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Stage Raw

Stage Raw: LA Weekly Fringe Award Winner

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Thu, Jun 30, 2011 at 4:51 PM

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click to enlarge The Burning Opera - CURIOUSJOSH.COM
  • Curiousjosh.com
  • The Burning Opera
The Burning Opera: How to Survive the Apocalypse, created by Mark Nicols and Erik Davis, and being performed at Syrup Loft downtown, is among the productions being reviewed this holiday weekend. Check back Saturday morning for a list of all productions scheduled for review.

Lost Moon Radio has received the L.A. Weekly's 2011 Hollywood Fringe Award. During the Fringe festival, Ryan Harrison, Matt McKenna, Lauren Flans, Martha Marion, Dan Mahoney and Dan Oster, along with musicians Rich Ramberg, Michael Wells, Dylan Ris and Brenton Kossak, mixed original songs and sketches into a wryly absurdist entertainment, handily overseen by by Lauren Ludwig.

For the latest COMPREHENSIVE THEATER LISTINGS, press the More tab:  

COMPREHENSIVE THEATER LISTINGS FOR July 1-6, 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

The Confounding Brothers: Join Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams as they tell the story of our country's founding. Sat., July 2, 11:30 a.m. & 1:30 p.m. International Printing Museum, 315 W. Torrance Blvd., Carson, (310) 515-7166, printmusuem.org.

D Is for Dog: All isn't as ideal as it seems for 1950s family Mr. and Mrs. Rogers and their children, Dick and Jane, in Rogue Artist Ensemble's production "mixing puppetry, live actors, original music and video projection." Fri., Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 4 p.m. Thru Aug. 7. Studio/Stage, 520 N. Western Ave., L.A., (323) 463-3900,.

Donna/Madonna: Rizzo 39 Productions presents John Paul Karliak's solo show. Starting July 6, Tues., Wed., 8 p.m.; Mon., Aug. 1, 8 p.m. Thru Aug. 10. Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd., (323) 960-4420, plays411.com/donnamadonna.

I Left My Heart: A Salute to the Music of Tony Bennett: Created by David Grapes and Todd Olson, arrangements by Vince di Mura. Starting July 5, Tues.-Sat., 7:30 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; Sun., July 17, 7:30 p.m.; Thurs., 2 p.m. Thru Aug. 21. Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, (949) 497-2787, lagunaplayhouse.com.

Independence Weekend Fast & Loose: "Eight playwrights + eight directors + 24 actors x 24 hours = eight world-premiere short plays." Sat., July 2, 8 p.m.; Sun., July 3, 8 p.m. Sacred Fools Theater, 660 N. Heliotrope Drive, L.A., (310) 281-8337, sacredfools.org.

Kowalski: Marlon Brando auditions for A Streetcar Named Desire, in Gregg Ostrin's world-premiere play. Fri., Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7:30 p.m. Thru Aug. 7. Two Roads Theater, 4348 Tujunga Ave., Studio City, (818) 762-2272, tworoadsgallery.com.

Meet Me @ Metro II: Watts Village Theater Company presents site-specific performances along L.A.'s Metrorail. Starting July 2, Sat., Sun., 11 a.m. Thru July 10. Watts Towers Art Center, 1727 E. 107th St., L.A., (213) 847-4646, wattsvillagetheatercompany.org.

Peer Gynt: Henrik Ibsen's classic drama, adapted and directed by David Schweizer. Starting July 6, Tues., Wed., 7:30 p.m.; Thurs., Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m. Thru July 24. La Jolla Playhouse, 2910 La Jolla Village Drive, La Jolla, (858) 550-1010.

Richard III: Outdoor staging of Shakespeare's history play. Sat., July 2, 9, 16 & 23, 8 p.m.; Sun., July 3 & 10, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., July 17, 24 & 31, Aug., 7, 14, 28, 3:30 p.m.; more dates at theatricum.com.. Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga, (310) 455-3723.

