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Stage Raw

Theater to See in L.A. This Week, Including Oscar Wilde Outdoors

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Thu, Aug 1, 2013 at 12:20 PM
click to enlarge Owiso Odera, Brian Slaten and Amielynn Abellera - CHALK REPERTORY
  • Chalk Repertory
  • Owiso Odera, Brian Slaten and Amielynn Abellera

click to enlarge stage_raw_100x100.jpeg
Chalk Repertory -- known for its site-specific works -- brings Oscar Wilde's Lady Windermere's Fan from the drawing room to the out of doors in this week's Pick. Our critics also particularly enjoyed Eat the Runt at Hollywood's Theatre of NOTE, El Grande de Coca Cola at Santa Monica's Ruskin Theatre Group, Eclectic Theatre Company's festival of new plays in North Hollywood, and The Last Days of Judas Iscariot at Hollywood's Hudson Backstage. For the latest new reviews and theater listings around town, see below.

Local playwright Shem Bitterman has come up with another scintillating socially charged dream-play, this time swirling around the fallout from the mortgage crisis. His Open House at the Skylight Theatre in Los Feliz is reviewed in this week's theater feature.

NEW THEATER REVIEWS, scheduled for publication August 1, 2013:


GO: EAT THE RUNT

click to enlarge the ensemble - ERIC NEIL GUTIERREZ
  • Eric Neil Gutierrez
  • the ensemble
Playwright Avery Crozier and director Tom Beyer return to Theater of NOTE for more laughs with their raucous satire, which takes a flamethrower to social proprieties, workplace decorum and some sacred PC cows. The format hasn't changed since it was performed in 2010: The audience determines which role the seven performers are to play by drawing names right before the performance. It's a slick gimmick. The mise en scène is an upscale art museum during a job interview for a candidate named Merritt, who has flown all the way in from California. It isn't long before it becomes apparent that the interviewee is no ordinary job applicant. Her (or his) face time with staff members morphs into bouts of sexual harassment, racist caricaturizing, office backstabbing, gossip and even a brief discussion on anal sex and hemorrhoids. Things really turn crazy when another candidate pops up claiming that she or he is the real Merritt, causing a lot of confusion -- and laughs -- with a coup de grace involving religious ecstasy, speaking in tongues and a sacred foreskin. This is solid ensemble work, with the funniest performances, in the performance reviewed, turned in by Chris Neiman as a jittery, coked-out curator and Tricia Munford as Merritt 2. Theatre of NOTE, 1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 pm.; Sun., 7 p.m.,; through Aug. 24. (323) 856-8611, theatreofnote.com (Lovell Estell III)

GO: EL GRANDE DE COCA-COLA

click to enlarge Ron House, Lia Dupree, Aaron Miller and Nina Brissey - ED KRIEGER
  • Ed Krieger
  • Ron House, Lia Dupree, Aaron Miller and Nina Brissey
This comic extravaganza, written by Ron House, Diz White, Alan Shearman and John Neville-Andrews and first produced in 1971, went on to become an international hit. Now the Ruskin Group brings it back, and to insure it retains its original comic glory, two of the original creators have returned: Shearman provides the direction and musical direction, and House reprises his role as the irrepressible emcee Senor Don Pepe Hernandez, presenter of "Parada de las Estrellas." But the Parade of Stars turns out to be just a gaggle of his enthusiastic but inept friends and relations, who gamely attempt to perform every act in the popular repertoire, including tango, hip-hop, magic, sharp-shooting, wire-walking, the high trapeze, Shakespearean recitation (in Spanish) and slow-motion combat. Inevitably, their efforts prove hilariously disastrous. It's a tribute to the inventiveness of the ensemble (House, Nina Brissey, David Lago, Lila Dupree, Aaron Miller and Paul Denk) that the variations on this one joke never grow stale or repetitious. They are all skilled and exuberant comedians, but a special word must be said for Jackson, who brings a devil-may-care physical recklessness and a wistful, eager-beaver charm even to his slapstick. Ruskin Group Theatre, 3000 Airport Ave., Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; through Aug. 31. (310) 397-3244, ruskingrouptheatre.com. (Neal Weaver)

