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Stage Raw

Stage Raw: Is L.A. a Theater Town?

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Sun, Jun 12, 2011 at 12:57 PM

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click to enlarge THE STATE OF OUR THEATER?
  • The State of Our Theater?
There's been considerable blowback from the L.A. Times' announcement on Tuesday of a panel (This coming Tuesday, 6 p.m.  at the Colburn School), moderated by that paper's drama critic, Charles NcNulty, on "Is L.A. a Theater Town?" and "the city's place in the national scene." The "range" of panelists includes producers Michael Ritchie, Sheldon Epps Marc Platt, playwright Beth Henley and -- ostensibly representing the small theater scene -- actor Tim Robbins. Much of the dismay, which you can find in the comments section on the Times' own Culture Monster blog, is the lack of any serious representation from the companies doing the overwhelming majority of the work here, i.e. L.A.'s small theaters. It's a akin to doing a panel on the state of Apartheid South Africa, and ignoring  the blacks.

The selection of Robbins drew a hefty portion of the consternation. There may have been a time when his Actors' Gang represented L.A.'s small theater scene with a kind of artistic defiance and as a symbol for alternative perspectives, but that was a generation ago.

Colin Mitchell, who co-administers a theater blog, Bitter-Lemons.com was in top form last week, jumping all over the Culture Monster blog as well as devoting an item to the panel. 

I was on the bus to the Geffen last week, when a item popped up on the the "Moving Transit" TV screen: "Question: How many stage theatres are there in L.A.?" Answer: "Well over 80."

They're asking this on the bus! This led me to reflect further on the folly of the question, "Is L.A. a Theater Town?" 

The larger issue is a clash of perceptions, not only on what and who is "important", but on how the values espoused by theater leaders, including critics and producers, endorse or challenge the prevailing cultural values. Which leads to the question: how are we as a culture being conned? And if only larger "state supported" theater is going to be represented on such panels, the whole enterprise starts to look slightly Russian.

Playwright John Steppling is hosting a counter-panel to address just these issues on June 19th, 1 p.m. at the Lost Studio, with Travis Preston, Matthew McCray, Jay McAdams, Tina Kronis, Guy Zimmerman, Wes Walker, and Murray Mednick. It was Mednick who cut to the heart of the matter in the New York Times: "There are many successful plays that aren't very good. And there are many good plays that aren't very successful. Those are the ones we have to stand up for." 
 

Steppling can be heard on KCRW, 89.9, Thursday, June 16 at 2:30 p.m.

Check back tomorrow late night for Hollywood Fringe Reviews by L.A. Weekly and Back Stage.

For this coming week's COMPLETE THEATER LISTINGS, press the More tab.
 

COMPREHENSIVE THEATER LISTINGS FOR June 17-23, 2011

Our critics are Pauline Adamek, Paul Birchall, Lovell Estell III,

Rebecca Haithcoat, Martin Hernandez, Mayank Keshaviah, Deborah Klugman, Amy Lyons, Steven

Leigh Morris, Amy Nicholson, Tom Provenzano, Bill Raden, and Neal

Weaver. These listings were compiled by Derek Thomas

Productions are sequenced alphabetically in the following

cagtegories: Opening This Week, Larger Theaters regionwide, Smaller

Theaters in Hollywood, Smaller Theaters in the valleys , Smaller

Theaters on the Westside and in beach towns. You can also search for any

play by title, using your computer's search engine

OPENING THIS WEEK

All Beepers Go to Heaven Sketch revue by New Orleans comedy troupe Stupid Time Machine. Wed., June 22, 7 p.m.; Thu., June 23, 7 p.m.; Sat., June 25, 7 p.m.; Sun., June 26, 7 & 10 p.m. I.O. West, 6366 Hollywood Blvd., L.A., (323) 962-7560.

Are We Not Human? Female clown duo Duckbits' surreal vaudeville show. Sat., June 18, 10 p.m.; Fri., June 24, 10 p.m.; Sat., June 25, 10 p.m., duckbitsladies.com. Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A., (323) 469-9988.

Askance Staged reading of Kerr Seth Lordygan's play about an elderly couple's sordid past coming to light. Sat., June 18, 2 p.m. Eclectic Company Theatre, 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Valley Village, (818) 508-3003, eclecticcompanytheatre.org.

Barrie: Back to Back Two by J.M. Barry: 1912's Rosalind and 1917's The Old Lady Shows Her Medals. Starting June 18, Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through July 31. Pacific Resident Theatre, 703 Venice Blvd., Venice, (310) 822-8392, pacificresidenttheatre.com.

Beneath Rippling Water Sybyl Walker's three-act solo play. Sat., June 18, 8 p.m.; Mon., June 20, 8 p.m.; Fri., June 24, 10 p.m.; Sat., June 25, 2 p.m. Theatre of NOTE, 1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd., L.A., (323) 856-8611, theatreofnote.com.

The Black and The Jew: Epstein and Hassan "She's Black, He's Jewish, They're Married, Oy Vey!" Sun., June 19, 7: 30 p.m.; Tue., June 21, 8 p.m.; Wed., June 22, 8 p.m. M Bar, 1253 Vine St., L.A., (323) 856-0036, mbarhollywood.com.

Booze, Boys & Brownies: A Musical Journey Veronica Mannion's one-woman, 10-character play about a "busty, bubbly, binge-eating young actress." Sun., June 19, 8:30 p.m.; Wed., June 22, 7 p.m.; Thu., June 23, 8:30 p.m.; Fri., June 24, 10 p.m.; Sun., June 26, 2:30 p.m. Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A., (323) 962-1632.

Born Again Bohemian Written and performed by Summer "Rain" Sinclair. Fri., June 17, 8 p.m.; Sat., June 18, 10 p.m.; Thu., June 23, 8 p.m.; Fri., June 24, 8 p.m.; Sun., June 26, 3 p.m., (310) 312-8988, BornAgainBohemain.com. Open Fist Theatre, 6209 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A., openfist.org.

Broadsword "Former members of Broadsword have to put aside 16 years of bad blood in order to uncover the chilling secret behind their lead guitarist's mysterious disappearance," by Marco Ramirez. Starting June 18, Thursdays-Sundays, 8 p.m. Continues through July 31, (800) 838-3006. Black Dahlia Theatre, 5453 W. Pico Blvd., L.A., www.thedahlia.com.

Charlie! The Death of Nancy Fullforce Jasten King's rock & roll comedy. Fri., June 17, 9:30 p.m.; Fri., June 24, 9:30 p.m. Artworks Theatre & Studios, 6569 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A., (323) 871-8382, artworkstheatre.com.

Closet Land Radha Bharadwajs' story of a children's book author accused of treason. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through July 23, thevisceralcompany.com. NoHo Stages, 4934 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, noho-stages.us.

Crumbs From the Table of Joy Lynn Nottage's memory play about a Southern black family in 1950 Brooklyn. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through June 26, (323) 655-0108, plays411.com. Hudson Mainstage Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A..

D Is for Dog Rogue Artists Ensemble's multimedia mix of 1950s Americana and B-movie horror/sci-fi. Fri., June 17, 8 p.m.; Sat., June 18, 2 p.m.; Sun., June 19, 4 & 8 p.m. South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 708-5555, scr.org.

A Death in Columbia Katselas Theatre Company presents Shem Bitterman's world-premiere thriller. Starting June 18, Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through July 31, (702) 582-8587), ktctickets.com. Skylight Theater, 1816 1/2 N. Vermont Ave., L.A..

Diary of a Crackhead Stevie Mack's solo tragicomedy. Mon., June 20, 8:30 p.m. The Lab at Hollywood Improv, 8156 Melrose Ave., L.A., (323) 651-2583.

The Fix Staged reading of John Dempsey and Dana P. Rowe's political musical. Mon., June 20, 7 p.m. International City Theatre, Long Beach Performing Arts Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, (562) 436-4610, ictlongbeach.org.

Get Me Out of Here! Adam Gropman's solo memoir of two months at summer camp. Thu., June 23, 6:45 p.m.; Sun., June 26, 6:15 p.m., summercampnightmare.weebly.com. Dorie Theater at the Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A., (323) 465-0383, complexhollywood.com.

Girl Band in the Men's Room Robert A. Ford's grunge dramedy, set in a men's bathroom in 1994. Fri., June 17, 11 p.m.; Sat., June 18, 8 p.m.; Wed., June 22, 5 p.m.; Fri., June 24, 6:30 p.m.; Sat., June 25, 9:30 p.m., girlbandinthemensroom.com. Artworks Theatre & Studios, 6569 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A., (323) 871-8382, artworkstheatre.com.

Group Indie rock musical presented by The Los Angeles Theatre Ensemble and It's Right Here Productions, book, music and lyrics by Adam Emperor Southard. Thu., June 23, 8 p.m.; Fri., June 24, 8 p.m.; Sat., June 25, 8 p.m. Stella Adler Theatre, 6773 Hollywood Blvd., L.A., (323) 465-4446.

I Do Card Tricks and I'm Funny Humor and illusion courtesy of magician Jon Armstrongs. Fri., June 17, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., June 18, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., June 19, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., June 25, 7:30 p.m. Artworks Theatre & Studios, 6569 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A., (323) 871-8382, artworkstheatre.com.

I Heart Hamas: And Other Things I'm Afraid to Tell You Jennifer Jajeh's life as a 30-something Palestinian-American woman. Fri., June 17, 2 p.m.; Mon., June 20, 7 p.m.; Tue., June 21, 7 p.m.; Sat., June 25, 12:30 p.m. Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A., (323) 962-1632.

The Interlopers Gary Lennon's transgendered love story. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through July 17. Bootleg Theater, 2220 Beverly Blvd., L.A., (213) 389-3856, bootlegtheater.com.

The Last Five Years Bright Eyes Productions presents Jason Robert Brown's musical about an ill-fated marriage, told from opposite perspectives in time. Fri., June 17, 8 p.m.; Sat., June 18, 8 p.m.; Sun., June 19, 7 p.m.; Fri., June 24, 8 p.m.; Sat., June 25, 8 p.m.; Sun., June 26, 7 p.m., (323) 960-5770, plays411.com/lastfiveyears. Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A..

Les Miserables Cameron Mackintosh's 25th anniversary production of Boublil and Schönberg's musical adaptation of Victor Hugo's 1862 novel. Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 1 & 6:30 p.m. Continues through July 31. Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., L.A., (213) 628-2772, centertheatregroup.org.

Lost Moon Radio: Travels and Journeys Intergalactic rock & roll comedy show, with house band The Moon Units. Fri., June 17, 10 p.m.; Sat., June 18, 8 p.m.; Sun., June 19, 4 p.m.; Thu., June 23, 8 p.m.; Fri., June 24, 8:30 p.m.; Sat., June 25, 10 p.m. Artworks Theatre & Studios, 6569 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A., (323) 871-8382, artworkstheatre.com.

Lucky: A Burlesque Tragedy "Pseudo-solo musical play" by Minerva Vier. Fri., June 17, 8 p.m.; Sat., June 18, 8 p.m.; Sun., June 19, 8 p.m. Paul G. Gleason Theatre, 6520 Hollywood Blvd., L.A., (617) 899-4283, acmt.org.

The Many Women of Troy The Pallas Theatre Collective presents Michael John Boynton and Brian Allan Hobbs' musical inspired by Euripides' tragedy The Trojan Women. Fri., June 17, 10 p.m.; Sun., June 19, 6: 30 p.m.; Mon., June 20, 8 p.m.; Wed., June 22, 10:30 p.m.; Sat., June 25, 10:30 p.m. Open Fist Theatre, 6209 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A., (323) 882-6912, openfist.org.

A Midsummer Night's Dream Shakespeare's comedy, presented by Ark Theatre Company. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through July 17, (323) 969-1707, arktheatre.org. The Attic Theatre and Film Center, 5429 W. Washington Blvd., L.A., attictheatre.org.

My Mobster Joy Nash's true story of an American girl in Italy who falls for a French crook. Sun., June 19, 9 p.m.; Tue., June 21, 6 p.m.; Wed., June 22, 8 p.m.; Sat., June 25, 6 p.m.; Sun., June 26, 4 p.m. Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A., (323) 469-9988.

