Richard Montoya's American Night openedSunday night at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. Developed in collaboration with director Jo Bonney and Culture Clash, the "fever dream" of a Mexican immigrant (Rene Millan) studying for his U.S. citizenship exam unfolds as a contemporary Everyman -- a morality play about the contradictions between American principles and practices. Bonney's nine-member cast, including Clashers Montoya and Herbert Siguenza, serve up a pleasing blend of farce, satire and poignancy. See Stage feature.
Check out this week's stage feature on Angelenos for Anton -- three versions of Chekhov on local stages: The Seagull, by The Antaeus Company at Deaf West Theatre; Theatre Movement Bazaar's The Treatment at Pasadena's Theatre @ Boston Court; and Tanya Saracho's El Nogalar at Hollywood's The Fountain Theatre
Here is a list of all the 2012 L.A. Weekly Theater Awards nominees; ceremony on April 2 at the Avalon, hosted by Lost Moon Radio; further information on whether you are a nominee can be found here. Nominees, please RSVP at (310) 574-7208. Tickets for guests and the public can be found at laweekly.com/theaterawards.
STAGE, COMEDY AND DANCE LISTINGS For March 16 - 22, 2012
Our critics are Pauline Adamek, Paul Birchall, Lovell Estell III,
Rebecca Haithcoat, Mayank Keshaviah, Deborah Klugman, Amy Lyons, Steven
Leigh Morris, Bill Raden, and Neal Weaver. Stage listings are compiled by
Derek Thomas, Dance listings by Ann Haskins, Comedy listings by Libby Molyneaux.
Productions are sequenced alphabetically in the following categories:
Larger Theaters regionwide, Smaller Theaters in Hollywood, Smaller
Theaters in the valleys, Smaller Theaters on the Westside and in beach
town; Dance listings and Comedy Listings You can also search for any
play by title, or comedy/dance listing by venue, using your computer's
LARGER THEATERS REGIONWIDE
American Night: The Ballad of Juan José Written by Richard Montoya, developed by Culture Clash and Jo Bonney, directed by Bonney. Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 1 & 6:30 p.m. Continues through April 1. Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City, 213-628-2772, www.centertheatregroup.org. See Stage feature
Antony and Cleopatra Fast-paced and chaotic, A Noise Within's production plays up the comedy and passions of its star-crossed lovers at the expense of its dramatic civil war plotline, in which Antony's loyalties are split between his Egyptian mistress and his country. Clad in flowing ombre silk gowns and wigged with a mess of curls, Susan Angelo's Cleopatra is feisty and capricious, yet she ultimately fails to command the stage with the regality expected of the Queen of the Nile. Playing Antony, Geoff Elliott shares directing duties with his wife and company co-artistic director, Julia Rodriguez-Elliott. Designer Tom Buderwitz's glowing oblong pond downstage center, faux-marble tiled floor and bilevel scaffolding set permits some interesting staging options, including thrilling entrances via ropes from the ceiling catwalk. Battles and swordplay are well choreographed by Ken Merckx but poorly executed by a timid ensemble. Laura Karpman's gorgeous score drives the action with its pounding rhythms. Max Rosenak shines as Octavius Caesar, thanks to his quiet but commanding presence. (Pauline Adamek). Thu., March 22, 8 p.m.; Fri., March 23, 8 p.m.; Fri., April 13, 8 p.m.; Sat., April 21, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., April 29, 2 & 7 p.m.; Fri., May 4, 8 p.m.; Sat., May 12, 8 p.m.; Sun., May 13, 2 p.m. A Noise Within, 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, 626-356-3100, www.anoisewithin.org.
Cinderella Book by June Chandler, music and lyrics by Jane Fuller. Saturdays, 11 a.m. Continues through March 17. Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre, 626-355-4318, www.sierramadreplayhouse.org.
GO Cirque du Soleil: Ovo Yes, the vermin have finally arrived in Santa Monica. Now, before you shudder, please be aware we're talking about the charming new Cirque du Soleil show about the world of insects. This latest Cirque show may hew to many of the standard elements of the company's tried formula of whimsy married to traditional circus production numbers, but only an entomophobe would cavil with the lovely (and often multilimbed) costumes, joyful clowning and dazzling acrobatics that make you gape. These are not those bugs that suck blood or burrow into your ears -- they're happy, family-friendly insects that leap about in Spandex, dance from trapezes and ride unicycles on high wires on their chins. Writer-director-choreographer Deborah Colker's production delivers the goods, with the insectoid theme underscoring the idea that the performers appear to be able to accomplish physical feats that they'd have to be at least half grasshopper to do. A group of Chinese acrobats, dressed as red ants, juggle gigantic plastic kiwi fruits (and each other) with only their feet. A pair of gymnasts embody mating butterflies, fluttering up and down a pair of scarves in a manner that doesn't seem human. And a group of acrobats, dressed in golden flea-like carapaces, perform deft feats on a trapeze. A wonderful circus that's ideal for adult and larvae alike. (Paul Birchall). Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 1 & 5 p.m.; Saturdays, 4 & 8 p.m. Continues through March 25. Santa Monica Pier, 200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, 310-458-8900, www.santamonicapier.org.
Ghostlands of an Urban NDN If one must sit in a choir, one could do far worse than be preached to by storyteller Robert Owens-Greygrass, whose greatest virtue is a stand-up comedian's sense of comic timing. Which means you don't necessarily need to be a member of his Church of the Shat-Upon Racial Minority to reap the respectable laugh quotient or digest the politically barbed sermon contained in this semi-autobiographical, one-man gallery of Native American characters. Owens-Greygrass' text is about the psychic duality experienced by anyone of mixed race growing up in America, and more specifically about the spiritual journey of sorting through his own American IndianÐFrench-Irish, Southern Baptist heritage and claiming his Lakota cultural identity during the searing political ferment of the 1960s. The performer is at his best when his wit is edged with righteous anger at the despoiling legacy of "guilt, blame and shame" waged by the country's Judeo-Christian hegemony; less convincing is his optimistic belief in the rectifying power of human enlightenment. (Bill Raden). Sat., March 17, 2 p.m.; Sun., March 18, 2 p.m. Autry National Center, 4700 Western Heritage Way Museum of the American West, Los Angeles, 323-667-2000, www.theautry.org.
Green Day's American Idiot Featuring hit songs like "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," "21 Guns," "Wake Me Up When September Ends," "Holiday" and the title track. Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 1 & 6:30 p.m. Continues through April 22. Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, 213-628-2772, www.centertheatregroup.org.
The Illusion Tony Kushner's adaptation of Pierre Corneille's 17th century theatrical fairy tale. Sat., March 17, 8 p.m.; Sat., April 14, 8 p.m.; Sun., April 15, 2 p.m.; Fri., April 20, 8 p.m.; Fri., April 27, 8 p.m.; Sat., April 28, 8 p.m.; Sun., May 6, 2 & 7 p.m.; Sat., May 19, 2 & 8 p.m. A Noise Within, 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, 626-356-3100, www.anoisewithin.org.
GO The Jacksonian Written by Beth Henley. Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 3 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m. Continues through March 25. Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Los Angeles, 310-208-5454, www.geffenplayhouse.com. See Stage feature.
Look Back in Anger L.A. Theatre Works presents a reading of John Osborne's classic drama. Fri., March 16, 8 p.m.; Sat., March 17, 3 & 8 p.m.; Sun., March 18, 2 & 7 p.m., (310) 827-0889, latw.org. James Bridges Theater, UCLA, 1409 Melnitz Hall, Westwood.
Maestro: The Art of Leonard Bernstein Written and performed by Hershey Felder. Through March 16, 8 p.m.; Sat., March 17, 4 & 8 p.m.; Sun., March 18, 2 & 7 p.m. Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena, 626-356-PLAY, www.pasadenaplayhouse.org.
The Man in the Empty Boat Mark Salzman performs a monologue based on his memoir. Thu., March 22, 7 p.m. Los Angeles Central Library, Mark Taper Auditorium, 630 W. Fifth St., Los Angeles, 213-228-7000, www.lapl.org.
NTLive's Comedy of Errors Sun., March 18, 2 p.m. La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, 14900 La Mirada Blvd., La Mirada, 562-944-9801, www.lamiradatheatre.com.