GO: HURRICANE SEASON

click to enlarge Carissa Gipprich, Jennifer Baley and Elliot Davis in "Carry On" - DAVID NOTT
  • David Nott
  • Carissa Gipprich, Jennifer Baley and Elliot Davis in "Carry On"
Now in its 10th year, Hurricane Season is a competition of short new plays. Block Two (reviewed here) continues over this weekend, with Block Three running Aug. 9-18. The audience favorites of the festival will receive awards in an Aug. 23 ceremony, and a jury will give monetary prizes to the top three best-written plays. In The Road to Paradise, by Caroline Marshall, Ryan McDonough plays a terminal patient with gallows humor. His fiancée (Rachel Kanouse) -- a frequent visitor to his hospital bed -- at first cannot account for his renewed lusty vigor and impassioned speeches. Marshall's dialogue is occasionally too theatrical when it needs to be natural, but this is a sweet, half-hour one-acter. Less successful is Dean Farell Bruggeman's decidedly unfunny satire Supermom, about a stay-at-home mom (dreadfully acted by playwright Caroline Marshall) who slaves for her ungrateful family. She is set on her true mission of saving the world by a sassy, colorful, African-American spirit guide, "Mother Earth." This clichéd caricature is only partially rescued by the casting of Gabriel Green in drag. Harry M. Bagdasian's Carrying On is the best of the bunch. Its bittersweet tale of a developmentally challenged young man (Elliott Davis) anxious to break away from an oppressive, small-town home life is well plotted and nicely staged. Eclectic Company Theatre, 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Valley Village; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; through Aug. 18. (818) 508-3003, eclecticcompanytheatre.org. (Pauline Adamek)

PICK OF THE WEEK: LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN

click to enlarge Owiso Odera, Brian Slaten and Amielynn Abellera - CHALK REPERTORY
  • Chalk Repertory
  • Owiso Odera, Brian Slaten and Amielynn Abellera
Inaugurating a new outdoor summer performance series at the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, the site-specific specialists at Chalk Rep take Oscar Wilde's quintessential comedy of manners, Lady Windermere's Fan, out of the drawing room and onto the terraces and landscaped gardens of the English Baroque landmark. Apart from providing an atmospheric backdrop for Wilde's epigrammatic assault on late-Victorian bourgeois respectability, director Jennifer Chang's environmental, modern-dress (courtesy of costumer Halei Parker) staging lends an engaging, naturalistic buffer to the brittleness of the play's 19th-century melodramatic tropes while rooting the wealth of its Wildean bon mots in a soil of contemporary psychological truth. Tess Lina's society-crashing parvenu, the mysterious Mrs. Erlynne, comes underscored with an affecting note of maternal regret. Brian Slaten's hunky cynical roué, Lord Darlington, now not only has the best lines but imbues them with the poignant ache of disappointed romantic yearning. And Owiso Odera and Amielynn Abellera transfuse the problematical archetypes of Lord and Lady Windemere with fresh authenticity, making of them something more than mere moral-absolutist counterparts to the worldly, realistic Darlington and Mrs. Erlynne. The rest of the ensemble fills out Wilde's cast of nitwitted blue bloods with comic aplomb, fashioning this Windemere as a satisfying mix of froth and earnest heart. Chalk Repertory Company at William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, 2520 Cimarron St., Jefferson Park; Sat.-Sun., 6 p.m.; through Aug. 18 (323) 731-8529, chalkrep.com (Bill Raden)

GO: THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT

click to enlarge Coop\er Daniels and Robert Walters - BREEDLOVE PRODUCTIONS
  • Breedlove Productions
  • Coop\er Daniels and Robert Walters
Judas on trial! Yes, in playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis' courtroom drama, the man who double-crossed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver is tried for his treachery, with the case being heard in a magical courtroom somewhere in Purgatory. Fiery defense attorney Fabiana (Sarah Ruth Ryan), a recently deceased modern gal, seeks to get Judas (a nicely brooding Robert Walters) released from hell and takes it to the celestial court. Oily, vaguely sinister Prosecutor Yusef (Robert Paterno) summons a variety of witnesses to testify against Judas' redemption, but in the end, guilt or innocence actually resides in a desperate, and beautifully tragic, interaction between Judas and Jesus. Guirgis' text provides an often engaging exploration of all sides of the drama's theological issues, but the real pleasures are found in director Josh T. Ryan's vibrant, fast-paced production (a redo of the same producer's spring staging of the same play, at Victory Theatre). Lively and wonderfully multidimensional performances leaven the potentially dry aspects of the religious debate. Ruth Ryan's ferocious defense attorney and Paterno's increasingly haunted prosecutor are particularly adroit acting turns, but it's the impeccable comic timing and emotionally sophisticated work by Robin Michelle McClamb's wonderfully dotty yet theologically rigid Mother Teresa, Marc Erickson's terrifying Satan and Walters' inscrutable Judas that anchor the show. Hudson Backstage, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd, Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; through Aug. 24. (323) 960-7738, plays411.com/judas. (Paul Birchall)