The Next Best Thing Antonio Sacre's solo show. Fri., June 17, 6 p.m.; Wed., June 22, 8 p.m. Theatre of NOTE, 1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd., L.A., (323) 856-8611, theatreofnote.com.

Oscar Wilde's Salome The biblical tragedy, as presented by Zombie Joe's Underground and Fabulous Monsters Performance Group. Starting June 18, Fridays, Saturdays, 8:30 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through July 17. ZJU Theater Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, (818) 202-4120, zombiejoes.com.

Parable of the Asses Staged reading of Elaine Chekich's play set in a poor Mexican village. Sun., June 19, 1 p.m. Eclectic Company Theatre, 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Valley Village, (818) 508-3003, eclecticcompanytheatre.org.

Poison Apple Sean Galuszka's "sexy psycho thriller." Wed., June 22, 8 p.m. Celebration Theatre, 7051-B Santa Monica Blvd., L.A., (323) 957-1884, celebrationtheatre.com.

1776 Founding Fathers musical, book by Peter Stone, music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards. Starting June 23, Thursdays, Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 3 & 8 p.m.; Sun., July 10, 3 p.m.; Sun., July 17, 3 p.m. Continues through Aug. 13. Glendale Center Theater, 324 N. Orange St., Glendale, (818) 244-8481.

The Solid Gold Cadillac George S. Kaufman and Howard Teichmann's 1953 satire about a corrupt corporation. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2:30 p.m. Continues through July 30. Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre, (626) 355-4318, sierramadreplayhouse.org.

Spring Awakening Coming-of-age rock musical based on the 1891 German play by Frank Wedekind, music by Duncan Sheik, book and lyrics by Steven Sater. Fri., June 17, 10:30 p.m.; Sun., June 19, 2 p.m.; Thu., June 23, 8:30 p.m.; Fri., June 24, 10:30 p.m.; Sun., June 26, 2 p.m. Ruby Theater at the Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A., (323) 960-5774, complexhollywood.com.

Third National Asian American Theater Festival The Consortium of Asian-American Theaters & Artists presents works featuring Asian-American performers and stories. Complete schedule at 2011.caata.net/festival/. June 23-25, 7 & 9 p.m.; Sun., June 26, 2 & 4 p.m., caata.net. National Center for the Preservation of Democracy, 111 N. Central Ave., L.A., (213) 830-1880.

Top That! Be Flat Productions' dark comedy about former child actors attending a cast reunion party, written by Brandon Baruch and the cast. Sun., June 19, 9 p.m.; Tue., June 21, 10 p.m.; Sun., June 26, 5 p.m., TopThatPlay.com. Open Fist Theatre, 6209 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A., (323) 882-6912, openfist.org.

An Unfinished Man Myron Ward's study of identity versus celebrity. Fri., June 17; Sat., June 18; Fri., June 24; Sat., June 25, AnUnfinishedMan.com. NoHo Actors Studios, 5215 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, (818) 761-2166, www.thenohoactorsstudio.com.

Voices from Chornobyl, Jr. Cindy Marie Jenkins' lesson on nuclear power, for kids 8 and up. Sat., June 18, 1 p.m.; Sun., June 19, 1 p.m.; Sat., June 25, 1 p.m.; Sun., June 26, 1 p.m. Artworks Theatre & Studios, 6569 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A., (323) 871-8382, artworkstheatre.com.

Who Loves You, Baby? Telly Savalas returns in Tom DiMenna's surreal lounge act. Sat., June 18, 8 p.m.; Sun., June 19, 7 p.m.; Mon., June 20, 7 p.m.; Wed., June 22, 8 p.m.; Fri., June 24, 11 p.m. I.O. West, 6366 Hollywood Blvd., L.A., (323) 962-7560.

CONTINUING PERFORMANCES IN LARGER THEATERS REGIONWIDE

D Is for Dog Rogue Artists Ensemble's multimedia mix of 1950s Americana and B-movie horror/sci-fi. Fri., June 17, 8 p.m.; Sat., June 18, 2 p.m.; Sun., June 19, 4 & 8 p.m. South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 708-5555, scr.org.

Diamonds Are Forever The Songs of Dame Shirley Bassey: Jennifer Leigh Warren is Shirley Bassey! Fri., June 17, 8 p.m.; Sat., June 18, 8 p.m.; Sun., June 19, 7 p.m., uprightcabaret.com/events. Renberg Theatre, 1125 N. McCadden Pl., L.A., (323) 860-7300, lagaycenter.org.

NEW REVIEW GO EXTRAORDINARY CHAMBERS

click to enlarge MICHAEL LAMONT
  • Michael Lamont

Incongruity

is both striking and informative. 3,000 people are killed by planes

crashing into buildings, and a global "War on Terror" ensues, creating a

new lens through which the world is observed with fear and suspicion.

Twenty-five years earlier and half a world away, two million people are

massacred, wiping out one-fifth of a country's population, but nary a

blip on the global consciousness. The latter scenario, in case you don't

recall, was the 1970s Cambodian genocide perpetrated by the Khmer

Rouge. Its aftermath in 2008 is the setting for this world premiere by

David Wiener. American telecom executive Carter (Mather Zickel) is taken

with Phnom Penh and its people, especially obliging guide Sopoan (Greg

Watanabe), but his wife Mara (Marin Hinkle) would rather be anywhere

else. The tension between the two creates a comic interplay that

highlights the incongruity of Carter's "mission" in Cambodia. This

disjointedness is further amplified in their first meeting with

"facilitator" Dr. Heng (Francois Chau), a surprisingly raw encounter

that's beautifully crafted by director Pam MacKinnon and rendered by

Chau. Once the confusion dissipates, Heng becomes instantly hospitable,

yet his wife Rom Chang (Kimiko Gelman) remains feisty and incisively

outspoken. Her attitude reflects the effects of genocide, and in

exploring them, the play becomes like a cave: the deeper you go, the

darker it gets. The cast is stellar across the board: from Zickel's

charisma and Hinkle's expressive body language, to Chau's ability to

turn on dime, Gelman's understated ferocity and Watanabe's embodiment of

an utterly broken man. MacKinnon potently molds Wiener's cleverly

subversive scenes into edgy drama that strikingly conveys the weight of

history. Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater at the Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le

Conte Ave., Wstwd.; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2

& 7 p.m.; thru July 3. (310) 208-5454. geffenplayhouse.org. (Mayank Keshaviah)


The Fix Staged reading of John Dempsey and Dana P. Rowe's political musical. Mon., June 20, 7 p.m. International City Theatre, Long Beach Performing Arts Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, (562) 436-4610, ictlongbeach.org.

GO Krunk Fu Battle Battle Why is it that we keep going back to that hole-in-the-wall restaurant around the corner, despite its hackneyed decor, lack of ambience and slow service? It's because the food is so damn good. Similarly, this world-premiere musical features a book (Qui Nguyen) that's amusing but a bit thin, lyrics (Beau Sia) that are clever but not stellar, and pleasant enough vocals (Marc Macalintal); however, the dancing -- Rynan Paguio's music and Jason Tyler Chong's choreography -- kills and keeps you coming back. The plot is basically The Karate Kid in Brooklyn, but instead of breaking boards, they're breaking it down b-boy style. "Daniel-san" Norman Lee (Lawrence Kao) and his mother, Jean (Joan Almedilla), are forced to move back from Connecticut to the mean streets she grew up on. "Mr. Miyagi" Sir Master Cert (Blas Lorenzo) takes Norman under his wing after Norman crosses reigning b-boy kings Three-Point (Leng Phe), Hype (Troy Terashita) and L.A. (Cesar Cipriano) in coming to the defense of his friend Wingnut (Matt Tayao). The battle is on and only ramps up when Norman falls for Three-Point's girl, the beautiful Cindy Chang (Liza B. Domingo). Director Tim Dang's clever use of projection screens and his lightning-fast transitions keep the show humming, but its tone remains uneven as Dang alternately plays the text earnestly and tongue-in-cheek. The dance tracks seamlessly incorporate a wide range of musical influences, and the dancers (especially the impressive Phe) contort their bodies in seemingly impossible ways. Highlighting their physical pyrotechnics is Dan Weingarten's nimble, kaleidoscopic lighting, which, combined with Adam Flemming's bold set, creates an amazing "glowffiti" effect that pops and locks. (Mayank Keshaviah). Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through June 26. East West Players, 120 N. Judge John Aiso St., L.A., (213) 625-7000, eastwestplayers.org.

Les Miserables Cameron Mackintosh's 25th anniversary production of Boublil and Schönberg's musical adaptation of Victor Hugo's 1862 novel. Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 1 & 6: 30 p.m. Continues through July 31. Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., L.A., (213) 628-2772, centertheatregroup.org.

Lobby Hero L.A. Theatre Works presents Kenneth Lonergan's modern morality play, to be recorded for radio broadcast. Fri., June 17, 8 p.m.; Sat., June 18, 2: 30 p.m.; Sun., June 19, 4 p.m., (310) 827-0889, latw.org. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Brentwood, skirball.org.

The Marvelous Wonderettes Welcome to the 1958 Springfield High School prom, courtesy of playwright Roger Bean. Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m. Continues through June 19. La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, 14900 La Mirada Blvd., La Mirada, (562) 944-9801.

The Method Gun Austin-based collective Rude Mechs are the "abandoned disciples of a questionable acting guru," by Kirk Lynn. Wednesdays-Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 4 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 6: 30 p.m. Continues through June 26. Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (213) 628-2772.

NEW REVIEW MOOSE ON THE LOOSE

click to enlarge ED KRIEGER
  • Ed Krieger

Back

in the 1950s, the Tappino family left their home in Calabria, southern

Italy, to search for work. They settled in Thunder Bay, in chilly

northern Ontario, Canada, where the temperature often drops to minus-40

degrees. By 2001, they have become a large and obstreperous clan, headed

by irascible paterfamilias Giuseppe (John Cygan) and his wife Maria

(Connie Mellors). Their children include studious Joseph (Nick McDow),

couch-potato Bruno and his Native American fiance Honabiji (Jemma

Bosch), touchy Carmela (Corinne Shor), her Anglo husband Darryl (Michael

Lorre), their young son Timothy (Grant Venable), and Giuseppe's other

daughter Gina (playwright Dina Morrone). Also present are Maria's

parents, garrulous Rodolfo (Jack Kutcher) and acerbic Pina (Laura

James), whose acid comments provide much of the comedy. Morrone's play

is clearly semi-autobiographical, inspired by her family, and the day a

moose wandered out of the bush and into a neighbor's backyard. Short on

plot, the play centers on a big family dinner, and Giuseppe's

ill-starred attempt to shoot the moose. It's a pleasantly old-fashioned

family comedy, affectionately but keenly observed, and deftly directed

by Peter Flood. Tom Badal plays both the talkative Moose and the local

chief of police. Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Boulevard West, L.A.;

Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m., Sun., 2 p.m., thru July 10. (323) 851-7977. (Neal

Weaver)

Native Voices Festival of New Plays Public readings of four new works: Cikiuteklluku (Giving Something Away) by Holly Stanton; Ungipamsuuka (My Story) by Susie Silook; The Bird House by Diane Glancy; The Woman Who Was Captured by Ghosts by Julie Pearson-Little Thunder. Fri., June 17, 7: 30 p.m.; Sat., June 18, 1 & 4 p.m. Autry National Center, 4700 Western Heritage Way, L.A., (323) 667-2000, autry-museum.org.

Night Must Fall Emlyn Williams' thriller about a charming psycho killer, an aging invalid and her beautiful daughter. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through July 16. Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach, (562) 494-1014, lbph.com.

The Old Settler John Henry Redwood's Harlem story circa World War II. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through June 26. International City Theatre, Long Beach Performing Arts Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, (562) 436-4610, ictlongbeach.org.

RADAR L.A. International Theatre Festival Diverse stage projects from Australia, Chile, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, San Francisco, Austin and Los Angeles. Through June 19. REDCAT, 631 W. Second St., L.A., (213) 237-2800, redcat.org.

1776 Founding Fathers musical, book by Peter Stone, music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards. Starting June 23, Thursdays, Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 3 & 8 p.m.; Sun., July 10, 3 p.m.; Sun., July 17, 3 p.m. Continues through Aug. 13. Glendale Center Theater, 324 N. Orange St., Glendale, (818) 244-8481.