Rock of Ages March 20-23, 8 p.m.; Sat., March 24, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., March 25, 1 & 6:30 p.m. Pantages Theater, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, 213-365-3500, www.broadwayla.org.
Sight Unseen 20th-anniversary revival of Donald Margulies' SCR-commissioned play. Tuesdays-Fridays, 7:45 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays, 2 & 7:45 p.m. Continues through April 1. South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, 714-708-5555, www.scr.org.
Twentieth Century It would take an exceedingly strong cast and director to breathe new life into this old chestnut about a desperate theater producer in frantic search of a hit. Though director Michael Lorre and his solid cast manage more than a few shining moments, the story feels stale and the ham-fisted comedy never hits its requisite screwball stride. Adapted by Ken Ludwig from Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur's 1932 Broadway hit, the play takes place aboard a luxury train running between New York and Chicago in the first half of the 20th century. Producer Oscar Jaffe (Arthur Hanket, the cast's clear comedic standout) needs to square with creditors after a string of flops. Starlet and old flame Lily Garland (Stephanie Erb) might be Jaffe's last chance for a comeback, but she's got another producer on her mind. The zany train ride includes love affairs, an escaped lunatic and an outlandish plan to stage the definitive Passion Play. But the hijinks fall short of frantic here, killing the comedy. (Amy Lyons). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through March 17. Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre, 626-355-4318, www.sierramadreplayhouse.org.
Waiting for Godot Alan Mandell (Estragon) and Barry McGovern (Vladimir) star in Center Theatre Group's production of Samuel Beckett's absurdist play. Starting March 21, Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2:30 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 1 & 6:30 p.m. Continues through April 22. Mark Taper Forum, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, 213-628-2772, www.centertheatregroup.org.
SMALLER THEATERS SITUATED IN HOLLYWOOD, WEST HOLLYWOOD AND THE DOWNTOWN AREAS
GO AFTER THE FALL
Arthur Miller summoned demons from every corner of his psyche when he wrote this complex, cerebral, highly personal drama. Rooted in events of the mid-20th century, it transpires in the tormented mind of twice-divorced lawyer Quentin (Brian Robert Harris). Now on the cusp of a promising new romance, Quentin wrestles not merely with the recollections of two tempestuous marriages but with the specter of the HUAC witch hunts, which drove a friend to suicide, and with an even more ghoulish doppelganger, the Nazi Holocaust. He's haunted by his family, ex-wives and betrayed friends, and nagging questions reverberate: Is he capable of love? Of self-sacrifice? Of murder? Difficult and intense, the play's potency leans heavily, albeit not entirely, on the pivotal performer. Harris brings skill to this demanding role, but his relatively youthful appearance and American Midwest demeanor work against him. Mary Carrig is spot on as Quentin's unappeasably resentful first wife, and Jennefer Ludwigsen captures the vulnerable essence of his sex-kittenish, irreparably wounded second (widely perceived to be based on Marilyn Monroe). Patrick Hancock drives home the predicament of his desperate blacklisted friend. Director Rozsa Horvath has mounted a commendably handsome production, commingling music, lighting, sound and video (designers Vinnie Reyes, Michael Gend, Matt Richter and William Barker/Bruce Allen respectively) to create an appropriately baleful ambiance. Especially effective are the close-up videos of various characters, perched high against the folds of set designer Adam Rosen's backdrop, like indelible snapshots in the recesses of Quenntin's memory. Elephant Stages, Lillian Theatre, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun. 3 p.m.; thru April 29. (323) 960-4443, plays411.com/afterthefall.Brandee Built on Crazee In her cheerful solo show, performer Brandee Tucker, who co-wrote the script with co-directors Michael Steger and Sean Hankinson, confesses to having entered a beauty pageant at age 15. She won, if not the first prize, an award for best personality. And that, in fact, might characterize Tucker's monologue as a whole: She's a delightful performer -- energetic and affable -- and one has the sense while watching her that she'd be the perfect friend to hang out with at a party or in a club. However, the show she spins is somewhat lightweight, relying on a set of depictions of members of her family and childhood circle, with little connection to any narrative. Yes, Tucker rightly earns her laughs with her portrayal of her crusty grandmother and also with her depiction of her first boyfriend, a ghoulish young Mormon boy who dreamed of creating a gal harem with Tucker in the pole position. But the weak script makes it hard to recommend the show to anyone who doesn't already know the people she's mimicking. (Paul Birchall). Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through March 24, brownpapertickets.com/event/221442. Stella Adler Theatre, 6773 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-465-4446, www.stellaadler-la.com.
Brilliant Traces The title refers to the psychic scars borne by the two intensely troubled souls in Cindy Lou Johnson's hyperreal drama. Shivering and distraught, bedraggled bride Rosannah (Tessa Ferrer) bursts into a remote cabin in Alaska, having abandoned her bridegroom at the altar and then arbitrarily driven straight north from Arizona. The stark, snow-enveloped homestead belongs to Henry (Andy Wagner), a haunted young recluse living in self-judgmental exile. Both Rosannah and Henry are desperate, traumatized people; both harbor secrets and are afraid of intimacy, yet they are attracted to each other. Compelling at key junctures, the reiterative script comes packed with long-winded monologues, its fantastical premise posing an especial challenge to performers. Wagner is persuasive as a caring man petrified of contact, but Ferrer can't quite transcend the extraordinarily difficult parameters of her role. Modest production values, including Jeff Polunas' sound design and L. Godley's discriminating lighting, serve the story well. John Hindman directs. (Deborah Klugman). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2:30 p.m. Continues through March 31, brillianttracesplay.com. Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-469-9988.
GO Buddha: A Fantastic Journey There are an estimated 500 million practicing Buddhists in the world today, one of whom is Evan Brenner, the creator and performer of this one-man play about the life and teachings of Gautama Buddha. Drawing on material from the Sutras, the sacred Buddhists texts, Brenner weaves a simple yet engaging narrative that tells of the Buddha's early life of luxury and wealth in India; his chance encounter with suffering and subsequent disillusionment with the world; and his fateful decision to renounce his birthright and trod the difficult path of salvation to find a solution to the pain and misery of human existence, which at the age of 35 culminated in his attaining enlightenment, or nirvana. Despite the esoteric subject matter, none of this is difficult to understand. Brenner touches on the faith's basic concepts while sidestepping the dense thicket of theory and philosophy. His conversational style, in concert with an unpretentious script and good direction by John Reilly, makes this an entertaining and, yes, enlightening 90 minutes. Jaeger Smith and Sheela Bringi provide superb musical accompaniment on the tabla and flute. (Lovell Estell III). Fridays, Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., March 18, 3 p.m.; Fri., March 30, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., March 31, 3 p.m.; Sun., April 1, 3 p.m. Continues through March 18, (800) 838-3006, thebuddhaplay.com. Bootleg Theater, 2200 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, www.bootlegtheater.org.
Cabaret Confessions of an Eco-Diva March 22-25, 8 p.m., (323) 960-5770, plays411.com/cabaretconfessions. Macha Theatre, 1107 N. Kings Road, West Hollywood, www.machatheatre.org/home.html.
Cages Written by Leonard Manzella, directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through April 1, (800) 838-3006, brownpapertickets.com/event/218558. Stella Adler Theatre, 6773 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, www.stellaadler-la.com.
PICK OF THE WEEK THE COLOR PURPLE
This dazzling and buoyant musical (on Broadway from 2005-08), based on Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning saga, charts an oppressed Southern black woman's struggle for empowerment during the 1930s. The whirlwind pace of the lengthy (two and a half hours) show -- with book by Marsha Norman and songs by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray -- crams in a lot of story. Director Michael Matthews has assembled a gifted creative team and a blisteringly talented cast of 17, all displaying powerful voices and unlimited enthusiasm while elevating Janet Roston's superb choreography, which is beautifully realized despite tight space constraints. Cesili Williams as central character Celie provides the raw heart of the show; it's gratifying to watch her eventually take charge of her life. Matthews capitalizes on the intimate space, creating elegant staging and encouraging his cast to shatter the fourth wall.The unabashedly sexy show mostly keeps the mood light, glossing over harrowing moments in Walker's story to emphasize the sweeter emotional scenes, and employing a sassy Greek chorus of gossipy church ladies as comic relief. Hidden behind a wooden screen upstage, five musicians play honky-tonk, jazz, blues and African rhythms, as well as backing tender duets featuring heavenly harmonies. Naila Aladin Sanders has created stunning period costumes. Celebration Theatre, 7051-B Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd. ; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru May 26. (323) 957-1884, celebrationtheatre.com (Pauline Adamek)Coronado Dennis Lehane's modern-day Greek tragedy. Mondays, Tuesdays, Sundays, 8 p.m. Continues through March 27, brownpapertickets.com/event/226614. The Holding Company, 3215 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles.
