are confined to battered rubbish cans, and periodically emerge to ask for a stale biscuit or engage in meaningless chatter. Perched upon a grotesque caricature of a throne sits the blind and crippled Hamm (Geoff Elliott), whose every whim and need is grudgingly tended to by the bent, shuffling Clov (Jeremy Rabb), in a perverted, meaningless ritual of servitude. Jeanine A. Ringer's rusted building interior, strewn with scraps of trash, makes a fitting backdrop for this doleful scenario. Elliott's direction is as spot-on as his performance; he skillfully accents the play's comic and lyrical elements without compromising Beckett's dark, relentlessly blighted vision. This superb revival showcases fine performances from other cast members as well, especially Rabb, who raises chuckles every time he moves. (Lovell Estell III). Sun., Nov. 17, 2 & 7 p.m.; Fri., Nov. 22, 8 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 23, 2 & 8 p.m. A Noise Within, 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, 626-356-3100, www.anoisewithin.org.
Every Christmas Story Ever Told...and then some: A playful exploration of many different Christmas traditions. Written by Michael Carleton, Jim FitzGerald, and John K. Alvarez. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 1, 2 p.m.; Wed., Dec. 4, 8 p.m.; Thu., Dec. 5, 8 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 8, 2 p.m. Continues through Dec. 14. Little Fish Theatre, 777 Centre St., San Pedro, 310-512-6030, www.littlefishtheatre.org.
Exit the King: Although Exit the King was written as a response to World War II, what comes as a surprise in director Pat Towne's manic revival of Eugène Ionesco's withering, existential allegory is that the play's apocalyptic vision of a Western civilization in social and moral collapse feels no less resonant or relevant to our own day. That said, no one can accuse Towne of a light touch. Jeff Alan-Lee's steamroller turn as King Berenger I all but flattens the screwball loopiness of Ionesco's slapstick into an unmodulated shriek. Erin Matthews and Jill Bennett (along with the fine Nicholas Ullett as the Doctor) provide a more measured restraint as the antic royal consorts, while a handsome set by Christopher Murillo and goth-accented costumes by Halei Parker lend the proceedings a smart polish. But it is only Matt Richter's strikingly sculpted lighting and hauntingly poetic sound that fully tap the poignancy and power latent in Ionesco's calculated absurdity. (Bill Raden). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Nov. 30. NoHo Actors Studios, 5215 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, 818-761-2166, www.thenohoactorsstudio.com.
: Exploring the dynamic and complicated reality of a family with an autistic 18 year-old, this play poses difficult questions about loving someone who is hard to love. The Martins try to lead a normal life, but when a relative comes to visit, the entire family is thrown out of equilibrium. Written by Deanna Jent. See Stage feature: http://www.laweekly.com/2013-10-24/stage/falling-rogue-machine/
. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Dec. 1. Rogue Machine Theatre, 5041 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, 855-585-5185, www.roguemachinetheatre.com.
A Family Affair: A staged reading of Alexander Ostrovsky's play about a greedy merchant, Bolshov, who submits a fraudulent bankruptcy application with the help of his clerk and a crooked lawyer. Adapted by Nick Dear. Sun., Nov. 17, 2 p.m. Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-469-9988.
First Annual Solo Performer Empowerment Day Festival: Multicultural and interdisciplinary artists perform theatre, dance, storytelling, performance art, performance poetry, spoken word, mime, aerialism, music, song, and stand-up comedy. Presented by Los Angeles Women's Theatre Festival (LAWTF) in association with the Fremont Centre Theatre. For the full schedule and line-up visit www.lawtf.org. Sat., Nov. 16, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., www.lawtf.org. Fremont Centre Theatre, 1000 Fremont Ave., South Pasadena, 626-441-5977, www.fremontcentretheatre.com.
GO: Flowers for Algernon: Daniel Keyes' now classic sci-fi story about a mentally challenged man whose IQ skyrockets after a surgical procedure tackles not only how we treat disabled individuals but how ephemeral are those intangible values -- love, life, respect -- that we cherish. Directed by Matthew McCray, Deaf West Theatre's signed and spoken production of David Rogers' stage adaptation is a mixed bag, its awkward staging offset by Daniel Durant's charismatic lead performance as Charlie, along with the capable work of several others in the cast. Though never quite persuasive as a towering intellect, Durant's overwhelming likability in every scene compels attention. Especially effective are his lovely interchanges with Hillary Baack, exuding her own unpretentious charm as his teacher and vulnerable love interest. The production's weaknesses have to do with the side-by-side placement of signing and speaking performers, a cluttering visual distraction that detracts from the drama. Also confusing is having some performers sign for one character while taking on the role of another, a choice that emanates from the paring of the original 30-person ensemble to 12. McCray's staging of flashbacks behind a scrim adds resonant texture to the narrative, as do lighting designer Jeremy Pivnick's blue, green and gray changes in the backdrop's hue. (Deborah Klugman). Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Nov. 17, $30. Whitefire Theater, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, 818-990-2324, www.whitefiretheatre.com.