Solitude Latino Theater Company presents Evelina Fernandez's take on Mexican culture in L.A. Through June 19, 8 p.m., (213) 237-2800. Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring St., L.A., thelatc.org.

GO Standing on Ceremony The Gay Marriage Plays: This highly acclaimed evening of short plays by award-winning playwrights, dealing with the subject of marriage equality, was first presented as a one-time benefit to support gay marriage. Now it's scheduled for a special series of Monday night performances, to benefit the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center's efforts to promote marriage equality, with a different celebrity cast each week. All nine plays are winners -- funny, clever, stylish and compassionate -- and none is allowed to devolve into mere propaganda. This Marriage Is Saved, by Joe Keenan, concerns a Christian evangelist, caught in flagrante delicto with a gay hustler, who attempts to salvage his conservative credentials by writing a book called Now I Only Kneel to Pray. In Strange Fruit, writer Neil LaBute looks at a happy gay couple who plan to marry till grim reality intervenes. In On Facebook, Doug Wright adapts a real online exchange in which fur flies as six people, of widely differing views, tangle violently on the subject of gay marriage. Moisés Kaufman sets his moving London Mosquitos at a Jewish funeral, in which a man mourns the loss of his longtime lover to vicious gay-bashers. And Paul Rudnick's The Gay Agenda provides a funny and surprisingly sympathetic portrait of a hysterical member of Focus on the Family, who feels her whole existence is under siege by gays and lesbians. The other plays, by Wendy McLeod, Jenny Lynn Bader, Jordan Harrison and Jose Rivera, are equally sharp. If director Brian Schnipper can assemble celebrity casts as skillful as the one reviewed (Amy Aquino, John Getz, Harriet Harris, Peter Paige, Tom Everett Scott and Cynthia Stevenson), this production is a luxury item. (Neal Weaver). Mon., June 20, 8 p.m.; Mon., June 27, 8 p.m., StandingOnCeremony.net. Renberg Theatre, 1125 N. McCadden Pl., L.A., (323) 860-7300, lagaycenter.org.

Superior Donuts Tracy Letts' drama set in a doughnut shop run by a former hippie radical and his African-American assistant. Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 3 & 8 p.m. Continues through July 10. Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Westwood, (310) 208-5454, geffenplayhouse.com.

Tartuffe, ou l'Imposteur New adaptation of Molière's comedy, with songs by Ellen Geer and Peter Alsop. Sat., June 18, 8 p.m.; Sun., June 19, 7: 30 p.m.; Sun., June 26, 3: 30 p.m.; Saturdays, 4 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 21, 7: 30 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 28, 7: 30 p.m.; Fridays, 8 p.m.; Sat., Oct. 1, 4 p.m. Continues through Sept. 30. Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga, (310) 455-3723, theatricum.com.

The Ugly Duckling Interactive kids' musical by Lloyd J. Schwartz and Adryan Russ. Saturdays, 1 p.m. Continues through July 9, (818) 761-2203. Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, L.A., theatrewest.org.

NEW REVIEW GO YEAR ZERO

click to enlarge MICHAEL LAMONT
  • Michael Lamont

Anyone

who thinks the Colony Theatre in Burbank only caters for the blue rinse

set with safe, theatrical selections will be pleasantly surprised and

refreshed by the first of this year's six-show season. Brilliantly

directed by David Rose, Michael Golamco's play about a young med student

and her teen-aged brother facing an uncertain and divided future is a

tender story filled with beautifully calibrated, incendiary performances

swirling around the psychological fallout from the Cambodian killing

fields. Newly orphaned, Ra (Christine Corpuz) and Vuthy (David Huynh,

giving a broad but convincing teen performance) are the offspring of a

recently deceased Cambodian refugee. It turns out these two knew little

of their mother's grim fight for survival. Running a store in the Long

Beach's Cambodian community, she concentrated on keeping her kids away

from gangs and teen pregnancy. Young, ripped and inked up gang member

Han (Tim Chiou) has just been sprung from prison, but he's no thug. Han

remembers the Mother's kindness over the years and wants to help his

neighbors, to "give back." But Ra is proud and thinks she can cope by

sending her brother to live with an "Auntie" while she completes her

studies at Berkeley. Vuthy is being bullied at school and looks to Han

for advice. Succumbing to Han's fervent interest, Ra starts

contemplating a future minus her milquetoast Chinese boyfriend (Eymard

Cabling). Short but satisfying scenes glide by with the grace and

precision of a figure skating, effortlessly skirting stereotypes and

predictable outcomes, while a dynamic pace is fuelled by Peter Bayne's

contemporary, driving score. Colony Theatre, 555 N. Third St., Burbank;

Thurs.-Sun., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru July 3. (818) 558-7000. colonytheatre.org (Pauline Adamek)


CONTINUING PERFORMANCES IN SMALLER THEATERS SITUATED IN HOLLYWOOD, WEST HOLLYWOOD AND THE DOWNTOWN AREAS

Actor Under Fire James Gleason's one-man,

six-character show. Fri., June 17, 8 p.m.; Sat., June 18, 8 p.m.; Fri.,

June 24, 8 p.m.; Sat., June 25, 8 p.m. The Complex, 6476 Santa Monica

Blvd., L.A., (323) 465-0383, complexhollywood.com.

AfterMath Elliot Shoenman's comedic drama about a

widow trying to cope with her husband's suicide. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8

p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through June 26, (800) 595-4849,

aftermaththeplay.com. Matrix Theatre, 7657 Melrose Ave., L.A..

All Beepers Go to Heaven Sketch revue by New

Orleans comedy troupe Stupid Time Machine. Wed., June 22, 7 p.m.; Thu.,

June 23, 7 p.m.; Sat., June 25, 7 p.m.; Sun., June 26, 7 & 10 p.m.

I.O. West, 6366 Hollywood Blvd., L.A., (323) 962-7560.

American Addict Ricky Butler's study of New Yorkers

addicted to "drugs, fame, money, sex and broken dreams." Fri., June 17,

8 p.m.; Sat., June 18, 8 p.m.; Fri., June 24, 8 p.m.; Sat., June 25, 8

p.m. I.O. West, 6366 Hollywood Blvd., L.A., (323) 962-7560.

Another Effing Family Drama World premiere of

Catherine Pelonero's dysfunctional family parody. Sat., June 18, 11

p.m.; Sat., June 25, 3 p.m.; Sun., June 26, 5 p.m., (323) 455-4585,

sharpcocktail.com. Artworks Theatre & Studios, 6569 Santa Monica

Blvd., L.A., artworkstheatre.com.

Apocalypse, Not Now! End-of-the-world comedy,

written and performed by Clara York. Sat., June 18, 10: 30 p.m.; Sun.,

June 19, 6 p.m.; Fri., June 24, 10: 30 p.m., (323) 455-4585. Artworks

Theatre & Studios, 6569 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.,

artworkstheatre.com.

Are We Not Human? Female clown duo Duckbits'

surreal vaudeville show. Sat., June 18, 10 p.m.; Fri., June 24, 10 p.m.;

Sat., June 25, 10 p.m., duckbitsladies.com. Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa

Monica Blvd., L.A., (323) 469-9988.

Asleep at the Wheel Carl Kozlowski's show about his

life as a narcoleptic. See GoLA. Fri., June 17, 11 p.m.; Sun., June 19,

8 p.m., $10, hollywoodfringe.org/projects/503. I.O. West, 6366

Hollywood Blvd., L.A., (323) 962-7560.

Attack of the 50 Ft. Sunday Jordan Black directs

the Groundlings Sunday Company. Sundays, 7: 30 p.m. Groundling Theater,

7307 Melrose Ave., L.A., (323) 934-9700, groundlings.com.

Bakersfield Mist World premiere of Stephen Sachs'

comedy inspired by true events. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2

p.m. Continues through July 31. Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave.,

L.A., (323) 663-1525, fountaintheatre.com.

The Barking Pig Orgasmico Theatre Company presents

Michael Shaw Fisher's story of lowlifes in a dive bar. Fri., June 17, 8:

30 p.m.; Sat., June 18, 1 & 10 p.m.; Sun., June 19, 2: 30 p.m.;

Fri., June 24, 7 p.m.; Sat., June 25, 5: 30 p.m.; Sun., June 26, 2 p.m.,

(323) 960-7770, plays411.com/barkingpig. Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa

Monica Blvd., L.A..

Bash'd! A Gay Rap Opera Hate-crime musical, written

by Chris Craddock and Nathan Cuckow, music by Aaron Macri.

Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through July 23. Celebration

Theatre, 7051-B Santa Monica Blvd., L.A., (323) 957-1884,

celebrationtheatre.com.

Be Careful! The Sharks Will Eat You Jay Alvarez's

one-man show about life as a Cuban-American. Tue., June 21, 10 p.m.;

Sat., June 25, 8 p.m.; Sun., June 26, noon. Theatre of NOTE, 1517 N.

Cahuenga Blvd., L.A., (323) 856-8611, theatreofnote.com.

Beneath Rippling Water Sybyl Walker's three-act

solo play. Sat., June 18, 8 p.m.; Mon., June 20, 8 p.m.; Fri., June 24,

10 p.m.; Sat., June 25, 2 p.m. Theatre of NOTE, 1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd.,

L.A., (323) 856-8611, theatreofnote.com.

Between Us Chickens One-dimensional characters

become no less uninteresting when they reveal dark secrets in this

triangular love story set in present-day L.A. The setup to Sofia

Alvarez's play relies so heavily on the creation of stock characters

that it's painfully clear things are not what they seem from the get-go.

The problem is compounded by a situational dilemma that's hard to buy,

huge swaths of expository dialogue and nearly imperceptible stakes.

Sarah (Annabelle Bork) and Meagan (Amelia Alvarez) are Pennsylvania

transplants struggling to make meaning in L.A. The 20-something women

act out their acclimation anxiety in drastically different ways, Sarah

shutting herself in their apartment all day and Meagan hitting a new

club every night. Though the pairing of polar opposites can be the stuff

of great comedy and/or dramatic strife, Alvarez's hand is too clumsy to

make the contrast crackle. When Meagan brings home Charles (Ben Huber),

a homeless L.A. native who exhibits strange behavior (he answers

Sarah's phone and tells her mother he is Sarah's boyfriend, for

instance), things go from mildly inauthentic to entirely implausible.

With minimal protest from the exceedingly high-strung Sarah, Meagan

invites the wacko Charles to crash on the couch until he can find

another place to stay. The girls begin to reverse roles as Charles

puzzlingly becomes the object of their desire. A dark Internet scam

forces the plot into convoluted territory, while a tired viewpoint of

L.A. as a city where moral codes go to die is an ever-present drumbeat

of the play. (Amy Lyons). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.

Continues through June 19. Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave.,

L.A., (323) 644-1929, AtwaterVillageTheatre.com.

The Black and The Jew: Epstein and Hassan "She's

Black, He's Jewish, They're Married, Oy Vey!" Sun., June 19, 7: 30 p.m.;

Tue., June 21, 8 p.m.; Wed., June 22, 8 p.m. M Bar, 1253 Vine St.,

L.A., (323) 856-0036, mbarhollywood.com.

Blackbird Los Angeles premiere by David Harrower.

Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays, 5 p.m.; Mon., July 11, 5 p.m.;

Mon., July 18, 5 p.m. Continues through July 25,

roguemachinetheatre.com. Theatre/Theater, 5041 Pico Blvd., L.A., (323)

422-6361, theatretheater.net.

The Booby Prize A "one-woman, two-booby comedy"

written and performed by Lizzie Czerner.R! Tue., June 21, 8 p.m.; Thu.,

June 23, 8 p.m., $10. I.O. West, 6366 Hollywood Blvd., L.A., (323)

962-7560.

Booze, Boys & Brownies: A Musical Journey

Veronica Mannion's one-woman, 10-character play about a "busty, bubbly,

binge-eating young actress." Sun., June 19, 8: 30 p.m.; Wed., June 22, 7

p.m.; Thu., June 23, 8: 30 p.m.; Fri., June 24, 10 p.m.; Sun., June 26,

2: 30 p.m. Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A., (323)

962-1632.