Diary of a Madman Coeurage Theatre Company and A Perfect World Productions present Nikolai Gogol's dramedy. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through March 31, (323) 960-7770, plays411.com/madman. Actors Circle Theatre, 7313 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, www.actorscircle.net.
GO Exit the King Eugene Ionesco's artful tragicomedy plants its narrative tentpole in the shifting sands where surreal absurdity meets the universal truth. King Berenger (Alexander Wells) is dying -- but he refuses to believe it and instead spends his days dallying with his beautiful second wife, Queen Marie (Gina Manziello). Meanwhile, as the kingdom falls to pieces, it's left to pragmatic first wife Queen Marguerite (Ellyn Stern) to break his majesty of his foolish delusions and ready him for the inevitable. Utilizing Neil Armfield and Geoffrey Rush's playful and sophisticated translation, director Michael Matthys' staging gamely transitions from oafish farce, during the scenes in which King Berenger arrogantly deludes himself that he will live forever, to the beautifully elegiac sequences in which Queen Marguerite convinces him otherwise and guides him to the world beyond. This is a production whose early clownishness belies great philosophical wisdom. Wells' immature Berenger is a beautifully rendered realization of a self-absorbed fellow who is forced to go through all the stages of panic and bargaining in about 20 minutes. Stern, in an incredibly complex martinet-cum-savior turn as Bergenger's first wife, offers a towering performance that beautifully conveys the changes when fear of death turns to acceptance. (Paul Birchall). Fridays-Sundays, 7:30 p.m.; Fridays-Sundays, 7:30 p.m. Continues through March 17, (323) 960-5691, classicaltheatrelab.org. Fiesta Hall, 1200 N. Vista St., West Hollywood.
Expecting to Fly Michael Hyman's one-act surveys the wreckage of a relationship gone wrong between two gay men. Jared's (Justin Mortelliti) tenuous life of bar cruising, fast sex, booze and prescription drugs is brought into acute relief by the continuous presence of the ghost of his one-time husband, Sean (Casey Kringlen). The scenario engenders heated exchanges, recriminations, a smoldering reservoir of guilt, a litany of recollections about their erstwhile lives together, and the unpleasant incidents and conditions that eventually led to Sean's leap from the roof of the Chelsea Hotel. Hyman's decent writing doesn't offset the dense stasis that sets in early on, or a central conceit that wears terribly thin. The convenient Twilight Zone-inspired finale doesn't offer much satisfaction either, but the performances are outstanding. (Lovell Estell III). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through March 25. Elephant Space Theatre, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-962-0046, www.elephanttheatrecompany.com.
GO Fiesta Xylophone playing, ice skating and traditional Mexican hat dancing are just a few of the talents displayed by Bob Baker's marionettes in this south-of-the-border celebration. A favorite production at Baker's theater since its premiere in 1964, the show shines brightest when the colorful puppets interact with children in the audience, like when two peck-happy ostriches provide particularly hearty giggles by gobbling little heads. The whole show is one big happy dance featuring two-stepping cacti, smiling skeleton showgirls and a chicken/rooster duet that's a scream. The ever-present puppeteers disappear during a black-light segment in which flying puppets provide slightly spooky thrills. A piñata is broken near show's end, but no candy is in sight. This wrong is quickly righted with a post-show ice cream social. (Amy Lyons). Saturdays, Sundays, 2:30 p.m.; Tuesdays-Fridays, 10:30 a.m. Bob Baker Marionette Theater, 1345 W. First St., Los Angeles, 213-250-9995, www.bobbakermarionettes.com.
GO Figure 8 Written by Phinneas Kiyomura. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through April 1. Theatre of NOTE, 1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-856-8611, www.theatreofnote.com.
For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf Written by Ntozake Shange, directed by J.C. Gafford. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through March 17, (323) 960-1055, plays411.com/forcoloredgirls. Lyric Theatre, 520 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, www.lyrictheatrela.com.
GO Hoodoo Love 1930s Memphis blues and African-American traditional folk magic add moody layers to Katori Hall's narrative about an oppressed woman struggling toward uncertain success. Toulou (Andrea Meshel) has escaped cotton picking to chase her dreams of onstage stardom on Beale Street. Ace (Elijah Rock), Toulou's often absentee lover, also wants to make it on the blues scene, but it will take a love spell from resident conjurer Candy Lady (Karen McClain) to curb Ace's wandering urges. Enter Jib (understudy Mark Anthony Williams), Toulou's Bible-thumping brother, and things go from somewhat down-and-out to horrifically bad for Toulou. The scenery chewing in this production is extensive, but it mostly serves the story. The somewhat uneven musical performances are not helped by onstage mimed guitar playing, but musical director Haskel Joseph saves the day with live guitar strains that please. The standout musical highlight is a duet featuring McClain and Rock, a number that's worth the price of admission. (Amy Lyons). Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 4 p.m. Continues through April 1, $20, (323) 642-7358, hoodoolove.eventbrite.com. Ruby Theater at the Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, www.complexhollywood.com.
Ian MacKinnon's Gay Hist-Orgy! Part 1 & 2 The history of homosexuals by performance artist and activist Ian MacKinnon. Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through March 24, brownpapertickets.com/event/214106. Moving Arts, 1822 Hyperion Ave., Los Angeles, 323-666-3259, www.movingarts.org. See Stage feature.
Jimpressions Fridays, Saturdays. Continues through March 24, theactingcenterla.com. The Acting Center, 5514 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-962-2100.
Just Imagine Tim Piper's tribute to John Lennon. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through April 24, (323) 960-4442, plays411.com/justimagine. Hayworth, 2509 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, www.thehayworth.com.
Keep It Clean Comedy Hosted by JC Coccoli. Mondays, 10:30 p.m., Free. 1739 Public House, 1739 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, 323-663-1739, www.1739publichouse.com.
The L. Ron Hubbard Golden Age Theatre Saturdays, 7:30 p.m., $10 ($5 online). The Golden Age Theatre, 7051 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-798-1635, www.goldenagetheatre.com.
Long Day's Journey Into Night Eugene O'Neill's 1956 drama. Fridays, Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Thu., March 29, 7:30 p.m. Continues through April 29. Actors Co-op, 1760 N. Gower St., Los Angeles, 323-462-8460, www.actorsco-op.org.
GO Moon Over Buffalo Ken Ludwig's zany farce centers on an acting couple on tour in Buffalo in 1953 with a repertory of Cyrano de Bergerac and Noël Coward's Private Lives. It's one of those dizzying, door-slamming affairs (James Spencer and Zachary Guiler's handsome set features five of them) with countless entrances and exits, which makes for great fun. David Ross Paterson and Wendy Phillips deliver fine performances as long-married thespians Charlotte and George Hay, whose floundering careers get a boost when happenstance sends the legendary Frank Capra to view their matinee while searching for talent for an upcoming production of The Scarlet Pimpernel. Tossed into the comic mix is George's affair with troupe member Eileen (Laetitia Leon), a cantankerous mother-in-law (Norma Campell) who despises George, a rekindled romance between the Hays' daughter Rosalind (Kate Costick) and the troupe's assistant Paul (Benjamin Burdick) and an unlikely case of mistaken identity. Complementing Ludwig's well-written script are excellent performances and savvy direction by Bjorn Johnson. (Lovell Estell III). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through March 18. Open Fist Theatre, 6209 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-882-6912, www.openfist.org.
My Brooklyn Hamlet Brenda Adelman's one-woman play. Thu., March 22, 8 p.m.; Fri., March 23, 8 p.m.; Thu., March 29, 8 p.m.; Sat., March 31, 8 p.m.; Thu., April 5, 8 p.m.; Sat., April 7, 8 p.m.; Thu., April 12, 8 p.m.; Sat., April 14, 8 p.m.; Thu., April 19, 8 p.m.; Sat., April 21, 8 p.m.; Thu., April 26, 8 p.m.; Sat., April 28, 8 p.m. Studio C Artists, 6448 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-988-1175.