GO:OPEN HOUSE A

click to enlarge Eve Gordon and Robert Cicchini - ED KRIEGER
  • Ed Krieger
  • Eve Gordon and Robert Cicchini
n audacious real estate salesman needs to sell an overpriced house during an off season. Enter a seductive, mysterious woman new to California who senses that something wrong has happened in the house, in writer Shem Bitterman's third dramatic production at the Skylight Theater. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m. Continues through Aug. 25. Skylight Theater, 1816 1/2 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, 323-666-2202. See theater feature.

THANK YOU, MINERVA

click to enlarge the ensemble of "Thank You, Minerva" - STILLSONWORKS
  • Stillsonworks
  • the ensemble of "Thank You, Minerva"
This musical comedy about the Roman goddess Minerva's (Rachel Berman) travels through American history is in love with the U.S.A. -- arguably too much so. The show's 11 scenes each follow the same formula: Minerva is sent by Jupiter (John McCool Bowers) and Juno (Julia Shear Kushner) to assist a songwriter as he or she works on a well-known American holiday song -- for Veterans Day, for instance, it's Lee Greenwood writing "God Bless the U.S.A." The show has a talented ensemble, making the best of what they're given (the actors in multiple roles, Rachel Howe, Jonathan Byram and Jackson Smith, are especially valiant), but it isn't enough to save the show from a formulaic format. Even more troubling is writer-producer Alan Stillson's bizarre commitment to whitewashing America's past and present, instead presenting a highly idealistic version in which all problems are solved through music. It's patriotic, yes, but at times feels like propaganda. Secret Rose Theatre, 11426 Magnolia Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m., through Aug. 18. (818) 884-4284. (Kevin O'Keeffe)

TRIO LOS MACHOS

click to enlarge Miguel Santana, Roberto Gaza, Henry Madrid and Rocio Mendozo - ED KRIEGER
  • Ed Krieger
  • Miguel Santana, Roberto Gaza, Henry Madrid and Rocio Mendozo
Lalo (Miguel Santana), Paco (Henry Madrid) and Nacho (Roberto Garza) have been friends for 50 years. Former field workers, they escaped a life of hard labor by forming a trio and earning a living as singers of Mexican love songs. Now elderly and unemployed, they reflect back on the humiliations they endured as immigrant workers, as well as the one woman who touched all their lives. Playwright Josefina López conceived this broad musical comedy as a tribute to her father, to celebrate both the music he loved and the spirit of the culture it sprang from. Directed by Edward Padilla, the performances are mostly unpolished, and the vocals are not outstanding. On the other hand, Santana, Madrid and Garza are fun to watch as they clown around, indulging the privileges of age -- which are to say and do as you wish, propriety be damned. And schmaltzy as they are, the lyrics can be touching. Casa 0101, 2009 E. First St., E.L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 5 p.m.; through Aug. 11. (323) 263-7684, casa0101.org. (Deborah Klugman)

ONGOING SHOWS IN LARGER THEATERS:

Cirque-A-Palooza: Acting as co-producer and host, Stefan Haves serves up pantomime, clowns, object manipulation, tight-wire walkers and physical humorists in this variety show. Mondays-Fridays, Sundays, 8 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 3, 2 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 10, 2 p.m. Continues through Aug. 11, www.pasadenaplayhouse.org/box-office/special-events/cirque-la-weekly.html. Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena, 626-356-PLAY, www.pasadenaplayhouse.org.

Cirque-A-Palooza Festival: Road to Palooza: A Variety Show Spectacular: This variety show has a little bit of everything (comedy, magic, music and dance), as part of the Cirque-A-Palooza festival. Fri., Aug. 2, 8 p.m. Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena, 626-356-PLAY, www.pasadenaplayhouse.org.