Bordering on Love Evangeline Ordaz's comedy about a

drag queen beauty-pageant contestant on the verge of losing his Latina

stylist to deportation. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m.

Continues through July 2. Company of Angels at the Alexandria Hotel, 501

S. Spring St., Third Floor, L.A., (323) 883-1717.

Born Again Bohemian Written and performed by Summer

"Rain" Sinclair. Fri., June 17, 8 p.m.; Sat., June 18, 10 p.m.; Thu.,

June 23, 8 p.m.; Fri., June 24, 8 p.m.; Sun., June 26, 3 p.m., (310)

312-8988, BornAgainBohemain.com. Open Fist Theatre, 6209 Santa Monica

Blvd., L.A., openfist.org.

Broadsword "Former members of Broadsword have to

put aside 16 years of bad blood in order to uncover the chilling secret

behind their lead guitarist's mysterious disappearance," by Marco

Ramirez. Starting June 18, Thursdays-Sundays, 8 p.m. Continues through

July 31, (800) 838-3006. Black Dahlia Theatre, 5453 W. Pico Blvd., L.A.,

www.thedahlia.com.

GO Caught In the aftermath of Proposition 8

passing in November 2008, one of the regrets of those who fought

valiantly for gay marriage and against the proposition was that enough

wasn't done to "normalize" gay couples. And while the events in David L.

Ray's world-premiere play take place in July 2008, Caught furthers the

cause by dramatizing one of those healthy relationships. In it,

Angelenos Kenneth (Corey Brill) and Troy (Will Beinbrink) are on the eve

of their nuptials, a ceremony that will be officiated by their friend

Splenda (Micah McCain), who is ordained via the Internet. This blissful

scene is interrupted by a visit from Kenneth's estranged sister, Darlene

(Deborah Puette), who is very Southern and very Christian, as well as

her daughter, Krystal (Amanda Kaschak). In the interludes between

scenes, we also see Darlene's husband, T.J. (Richard Jenik), preaching

to his conservative congregation in Georgia. Secrets, lies and

surprising revelations fuel the drama. Director Nick DeGruccio deftly

takes Ray's strong and likable characters from page to stage, sparingly

playing up stereotypes for comedy without ever reducing the characters

to them. Adding to the authenticity are Adam Flemming's delightfully

detailed set and Katherine Hampton Noland's colorful couture. Adding to

the emotional investment in the story is a talented cast; standouts

include Puette, for her rich and intense portrayal of Darlene; McCain,

for balancing divalike comedy with deep sincerity; and Kaschak, for

combining fresh-faced innocence and a willfulness to create a very

believable teenager. (Mayank Keshaviah). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.;

Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through June 26, (800) 595-4849,

CaughtThePlay.com. Zephyr Theater, 7456 Melrose Ave., L.A..

Charlie! The Death of Nancy Fullforce Jasten King's

rock & roll comedy. Fri., June 17, 9: 30 p.m.; Fri., June 24, 9: 30

p.m. Artworks Theatre & Studios, 6569 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.,

(323) 871-8382, artworkstheatre.com.

Chela Dulce Maria Solis' biography based on stories

from her mom. Fridays, Saturdays, 7: 30 p.m. Continues through June 25,

thechelawebsite.com. Dorie Theater at the Complex, 6476 Santa Monica

Blvd., L.A., (323) 465-0383, complexhollywood.com.

Come Together: A Beatles Cabaret This homage to

the music of John, Paul, George and Ringo has some terrific moments, but

director John Carey and his cast have some rough edges to smooth. The

show is all about the Fab Four's love songs, and Carey has selected a

cross-section of songs that are fit for the occasion. The music is

provided via recording and incorporates a range of musical styles. The

cast of three men and three women (Scott Charles, Barret Crake, Sheryl

Kramer, Amy Tanya Shuster, Heather Stewart and John Szura) do many of

the songs justice, but there are a number of instances where the singing

isn't up to par. Inconsistency is the glaring fault with this show,

with two of the cast members either struggling to hit the notes or not

singing loudly enough to project the lyrics. The gender balance in the

ensemble makes for some wonderful duets -- none more so than Szura and

Kramer teaming up for "In My Life" and Crake and Shuster's "And I Love

Her" -- amidst other impressively rendered songs. (Lovell Estell III).

Fridays, Saturdays, 10: 45 p.m. Continues through June 20. The Attic

Theatre and Film Center, 5429 W. Washington Blvd., L.A., (323) 525-0661,

attictheatre.org.

Cowboy Mouth San Diego's Hungry River Theatre

Company presents Sam Shepard's one-act study of desire. Sat., June 18,

2: 30 p.m.; Sun., June 19, 5: 30 p.m.; Thu., June 23, 8: 30 p.m.; Fri.,

June 24, 5: 30 p.m.; Sat., June 25, 5: 30 & 11: 30 p.m.; Sun., June

26, 4: 30 & 8: 30 p.m. Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd.,

L.A., (323) 962-1632.

Crumbs From the Table of Joy Lynn Nottage's memory

play about a Southern black family in 1950 Brooklyn. Fridays, Saturdays,

8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through June 26, (323) 655-0108,

plays411.com. Hudson Mainstage Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A..

A Death in Columbia Katselas Theatre Company

presents Shem Bitterman's world-premiere thriller. Starting June 18,

Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through July 31,

(702) 582-8587), ktctickets.com. Skylight Theater, 1816 1/2 N. Vermont

Ave., L.A..

Deity Clutch Gus Krieger's new play, presented by

The Porters of Hellsgate. Sat., June 18, 4: 30 p.m., (818) 325-2055,

portersofhellsgate.com. Ruby Theater at the Complex, 6476 Santa Monica

Blvd., L.A., complexhollywood.com.

Diary of a Crackhead Stevie Mack's solo

tragicomedy. Mon., June 20, 8: 30 p.m. The Lab at Hollywood Improv, 8156

Melrose Ave., L.A., (323) 651-2583.

Em O'Loughlin Was a Big Fatty Boombah A fatso tale

by Emily O'Loughlin. Sat., June 18, midnight; Sat., June 18, 4 p.m.;

Sun., June 19, noon. Theatre of NOTE, 1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd., L.A.,

(323) 856-8611, theatreofnote.com.

Fact & Fiction William Nedved recalls his year

as an exchange student in Brazil. Mon., June 20, 8 p.m.; Thu., June 23,

10 p.m., 6avenue.org. Elephant Space Theatre, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd.,

L.A., (323) 962-0046, elephantstages.com.

Feeling Feeling Sarah Doyle's story of two friends

turned lovers with opposite emotional temperaments. Sat., June 18, 11:

59 p.m.; Sun., June 19, 6: 30 p.m.; Thu., June 23, 8 p.m.; Fri., June

24, 11: 59 p.m. Artworks Theatre & Studios, 6569 Santa Monica Blvd.,

L.A., (323) 871-8382, artworkstheatre.com.

NEW REVIEW FIFTH OF JULY

click to enlarge COURTESY OF THE PRODUCTION COMPANY
  • Courtesy of The Production Company

It's

11 years after the Summer of Love and a band of former hippies are

protesting - grouching, really -- about the fast-approaching decade of

1980s greed-based capitalism. They've got a patriotism hangover that

stretches back further than last night's booze binge: During the Vietnam

war, Ken Talley (Scott Victor Nelson) lost his legs, his sister June

(Jennifer Sorenson) lost her optimism, and their childhood friend John

(Christopher Carver) lost, well, nothing since he married a daffy copper

heiress and folk singer (Jen Albert) who whisked him to Europe and far

away from the reach of the draft. For two days, they're reuniting in

Lebanon, Missouri at Ken's 19-room family estate (or asylum, given all

the eccentrics) where for one and a half acts, they talk about nothing

much, and then at the climax talk about everything all at once. At least

in Lanford Wilson's dramedy, the first in his Talley Trilogy, their

chatter about Eskimos and flowers and UFOs is just as interesting as the

secrets they're keeping from each other. (Especially when Rob Herring's

hilarious guitarist pontificates between puffs of weed.) At stake is

what -- or who -- is up for sale, a list that includes the Talley

mansion, June's daughter (Margaret Dwyer), and the happiness of Aunt

Sally (Judy Nazemetz) and Ken's botanist boyfriend Jed (Johnny Patrick

Yoder). At times, director August Viverito coaxes nice moments from his

ensemble, but more often there's a lot of screaming. The Production

Company at the Lex Theatre, 6760 Lexington Ave., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8

p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru June 25. (800) 838-3006. theprodco.com (Amy Nicholson)


Five Uneasy Pieces Todd Waring's study of diverse

characters, including an elderly Southern woman, an Aussie art teacher

and a French singer. Thursdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 p.m. Continues

through June 25, fiveuneasypieces.com. Elephant Stages' Lillian Theatre,

1076 N. Lillian Way, L.A..

Four Clowns: Romeo and Juliet The Four Clowns'

adaptation of Shakespeare's tragedy. Sat., June 18, 5: 30 p.m.; Fri.,

June 24, 10: 30 p.m.; Sat., June 25, 7: 30 p.m., (562) 508-1788,

fourclowns.org. Artworks Theatre & Studios, 6569 Santa Monica Blvd.,

L.A., artworkstheatre.com.

Full Frontal Music Solo show written and performed

by James Schneider. Sun., June 19, 8: 30 p.m.; Mon., June 20, 10 p.m.;

Wed., June 22, 8: 30 p.m.; Sun., June 26, 1 p.m., fullfrontalmusic.com.

Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A., (323) 962-1632.

Get Me Out of Here! Adam Gropman's solo memoir of

two months at summer camp. Thu., June 23, 6: 45 p.m.; Sun., June 26, 6:

15 p.m., summercampnightmare.weebly.com. Dorie Theater at the Complex,

6476 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A., (323) 465-0383, complexhollywood.com.

Girl Band in the Men's Room Robert A. Ford's grunge

dramedy, set in a men's bathroom in 1994. Fri., June 17, 11 p.m.; Sat.,

June 18, 8 p.m.; Wed., June 22, 5 p.m.; Fri., June 24, 6: 30 p.m.;

Sat., June 25, 9: 30 p.m., girlbandinthemensroom.com. Artworks Theatre

& Studios, 6569 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A., (323) 871-8382,

artworkstheatre.com.

Godspell The 1971 hippy-dippy biblical musical,

conceived by John-Michael Tebelak, music and lyrics by Steven Schwartz.

Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through July 3.

Knightsbridge Theater, 1944 Riverside Dr., L.A., (323) 667-0955,

knightsbridgetheatre.com.

Groundlings State Penitentiary All-new sketch and

improv, directed by Jim Rash. Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 8 & 10

p.m. Continues through July 9. Groundling Theater, 7307 Melrose Ave.,

L.A., (323) 934-9700, groundlings.com.

Group Indie rock musical presented by The Los

Angeles Theatre Ensemble and It's Right Here Productions, book, music

and lyrics by Adam Emperor Southard. Thu., June 23, 8 p.m.; Fri., June

24, 8 p.m.; Sat., June 25, 8 p.m. Stella Adler Theatre, 6773 Hollywood

Blvd., L.A., (323) 465-4446.

GO Gypsy With its huge cast, multiple settings,

book by Arthur Laurents, score by Jules Stein and catchy lyrics by

Stephen Sondheim, this show has become a quintessential Broadway

musical, making demands that are hard to meet in a 99-seat theater.

Director Richard Israel proves it can be scaled down without losing its

pizzazz. And Jan Sheldrick, as the bullying, possessive Mama Rose, takes

a role that has been played by the likes of Ethel Merman, Angela

Lansbury, Rosalind Russell and Bette Midler, and makes it triumphantly

her own, with quiet moments as well as brassy ones. Stephanie Wall

provides a fine performance as Rose Louise -- the future Gypsy Rose Lee --

marred only by the fact that she's not always audible. The large cast,

headed by Michael Matthys as Mama Rose's browbeaten swain, Eric Allen

Smith as the young song-and-dance man Tulsa and Kelly Swanson as Mama

Rose's other daughter, Dainty June, provides fine support, along with

veteran performers Larry Lederman and Tony Pandolfo. Sara J. Stuckey,

Kelly Jean Cuir and Jessica Schatz score as the strippers who sing "You

Gotta Get a Gimmick." Johanna Kent's music direction and John Todd's

choreography keep things lively. (Neal Weaver). Fridays, Saturdays, 8

p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through July 3. Arena Stage at Theater

of Arts (formerly the Egyptian Arena Theater), 1625 N. Las Palmas Ave.,

L.A., (323) 595-4849.