OZ! Presented by the Nine O'Clock Players. Saturdays, Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through March 25, nineoclockplayers.com. Assistance League Playhouse, 1367 N. St. Andrews, Los Angeles, 323-469-1970, www.assistanceleague.net.
GO Sarah's War In 2003, American peace activist Rachel Corrie was mowed down by an Israeli bulldozer as she attempted to stop it from demolishing a Palestinian home. Her death stirred international controversy; some critics accused the Israelis of murder while other observers maintained that Corrie's demise was an accident and that she and her compatriots were the instigating dupes of Arab terrorists. The event prompted the 2005 drama My Name Is Rachel Corrie, based on Corrie's diaries and edited by Alan Rickman. Sarah's War, by Valerie Dillman, is somewhat different: Less biographical, it's an attempt to explore how the life and death of such a self-sacrificing individual might affect others. And while it dwells too insistently on the squabbling among Corrie's grieving family members, Dillman's work ultimately succeeds in illuminating the event's human, political and moral particulars. Director Matt McKenzie's discerning eye and ear are evident in both the production's well-calibrated pacing and its solid performances. Abica Dubay's Sarah is a cogent portrait of a vulnerable young woman who pursues her ideals despite her fear and her growing doubts. Offsetting that vulnerability are Marley McClean as her tight-lipped, doctrinaire colleague, Dina Simon as a Palestinian woman furious at Sarah's meddlesome naivete, and Will Rothhaar as the Israeli driver in whose memory she is indelibly embedded. And Adria Tennor Blotta's portrayal of Sarah's conventional sister Liz unexpectedly morphs into one of the evening's performance highlights. (Deborah Klugman). Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through April 15, (310) 657-5511, www.plays411.com/sarahswar. Hudson Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles.
THE SPIDEY PROJECT: WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY
Disclaimer: This show is not affiliated with or in any way connected to Marvel Entertainment or its budget-busting Broadway musical spinoff, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. Which means, of course, that creators Justin Moran and Jon Roufaeal's outrageously low-rent 2011 musical parody is aimed directly at the extortionate hearts of all of the above. Director David Chrzanowski's lively staging preserves Moran and Roufaeal's battle-of-the-budgets conceit, which makes Katie Sikkema's bargain-basement costumes and cardboard-cutout set pieces as much the star as Ryan J. Hill's comically conflicted, improbably rawboned teen superhero. The laughs are loudest when Hill finally dons the spidey suit and poses or performs mock combat with a series of ridiculous, domino-masked villains. They evaporate, however, when the suit comes off and the show must get by on its less-than-superpowered book and Adam Podd and Doug Katsaros' uninspired score. Studio/Stage, 520 N. Western Ave., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7:30 p.m.; through April 1. (818) 849-4039, theatreunleashed.com. (Bill Raden)
Spring Awakening Rock musical adaptation of the 1892 teenage-sexuality play by Frank Wedekind. Music by Duncan Sheik, book and lyrics by Steven Sater, musical direction by Rachael Lawrence, choreography by Laura Harrison. Thursdays-Sundays, 8 p.m. Continues through April 22, (310) 903-6150, overthemoonproductions.virb.com. Arena Stage at Theater of Arts (formerly the Egyptian Arena Theater), 1625 N. Las Palmas Ave., Los Angeles.
10 Minute Theatre Festival Presented by Cre8tive Differences. Mondays-Sundays, 8 p.m. Continues through April 14, cre8tivedifferences.com. Tre Stage Theatre, 1523 N. La Brea Ave., Second Floor, Los Angeles, trestage.webs.com.
WIND CHIMES There is much to like about John
Dubiel's drama about a New England family caught up in a quake of
precipitous change. When Jake (Tripp Pickell), a novelist, returns home
after a decades-long absence, his appearance opens up a cache of
unpleasant family secrets and memories, involving the repayment of a
loan to his hard-ass father, Max (Fred Ochs); a strained relationship
with his brother, James (James Andrew Walsh), and sister, Elise (Anne
McCarthy); and a shocking question about the paternity of his nephew,
Jason (Daniel Amerman). This family isn't so much dysfunctional as it is
comprising people who've willingly accommodated themselves to ugly
truths, and Dubiel does an excellent job of sketching his characters.
Where the play eventually collapses is in the transparency of the
"shattering" revelations toward the finale and the billowy, melodramatic
events leading up to them. John Miyasaki directs. Company of Angels at
the Alexandria, 501 S. Spring St., 3rd floor, dwntwn.; Fri.-Sat., 8
p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; through March 18. (213) 489-3703,
companyofangels.org. (Lovell Estell III)
Working Studs Terkel, Stepehn Schwartz and Nina Faso's musical. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through May 6, (800) 838-3006, theprodco.com. Lex Theatre, 6760 Lexington Ave., Los Angeles.
THE YELLOW HOUSE
While a powerful solo performance often has deep personal revelation and pain at its center, the mere presence of such source material does not guarantee a moving piece of theater, especially when the revelation is more indulgent than transcendent. The latter, unfortunately, is the case here as veteran television actor Burke Byrnes takes us back to 1950s Long Island to explore a dark family secret. The main issue with the piece is that Byrnes takes far too long to meander toward the revelation of his secret, which has to do with his sister; instead, he spends what seems like the bulk of the 45-minute show describing every corner of the titular homestead in painstaking detail. Director Michael Kearns, whose plodding pacing undercuts any potential tension in the piece, does little to ameliorate Byrnes' bland, halting delivery. The result is a show that's all detail and no drama. Skylight Theatre, 1816 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz; Fri., 8 p.m.; through March 23. (702) 582-8587, ktctickets.com. A Katselas Theatre Company Production. (Mayank Keshaviah)
SMALLER THEATERS SITUATED IN THE VALLEYS
Absolute Black ZJU Theatre Group's 1940s film-noir-inspired thriller. Saturdays, 8:30 p.m. Continues through March 23. Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, 818-202-4120, www.zombiejoes.homestead.com.
Attack of the Rotting Corpses Saturdays, 11 p.m. Continues through March 24. Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, 818-202-4120, zombiejoes.homestead.com.
ClassicsFest 2012, Part I Staged readings of six classics in six weeks, presented by the Antaeus Company. Starting March 18, Mondays, Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through April 22. Deaf West Theatre, 5112 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, 818-762-2998, www.deafwest.org.
Marber's play takes a hip, darkly funny view of the transitory nature
of love in London in the 1990s. Obituary writer and would-be novelist
Daniel (Ko Zushi) rushes to assist a mysterious, flirtatious,
accident-prone young woman named Alice (Meagann Pallares) who's been
knocked down by a London taxi. It soon emerges that she's a professional
stripper -- and, intrigued, he invites her to move in with him.
Sometime later, he meets photographer Anna (Jennifer Bronstein) and he's
suddenly smitten with her, abandoning Alice. He also perpetrates an
Internet prank involving Anna and dermatologist Larry (David Wisehart),
but his joke backfires when Larry and Anna meet and fall in love. The
play then becomes a cynical dance in which each of the four characters
becomes locked in a triangular relationship with all three of the
others, ending in multiple infidelities, betrayals, revenge and death.
