Theater to See in L.A. This Week: Our Hollywood Fringe Preview
Kat HessMichal Sinnott and Christopher Illing in Tommy Smith's "White Hot," The Vagrancy at Theatre Asylum
It's Fringe, Fringe and more Fringe festival coverage this week in new theater reviews (see below) and this week's theater feature. There will be a bit more Fringe coverage next week, but we'll also be turning our attention to some deserving productions that got pushed to the Fringes by the Fringe.
NEW THEATER REVIEWS (Hollywood Fringe edition), Scheduled for Publication June 13, 2013:
APERTURE Jesse Janzen's play focuses on an eternal triangle: George (Matt Marosky) loves his fiancée, Linda, (whom we never see, except in a murky photo slideshow), but he's jealous and paranoid, so he hires his photographer friend J.R. (Christopher Wallinger) to follow and surreptitiously photograph her so he can discover if she's unfaithful. When the two men meet, ambiguities proliferate. George seems neurotically fearful and J.R. is nursing a resentment of George, casting aspersions on his manhood. A mysterious bag lady (Bridgette Campbell) arrives, pushing a grocery cart of assorted wigs. She assumes various personas, including an acerbic observer and the absent Linda. What follows is an examination of what constitutes betrayal and who the betrayer is. It's an intriguing and well-acted show, but it's hard to make a final evaluation since a preshow announcement informs us that this is a workshop production, and it might be entirely different next week. DogParkTheatre Company at the Elephant Stages Studio, 1076 Lillian Way; June 15, 22 & 29, 11 p.m. hollywoodfringe.org/projects/1327. (Neal Weaver)
THE BEATING A man winds up in criminal court after accidentally scarring a child during the application of some old-school "use the rod" discipline. Mona Deutsch Miller uses this provocative scenario to skewer the innumerable dysfunctions of our legal system with a court proceeding that features dancing, spontaneous percussive ditties, a five-person jury, a prosecutor (Michael Khanlarian) and defense counsel (Olivia Sandoval) along with a ditzy judge (Charline Su) who is more concerned with form and appearance than substance. It's good for a load of laughs, but would have been more interesting with a bit more focus on the main issue, which does raise important questions about corporal punishment. At times, Miller strains the lampooning and plunges into the gratuitously silly and nonsensical. But the show is entertaining under Sam Szabo's direction, and Miller's zany observations about the system have an unsettling sting of truth. (Lovell Estell III) Lounge Theater, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; June 15, 22 & 29, 6 p.m.; June 16, 4 p.m.; Thurs., June 27, 10 p.m. hollywoodfringe.org/projects/1333
BOBBYWOOD: What Ever Happened to Bobby the Bellboy? Writer-performer Bill Ratner's one-man show about the twilight years of his uncle Bobby Jellison takes the subtitle listed in the program -- The Longest Death Scene -- quite literally: A character actor most famous for starring as I Love Lucy's bellboy, Jellison also was a radio star known in certain circles for an epic, 60-second death rattle. But it serves as a darker metaphorical thread as well, as Ratner weaves in characters like the rehab counselor who helped to commit Jellison while -- because it's Hollywood -- pausing long enough to press upon Ratner and his weary aunt an autographed copy of the counselor's showbiz memoir. Ultimately, Ratner's is a good-humored tale that only hints at the depth of Bobby's whiskey-soaked darkness. Simply staged and backed up by Jonathan Menchin's jaunty keyboards, the story marinates nicely in the flavor of old radio shows, Golden Age TV, the hippie culture of '70s Los Angeles and the value, when it comes to family, of accepting the hand you're dealt. Ruby Theatre at the Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., Hllwd; Thurs.-Sat., 7:30 p.m.; through June 29. hollywoodfringe.org/projects/1191. (Mindy Farabee)
GO: THE BLOOD THEY SHED
Slingshot Media Productions
From its title and graphic art, Aaron White's one-man show might seem like a somber exploration of African-American history, but it's actually a much livelier examination of race, culture and family relationships through the lens of popular media. Employing spoken-word poetry, rap and dance, White shares anecdotes from his childhood while turning a critical eye on the influences that music, TV and movies had upon it. His writing is lyrical and potent, delivering often sobering messages about hip-hop culture, stereotypes and personal responsibility, all while keeping us laughing. As a performer, White has an infectious smile and tremendous energy, dancing up a storm and engaging the audience in call-and-response style. There is a brief connection to historical forebears toward the end, which seems a little tacked on, but outside of that and some awkward transitions, the show delivers an important message in entertaining fashion. Slingshot Media Productions at Let Live Theater, 916 N. Formosa Ave., W. Hlywd.; June 15 & 22, 7 p.m.; June 16, 4 p.m.; June 23, 2:30 p.m. hollywoodfringe.org/projects/1347. (Mayank Keshaviah)
Theatre Before Saddle Productions
A woman in full bridal regalia bursts into a log cabin in the Alaskan wilderness, talking a mile a minute between swings from a bottle of liquor belonging to the cabin's owner. It's a powerful opening to Cindy Lou Johnson's dance between two lost souls -- Rosannah (Riley Rose Critchlow) and Henry (Clay Elliott) -- who slowly let down their guard as they reveal the demons that have driven them to the edge of civilization. The remainder of the piece is less engaging, as their coming together seems telegraphed from the start and Rosannah's constant talk of "hovering" comes off as self-involved. Henry, played with earnest humility by Elliott, is endearing as the caregiver, but Critchlow, whose manic intensity works for the opening, could stand to leaven her role with more vulnerability and self-deprecation, choices that might have been better shaped by director Nick Zayas. Theatre Before Saddle Productions at Let Live Theater, 916 N. Formosa Ave., W. Hlywd.; June 15, 22 & 29, 10 p.m.; June 16, 2:30 p.m.; June 23, 1 p.m. hollywoodfringe.org/projects/1099. (Mayank Keshaviah)
GO: DAVID & LEEMAN: How to Convincingly Fake Honesty For their slick and comical magic show, two card sharps (David Blatter and Leeman Parker) pour forth a constant stream of smooth patter that is as perfectly timed as their split-second feats of prestidigitation, dexterous legerdemain, sleight-of-hand card tricks and stunts (they explain the difference), sight gags and silly bits of comedy. Frequently calling on the audience to participate, they delight with a series of miraculous routines. The three loose acts include a Dada-inspired entre'acte, and the swift, 45-minute show concludes with an elaborate tribute to the charlatan spiritualists who spooked the early 19th century. Fringe Mainstage, 6209 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; June 13 & 20, 11 p.m.; June 16, 8 p.m.; June 22, 9:30 p.m.; June 23, 10 p.m.; June 27, 6 p.m. hollywoodfringe.org/projects/1237. (Pauline Adamek)
EDWARD ALBEE'S AT HOME AT THE ZOO The Zoo Story -- the young Edward Albee's seminal play about Peter, a repressed Manhattanite, and his encounter with Jerry, an unsettling man he meets in the park -- premiered in 1960, startling complacent audiences. Four decades later, senior citizen Albee wrote Homelife, in which Peter, before the park, has a conversation with his wife, Anne, who reveals her ball-busting disappointments with their marriage. Presented together, these two one-acts can furnish compelling insight into the lonely human heart. Directed by Garrett Johnson, this production comes to life none too soon around performer Kip Canyon, who, from his first moment onstage, conveys the voltaic Jerry's pain and anger, with Phillip J. Wheeler as Peter responding convincingly to his stage partner's intimidating presence. Unfortunately, Homelife, the program's first half, induces snoozing or wincing (sometimes the former to escape the latter). Lacking the embedded violence in Zoo Story, it's admittedly the more difficult piece, but the main problem nonetheless is Miri Ben-Tzur's depiction of Anne in a one-note performance that reduces Albee's layered housewife to a snarky comedy-sketch character. Rethinking Anne's casual-jeans costuming and adding a second bench and a couple of token living-room props would add much-needed dimension to the staging. Underdog Theatre Company, Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; June 14, 6 p.m.; June 15, 4 p.m.; June 22, 2 & 6 p.m.; June 16 & 23, noon. hollywoodfringe.org/projects/1334. (Deborah Klugman)
EXORCISTIC: THE ROCK MUSICAL PARODY EXPERIMENT You can see it coming in the title -- Exorcistic: The Rock Musical Parody Experiment is an ambitious spectacle, often funny and always delivered with delicious gusto, whose center, nevertheless, doesn't quite hold. Much of that rub lies in the very meta nature of its conceit -- a theater troupe provoking a real possession via its parody of the iconic early-'70s horror flick. Not content to juggle this play-within-a-play (itself speeding from workshop to opening night), the whole thing occasionally is brought to a halt so as to deconstruct elements of the film. All this steals a little too much of the focus away from fashioning a viable theatrical world unto itself. As with the classic rock-style score and entertaining lyrics, there isn't a false note among the cast, but Laura Sperrazza is particularly, gruesomely brilliant as demonic little Megan. Open Fist Theatre, 6209 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; June 14-15, 11 p.m.; June 16, 3 p.m.; June 19, 10 p.m.; June 21, 7 p.m.; June 27, 9:30 p.m.; June 29, 11:30 p.m. hollywoodfringe.org/projects/1136. (Mindy Farabee)
GO: EXPERIMENT Running a taut 20 minutes, Melanie Wehrmacher's play is exactly the right length for her slight yet compelling study of psychological torture. Two prisoners -- one male, one female and each scarred and badly beaten -- cower on the floor of a bare cell. Footsteps echo ominously, as does the intermittent tone of electrical torture followed by ghastly screams. Tensions run high as we observe this nervy pair unravel and turn on each other. Director Tamiko Washington nicely orchestrates the intensity, while Alexa Giuffre and Sean Burgos give convincing portrayals of pure anguish. It's an intense work. Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd. June 15, 8:30 p.m.; June 16, 5:30 p.m.; June 22, 4 p.m.; June 23, 7 p.m. hollywoodfringe.org/projects/1290. (Pauline Adamek)
FATHERS AT A GAME A simplistic setting belies a much denser
situation in Trey Nichols' drama. The story follows two men, Moe and
Eddie, watching their sons playing high school football, but soon enough
is revealed to be much more disturbing -- and an in-depth examination of
how far one friendship can go. Nichols' script, though short, drags a
bit, and actually works best after the big reveal. Vesna Hocevar's
direction and performances by Tony Williams (Moe) and Luke Baybak
(Eddie) also come alive in the back half of the production. Gimmicky
video effects don't add much, but they also don't detract from the
connection between the two leads, who are truly the production's
pulsating, bloody heart. East Theatre at the Complex, 6468 Santa Monica
Blvd., Hlywd.; June 15, 5:30 p.m.; June 22, 2:45 p.m.; June 28 & 29,
9:45 p.m. hollywoodfringe.org/projects/1360. (Kevin O'Keeffe)
GO: THE INTERVIEW Playwright-director Michael
Franco's disturbing drama opens with a prisoner (Michael Dunn) being
tortured during a ruthless interrogation by a pair of suit-wearing men
who appear to be government agents. At first the interrogation unfolds
to a traditional good cop/bad cop formula, with one agent (Dylan
Maddalena, interestingly sinister) authorizing the prisoner's being
thumped with phone books and dunked in a water bucket and the other (Joe
Hulser) desiring to take a more reasonable approach to ferreting out
the information the prisoner supposedly knows. Before long, though, the
story takes an unexpected turn into areas of complex moral ambiguity
and metaphysics. Franco's taut staging is eerily suspenseful, as we
start to question the reality of the setting and scenario, and the
production is abetted by Tim Labor's buzzy, thump- and zap-filled
electronic sound design, which effectively gets under our skin. Open
Fist Theatre, 6209 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; June 16 & 22, 6:30
p.m.; June 20 & 28, 8 p.m.; June 22 & 30, 3:30 p.m. hollywoodfringe.org/projects/1281. (Paul Birchall)
LET ME OUT
M.B. Stage Productions
Written and directed by Jared Pixler, this dramedy is a gripping self-discovery story trapped in a sluggish ensemble piece. The story follows high school friends -- mostly flat stereotypes, unfortunately -- reuniting after a year at college. The emotionally devastating center of the production is the burgeoning friendship between John (Jake Trissler, best in show) and out-and-proud gay man Jessie (Bryce Pyper), the newcomer to the group. However, John's absence from the middle third of the story forces a focus shift to the show's cardboard-cutout characters, including drug addict Mona (Cody Rogers, trying her best with a weak plotline) and John's poorly drawn, wholly unsympathetic ex-girlfriend Jessica (a flailing Ella Ayers), who is now in a relationship with his homophobic best friend, Luke (Anthony Krall). Mona's best friend, Courtney (played by Audrey Rose in the performance reviewed, standing in for Arlene Tanner), is fun, but often feels separated from everything else happening. A slimmed-down revision with a smaller ensemble and more focus on John and Jessie could be great, but this version is too flawed to succeed. Ruby Theatre at the Complex, 6468 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; June 14, 15, 21 & 22, 9:30 p.m.; June 23, 6 p.m. hollywoodfringe.org/projects/1130. (Kevin O'Keeffe)
LIFE, AUDITED Steve Mize's solo show about facing down the I.R.S. See Theater Feature.
LOVE ACTUALlY ISN'T Through four one-act plays, writer Dan Johnson explores love's rough, unromantic edges in a way that feels genuine in its best moments and clichéd at its worst. The second and third plays, "Post-Fabulous" and "Leftovers," are the standouts -- the latter, about two 70-somethings considering giving love another shot, is easily the most charming and well-written of the four plays. While "Post-Fabulous," about four 40-plus gay men seeking love and lust in a 18-and-up gay bar, is long (almost four times as long as weak link "Cold Feet," about nerves before a wedding), it also features some of the most emotional, unexpected moments in the show. Joe Souza stands out among a mostly unpolished ensemble in both "Post-Fabulous" and well-intentioned but ineffective "Double Date," about a chance meeting between ex-spouses. Dani Thompson and Edmund L. Shaff are effortlessly funny and heartwarming in "Leftovers." Paul Darrigo's direction is serviceable. Flight Theatre at the Complex, 6468 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; June 13 & 16, 8:30 p.m.; June 15, 10:45 p.m.; June 20, 7:15 p.m. hollywoodfringe.org/projects/1148. (Kevin O'Keeffe)
GO: MARSHALL'S LAW After the unexpected death of her ex-husband, Abby (Danielle Taddei) arrives at the home of his erstwhile lover, Zach (playwright Shadley Grei), to pick up her son, Marshall. This errand morphs into a forced therapy session when the child inexplicably locks them in the basement of the house. After numerous fruitless attempts to coax the kid into opening the door, Abby and Zach, who are long-standing friends and former lovers, must confront the ugly complexities of their relationship. At this point, Grei's script cleverly segues into a poignant story of love, betrayal, sexual dalliances, colossal misunderstandings and, eventually, the truth about the death of Abby's ex-husband. For a play with so little action, the story is compelling and holds its ground on the strength of spirited writing. Performances are equal to the task, as is David Avcollie's direction. Lounge Theater, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; June 15, 21 & 28, 6 p.m.; June 23, 8 p.m.; June 30, 2 p.m. hollywoodfringe.org/projects/1201. (Lovell Estell III)
ME LOVE ME On paper, playwright Brandon Baruch's surreally sci-fi-tinged, 90-minute character study of dissolute narcissism carries all the brittleness of high-concept satire. Tuck (Benjamin Durham), a coke-addled aspiring actor, meets his own biological clone (Sto Strouss) and embarks on a torrid physical love affair with ... himself. Rather than playing for laughs, however -- and the play is remarkably unfunny -- Baruch takes an intriguing left turn into an astringent alternate reality of the Charlie Kaufman kind. Instead of achieving allegorical lift, the play's philosophical musings founder on sketch-grade characterizations and pedestrian plotting that simply stretch the imagination beyond the breaking point. Director Marc Warzecha and his capable ensemble (including Lizzie Adelman) manage to make the most of what in this case is the roughest of first drafts. Open Fist Theater, 6209 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; June 14, 7:30 p.m.; June 15, 2 p.m.; June 18, 9 p.m.; June 23, 6:30 p.m.; June 26, 10:30 p.m.; June 29, 3 p.m. hollywoodfringe.org/projects/1146. (Bill Raden)
GO: (NO STATIC AT ALL) The static in monologist Alex Knox's thoughtful, 60-minute autobiographical deliberation on friendship, fate and the redemptive power of art comes with two forms: The first is Knox's emotional confusion that results when he drops out of a planned trip to Kauai with his childhood musical soul mate, Josh, which culminates in the friend's near-death, radical religious conversion and virtual disappearance into an Orthodox yeshiva in Israel. The second is that of stasis -- or rather the lack of it -- and the unlikeliest means by which Knox ultimately reconciles himself to the fact that change is the most ineluctable of life's modalities. To that end, the performer weaves a winning tapestry of wry insight, musicological history (of '70s jazz-rock supergroup Steely Dan, no less) and engaging self-deprecation, all framed with elegant economy by director Becca Wolff's crisp, precision-tuned production. Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; June 13, 10 p.m.; June 15, 22, 23 & 30, 2 p.m. hollywoodfringe.org/projects/1269. (Bill Raden)
GO: PHILOSOPHY IN THE BOUDOIR
Brazil's Os Satyricos stages Marquis de Sade's novel. See Theater Feature.
TAKING WHAT'S MINE Two elements stand out in this fanciful one-act by Verona Masongsong, directed by Sara Townsend: a burlesque number, with scantily exotic costumes, choreographed by Jazz Raycole, and a rousing extended sequence of stage combat, both hand-to-hand and armed with swords and daggers, choreographed by Brian Danner, David Hernandez and Kris Blount. But these prove to be essentially divertimenti, shoehorned into a predictable plot about Eve (Masongsong) and her efforts to wring an emotional commitment from commitment-shy Jerry (Spencer Mickelson), who's also carrying on with burlesque dancer Cami (Raycole). The piece is weakened by an anticlimactic final scene, which cancels out much of what we have seen. Though Masongsong is a credible actress and a fearless proponent of stage combat, her playwriting needs work. The dancers in the burlesque number -- Raycole, Claire Schweighofer, Carolyn Feres, Rika Aizu and Gracy Ramirez -- deserve a word of praise. Let Live Theatre at the Actors Company, 916 N. Formosa Ave., Hlywd; June 15, 8:30 p.m.; June 16 & 23, 5:30 p.m.; June 22, 11:30 p.m. hollywoodfringe.org/projects/1143. (Neal Weaver)
25 PLAYS PER HOUR They ain't just whistling Dixie here: In director Aaron Kozak's bracingly paced tour de force, an ensemble of nine performers shoehorns 25 short plays into 60 minutes. It's true, the majority of the plays are revue sketches and are so brief as to be lacking in substantial depth -- at times, you feel as if you're watching a middling Groundlings show played at triple speed. Still, the production boasts a few minor gems, such as "Muffins," in which a doofy fellow agonizes over a Sophie's Choice between two coffeehouse muffins, or "Pimp and Ho," in which the world's least successful prostitute and her equally inept pimp attempt to negotiate a bargain rate. Although the comic pieces generally resonate better than the clumsier "dramatic" sketches, if you don't like what you're seeing, as they say about the weather in the Midwest, wait a few minutes and you'll be seeing something different. Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; June 13, 8:30 p.m.; June 16, 26 & 29, 7 p.m.; June 22, 2:30 p.m.; June 30, 4 p.m. hollywoodfringe.org/projects/1363. (Paul Birchall)
GO: TWO ROOMS
Bluegum ProductionsMichal Sinnott and Christopher Illing in Tommy Smith's "White Hot," The Vagrancy at Theatre Asylum
Politics is the arena in which theater's artifice can find its greatest expression and purpose -- and where it remains regrettably underused. Blue Gum's production of Lee Blessing's taut 1988 drama, about an American teacher kidnapped in Beirut and his wife's battle to reclaim him, distills the decadelong Lebanon hostage crisis into a wrenching love story under Amir Korangy's crisp direction. After her husband, Michael (Chris DeVinny), disappears, Lainie (Belinda Gosbee) transforms his former office into a cell of her own, accepting visits only from Ellen (Catherine Siggins), a Washington official assigned to her case, and Walker (Mario Vernazza), a reporter agitating for Lainie to take her story public. Torn between do-nothing reticence and a potentially dangerous publicity tour, Lainie retreats to commune with Michael, who addresses his wife aloud, shackled and blindfolded, from captivity. An Iraq veteran himself, DeVinny lends potency to Michael's identification with his captors. Gosbee is riveting, her escalating desperation a naked indictment of manipulation by both the press and her government. Siggins sometimes lacks the brusque self-assurance one would expect given her position, and Vernazza seems out of place without a notebook in hand. But these are minor quibbles in a powerful production of a play that remains all too relevant. The Complex Theatres, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd; June 15, 5:45 p.m.; June 21 & 22, 8:30 p.m. hollywoodfringe.org/projects/1270. (Jenny Lower)
GO: WHITE HOT
Kat HessMichal Sinnott and Christopher Illing in Tommy Smith's "White Hot," The Vagrancy at Theatre Asylum
NYC-based The Vagrancy stages Tommy Smith's play about love and sex, hope and hopelessness. See Theater Feature.
ONGOING SHOWS IN LARGER THEATERS REGIONWIDE:
4 Flappers and a Funeral: An interactive, musical murder mystery that takes place in an eastside Chicago speakeasy, circa 1923. Book by Larry Johnson, original music by Alan Hong, directed by Ken Salzman. Sun., June 16, 7 p.m. Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre, 626-355-4318, www.sierramadreplayhouse.org.
Beautiful: Writer-performer Jozanne Marie's intense solo show encompasses the wrongs done to three generations of women -- her grandmother, her mother and herself -- but its primary motif is her struggle for a relationship with her sexually abusive father, whose approval she sought despite his pernicious assaults. Born in Jamaica, Marie spent her earliest years in her grandmother's care, after her teenage mom suffered a breakdown following her rape by Marie's father and Marie's subsequent, unwelcomed birth. Depicting multiple characters in this sometimes appalling but insightful tale, Marie delivers an impassioned performance, beginning with a portrayal of her grandmother, who loved rum and dancing and her ne'er-do-well boyfriend but could be tough when the situation demanded it. Directed by Geoff Rivas on a stark proscenium, with shifts in time and place well-illustrated by Patsy McCormack's crystallizing videography, this is a promising work that still needs pruning, polish and a pacing adjustment. (Deborah Klugman). Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through June 16. Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, www.thelatc.org.
Chess: Like the 1980s, this revival of the Cold War-themed musical that produced the hit song "One Night in Bangkok" is kitschy, colorful and full of spectacle. Yet its return also reveals the contrived, confusing plot and threadbare characters that have perennially plagued this piece. That's to take nothing away from director Tim Dang and his ensemble, who embrace the source material and make it their own. Undergirding their efforts are Adam Flemming's cleverly tiered set and eye-catching projections, Anthony Tran's bold costumes, Dan Weingarten's kaleidoscopic lighting and Ken Takemoto's wonderfully detailed props. Dang chooses the through-sung U.K. version of the show, which heavily features his soloists, all of whom have great pipes. Joan Almedilla (Florence) soars, Elijah Rock (Anatoly) belts with gusto -- though, oddly, without a Russian accent -- and Carey Rebecca Brown (Svetlana) showcases delicate power. Victor E. Chan (Freddie) has moxie but runs hot and cold, while Ray A. Rochelle (Molokov) brings Bond-villain fun to the show. If only the story were as resonant as the vocals, this musical could really be something. (Mayank Keshaviah). Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through June 23. East West Players, 120 N. Judge John Aiso St., Los Angeles, 213-625-7000, www.eastwestplayers.org.
The Circus Is Coming to Town: Interactive kids play, presented by Storybook Theatre. Saturdays, 1 p.m. Continues through July 6. Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. W., Los Angeles, 323-851-7977, www.theatrewest.org.
Dead Man's Cell Phone: A lonely woman is forced to confront her assumptions about morality, redemption and the need to connect in a technologically obsessed world as she steps into the life of a dead man by taking his cell phone calls. Written by Sarah Ruhl. Directed by Richard Israel. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through June 30. Long Beach Performing Arts Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, 562-436-4610.
GO: Falling for Make Believe: The Colony Theatre's latest effort isn't quite there yet: Mark Saltzman's world-premiere musical about the wordsmith half of songwriting duo Rodgers and Hart requires polishing (and a hit would help get the faltering theater back on its feet). But for music lovers and nostalgic theater buffs, this revue directed by Jim Fall offers tender moments, two dozen of the pair's greatest hits and a sobering glimpse at the backstage paradox of Lorenz Hart -- snappy wit and lyric genius but a sodden, tormented closet case. Saltzman hangs the narrative on Fletcher (Tyler Milliron), a Pennsylvania Dutch farm boy who longs to hit it big, or at least find himself a talented boyfriend. After a series of go-nowhere run-ins with Hart (Ben Goldberg), the two finally connect and the play picks up tension and momentum. Their affecting dynamic creates the evening's most potent moments, but both seem slightly miscast: Saltzman's script calls for a hunkier farm boy and a homelier lyricist. Those discrepancies should be addressed, as should an oddly layered set design that leaves intimate scenes swimming in a cavernous space. Rebecca Ann Johnson adds pizzazz as Hart's Broadway muse, along with some dreamy renditions of "Bewitched" and "Blue Moon." (Jenny Lower). Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 3 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through June 30, $29-$49. Colony Theatre, 555 N. Third St., Burbank, 818-558-7000, www.colonytheatre.org.
The Fantasticks: The enduringly popular 1960 American musical, about a boy and a girl who are destined to be together, despite their chosen paths in life which almost steer them apart. Book and lyrics by Tom Jones. Music by Harvey Schmidt. Directed by James Fowler and Barbara Schofield. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2:30 p.m. Continues through July 13. Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre, 626-355-4318, www.sierramadreplayhouse.org.
The Ghost Sonata: A staged reading of August Strindberg's 1907 expressionist masterwork. Directed by Stephen Rockwell. Wed., June 19, 7 p.m. A Noise Within, 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, 626-356-3100, www.anoisewithin.org.
The Judy Show: My Life as a Sitcom: Judy Gold's critically acclaimed off-Broadway show about her life story, told through references to the sitcoms she grew up watching as a child in New Jersey. Starting June 18, Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 3 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m. Continues through July 28. Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Los Angeles, 310-208-5454, www.geffenplayhouse.com.
Kindertransport: Between the years of 1938 and 1940, over 10,000 Jewish children were voluntarily sent by their parents to the UK to escape Nazi concentration camps. Most never saw their parents again. Kindertransport celebrates the heroism and hope that kept these children alive. All performances will be recorded live in front of an audience (without sets or costumes) to air on L.A. Theatre Works' radio theater series. Written by Diane Samuels. Thu., June 20, 8 p.m.; Fri., June 21, 8 p.m.; Sat., June 22, 3 & 8 p.m.; Sun., June 23, 4 p.m. James Bridges Theater, 1409 Melnitz Hall, Westwood, 310-206-8365.
Late Nite Cathechism Las Vegas: Sister Rolls the Dice: The latest class in the comedic Catechism series. The convent needs a new roof, so the order has decided that Sister (with her extensive gambling experience running church bingo night for the last 25 years) will organize a Las Vegas night. Written and performed by Maripat Donovan. Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 & 8 p.m.; Thu., June 20, 2 p.m.; Sun., June 23, 2 & 7 p.m. Continues through June 23. Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, 949-497-2787, www.lagunaplayhouse.com.
A Midsummer Night's Dream: A summer standard, this is the Theatricum's signature production of Shakespeare's wondrous enchanted forest tale of love, fairies, and the power of nature. Sat., June 15, 4 p.m.; Sun., June 16, 3:30 p.m.; Sat., June 22, 4 p.m.; Sat., June 29, 4 p.m.; Sun., July 7, 3:30 p.m.; Sat., July 13, 4 p.m.; Thu., Aug. 1, 8 p.m.; Thu., Aug. 8, 8 p.m.; Thu., Aug. 15, 8 p.m.; Thu., Aug. 22, 8 p.m.; Thu., Aug. 29, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 1, 7:30 p.m.; Mon., Sept. 2, 6:30 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 8, 3:30 p.m.; 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, www.theatricum.com/index.html.
A politically charged, haunting look at theater and the revolutionary
impulse, by writer/director Guillermo Calderón. In 1905 St. Petersburg,
Anton Chekhov's widow, actress Olga Knipper, is huddled with fellow
actors in a dimly lit rehearsal room, while striking workers are being
gunned down by the tsarist regime in the streets outside. Fri., June 14,
8 p.m.; Sat., June 15, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., June 16, 1 & 6:30 p.m.
Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City, 213-628-2772,
A Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical about a family trying to take
care of themselves and each other. Music by Tom Kitt, book and lyrics
by Brian Yorkey, musical direction by Darryl Archibald, directed by Nick
DeGruccio. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Wednesdays,
Thursdays, 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 p.m. Continues through June 23. La
Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, 14900 La Mirada Blvd., La
Mirada, 562-944-9801, www.lamiradatheatre.com.
Caparisoned in more sequins than there are stars in the heavens,
Stephan Elliott and Allan Scott's Broadway adaptation of Elliott's 1994
film parks its own tour bus at the Pantages -- and it's hard not to be
won over by the sparkle, whimsy and, yes, charm of the production.
Elliott and Scott's book hews to the movie's plot, as a trio of drag
queens sets off across the Outback to help one of their number reunite
with his long-estranged son. Along the way, the sprightly production
(directed by David Hyslop, based on Simon Phillips' Broadway production)
is peppered with zesty renditions of disco hits, from a wonderfully
spirited "It's Raining Men" to a joyful take on "I Will Survive,"
performed by the drag trio in wigs that look like gigantic flower pots.
Admittedly, the performers sometimes seem like movable set pieces for
the show's real stars -- co-designer Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner's
hilariously over-the-top costumes and production designer Brian
Thomson's gorgeous construction of Priscilla, the ramshackle bus that
whirls around and glows neon. A carper might critique the formulaic
nature of the show, which traduces stock tropes of the new Broadway
musical, but these cavils are superseded by the show's sheer uplifting
energy. (Paul Birchall). Fri., June 14, 8 p.m.; Sat., June 15, 2 & 8
p.m.; Sun., June 16, 1 & 6:30 p.m. Pantages Theater, 6233 Hollywood
Blvd., Los Angeles, 800-982-2787, www.broadwayla.org.
GO: The Scottsboro Boys:
From its haunting, memory-play opening to the uplifting poignancy of
its final, surprise reveal, John Kander and Fred Ebb's 2010 risk-taking
musical retelling of one of the galvanizing episodes of the early
civil-rights movement makes for a stirring summation of the songwriting
team's 45-year Broadway career. The Scottsboro Boys' biggest
gamble is its greatest coup: namely, its conceit of staging one of the
most outrageous injustices of the Jim Crow South as a minstrel show. But
how better to implicate a 21st-century audience in the degradation of
Jim Crow than through one of its most pervasive and contemptible
cultural artifacts? David Thompson's incisive book nicely blends broad
burlesque with the harrowing tale of nine black teenagers arrested off a
rural Alabama freight train in 1931 and framed with the state's
then-capital crime of black-on-white rape. Of the nine, the book focuses
on the illiterate Haywood Patterson (the magnificent Joshua Henry),
fashioning a portrait of resilience, dignity and resistance under
adversity. Director-choreographer Susan Stroman mines Kander's canny
survey of early jazz (ranging from faux-Stephen Foster blackface tunes
and New Orleans rags to 1930s swing) and pulls out some thrilling
production numbers, most notably Deandre Sevon's show-stopping, Max
Fleischer-homage tap dance to "Electric Chair." (Bill Raden).
Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 1 &
6:30 p.m.; Thu., June 20, 2 p.m.; Sundays, 1 p.m.; Thu., June 27, 2 p.m.
Continues through June 30. Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los
Angeles, 213-628-2772, www.centertheatregroup.org.
Sleepless in Seattle: The Musical: Based on the Tristar Pictures film Sleepless In Seattle,
about a widower and his precocious son who is searching for the perfect
mother. Book by Jeff Arch, music by Ben Toth, lyrics by Sam Forman.
Musical Staging by Spencer Liff, directed by Sheldon Epps.
Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 4 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m.
Continues through June 23. Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave.,
Pasadena, 626-356-PLAY, www.pasadenaplayhouse.org.
Shakespeare's rowdy romp about the lovely Bianca and her sister
"Katherine the Cursed," who must be married off before Bianca is allowed
to entertain suitors. Sat., June 15, 8 p.m.; Sun., June 16, 7:30 p.m.;
Sun., June 23, 3:30 p.m.; Sun., June 30, 3:30 p.m.; Sat., July 6, 4
p.m.; Sun., July 7, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., July 14, 3:30 p.m.; Sun., July 28,
3:30 p.m.; Fri., Aug. 2, 8 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 3, 4 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 10, 4
p.m.; Sun., Aug. 11, 3:30 p.m.; Fri., Aug. 16, 8 p.m.; Fri., Aug. 23, 8
p.m.; Sat., Aug. 24, 4 p.m.; Fri., Aug. 30, 8 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 6, 8
p.m.; 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, www.theatricum.com/index.html.
GO: The Women:
Clare Boothe Luce's 1936 play about the culture of spoiled, rich women
preaches some pretty outdated ideas about how to keep your man, but it
still sports colorful characters and clever dialogue and, in the right
hands, can be fashioned into an entertaining production. This isn't one,
however. Directed by Arden Teresa Lewis, the story revolves around Mary
(Maria Kress), a gracious woman who discovers her husband has been
cheating with a shopgirl (Caitlin Gallogly) and must decide whether to
tolerate his philandering or divorce him. Mary has lots of bitchy
acquaintances, especially Sylvia (Leona Britton), who have a field day
dissecting their "friend's"s woes. Unfortunately, most of the
performances are over-the-top caricatures; Kress in particular displays
little emotional connection to Mary's pain. Dianne Travis as a feminist
writer, Sandra Tucker as Mary's mother and Deborah Webb Thomas and
Heather Alyse Becker in various servant roles acquit themselves
respectably. (Deborah Klugman). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2
p.m. Continues through June 16. Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. W.,
Los Angeles, 323-851-7977, www.theatrewest.org.
An award-winning British comedy of political power and intrigue, set
against the backdrop of the collapsing Euro, austerity measures, and the
24-hour news cycle. Written by Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, directed
by Jonathan Lynn. Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 3 p.m.;
Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m. Continues through July 14. Geffen Playhouse,
10886 Le Conte Ave., Los Angeles, 310-208-5454, www.geffenplayhouse.com.
ONGOING SHOWS IN SMALLER THEATERS SITUATED IN HOLLYWOOD, WEST HOLLYWOOD AND THE DOWNTOWN AREAS:
The Los Angeles premiere of Peter Sinn Nachtrieb's comedy exploring the
American mythology of happiness and success. Born and abandoned in a
White Castle bathroom in Louisville, and determined to become a "great"
man, Bob takes an epic journey across America where he encounters
inspiring generosity, crushing hardships, blissful happiness, stunning
coincidences, true love and heartbreaking loss. Fridays, Saturdays, 8
p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through June 30. Atwater Village
Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave., Los Angeles, 323-644-1929, www.atwatervillagetheatre.com.
Written by and starring voiceover performer Bill Ratner, a Best of
Fringe 2012 Honoree and 8-time Moth Story Slam Winner. Ratner delves
into the mystery of what happened to his uncle, actor Bobby Jellison,
who played I Love Lucy's "Bobby the Bellboy" for thirteen
episodes. Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m. Continues through June 29. Ruby
Theater at the Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles,
323-960-5774, www.complexhollywood.com. See New Reviews.
A comedy, written by Matthew Leavitt, consisting of five interrelated
short plays that peek into the sex lives of five different couples in
various bedroom scenarios. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through
July 27. Zephyr Theater, 7456 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, 323-852-9111.
GO: Cops and Friends of Cops: The title Cops and Friends of Cops
references the raucous "cops only" night held monthly at the tumbledown
St. Louis bar in Ron Klier's suspenseful drama. While Dom (Paul Vincent
O'Connor) prepares the bar for the night's guests, he is joined by the
shabby-looking Paul (Johnny Clark), who insists on staying, in spite of
Dom's repeated warnings that "the place is slammed with cops" and his
prediction that things will "turn rowdy." After Emmett (Andrew Hawkes),
plus Roosevelt (Rolando Boyce) and his soon-to-be-retired partner Sal
(Gareth Williams), clamor in, the mood turns deeply malevolent -- fast.
Emmett's inexplicable browbeating of Paul turns increasingly ugly and
confrontational, while Sal's seemingly endless assortment of "all in
good fun" racist jokes slowly begin to anger his young African-American
partner. This initial ratcheting-up of tension, however, is nothing
compared with what happens after a gun is suddenly produced and the
reason for Paul's visit is revealed. What follows is anything but
predictable. Klier's rough-hewn characters are completely convincing,
and the script, in addition to forcefully probing issues of morality,
bigotry, loss and redemption, takes hold and allows little in the way of
relief, as does Klier's highly charged, violent staging. The ensemble
work here is first-rate, while Danny Cistone nails his meticulously
crafted bar mock-up, complete with pay phone and old-timey jukebox.
(Lovell Estell III). Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through June
29, $25. VS. Theatre, 5453 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, www.vstheatre.org.
GO: Dying City:
When Peter (Burt Grinstead) unexpectedly shows up at Kelly's (Laurie
Okin) Lower Manhattan apartment, the mood is prickly and awkward. That's
understandable; Peter is the identical twin of her husband, Craig, a
hard-as-nails soldier who recently died in a military accident in Iraq.
But during their conversation, many questions tug at this pair,
threatening to bring them down into an emotional undertow. Did Craig
really die in an accident? Why is Kelly's phone number unlisted and why
is she obscuring evidence she may be moving out? Christopher Shinn's
writing is sophisticated and elusive, presenting only tantalizing
fragments and expecting you to make the connections and piece the
backstory together. The language is raw and real -- people really do
talk this way -- and Shinn, a Pulitzer Prize finalist for this play,
perfectly captures the discomfort of a relationship that exists only
through a marital connection yet becomes cathected and extremely
complicated. Director Michael Peretzian stages the one-act play well,
using lighting and sound cues sparingly but above all extracting superb
and deeply expressive performances from his cast of two. Both actors are
called upon to negotiate some difficult emotional terrain, and
Grinstead, in particular, demonstrates his range. (Pauline Adamek).
Saturdays, 5 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m.; Mondays, 8 p.m.; Mondays, 8 p.m.
Continues through July 8, $30. Rogue Machine Theatre, 5041 W. Pico
In Trey Nichols' explosive play, fantasy and reality collide with
deadly force. Moe and Edie are buddies watching their sons play
football, but something strange is lurking underneath this harrowing and
comedic portrait of the American Dream. Part of the Hollywood Fringe
Festival. Sat., June 15, 5:30 p.m.; Sat., June 22, 2:45 p.m.; Fri., June
28, 9:45 p.m.; Sat., June 29, 9:45 p.m. East Theatre at the Complex,
6468 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles. See New Reviews.
All-new sketch and improv, directed by Damon Jones. Fridays, 8 p.m.;
Saturdays, 8 & 10 p.m. Continues through July 6. Groundling Theater,
7307 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, 323-934-9700, www.groundlings.com.
A middle-aged Jewish woman struggling with a crisis of faith is
convinced to join a flamenco class for "out of shape" women which
forever changes her life. Written by Stephen Sachs. See Stage feature: http://www.laweekly.com/2013-05-30/stage/fried-octopus-bootleg/full/.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through July 14.
Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave., Los Angeles, 323-663-1525, www.fountaintheatre.com.
Over 1,000 performances of 200 plus performing arts productions will be
presented at 20 venues throughout central Hollywood. Visit
hollywoodfringe.org for a complete list of showtimes and locations.
Mondays-Sundays. Continues through June 30, prices vary by show,
www.hollywoodfringe.org/. Fringe Central Station, 6314 Santa Monica
Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-455-4585, www.hollywoodfringe.org.
A play by screenwriter and playwright Wendy McLeod, about an unbalanced
familial homecoming for a young man and his new fiancé. Fridays,
Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 5 p.m. Continues through June 30. Studio
Stage, 520 N. Western Ave., Los Angeles, 323-463-3900, www.studio-stage.com.
It would take a cultural philosopher to adequately explain why zombies
have so profoundly resonated with audiences at this historical moment.
One does not, however, need to be a Gilles Deleuze to understand its
baroque potential for satire. Which is to say that anyone with even a
passing acquaintance with the genre rules laid down by George Romero
will find a lot to like in director Patrick Bristow's amiable,
Americanized version of this improv-derived British fringe import by Ben
Muir, Jess Napthine, David Ash and Lee Cooper. Bristow is zombiologist
Dr. Bobert Dougash. Jayne Entwistle, Mario Vernazza and Chris Sheets are
his seminar's panel of conspicuously underqualified experts, who take
very seriously the ludicrous prospect of surviving a fictional,
species-exterminating epidemic. Bristow expertly leads the crew through
some clever wordplay routines worthy of Abbott & Costello, padded
out with some genial barbs directed at audience targets of opportunity.
(Bill Raden). Sat., June 15, 7 p.m.; Tue., June 18, 8 p.m.; Sat., June
22, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., June 29, 5:30 p.m., combinedartform.com. Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-962-1632.
An experiment in interactive theater that puts spectators in control of
the performers. Via radio remote, audience members can guide the words
and motions of a single actor, and determine how he/she interacts with
the environment and other performers. Presented by the Brimmer Street
Theatre Company. Fri., June 14, 10:30 p.m.; Fri., June 21, 10:30 p.m.;
Fri., June 28, 10:30 p.m. Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Los
Hungry Woman: A new play, written by Josefina López, based on an abridged adaptation of her novel, Hungry Woman in Paris.
Rachel González stars in the central role of Canela Guerrero, a Chicano
journalist who breaks off her marriage engagement, and uses tickets
intended for her honeymoon to go to Paris alone so that she can find
herself and the meaning of life. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 5
p.m. Continues through June 30. Casa 0101, 2102 E. 1st St., Los Angeles,
What if Google was not a high tech search engine, but a regular guy in
an apartment full of maps, calendars and reference books whose job was
doing research 24 / 7 without time to crash? What if Twitter was his
ex-girlfriend and currently dating Facebook. What if Wikipedia was just
his know-it-all buddy giving him bad information while Bing seeks to
destroy him at every turn? Come visit Google and get all your questions
answered, LIVE and in person! Free cookies for all visitors! Written and
performed by actor and computer expert Craig Ricci Shaynak. Sat., June
15, 11 p.m.; Wed., June 19, 8:30 p.m.; Sat., June 22, 10 p.m.; Fri.,
June 28, 8:30 p.m.; Sat., June 29, 2:30 p.m.; Sun., June 30, 5:30 p.m.
Elephant Theatre Lab, 1078 N. Lilian Way, Los Angeles, 323-993-7204.
Ben Fuller and Sara Collins serenade audiences with a selection of
songs and duets, filled with sharp banter and tongue-in-cheek
interpretations. Presented by the Brimmer Street Theatre Company. Fri.,
June 14, 9:15 p.m.; Fri., June 21, 9:15 p.m.; Fri., June 28, 9:15 p.m.
Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-469-9988.
Comedian Sue Costello's one-woman show, about her life as she goes from
nerdy kid to television star. After loosing it all, Costello is faced
with the fact that the superficiality of the material world was the only
thing propping her up. Fri., June 14, 8 p.m.; Sat., June 15, 8 p.m.;
Sun., June 16, 8 p.m. Acme Comedy Theatre, 135 N. La Brea, Los Angeles,
A dark comedy that examines enhanced interrogation techniques and the
endless cycle of man's inhumanity to man. An American citizen is being
detained and interviewed, but he doesn't know where he is or why he is
there. His Interviewers seem to think he knows something and they will
stop at nothing to get the information they need, but oddly enough they
never seem to ask him anything. Written and directed by Michael Franco.
Sun., June 16, 6:30 p.m.; Thu., June 20, 8 p.m.; Sat., June 22, 3:30
& 6:30 p.m.; Fri., June 28, 8 p.m.; Sun., June 30, 3:30 p.m. Open
Fist Theatre, 6209 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-882-6912, www.openfist.org. See New Reviews.
Backed by a live band, Tim Piper channels John Lennon in this
multimedia rock 'n roll tribute that celebrates Lennon's life and music.
Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m.; Sat., July 6, 8 p.m.; Sun., July 7,
3 p.m.; Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Aug. 25.
Hayworth Theatre, 2511 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-213-6955, www.thehayworth.com.
In 2006, the mayor of New Orleans proposed celebrating Hurricane
Katrina's first anniversary with a fireworks display and comedy hour,
which was canceled due to public outrage. Through the words of five New
Orleans residents, experience the heartbreak, humanity, and "comedy" of
those who rode out the storm. Written by Rob Florence, directed by Misty
Carlisle. Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays, 8 p.m. Continues
through June 30. Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles,
A comedic and poignant journey of one man's battle to defend himself
against the IRS, told through receipts, anxiety, and diet coke. Written
and performed by Steve Mize. Part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival.
Fri., June 14, 7 p.m.; Sun., June 16, 11:30 a.m.; Sat., June 22, 5:30
p.m.; Fri., June 28, 8:30 p.m.; Sun., June 30, 1 p.m. Theatre Asylum,
John Grady's one man performance of his true tales of being picked on,
chased down, and beat up, from childhood to adulthood. Chosen as "Best
of the FringeNY Festival." Thu., June 20, 10 p.m.; Sat., June 22, 2
p.m.; Thu., June 27, 10 p.m.; Sat., June 29, 1:25 p.m. Theatre of NOTE,
1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-856-8611, www.theatreofnote.com.
An LA LAW benefit rumble for Jail Guitar Doors, a non-profit that aims
to provide inmates musical instruments in order to bring about positive
attitude changes in their lives and the lives of those around them.
Expect a combination of burlesque, sport, and WWF spectacle. Mon., June
17, 7 p.m. Bootleg Theater, 2200 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles,
A multimedia, audio-driven sonic experience about loneliness, depravity
and the intrinsic failure of all human contact. With original music by
Reggie Watts and vocal work by Neil Gaiman, Marin Ireland, and Reed
Birney. Fri., June 14, 11 p.m. Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas
Ave., Los Angeles, 323-644-1929, www.atwatervillagetheatre.com.
GO: The Matchmaker:
Thornton Wilder, who wrote this zany philosophical farce, is a
paradoxical figure. He was both deeply conservative -- intent on
conserving the theatrical conventions and traditions of the past -- and
an innovator who burst the bounds of realistic theater with plays like The Long Christmas Dinner, Our Town and The Skin of Our Teeth.
But perhaps his most memorable creation is the title character of this
piece, Dolly Gallagher Levi (Lori Berg), the irrepressible matchmaker
and all-around busybody, who sets her cap for wealthy businessman Horace
Vandergelder (Dimitri Christy), and along the way solves the romantic
dilemmas of everybody in the vicinity. Director Heather Chesley provides
a production that initially seems pedestrian and heavy-handed but gains
in momentum as it progresses. Most innovative are the increasingly
frantic and loony dance interludes, by choreographer Julie Hall,
employed to cover the set changes. In addition to those mentioned above,
there are engaging performances by Ellis Greer as the determined
milliner Irene Molloy, Joseph Barone as the naive clerk Barnaby and
Katie Buderwitz as a vivacious Minnie Fay. Their performances, combined
with Wilder's sunnily subversive wit, give the proceedings an air of
festive celebration that sends the audience out beaming. (Neal Weaver).
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2:30 p.m.; Sat., June 15, 2:30 p.m.
Continues through June 16. David Schall Theatre, 1760 N. Gower St., Los
Angeles, 323-462-8460, www.actorsco-op.org.
Kemp Powers' historical fiction explores the night in 1964 that Cassius
Clay defeated Sonny Liston to become heavyweight champion of the world,
and Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and football player Jim Brown threw a party
for him at a small hotel. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m.
Continues through July 28. Rogue Machine Theatre, 5041 W. Pico Blvd.,
Los Angeles, 855-585-5185, www.roguemachinetheatre.com.
Brazilian theater company Os Satyros performs this explicit stage
adaptation of the Marquis de Sade's 1795 book. This show contains
frontal nudity, sex, and extreme violence. Audience discretion is
advised. Fri., June 14, 8:30 p.m.; Sat., June 15, 10 p.m.; Sun., June
16, 7 p.m.; Mon., June 17, 9 p.m.; Wed., June 19, 10 p.m.; Thu., June
20, 10 p.m.; Sat., June 22, 12:30 p.m.; Mon., June 24, 10:30 p.m.; Tue.,
June 25, 10 p.m.; Thu., June 27, 8:30 p.m.; Fri., June 28, 11:59 p.m.;
Sat., June 29, 10:30 p.m. Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd., Los
A play about deception and broken trust, written by Steven Dietz.
Thursdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through June 30. Hudson
Theatres, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles.
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 June 30. Edgemar Center for the Arts, 2437 Main St., Santa
Monica, 310-399-3666, www.edgemarcenter.org.
Rent: Because of its repetitive musicality, rock opera Rent
lives or dies on the vocal strength of its cast. This production has
mostly excellent, robust and irrepressible singing that is only
occasionally obliterated by the mediocre live band. The plot of Jonathan
Larson's legendary Broadway smash in some ways clings to its source
material (Henri Murger's novel and Puccini's opera), gaining gravitas
with its contemporary updating to Manhattan in the mid-'90s.
Tuberculosis becomes AIDS, the oppressed mobilize and artists sell out.
This production's highlights include the hilarious "Tango: Maureen"
(sung by Reagan Osborne and Kate Bowman) and "Light My Candle" (Juan
Lozano and the sultry Lauren Joy Goss as a sexed-up Mimi). Jonathon
Grant steals the show with his dynamite performance as cheeky drag queen
Angel, especially in his athletic first solo, "Today 4 You." Director
Kristen Boulé never finds the balance between the show's rock & roll
power and its quiet, reflective ballads, and commencing Act Two in full
house lights undermines the dreamy, multipart harmonies of "Seasons of
Love." (Pauline Adamek). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m.
Continues through June 30. Hudson Theatres, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Los
A new play, written by Chris Phillips, choreographed by Janet Roston
and directed by Ryan Bergmann. Like the six barrels in a revolver, six
scenes displaying the aftermath of emotional and physical violence are
examined in the gun-shaped city of West Hollywood. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8
p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through July 21. Celebration Theatre,
7051-B Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-957-1884, www.celebrationtheatre.com.
A yuppie dentist gets pulled into the lore of a dusty, unmarked place
called Rodeo Town when his Range Rover breaks down in the middle of a
road trip. Written by Graham Bowlin. Directed by Cameron Strittmatter.
Fridays, Saturdays, 7 p.m. Continues through June 29. East Theatre at
the Complex, 6468 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles.
The Ruby Besler Cabaret:
A funny, sexy show starring principal writer and producer Anastasia
Barnes. Her character, Ruby, goes to secretarial school in Manhattan
while pursuing the dream of being a Broadway star. Along the way, she
beds and loses a great love before moving on to the next chapter of an
adventurous life. Fri., June 14, 7 p.m.; Thu., June 20, 10 p.m.; Tue.,
June 25, 8:30 p.m.; Sat., June 29, 10 p.m. Elephant Stages, 6322 Santa
Monica Blvd., Los Angeles.
A genre-bending production exploring what happens when a stowaway
sneaks aboard a yacht and falls for a stunning woman whose wit matches
his own. The drama plays out at sea as characters, trapped, find their
secrets slipping out. Written by 20-year-old playwright ZK Lowenfels.
Sun., June 16, 2:30 p.m.; Thu., June 20, 11:30 p.m.; Mon., June 24, 7
p.m.; Sat., June 29, 8:30 p.m. Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd.,
Los Angeles, 323-962-1632, www.theatreasylum-la.com.
GO: The Size of Pike:
Boys will be boys and men will be men, though the distinction between
the two is more likely one of personal income rather than emotional
maturity. Or so it is with the three middle-aged children (Dennis
Delsing, Jon Amirkhan and Gregg Christie) who explore their frayed adult
bonds in this engaging revival of playwright Lee Wochner's poignant
1996 comedy. Part of Moving Arts' "20/20 Vision," its 20th-anniversary
season of retrospective restagings, the watchwords of director Sara
Wagner's audience-immersive production (on Aaron Francis' shabbily
un-chic apartment set) are up close and personal -- any closer and you'd
be sitting in the actors' laps. The play's action takes place on the
eve of the trio's annual fishing trip. Its highlight is Amirkhan playing
Costello to Delsing's Abbott in a hilariously extended riff involving a
tall tale about a six-inch pike. But such fish stories are central to
Wochner's meditation on changing generational codes of masculinity -- a
shift that has left Delsing's truculent but physically ravaged carpenter
increasingly at odds with his office-working childhood chums as he
quixotically tries to live up to a model of pride and rugged
self-reliance that no longer has meaning or relevance in a world defined
solely by the commodity. (Bill Raden). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.
Continues through June 15, $20. Moving Arts, 1822 Hyperion Ave., Los
Angeles, 323-666-3259, www.movingarts.org.
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.
Brian Friel's 1980 play is set in 1833. England has sent British troops
to carry out the first geographic survey of Ireland, with orders to
translate the old Gaelic place names into English, obliterating
centuries of Irish history and culture. In Gaelic-speaking Baile Beag,
in Country Donegal, the reaction is decidedly mixed. The forward-
looking young Maire (Sammi Smith) welcomes the move as a way of
connecting their isolated backwater with the modern world, while others
engage in sabotage and harbor deep resentment against the British, which
escalates into violence. The first victim is the young British
Lieutenant Yolland (Kurt Quinn), who's romantically involved with Maire,
despite the fact that they don't speak the same language. Ironically,
Yolland is a naive romantic with a deep love for all things Irish.
Director Ryan Wagner leads his able cast in a solid production, despite
some near-impenetrable Irish brogue. (Neal Weaver). Fridays, Saturdays, 8
p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through June 23. Lost Studio, 130 S. La
Brea Ave., Los Angeles, 323-871-5830.
In this solo show, Marie Lively shares the true story of how a naive
Christian temp became a corporate smut queen for one of the most famous
(and infamous) pornographers in town. Presented by the Brimmer Street
Theatre Company. Fri., June 14, 7:45 p.m.; Fri., June 21, 7:45 p.m.;
Fri., June 28, 7:45 p.m. Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Los
by Danny Rothschild, Interlochen, MI, Age 19. Visit
youngplaywrights.com for a full schedule and list of performances.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through June 30,
www.youngplaywrights.com/. The Blank Theatre, 6500 Santa Monica Blvd.,
Los Angeles, 323-661-9827, www.theblank.com.
Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia,
Formerly Known as South-West Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika,
Between the Years 1884-1915: The West Coast premiere of Jackie
Sibblies Drury's chilling and funny new work about a group of actors who
lose control of their play and discover some startling hidden truths.
What could possibly go wrong when a group of eager young amateur actors
attempt to dramatize genocide? Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2
p.m. Continues through Aug. 11. Matrix Theatre, 7657 Melrose Ave., Los
Angeles, 323-852-1445, www.matrixtheatre.com.
GO: White Hot:
A dark, psychological thriller by playwright Tommy Smith, about a love
triangle between a troubled woman, her sexy sister, and her
opportunistic husband. Sat., June 15, 10 p.m.; Tue., June 18, 10 p.m.;
Tue., June 25, 7 p.m.; Fri., June 28, 7 p.m. Asylum Lab, 1078 Lillian
ONGOING SHOWS IN SMALLER THEATERS SITUATED IN THE VALLEYS:
Zombie Joe's disgusting new thriller-comedy about a condo complex in
the San Fernando Valley, where the water supply becomes contaminated
with a dangerous microbe, transforming the residents (and their pets)
into ravenous, flesh-eating zombies. Fridays, 11 p.m. Continues through
July 12. Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North
Hollywood, 818-202-4120, zombiejoes.homestead.com.
Brian Golden's drama is a well-intentioned homage to the monumental
career of Jackie Robinson, with the action set in a diner (a stunner by
Desma Murphy) in Cooperstown on the eve of Robinson's Hall of Fame
induction. Junior (Cecil Burroughs), a black man, hopes to wheedle a
promotion to manager of the diner from its white owner, whose cynical
political ambitions would be aided by hosting the induction dinner.
Trouble looms, however, because of a planned civil-rights protest by
Junior's ultra-militant sister (Jamye Grant) and her cohorts. On site
for the ceremony is an endearing baseball groupie (TJ McNeill), whose
amorous puppy-dog attachment to waitress Dylan (Alexa Shoemaker) makes
for a humorous diversion but is as insubstantial as Junior's puzzling
relationship with the owner's neglected wife (Ann Hu). There is much to
enjoy here, especially if you're a baseball fan. Director Darryl
Johnson's cast perform consistently well, but Golden's winding,
here-and-there script makes disappointingly ineffective use of the rich
potential of the subject matter. (Lovell Estell III). Fridays,
Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through July 20. NoHo
Senior Arts Colony, 10747 Magnolia Blvd., Los Angeles.
GO: The Crucible:
Arthur Miller's play, first produced on Broadway in 1953, was Miller's
impassioned response to McCarthyism and the witch-hunts launched by the
House Un-American Activities Committee. But the fact that it has become
an oft-produced American classic and the basis for two films (including a
French version with screenplay by Jean-Paul Sartre) reminds us that
it's not just a political screed. Miller presents the Salem witch
trials, and the ensuing executions, as a lethal combination of greed,
personal resentment, religious fanaticism and hysteria, ordinary human
fears and the need to find someone to blame for all misfortunes. It was a
climate in which honesty and integrity were dangerous, and lies and
manipulation could thrive. Co-directors Armin Shimerman and Geoffrey
Wade have given the piece a highly presentational production, in which
the actors deliver their lines directly to the audience rather than to
each other. This approach drives the ideas home with force and clarity
but some loss of psychological subtlety. The large ensemble (all roles
are double-cast) delivers a production that is powerful and always
engrossing. There are especially fine portrayals, in the performance
reviewed, by James Sutorious as Deputy Governor Danforth, Bo Foxworth as
John Proctor and Ann Noble as Reverend Hale. (Neal Weaver). Thursdays, 8
p.m.; Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Saturdays, 2
p.m. Continues through July 6. The Antaeus Company and Antaeus Academy,
5112 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood.
Sam Shepard's sexy play about two obsessed and volatile lovers can be
intense and mesmerizing when it's done right, and a terrible
screech-fest when done wrong. This production trends uncomfortably
toward the latter. Chad Doreck delivers a natural, nuanced performance
as Eddie, a flawed drifter with a tenuous grasp on the truth, who
arrives at a seedy motel to revisit his half-sister and longtime
paramour, May (Lauren Plaxco). The pair have been on-again, off-again
for years, and May now wants out but gets hysterical each time Eddie
heads for the door. Throughout, Plaxco touts May's anger and anguish at
earsplitting volume while neglecting the more subtle details of her
persona -- and the production suffers. Zach Killian is spot-on as an
amiable guy who inadvertently lands in the middle of this incestuous
duo. Robert May's rendering of their deranged dad lacks the bizarre,
haunting element that's called for. Gloria Gifford directs. (Deborah
Klugman). Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7:30 p.m. Continues through June
23, www.tix.com/Schedule.asp?ActCode=92083. T.U. Studios, 10943 Camarillo St., North Hollywood, 818-205-1680.
Peggy, a woman of generally good taste, has left one wall undecorated
in her living room, to the consternation of her husband, Roger. A comedy
with songs by Cole Porter. Written by A.R. Gurney, directed by Randall
Gray. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through July 20. Stages of
Gray, 299 N. Altadena Drive, Pasadena, www.stagesofgray.com.
Like it or not, in a country of melting-pot mongrels, the dislocating
immigrant experience is part of our cultural DNA. So it is no surprise
that performer Tara Grammy's partly autobiographical solo show
(co-written with Tom Arthur Davis) about Toronto's Iranian expatriate
community should resonate with such poignant and universal familiarity.
Grammy interweaves multiple characters: Mahmoud, a middle-aged cab
driver and refugee from the Khomeini revolution; a flamboyant Spanish
gay man and his Iranian boyfriend, who has returned to Tehran on family
business; and Grammy herself, both as an adolescent born in Tehran but
raised in Canada, and as an adult struggling to launch a career in
Toronto's film and TV industry. The freshest and funniest material --
aided by Davis' smart and brisk staging -- belongs to the 11-year-old
Tara and her fixation on somehow mitigating the physical differences
between her own dark complexion and that of her class's most popular
blond, blue-eyed girl. What ultimately thwarts all the characters,
however, is an Iran of the imagination whose relation to the truth
becomes increasingly problematic as headlines from that country's 2009
elections hint at a more complicated and disturbing reality. (Bill
Raden). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through June 29. Whitefire
Theater, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, 818-990-2324, www.whitefiretheatre.com.
A disco re-imagining of Shakespeare's summer love story. Directed by
Matt Walker. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays, 4 p.m.;
Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through July 7. Falcon Theatre, 4252
Riverside, Burbank, 818-955-8101, www.falcontheatre.com.
Tammy Minoff's tepid relationship drama centers on small people who
can't understand why relationships aren't easier than they are, though
its smattering of laughs compensates somewhat for taking the long way
around to where we always knew we were going. Immediately after moving
to New York, Rosemary, a painter (read: free spirit), meets Tom, the
architect who will be instantly smitten with her. By the end of the
week, they've moved in together, and their relationship plays out in
contrast to that of Donald and Mae, friends of Tom's a few years married
who have hit a rough patch, thereby offering up the obligatory alarming
future. The well-executed multimedia design by Paige Selene Luke
(lighting), Adeline Newmann and Joe LaRue (video) and Borja Sau (sound)
plays nicely off of J.J. Wickham's simple, fluid set, but staging that
necessitates the actors' incessant fidgeting with its various elements
can become a distraction, dissipating some of the couples' chemistry.
(Mindy Farabee). Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through June 29.
Sidewalk Studio Theatre, 4150 Riverside Drive, Burbank, 818-558-5702, www.sidewalkstudiotheatre.com.
Joe Musso's comedy about a county unemployment office manager and her
mission to restrain shiftless, hell-bent poets (including Walt Whitman,
Emily Dickinson, and Edgar Allan Poe), from devouring free government
cheese. Saturdays, 8:30 p.m. Continues through July 6. Zombie Joe's
Underground Theatre, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood,
Shakespeare's account of the deformed, devious usurper to England's
throne runs the longest of the history plays, coming in just slightly
shorter than Hamlet. Zombie Joe's version, Shakespeare's Richard III,
edited and directed by Denise Devin, pares the tale to its most
salacious bits in a breathlessly plotted, hourlong production. From
Richard's snarling opening monologue, the action charges ahead at a
breakneck pace, with several castmates doubling or tripling in the minor
roles. This is Shakespeare for the very busy, and for those who like
their Bard with a helping of humor and horror. From Richard's (W.
Lochridge O'Bryan) casual handling of Hastings' (Tyler McAuliffe)
detached head to the aggressively corporal spirits who shriek "Despair,
and die!" on the eve of his ousting, the evil is satisfying if not
particularly subtle. O'Bryan gives a delicious performance as the
humpbacked, villainous king, who disposes of brothers, nephews, friends
and wife on his grim ascent to the throne. Richard's coffin-side
seduction of Lady Anne (Anna Gillcrist) crackles with lust, while his
later entreaties to Queen Elizabeth (Sarah Fairfax) to marry her
daughter, his niece, disgust with their attendant creepiness. Devin
keeps a tight rein on the production, though a few more beats would give
these scenes the rest they deserve. (Jenny Lower). Fridays, 8:30 p.m.;
Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through June 16. Zombie Joe's Underground
Theatre, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, 818-202-4120, zombiejoes.homestead.com.
GO: Smoke and Mirrors:
If you've forgotten the childlike joy and sublime wonderment of seeing
magic performed, Albie Selznick's theatrical show is an enchanting
reminder. The accomplished actor-magician puts on a bewildering tour de
force that has more "how did he do that" flashes than can be counted.
The show also has a personal element, as Selznick recounts his long path
to becoming a master magician, starting when he lost his father at the
age of 9 and used magic to escape reality, and then as a means of
challenging and overcoming his fears. He knows how to work the crowd,
and uses members of the audience in a number of his routines. Toward
show's end, he swallows some razors (kids, don't try this), then
regurgitates them on a long string, and wows with a demonstration of
fire eating and juggling some wicked-looking knives. Other amazing
moments are the eerie conjuring of doves out of nowhere and a
mind-blowing exhibition of midair suspension. Like all good magicians,
Selznick has highly capable assistants -- Brandy, Kyle, Tina and Daniel
-- who dazzle with their own magic in a stylish preshow. Paul Millet
directs. (Lovell Estell III). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2
p.m. Continues through Aug. 25, 800-595-4849, smokeandmirrorsmagic.com.
Lankershim Arts Center, 5108 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, www.lankershimartscenter.com.
ONGOING SHOWS IN SMALLER THEATERS SITUATED ON THE WESTSIDE AND IN BEACH TOWNS:
ALL the comedies, ALL the tragedies, ALL the histories, and even a nod
to the sonnets, all compressed neatly into a 97-minute package,
performed by three actors. Written by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess
Winfield. Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through
June 30. Promenade Playhouse, 1404 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica,
A one-man show, in which actor and playwright Ian Ruskin portrays the
legendary union organizer Harry Bridges, capturing his passion,
struggles and wicked sense of humor. Thu., June 20, 8 p.m.; Thu., June
27, 8 p.m. Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Ave., Venice, 310-306-1854, www.electriclodge.org.
A new stage production of the Tony award-winning comedy by Herb
Gardner, in which seniors Midge, an African American, and Nat, a Jewish
man, meet in Central Park and develop a friendship. Directed by Howard
Teichman. See Stage feature: http://www.laweekly.com/2013-05-02/stage/colorblind-im-not-rappaport/full/.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through June 23,
$35. Pico Playhouse, 10508 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-204-4440, www.picoplayhouse.com.
Taken from the works of "Theatre of the Absurd" playwright Eugène
Ionesco, this is a zany musical vaudeville featuring mime, farce and
parody. Music and lyrics by Mildred Kayden, original concept by Robert
Allan Ackerman, directed and choreographed by Bill Castellino. Fridays,
Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Wed., June 19, 8 p.m.; Thu., June
27, 8 p.m.; Thu., July 11, 8 p.m.; Wed., July 17, 8 p.m.; Thu., July 25,
8 p.m.; Wed., July 31, 8 p.m. Continues through Aug. 11. Odyssey
Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-477-2055, www.odysseytheatre.com.
Bottom is the tops in New American Theatre's take on the classic tale
of love and mischief, here set in 1930s Greece. Director and company
founder Jack Stehlin brings energy and cheeky wit to the character of
Nick Bottom by fully exploring the hills and valleys of Shakespeare's
linguistic landscape. As director, however, Stehlin doesn't get the
remainder of the cast to a similar level of performative precision and
understanding. The actors, while competent, never quite find the rhythms
and finer contours of the language that are crucial to making
Shakespeare feel contemporary while retaining his lilting lyricism. The
transposition to '30s Greece also lacks dramatic justification, making
Barbara Little's costuming as quizzical as it is colorful. Roger
Bellon's original music and John Farmanesh-Bocca's choreography add
flair to the fairies' moments onstage, but not enough to deliver
whatever message about class or Orientalism is intended by reimagining
them as gypsies. (Mayank Keshaviah). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sun.,
June 30, 7 p.m. Continues through June 30. Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S.
Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-477-2055, www.odysseytheatre.com.
GO: One White Crow:
Playwright Dale Griffiths Stamos' drama boasts a charged debate about
faith versus science that's engagingly even-handed and surprisingly
evocative. Renowned TV celebrity psychic Judith Knight (Michelle Danner)
offers an exclusive interview to hard-boiled reporter Teresa (Jane
Hajduk), who is mystified by the request, given that she is a fierce
disbeliever in the occult and is also the daughter of Christopher
Hitchens-like religious skeptic Robert. Robert has recently died and
Teresa is sure that Judith is scheming some sort of fake séance for PR
purposes -- but the real truth turns out to be far more ambiguous and
disturbing. Director Deborah LaVine's nicely character-driven staging
crafts figures who represent two extreme poles of dogmatic belief --
Teresa and her Richard Dawkins-like boyfriend Alex (a nicely prickly Rob
Estes) contrast arrestingly with Danner's Knight, whose inscrutable,
Paula Dean-meets-carnival fortune-teller persona is fascinating.
Although Stamos' plot runs out of steam at the end, and the dialogue
occasionally falters into banality, the premise is enough to make the
play intellectually intriguing. (Paul Birchall). Fridays, Saturdays, 8
p.m.; Sundays, 5 p.m. Continues through June 23, $35. Edgemar Center for
the Arts, 2437 Main St., Santa Monica, 310-399-3666, www.edgemarcenter.org.
This mildly entertaining backstage comedy about the ill-fated debut of
an awful play features a talented cast under Bruce Gray's able
direction. But Norm Foster's screwball story stays afloat on a raft of
cliches and pointed winks: A cultural philistine and his long-suffering
wife ring in their silver anniversary during Game Seven of the World
Series. An oily director manages his buxom ingenue under his
girlfriend's watchful eye, while a starry-eyed waiter banters with a
washed-up Shakespearean. Et cetera. The caricatures are meant to make us
feel superior to the rubes onstage, but the half-funny jokes grow
forced. Despite pitch-perfect performances (Gail Johnston, John Combs
and David Hunt Stafford are special standouts), some tender moments and a
second act that's snappier than the first, we can see the character
arcs coming from a mile away. For a play whose characters grandly
extemporize on the magic of theater, this show could use more of its
own. (Jenny Lower). Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.
Continues through June 16. Theatre 40 at the Reuben Cordova Theater, 241
Moreno, Beverly Hills, 310-364-0535, www.theatre40.org.
A fierce, modern-day Ophelia is trapped inside the machinery that has
created her consciousness, fighting to be heard. Hamlet, overwhelmed by
the ceaseless flood of media, watches TV mindlessly, flipping channels
with his remote control. He wants to understand the world but all he can
do is stare at it. The two of them are on opposite sides, between them,
the Atlantic Ocean. Written by Magda Romanska. Fridays, Saturdays, 8
p.m.; Sundays, 4 p.m. Continues through July 28. City Garage at Bergamot
Station Arts Center, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica, 310-453-9939, www.citygarage.org.
Performance artist Dan Kwong's multimedia collaboration with master
taiko drummer Kenny Endo, which celebrates the life of Kwong's late
mother, Momo Nagano, an eccentric Japanese-American artist who prevailed
over sexism and racism as a single parent in early 1960s U.S. Fri.,
June 14, 8:30 p.m.; Sat., June 15, 8:30 p.m.; Sun., June 16, 7:30 p.m.
Highways Performance Space, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica, 310-315-1459, www.highwaysperformance.org.
GO: Years to the Day:
A dark comedy written by Allen Barton about two 40-something men who
have been friends for decades, and who finally get together for coffee
after only staying in touch via social media. See Stage feature: http://www.laweekly.com/2013-04-25/stage/a-pair-of-two-person-shows-one-starring-comedy-couple-nick-offerman-and-megan-mullaly-lt-em-gt-annapurna-lt-em-gt-and-lt-em-gt-years-to-the-day-lt-em-gt-reviewed/.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through June 29, $25-$35. Beverly
Hills Playhouse, 254 S. Robertson Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310-855-1556, www.bhplayhouse.com.
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