GO: Gidion's Knot: Aaron Francis' bold scenic design has the audience seated in school desks for Gidion's Knot, getting you into the right frame of mind for Johnna Adams' intense one-act showdown between a fifth-grade teacher and a parent. Corryn (Vonessa Martin) shows up for a teacher-parent conference, having been summoned a few days earlier by Miss Clark (Paula Cale Lisbe) after she inexplicably suspended Corryn's son, Gidion. The 11-year-old child has since committed suicide, so Miss Clark assumed the meeting wasn't going to happen, and she's ill prepared when Corryn shows up anyway, wanting answers. The bereft mother becomes increasingly incensed by the teacher's evasive behavior. Throughout the play, certain details are clawed into the open, such as Miss Clark's scant two years of experience as a teacher -- something that Corryn, a graduate professor of literature, pounces on -- as well as some unexpected common ground. Adams' short (barely 80-minute) play is a well-crafted and powerful experience, tackling heavy subject matter including bullying, suicide and schoolyard homophobia. A scathing indictment of the incompetency of school officials, Adams' script is confrontational and thought-provoking. (Pauline Adamek). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2:30 & 7:30 p.m. Continues through Nov. 24. Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena, 626-356-PLAY, www.pasadenaplayhouse.org.
God's Gypsy: A sexy and humanizing portrait of Teresa of Avila, the 16th century mystic who became one of the most controversial reformers of the Catholic Church. Based on the novel Sister Teresa by New York Times bestselling author Bárbara Mujica. Written by Coco Blignaut. Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 6 p.m.; Thu., Nov. 21, 8 p.m.; Thursdays, 8 p.m.; Thursdays, 8 p.m.; Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 6 p.m. Continues through Jan. 12. Elephant Stages, Lillian Theatre, 1076 Lillian Way, Los Angeles.
Goldilocks and The Three Bears: A musical version of the classic tale, performed for children and families by Storybook Theatre. Saturdays, 1 p.m. Continues through Feb. 22. Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. W., Los Angeles, 323-851-7977, www.theatrewest.org.
A Good Grief
: A dark comedy, written by Leslie Hardy and directed by Jeffrey Wylie. During a new session of grief counseling, four strangers struggling with their own steps in the grieving process start on a collision course into each other's issues. See Stage feature: http://www.laweekly.com/2013-11-07/stage/rogue-machine-lounge-theatre/
. Sundays, 3 p.m.; Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 30, 8 p.m. Continues through Nov. 23. Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-469-9988.
The Guardsman: Of the 42 plays written by the Hungarian Ferenc Molnár, few have found a permanent foothold on the English-language stage to the degree of this 1910 farce about vanity, artifice and theatrical illusion. It is, in short, an old chestnut of the pre-World War I high style. Unfortunately, director Michael Michetti's otherwise handsome revival (on Tom Buderwitz's elegant set and under Adam Frank's bravura lighting) can't quite blow enough of the dust off Molnár's antique ironies and patent absurdities to ignite more than polite titters. Freddy Douglas is the neurotically insecure Budapest matinee idol convinced that his stage-diva wife (Elyse Mirto) is entertaining ideas of an affair. To trap her, he sets out to seduce her in the guise of a dashing Viennese officer. While Douglas plays his part with flamboyant relish, Mirto's aloof and remote turn results in an unsettling chemistry that only comically catalyzes when the two share a scene with the fine Robertson Dean as "The Critic." (Bill Raden). Fri., Nov. 15, 8 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 16, 8 p.m.; Thu., Nov. 21, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 30, 2 & 8 p.m. A Noise Within, 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, 626-356-3100, www.anoisewithin.org.