Director Monte Van Vleet has mounted a modest but well-acted production,
excellent in the earlier comedy scenes, less successful as the mood
darkens. Wisehart etches a formidable portrait of the randy, ultimately
brutally vindictive doctor, and Pallares skillfully captures the
shifting moods of the passionate, enigmatic Alice. Designer Hugh Fitch
provides the simple, minimalist set. Ghost Players at the Avery
Schreiber Theatre, 11050 Magnolia Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.;
through March 17. (310) 709-3008, theghostplayers.net. (Neal Weaver)
GO Cobb No matter what kind of myth you are, another man eventually will come along and replace you. Ty Cobb set around 90 records in baseball, many of them still standing. Yet just as he dwarfed the impressive legacy of the "Black Ty Cobb," Oscar Charleston, so Babe Ruth replaced him in the nation's memory. Lee Blessing's 1989 bio-drama is devoted to explaining the complicated Cobb, separating him into three ages and allowing them to interact with each other as well as Charleston (Jason Delune). Instead of the angry young man maturing into hateful old man, Blessing softens Cobb -- whose racism is less shocking than his aggressive temper -- as he ages. All four actors are fine, especially Daniel Sykes' stereotype of a gum-smacking ballplayer, eyes lowered into smug slits, cheek scrunched from his smirk. Gregg T. Daniel's direction is crisp, and the production clips along. Blessing, however, loses the game. While Cobb is a fascinating character whose violence seems inherited (his mother was arrested and acquitted for voluntary manslaughter after shooting his father, who suspected her of cheating) and whose retirement feels especially poignant ("I couldn't do the one thing that made me special"), Blessing attempts to turn Cobb's story into an overreaching statement on race and power. In doing so, he again pushes Cobb off the pedestal. Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd., N. Hlywd.; in rep with If We Are Women, call for schedule; thru April 7. (818) 763-5990. (Rebecca Haithcoat). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m. Continues through April 21. Lonny Chapman Group Repertory Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood, 818-700-4878, www.thegrouprep.com.
A Few Good Men Aaron Sorkin's military drama is a huge show, employing a large cast, many short scenes and frequent scene changes to dramatize the court martial of two enlisted Marines who are falsely accused of murder. Director Kenne Guillory tackled the near-impossible when he set out to shoehorn this massive drama into a small, black-box theater. He has assembled a fine cast, but the awkward scene changes undermine the rhythm and pace of the piece, one important speech is virtually obliterated by the sound of moving furniture, and another is drowned out by overloud sound effects. Still, there are many fine performances. Marlon Sanders shines as the arrogant colonel who ordered the infamous Code Red and the ensuing cover-up. Also very fine are Ethan McDowell as a fanatically gung-ho lieutenant, and Ryan Mercado as the defense attorney who strives to achieve justice for the accused. Note: This production is triple-cast. (Neal Weaver). Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Sun., March 25, 7 p.m.; Sat., April 7, 11 a.m. Continues through April 1. Sky Lounge, 4930 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood.
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, 2 p.m., ovationtix.com. Two Roads Theater, 4348 Tujunga Ave., Studio City, 818-762-2272, www.tworoadsgallery.com.
Jane Austen UnScripted Presented by Impro Theatre. (In the Carrie Hamilton Theatre.). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 4 p.m. Continues through April 1. Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena, 626-356-PLAY, www.pasadenaplayhouse.org.
Private Lives Viewed as risque when it premiered in 1930, No'l Coward's comedy about the marital escapades of urbane British socialites now seems passe. The plot revolves around a divorced couple, Elyot (Lenny von Dohlen) and Amanda (Stasha Surdyke), who meet while honeymooning with their new spouses. Alas, Elyot's new wife, Sybil (Annie Abrams), is an irksome blonde, while Victor (Jeff Witzke), Amanda's new husband, is a dreary gasbag. Realizing they've each made a mistake, Elyot and Amanda chuck their tedious new mates and run off together. The class- and culture-bound script is top-heavy with outdated repartee, and it takes forever for the story to move along. Still, some parts are extremely funny; Coward well understood the green-eyed monster, and both Surdyke's stylish woman of the world and Abrams' ditzy dimwit are thoroughly engaging. Von Dohlen oozes suavity, but as a man with the hots for his ex-wife, he's not quite convincing. Jules Aaron directs. (Deborah Klugman). Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through March 25, (323) 960-7738, plays411.com/privatelives. GTC Burbank, 1111-B W. Olive Ave., Burbank, www.pasadenaplayhouse.org.
Redhead The crew at Zombie Joe's can almost always be counted on for a great show and a good time, but they have completely misfired with this DOA clunker by Robert Riemer. Alaura (Alexis Justman, whose performance is the only one that approaches credibility) and Bobby Venus (Henry Maixner Jr.) awake on a park bench after a night of partying, and after some small talk and a lot -- a whole lot -- of kissing, agree to return. Their spot soon is taken by George (Kelby Cross) and his nerdy brother Dick (Roger Weiss), both of whom eventually fall prey to the self-serving connivances of the astonishingly mundane Wendy (Georgan George). They are eventually pitted against each other when she's forced to choose between the two. That's about all, folks. Things wrap up much the way they started, with no raison d'etre, much like this play. (Lovell Estell III). Saturdays, 8:30 p.m. Continues through March 31. Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, 818-202-4120, zombiejoes.homestead.com.
GO The Seagull The ridiculous wallowing of unfulfilled artists and unrequited lovers is the crux of the comedy in The Seagull, Chekhov's dialogue-heavy commentary on art in general, theater in particular and human foibles en masse. In this double-cast Antaeus Company production, shrewd director Andrew J. Traister strikes Chekhovian gold with one cast and makes less layered choices with the other. In 19th-century Russia, when Irina Arkadina (Gigi Bermingham/Laura Wernette, though Wernette played the role in both performances reviewed here), a self-congratulatory actress past her prime, visits her brother, Sorin (Gregory Itzin/Michael McShane), at their lakeside country home, she finds her son, Treplev (Joe Delafield/Antonio Jaramillo), working on a new play. The angst-ridden Treplev is toiling to find new forms in theater, but Arkadina thinks his work is symbolist trash. Treplev's ill will toward his mother is worsened by the presence of her lover, Trigorin (Bo Foxworth/Adrian LaTourelle), a famous writer who captures the heart of Nina (Abby Wilde/Jules Wilcox), Treplev's lover. Wernette firmly grasps the narcissistic nature of Arkadina, playing her as an oxygen-stealing prima donna whose prancing ludicrousness is laughable until it takes a toll on her son. Wilde plays Nina with an awkward girlishness that is more impactful than Wilcox's Nina, a somewhat self-assured beauty. And Foxworth is nothing short of revelatory as the tortured Trigorin, whose self-loathing and obsessive work habits have ruined his life. Joanna Strapp is rancor incarnate as the alcoholic, snuff-addicted Masha, whose endless brooding would be tragic were it not so hilarious. Jaramillo's blending of genuine pain and childish histrionics makes him the standout Treplev, while Delafield plays none of the role's requisite comedy. Both Itzin and McShane bring insightful shades to the unsatisfied Sorin, though each makes drastically different stylistic choices. Itzin's Sorin is introspective about his failing mind and body, while McShane's Sorin faces his laundry list of life regrets with bumbling bombast. (Amy Lyons). Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through April 15, (818) 506-1983, antaeus.org. Deaf West Theatre, 5112 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, www.deafwest.org. See Stage feature
SMALLER THEATERS SITUATED ON THE WESTSIDE AND IN BEACH TOWNS
The Fall to Earth What separates a competent stage performance from one that is transcendent and transforming? Call it translucency -- simultaneously conveying a character's outward, public demeanor while hinting at the demons lurking within. The tension between the two sides is the essence of the dramatic. It's also what's missing from JoBeth Williams' perfectly competent turn as playwright Joel Drake Johnson's mild-mannered monster of a mother. To be fair, it's hard to imagine anyone lighting a fire under this exasperating dysfunctional-family tale. The play opens with a 25-minute soft-shoe of issue-avoiding chit-chat between Williams' Fay Schorsch and her estranged daughter, Rachel (Deborah Puette), so maddeningly mundane that by the time any real emotional fireworks do erupt -- and any compelling clue emerges as to why the two women are sharing Tom Buderwitz's photo-realist motel room set -- it proves far too little and way too late for director Robin Larsen's otherwise perfectly competent staging. (Bill Raden). Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through April 1. Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-477-2055, www.odysseytheatre.com.
The Indians Are Coming to Dinner In playwright Jennifer W. Rowland's new comedy, it's 1984 and boorish San Francisco cement company CEO Harold Blackburn (Michael Rothhaar), a Reagan-era alpha male if ever there was one, essentially destroys his family to pursue his unrealistic dream of being named the next ambassador to India -- a goal he hopes to achieve by throwing a fancy dinner to woo a well-placed Indian politician. Boasting some winning one-liners and artful emotional interactions, Rowland's play teems with complex themes and ideas centering on Reagan-era entitlement and the despair of upper-middle-class mediocrity. However, the work would benefit from another draft or two to cull some sequences of aimless dialogue and to nuance the sometimes shrill characterizations. Director Julia Fletcher's character-driven production suffers from occasional pacing lapses, but Rothhaar's blustering performance as the family's Jackie Gleason-like King Baby Patriarch is a compelling, tragic turn. (Paul Birchall). Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through March 25. Pacific Resident Theatre, 703 Venice Blvd., Venice, 310-822-8392, www.pacificresidenttheatre.com.