The Taming of the Shrew: Shakespeare's comedy, presented as part of the Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival in Kingsmen Park. Fri., July 1, 8 & 15, 8 p.m.; Sat., July 2, 9 & 16, 8 p.m.; Sun., July 3, 10 & 17, 8 p.m. California Lutheran University, 60 W. Olsen Road, Thousand Oaks, (805) 493-3455, kingsmenshakespeare.org.



CONTINUING PERFORMANCES IN LARGER THEATERS REGIONWIDE

GO Extraordinary Chambers Incongruity is both striking and informative. Three thousand 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, 2 million people are massacred, wiping out one-fifth of a country's population, but it's 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 a 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. (Mayank Keshaviah). Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m. Continues through July 3, $69. Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Westwood, (310) 208-5454, geffenplayhouse.com.

I Left My Heart: A Salute to the Music of Tony Bennett Created by David Grapes and Todd Olson, arrangements by Vince di Mura. Starting July 5, Tuesdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Sun., July 17, 7:30 p.m.; Thursdays, 2 p.m. Continues through Aug. 21. Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, (949) 497-2787, lagunaplayhouse.com.

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.

The Merry Wives of Windsor ISC's outdoor staging of Shakespeare's comedy. Thursdays-Saturdays, 7 p.m. Continues through July 31, (818) 710-6306, iscla.org. Griffith Park, 4730 Crystal Springs Dr., L.A., laparks.org/dos/parks/griffithPK.

Moose on the Loose 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 fiancée, Honabiji (Jemma Bosch); touchy Carmela (Corinne Shor), her husband, Darryl (Michael Lorre), and 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. (Neal Weaver). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through July 10. Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, L.A., (323) 851-7977, theatrewest.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.

Peer Gynt Henrik Ibsen's classic drama, adapted and directed by David Schweizer. Starting July 6, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, 7:30 p.m.; Thursdays, Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m. Continues through July 24. La Jolla Playhouse, 2910 La Jolla Village Dr., La Jolla, (858) 550-1010.

A Raisin in the Sun Phylicia Rashad directs Lorraine Hansberry's portrait of an African-American family in 1950s Chicago. Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through July 3, ebonyrep.org. Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, 4718 W. Washington Blvd., L.A., (323) 964-9768.

1776 Founding Fathers musical, book by Peter Stone, music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards. 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.

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. 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.

Twist: An American Musical Musical adaptation of Oliver Twist, set in New Orleans on the eve of the Great Depression, book by William F. Brown and Tina Tippit, music and lyrics by Tena Clark, and music by Gary Prim. Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 4 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m.; Wed., July 6, 2 p.m.; Wed., July 13, 2 p.m. Continues through July 17. Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena, (626) 356-PLAY, pasadenaplayhouse.org.

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.

Richard III Outdoor staging of Shakespeare's history play. Sat., July 2, 8 p.m.; Sun., July 3, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., July 9, 8 p.m.; Sun., July 10, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., July 16, 8 p.m.; Sun., July 17, 3:30 p.m.; Sat., July 23, 8 p.m.; Sun., July 24, 3:30 p.m.; Sun., July 31, 3:30 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 7, 3:30 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 14, 3:30 p.m.; Fri., Aug. 19, 8 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 28, 3:30 p.m.; Mon., Aug. 29, 3:30 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 4, 3:30 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 11, 3:30 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 17, 4 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 18, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 24, 4 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 25, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Oct. 2, 3:30 p.m. Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga, (310) 455-3723, theatricum.com.


GO Year Zero Anyone who thinks the Colony Theatre in Burbank caters only to 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 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 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 figure skating, effortlessly skirting stereotypes and predictable outcomes, while a dynamic pace is fuelled by Peter Bayne's contemporary, driving score. (Pauline Adamek). Sundays, 7 p.m.; Thursdays, Fridays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 8 p.m. Continues through July 3. Colony Theatre, 555 N. Third St., Burbank, (818) 558-7000, colonytheatre.org.

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

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.