GO: The Homosexuals: Philip Dawkins' comedy revolves around Evan (boyishly cute blond Brian Dare), who arrives in town as a naive, newly out greenhorn but soon joins a mildly incestuous circle of gay friends, including four guys and one girl, Tam (Kelly Schumann), a history teacher and sassy, self-defined fag hag. Collin (Matt Crabtree) falls for Evan on sight, and they become lovers. Michael (Kurt Quinn) is the nice-but-nebbishy guy who can't get laid. Mark (David Fraioli) is a slightly saturnine art teacher and gay activist, whose attempt to seduce Evan ends in a fight. British Mark (Ben Patterson) is buff, black and British, and his attempt to seduce Evan ends in stalemate, perhaps because both men are tops -- though that might be negotiable. Peter (Butch Klein) is a musical comedy queen, who becomes Collin's successor as Evan's lover. Each of the six scenes is interesting and entertaining, but there's little real action and the narrative arc is weak -- a fact emphasized by the playing of the scenes in reverse order, à la Merrily We Roll Along. But the piece is largely redeemed by director Michael Matthews' fine production and excellent performances from all the actors. (Neal Weaver). Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Dec. 21, $26. Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave., Los Angeles, 323-644-1929, www.atwatervillagetheatre.com.
The House at Pooh Corner: Join Winnie The Pooh, Piglet, Rabbit, Owl, Tigger and Eeyore on their adventures with Christopher Robin in the Hundred Acre Wood. Adapted by Bettye Knapp from the book by A.A. Milne. Directed by Bonnie Hellman. Fridays, Saturdays, 7 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Nov. 24. Eclectic Company Theatre, 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Valley Village, 818-508-3003, www.eclecticcompanytheatre.org.
Invisible Cities: Historic meets high tech as audiences equipped with the latest wireless headphones wander through L.A.'s iconic Union Station following dancers and musicians in Invisible Cities. Described as an "invisible opera", the libretto and music by Christopher Cerrone were inspired by a novel by Italo Calvino. Choreographer Danielle Agami and L.A. Dance Project dancers contribute their talents to this innovative twist on the site specific performance. Fri., Nov. 15, 7:30 & 10 p.m., $25, www.sennheiser.com. Union Station, 800 N. Alameda St., Los Angeles, 213-683-6897.
Ise Lyfe: Pistols & Prayers: HBO Def Poetry Jam vet Ise Lyfe's provocative multimedia show, which blends spoken word, hip-hop and theater, was cut short after a sensational first act because of technical difficulties. A shame, because I, like the rest of the audience, was looking forward to the second act. Act I was driven by a selection of moody, introspective prose works and poems that survey the terrain of American culture and the black experience, starting with a moving tribute to God and the Ancestors. Lyfe is equal parts poet and street savvy philosophe who has a knack for telling it like it is. In the segment "They Like everything about us, but us," he takes a blowtorch to political correctness and race relations, riffing on the hidden antagonisms between and among ethnic groups. "LOL" is a knee-slapping funny exploration of our enduring obsession with the almighty acronym. (Lovell Estell III). Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Nov. 27. Greenway Court Theater, 544 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, 323-655-7679, www.greenwayarts.org.
It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play: A live 1940's style radio broadcast of the American holiday classic, set on the stage of a New York radio station. Presented by the Kentwood Players. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Dec. 14. Westchester Playhouse, 8301 Hindry Ave., Los Angeles, 310-645-5156, www.kentwoodplayers.org.
It's The Biz: A new comedy about the workaday reality of show business from the perspective of two talent agents. Written by Michael Grossman, directed by Paul Fredrix. Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through Nov. 24. Promenade Playhouse, 1404 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica, 310-656-8070, www.promenadeplayhouse.com.
: 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. (323) 960-4442, justimaginetheshow.com
. (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.
GO: The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later: The original production of The Laramie Project rode on the wave of passion and grief spawned by the murder of Matthew Shepard. The current work, which looks at Laramie and the related issues as they appear 10 years after the fact, is necessarily more contemplative and thoughtful, but it builds up its own brand of steam. Predictably, opinions of Laramie, Wyo., citizens were all over the place. Some felt that Matthew had been forgotten too quickly, while others felt that his story had become a millstone around the town's neck, fostered by the media. But largely due to a 20/20 broadcast, which ignored the trial evidence and claimed that the murder was not a hate crime but just a drug-infused robbery gone wrong, a softer, less upsetting, revisionist view has been adopted by many local citizens. The script, richly based on actual words of those involved, including murderer Aaron McKinney (Michael Hanson, alternating with Dylan Seaton), and Shepard's mother, Judy (Elizabeth Herron), is acted with passion by 10 wonderfully gifted actors, accompanied by folk singer Johanna Chase. Director Ken Sawyer demonstrates that, although the documentary approach is not sensational, it's nevertheless gripping, effective and deeply affecting. (Neal Weaver). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through Nov. 24. Davidson Valentini Theatre, 1125 N. McCadden Place, Los Angeles, 323-860-7300, www.lagaycenter.org.