Cirque-A-Palooza Festival: Studio Zanni, Benedikt Negro, Mat Plendl, Road to Palooza: A Variety Show Spectacular, Jason Rodgers: The daylong events start at noon with Studio Zanni's commedia dell'arte, followed by at 2 p.m. by pantomime/clown Benedikt Negro, before giving way at 6 p.m. to hula-hoop star Mat Plendl, in the Carrie Hamilton Theatre. On the main stage at 8 p.m., it's Road to Palooza: A Variety Show Spectacular. Finally, at 10 p.m., Jason Rodgers tap-dances in the Carrie Hamilton Theatre. Sat., Aug. 3, 12-10 p.m. Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena, 626-356-PLAY, www.pasadenaplayhouse.org.

Cirque-A-Palooza: Grand Guignolers: The group proffers a blend of 1920s Parisian-themed melodrama, dance and tiny puppets. Thu., Aug. 8, 9 p.m. Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena, 626-356-PLAY, www.pasadenaplayhouse.org.

Cirque-A-Palooza: Mat Plendl: The hula-hoop virtuoso performs in the Carrie Hamilton Theatre. Wed., Aug. 7, 8 p.m. Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena, 626-356-PLAY, www.pasadenaplayhouse.org.


I Do! I Do!: The story of Michael and Agnes and their fifty years of marriage takes place around a large four-post bed and features the musical standard, "My Cup Runneth Over." Book by Harvey Schmidt, music and lyrics by Tom Jones, directed by Alan Souza. Tuesdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 3, 2 p.m.; Thu., Aug. 8, 2 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 10, 2 p.m. Continues through Aug. 11. Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, 949-497-2787, www.lagunaplayhouse.com.

The Judy Show: My Life as a Sitcom: Obsessed by the fantasy families of TV shows she devotedly watched while growing up, "6-foot-2, observant Jew and lesbian mom of two" Judy Gold apparently has spent most of her adult life pitching uninterested network executives a sitcom about her unremarkable life. Instead, we have a play called The Judy Show that has nominally been transferred to the stage from a stand-up comedy club. That is to say, the 85-minute show remains an extended stand-up piece. There's an added scenic element of seven television screens of varying size positioned upstage displaying everything from baby photos and brief home movies to images from the iconic TV family sitcoms to which Gold makes frequent reference, plus an upright piano on which she occasionally bashes out a show's theme. She traces her experiences at Jewish summer camp, high school, Rutgers and, later, her career as a stand-up comedian and her family life. The jokes fall flat and Gold's story doesn't bear sharing. (Pauline Adamek). Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 3 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m. Continues through Aug. 18. Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Los Angeles, 310-208-5454, www.geffenplayhouse.com.

GO: Merlin: The Untold Adventures: Begat of a demon, gifted with second sight and shape-shifting powers, the druid Merlin provides much of the momentum of the Arthurian legend. In the process of retelling the fabled wizard's backstory, playwright-director Ellen Geer has concocted a high fantasy with a strong antiwar flavor. The work's emphasis on meshing threads of pagan philosophy and Christian references -- with a side trip to mythical Atlantis thrown in for good measure -- can cause matters to become a little thematically and dramatically muddled. Yet Geer's brisk and buoyant direction makes excellent use of her atmospheric venue, incorporating a moody electronic ambiance alongside some elegant pageantry, thoughtful fight choreography and enchanting choral interludes. Lead Melora Marshall at times overplays her Merlin with a borderline cartoonish physicality, but it is a performance overall grounded in the epic earnestness and warm humor of Geer's text. (Mindy Farabee). Sat., Aug. 3, 8 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 4, 3:30 p.m.; Fri., Aug. 9, 8 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 11, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 17, 8 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 18, 3:30 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 24, 8 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 25, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 31, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 1, 3:30 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 7, 8 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 14, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 15, 7:30 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 20, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 22, 7:30 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 27, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 29, 7:30 p.m. Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga, 310-455-3723, www.theatricum.com/index.html.

A Midsummer Night's Dream: A summer standard, this is the Theatricum's signature production of Shakespeare's wondrous enchanted forest tale of love, fairies, and the power of nature. Thu., Aug. 8, 8 p.m.; Thu., Aug. 15, 8 p.m.; Thu., Aug. 22, 8 p.m.; Thu., Aug. 29, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 1, 7:30 p.m.; Mon., Sept. 2, 6:30 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 8, 3:30 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 14, 4 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 22, 3:30 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 28, 8 p.m. Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga, 310-455-3723, www.theatricum.com/index.html.