GO Bakersfield Mist Jackson Pollock's most famous paintings have polarized critics since the artist first attacked a horizontal canvas. That polarization feeds writer-director Stephen Sachs' new play, which uses a Pollock painting as the central symbol of class war. Mouthy Maude (Jenny O'Hara) spends her days lapping up Jack Daniels and watching police procedurals in her kitsch-filled Bakersfield trailer, until a painting she buys at a yard sale steals her focus from the idiot box. Convinced the cheap buy is a bona fide Pollock, Maude summons erudite art expert Lionel (Nick Ullett) to assess the painting's authenticity and value. Immediately disgusted with the crass, tasteless Maude, Lionel aims to quickly view the so-called Pollock and flee the mobile-home scene. But Maude's initially undetectable cleverness sparks a game of one-upmanship. Sachs directs the two-hander with an abundance of spirit, smartly letting the outstanding actors brawl and emote with delightful abandon. O'Hara brings a gleeful raunchiness to Maude throughout, but forces her character out of hiding to confront the quiet sadness shrouded by all that brass. Ullett's finest moment comes in a frenzied monologue that mirrors Pollock's creative process. While Lionel tells Maude he is there to evaluate the painting, not her, the play winningly sets out to disprove this lie at every turn. Jeff McLaughlin's set makes trailer-park life seem at once enviously cozy and exhaustingly humiliating. (Amy Lyons). 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.

NEW REVIEW GO BASH'D, A GAY RAP OPERA

click to enlarge Bash'd, A Gay Rap Opera - SEAN LAMBERT
  • Sean Lambert
  • Bash'd, A Gay Rap Opera
Sean Lambert
Bash'd, A Gay Rap Opera

Since this musical, created by Canadian writers Chris Craddock and Nathan Cuckow and composer Aaron Macri, was inspired by the spike in hate crimes in Alberta, Canada, during the national debate on equal marriage for gays and lesbians, it's particularly appropriate that it was announced, just before curtain, that New York had just legalized gay marriage. This production, skillfully directed and choreographed by Ameenah Kaplan, moves at lightning speed. Two militant gay rappers, Feminem (Sean Bradford) and T-bag (Chris Ferro), come tearing onstage, spitting clever, rousing and defiant lyrics, with pounding hip-hop moves. After hilariously skewering various straight and gay targets, they set out to tell the tale of urban Jack (Bradford) and suburban Dillon (Ferro). When naïve Dillon arrives in the city, Jack becomes his mentor, and their relationship develops into love and marriage. But their happiness is marred when Jack is attacked and seriously injured by gay bashers, provoking Dillon to becoming a vigilante straight-basher, with disastrous consequences. The two actors, moving at driving speed, portray a kaleidoscopic array of characters, including fag hags, right-wing zealots and anxious or disapproving parents. DJ Jedi provides flawless musical direction from behind the turntables on Evan Bartoletti's evocative abstract set. Celebration Theatre, 7051B Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru July 23. (323) 957-1884, celebrationtheatre.com. (Neal Weaver)

NEW REVIEW GO BLACKBIRD
click to enlarge JOHN FLYNN
  • John Flynn
John Flynn

Privacy glass surrounds the break room of a pharmaceutical plant. The people inside need the protection. A young woman (Corryn Cummins) has arrived to confront the 55-year-old man (Sam Anderson) who slept with her when she was 12. A decade and a half later, he's moved on: After he was released from prison, he changed his name and settled into a stable life in middle management. She can't. But David Harrower's shifty drama goes bolder than the expected revenge arc as the pair recognize they still think of themselves not as victim and perp but as ex-girlfriend and ex-boyfriend. The lean, mean intermissionless production is built of clipped, overlapping dialogue, and director Robin Larsen is still helping the cast find their rhythm in the intense real-time conversation. Compact yet dense, Harrower's script is layered with questions about attraction, second chances and life-altering actions. It's tricky and daring and in peril of incensing those upset by the man's claim that the girl pursued him -- and that he was no "sick bastard," but a 40-year-old man in love. Stephanie Kerley Schwartz's miserablist set captures the paranoid mood, as do the unnamed actors pacing the halls outside the room to make the couple increasingly jumpy, these bright blobs circling the showdown like sharks who smell blood. Rogue Machine at Theatre/Theater, 5031 Pico Blvd., L.A.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 7 p.m.; Mon., July 11, 4 p.m.; Mon., July 18, 5 p.m.; thru July 25. (323) 422-6361, theatretheater.net. (Amy Nicholson)