The Late, Late Show: It's probably not surprising that a show about a vampire that opened on Halloween night features great costumes and is quite the visual spectacle. A fantasia spanning three acts and three vastly different time periods in the life of 300-year-old former slave Porphyrion (creator and performer Paul Outlaw), the piece is a playground for visual exploration, and director Asher Hartman and scenic and lighting designer François-Pierre Couture take full advantage by transforming the theater into three separate, eye-catching performance spaces: a Los Angeles speakeasy in 1947, a gay L.A. fetish club in 2157, and a North Carolina plantation in 1855. Inhabiting those spaces, with his smooth, beguiling manner and seductive singing voice, is Outlaw: crooning at the speakeasy, lording over his fawning minions in the futuristic club and struggling to survive the torture of the plantation. In each act, Porphyrion sports vastly different looks, courtesy of costume designers Angi Bell Ursetta and Brian Getnick's imaginative tricks with fabrics. But the storytelling never fully gels into a coherent dramatic throughline. (Mayank Keshaviah). Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m. Continues through Nov. 23. Bootleg Theater, 2200 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, 213-389-3856, www.bootlegtheater.org.
Letter to Larry: A portrayal of screen legend Vivien Leigh in her 100th birthday year. Starring Susie Lindeman. Fri., Nov. 15, 8 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 16, 8 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 17, 3 p.m. Hudson Theatres, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles.
GO:The Liar: The anglophone update of Pierre Corneille's 17th-century comedy of manners Le Menteur is a spun confection of verbal sleight of hand, romantic trickery and dramatic derring-do. The real star is David Ives' script, a "translaptation" from the French into pentameter couplets, brought to vivid life by Antaeus' cast (there are two alternating casts, per the company's custom) under Casey Stangl's direction. Compulsive untruth teller Dorante (Graham Hamilton in the performance reviewed) rolls into Paris and quickly ensnares Cliton (Brian Slaten), a guileless manservant, before falling swollen head over insouciant heels in love with Clarice (Kate Maher), whom he mistakes for her tart-tongued friend Lucrece (Ann Noble). Unbeknownst to him, Clarice also is secretly betrothed to Dorante's friend Alcippe (Joe Delafield), and dizzying dramatic contortions ensue. The exuberant cast led by Hamilton pirouettes through the verse, teasing out the comic potential from each witticism and double entendre, though they're somewhat hampered by the length -- come the second act, we've got a hangover brewing from the sugar rush. Angela Balogh Calin's costumes seem inspired by a goth prom: though aesthetically intriguing, their connection to the play's themes isn't obvious. Pine makes an amusingly complicit dupe, while Noble's appealing spunk parries with Hamilton's bravado. (Jenny Lower). Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Dec. 1. The Antaeus Company and Antaeus Academy, 5112 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood.
Light Up The Sky: The classic 1948 backstage comedy, written by Moss Hart. Starting Nov. 21, Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Dec. 22. Theatre 40 at the Reuben Cordova Theater, 241 Moreno, Beverly Hills, 310-364-0535, www.theatre40.org.
GO: The Lion in Winter: James Goldman's smart 1968 drama reimagines a nightmarish, home-for-the-holidays reunion for the dysfunctional family of 12th-century monarch Henry II and his estranged wife, Eleanor (historically, a brilliant duo whose early political conquests rocked their generation). Thirty years into the marriage, relations have soured, with Eleanor (Diane Hurley) under indefinite house arrest for plotting Henry (John Rafter Lee)'s overthrow but furloughed on this holiday occasion to take part in determining his heir. The ostensible candidates are their sons: macho Richard (Adam Burch), clever Geoffrey (Clay Bunker) and oafish John (James Weeks), all angling for the crown and willing to betray and/or slay either parent or both to get it. The play's driving dynamic and witty dialogue are best displayed in the ruthless sparring between the spouses, in which razor-sharp take-downs flourish in tandem with a lingering mutual respect and, for Eleanor, a yet undiminished passion. A studied prologue and uneven performances hamper this production at its outset; once Hurley's tart-tongued matriarch enters the fray, however, the drama starts to cook. Lee successfully captures the king's monarchial will, sensual appetites and outsized personality but falls short when expressing his vulnerability in key moments. Michael Cooper directs. (Deborah Klugman). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Nov. 16. Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre, 626-355-4318, www.sierramadreplayhouse.org.
: This dramedy centers around Lone-Anon, a friendly, positive, court-ordered support group where forming a connection with other people is not only encouraged, it's mandatory. Written by Neil McGowan. See Stage feature: http://www.laweekly.com/2013-11-07/stage/rogue-machine-lounge-theatre/
. Fridays, Saturdays, 10:30 p.m. Continues through Dec. 14. Rogue Machine Theatre, 5041 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, 855-585-5185, www.roguemachinetheatre.com.