New Original Works Festival: Week 2: Week two of the NOW festival continues with Jennie MaryTai Liu's Actress Fury, a drama that explores ambition, with three performers representing "one tormented actress." Tyler Matthew Oyer's 100 Years of Noise: Beyonce Is Ready to Receive You Now is "a dysfunctional dialogue across a century." Waewdao Sirisook & Ronnarong Khampha perform a traditional fingernail dance from Northern Thailand in Fauwn Leb/Identity. Fri., Aug. 2, 8:30 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 3, 8:30 p.m. REDCAT: Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater, 631 W. Second St., Los Angeles, 213-237-2800, www.redcat.org.

New Original Works Festival: Week 3: Week three of the NOW Festival continues with Daniel Corral's libretto Dislike, which concerns online anonymity, with a performance by an eight-piece accordion orchestra. Morgan Thorson & Meg Wolfe's The Other Thing is a performance dance piece about human connection. Paul Fraser, Genevieve Gearhart & Deena Selenow's Toxikos pop-theater event reimagines Philoctetes. Thu., Aug. 8, 8:30 p.m.; Fri., Aug. 9, 8:30 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 10, 8:30 p.m. REDCAT: Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater, 631 W. Second St., Los Angeles, 213-237-2800, www.redcat.org.

Ojai Playwrights Conference Summer New Works Festival: The OPC presents its 16th season of up-and-coming theater works. For full schedule and tickets, visit www.ojaiplays.org. Wed., Aug. 7; Thu., Aug. 8; Fri., Aug. 9; Sat., Aug. 10; Sun., Aug. 11, www.ojaiplays.org. Matilija Junior High School, 703 El Paseo Road, Ojai, 805-640-4355.

A Parallelogram: Bruce Norris' dark comedy examines main character Bee's ability to look into the future. Given this gift, she questions if she should reinvent destiny or accept that life is basically unalterable. See Stage feature: http://www.laweekly.com/2013-07-25/stage/a-parallelogram-bruce-norris/full/. Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2:30 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 1 & 6:30 p.m. Continues through Aug. 18. Mark Taper Forum, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, 213-628-2772.


The Royal Family: The work's the thing in George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber's gentle 1927 spoof of the Barrymore dynasty, which forms the centerpiece of Theatricum Botanicum's 40th-anniversary season. The venerable, oak-nestled venue's own founding family fills in as the board-treading Cavendish clan. Artistic director Ellen Geer slings Downton Abbey-worthy zingers as dowager Fanny, while sister Melora Marshall and daughter Willow Geer carry the torch as the next generations of theatrical luminaries. All three women nail the benign entitlement and cozy security that comes from knowing you're an institution, but the dated material may be more thrilling for its cast than the audience. More compelling than the distant Barrymores is the play's exploration of pursuing the creative life at the cost of domestic and personal stability. Director Susan Angelo wisely avoids interfering with her cast's marvelous instincts, but a tighter rein would keep us from sharing Marshall's bewilderment when the madcap pace proves too frenetic. (Jenny Lower). Sun., Aug. 4, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 10, 8 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 17, 4 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 18, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 25, 3:30 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 31, 4 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 7, 4 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 8, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 15, 3:30 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 21, 4 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 28, 4 p.m. Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga, 310-455-3723, www.theatricum.com/index.html.

The Taming of the Shrew: Shakespeare's rowdy romp about the lovely Bianca and her sister "Katherine the Cursed," who must be married off before Bianca is allowed to entertain suitors. Fri., Aug. 2, 8 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 3, 4 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 10, 4 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 11, 3:30 p.m.; Fri., Aug. 16, 8 p.m.; Fri., Aug. 23, 8 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 24, 4 p.m.; Fri., Aug. 30, 8 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 6, 8 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 13, 8 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 21, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 29, 3:30 p.m. Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga, 310-455-3723, www.theatricum.com/index.html.

The Taming of the Shrew: Shakespeare's rowdy romp about the lovely Bianca and her sister "Katherine the Cursed," who must be married off before Bianca is allowed to entertain suitors. Fri., Aug. 2, 8 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 3, 4 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 10, 4 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 11, 3:30 p.m.; Fri., Aug. 16, 8 p.m.; Fri., Aug. 23, 8 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 24, 4 p.m.; Fri., Aug. 30, 8 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 6, 8 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 13, 8 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 21, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 29, 3:30 p.m. Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga, 310-455-3723, www.theatricum.com/index.html.