Bordering on Love Marriage and immigration laws get skewered satirically in Evangeline Ordaz's new comedy, but bits of drag-queen entertainment turn out to be the more engaging material. Although the play needs editing -- particularly toward the close when a few false endings are dragged out by new, late-breaking plot points -- the fun factor is high whenever a quartet of gowned guys does a song-and-dance number. Anthony (an endearing TJ O'Connell) almost has the right stuff to wow audiences at George's (Jeff Vinall) gentleman's club, but his slightly frumpy gowns and out-of-date makeup call for a makeover. The only girl for the job is Marilu (Silvia Tovar), but just when she takes Anthony from mediocre to fabulous, Marilu gets slapped with a deportation decree. Though Anthony is really in love with the two-timing, married George, he decides that a lifelong partnership with Marilu makes more sense than a tortured tryst with an unavailable lover. Ordaz makes insightful, worthwhile commentary about the nature of love and the motivation to marry. The playwright never takes her eye off the humanizing ball, consistently calling attention to the painful ramifications of present immigration laws and the struggle for marriage equality. But attempts to tie up every plot point with a neat bow backfire, and the crucial questions become eclipsed by a series of simple happy endings. Christian R. Gibbs, Rudy Marquez and Kenneth Sears all help O'Connell put on a delicious drag show, under Armando Molina's direction. Cricket S. Myers hits a perfect note with her sound design. (Amy Lyons). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through July 2. Company of Angels at the Alexandria Hotel, 501 S. Spring St., Third Floor, L.A., (323) 883-1717.

NEW REVIEW GO BROADSWORD The play's title refers to a middling heavy metal band from Rahway, N.J., whose members have gathered in the basement of the home of a colleague after attending a memorial service for him. Sixteen years after their last gig, Vick (Blake Robbins), Nicky (Kenneth Allan Williams) and Tony (Tim Venable), along with Becca (Heather Sher), a metal groupie, have no clue what happened to fellow band member Ritchie, who simply vanished one day and is presumed dead. The recriminations, rage, guilt and jealousy that gradually surface during this "after party" paint an edgy portrait of terribly unhappy people, and of once lofty aspirations that were stifled by mediocrity. The mood turns even darker with the entrance of an eccentric musicologist (Morlan Higgins), who developed a long-standing association with Ritchie -- the only member of the band with real talent -- and tells the incredulous group that his disappearance is the result of occult forces. The introduction of this supernatural conceit and its consequences comes across as a tad corny but doesn't appreciably detract from Marco Ramirez's otherwise excellently written script. Kurt Boecher's junked-up, derelict basement mock-up perfectly captures the play's distinct aura of menace, made all the more so by Leigh Allen's eerie lighting schema. Mark St. Amant has drawn strong performances from this cast, which includes a chilling turn by Armin Shimerman as the enigmatic Man in White. Black Dahlia Theatre, 5453 W. Pico Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru July 31. (323)-525-0070. (Lovell Estell III)

D Is for Dog: All isn't as ideal as it seems for 1950s family Mr. and Mrs. Rogers and their children, Dick and Jane, in Rogue Artist Ensemble's production "mixing puppetry, live actors, original music and video projection." Fri., Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 4 p.m. Thru Aug. 7. Studio/Stage, 520 N. Western Ave., L.A., (323) 463-3900