The House of Yes Wendy MacLeod's comedy about "the

ultimate dysfunctional family." Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues

through July 2. Theatre 68, 5419 Sunset Blvd., L.A., (323) 960-5068,

theatre68.com.

I Do Card Tricks and I'm Funny Humor and illusion

courtesy of magician Jon Armstrongs. Fri., June 17, 7: 30 p.m.; Sat.,

June 18, 7: 30 p.m.; Sun., June 19, 7: 30 p.m.; Sat., June 25, 7: 30

p.m. Artworks Theatre & Studios, 6569 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.,

(323) 871-8382, artworkstheatre.com.

I Heart Hamas: And Other Things I'm Afraid to Tell You

Jennifer Jajeh's life as a 30-something Palestinian-American woman.

Fri., June 17, 2 p.m.; Mon., June 20, 7 p.m.; Tue., June 21, 7 p.m.;

Sat., June 25, 12: 30 p.m. Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd.,

L.A., (323) 962-1632.

iGhost This new musical, with book by Doug Haverty

and music by Adryan Russ, is loosely inspired by Oscar Wilde's short

story "The Canterville Ghost." In an effort to update the material,

they've given the Ghost a taste for Internet porn. The songs are

pleasant enough, and the orchestrations by music director Richard Berent

sometimes have an engaging Renaissance lilt, but Haverty's book is

contrived, formulaic and patently implausible. In Wilde's original, the

Ghost, Sir Simon (Peter Welkin), murdered his wife, Lucinda (Dorie

Braun), who placed a deathbed curse on him. Here, he's guilty only of

refusing to investigate the imaginary night noises that alarmed Lucinda,

so she had to go prowling herself, and fell down the stairs to her

death. A young art student, Virginia (Rebecca Johnson), is touched by

Simon's plight and sets out to lift the curse that dooms his spirit.

Along the way, she wins the heart of the current Lord Canterville,

Trevor (Zachary Ford). Director Jules Aaron's efforts are inhibited by

the predictable book, but Welkin is a stylish and vocally strong Sir

Simon, Johnson's Virginia is spunky and lively, Ford's Trevor offers

diffident charm and Braun brings sweet dignity to the ghostly Lucinda.

Despite their best efforts, the piece seems much ado about nothing.

(Neal Weaver). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through June 18,

(626) 695-8283, brownpapertickets.com/event/169940. Lyric Theatre, 520

N. La Brea Ave., L.A., lyrictheatrela.com.

The Interlopers Gary Lennon's transgendered love

story. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through

July 17. Bootleg Theater, 2220 Beverly Blvd., L.A., (213) 389-3856,

bootlegtheater.com.

Julius Caesar Theatre Unleashed's all-female

version of the Shakespeare tragedy, set in an American community coping

with the domestic effects World War II. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.

Continues through June 18. Studio/Stage, 520 N. Western Ave., L.A.,

(323) 463-3900, studio-stage.com.

Keep it Clean Comedy Hosted by JC Coccoli. Mondays, 10: 30 p.m., Free. 1739 Public House, 1739 N. Vermont Ave., L.A., (323) 663-1739.

GO La Razon Blindada (The Armored Reason) How does

a prisoner survive without hope? Writer/director Aristides Vargas drew

inspiration for this poignantly horrific black comedy from the

experience of his brother, a political prisoner in Argentina during that

country's military dictatorship. Confined in solitary, prisoners were

permitted a brief respite on Sunday, when they could meet and talk,

albeit while remaining seated and with their hands on the table. That

setup provides the physical framework for this luminously surreal

80-minute one-act in which two incarcerated men come together to

role-play -- one calling himself De La Mancha (Jesus Castanos Chima), the

other Panza (Arturo Diaz de Sandy). The actors remain seated

throughout, navigating across the stage on wooden chairs with wheels.

Within these loosely assumed personae, the pair frolic through a

hallucinatory landscape, clowning their way through speculations about

madness, sanity, heroism and human bonding, and conjuring an elaborate

fantasy of regency over an island that brilliantly mocks the nature of

power. In the end, the aim of the game is survival -- not as rational

beings, because reality would be too painful, but as madmen whose lunacy

frees them from the shame of powerlessness. The performances are

consummate and the staging, as eloquent as the text, features a

videographed landscape over which their sunken shadows pass, and Faure's

Elegie for Violoncello and Orchestra to underscore the pathos. (Deborah

Klugman). Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through June 25. 24th Street

Theater, 1117 W. 24th St., L.A., (800) 838-3006,

www.brownpapertickets.org.

The Last Five Years Bright Eyes Productions

presents Jason Robert Brown's musical about an ill-fated marriage, told

from opposite perspectives in time. Fri., June 17, 8 p.m.; Sat., June

18, 8 p.m.; Sun., June 19, 7 p.m.; Fri., June 24, 8 p.m.; Sat., June 25,

8 p.m.; Sun., June 26, 7 p.m., (323) 960-5770,

plays411.com/lastfiveyears. Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd.,

L.A..

NEW REVIEW LAVENDAR LOVE

click to enlarge CHRIS HUME
  • Chris Hume

Swanky

period costumes lend luster to Odalys Nanin's indifferent comedy about

a struggling actress who time travels back to 1920s Hollywood. Just

split from her girlfriend, Alas (Lidia Ryan) is on the run from the

police for stealing McNuggets; desperate, she dives into a secret

passageway under the pavement and emerges into the luxurious digs of

silent screen glamour queen, Alla Nazimova (Nanin). A closeted

lesbian, Nazimova is frolicking with her latest amour (Stephanie Ann

Saunders) while her just-for-show lover Paul Ivano (Drew Hinckley) gads

about with Rudolf Valentino (Kristian Steel). The Roaring '20s folks

are startled at Alas' appearance, and she soon panics about getting back

to the present, even after Nazimova dresses her in as her new-found

pet. Nanin ekes flaccid humor from a past vs. present clash of both

culture and attitudes: Nazimova and company are perplexed by Alas' cell

phone, while Alas is amazed at Nazimova's flamboyant manner and

promiscuous proclivities. The one hour piece obviously is intended to

be silly fantastical fun - but isn't. A bared female breast and a

display of hot and heavy girl-on-girl sex hardly compensates for humdrum

characters and dialogue. Co-directors Nanin and Ilmar Taska do stage

the shenanigans effectively on designer John Toom's appealing set, but

among the ensemble, only the under-utilized Saunders has a handle on the

camp. The other performances are uninspired. Macha Theatre, 1107 N.

Kings Road, W. Hlywd;. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru June 18.

(323) 960-4429 . plays411.com/lavendrlove. (Deborah Klugman)

Life in the Middle Ages World premiere of Steve

Ochs' one-man middle-age lament. Warning: Rated NC-30. Sat., June 18, 7

p.m.; Mon., June 20, 7 p.m.; Tue., June 21, 7 p.m.; Sat., June 25, 2:

30 p.m.; Sun., June 26, 7 p.m., (323) 960-7612, plays411.com/middleages.

Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A..

Lights Up on the Fade Out Padraic Lillis'

world-premiere drama about love and dementia. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8

p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through July 10, (323) 331-5123.

Elephant Stages' Lillian Theatre, 1076 N. Lillian Way, L.A..

Lost Moon Radio: Travels and Journeys

Intergalactic rock & roll comedy show, with house band The Moon

Units. Fri., June 17, 10 p.m.; Sat., June 18, 8 p.m.; Sun., June 19, 4

p.m.; Thu., June 23, 8 p.m.; Fri., June 24, 8: 30 p.m.; Sat., June 25,

10 p.m. Artworks Theatre & Studios, 6569 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.,

(323) 871-8382, artworkstheatre.com.

LoveSick "A love story set a dream-world," written

and directed by Larissa Wise. Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m.

Continues through June 24. Loft Ensemble, 929 E. Second St., No. 105,

L.A., (213) 680-0392, loftensemble.com.

Lucky: A Burlesque Tragedy "Pseudo-solo musical

play" by Minerva Vier. Fri., June 17, 8 p.m.; Sat., June 18, 8 p.m.;

Sun., June 19, 8 p.m. Paul G. Gleason Theatre, 6520 Hollywood Blvd.,

L.A., (617) 899-4283, acmt.org.

Magic Strings Bob Baker's marionette variety revue,

featuring puppet horses on a merry-go-round, an opera diva on roller

skates, a "Day at the Circus," and an all-American grand finale.

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

Marionette Theater, 1345 W. First St., L.A., (213) 250-9995,

www.bobbakermarionettes.com.

The Many Women of Troy The Pallas Theatre

Collective presents Michael John Boynton and Brian Allan Hobbs' musical

inspired by Euripides' tragedy The Trojan Women. Fri., June 17, 10 p.m.;

Sun., June 19, 6: 30 p.m.; Mon., June 20, 8 p.m.; Wed., June 22, 10: 30

p.m.; Sat., June 25, 10: 30 p.m. Open Fist Theatre, 6209 Santa Monica

Blvd., L.A., (323) 882-6912, openfist.org.

A Midsummer Night's Dream Shakespeare's comedy,

presented by Ark Theatre Company. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2

p.m. Continues through July 17, (323) 969-1707, arktheatre.org. The

Attic Theatre and Film Center, 5429 W. Washington Blvd., L.A.,

attictheatre.org.

Mommy With a Penis Hutchins Foster's journey into

gay motherhood. Sat., June 18, 2 p.m.; Sun., June 19, 6 p.m.; Tue., June

21, 8 p.m. Theatre of NOTE, 1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd., L.A., (323)

856-8611, theatreofnote.com.

My Mobster Joy Nash's true story of an American

girl in Italy who falls for a French crook. Sun., June 19, 9 p.m.; Tue.,

June 21, 6 p.m.; Wed., June 22, 8 p.m.; Sat., June 25, 6 p.m.; Sun.,

June 26, 4 p.m. Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A., (323)

469-9988.

The Next Best Thing Antonio Sacre's solo show.

Fri., June 17, 6 p.m.; Wed., June 22, 8 p.m. Theatre of NOTE, 1517 N.

Cahuenga Blvd., L.A., (323) 856-8611, theatreofnote.com.

GO 100 Saints You Should Know All the characters

in Kate Fodor's play, now receiving its West Coast premiere, are

searching for some sort of validation, though they seek it in

counterproductive ways. Single mom Theresa (Cheryl Huggins) cleans

houses to support her randy teenage daughter, Abby (Kate Huffman). When

she takes a job at the local Catholic church, her rudimentary faith is

revived and she becomes convinced that the priest, Father Matthew

(Brendan Farrell), can provide some answers. But Matthew has problems

too: He's finding it impossible to pray, and he's been suspended from

his parish because of some George Platt-Lynes photos of male nudes found

in his room. He takes refuge in the home of his mother, Colleen (Pamela

Roylance), a conventionally devout Irish Catholic. There he encounters

Garrett (Marco Naggar), the touchingly naive young man who delivers

Colleen's groceries. Garrett fears he might be gay, and seeks out

Matthew because his dad said Matthew's a fag. When skeptical Abby (she

equates Bible stories with Babar the Elephant,) meets up with Garrett

and a bottle of hooch, the stage is set for disaster. Director Lindsay

Allbaugh deftly mines the rich comedy provided by Fodor's quirky

characters and elicits lovely performances from all her actors. (Neal

Weaver). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through

June 26, (877) 369-9112. Elephant Space Theatre, 6322 Santa Monica

Blvd., L.A., elephantstages.com.

Paint Imagining a Love Story of Robert Rauschenberg

& Jasper Johns: Blue Rose Theater presents Dan DeNicola's

speculative romance. Sun., June 19, 1 p.m.; Thu., June 23, 7 p.m.; Fri.,

June 24, 7 p.m.; Sat., June 25, 7 p.m.; Sun., June 26, 1 p.m. Flight

Theater at The Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A., (323) 465-0383,

complexhollywood.com.