ONGOING SHOWS IN SMALLER THEATERS, REGION-WIDE:

Attack of the Rotting Corpses:

Zombie Joe's disgusting new thriller-comedy about a condo complex in

the San Fernando Valley, where the water supply becomes contaminated

with a dangerous microbe, transforming the residents (and their pets)

into ravenous, flesh-eating zombies. Fridays, 11 p.m. Continues through

Aug. 9. Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North

Hollywood, 818-202-4120, zombiejoes.homestead.com.


The Baby:

A new play based on the 1973 cult film of the same name, adapted for

the stage and directed by Visceral Company's artistic director Dan

Spurgeon. Part of the "Best of the Hollywood Fringe Festival"

extensions. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Aug. 31. Lex

Theatre, 6760 Lexington Ave., Los Angeles, 323-871-1150.


Beirut:

Set in the early days of the AIDS epidemic, Alan Browne's dramatic play

is a stunning yet sobering look at a man named "Torch" who lives in an

impoverished room in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He is quarantined

after testing positive to a nameless disease which sounds alot like

AIDS. His girlfriend, "Blue", who is not infected, makes the journey

across the quarantine line to be with him. "A Romeo and Juliet of the

Burroughs but with this production, the director has cast two women".

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

Stella Adler Theatre, 6773 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-465-4446,

www.stellaadler-la.com.


Blistered Hands and Bloody Mouths:

Sam LaFrance's new play about a young woman living with her crazed

alcoholic landlady in Texas. Madness ensues when she tries to get back

to her hometown in London, but her psychopathic ex-lover breaks out of

prison to confront her about leaving him. Starting Aug. 6, Tuesdays,

8:30 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through Aug. 25. Zombie Joe's

Underground Theatre, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood,

818-202-4120, zombiejoes.homestead.com.


Bob Baker's It's a Musical World!:

The Bob Baker Marionette Theater continues its 53rd season with a day

at the circus, a stop at an enchanted toy shop, and a visit to a teddy

bear's picnic. Saturdays, Sundays, 2:30 p.m.; Tuesdays-Fridays, 10:30

a.m. Continues through Sept. 29. Bob Baker Marionette Theater, 1345 W.

First St., Los Angeles, 213-250-9995, www.bobbakermarionettes.com.


Brendan:

Ronan Noone's middling seriocomedy treads the familiar narrative of the

newly arrived immigrant seeking to assimilate into American society.

Brendan (Patrick Quinlan) is a hale and hearty Irish lad living in

Boston, but his shy, reserved demeanor isn't helpful when it comes to

finding that special lady. Adding to his problems is the constant

presence of his mother's ghost (Kathleen M. Darcy), whose advice and

hectoring furnish some of the play's funniest moments. Eventually he

takes up with a prostitute (Catia Ojeda), who also doubles as his

driving instructor, and he at last finds a deeper relationship with the

beautiful Rose (Devereau Chumrau). Parceled into more than 30

scene/segments -- some of which are way overwritten -- this sentimental

tale, which is blended with a substantial bit of melodrama, would have

been better if the relationships that are at the heart of the story were

more substantial. McKerrin Kelly directs a good cast. (Lovell Estell

III). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Aug.

18. The Banshee, 3435 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, 818-846-5323,

www.theatrebanshee.org.


Captured Aural Phantasy Theater: CAPT presents its new variety show, Comic Book Summer Camp,

which blends live music, projections, and radio-style performances.

Sun., Aug. 4, 8:30 p.m., $10. El Cid, 4212 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles,

323-668-0318, www.elcidla.com.


Dancing on the Edge:

Denise Devin's theatrical dance production that explores beauty,

laughter, tears and love within a sexy mosaic of movement. Directed by

Denise Devin, featuring choreography by Donna Noelle Ibale, Randall

Morris, Carrie Nedrow, Jade Waters-Burch and Cody Whitley. Starting Aug.

3, Saturdays, 11 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 4, 7 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 8, 7 p.m.;

Sun., Sept. 15, 7 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 22, 7 p.m. Continues through Sept.

21. Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North

Hollywood, 818-202-4120, zombiejoes.homestead.com.


The Diary of Anne Frank:

The story of a family of Dutch Jews, told from the viewpoint of young

Anne, hiding from the Nazis in a storage attic. Written by Frances

Goodrich and Albert Hackett with a new adaptation by Wendy Kesselman.

Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 4, 7 p.m. Continues

through Aug. 18. NoHo Arts Center, 11136 Magnolia Blvd., North

Hollywood, 818-763-0086, www.thenohoartscenter.com.


GO: Dying City:

When Peter (Burt Grinstead) unexpectedly shows up at Kelly's (Laurie

Okin) Lower Manhattan apartment, the mood is prickly and awkward. That's

understandable; Peter is the identical twin of her husband, Craig, a

hard-as-nails soldier who recently died in a military accident in Iraq.

But during their conversation, many questions tug at this pair,

threatening to bring them down into an emotional undertow. Did Craig

really die in an accident? Why is Kelly's phone number unlisted and why

is she obscuring evidence she may be moving out? Christopher Shinn's

writing is sophisticated and elusive, presenting only tantalizing

fragments and expecting you to make the connections and piece the

backstory together. The language is raw and real -- people really do

talk this way -- and Shinn, a Pulitzer Prize finalist for this play,

perfectly captures the discomfort of a relationship that exists only

through a marital connection yet becomes cathected and extremely

complicated. Director Michael Peretzian stages the one-act play well,

using lighting and sound cues sparingly but above all extracting superb

and deeply expressive performances from his cast of two. Both actors are

called upon to negotiate some difficult emotional terrain, and

Grinstead, in particular, demonstrates his range. (Pauline Adamek).

Saturdays, 5 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m.; Mondays, 8 p.m.; Mondays, 8 p.m.

Continues through Aug. 5, $30. Rogue Machine Theatre, 5041 W. Pico

Blvd., Los Angeles, 855-585-5185, www.roguemachinetheatre.com.

GO: Eat the Runt:

Written by Avery Crozier and directed by Tom Beyer. This satirical

theater piece, which turns its eye on political correctness, includes a

cast of seven actors whom don't know which parts they will be playing

until the audience decides the night of the performance.

Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through Aug. 24.

Theatre of NOTE, 1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-856-8611,

www.theatreofnote.com. See new reviews.

GO: El Grande de Coca Cola:

This musical comedy by Alan Shearman, John Neville Andrews & Ron

House is set in the nightclub of a small town somewhere south of the

border. Pepe Hernandez (Senor Show Business) has persuaded his uncle, a

manager of the local Coca-Cola bottling plant, to advance him enough

money to rent the club for three nights. It's showtime for Pepe's

ambitious extravaganza, "Parada de las Estrellas" (Parade of the Stars).

Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Aug. 31.

Ruskin Group Theater, 3000 Airport, Santa Monica, 310-397-3244,

www.ruskingrouptheatre.com. See new reviews.

Garbo's Cuban Lover:

Odalys Nanin's dramedy focuses on the enigmatic poet, novelist and

playwright Mercedes de Acosta and her notable lovers from the Silver

Screen, which included divas Greta Garbo, Nazimova and Marlene Dietrich.

Thursdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Aug. 25. Macha

Theatre, 1107 N. Kings Road, West Hollywood, 323-654-0680,

www.machatheatre.org/home.html.


The Ghosts of Mary Lincoln:

Workshop performances of this one-person play, written by award-winning

playwright Tom Dugan, about a private visit with America's most haunted

first lady, Mary Todd Lincoln. Mondays-Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Continues

through Aug. 21. Theatre 40 at the Reuben Cordova Theater, 241 Moreno,

Beverly Hills, 310-364-0535, www.theatre40.org.


Heart Song:

A middle-aged Jewish woman struggling with a crisis of faith is

convinced to join a flamenco class for "out of shape" women which

forever changes her life. Written by Stephen Sachs. See Stage feature: http://www.laweekly.com/2013-05-30/stage/fried-octopus-bootleg/full/.

Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Aug. 25.

Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave., Los Angeles, 323-663-1525,

www.fountaintheatre.com.


Hurricane Season 2013 - 10th Annual Festival Competition of Short Plays: Carrying On, The Road to Paradise, Supermom: The second block of the 10th Annual Competition Festival of Short Plays begins with Harry M. Bagdasian's Carryin On.

A highly functional mechanic with mild developmental disabilities wants

to strike off on his own but faces challenges along the way. In The Road to Paradise

by Caroline Marshall, a terminal patient plans a road trip with his new

fiancee. With the world going to hell, guess who's going to save not

only the day, but the world? It's Supermom, at least according to

Dean Farell Bruggeman. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.