NEW REVIEW A DEATH IN COLOMBIA

click to enlarge ED KRIEGER
  • Ed Krieger
Ed Krieger

Shem Bitterman has always seemed something of a conundrum -- a prolific playwright whose considerable output is perched precariously between the personal and the political. Invariably, Bitterman uses the latter like a blowtorch to burn through the complacency of characters willfully blinded to their complicity in whatever headline happens to occupy center stage. His latest offering is no exception. A plot-twisted political thriller in the mold of Costa-Gavras' 1982 muckraker Missing, the play marries an improbable woman-in-peril storyline to an even more outlandish melodramatic conceit lifted from one of the lesser Robert Ludlum novels. It proves to be a shotgun wedding. Elaborating further would spoil the intricately constructed suspense that Bitterman and director Steve Zuckerman have taken such pains to set up. Suffice it to say that when the radical-activist husband of American expat Lisa (Roxanne Hart) disappears somewhere deep in Colombia's drug-war-conflagrated interior, a proverbial mysterious stranger (Joe Regalbuto) forces his way into her Bogotá apartment (designer Jeff McLaughlin's uninspired living-room set) and violently strips away her illusions along with her apolitical naiveté. Hart is terrific as a woman rudely awakened to the fact that she is sinking in a moral quicksand of her own making, Regalbuto less so in the thankless role of a psychotic cipher ungrounded to any recognizable emotional center. Ultimately, however, the play feels irreconcilably split between the awkwardness of its genre demands and the more thoughtful exposé of a woman on the verge of self-knowledge that it aspires to be. Skylight Theater, 1816 1/2 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz, Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; through July 31. (702) 582-8587), ktctickets.com. (Bill Raden)

Donna/Madonna Rizzo 39 Productions presents John Paul Karliak's solo show. Starting July 6, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, 8 p.m.; Mon., Aug. 1, 8 p.m. Continues through Aug. 10, (323) 960-4420, plays411.com/donnamadonna. Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A..

Entertaining Mr Sloane Joe Orton's dark comedy about a brother, a sister, and a sexy drifter. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 6:30 p.m. Continues through July 24, plays411.com. The Actors Company, 916-A N. Formosa Ave., L.A., (323) 960-7863.

Facebook The weekly show formerly known as MySpace. Wednesdays, 9:30 p.m., $5. Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, 5919 Franklin Ave., L.A., (323) 908-8702.

NEW REVIEW GO FUN FAMILY FESTIVAL OF TRAGEDY Creating theater that can delight both preschoolers and seniors -- and everyone in between -- is tough to do, but this talented ensemble of artists manages just that with this enormously funny Shakespeare parody, Titus the Clownicus. One of four such under-an-hour pieces written by Angela Berliner, it's a toss of character, theme and plot elements from Shakespeare's second-tier gore fest Titus Andronicus, with song and dance, puppetry, soap bubbles, fabulously colorful costumes (by Ann Closs Farley) and imaginative props. Served up with sophistication and panache under Justin Zsebe's direction, with a set designed by Francois-Pierre Couture, this suitable-for-children scenario begins when General Titus (Michael Dunn) of the Red Nose clowns defeats the Green Nose faction and captures their Queen Tamora (Jessica Hanna), a smoldering backstabber who charms the king Sillyninus (Brian Allman), then instigates dastardly plots against Titus and his family. Though Berliner transmutes the horrors of the original -- Tamora's sons attack Titus' daughter Laughinia (Laura Castle) with gooey peanut butter -- her burlesque preserves the moral of the story, that lust for power begets evil. (Also, unlike the original, the play ends on an up note.) The show plays in rep with the equally original Hamlet, Prince of Puddles ("Frailty, thy name is Mommie," declares a weepy Hamlet, played by Brian Kimmet); King O'Leary, set in the Old West; and Macbeth and the Monster, in which Shakespeare's tragedy about a Scottish king becomes a scary bedtime story spun out by a single mom (Berliner). Bootleg Theater, 2220 Beverly Blvd., L.A.; Sat.-Sun., noon and 2 p.m.; call for schedule; thru July 31. lenfantterrible.org. (Deborah Klugman)

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.

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 31. 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.

Independence Weekend Fast & Loose "Eight playwrights + eight directors + 24 actors x 24 hours = eight world-premiere short plays." Sat., July 2, 8 p.m.; Sun., July 3, 8 p.m. Sacred Fools Theater, 660 N. Heliotrope Dr., L.A., (310) 281-8337, sacredfools.org.

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.