GO Point Break Live! Jaime Keeling's merciless

skewering of the 1991 hyper-action flick starring Keanu Reeves and Gary

Busey is loaded with laughs, as well as surprises, like picking an

audience member to play Reeves' role of Special Agent Johnny Utah. It's

damn good fun, cleverly staged by directors Eve Hars, Thomas Blake and

George Spielvogel. (LE3). Fridays, 8: 30 p.m.; Saturdays, 8 p.m., (866)

811-4111, www.theatermania.com. Dragonfly, 6510 Santa Monica Blvd.,

L.A., thedragonfly.com.

Poison Apple Sean Galuszka's "sexy psycho

thriller." Wed., June 22, 8 p.m. Celebration Theatre, 7051-B Santa

Monica Blvd., L.A., (323) 957-1884, celebrationtheatre.com.

GO Re-Animator: The Musical Re-Animator: The

Musical is based on Stuart Gordon's 1985 film, and Gordon is on hand to

direct the new musical. The centerpiece is a love story (of course)

that's a joke on every love story ever written. Idealistic young

hospital intern Dan Cain (Chris L. McKenna) has a poor time accepting

the death of patients. Standing by a gurney, over the body of a woman

who has flatlined, Dan administers CPR in vain, prodding her with

electro pads, until the chorus of medics has to sing, "She's dead,

Dan/Get it through your head, Dan." His distress over the cessation of

life becomes an obsession that threatens his impending marriage to

beautiful Meg Halsey (Rachel Avery), daughter of the local university's

dean (George Wendt). Big Dean Halsey is an amiable, conservative fellow

who's accepting of Dan as a potential son-in-law, despite his lack of

old-money social credentials. Well, amiable until he's accidentally

murdered, as he later interrupts a gooey romantic interlude between Meg

and Dan by crashing through the door as a psychotic zombie. The romance

is wrapped around a conflict between dueling scientists:

self-proclaimed plagiarist Dr. Hill (Jesse Merlin, in a mop wig, whose

pinched facial expressions would creep out the most openhearted social

worker) and a newcomer to Hill's lab, Herbert West (Graham Skipper,

possessing the salty charm -- and costume -- of an embittered undertaker).

While Hill drools over Meg, West rents a room from Dan (since Meg won't

move in until they're wed). When the romantic couple's pet cat

disappears, then ghoulishly reappears post-mortem via West's experiments

(props by Jeff Rack), Dan enters a Faust-like partnership with West,

seeing the potential fulfillment of his God-defying desire to harness

the science of immortality. Mark Nutter's music and very witty lyrics

(recalling songs by Tom Lehrer) careen from modern opera to light opera,

from melodramatic wailing to -- when the story gets really gruesome --

Gilbert and Sullivanstyle patter songs. The special effects (by Tony

Doublin, John Naulin, John Buechler, Tom Devlin and Greg McDougall),

such as a body decapitated with a shovel and intestines unstrung from a

corpse, are about as good as it gets -- gory without being so

naturalistic as to bypass parody. The keys to this kingdom, however, are

the combination of the brilliant comic ensemble and Gordon's pristine

craftsmanship as a director, supplemented by Jeff Ravitz's lighting and

musical director/arranger Peter Adams' building of suspense. Adams

performs the score on a synthesizer tucked into the side of the hall,

creating the slightly cheesy ambiance that's the life force of Grand

Guignol. (Steven Leigh Morris). Fridays-Sundays, 8 p.m. Continues

through June 26, (800) 595-4849. Steve Allen Theater, at the Center for

Inquiry-West, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., L.A..

The Rich and the Reckless Improvised soap opera by

Stage 10 Theater Company. Saturdays, 7: 30 p.m.; Sat., July 9, 7: 30

p.m.; Sat., July 16, 7: 30 p.m. Continues through June 25,

stage10theatrecompany.com. Skylight Theater, 1816 1/2 N. Vermont Ave.,

L.A..

Rollerblading in Gaza Maude Klochendler as cabaret

singer, aspiring New York actress, and soldier in the Israeli army.

Sat., June 18, 10 p.m.; Sun., June 19, 7 p.m.; Fri., June 24, 5: 30

p.m.; Sat., June 25, 5: 30 p.m., rollerbladingingaza.com. Dorie Theater

at the Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A., (323) 465-0383,

complexhollywood.com.

PostModern Family Sketch comedy by Rob Belushi,

Andy Cobb, Celeste Pechous, David Pompeii and Katie Neff. Fridays, 8

p.m. Continues through June 24. Second City Studio Theater, 6560

Hollywood Blvd., Second Floor, L.A., (323) 464-8542.

Ser: L.A. vs. B.A. Karen Anzoategui's queer

transnational solo show. Fri., June 17, 8: 30 p.m.; Sat., June 18, 8: 30

p.m.; Wed., June 22, 8: 30 p.m., brownpapertickets.com/event/175015.

Stella Adler Theatre, 6773 Hollywood Blvd., L.A., (323) 465-4446.

Spring Awakening Coming-of-age rock musical based

on the 1891 German play by Frank Wedekind, music by Duncan Sheik, book

and lyrics by Steven Sater. Fri., June 17, 10: 30 p.m.; Sun., June 19, 2

p.m.; Thu., June 23, 8: 30 p.m.; Fri., June 24, 10: 30 p.m.; Sun., June

26, 2 p.m. Ruby Theater at the Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.,

(323) 960-5774, complexhollywood.com.

GO Streep Tease If you're a fan of Meryl Streep

you'll like director Ezra Weisz's campy homage to the academy award

winning actress. The show debuted two years ago and is the brainchild of

stand-up comedian Roy Cruz, who has added a few tweaks without altering

any of its ticklish appeal. The show uses seven male actors who perform

monologues from a sampling of Streep's oeuvre.. This reviewer is a big

fan and has seen all of the movies selected (which helps in appreciating

the saucy humor on display), although even if you're not familiar with

Streep's work, Streep Tease offers lot of fun and laughs. In addition to

the performances, Cruz picks audience members to participate in a

contest to test their "Streep Wise," worthiness, with a gift going to

the winner. Matthew Nouriel, does a riotously funny take on Sara

Woodruff, from the French Lieutenant's Woman (complete with the foggy

backdrop), and then does an even funnier version set in a Muslim country

with all the customary restraints. Miranda Priestly from The Devil

Wears Prada is brought to life by Cruz, who does a wickedly bitchy turn

salted with just the right tinge of icy detachment. And who could forget

the nun from hell, the bossy, fussy bullying Sister Aloysius Beauvier

from Doubt, here fully realized with knuckle-busting ruler, two rosaries

and bonnet, by Bryan T. Donovan. (Lovell Estell III). Saturdays, 8 p.m.

Bang, 457 N. Fairfax Ave., L.A., (323) 653-6886, bangstudio.com.

The Sum of My Parts Michael Mullen's journey from

girly-boy to girly-man. Fri., June 17, 8 p.m.; Sat., June 18, 8 p.m.;

Sun., June 19, 7 p.m.; Thu., June 23, 10 p.m.; Sat., June 25, 8 p.m.,

plays411.com/somp. Elephant Space Theatre, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd.,

L.A., (323) 962-0046, elephantstages.com.

Super Sidekick Theatre Unleashed's superhero

musical, by Gregory Crafts with music by Michael Gordon Shapiro.

Saturdays, Sundays, 1 p.m. Continues through June 26, (818) 849-4039,

theatreunleashed.com. Actors Circle Theatre, 7313 Santa Monica Blvd.,

L.A., actorscircle.net.

Ten West: Ineffable Sketch comedy about "life,

death and hayfever." Fri., June 17, 8 p.m.; Sat., June 18, 10 p.m.;

Fri., June 24, 8 p.m.; Sat., June 25, 10 p.m. Theatre of NOTE, 1517 N.

Cahuenga Blvd., L.A., (323) 856-8611, theatreofnote.com.

Top That! Be Flat Productions' dark comedy about

former child actors attending a cast reunion party, written by Brandon

Baruch and the cast. Sun., June 19, 9 p.m.; Tue., June 21, 10 p.m.;

Sun., June 26, 5 p.m., TopThatPlay.com. Open Fist Theatre, 6209 Santa

Monica Blvd., L.A., (323) 882-6912, openfist.org.

The Trouble With Words Coeurage Theatre Company

presents the world premiere of Gregory Nabours' song cycle. Fridays,

Saturdays, 9 p.m.; Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through July 16.

Actors Circle Theatre, 7313 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A., (323) 882-8043,

actorscircle.net.

Uranium Madhouse Two short plays: Rick Burkhardt's

Conversation Storm and Charles Mee's The House of Cards.

Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through June 25,

brownpapertickets.com/event/171485. El Centro Theatre, 804 N. El Centro

Ave., L.A..

Voices from Chornobyl, Jr. Cindy Marie Jenkins'

lesson on nuclear power, for kids 8 and up. Sat., June 18, 1 p.m.; Sun.,

June 19, 1 p.m.; Sat., June 25, 1 p.m.; Sun., June 26, 1 p.m. Artworks

Theatre & Studios, 6569 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A., (323) 871-8382,

artworkstheatre.com.

What's Up, Tiger Lily? Maria Bamford and Melinda

Hill bring excellent standups every week -- really, like Blaine Capatch,

Patton Oswalt, Matt Besser -- you get the idea. Mondays, 8 p.m., Free.

Hollywood Studio Bar & Grill, 6122 W. Sunset Blvd., L.A., (323)

466-9917.

Who Loves You, Baby? Telly Savalas returns in Tom

DiMenna's surreal lounge act. Sat., June 18, 8 p.m.; Sun., June 19, 7

p.m.; Mon., June 20, 7 p.m.; Wed., June 22, 8 p.m.; Fri., June 24, 11

p.m. I.O. West, 6366 Hollywood Blvd., L.A., (323) 962-7560.

NEW REVIEW WORKING: THE MUSICAL

click to enlarge COURTESY OF THE TRIBE PRODUCTIONS
  • Courtesy of The Tribe Productions

A

relentlessly patronizing tone nearly ruins all the fun in Steven

Schwartz's musical about average Joes and Janes on the job, though some

authentic moments of human experience manage to slip through the

condescending cracks. The cast, however, isn't always up for the

challenging task of taking the sentimental songs and monologues to

humanizing heights. As a whole, the ensemble has too many ham-fisted

moments to usher the stereotypical characters - a boorish iron worker

(Tim Borquez) with a supposedly ironic love of books; a self-loathing

housewife (Judi Stewart) chained to her laundry basket; a valet (Tyrone

Washington) who, by golly, refuses to let car parking rob him of his

plainspoken pluck - to more meaningful ground. But a few stand-out

performers spin their snatches of sloppily stitched material into

meaningful musings on time-clock punching. Jill Kocalis Scott, for

instance, successfully seeks out the joyful motivation of a

sophisticated waitress in "It's an Art." Amanda Celine Miller goes from

hooker to receptionist to cleaning lady with ease, crafting

flesh-and-blood characters defined by toil. There's an undeniable

pleasure in seeing everyday people take center stage, but the real blue

collar trenches are certainly filled with more interesting men and

women. The Tribe Productions at The Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd.,

Hlywd.; Fri.-Sun., 8 p.m.; thru July 10. (323) 960-5774. thetribeproductions.org. (by Amy Lyons)

Young Playwrights Festival Twelve plays by some of

the nation's brightest teenage playwrights aged 14-19.

Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through June 27.

Stella Adler Theatre, 6773 Hollywood Blvd., L.A., (323) 465-4446.

CONTINUING PERFORMANCES IN SMALLER THEATERS SITUATED IN THE VALLEYS

Askance Staged reading of Kerr Seth Lordygan's play

about an elderly couple's sordid past coming to light. Sat., June 18, 2

p.m. Eclectic Company Theatre, 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Valley

Village, (818) 508-3003, eclecticcompanytheatre.org.

Closet Land Radha Bharadwajs' story of a children's

book author accused of treason. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues

through July 23, thevisceralcompany.com. NoHo Stages, 4934 Lankershim

Blvd., North Hollywood, noho-stages.us.