Into the Torrent Sea, the Lost Journal of Grace O'Malley, the Pirate Queen of Connaught Ghost ship story by M.E. Marino, original concept by Sandra Caruso. Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through March 25. Fanatic Salon, 3815 Sawtelle Blvd., Mar Vista, 310-795-7469.
GO KIMBERLY AKIMBO Time is warped for teenage misfit
Kimberly Levaco, who suffers from a disease that causes her to age 4.5
times faster than her high school peers. In a zippy production of David
Lindsay-Abaire's dysfunctional family comedy at Malibu Stage Company,
Katharine Ross (The Graduate) sometimes lacks the physical and
vocal mannerisms of a teen trapped inside an older body, but a zany
ensemble buoys the play. Kimberly's gruff, drunkard father (Michael
Gallagher) and her pregnant, worrywart mother (Kathy Dunn Muzingo)
struggle to salvage their marriage, not to mention their relationship
with a daughter whose health is rapidly deteriorating. Breck Gallini
gives a heartwarming performance as Kimberly's dorky classmate Jeff,
whose outsider qualities as a puzzle-loving Dungeons & Dragons gamer
make him an endearing misfit match for Kim. Meanwhile, Kimberly's
conniving lesbian aunt Debra (the hysterical Tasha Ames) reels her
family and friends into screwball moneymaking schemes that finally fling
the play into an absurdist adventure. With the exception of a few scene
changes, Graeme Clifford's crisp direction clips apace, supported by
solid production design. Malibu Stage Company, 29243 Pacific Coast Hwy.,
Malibu; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 5 p.m.; through March 18. (310)
589-1998, brownpapertickets.com. (Sarah Taylor Ellis)
The Love List Norm Foster's story of two men's quest for the perfect woman. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sun., March 25, 2 & 7 p.m.; Wed., April 4, 8 p.m. Continues through April 7. Little Fish Theatre, 777 Centre St., San Pedro, 310-512-6030, www.littlefishtheatre.org/wp/.
Marriage Is Murder Paul and Polly Butler's murder mystery. Wednesdays, Thursdays, 8 p.m. Continues through March 22. Little Fish Theatre, 777 Centre St., San Pedro, 310-512-6030, www.littlefishtheatre.org/wp/.
New Jerusalem Playwright David Ives' intellectually fierce drama is a play for those of a mind to groove to debates about Baruch Spinoza's dialectic of God as Nature. Though director Elina deSantos' thought-provoking production crackles with philosophical insight, the play is less than affecting on a dramatic level. In 17th-century Amsterdam, the Jewish community is ordered by the Christian civic leaders to excommunicate the young, firebrand theologian Spinoza (Marco Naggar, appealingly intense), whose writings are a threat to religious worshippers of all faiths. The trial, conducted by venerable Rabbi Levi Mortera (Richard Fancy, a perfect mix of wisdom, kindness and anger), gradually proves Spinoza's wisdom but seals his tragic fate. Ives strives to make the theological debate as compelling dramatically as it is intellectually, but the attempt tends to fall flat, the result of overwritten dialogue and characters who represent philosophical points of view rather than people. Still, Fancy's towering turn as the rabbi who finds himself challenging his own tightly held beliefs is powerful. (Paul Birchall). Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through April 1, (323) 821-2449, wcjt.org. Pico Playhouse, 10508 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, www.picoplayhouse.com.
19th Annual Los Angeles Women's Theatre Festival March 22-25, (818) 760-0408, lawtf.com. Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Ave., Venice, www.electriclodge.org.
OZ! Presented by the Nine O'Clock Players. Saturdays, Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through March 25, nineoclockplayers.com. Assistance League Playhouse, 1367 N. St. Andrews, Los Angeles, 323-469-1970, www.assistanceleague.net.
Private Eyes Steven Dietz's dramedy, performed by a cast of blind actors. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through April 8, (310) 902-8220, creoutreach.org. Promenade Playhouse, 1404 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica, www.promenadeplayhouse.com.
SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET
Well, he might not have trained at the Vidal Sassoon Academy, and his
salon may stock human-flesh meat pies instead of Paul Mitchell shampoo
bottles, but Victorian England's most famous hairdresser has set up shop
on the Westside. In director Valerie Rachelle's amiable production of
Stephen Sondheim's great dark musical, John McCool Bowers plays
vengeance-obsessed Sweeney, resplendent in a pair of bristly,
mutton-chop whiskers, possessing a wonderful baritone that often chills
-- his rendition of his wrathful "Epiphany" crackles with beautiful
insanity. AnnaLisa Erickson offers a fine turn as gleefully wicked
pie-shop hostess Mrs. Lovett -- but her singing voice lacks the vigor
and emotional range needed. Otherwise the show mostly achieves little
more than a workmanlike level of competence, due in part to Rachelle's
disappointingly anemic pacing and to Anne Gesling's stodgy choreography.
Some of the performers hit the right balance of ghoulishness and gusto,
but others demonstrate vocal inexperience and a lack of attention to
the layered psychological underpinnings. Morgan-Wixson Theatre, 2627
Pico Blvd., Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; through April
7. (310) 828-7519, morgan-wixson.org. (Paul Birchall)
Why We Have a Body Claire Chafee's comedy with live music. Fridays, Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 5:30 p.m. Continues through April 22. Edgemar Center for the Arts, 2437 Main St., Santa Monica, 310-399-3666, www.edgemarcenter.org.
The Wooden Lamb Written and directed by Tessa Williams. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through March 31. Beverly Hills Playhouse, 254 S. Robertson Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310-855-1556, www.bhplayhouse.com.
Compiled by Ann Haskins
GO Camino-Michi/My Neighbor Sky: Local Butoh maven Oguri joins with Spanish performer Andres Corchero in Chisel -- cross genre gig. Fri.-Sat., March 16-17, 8 p.m.; Sun., March 18, 4:30 & 5:30 p.m., $15. Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Ave., Venice. (310) 306-1854.
GO Chunky Move: Connected: Sat., March 17, 8 p.m., $25-$40. Luckman Fine Arts Complex, 5151 State University Drive, L.A. (323) 343-6600.
GO Diavolo Dance Theater: Fearful Symmetries: Jacques Heim and his dancers bring Fearful Symmetries to their debut at this venue. Thurs., March 22, 8 p.m., $28-$100. Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine. (949)854-4646.
GO Los Angeles Ballet: Swan Lake: L.A. Ballet's artistic directors Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary draw on the original Petipa/Ivanov choreography. Blessed with some of Tchaikovsky's most romantic music, Swan Lake is brilliant, enthralling, demanding, always a milestone ballet for a company, and this production reflects LAB's coming of age. Sat., March 17, 7:30 p.m., $24-$95. Alex Theatre, 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale, (310) 998-7782.
Nick & James @Highways in a Tribute: These two New Yorkers bring their deep backgrounds in dance and theater to the stage. Fri.-Sat., March 16-17, 8:30 p.m., $20, $15 students & seniors. Highways Performance Space, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica. (310) 315-1459.
Compiled by Libby Molyneaux
Acme Comedy Theatre. Hollywood Stands Up: An Evening With Michelle Biloon: Fri., March 16, 8 p.m. 135 N. La Brea, L.A. (323) 525-0202, acmecomedy.com.
Bang Comedy Theatre The Big Show: Fridays, 8 p.m. $5. Too Fly To Fly: Improv. Fri., March 16, 9:30 p.m. $5. What Fur?: Sat., March 17, 8 p.m. $10. Saturday Night Spunk: Saturdays, 10 p.m. $5. 457 N. Fairfax Ave., L.A. (323) 653-6886, bangstudio.com.
Bar Lubitsch. The Josh and Josh Show!!: Joshes Haness and Weinstein are NYC transplants with some stellar comic pals. Thursdays, 8:30 p.m. Free. 7702 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A. (323) 654-1234.
CiaoCristina!. The Meatballs of Comedy: If you like your comedy "Italian-style," this is the show for you. Saturdays, 9:30 p.m. Free. 4201 W. Olive Ave., Burbank. (818) 563-2426, themeatballsofcomedy.com.