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 Lights Up on the Fade Out Padraic Lillis' debuting drama offers an incisive portrait of middle-aged film director Steve (Tom Hildreth), who wins his first big career break while his personal life remains severely out of focus. As he deals with complications surrounding a whirlwind romance with his former high school crush (Alina Phelan), who has just ditched her fiancé at the altar, Steve simultaneously must come to terms with the worsening condition of his long-neglected father (Mark Bramhall), who suffers from dementia. In the hands of director Ron Canada and the fine ensemble, including James Parks as Steve's fed-up brother, this is a moving and thought-provoking offering. (Les Spindle). 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..

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.

Meet Me @ Metro II Watts Village Theater Company presents site-specific performances along L.A.'s Metrorail. Starting July 2, Saturdays, Sundays, 11 a.m. Continues through July 10, wattsvillagetheatercompany.org. Watts Towers Art Center, 1727 E. 107th St., L.A., (213) 847-4646.

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.

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 July 16, (877) 369-9112. Elephant Space Theatre, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A., elephantstages.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.

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, 3:30 p.m. Continues through Aug. 14, (800) 595-4849. Steve Allen Theater, at the Center for Inquiry-West, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., L.A..

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 Trouble With Words Gregory Nabours' musical revue has six singers, six musicians and 19 songs, all searching for a point. The theme, loosely, is miscommunication, and from that broad platform spring numbers about fatherhood, seduction, sloganeering and Christmas. If he trims the Disney ballad filler, Nabours has a full act of songs that deserve attention: Chris Roque's radio-friendly "Listen," Aimee Karlin's heated "Fool's Gold," Josh Eddy's slippery "Kid With a Heart on" and Ryan Wagner's "Tongue Tied" (the second-act opener that rewards those who stay past intermission). Packed onto the stage are a piano, xylophone, violin, guitar, cello, saxophone and full set of drums, together loud enough to drown out the lyrics. Joked the couple behind me, "I guess The Trouble With Words is that you can't hear them." Patrick Pearson directs. (Amy Nicholson). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through July 16. Actors Circle Theatre, 7313 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A., (323) 882-8043, actorscircle.net.

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.


NEW REVIEW GO THE WORD BEGINS

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A theatrical machine gun might be an apt description of this two-man show written and performed by Steve Connell and Sekou Andrews: rapid-fire, dangerous, powerful, and unpredictable. Though a West coast premiere, the piece was originally developed at the Ojai Playwright's Conference, so it might be just as accurate to say 'the word returns'. What that "word" is, however, varies over the course of a compact but energetic 75 minutes that touch on politics, race, religion, love, and hope. Ensconced in Sarah Ryung Clement's wide-open "graffiti-scape" with minimal set pieces and props, the duo launches on a mission to "take back the word." Beginning with childhood dreams and notions of heroism, Connell and Andrews seamlessly pick up each other's poetic threads as they segue into various dialectics about what's going on, Marvin Gaye style. Yet they're just as much Barry White (albeit a raunchier version of him) in riffing on Hallmark cards and relationships, or suggesting that the solution to racism is to "fuck until everyone is beige." Interspersed in their mash up of theatre, spoken-word, and stand-up comedy are Corwin Evans' video montages that succinctly showcase iconic images to powerfully bring home the duo's message. At times, like a machine gun, the piece sends its ammunition in all directions, losing focus and landing astray of the mark. However Connell and Andrews' palpable energy overcomes the occasional meandering, keeping the audience engaged throughout. Director Robert Egan's taut pacing and full use of the stage likewise contributes to the dynamism of a piece that reminds us, "Until you imagine a better world, you cannot have it." Theatre/Theater, 5041 W. Pico Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sun., 8 p.m.; except Sat. July 2, 11:30 p.m.; thru July 24. 855-585-5185. roguemachinetheatre.com. A Rogue Machine, Hip-Hop Theater Festival, and Prana Theatre Group Production. (Mayank Keshaviah)


Working: The Musical A relentlessly patronizing tone nearly ruins all the fun in this musical about average Joes and Janes on the job, written by a team of writers that includes Stephen Schwartz, 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 ironworker (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 standout 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. (Amy Lyons). Fridays-Sundays, 8 p.m. Continues through July 10, thetribeproductions.org. Ruby Theater at the Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A., (323) 960-5774, complexhollywood.com.