GO:Look Homeward, Angel: Ketti Frings' 1958 adaptation of Thomas Wolfe's autobiographical novel tells the story of young writer-to-be Eugene Gant (Grant Tambellini) and his embattled efforts to break free of his grasping, controlling mother, Eliza (Alison Blanchard), and his savagely dysfunctional family, and acquire an education. Frings' script won a Pulitzer Prize in its day, but in some respects time hasn't been kind to it, particularly in the early scenes, which seem weak, unfocused and dated. But once the lesser characters have been introduced, the power of the story takes over, as is the case in director T.L. Kolman's production. Tambellini nicely captures Eugene's raw vulnerability and coltish charm, and Blanchard provides an etched-in-acid portrait of Eliza, whose grasping nature makes her sacrifice the needs of her family to her money-making schemes, and who never lets reality intrude on her chosen beliefs. Geoffrey Wade scores as Eliza's alcoholic, domineering-but-ineffectual stone-cutter husband, and A.J. Jones plays Eugene's tubercular elder brother and mentor, Ben. His performance has its merits, but he coughs enough for a carload of Camilles and foreshadows too strongly and too soon his impending death. August Viverito designed the handsome black-and-white set. (Neal Weaver). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Dec. 14, $25. Secret Rose Theater, 11246 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, 877-620-7673, www.secretrose.com.
Lost Girls: Idiosyncratic characters, colorful language and clever one-liners don't always make a dramedy click. John Pollono's latest play is set in working-class New England and revolves around a divorced single mom, Maggie (Jennifer Pollono), who wakes one snowy morning to discover her car and teenage daughter, Erica (Anna Theoni DiGiovanni), missing. A call to law enforcement triggers a visit from Maggie's ex, Lou (Joshua Bitton), a state trooper. Accompanying him is his attractive second wife, Penny (Kirsten Kollender), whose presence fuels an already flammable mix of past resentments, not only between Lou and Maggie but between Maggie and her malcontent mom, Linda (Peggy Dunne). Director John Perrin Flynn has a skilled ensemble, but their talents don't coalesce into a believable narrative. The main problem is the plot's awkward contrivances. The production is often entertaining, but the many loose ends suggest it's been rushed to production prematurely. (Deborah Klugman). Saturdays, 5 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m.; Mondays, 8 p.m. Continues through Dec. 16. Rogue Machine Theatre, 5041 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, 855-585-5185, www.roguemachinetheatre.com.
Love on San Pedro: From the benches of San Julian Park to the walls of a raucous karaoke hall, Cornerstone's fourth play in The Hunger Cycle weaves an unlikely love story. Shunned by her community, Marjorie's weariness drags time to a near standstill. But when she's wooed by a man whose hope and hoop-shots know no bounds, her world speeds up fast. Of the 26 actors in Love on San Pedro, four are professional actors and 22 are community members. The majority of the community actors reside in Skid Row and are experiencing being on stage for the first time. The play is part of The Hunger Cycle, a nine-play series about hunger, justice and food equity issues, involving hundreds of residents from across the city and state. Presented by the Cornerstone Theater Company. Written by James McManus, directed by Shishir Kurup. Wednesdays, Thursdays, 6 p.m.; Fridays, Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2:30 p.m. Continues through Nov. 24. Los Angeles Mission College Gymnasium, 13356 Eldridge, Sylmar, 818-364-7660.
Macbeth: The classic Shakespearean drama, directed by Alex Levy. The Savage Players theater company presents an austere staging that encompasses the audience, creating an intimate, intense experience in which audience members become part of the world of Macbeth. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through Nov. 17. Live Arts Los Angeles, 4210 Panamint St., Los Angeles, www.liveartsla.com.
Marilyn - My Secret: This drama-comedy with music chronicles the life of Norma Jean from unwanted orphan, to bit player, to sex goddess. Written by Willard Manus and Odalys Nanin, directed and produced by Odalys Nanin. Starting Nov. 16, Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Thu., Nov. 21, 8 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 23, 5 p.m.; Sat., Dec. 21, 5 p.m. Continues through Dec. 21. Macha Theatre, 1107 N. Kings Road, West Hollywood, 323-654-0680, www.machatheatre.org/home.html.
Miracle on South Division Street: A new comedy about family and faith in Buffalo, New York. Written by Tom Dudzick, directed by Brian Shnipper. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Saturdays, 3 p.m. Continues through Dec. 16. Colony Theatre, 555 N. Third St., Burbank, 818-558-7000, www.colonytheatre.org.