The Comedy & Magic Club. John Pinette: Sat., March 17, 6:45 & 9:30 p.m. Jay Leno: Yes, it's really him. Sundays, 7 p.m. $30. Tommy Johnagin, Edwin San Juan: Tues., March 20, 8 p.m. D.L. Hughley: Wed., March 21, 8 p.m. Bobby Collins: Thurs., March 22, 8 p.m. 1018 Hermosa Ave., Hermosa Beach. (310) 372-1193, comedyandmagicclub.com.
Comedy Central Stage. The Marq-Park Show Presents: The Faith Episode: Marques Ray and Randall Park's sketch on the topic of "faith." Thurs., March 22, 8 p.m. Free, resv. required. Sit 'n' Spin: Every other Thursday, 8 p.m. Free. sitnspin.org. 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A. (323) 960-5519.
ComedySportz. ComedySportz: Clean comedy for all ages. Saturdays, 8 & 10:30 p.m. ComedySportz Sunday Team: Sundays, 7 p.m. $15, $13 in advance. 733 Seward St., L.A. (323) 871-1193, comedysportzla.com.
The Comedy Store. Standup Comedy: Nightly. 8433 W. Sunset Blvd., L.A. (323) 650-6268, thecomedystore.com.
Downtown Comedy Club. Garrett Morris All-Stars: Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 8 p.m. Shang: Fri., March 16, 9 p.m.; Sat., March 17, 9 p.m. 114 W. Fifth St., L.A. (213) 841-3940, downtowncomedyclub.com.
Dreams Cafe & Bar, DUNES INN SUNSET. Beer in the Shower: Jennifer Dyal and Tess Barker present the show with best name ever. Great comics, too. Wednesdays, 10 p.m. Free. 5625 W. Sunset Blvd., L.A. facebook.com/BeerNShower.
Flappers Comedy Club Burbank. Kyle Dunnigan: Fri.-Sat., March 16-17, 8 & 10 p.m. Yoo Hoo Sunday: Sun., March 18, 9 p.m. Comedy Contest: Wednesdays, 8 p.m. 102 E. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank. (818) 845-9721, comedycasting.com.
Grammy Museum. Celebrity Autobiography: The Music Edition: With Weird Al Yankovic, Rob Reiner, Florence Henderson, Fred Willard and more. Thu., March 22, 8 p.m. $45. 800 W. Olympic Blvd., L.A. (213) 765-6800, grammymuseum.org.
Groundling Theater. Groundlings Zombie Apocalypse: Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 8 & 10 p.m. Through April 21. $20. Let Them Eat Sunday: Sundays, 7:30 p.m. $16. The Crazy Uncle Joe Show: Wednesdays, 8 p.m. $14. Cookin' With Gas: Thursdays, 8 p.m. $18. 7307 Melrose Ave., L.A. (323) 934-9700, groundlings.com.
Ha Ha Cafe Comedy Club. Ha Ha All-Star Comedy: Fridays-Saturdays, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. $20, $15 w/resv. Stand-up Comedy: Mondays-Thursdays, 9 p.m. $10, $5 before showtime. 5010 Lankershim Blvd., N.Hlywd. (818) 508-4995.
Hayworth Theatre. Fancy & Enchanting: Certainly An Evening For Remembering!: Vanessa Ragland and Jamie Flam host this benefit for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society with Bob Odenkirk, Rob Delaney, Janet Varney, Paul Gilmartin, Grey Deslisle, Jerry Minor, plus musical guests The Spanglers, The Fringe Riders and the amazing Petrojvic Blasting Company. Tues., March 20, 8 p.m. $30-$100. 2511 Wilshire Blvd., L.A. (310) 213-6955, thehayworth.com.
The Hollywood Studio Bar & Grill. What's Up, Tiger Lily?: Maria Bamford and Melinda Hill bring excellent stand-ups every week -- really, like Blaine Capatch, Patton Oswalt, Matt Besser -- you get the idea. Mondays, 8 p.m. Free. 6122 Sunset Blvd., L.A. (323) 466-9917, hollywoodstudiobarandgrill.com.
I.O. West. The Happy Hour Challenge: Fri., March 16, 6:30 p.m. Free. The Nearly Wed Game: Fri., March 16, 8 p.m. $10. Opening Night: The Improvised Musical: Fridays, 9 p.m. Orpheus Roy/Old Milwaukee: Fridays, 10 p.m. Drunkards & Dragons: Fri., March 16, 11 p.m. $5. The Competitive Drinking League presents: Boomdrunk Saints: Sat., March 17, midnight. Free. Cut That Promo: With The Voice of Choice' Christian Rosenberg and John Morrison. Sat., March 17, 8 p.m. $10. The Armando Show: A celebrity's monologue from an audience suggestion kicks off this 90-minute top-notch improv show. Saturdays, 9 p.m. $10. Dr. God with guest host Derek Mears: Sat., March 17, 10:30 p.m. Mortimer: Sat., March 17, 11:30 p.m. $5. Slow Children Crossing/Brute Squad: Sun., March 18, 8 p.m. $5. Top Story! Weekly: Sundays, 9 p.m. $5. Sketch Cage Match: Sun., March 18, 10 p.m. $5. The Comedy Lab's Sketch Packagers: Sun., March 18, 11 p.m. $5. Cherry Crush Hosted by Cherry: Mondays, 10 p.m. $5. Cage Match: Mondays, Thursdays, 11:30 p.m. Free. 6366 Hollywood Blvd., L.A. (323) 962-7560, ioimprov.com/west.
Ice House. Johnny Sanchez: Fri., March 16, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m.; Sat., March 17, 8 & 10 p.m. Fritz Coleman's Comedy Fundraiser Nite: Saturdays, 6 p.m. Marvez: Sun., March 18, 7 p.m. Hypnotist Mark Sweet: Sun., March 18, 9 p.m. Rudy Moreno's Latino Comedy Showcase: Hosted by Rudy Moreno. Wednesdays, 8 p.m. $12.50. 7 For $7 All Star Show: Thurs., March 22, 8 p.m. Comedy Juice: Thursdays, 10 p.m. $10. 24 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena. (626) 577-1894, icehousecomedy.com.
The Improv. Brent Weinbach: Fri., March 16, 8 p.m. Richard Villa's Refried Fridays: Fridays, 10 p.m. The Week in Review with Pardis Parker: Fri., March 16, 11:59 p.m. Greg Fitzsimmons: See GoLA. Sat., March 17, 8 & 10 p.m. Improv After Hours: Saturdays, 11:59 p.m. Comedy Crush: Sun., March 18, 7:30 p.m. Dip Dip Dive: Sun., March 18, 9:30 p.m. Mo Betta' Monday: Mondays, 8 p.m. $15. Improv at the Improv!: Tuesdays, 7:30 & 9 p.m. Full Throttle: Tues., March 20, 8 p.m. Fantasy Comedy: Tues., March 20, 10 p.m. Women Who Kill: Hosted by Lisa Sundstedt. Wed., March 21, 8 p.m. ComedyJuice: Wednesdays, 10 p.m. Comedian-at-Law: Thurs., March 22, 8 p.m. Richmond's House of Comedy: Thurs., March 22, 10 p.m. 8162 Melrose Ave., L.A. (323) 651-2583, improv.com.
The J. Spot Comedy Club. Stand-up: Wednesdays-Sundays, 8:30 p.m. 5581 W. Manchester Ave., L.A. (310) 337-9057, thejspot.tv.
The Jon Lovitz Comedy Club. Tim Chizmar & Friends: Fri., March 16, 10 p.m. Jay and Silent Bob Get Old: Fridays, 10 p.m. Hollywood Babble On: Ralph Garman and Kevin Smith cast their pod, and vice versa. Saturdays, 10 p.m. Caliente Comedy: DJ Cooch hosts. E-mail for free tickets: email@example.com. Sundays, 8 p.m. $10. Eddie Griffin & Black Kasper Presents Ten Times Funnier Comedy Show: Sundays, 9 p.m. The Adam Carolla Show: Adam does his popular podcast from the stage with plenty of special guests on a wide range of topics. Such as? French fries, blind dogs with their own seeing-eye dogs, etc. Thursdays, 8 p.m. $15. The Wright Turn: Thurs., March 22, 8:30 p.m. 1000 Universal Studios Blvd. No. 222, Universal City. (818) 824-6545, thejonlovitzcomedyclub.com.