CONTINUING PERFORMANCES IN SMALLER VENUES SITUATED IN THE VALLEYS

Cinderella Interactive musical for kids, book by June Chandler, music and lyrics by Jane Fuller. Saturdays, 11 a.m. Continues through July 30. Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre, (626) 355-4318, sierramadreplayhouse.org.

NEW REVIEW GO CLOSET LAND
click to enlarge COURTESY OF THE VISCERAL COMPANY
  • Courtesy of The Visceral Company
Courtesy of The Visceral Company

Indian born, American educated film maker Radha Bharadwaj's film about psychological and physical torture translates frighteningly to the small theater setting, where the starkness of limited production values forces focus on the two actors who portray an hour of cruelty and agony. Wayne Stribling Jr and Victoria Rabitcheff navigate the treacherous torrents of physical and emotional pain in the characters of ruthless inquisitor and bewildered suspect in a series of scenes following the violent arrest of a kiddy-book author, accused of trying to indoctrinate children against the never identified state. The title, representing childhood horror deep within the psyche of the accused, continually grows in meaning, metaphorically and literally, as the interrogation intensifies. Director John McCormick skillfully keeps the tension rising relentlessly for the full hour of this one-act, with breaks of gentleness only long enough to make the next twist of ugliness more intense. The director's sound design in perfect sync with this emotional odyssey. Dave Sousa's ability to create mood and areas with lighting are extraordinary --  especially given the limited equipment and space available. The Visceral Company at NoHo Stages, 4934 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru July 23. thevisceralcompany.com. (Tom Provenzano)  

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.

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.

Firehouse Pedro Antonio Garcia's drama about a rookie fireman. Fridays, 8 p.m. Continues through July 8. Whitefire Theater, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, (818) 990-2324.

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 July 29. ZJU Theater Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, (818) 202-4120, zombiejoes.com.

NEW REVIEW GO ICEBERG AHEAD! While the story deals with a seafaring issue, don't expect things to get too deep in actor/writer/set designer/director Jay Parker's side-splitting farce. Bawdy jokes, exaggerated performances and a plot rife with mistaken identities, double entendres and slapstick buffoonery make for a show that is just plain silly and damn proud of it. After the Montroses, wealthy Manhattan theater patrons, go down with the Titanic, Broadway impresario David Rickman (Jose Garcia) desperately needs a new meal ticket to keep his theater afloat. Aided by his haughty leading lady, Lydia Felby (Lindsey Warm) -- and a vintage red wine -- Rickman manipulates the Montroses' daughter, Emily (Bryana Pickford), a novice dipsomaniac, into backing a show on her parents' tragic fate. Soon Emily and her maid, Conception (Maia Villa), get confused with Irish actor Billy O'Sullivan (Parker) and his son, Danny (Cameron Parker) -- don't ask why -- while Lydia tries to get Rickman's psycho sister, Agnes (Victoria June), to an asylum run by the aptly named Dr. Twist (Ruben Aguilar). Parker serves as straight man to these loonies with a deadpan delivery that complements his impudent text. June's Agnes, who talks to Shakespeare and vice versa, and Parker's Danny, with a novel way of keeping his dad off the booze, bring a bit of sympathy amidst the madness. Mosaic Lizard Theater, 112 W. Main St., Alhambra; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; mats. Sat. & Sun., 2 p.m.; indefinitely. (626) 457-5293. (Note: some roles double-cast.) (Martín Hernández)

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. 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.

Kowalski Marlon Brando auditions for A Streetcar Named Desire, in Gregg Ostrin's world-premiere play. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7:30 p.m. Continues through Aug. 7. Two Roads Theater, 4348 Tujunga Ave., Studio City, (818) 762-2272, tworoadsgallery.com.

La Canada Flintridge Shakespeare Festival Vanguard Repertory Company's summer celebration of the Bard. Thursdays-Sundays, 8 p.m. Continues through July 31, vanguardrep.com. Byrnes Amphitheater, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, 440 St. Katherine Dr., La Canada Flintridge, (818) 745-3327.

Oscar Wilde's Salome The biblical tragedy, as presented by Zombie Joe's Underground and Fabulous Monsters Performance Group. 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.