Moskva: Written by the LA Weekly's own Steven Leigh Morris, this comic, macabre fantasy is based on the Russian novel The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. On a hot spring afternoon, the Devil and his entourage, trailing fire and chaos in their wake, emerge from the shadows of the underworld and weave themselves into the absurd and brutal realities of contemporary Moscow. Contains nudity. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 4 p.m. Continues through Dec. 15. City Garage at Bergamot Station Arts Center, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica, 310-453-9939, www.citygarage.org.
The Musical of Musicals, The Musical!: A musical about musicals. Book and music by Joanne Bogart and Eric Rockwell. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 8, 7 p.m. Continues through Dec. 1. Chromolume Theatre, 5429 W. Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-205-1617, www.chromolume-theatre.com.
The Mystery of Irma Vep: a penny dreadful: A comedic romp in a haunted estate that includes a vampire attack, a werewolf hunt and a journey to an ancient Egyptian tomb. The laughs erupt as a mystery unfolds in this side-splitting spoof of horror movies. Written by Charles Ludlam, directed by Jenny Sullivan. Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 4 p.m. Continues through Nov. 17. Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank, 818-955-8101, www.falcontheatre.com.
The Nisei Widows Club: How Tomi Got Her Groove Back: The third installment of a comic trilogy following the lives of a group of widowed Nisei ("second generation") women who only have each other in the face of loss and their search for love in their golden years. Written by Betty Tokudani and directed by Amy Hill. Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 p.m.; Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Dec. 8. East West Players, 120 N. Judge John Aiso St., Los Angeles, 213-625-7000, www.eastwestplayers.org.
GO: The Normal Heart: When the AIDS plague emerged in 1981, writer-activist Larry Kramer was devastated to learn that the larger society wasn't remotely concerned that gay men were dying by the thousands, and the gay community was refusing to admit its own responsibility. He set out to call the world to account, and tell unpopular truths to power. Driven by his own passionate concern, he launched ham-fisted attacks in all directions, making himself hated and resented. But in his semi-autobiographical play The Normal Heart, he is considerably defter, capturing the absurdity as well as the courage of his surrogate, Ned Weeks (Tim Cummings), and making his story a chronicle of the times. He reminds us of how terrifying AIDS was when nobody knew what it was, how it was spread or how to avoid it. Director Simon Levy has mounted a deeply moving production at the Fountain Theatre, bathed in the compassion without which it would be merely a horror story, and performed by a deeply committed ensemble. Cummings captures the desperation of a man who cares so much he's incapable of tact or coherence, and Bill Brochtrup ably renders the charm and ultimate disintegration of his lover, Felix. Lisa Pelikan, Matt Gottlieb, Fred Koehler, Verton R. Banks and the rest of the cast provide terrific support. (Neal Weaver). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Thu., Nov. 21, 8 p.m.; Thu., Dec. 5, 8 p.m.; Thu., Dec. 12, 8 p.m. Continues through Dec. 15. Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave., Los Angeles, 323-663-1525, www.fountaintheatre.com.
The Pain and the Itch: Playwright Bruce Norris' dark satire about upper-middle-class, white American triviality is a difficult pill to swallow, with his trenchant, discursive dialogue often being as bitter as pickle brine and his characters as twisted as pretzels. It's Thanksgiving in the Pacific Palisades home of a seemingly contented upper-middle-class family, but everyone truly loathes one another. Young dad Clay (Eric Hunicutt) and his ferociously aggressive lawyer wife, Kelly (Beverly Hynds), simmer with rage at each other, while some kind of a mysterious monster upstairs runs amok, sickening their young daughter. In Norris' drama, the monster appears to be a metaphor for the family's moral rot but, notwithstanding the keen wit of the writing, there's something one-note about the shrill situations and endless spite. Nevertheless, director Jennifer Chambers' taut production crackles with energy and rage, and assured, often harrowing performances are offered by Hynds in portraying the hateful and hate-filled Kelly, Hunicutt as the seething Clay, and April Adams as the casually monstrous, visiting mother-in-law. (Paul Birchall). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through Dec. 1. Zephyr Theater, 7456 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, 323-852-9111.
A Perfect Likeness: A comedy about the interaction that would have taken place if Charles Dickens and Lewis Carroll had ever met. Written, directed and produced by Daniel Rover Singer. Sundays, 3 p.m.; Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Dec. 21. Fremont Centre Theatre, 1000 Fremont Ave., South Pasadena, 626-441-5977, www.fremontcentretheatre.com.
Rabbit Hole: Becca and Howie Corbett have everything a family could want, until an accident turns their world upside down and leaves the couple drifting perilously apart. Written by David Lindsay-Abaire, directed by Michael Matthews. Saturdays, Sundays, 2 p.m.; Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Nov. 17. La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, 14900 La Mirada Blvd., La Mirada, 562-944-9801, www.lamiradatheatre.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 Dec. 22. Edgemar Center for the Arts, 2437 Main St., Santa Monica, 310-399-3666, www.edgemarcenter.org.