Departures Travelers share stories, by Michael

Catlin, Effie Hortis, Jim Lunsford, James J. Mellon, Duane Poole,

Penelope Richards, Jed Schlanger and Mark Wyrick. Fridays, Saturdays, 8

p.m. Continues through July 23. NoHo Arts Center, 11136 Magnolia Blvd.,

North Hollywood, (818) 508-7101, thenohoartscenter.com.

Diary of a Mid-Life Crisis Written, directed and

produced by Susan Lee, this indulgent and tedious autobiographical play

chronicles a woman's recovery as she rebuilds her life in her 40s. Lee

has fashioned a navel-gazing show based on her 6-year-old blog, where

she tried to make sense of the conclusion of her 16-year emotionally

abusive marriage and the quest to regain her voice. In what is

essentially a one-woman act, Lee has Eileen O'Connell playing Jane while

four other frumpy actors in jeans and black T-shirts illustrate the

monologue Greek chorus-style, occasionally playing clowns with red noses

or sock puppets to represent the undermining voices in Jane's head. Lee

clearly is striving for whimsy, but it all plays out like bad improv

with poorly constructed props. Lee sledgehammers her point home with an

astounding lack of insight, such as the occasional waving of red flags

that grow in size when aggression rears its head. The genuinely

terrifying husband is reduced to three repetitive yet sinister

catchphrases: "You have so much to learn," "I will never hurt you" and

"I will never leave you." Fragments of girly pop tunes occasionally

blast out and amateurish slides play on a screen upstage. When the

screen (along with Jane) announces, "Time for Bad Poetry Corner," your

heart plummets. At 70 minutes sans intermission, this shallow exercise

in soul-searching is actually shorter than it seems. (Pauline Adamek).

Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through July 4.

Eclectic Company Theatre, 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Valley Village,

(818) 508-3003, eclecticcompanytheatre.org.

The Diviners Jim Leonard Jr.'s haunting drama about

the relationship between a young boy and a former preacher, set in

Depression-era Indiana. Directed by RoZsa Horvath. Fridays, Saturdays, 8

p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through June 19. Secret Rose Theater,

11246 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, (877) 620-7673, secretrose.com.

GO The Emancipation of Alabaster McGill After a

startling revelation is made in Act II of Jeff Goode's funny new comedy,

two dumbstruck boys freeze as one says to the other, "Don't say

anything; maybe it'll just disappear." The setting might be Kentucky,

1863, but that good ol' Southern methodology prevailed even in

free-lovin' California 2008, when Goode's editorial on Proposition 8 was

rejected by a major publication because it wasn't election coverage.

That dismissal became the springboard for this world premiere, which

uses a 19th-century discussion over the imminent Emancipation

Proclamation to draw parallels between slavery and homosexuality.

Goode's got a knack for clever innuendo: Self-pleasure is thinly veiled

as "whittling," and Jude Evans' Klansman/Deputy has a tiny pocketknife.

Director Eric Curtis Johnson has found a cast with impeccable comic

timing: In the Huckleberry Finn/Tom Sawyer tradition, Brett Fleisher

and Matt Valle puzzle over problematic situations before announcing the

most logical solutions. With a static setting and a few too-frequent

occasions of pedantic dialogue, as Deacon Chickory (a scene-stealing

Nathaniel Stanton) takes a slippery slope into preachiness, the play

should lose a good half-hour in order to deliver its message more

strongly. "We ain't got time to debate this or think about what we're

doin'!" Frank Ensenberger's Grocer Baggot sputters on the eve before the

Proclamation takes effect. You might be for or against Proposition 8,

but kudos to Goode for taking that time. SkyPilot Theater at T.U.

Studios, 10943 Camarillo St., N. Hlywd.; Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.;

thru June 19. (800) 838-3006, skypilottheatre.com. (Rebecca Haithcoat).

Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 7 p.m. Continues through June 19,

skypilottheatre.com. T.U. Studios, 10943 Camarillo St., North Hollywood.

Encounter World premiere of Ari Blake Wintraub's

story a couple thrown together in the wake of 9/11. Thursdays, Fridays, 9

p.m.; Sat., July 2, 9 p.m. Continues through July 2. Lineage Performing

Arts Center, 89 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena, (626) 844-7008,

lineagedance.org.

Hamlet, Prince of Darkness Zombie Joe's

Underground's Shakespeare-inspired "dark adventure-comedy-thriller,"

written by Richard Nathan . Fridays, 11 p.m. Continues through June 24.

ZJU Theater Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, (818)

202-4120, zombiejoes.com.

Iceberg Ahead! Jay Parker's backstage farce.

Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays, 2 p.m. Mosaic Lizard

Theater, 112 W. Main St., Alhambra, (626) 457-5293, lizardtheater.com.

I'm Just Wild About Harry Gary Lamb and William A.

Reilly's musical adaptation of Brandon Thomas' Charlie's Aunt. Fridays,

Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through

July 17. Crown City Theatre, 11031 Camarillo St., North Hollywood, (818)

745-8527, nohoartsdistrict.com/theatreweb/crowncity.htm.

It's Just Sex Jeff Gould's comedy takes the

underpinnings of sexual fantasy, fidelity and money and puts all of

those nuances onstage in a contemporary comedy about three married

couples. The wife-swapping plot is straight out of Hugh Hefner's pad,

circa 1975. That the play resonates today, in the ashes of the sexual

revolution, is one indication of how little has changed, despite how

much has changed. (Steven Leigh Morris). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.;

Sundays, 7: 30 p.m. Two Roads Theater, 4348 Tujunga Ave., Studio City,

(818) 762-2272, tworoadsgallery.com.

GO The Malcontent Malevole (Bo Foxworth), the

scruffy misanthrope at the nub of John Marston's 17th-century satire, is

the proud possessor of a scathing tongue. A frequenter of aristocratic

circles, he's tolerated by the reigning Duke of Genoa, Pietro (Mark

Doerr), for his bawdy wit and for the lacerating barbs that furnish

welcome relief from the dull obsequiousness of the court. Not the

plebeian jester he strives to appear, Malevole is really a duke -- in

fact, he is the Duke of Genoa, Altofronto, the city's legitimate regent

before being maneuvered from office by a lecherous rapscallion named

Mendoza (Ramón DeOcampo). Labeled a "tragicomedy" by scholars, the play

is an outraged ethicist's critique of corruption and deceit (the tragedy

lies in the world's moral morass, I guess, since in the story itself no

one actually dies or suffers gruesomely). The plot, with its slapdash

details, spins out in intricate metaphor-studded syntax whose handling

requires enormous skill. Adapted from the original and directed by

Elizabeth Swain, this spirited production does not disappoint. While

Foxworth's splenetic cynic is all fire and spit, it is DeOcampo as the

treacherous toadying villain -- utterly contemporary in his sociopathic

me-ism -- who drives the comedy. In addition to Doerr's artfully finessed

Pietro, the accomplished ensemble includes Lynn Milgrim as an

unprincipled procuress and John Achorn as a clueless courtier prepared

to pimp his wife and daughter-in-law. Designer Tom Buderwitz's handsome

set replicates the Blackfriars Theater in which the play first

premiered, while A. Jeffrey Schoenberg's costumes add dashing flavor to

the farce. (Note: The show is double-cast.) (Deborah Klugman).

Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2: 30 p.m. Continues through June

19, antaeus.org. Deaf West Theatre, 5112 Lankershim Blvd., North

Hollywood, (818) 762-2998, deafwest.org.

New Eyes Yafit Josephson gives an accomplished

performance in her solo show about a Jewish actress facing down

Hollywood's cultural stereotypes. It's marred only by a poorly designed

slide show. Josephson slips easily into various personae, combining

characters with caricatures to good comedic effect. The opening has her

switching from a formidable military officer to her nervous young self

on her first day of compulsory military training in the Israeli army.

Highlights include a hilarious mime sequence where she uncomprehendingly

attempts yoga and another scene where she gives a goofy impression of a

macho guy in an Israeli nightclub. Josephson's tall, slender build,

piercing eyes and chiseled face lend her a commanding presence, but it's

her prominent proboscis that relegates her to the usual gamut of

villainous roles, from terrorist to evil witch -- "And no, they didn't

have to use a fake nose," she jokes. Her adult journey takes her from

the New World back to Israel, where she touches base with her culture,

returning to Hollywood with newfound strength of character. Beneath the

comedy lies a serious undercurrent stemming from the ongoing war in the

Middle East: Land equals identity. (Pauline Adamek). Thursdays,

Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through June 26, (310) 500-0680,

neweyesplay.com. Whitefire Theater, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks.

No Word in Guyanese for Me Is there a word to

describe the paradoxical human yearning to belong to the club that won't

have you? If you're an Indo-Guyanese immigrant living in Astoria,

Queens, and you're also an observant Muslim and an out lesbian

struggling to retain your Islamic identity, that word might be

"conflicted." Or so it might seem in playwright Wendy Graf's somewhat

hagiographic, single-character study of a woman torn between Western

tolerance and religious orthodoxy. Anna Khaja portrays the orphan Hanna

Jokhoe, who is raised by her nurturing Aunty Mommy and cabdriver uncle

in her family's Muslim faith. With the onset of puberty comes the

religious head-covering that also marks her as different from her

American classmates. But it is her deeper stirrings, first for a best

friend, later for a sympathetic high school art teacher, that signal a

more profound difference. It all comes to a peak when Hanna is married

off to her Muslim cousin; betrayed by her visceral repugnance of her

husband, she is both outed and made an outcast. Director Anita

Khanzadian's intimate staging (nicely accented by Matthew Richter's

lights, sound and projections) cleverly choreographs Hanna's

transformation with the various scarves of the hijab -- a conceit

mirrored in the draperies lining Davis Campbell's set -- which she dons

as a girl but strips off as a woman. Khaja skillfully and convincingly

navigates the 20-year journey with compelling pathos. And yet, one

cannot avoid the suspicion that in her simple, unblemished and almost

otherworldly guilelessness, Graf's heroine is less a portrait of a

plausibly flawed, complex woman than an airbrushed LGBT poster child for

gay pride. (Bill Raden). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 5 p.m.

Continues through June 25. Sidewalk Studio Theatre, 4150 Riverside Dr.,

Burbank, (818) 558-5702.

Oscar Wilde's Salome The biblical tragedy, as

presented by Zombie Joe's Underground and Fabulous Monsters Performance

Group. Starting June 18, Fridays, Saturdays, 8: 30 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m.

Continues through July 17. ZJU Theater Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd.,

North Hollywood, (818) 202-4120, zombiejoes.com.

Parable of the Asses Staged reading of Elaine

Chekich's play set in a poor Mexican village. Sun., June 19, 1 p.m.

Eclectic Company Theatre, 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Valley Village,

(818) 508-3003, eclecticcompanytheatre.org.

NEW REVIEW THE POOR OF NEW YORK

click to enlarge SHERRY NETHERLAND
  • Sherry Netherland

Dion

Boucicault'a classic 19th century melodrama follows the travails of the

Fairweather family, whose sea-captain patriarch is robbed of $100,000

and then his life by the dastardly banker Gideon Bloodgood. Twenty years

later Bloodgood's crime is about to catch up to him. In program notes,

director Larry Eisenberg explains his choice to avoid the contemporary

mocking tone that melodramas are so often treated with, in favor of an

honest reenactment of the emotion and sentiment - borrowing from the

style of early silent film tear-jerkers. Unfortunately this, a pastiche

of 19th century text, early 20th century sentimentality and 21st century

acting styles keep clashing as the performance rolls by. A few of the

actors take the plunge into deep pathos, most notably Kate O'Toole and

Juliana Olinka as mother and daughter Fairweather; and Van Boudreaux,

who nearly channels Edward G. Robinson in a role both comic and heroic.

Others, such as Max Bunzel as Alex Parker, try to mold themselves into

similarly noble figures, but can't escape their young Hollywood

hunkiness, which exposes a certain artifice. So the style keeps shifting

away from any kind of unifying propulsion. Interesting projections

mimicking '20s silent films keep the story grounded in a black and white

past, but the accompanying old time movie theater music (sound design

by Steve Shaw) that underscores the entire production seems haphazard

and distracting rather than providing period and emotional cues. Of the

designs, only Liz Nankin's costumes actually help the production. Lonny

Chapman Group Repertory Theater, 10900 Burbank Blvd., N. Hlywd.;

Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru July 10. (818) 700-4878. thegrouprep.com. (Tom Provenzano)


GO Pursued by Happiness Sensible shoes and

charmingly dorky delivery aside, Frank Orlis (Mark St. Amant) cuts a

dashing figure during the courtship dance. "I have zero recollection of

any day but the day at hand," he tells the object of his single-minded

pursuit, fellow biochemist Julie Moore (Avery Clyde), while

simultaneously informing her he's been watching her. The layup works,

even if Frank couldn't be less of a Romeo; women, even stoic, serious

ones like Julie, respond to feeling like they alone are worth

remembering. Keith Huff's new play wriggles in these insights

unobtrusively, even if the big-picture ideas ("We're not pursuing

happiness as much as happiness is biologically pursuing us") are a

little too obvious. But the play is a nice change of scenery from

traditional rom-coms: The whirlwind romance is actually a practical

plot, and the measured Frank and Julie don't ride off into a fairy-tale

sunset. Family visits give the design team a chance to show off (Craig

Siebels' set, Adam Flemming's projection, and Jocelyn Hublau's costumes)

are so evocatively detailed, but they do feel a little device-y, and

leave too many unanswered questions, including one that leaves the

audience squirming as well. Still, agile in their double duty as both

sets of parents, Elizabeth Herron and Tom Knickerbocker easily could've

been Huff's sole motivation for writing the ultimately unsatisfying

scenes. Robin Larsen directs. (Rebecca Haithcoat). Fridays, Saturdays, 8

p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through June 26, RoadTheatre.org.

Lankershim Arts Center, 5108 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, (818)

752-7568.


SEX AND EDUCATION

click to enlarge NANCY SAVAN
  • Nancy Savan

Nancy Savan​

Lissa

Levin's West Coast premiere about a high school English teacher versus a

jock. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 4 p.m. Continues through

July 10. Victory Theatre Center, 3326 W. Victory Blvd., Burbank, (818)

841-5421, thevictorytheatrecenter.org.

See Stage feature

The Solid Gold Cadillac George S. Kaufman and

Howard Teichmann's 1953 satire about a corrupt corporation. Fridays,

Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2: 30 p.m. Continues through July 30. Sierra

Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre, (626)

355-4318, sierramadreplayhouse.org.

South of Delancey Forty years before The People's

Court first packaged binding arbitration proceedings for daytime reality

TV, the Jewish-American Board of Peace and Justice was adjudicating the

domestic disputes of New York City's Lower East Side faithful over the

airwaves of Yiddish radio. Director-creator Karen Sommers has sifted

through the original acetate recordings and selected three woefully

irreconcilable couples from the rabbinical court's cases, interweaving

their stories -- and her invented backstories -- into a persuasive evening

of re-enactment and speculative docudrama. Abigail Marks and Michael

Rubenstone are Faye and Marty, a war bride and her combat-scarred

husband, who are unable to negotiate a postwar peace for their rash and

precipitous marriage. Jordana Oberman and Kal Bennett play Helen and

Lenore, roommate sisters whose blood ties can no longer take the strain

of personalities divided by dysfunction and temperament. Barry Alan

Levine and Jodi Fleisher provide comic relief with mismatches Herman and

Lilly, whose marital mix of business and pleasure behind a dry-goods

counter proves an unmitigated disaster. The show's most fascinating

moments occur when Sommers incorporates the original recordings and the

Yiddish-speaking judge can be heard feebly throwing rabbinical bromides

and blandishments at cases of such hopelessly intractable

incompatibility. Sommers' tight staging (with Carol Doehring's crisp

lights and period-perfect costumes by Lois Tedrow) and a powerful

ensemble lend the proceedings considerable polish, with the exception of

Dove Huntley's sprawling apartment set, which has more in common with a

Van Nuys split-level than any tenement north or south of Delancey.

(Bill Raden). Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues

through June 26, (866) 811-4111. Fremont Centre Theatre, 1000 Fremont

Ave., South Pasadena, fremontcentretheatre.com.

GO Turbo Tartuffe! Director Denise Devin certainly

wasn't kidding when she dropped "Turbo" into the title of her

adaptation of Molière's timeless attack on moral hypocrisy. Happily, it

is the only thing about this rollicking, supercharged commedia staging

that isn't played strictly for laughs. In radically boiling down

Molière's five-act farce to a head-spinning 55 minutes, Devin has lopped

off subsidiary subplots and eliminated enough of the text's

footnote-mandatory, 17th-century erudition to give any self-respecting

French classicist heart palpitations. For the rest of us, however, she

has delivered a concise, inventive and deliriously ribald slapstick

worthy of Hal Roach, and one that deftly conjures Molière's anarchic,

subversive comic spirit. Roger K. Weiss portrays Orgon as just the kind

of befuddled, moralistic dunderhead capable of being gulled out of

family and fortune by the transparent posturing at piety practiced by

Tartuffe (a lecherous Tegue S. DeLeon). As the hard-pressed object of

his lust, Ashley Fuller plays Orgon's voluptuous wife, Elmire, with

equal notes of sauciness and cunning. Sofia Ruiz's spoiled princess of a

daughter, Mariane, is a burlesque of pampered, tempestuous privilege.

Mike Angelo is all heat and little head as the impetuous son Damis,

while Jonica Patella (who is quickly emerging as one of this town's most

versatile comic talents) is hilarious as the household's exasperated,

clear-eyed maid Dorine. Costumer Jeri Batzdorff's elegant collection of

silks, velvets, brocades, ruffles and jabots effectively flavors the

period setting. And Sean Curran steals every scene he's in, channeling

Charley Chase as the powder-wigged brother-in-law Cléante. (Bill Raden).

Fridays, 8: 30 p.m. Continues through June 24. ZJU Theater Group, 4850

Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, (818) 202-4120, zombiejoes.com.

An Unfinished Man Myron Ward's study of identity

versus celebrity. Fri., June 17; Sat., June 18; Fri., June 24; Sat.,

June 25, AnUnfinishedMan.com. NoHo Actors Studios, 5215 Lankershim

Blvd., North Hollywood, (818) 761-2166, www.thenohoactorsstudio.com.

Urban Death Horror show by Zombie Joe's

Underground. Saturdays, 11 p.m. Continues through July 9. ZJU Theater

Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, (818) 202-4120,

zombiejoes.com.

CONTINUING PERFORMANCES IN SMALLER THEATERS SITUATED ON THE WESTSIDE AND IN BEACH TOWNS

Barrie: Back to Back Two by J.M. Barrie: 1912's

Rosalind and 1917's The Old Lady Shows Her Medals. Starting June 18,

Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through July 31.

Pacific Resident Theatre, 703 Venice Blvd., Venice, (310) 822-8392,

pacificresidenttheatre.com.

Bedtime Stories Roadkill Productions presents 10

short plays that all take place in a bed. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.

Psychic Visions Theatre, 3447 Motor Ave., L.A., (310) 535-6007,

psychicvisionstheatre.com/.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum The

Ancient Rome comedy, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by Burt

Shevelove and Larry Gelbart. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.

Continues through July 10. Theater Palisades' Pierson Playhouse, 941

Temescal Canyon Road, Pacific Palisades, (310) 454-1970.

L.A. Cafe Plays Ruskin Group Theatre concocts five

short plays in 10 1/2 hours. Third Sunday of every month, 7: 30 & 9

p.m. Continues through Dec. 18. Ruskin Group Theater, 3000 Airport Dr.,

Santa Monica, (310) 397-3244, ruskingrouptheatre.com.

GO Locked and Loaded Ever hear the joke about the

two guys with terminal brain tumors who decide to beat death to the

punch? A Jew and a WASP dress up in tuxes, rent a presidential suite

stocked with their favorite booze and call some hookers to help them go

orgasmic into that good night. OK, so the subject matter and setup of,

and even the quietly heartbreaking backstories in, actor-playwright Todd

Susman's play are a little derivative -- Leaving Las Vegas and Marsha

Norman's play 'Night, Mother spring to mind -- but some very clever

writing and smart performances make this West Coast premiere much

funnier and more mystical than the approach its predecessors took.

Particularly interesting is Susman's deliberate trafficking in

stereotypes. Old-monied Dickie Rice (Andrew Parks) is haughty as he

hurls three strikes in quick succession at an African-American hooker,

sniffing, "Do you know who I am?" and referring to her "Aunt Jemima"

style of speaking. Sad-clown sitcom writer Irwin Schimmel (Paul Linke)

turns his poison pen on himself and his Jewish heritage, and Catorce

Martinez's (Terasa Sciortino) inability to understand English subtleties

is the source of many jokes. But in electing Princess Lay-Ya (a very

sharp Sandra Thigpen) queen pin, Susman gives the underdog the upper

hand, which Lay-Ya uses to force the superficialities aside to reveal

the very real, raw pain coursing beneath. After such deep diving, the

resurface at play's end is a little easy; nevertheless, the whole

shebang is a much more entertaining evening than the premise portends.

Chris DeCarlo directs. (Rebecca Haithcoat). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.;

Sundays, 3: 30 p.m. Continues through June 26. The Other Space at Santa

Monica Playhouse, 1211 Fourth St., Santa Monica, (310) 394-9779.

Luv Murray Schisgal's spoof of avant-garde drama.

Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues

through June 26. Theatre 40 at the Reuben Cordova Theater, 241 Moreno

Dr., Beverly Hills, (310) 364-0535, theatre40.org.

Margo Veil Len Jenkin's noir fantasy about a young

actress' surreal adventures. Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2

p.m. Continues through July 31. Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda

Blvd., L.A., (310) 477-2055, odysseytheatre.com.

Much Ado About Nothing Presented by Shakespeare by

the Sea. Thu., June 23, 8 p.m.; Sat., June 25, 8 p.m.; Fri., July 1, 8

p.m., shakespearebythesea.org. Point Fermin Park, 807 Paseo del Mar, San

Pedro, (310) 548-7705.

The Naked Army Adaptation of Aristophanes'

Lysistrata by Matthew James Weedman. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.

Continues through July 2, latensemble.com. Powerhouse Theatre, 3116

Second St., Santa Monica, (310) 396-3680.

Nazi Hunter - Simon Wiesenthal Holocaust survivor

Simon Wiesenthal was a controversial figure -- a hero to many, a liar to

some. Unlike most European Jews, who resettled on other continents after

World War II, Wiesenthal remained in Austria, working to relocate and

reunite Jewish families and track down Nazi criminals, even as the U.S.

government and other official entities were preparing to bury the past.

But Wiesenthal had enemies: those who challenged his veracity and who

cast especial doubts on his integrity when, in 1995, he defended

Austrian Chancellor Karl Waldheim from allegations of complicity in war

crimes. Writer-performer Tom Dugan sets his solo biopic in 2003, on a

hypothetical day when the retiring Wiesenthal is shuttering his humble

office after 58 years. A visit from a group of students prompts the

indefatigable nonagenarian to recount his colorful past, periodically

interrupted by calls from his wife (don't forget the milk, dear) and by

communications about his latest quarry, a guy named Bruner who now

tortures for the Syrians. A compact and solid chronicle, Dugan's script

is particularly effective when it takes a position against vigilantism --

Wiesenthal strongly supported courtroom justice -- and most eloquent

when it calls upon us to join him in remembering the dead. The

production's cardinal problem, under Jenny Sullivan's direction, is

Dugan's kitschy rendering of his subject; under 50, the performer has

ably transformed his appearance to add nearly half a century, but his

old-man shuffle and other benign Yiddisher mannerisms are laid so

heavily over the narrative that they distract from and dilute its power.

(Deborah Klugman). Mondays, Tuesdays, Sundays, 7:30 p.m. Continues

through June 21. Theatre 40 at the Reuben Cordova Theater, 241 Moreno

Dr., Beverly Hills, (310) 364-0535, theatre40.org.

Sylvia A.R. Gurney's comedy about a man, his wife

and his dog. Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 5 p.m. Continues

through July 10. Edgemar Center for the Arts, 2437 Main St., Santa

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

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