L.A. Connection Comedy Theatre. Rookies Improv: Fridays, 7 p.m. $10. 8 Ball: Fridays, 8 p.m. $10. "Stranger Than Fiction" Veterans that Rock!: Fridays, 9 p.m. $10. Late Night All-Star Improv Show: Fridays, 10:30 p.m. $10. SkovProv Players Dramatic and Comedy Improv: Saturdays, 7 p.m. $10. Temporary Insanity: Promises to "make you laugh with improvised comedy, song and dance." Saturdays, 8 p.m. 2001: An Improv Odyssey: Saturdays, 9 p.m. $12. The Wheel of Comedy: Saturdays, 10:30 p.m. $10. Sunday Funny Sundays: Sundays, 8 p.m. $10. 13442 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. (818) 710-1320, laconnectioncomedy.com.
The Lab at Hollywood Improv. Curly Maple Surprise (Sketch): Fri., March 16, 7 p.m. 12 Shiny Nickles: Fridays, 8:30 p.m. $5. The Also-Ran Comedy Hour: With Joseph Larkin. Fri., March 16, 10:30 p.m. Giggle 'N' Grind Burlesque Show: With Lucky DeLuxe. Sat., March 17, 8:30 p.m. Unprofessional: My Career in TV News: Sun., March 18, 8 p.m. Stevie Mack's Diary of a Crackhead: Crackheads have the best diaries. Mon., March 19, 9 p.m. Improv at The Lab: Tuesdays, 7:30 & 8:30 p.m. My Bad: Truly Embarrassing Stories: With Kevin Broberg. Thurs., March 22, 7 p.m. 8156 Melrose Ave., L.A. (323) 651-2583.
The Laugh Factory. All-Star Comedy: Fridays, Saturdays, 8 & 10 p.m. $20-$25. Chocolate Sundaes: Sundays, 8 & 10 p.m. $20. Latino Night: Mondays, 8 p.m. $15-$25 with two-drink minimum. New Material With Kevin Nealon: Tuesdays, 8 p.m. $20. Rock Comedy: Tuesdays, 10 p.m. $15. Laughing with the Stars: Hosted by Tom Arnold. Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Continuous Comedy: Thursdays, 8 p.m. $25. Naughty Comedy: Thursdays, 10 p.m. $25, $10 w/ college ID. 8001 Sunset Blvd., L.A. (323) 656-1336, laughfactory.com.
The Laugh Factory Long Beach. All-Star Comedy: Fridays, Saturdays, 7:45 & 9:45 p.m.; Thursdays, 7:45 p.m. 151 S. Pine Ave., Long Beach, 562-495-2844, laughfactory.com.
The Loft. Comedy Speakeasy: Josh Filipowski hosts this multi-media comedy night with stand-up, interviews, video clips, round table discussions, Skype guests, live guests, tweets and more. It's also broadcast online. Thursdays, 8 p.m. $10, BYOB 743 N. La Brea Ave., L.A. (323) 568-1616, comedyspeakeasy.com.
Mary Pickford Studio. The Magic Meathands: Tag Team Comedy: Sat., March 17, 8 p.m. $7. 8885 Venice Blvd. Suite 203, L.A. (310) 287-3700, magicmeathands.com.
Nerdmelt at Meltdown Comics. Sex Nerd Sandra: Podcast with sex educator Sandra Daugherty and her comedian co-host, Dave Ross. Fri., March 16, 8 p.m. $10, $8 in advance. The Nerdist Writers Panel: Ben Blacker hosts a weekly salon featuring a panel of writers talking about writing. Proceeds benefit 826LA. Sundays, 5 p.m. $15. Matt Mira's Day Off: Mira and Paul Cibis host all kinds of comics. Sundays, 7 p.m. Free. The Meltdown: Jonah Ray and Kumail Nanjiani host this weekly stand-up show with really (hint hint) top comics. Wednesdays, 8:30 p.m. $8. 7522 Sunset Blvd., L.A. (323) 851-7223, meltcomics.com.
Pantages Theater. Jerry Seinfeld: With Mario Joyner. Fri., March 16, 7 & 9:30 p.m.; Sat., March 17, 7 & 9:30 p.m. $59-$89. 6233 Hollywood Blvd., L.A. (213) 365-3500, broadwayla.org.
The Rack. Berko & Frey's Comedy Night: Wednesdays, 9 p.m. 6100 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Woodland Hills. (818) 716-0123, therack.us.
Royal/T. Sad People Talking: From the people who brought you The Super Serious Show. Mondays, 8 p.m. $5. 8910 Washington Blvd., Culver City. (310) 559-6300, sadpeopletalking.com.
Second City Studio Theater. American Imperil: Sketch show written and performed by FrankenMatt. Fridays, 8 p.m. Through April 27. The Really Awesome Improv Show: Improv for all ages. Saturdays, 3 p.m. $10. Saturday Night's Main Event: Hosted by Bro Squad 5. Saturdays, 9 p.m. Trustfall: Wednesdays, 9 p.m. 6560 Hollywood Blvd., 2nd flr., L.A. (323) 464-8542, secondcity.com.
Sidewalk Studio Theatre. Saturday! Saturday!: Sketch, stand-up and improv by regulars from Upright Citizens Brigade, IO West ... you get the idea. Free beer & wine. Tickets at saturdaysaturdayshow.com. Sat., March 16, 10:30 p.m. $5. 4150 Riverside Drive, Burbank. (818) 558-5702.
The Spotlight Comedy Club. Friday Night Comedy: Fridays, 7:30 p.m. $10. Saturday Night Comedy: Saturdays, 7:30 p.m. $10. 12215 Ventura Blvd., Ste. 209, Studio City. (818) 255-6014.
Trepany House at The Steve Allen Theater. Tomorrow!: Late-night variety show hosted by Ron Lynch. Mid. Saturdays. $15. (323) 960-7785. 4773 Hollywood Blvd., L.A. (323) 666-4268, trepanyhouse.org.
Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. Dasariski: Fri., March 16, 7 p.m. $5. The OkCupid Show: Fri., March 16, 8 p.m. $10. Soundtrack/Death by Roo Roo: Your F'ed Up Family: Fridays, 9:30 p.m. $10. Diamond Lion: Musical Improv: Fridays, 11 p.m. $5. Not Too Shabby: Fridays, midnight. Free. Tournament of Nerds!: Sat., March 17, midnight. $5. Sentimental Lady: Guilty Pleasures: Saturdays, 7 p.m. ASSSSCAT: The flagship improv show. Saturdays, 8 p.m. Sundays, 7:30 p.m. Uncle Irish's Potato Parade: Sat., March 17, 10 p.m. $10. Stand-Up Spotlight: Dominic Dierkes: Sun., March 18, 9:30 p.m. $5. Shitty Jobs: Sundays, 11 p.m. $5. Harold Night: 8 & 9:30 p.m. Mondays, 8 p.m. $5. Huebel and Scheer present Crash Test: Mon., March 19, 11 p.m. Doug Loves Movies: And talking about movies. Tuesdays, 7:30 p.m. Free. Comedy Bang Bang: Tuesdays, 8:30 p.m. Coming Clean/Only in LA: Tues., March 20, 11 p.m. $5. Spank: Wednesdays, 6:30 p.m. $5. Maude Night: Wednesdays, 8 p.m. $5. Facebook: The weekly show formerly known as MySpace. Wednesdays, 9:30 p.m. $5. Cagematch: Wednesdays, 11 p.m. $5. Bombs Away!/Steve Szlaga's 23 Roommates: Thurs., March 22, 8 p.m. Buzz & Diane: 1979's #2 Brother/Sister Variety Act/Jurassic Park: The Musical!: Thurs., March 22, 9:30 p.m. $5. Last Day of School: The Txt Msg Show: Thursdays, 11 p.m. $5. 5919 Franklin Ave., L.A. (323) 908-8702, losangeles.ucbtheatre.com.
Westwood Brewing Company. Vance Sanders' Open Mike of Love: Tuesdays, 8 p.m. No cover. 1097 Glendon Ave., Westwood. (310) 824-0820.