GO: the road weeps, the well runs dry: There are glints of the Oresteia in Marcus Gardley's poetic, sweeping drama, the road weeps, the well runs dry, which takes place in a 19th-century Oklahoma town settled by fleeing African-American freedmen and their Native American cohabitants. The story's tragic chain of events erupts around the searing rivalry between the community's swaggering Native American sheriff, Trowbridge (Darrell Dennis), and his implacable enemy, Number Two (Demetrius Grosse), a dark and violent man. When their children fall in love, Number Two brutally and without compunction murders his rival's son, whereupon drought settles on the land, followed by additional cruel and heartrending events. The play's grim narrative is leavened by its all-too-human characters and their laughable foils: a feckless preacher (Darryl Alan Reed) functions as a spineless companion to his fanatical wife (Nakia Secrest); an ineffectual shaman (Brent Jennings) keeps up his dancing long after its senselessness becomes clear. As a fount of evil, Grosse simmers in Act I and scorches in Act II. The rest of the ensemble shines as well, especially Monnae Michaell as Trowbridge's angry widow, a woman of mighty magic who ultimately proves to be Number Two's nemesis. Designer Frederica Nascimento's bleak but striking set and Bruno Louchouarn's haunting music and sound frame the spectacle. Shirley Jo Finney's direction displays her accomplished hand. (Deborah Klugman). Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Nov. 17. Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, www.thelatc.org.
Seascape with Sharks and Dancer: A romantic comedy-drama, written by Don Nigro, about a love affair between calm Ben and volatile Tracy. Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 24, 4 p.m.; Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 4 p.m. Continues through Dec. 15. The Black Box Theater, 12420 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-979-7078.
¡Ser!: A personal narrative that examines a queer Latina's strained relationship with each of her two home cities, Los Angeles and Buenos Aires. Written and performed by Karen Anzoategui. Produced by The Latino Theater Company. Featuring live music by CAVA, Walter Miranda, and Louie Pérez of Los Lobos. Starting Nov. 16, Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Dec. 8. Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, www.thelatc.org.
Shakespeare's VILLAINS: A play focusing on three of Shakespeare's villains, Shylock, Macbeth Macbeth), and Tybalt, using Shakespeare's original words. Adaptation by Brian Elerding. Presented by the California Shakespeare Ensemble. Sundays, 8 p.m. Continues through Nov. 17. Lineage Performing Arts Center, 89 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena, 626-844-7008, www.lineagedance.org.
Smoke and Mirrors: A semi-autobiographical, fantastical coming-of-age story about a boy who uses magic to escape reality after the death of his father. Interweaving illusions, special effects, and audience participation, themes of love, loss and magic are explored in this highly stylized show. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Dec. 29. Lankershim Arts Center, 5108 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, 818-752-7568, www.lankershimartscenter.com.
Snow White: Musical fun for the whole family. Book, music and lyrics by Carol Weiss. Musical Direction by Bill Brown. Directed by Todd Nielsen. Presented by the Nine O'Clock Players. Saturdays, Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Nov. 24. Assistance League Playhouse, 1367 N. St. Andrews, Los Angeles, 323-469-1970, www.assistanceleague.net.
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.
Spamalot: A new musical lovingly ripped off from the motion picture Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Adapted from the original screenplay by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. Book and lyrics by Eric Idle, music by John Du Prez and Eric Idle. Directed by Rick Steinberg. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Thu., Nov. 21, 8 p.m.; Thursdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Dec. 14. Conejo Players Theatre, 351 S. Moorpark Road, Thousand Oaks, 805-495-3715, www.conejoplayers.org.
A Strange Disappearance of Bees: Elena Hartwell's drama tells the story of five people and their bonds with one another: the recently deceased Cashman (Ian Patrick Williams), a small-town bakery owner and Vietnam War veteran; his Amerasian son, Robert (Christian T. Chan); Lissa (Meg Wallace); her lover, Callum (Brian Pollack); and Rud (Jean Gilpin), a beekeeper and Cashman's longtime lover. The play is structured as a series of switches between past and present, and the action starts when Robert visits his father's bakery seeking information about him after years of estrangement. Gradually the truth emerges about Cashman's troubled relationship with Robert's mother and his complicated ties with Rud and Lissa, while Robert's visit turns into an extended stay and a sexual dalliance with Lissa. Unfortunately, this tale amounts to little more than soap-opera kindling. Hartwell's script is desperately in need of a rewrite, as it lacks focus and has too many hollow, vexatious scenes. What's truly engaging are Rud's numerous monologues about bees and the history of beekeeping. Performances are passable under Steve Jarrard's direction. (Lovell Estell III). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through Nov. 17. Raven Playhouse, 5233 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, 818-720-2009, www.ravenplayhouse.com.