The Poor of New York Dion Boucicault's 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 with which melodramas so often are treated, in favor of an honest re-enactment of the emotion and sentiment -- borrowing from the style of early silent-film tearjerkers. Unfortunately this style, a pastiche of 19th-century text, early-20th-century sentimentality and 21st-century acting styles all keep clashing as the performance rolls by. A few of the actors take the plunge into deep pathos, 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. (Tom Provenzano). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through July 10. Lonny Chapman Group Repertory Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood, (818) 700-4878, thegrouprep.com.

Sex and Education 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.

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 July 31, (866) 811-4111. Fremont Centre Theatre, 1000 Fremont Ave., South Pasadena, fremontcentretheatre.com.

The Taming of the Shrew Shakespeare's comedy, presented as part of the Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival in Kingsmen Park. Fri., July 1, 8 p.m.; Sat., July 2, 8 p.m.; Sun., July 3, 8 p.m.; Fri., July 8, 8 p.m.; Sat., July 9, 8 p.m.; Sun., July 10, 8 p.m.; Fri., July 15, 8 p.m.; Sat., July 16, 8 p.m.; Sun., July 17, 8 p.m., (805) 493-3455, kingsmenshakespeare.org. California Lutheran University, 60 W. Olsen Road, Thousand Oaks.

The Tunnel of Love Lani Ridley Pedrini's jukebox musical, with songs from the 1920s to the '80s. Sundays, 7:30 p.m. Continues through July 24. Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre, (626) 355-4318, sierramadreplayhouse.org.

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. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Aug. 7. 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/.

NEW REVIEW GO BLOOD WEDDING In Federico Garcia Lorca's classic tragedy of passion, love brings anything but joy -- it's a source of rage, insanity and violence. A handsome young Bridegroom (Willie Fortes) seeks to marry a beautiful Bride (Nikki McKenzie) over the mild objections of his Mother (Sharon Omi), who recalls that the Bride once dated a man whose family is her family's enemy. The Bride is more than happy to marry the Bridegroom -- but her unresolved past with her ex-lover, the hot, manly Leonardo (Joshua Zar), ultimately brings sorrow to everyone at the wedding. Making good use of the subtext lurking within Tanya Ronder's febrile and intense translation, director Jon Lawrence Rivera's exceptional production of Lorca's drama crackles with emotional tension and undercurrents of unease. Rivera casts the production with mostly actors from the Asian-American community, giving the piece a folkloric mood -- a feeling that's enhanced by his ritualized choreographic blocking and by John H. Binkley's beautifully rendered, moon-shaped platform set design. The performances swing powerfully between emotional extremes, frequently achieving near-operatic heights of intense feeling. McKenzie's desperate, miserable turn as the Bride -- driven by lustful forces beyond her control and horrified by it -- frequently astonishes, as does Omi's brutal shift from prissy mom to flinty, embittered monster. Also engaging is Zar's James Dean-like turn as the virile Leonardo, which is counterbalanced by Fortes' sweeter but intentionally more boyish turn as the Bridegroom. Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd, W.L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 pm.; thru Aug. 14. (310) 477-2055. (Paul Birchall)

Chicago
The Kander and Ebb Prohibition-era musical. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through July 30. Morgan-Wixson Theatre, 2627 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 828-7519, morgan-wixson.org.

The Confounding Brothers Join Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams as they tell the story of our country's founding. Sat., July 2, 11:30 a.m. & 1:30 p.m., $8, $7 students & seniors. International Printing Museum, 315 W. Torrance Blvd., Carson, (310) 515-7166, printmusuem.org.

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.

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.

A Memory of Two Mondays Arthur Miller's autobiographical play set during the Great Depression. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through July 30, plays411.com. Ruskin Group Theater, 3000 Airport Dr., Santa Monica, (310) 397-3244, ruskingrouptheatre.com.

Much Ado About Nothing Presented by Shakespeare by the Sea. 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.

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 Aug. 14. Edgemar Center for the Arts, 2437 Main St., Santa Monica, (310) 399-3666, www.edgemarcenter.org

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