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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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