GO: Sunny Afternoon: One needn't be a fan of conspiracy theories or the NFL to appreciate Sunny Afternoon, but a more-than-passing familiarity with both could offer grounding for the macho power games of playwright Christian Levatino's taut and inspired take on the JFK assassination. Sunny Afternoon wonders what exactly went down over the course of the two days that Lee Harvey Oswald spent in custody of the Dallas police, before his appointment with the business end of Jack Ruby's revolver. Was Oswald just a pawn in a shadowy larger game? How do the priorities of ordinary people become political footballs? Why is Coca-Cola so dang refreshing? Much of the humor of Levatino's tersely funny script springs from the well-delineated personalities featured in its large, finely polished ensemble, in particular Darrett Sanders' assured performance as the shrewd but outfoxed homicide captain William Fritz, trying to conduct an honest investigation amidst the machinations. (Mindy Farabee). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Dec. 1. Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-962-1632, www.theatreasylum-la.com.
Sunset Limited: A drama about two strangers who meet under extraordinary circumstances, written by Pulitzer Prize-winner Cormac McCarthy. After an encounter on a subway platform, Black, a religious ex-con, and White, a suicidal professor, begin an intense dialogue about human suffering, the existence of God, and the meaning of life. Saturdays, Sundays, 2 p.m.; Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Nov. 17. Rubicon Theatre Company, 1006 E. Main St., Ventura, 805-667-2900.
Titus Andronicus: Saturdays, Sundays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Nov. 24. Archway Studio/Theatre, 305 S. Hewitt St., Los Angeles, 213-237-9933, www.archwayla.com.
Titus Andronicus: A Vaudeville: Director Alex Alves discovers a potentially innovative angle for his presentation of Shakespeare's tale of murder, rape and the cannibalistic devouring of human-flesh-filled meat pies: He depicts the Bard's tale of two clans' increasingly vicious and monstrous tit-for-tat power struggle as a sort of circus show. The atrocities are performed as stylized acrobatic acts, with flashing fire paper, magic tricks and stagey dances, and the performers are caparisoned like clowns. Emperor Saturninus (Sam Marin) is portrayed as a dopey, Fatty Arbuckle-like doofus, while the venomous Queen Tamora (Marilia Colturato) vamps deliciously as a femme fatale snake charmer. Tamora's two sons are made up like Tweedledum and Tweedledee -- and Titus (Lisa Jai) wears a ringmaster/s jacket. The circus-like atmosphere is intermittently creative -- though many of Alves's ideas, such as red ribbons for blood or rag dolls for corpses, have been seen before and upstage the Shakespeare, which is itself indifferently performed. (Paul Birchall). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through Nov. 17. Stella Adler Theatre, 6773 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-465-4446, www.stellaadler-la.com.
Twelve Angry Men: Reginald Rose's classic drama about a jury of twelive men who must decide the fate of a young man accused of killing his father. Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 4 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m. Continues through Dec. 1. Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena, 626-356-PLAY, www.pasadenaplayhouse.org.
Tylerr Perry Superstar: Jeremy Evans' and Brandon Kirks' one-act satirical comedy about Tylerr Perry and his stop-at-nothing approach to winning an Oscar. Fridays, 8 p.m. Continues through Nov. 22. Promenade Playhouse, 1404 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica, 310-656-8070, www.promenadeplayhouse.com.
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 Nov. 24. Pacific Resident Theatre, 703 Venice Blvd., Venice, 310-822-8392, www.pacificresidenttheatre.com.
Wait Until Dark: A new stage adaptation of the classic thriller about the contents of Susan and Sam Hendrix' apartment. Written by Frederick Knott, adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher. Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 3 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m. Continues through Nov. 17. Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Los Angeles, 310-208-5454, www.geffenplayhouse.com.
: Four weekends of adventurous theatrical productions as Theatre West. Visit www.theatrewest.org
for complete schedule and line-up. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Nov. 24. Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. W., Los Angeles, 323-851-7977, www.theatrewest.org.
Why I Died, a Comedy!: Actor, writer, and comedian Katie Rubin's new solo show about navigating a deep spiritual awakening in the face of a hilariously pushy producer, an intense writing deadline, a codependent mugger, and a bevy of false prophets. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Nov. 23. Hudson Theatres, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles.