Crystal Garrett and Jolie Oliver in The Old Settler at the Pico Playhouse
John Henry Redwood's throwback comedy-drama about a family in 1943 Harlem, The Old Settler at Pico Playhouse, is this week's Pick. Writes Lovell Estell III, "The story of a May-December romance is an old one, but it receives a charming and inventive treatment."
Also, Deborah Klugman had good things to say about A Midsummer Night's Dream at Theatricum Botanicum in the woods of Topanga Canyon. For all the latest new theater reviews and regional stage listings, see below.
And this week's theater feature takes a look at what an early Tony Kushner play about artists in 1932 Berlin, A Bright Room Called Day, has to say about America in 2013. It plays at The Lost Studio on La Brea, presented by Coeurage Theatre Company.
NEW THEATER REVIEWS, scheduled for publication September 4, 2013
AUTO PARTS Writer-director Steve Sajich's play consists of four tenuously interrelated scenes, centering on the murder of a hooker. For reasons best known to Sajich, the four scenes are juggled in performance, with the audience deciding what their order will be. But this seems like a mere gimmick, designed to keep us from realizing just how thin and unsubstantial the play is. Two of the scenes, involving a randy, unfaithful husband (Frank Noon), his jealous and frustrated wife (Kate Kelly) and a prostitute (Angela Stern) carry the plot. The other two peripheral scenes concern a father-son team of thieves (John J. Malone and Jack David Frank) who discover the murdered woman's body but can't report it lest it reveal their crime, and a couple of police detectives (Ben Sharples and Deanna Watkins) on a stakeout as part of the murder investigation. The actors acquit themselves well but can't overcome inept dramaturgy. Fremont Centre Theatre, 1000 Fremont Avenue, S. Pasadena. Fri., 8 p.m.; through Sept. 20. (866) 811-4111, fremontcentretheatre.com (Neal Weaver)
A BRIGHT ROOM CALLED DAY
Miles Warner, Teya Patt and Graham Kurtz
Tony Kushner's 1985 survey of artists in Weimar Germany during the rise of the Third Reich. Coeurage Theatre Company at the Lost Studio, 130 S. La Brea Ave., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7:30 p.m.l through Sept. 15. (323) 871-5830. See this week's theater feature.
KLEPTO-MANIA: A NIGHJT OF TIME-TRAVEL, BULLFIGHTING AND LOVE Opening this bill of one-acts is Samantha Macher's "Brechtian comedy," The Arctic Circle and a Recipe for Swedish Pancakes. Unfortunately, it's a dreadfully unwieldy affair parceled out in 28- plus scenes that chronicle the amorous life and exploits of Elin (Katie Apicella). Narrated by Amy Scribner, it constantly shifts back and forth in time and place, which makes for a theatrical experience that quickly goes from annoying to mind numbing. There are way too many scenes that are nothing more than trifles, and McKerrin Kelly's direction is consistently labored. If there is any redemption, it's in the acting, which isn't bad. Robert Plowman's The Matador manages to be entertaining, in spite of hanging around too long. Directed by Todd Ristau, and spiced with an engaging pinch of camp, it tells the story of a much heralded matador (played with ticklish panache by Mark Ostrander) who gets more than he can handle when he encounters an unusual bull (choreographer Susanna Young) and an admiring female (Emma Sperka). Studio/Stage, 520 N. Western Ave., LA., Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; through Sept. 22, kleptotheatreworkshop.com or brownpapertickets.com/even/449039 (Lovell Estell III)
GO: A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
Willow Geer and Andy Stokan
As Bottom, performer Katherine Griffith may be the best reason to see this amusing but somewhat quotidian presentation of Shakespeare's seasonal classic. Cast across gender by directors Melora Marshall and Willow Geer, Griffith's likable blowhard garners a plurality of the laughs, along with his proletarian colleagues, whose presentation of Pyramus and Thisby before Theseus' court is this production's comic highlight. By contrast, the antics of Shakespeare's quartet of quarrelsome lovers, which includes Geer as a peevish Helena, are mostly played by-the-numbers and lack a fresh edge. As Titania, Marshall exudes a mercurial flamboyance and a capricious sense of entitlement that has one rooting, ever so momentarily, for Oberon (an attention-commanding Michael McFall). Though I invariably shun the word "adorable," I have no other description for months-old Collette Keller, who appears as the changeling child, taking her bow with the rest of the ensemble with faint, smiling aplomb. The charm of an outdoor proscenium and the added enhancement of designer Katherine Crawford's costumes, especially for Titania, Oberon and Puck (cross-gender cast Sabrina Frame) help simulate the requisite magic. Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga; Fri., Sept. 10, 17 & 24, 8 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 18 & 25, 3 p.m. (preshow talk Fri., Sept. 24, 7 p.m.); through Sept. 25. (310) 455-3723. (Deborah Klugman)
PICK OF THE WEEK: THE OLD SETTLER
Crystal Garrett and Jolie Oliver in The Old Settler at the Pico Playhouse
John Henry Redwood's bittersweet romantic comedy is set in 1943 Harlem in the comfy home (a handsome set by Thomas Brown) of middle-aged sisters Elizabeth (Ruby Hinds) and Quilly (Jolie Oliver). Elizabeth is dignified and restrained, while her sister is outspoken and nit-picky.These church-going ladies are often like oil and water, but there's an unmistakable sisterly love and devotion that underpins the acrimony. Their bond is tested when Elizabeth decides to take in as a renter the handsome, ultra-countrified Husband Witherspoon (John R. Davidson). He's come up from the South looking for his sweetheart, Lou Bessie (played with sass and attitude by Crystal Garrett), who is only interested in a good time and the man's money. It isn't long before Husband and Elizabeth are tenderly eyeing one another. The story of a May-December romance is an old one, but it receives a charming and inventive treatment by Redwood, and also offers a sobering glimpse into the pre-civil rights-era African-American experience. The outcome is predictable, but this doesn't detract from what is a thoroughly enjoyable production with emotionally vibrant performances under the direction of William Stanford Davis. Pico Playhouse, 10508 W. Pico Blvd., W. L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; through Oct. 27. (323) 960-7712, plays411.com/oldsettler (Lovell Estell III)
WHAT DOESN'T KILL YOU: AN EVENING OF ONE-ACT PLAYS
Cameron Britton, April Morrow, Bree Pravey
J D Ramage
Each of two average, kitchen-sink tragedies, with some levity throughout, take as their focus the troubled relationship between adult daughters and their wayward, alcoholic parents. In You'll Just Love My Dad
, written by Stephanie Jones and Peter Schuyler, an old homeless guy breaks into a home and starts snooping around before running himself a bath. When Jennifer (Bree Pavey) arrives home, it doesn't take her long to work out who's responsible, even though she hasn't seen her father, Duke (Wayne Baldwin), for seven years. When her sister Cheryl (April Morrow) shows up, babbling with excitement, the pair clashes on how to deal with dear old annoying Dad. Pavey handles the play's slightly wacky tone by maintaining a nice balance between hysteria and exasperated resignation. Pavey also stars in -- and scripted -- It Feels Like Her
, the second, more in-depth study of a daughter who has given up on her alcoholic mother. Stephanie Jones is great as the flawed parent, especially in a tearful, confessional monologue. Barbera Ann Howard convincingly portrays frail old Grammy. Cameron Hastings Britton is also good in two roles. Loft Ensemble, 929 E. Second St. No. 105, dwntwn.; Sat., 7 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m. (note: one-hour dinner break between the one-acts); through Sept. 15. (213) 680-0392, loftensemble.com. (Pauline Adamek)
ONGOING SHOWS REGION-WIDE:
Adults, Keep Out: A Merry Musical for Adults Only: This musical comedy by Evelyn Rudie and Chris DeCarlo (with music by Matthew Wrather) comes with its own warning, right in the title -- and, unfortunately, discerning theatergoers would be well advised to heed the admonition. The show purports to take place in a land of make-believe, where several kids embark on a quest to an enchanted lake of wisdom. The issues here are not related to the execution -- DeCarlo's staging is lively and spirited, while the unusually likable ensemble of extremely fresh-faced and appealing young performers assay their parts with enthusiasm and genuine vocal talent. However, the play itself, a schematic and derivative fantasy tale couched in flatfooted dialogue and tinny musical numbers, is disappointing. The message of Rudie's play -- that young folks grow out of their childlike imaginative worlds -- is by no means dismissable, but the clunkiness of the writing never allows the piece to succeed as either a genuine children's myth or an ironic adult tale. (Paul Birchall). Saturdays, 7 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Sept. 29. The Other Space at Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 Fourth St., Santa Monica, 310-394-9779, www.santamonicaplayhouse.com.
GO: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: This polished and entertaining adaptation of Mark Twain's coming-of-age classic The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a rare case of family entertainment done well. Skillfully directed by Aaron Lyons from a streamlined narrative by Laura Eason, the story tracks the transformation of title character Tom (Mike Rosenbaum) from mischievous kid to thoughtful youth, a metamorphosis that takes place after he confronts the villainous Injun Joe (Brandon Karrer) and saves an innocent man from hanging. Infused with a wistful (but not weepy) ambience brought on by effective music and sound (music coordinators Jeff Doba and Jennifer Zahlit), the production benefits from a versatile ensemble, adept at communicating the human truth within their characters despite the piece's larger-than-life style of storytelling. Among these are Sierra Campbell-Unsoeld as a tender, temperamental Becky; Jason Thomas as Tom's seasoned buddy, Huck Finn; and Karrer, who does triple duty as strict schoolmaster, sanctimonious preacher and dastardly bad guy. Katie Hotchkiss as a schoolmarmish Aunt Polly and Cameron Miller as Tom's more decorous brother wield nuance nicely. As Tom, however, Rosenbaum needs to rein in some of his goofy mannerisms, which don't always ring true. (Deborah Klugman). Fridays, 7 p.m.; Saturdays, 5 p.m. Continues through Sept. 7. Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre, 626-355-4318, www.sierramadreplayhouse.org.
Ah, Wilderness!: Eugene O'Neill's idyllic American comedy, about a young man, his young love, and his coming-of-age. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2:30 p.m. Continues through Oct. 13. Actors Co-op, 1760 N. Gower St., Los Angeles, 323-462-8460, www.actorsco-op.org.
Auto Parts: A theater piece consisting of four interrelated "parts" which are presented in an order selected by the audience before each show; the narrative line is never the same twice. Written and directed by Steve Stajich. Fri., Sept. 6, 8 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 13, 8 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 20, 8 p.m. Fremont Centre Theatre, 1000 Fremont Ave., South Pasadena, 626-441-5977, www.fremontcentretheatre.com.
bare: A Los Angeles revival of Jon Hartmere's pop opera about a Catholic school relationship between two roommates, Jason and Peter. Fridays, Saturdays, 8:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 2:30 p.m.; Sundays, 7:30 p.m. Continues through Sept. 22. Hayworth Theatre, 2511 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-213-6955, www.thehayworth.com.
Beethoven and Misfortune Cookies: For 11 years, Kabin Thomas was a popular and respected professor of music at the University of Arkansas, until he was fired in 2006, ostensibly for his frequent use of profanity in his lectures. Kabin, an African-American, also apparently offended Southern sensibilities when he displayed a photo of a lynching during a lecture on Billie Holliday and the song "Strange Fruit." His story is the subject of Joni Ravenna's drama, with the affable, burly Ernest Harden Jr. doing the honors as Thomas, portraying the character as equal parts inspired academic and street-corner rabble rouser. Subject matter isn't the problem here so much as lax structure and writing. Ravenna's script is primarily formatted as a series of casual lectures, sans questions, and the instructor tends to ramble. That's especially true in Act 1, while in Act 2, narrative gaps and the lack of coherency becomes a problem: The play chronicles Thomas' new life in Los Angeles, as well as his struggle with personal demons. Under T.J. Castronovo's direction, Harden's performance is satisfactory but not impressive. (Lovell Estell III). Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Sept. 15, plays411.com/beethoven. The Met Theatre, 1089 N. Oxford Ave., Los Angeles, 323-957-1152, www.themettheatre.com.
The Bells of West 87th: A new off-beat comedy by writer Elin Hampton, about building manager and amateur poet Molly Fein, who finally brings her night-school boyfriend home to meet her family. Starting Sept. 7, Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 6 p.m. Continues through Oct. 13. Greenway Court Theater, 544 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, 323-655-7679, www.greenwayarts.org.
GO: Bob Baker's It's a Musical World!: Nearly three decades ago, this reviewer attended a production of The Nutcracker with his daughter, and was surprised how thoroughly enjoyable this "children's show" was. Similarly, while It's a Musical World reveals no surprises, the production at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater is a kick from start to finish, and there's even free ice cream after the performance. It's essentially a musical variety show staged in a large carpeted room with chandeliers, immense red curtains and lots of space for the kiddies to take a front-row seat. The musical selections are culled from country, pop, classical, R&B, rock and familiar musicals, and there's even a marionette from Azusa who sings an enchanting aria. Here is a universe of puppets of all shapes, sizes and artful imaginings. The costuming is an eye-catching panorama of colors and styles, and the puppeteers dazzle with their skills. On display are a troupe of clowns, some ice skaters outfitted in turn-of-the-century garb, a garrulous Eskimo, a burlesque chorus, a disco duet featuring "Turn the Beat Around" and a grand American finale performed with the Statue of Liberty as a backdrop. (Lovell Estell III). Saturdays, Sundays, 2:30 p.m.; Tuesdays-Fridays, 10:30 a.m. Continues through Sept. 29. Bob Baker Marionette Theater, 1345 W. First St., Los Angeles, 213-250-9995, www.bobbakermarionettes.com.
A Bright Room Called Day: It almost sounds like the setup to a Borscht Belt joke: A Freudian (Nicole Monet), a gay Reichian (Graham Kurtz), two Stalinists (Laura Crow, Mark Jacobson), a Trotskyite (standout Miles Warner), an artist (Erin Anderson) and an actress (Teya Patt) walk into a room. The Trotskyite says, "History repeats itself; first it's tragedy, then it's farce." The punch line to Tony Kushner's 1985 meditation on the irrational forces that negate humankind's march of progress is that the room is in 1932 Berlin, the tragedy is Hitler's rise to power and the farce is fascism's seeming recapitulation in our times. Director Jeremy Lelliott's lush revival has wisely replaced an original thread of Reagan-era editorializing with a series of militaristic dance numbers by choreographer Carly Wielstein. And while that pushes the piece closer to a sort of pedantic half-Cabaret, Lelliott's naturalistic pitch is unable to obviate the play's nagging and tedious tendentiousness. (Bill Raden). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7:30 p.m. Continues through Sept. 15. Lost Studio, 130 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, 323-871-5830. See theater feature.
GO: Captain Dan Dixon vs. The Moth Sluts From the Fifth Dimension: A nicely acted, crisply directed and neatly written piece of 1950s sci-fi comedy, featuring nearly naked, green-painted, go-go-dancing space aliens -- what's not to love?! Playwright Matthew Sklar stars as Captain Dan Dixon in his creature-feature retro romp through space. Panels of switches, buttons and analog meters signify the interior of a spacecraft as he and his crew of seven rockets into the fifth dimension, causing a purring, whirring sextet of moth-like minxes to materialize. Clad in teeny, gold-lamé hot pants, white go-go boots and pasties, the jiggling, shimmying erotic powers of the Vulvulans gradually infect the brains of almost all on board. The only person apparently immune is Dr. Canigulus (incisively portrayed by Jonica Patella), the ship's brainiac -- thanks to her massive, mutant cerebellum. It's up to her to decipher the true intentions of these insectile invaders. Sebastian Muñoz directs his cast of 14 extremely well; all have fun with the rapid-fire '50s lingo, playing the trashy, B-movie sexploitation tone straight without overly camping it up. Jeri Batzdorff and Corey Zicari (also a blond-wigged moth slut) created skimpy costumes for the babes and Star Trek-inspired suits for the crew. R. Benjamin Warren devised the clever props. Gloria Baraquio is great as Urania, the ship's android and captain's concubine, unhappily ousted by statuesque moth leader Empress Syphla (a sexy and sinister Katherine Canipe). (Pauline Adamek). Fridays, Saturdays, 8:30 p.m. Continues through Sept. 14. Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, 818-202-4120, zombiejoes.homestead.com.
Coyote on a Fence: A new drama about two death row inmates and a New York Times journalist with his own motives. Written by Bruce Graham, directed by James Warwick. Sundays, 4 & 7 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 7, 5 & 8 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 14, 5 & 8 p.m. Continues through Sept. 15. Arena Stage at Theater of Arts, 1625 N. Las Palmas Ave., Los Angeles.
GO: : Dancing on the Edge: Presented on Zombie Joe's Underground's tiny, bare stage, Dancing on the Edge borrows from the company's long-running spectacle of disgustingly funny horror tableaux, Urban Death, in that it consists of almost two dozen dancelets, all in under an hour. And though one ballerina gets shot in the stomach midleap, such glibness is tempered by a more mature investment in themes ranging from despondency -- "Hurt," choreographed by Carrie Nedrow and performed with spasmic rigor by JJ Dubon -- to jealousy to redemption. The recorded musical selections range from Nine Inch Nails to Debussy. The dancing styles are all over the map, from ballet to hip-hop, and the execution by the dancers is superb. (Steven Leigh Morris). Saturdays, 11 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 8, 7 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 15, 7 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 22, 7 p.m. Continues through Sept. 21. Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, 818-202-4120, zombiejoes.homestead.com.
Death of a Salesman: Arthur Miller's 1949 play about father and salesman Willy Loman, and his struggle to hold on to the American dream. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays, 2:30 p.m.; Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Sundays, 7:30 p.m. Continues through Sept. 29. South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, 714-708-5555, www.scr.org.
The Dream of the Burning Boy: A mystery unfolds when Dane, a popular high school students, dies unexpectedly following a meeting with his English teacher. Written by David West Read. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Oct. 13. Malibu Playhouse, 29243 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, 310-589-1998, www.malibuplayhouse.org.
Captured Aural Phantasy Theater: Superhero Variety Hour: Multimedia performances of classic superhero comics along with live music, entertaining acts, and a special "celebrity roast" of Superman. Sun., Sept. 8, 8:30 p.m., $10, capturedauralphantasy.com. El Cid, 4212 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-668-0318, www.elcidla.com.
: A new take on Adam and Eve, written by Susan Rubin, directed by Mark Bringelson. This time around, Adam and Eve work at a hospital morgue that has lost power in a massive electrical outage. See Stage feature: http://www.laweekly.com/2013-08-15/stage/eve2-susan-rubin/full/
. Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Sept. 8. Bootleg Theater, 2200 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, 213-389-3856, www.bootlegtheater.org.
Fool For Love: Sam Shepard's drama about Eddie, a rodeo stuntman, and May, his lost love, whom he has found living at a motel in the Mojave Desert. Directed by Gloria Gifford. Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7:30 p.m. Continues through Sept. 29. T.U. Studios, 10943 Camarillo St., North Hollywood, 818-205-1680.
Frank and Ava: It's hard to imagine at this late date what new light a stage play could shed on the tumultuous, six-year, 1950s tabloid marriage of Hollywood icons Frank Sinatra (Rico Simonini) and Ava Gardner (Stefany Northcutt). And if playwright Willard Manus' two-character drama is any indication, the answer turns out to be very little. That's not to say that Manus' straightforward biographical survey isn't thorough in its chronicle of the pair's fierce ambitions, insecurities and appetites for both alcohol and marital infidelity, or what inevitably happens when that combustive combination is subjected to the unforgiving accelerant of wealth and celebrity. To that end, Simonini (who bears a passable physical resemblance to a 40-something Sinatra) and Northcutt capably trace the eventful outlines of the story, but neither Manus nor director Kelly Galindo's staging ultimately convinces in illuminating the mysterious charisma of the evidently rather venial couple or why we still care. (Bill Raden). Sundays, 5 p.m. Continues through Sept. 29, hollywoodfringe.org/projects/1371. Three Clubs Cocktail Lounge, 1123 Vine St., Los Angeles, 323-462-6441, www.threeclubs.com.
Prometheus Bound: A new production of the classic Greek tragedy by The CalArts Center for New Performance. The set features the use of a twenty-three foot, five ton revolving metal wheel, to which the protagonist, Prometheus, is permanently bound. Mondays, Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through Sept. 28. Getty Villa, 17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, 310-440-7300, www.getty.edu.
Greeks 6 - Trojans 5: Drawing on the traditions of ancient Greek comedy (masks, songs, a giant phallus) Chuck Faerber's mildly amusing farce is a zany rendition of the siege of Troy by a crack team of dimwits. Ten years into the Trojan war, the Greeks are still anxious to retrieve their abducted Helen from the impenetrable fortress city of Troy. A scheme involving a massive wooden horse is set into motion. Unfortunately, its hapless crew lacks a clue. Faerber has concocted a very silly if overlong doo-wop musical play full of daffy characters, such as Smegma (George Alvarez), a psycho killer; Mucilage (a very funny Matt Shea), an anxiety-crippled private who sees the horse gig as his ticket out of latrine detail; and Sgt. Acacia (Cheryl Bricker) a no-nonsense Amazonian leader swayed by lust. David Zurak is good as military leader Agamemnon, who adopts the disguise of Sargassus, a soothsayer delivering directives from the capricious gods. John Marzilli is very funny as tough-talking commander Megamanus and David Ghilardi is great in two roles. Perfs are strong; the laughs, insufficient. (Pauline Adamek). Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Sept. 8, plays411.com/greeks. Whitefire Theater, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, 818-990-2324, www.whitefiretheatre.com.
Hamlet: An all-female, multicultural production of Shakespeare's classic drama about the vengeful Prince Hamlet, produced by the Los Angeles Women's Shakespeare Company and the Odyssey Theatre. Starting Sept. 7, Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Thu., Sept. 12, 8 p.m.; Wed., Sept. 18, 8 p.m.; Thu., Sept. 26, 8 p.m.; Wed., Oct. 2, 8 p.m.; Thu., Oct. 10, 8 p.m.; Wed., Oct. 16, 8 p.m.; Thu., Oct. 24, 8 p.m. Continues through Oct. 27. Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-477-2055, www.odysseytheatre.com.
I Sing Walt Whitman!: This concert-play uses Whitman's own words to inspire a 21st century audience to dive into Whitman's language and ideas. Written and performed by John Slade. Sat., Sept. 7, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 8, 8 p.m. Lonny Chapman Group Repertory Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood, 818-700-4878, www.thegrouprep.com.
In My Corner: Storyteller, pugilist, and hoofer Joe Orrach works boxing, tap dance, percussion, and music into his tale of a street smart Puerto Rican kid from the Bronx who comes of age in the ring and at the barre. Written by Lizbeth Hasse and Joe Orrach. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 8, 5 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Nov. 3. Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-477-2055, www.odysseytheatre.com.
GO: In the Next Room, or The Vibrator Play: In Sarah Ruhl's smart and pointed satire In the Next Room, or The Vibrator Play, it's not just middle-class Victorian women who are sexually clueless: it's their men as well. The time is the 1880s, and man of science Dr. Givings (Michael Oosterom) is using a primitive electronic vibrator to treat "hysterical" female patients, who depart reinvigorated and refreshed while his own unhappy wife, Catherine (Joanna Strapp), eavesdrops enviously in the adjoining room. Eventually Catherine summons the courage to surreptitiously invade her husband's office and discover for herself the pleasurable side effects of this pioneering modality. Directed by August Viverito, the play successfully extends well beyond burlesque, sporting shades of Ibsen while focusing on the struggles between the sexes, along with the loneliness, boredom and frustration of traditionally obedient women's lives. At first this production's opening-night presentation seemed stagey and less than ideally crisp, but it gathered steam as the performers grew limber and confident and immersed themselves in the story. Some of the most hilarious moments arise around Yael Berkovich's portrayal of Mrs. Daldry, a formerly weepy neurotic whose vocal responses to the doctor's treatment soar to operatic realms. By contrast, the play's most moving highlights are embodied in Candace Nicholas-Lippman's fine rendering of Elizabeth, the African-American wet nurse hired to breastfeed Catherine's baby when Catherine's own milk stops flowing. An honest working woman mourning the death of her own infant, she hasn't the luxury of the antics of the spoiled upper classes. It is she who enlightens the other ladies about the true nature of the sensations they are experiencing for the first time. (Deborah Klugman). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Sept. 28. Secret Rose Theater, 11246 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, 877-620-7673, www.secretrose.com.
Junior's Got Talent! Showcase: An education-focused youth talent showcase. Young dancers, singers, and musicians from the San Gabriel Valley will play before a panel of judges, as part of the Playhouse's Theatrical Diversity Project. Sun., Sept. 8, 4 p.m. Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena, 626-356-PLAY, www.pasadenaplayhouse.org.
Just Imagine: Although the wow factor is missing, aficionados of John Lennon probably will appreciate this tribute to the iconic musician, which juxtaposes renditions of his most famous songs with a narrative of his life. Lennon impersonator and lead singer Tim Piper addresses the audience in a confiding manner as he relates events in Lennon's life -- his troubled boyhood in Liverpool culminating in the death of his mother, up through The Beatles, his marriage to Yoko Ono and his transformation into a family man and spokesman for the counterculture antiwar movement. There are no surprises in writer-director Steve Altman's script, and watching and listening to Piper, an American donning a Liverpool accent, failed to persuade me that I was hearing the real McCoy. That said, Piper's backup band, Working Class Hero, performs well and provides an opportunity for those who wish to reimagine the legend to do so. (Deborah Klugman). Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Dec. 29. Hayworth Theatre, 2511 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-213-6955, www.thehayworth.com.
Klepto-MANIA: A Night of Time-Travel, Bullfighting, and Love
: Featuring two plays: The Arctic Circle
, a new Brechtian comedy about Elin, a woman searching through past relationships, written by Samantha Macher; and The Matador
, about a love triangle played out in the bull ring, written by Robert Plowman. Tickets & info: www.kleptotheatreworkshop.com
. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through Sept. 22. Studio Stage, 520 N. Western Ave., Los Angeles, 323-463-3900, www.studio-stage.com.
Light In The Darkness: A story of young gang member's journey from self-destruction to self-realization. Written by Victor Tamayo and directed and adapted by Ramon "Monxi" Flores. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 5 p.m. Continues through Sept. 29. Casa 0101, 2102 E. 1st St., Los Angeles, 323-263-7684, www.casa0101.org.
Lily Ann's LOVE YOU!: A new family-friendly, interactive comedic musical. Starting Sept. 7, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Oct. 12. The Black Box Theater, 12420 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-979-7078.
GO: Merlin: The Untold Adventures: Begat of a demon, gifted with second sight and shape-shifting powers, the druid Merlin provides much of the momentum of the Arthurian legend. In the process of retelling the fabled wizard's backstory, playwright-director Ellen Geer has concocted a high fantasy with a strong antiwar flavor. The work's emphasis on meshing threads of pagan philosophy and Christian references -- with a side trip to mythical Atlantis thrown in for good measure -- can cause matters to become a little thematically and dramatically muddled. Yet Geer's brisk and buoyant direction makes excellent use of her atmospheric venue, incorporating a moody electronic ambiance alongside some elegant pageantry, thoughtful fight choreography and enchanting choral interludes. Lead Melora Marshall at times overplays her Merlin with a borderline cartoonish physicality, but it is a performance overall grounded in the epic earnestness and warm humor of Geer's text. (Mindy Farabee). Sat., Sept. 7, 8 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 14, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 15, 7:30 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 20, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 22, 7:30 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 27, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 29, 7:30 p.m., $25-$35. Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga, 310-455-3723, www.theatricum.com/index.html.
A Midsummer Night's Dream: Shakespeare's classic summer tale about foolish humans, blind love, and the magic of the forest. Starting Sept. 7, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 27, 8 p.m. Continues through Sept. 29. Studio Theatre at Cal Poly Pomona, 3801 W. Temple Ave., Building 25, Pomona, 909-869-3900.
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. 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.
The Miss Julie Dream Project: A surreal riff on August Strindberg's legendary heroine, Miss Julie. Mina, an actress eager to take on the celebrated role, finds herself in a nightmarish struggle with the character, as this time Julie refuses to accept her tragic fate. Written by Meghan Brown, Samm Hill, J. Holtham, Abbe Levine, Michelle Meyers, Tira Palmquist, Emily Brauer Rogers, Brenda Varda, and Kyle T. Wilson. Directed by Katie Chidester. Fri., Sept. 6, 8 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 7, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 8, 6 p.m.; Thu., Sept. 12, 8 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 13, 8 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 14, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 15, 6 p.m. Son of Semele, 3301 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, 213-351-3507, www.sonofsemele.org.
The New Situation: A new comedy, written and directed by Carlo Perez Allen. Francisco and Antonia, middle-aged siblings who share a home in the mid-Wilshire district of L.A., find themselves in a new situation when hard economic times force them to rent out their spare bedroom. Fri., Sept. 6, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 8, 5 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 15, 5 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 20, 8 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 27, 8 p.m. Continues through Sept. 28. Promenade Playhouse, 1404 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica, 310-656-8070, www.promenadeplayhouse.com.
The Old Settler: The bonds of sisterhood are tested in this bittersweet comedy set during the Harlem Renaissance. Written by John Henry Redwood, directed by William Stanford Davis. Sundays, 3 p.m.; Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Oct. 27. Pico Playhouse, 10508 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-204-4440, www.picoplayhouse.com. See New Reviews/Pick of the Week
GO:One Night in Miami: Although rooted in a historic event, Kemp Powers' period piece about a meeting between Sam Cooke, Jim Brown, Malcolm X and Cassius Clay is less about these gentlemen per se than it is about the struggle of African-American men in general to deal with the ubiquitous racism that continually challenges their manhood. The play takes place in a motel room following Clay's victory over Sonny Liston in 1964. At 22, fresh off his triumph, the young boxer (Matt Jones) is both less scarred and less knowing than the others. He's also a recent convert to Islam, which raises the eyebrows of Cooke (Ty Jones) and Brown (Kevin Daniels) -- both alcohol-imbibing, womanizing, pork chop-loving hedonists. Well directed by Carl Cofield, the play heats up around the philosophical divide between Malcolm (Jason Delane) an ideologue and devout Muslim who scorns the White Establishment, and Cooke, a musician and player in the music business who's successfully worked the system for his own gain. (Sadly and ironically, both these men would be dead within a year.) Powers' perspicacious script gives the performers plenty to work with, and they make the most of it, bouncing off each other with savvy, skill and humor. Delane is excellent as an understated Malcolm, struggling to master not only his passions but his well-founded fear that his life is in danger. A charismatic Jones augments an intense portrayal with his gifted singing voice. Giovanni Adams and Jason E. Kelley add menace and levity as Malcolm's bodyguards. (Deborah Klugman). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Sept. 15. Rogue Machine Theatre, 5041 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, 855-585-5185, www.roguemachinetheatre.com.
: An audacious real estate salesman needs to sell an overpriced house during an off season. Enter a seductive, mysterious woman new to California who senses that something wrong has happened in the house, in writer Shem Bitterman's third dramatic production at the Skylight Theater. See Stage feature: http://www.laweekly.com/2013-08-01/stage/shem-bitterman-open-house/full/
. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Sept. 22. Skylight Theater, 1816 1/2 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, 323-666-2202.
Ordinary Days: A comedic musical by Adam Gwon, directed by Angel Creeks. Four young New Yorkers' lives intersect as they search for fulfillment, happiness, love and cabs. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Sept. 29. Victory Theatre Center, 3326 W. Victory Blvd., Burbank, 818-841-4404, www.thevictorytheatrecenter.org.
Pericles, Prince of Tyre: William Shakespeare's adventurous tale of Pericles, King Antiochus, and Dionyza, the King's daughter. Directed by Julia Rodriguez-Elliott. Starting Sept. 7, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Wed., Sept. 11, 8 p.m.; Thu., Sept. 12, 7:30 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 13, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 15, 2 & 7 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 20, 8 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 21, 2 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 22, 2 p.m.; Fri., Oct. 11, 8 p.m.; Sat., Oct. 12, 2 & 8 p.m.; Wed., Oct. 30, 8 p.m.; Thu., Nov. 7, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 24, 2 & 7 p.m. Continues through Sept. 28. A Noise Within, 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, 626-356-3100, www.anoisewithin.org.
GO: Point Break Live!: Creating a raucous, rocked-out party atmosphere by blasting preshow music (think "Welcome to the Jungle" at ear-splitting volume), the hilarious spoof show Point Break Live! offers super-soaked excitement in a grungy Hollywood nightclub setting. What do we mean by "soaked"? Let's just say you'd be wise to take them up on the $2 ponchos for sale before the show. The low-tech, seat-of-the-pants, interactive presentation of an abbreviated version of Kathryn Bigelow's slightly corny 1991 cop surf drama is further camped up by a fun-loving cast. The actor playing the central role of Johnny Utah -- memorably portrayed onscreen by Keanu Reeves in his "Woah, dude" stoner phase -- is recruited from among the dozen or so audience members who audition on the spot and are rated by the audience. The rookie performer then goes on to utter dialogue aided by cue cards. (Too bad opening night's guy was virtually illiterate and inexplicably prone to channeling Forrest Gump.) Utah's volatile detective partner, Pappas, is well played by Tom Fugedi, though he would benefit from a bit more crazy Gary Busey and a bit less Chris Farley in his performance. Tobias Jelinek is excellent as the bizarrely spiritual crime boss/surfer guru Bodhi. The plastic ponchos offer protection from the barrage of water spray, blood splatters and -- uh -- other bodily fluids. Stupid fun. Booze available. (Pauline Adamek). Sundays, 7:30 p.m. Continues through Sept. 29. Dragonfly, 6510 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-466-6111, www.thedragonfly.com.
The Pokémusical: Winner of the 2013 Hollywood Fringe Festival's "Best Fringe Festival Musical Award," this original satire follows the first journey of Ash, Misty, Brock, Pikachu and the rest of the crew from the original games as they traverse Kanto, this time with added song and dance. Book and Lyrics by Alex Syiek. Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 11:59 p.m. Continues through Sept. 28. Elephant Stages, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles.
GO: The Rainmaker: A con-man/drifter walks into a small town, usually in the Midwest, and seduces a vulnerable local female. He not only seduces her, he awakens her to her true self and potential, which the opinions of others -- her family and society -- have been suffocating. Oh, brother. Get the broom and sweep off the cobwebs. In lesser hands than director Jack Heller's, watching The Rainmaker would be like trudging through a slightly dank, primeval marsh without rubber boots -- the kind of experience where you might say, "Well, isn't this historic and curious. Where can I dry my socks?" The production is saved in part by its linchpin, Tanna Frederick's droll, rat-smart Lizzie. With subtlety and composure that often belies the text, she knows who she is and what she wants. Though the play is over-written, Frederick's performance lies so entrenched beneath the lines, it's as though she absorbs the play's excesses so that they don't even show. Her terrific performance is not enough to turn the play into a classic, but it does provide enough of an emotional pull to reveal the reasons why it keeps getting staged. (Steven Leigh Morris). Fridays, Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 5 p.m. Continues through Sept. 29. Edgemar Center for the Arts, 2437 Main St., Santa Monica, 310-399-3666, www.edgemarcenter.org.
Rapture, Blister, Burn
: The West Coast premiere of this new comedy, in which feminism's foibles are challenged among three generations of women. The ladies share their raucous and refreshing approaches to navigating work, love and family. Written by Gina Gionfriddo, directed by Peter DuBois. See Stage feature: http://www.laweekly.com/2013-08-29/stage/rapture-blister-burn-feminism/full/
. Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 3 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m. Continues through Sept. 22. Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Los Angeles, 310-208-5454, www.geffenplayhouse.com.
Ready for the Storm: Written, directed, produced by and starring Randall Gray, founder of -- wait for it -- Stages of Gray Theatre, this world-premiere jukebox musical invites comparisons to another outsized vanity project: Tommy Wiseau's so-bad-it's-good film The Room. However, this misguided effort is unlikely to achieve similar cult status. When successful musician Bobby (Mike Callahan) and actress Jenn (Debbie Kagy) quarrel on their wedding day, Jenn threatens to walk. There the plot ceases, and their insufferable waffling proceeds against a karaoke soundtrack of ballads, pop songs and Broadway hits heavily weighted toward Wildhorn and Cuden's Jekyll & Hyde. No specificity shapes the set, inexplicably adorned with cast publicity stills, or the characters -- "Mom" (Lisa LaBella) never merits a first name, even from the man (Gray) who claims to love her. Despite earnest performances and decent vocals from the young stars (Kagy's voice is better than the script deserves), nothing short of a total rewrite can salvage this show. (Jenny Lower). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Sept. 14, stagesofgray.com. Stages of Gray, 299 N. Altadena Drive, Pasadena, www.stagesofgray.com.
GO: Red: John Logan's Tony-winning play looks at the life and work of abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko, a soldier in the art wars of the 20th century who helped to kill cubism and surrealism. In the play's now, circa 1958-59, Rothko (Tony Abatemarco) is feeling threatened by the new generation of Pop artists, including Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, who seem bent on killing abstract expressionism. When Rothko receives a fat commission to paint a series of murals for the Four Seasons restaurant in New York City's Seagram Building, he hires an assistant, Ken (Patrick Stafford), whom he works like a dog and treats with arrogance and irascibility -- but also educates along the way. Their impassioned debate covers a multitude of ideas, including the artist's need for a broad cultural background, the conflict (or symbiosis) between the Dionysian and the Apollonian, and Rothko's lifelong battle against depression. Director caryn desai provides an impeccable production on JR Bruce's soaring set, and she's splendidly served by her actors: Abatemarco eloquently captures Rothko's humor as well as his fervor, while Stafford provides an indelible sketch of the young man who's transformed by their association from shy nebbish to militant challenger of the Master. (Neal Weaver). Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Thu., Sept. 12, 8 p.m. Continues through Sept. 15, $38-$45. International City Theatre, Long Beach Performing Arts Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, 562-436-4610, www.ictlongbeach.org.
Robert E. Lee: Shades of Gray: A one-man dramatic portrait of one of U.S. history's most enigmatic figures. Written by and starring Los Angeles Drama Critics' Circle Award-winner Tom Dugan. Starting Sept. 7, Sat., Sept. 7, 7 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Wednesdays, 2 & 7 p.m.; Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 p.m. Continues through Sept. 29. Rubicon Theatre Company, 1006 E. Main St., Ventura, 805-667-2900.
The Royal Family: The work's the thing in George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber's gentle 1927 spoof of the Barrymore dynasty, which forms the centerpiece of Theatricum Botanicum's 40th-anniversary season. The venerable, oak-nestled venue's own founding family fills in as the board-treading Cavendish clan. Artistic director Ellen Geer slings Downton Abbey-worthy zingers as dowager Fanny, while sister Melora Marshall and daughter Willow Geer carry the torch as the next generations of theatrical luminaries. All three women nail the benign entitlement and cozy security that comes from knowing you're an institution, but the dated material may be more thrilling for its cast than the audience. More compelling than the distant Barrymores is the play's exploration of pursuing the creative life at the cost of domestic and personal stability. Director Susan Angelo wisely avoids interfering with her cast's marvelous instincts, but a tighter rein would keep us from sharing Marshall's bewilderment when the madcap pace proves too frenetic. (Jenny Lower). Sat., Sept. 7, 4 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 8, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 15, 3:30 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 21, 4 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 28, 4 p.m. Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga, 310-455-3723, www.theatricum.com/index.html.
GO: A Short Stay at Carranor: Anticipating a reunion with her married former childhood sweetheart, Irene (1955 Miss America and Barnaby Jones actress Lee Meriwether) enlists daughter Shelby (Corinne Shor) to ferry her to the family's lakeside cabin, Carranor. The septuagenarian divorcee dreads Chet (Don Moss) will break off their budding emotional affair, while her righteous offspring bristles at a presumed seduction that could leave her mother bereft. Reality, it turns out, proffers a more complicated synthesis. Meriwether's performance offers the best reason to see this production: Her stately grace brings dignity to a portrayal that feels both effortless and fully realized. As her conflicted paramour, Moss has the tougher battle but achieves a remarkable degree of sympathy. The staging's major flaw is the unerringly wrong-footed Shelby, who alienates even her husband with her grating presence and relentless harping. Ultimately the hard-working but miscast Shor can't salvage the character from its structural problems: Shelby is supposed to be a dogmatic liberal, but her particular brand of rigidity plays as distinctly more red-state. Yet the narrative resists simplistic moralizing, and for a certain theatergoer may offer a refreshing take on life's final analysis. John Gallogly's direction trades the saccharine for the bittersweet, while Jeff Rack's cozy set complements the December courtship. (Jenny Lower). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Sept. 29. Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. W., Los Angeles, 323-851-7977, www.theatrewest.org.
Something to Crow About: The Bob Baker Marionettes' musical "Day on the Farm." Saturdays, Sundays, 2:30 p.m.; Tuesdays-Fridays, 10:30 a.m. Bob Baker Marionette Theater, 1345 W. First St., Los Angeles, 213-250-9995, www.bobbakermarionettes.com.
GO: Spumoni!: Like the titular Italian dessert, this compilation of three one-act comedies features three different flavors. In the solo piece "Booby Prize," writer-performer Lizzie Czerner brings a Tracey Ullman-like flamboyance to the tale of a woman cursed and blessed with a very buxom figure, which brings her both ridicule and lascivious short-term attention but no long-term relationships -- until she discovers that there's a place in the world for busty women with low self-esteem. Rebekah Walendzak directs. "Daddy Didn't Die, Did He?" is set at the funeral of a Southern patriarch, and features writer-actors Will Matthews and Casey Christensen playing a gaggle of predatory, mercenary characters, including the deceased's scatterbrained widow, his three competitive children, his Southern-belle housekeeper and a frantic funeral director. The actors juggle multiple roles with speed and versatility, aided by director Jeffrey Addiss. Another solo piece, Keaton Talmadge's "Define: dif-fer-ent," is about a straight woman who's thoroughly disconcerted to find herself attracted to a lesbian -- until she discovers that gay relations can be as disillusioning as straight ones. Talmadge (who inherited her first name from grandfather Buster Keaton) is a hip, skillful and attractive performer, ably shepherded by director Kelleia Sheerin. (Neal Weaver). Fridays, Saturdays, 7:30 p.m. Continues through Sept. 21, plays411.com/spumoni. The Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-465-0383, www.complexhollywood.com.
Steel Magnolias: Robert Harling's classic southern comedy-drama about Truvy's beauty parlor and the women who regularly gather there. Starting Sept. 11, Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Oct. 6. East West Players, 120 N. Judge John Aiso St., Los Angeles, 213-625-7000, www.eastwestplayers.org.
GO: The Taming of the Shrew: The slapstick, or batacchio, which originated in the commedia dell'arte of 16th-century Italy, is a wooden device used to create a loud, smacking sound. So it seems fitting that in staging Shakespeare's contemporaneous tale of a headstrong woman who finally meets her match, director Ellen Geer plays its physical comedy to the hilt, incorporating slide whistles, drums and other noisemaking devices to punctuate the onstage pratfalls, fisticuffs and acrobatics. The choice is mostly effective, but it's Geer's vivacious staging of the battle between Katharina (a hilariously histrionic Willow Geer) and Petruchio (a charmingly macho Aaron Hendry) that makes the show. Their terrifically torrential tango is complemented by Petruchio's servant, Grumio (Melora Marshall), who delivers perfectly pitched Shakespearean asides and wordplay, showcasing both sides of the "wise fool." The remaining cast members, clad in Val Miller's gorgeous period costumes, admirably execute their roles as well. The play's conclusion, with its seeming support for the patriarchy (or is it to be merely taken as farce?) is a bit jarring. Nonetheless, this wonderful, sylvan hideaway, where 40 years ago its namesake founder created a haven for artists, retains its rustic charm and remains an excellent setting for a night of Shakespeare. (Mayank Keshaviah). Fri., Sept. 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.
Tone Clusters: A drama by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Joyce Carol Oates, about an ordinary husband and wife who find themselves trapped under nightmarish attention when their son is arrested as the alleged killer of a neighborhood girl. The playwright will be present on opening night for a panel discussion after the performance. Thu., Sept. 12, 8 p.m.; Thu., Sept. 19, 8 p.m.; Thu., Sept. 26, 8 p.m.; Fri., Oct. 4, 8 p.m.; Sat., Oct. 12, 8 p.m. Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga, 310-455-3723, www.theatricum.com/index.html.
Twilight Zone Unscripted: An homage to Rod Serling's sci-fi series The Twilight Zone. Completely new episodes are created with every performance. Directed by Jo McGinley and Stephen Kearin. Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 4 p.m. Continues through Sept. 29, falcontheatre.com/twilight_zone_unscripted.html. Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank, 818-955-8101, www.falcontheatre.com.
A View From the Bridge: Many consider Arthur Miller's dramas moral tragedies, but you also can think of them as mysteries, as their narratives contain events whose true meaning only becomes clear at the end. Longshoreman Eddie (Vince Melocchi) is a salt-of-the-earth type who thinks he's doing a good deed when he lets a pair of his wife's distant cousins, both illegal immigrants from the old country, move in with his family. He soon has reason to rue this decision, though, as his lovely niece, Catherine (Lisa Cirincione), falls in love with the more handsome of the two cousins, Rodolpho (Jeff Lorch) -- and Eddie is destroyed by his own inexplicably over-the-top jealousy. This is a mostly powerful, admirably straightforward production by co-directors Marilyn Fox and Dana Jackson, which stumbles slightly during the clumsy, frenetically staged final sequence. The production is anchored by Melocchi's nicely gruff Eddie, whose turn suggests a character swept along by passions he lacks the articulacy to express. (Paul Birchall). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m.; Thursdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Sept. 22. Pacific Resident Theatre, 703 Venice Blvd., Venice, 310-822-8392, www.pacificresidenttheatre.com.
WaveFest: A theater festival comprised of three "waves" of short plays over six weekends, centered on the theme "Go West." The plays will explore stories of the Westside and Southern California through the lens of history, neighborhood, culture, myths, and the entertainment industry. For a complete schedule and line up visit SantaMonicaRep.org. Sat., Sept. 7; Sun., Sept. 8; Sat., Sept. 14; Sun., Sept. 15; Sat., Sept. 21; Sun., Sept. 22; Sat., Sept. 28; Sun., Sept. 29; Fri., Oct. 4; Sun., Oct. 6; Sat., Oct. 12; Sun., Oct. 13, www.SantaMonicaRep.org. Church in Ocean Park, 235 Hill St., Santa Monica, 310-399-1631, www.churchop.org.
What Doesn't Kill You: An Evening of One-Act Plays: You'll Just Love My Dad, a drama about an estranged father and his daughters, written by Stephanie Jones and Peter Schuyler, with direction by Stephanie Jones; and It Feels Like Her, about a daughter's wish, her drunken mother, and their ultimate twist of fate, written by Bree Pavey and directed by John Sperry Sisk. Saturdays, 7 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through Sept. 15. Loft Ensemble, 929 E. Second St. No. 105, Los Angeles, 213-680-0392, www.loftensemble.com.