Continues through Aug. 4. Eclectic Company Theatre, 5312 Laurel Canyon

Blvd., Valley Village, 818-508-3003, www.eclecticcompanytheatre.org. See

new reviews.


GO: Ionescopade, A Musical Vaudeville:

More than most of his contemporaries, Romanian playwright Eugene

Ionesco had a devilishly bleak and irresistibly engaging sense of humor

to his vision about the absurdity of the world and human existence. It's

clearly on display in Ionescopade, the vaudeville-style musical based on his plays (The Bald Soprano, Exit The King, Rhinoceros

and others) and poetry under the wily direction of Bill Castellino,

with music and lyrics by Mildred Kayden. It's a load of laughs -- spiced

with a few dark, sobering moments. Songs, mime, slapstick mayhem and

mirthful wordplay are packaged in a string of vignettes, hosted by a

comic/mime designated as the Writer (Alan Abelew). There is even a very

bald soprano. David Potts' cartoonish scenic design provides the

appropriate backdrop for this plunge down the theatrical rabbit hole,

and Mylette Nora has designed an eye-catching variety of odd costumes.

Among the more memorable skits are a bizarre cooking class conducted by a

garrulous French chef (Joey D'Auria, who also appears as a man with a

rhino horn); a spirited gathering of devotees to a headless autocrat; an

International Peace Conference of shouts, accusations and gibberish;

and a family of clowns (from The Bald Soprano) all named Bobby

Watson. (Lovell Estell III). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.

Continues through Aug. 11, $30. Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda

Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-477-2055, www.odysseytheatre.com.


The Island:

Nobody writes a sweetly wistful, romantic ballad like the

composer-lyricist team of Jonathan Price and Chana Wise. It is a talent

that was put to poignant use in last year's electronica sci-fi musical Earthbound (with a book by Adam Hahn). In this contemporary, tongue-in-cheek musical riff on The Tempest,

it gets off to a promising start before encountering what proves to be

the intractable stumbling block of the evening -- namely, Price's own

underwritten and uninspired book. Gone are any traces of Shakespeare's

poetic introspection, psychological complexity or sense of peril. In

their place is the most skeletal of plots, serving a rather

scatological, expletive-numbed satire of modern-day celebrity and sexual

mores. The best songs go to Prospera (a rousing Lindsey Mixon) and her

ditzily screwball sprite Ariel (the fine Ashley Fuller). Whenever they

take the stage, the evening soars; the other two-thirds of the show

tends to tailspin under Jeanette Farr's indifferent direction. (Bill

Raden). Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through Aug. 18.

T.U. Studios, 10943 Camarillo St., North Hollywood, 818-205-1680.


Just Imagine:

Although the wow factor is missing, aficionados of John Lennon probably

will appreciate this tribute to the iconic musician, which juxtaposes

renditions of his most famous songs with a narrative of his life. Lennon

impersonator and lead singer Tim Piper addresses the audience in a

confiding manner as he relates events in Lennon's life -- his troubled

boyhood in Liverpool culminating in the death of his mother, up through

The Beatles, his marriage to Yoko Ono and his transformation into a

family man and spokesman for the counterculture antiwar movement. There

are no surprises in writer-director Steve Altman's script, and watching

and listening to Piper, an American donning a Liverpool accent, failed

to persuade me that I was hearing the real McCoy. That said, Piper's

backup band, Working Class Hero, performs well and provides an

opportunity for those who wish to reimagine the legend to do so.

(Deborah Klugman). Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through

Aug. 25. Hayworth Theatre, 2511 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles,

310-213-6955, www.thehayworth.com.


Kimberly Akimbo:

In David Lindsay-Abaire's dark comedy, Kimberly (Dorrie Braun) is a

teenager who suffers from progeria, a disease that causes its victims to

age more than four times faster than the normal rate. Though she is

only 16, she has the face and body of a woman approaching middle age,

and she must face a sharply truncated lifespan. Her one wish is for a

normal family life, but that's not likely, given that her father (Josh

Heisler) is an immature alcoholic, her mother (Amy Gumenick) is a

selfish, pregnant hypochondriac and her aunt (Jessie Sherman) is a scam

artist pushing a nefarious scheme. Kimberly's only ally is Jeff (Rudy

Martinez), a schoolmate with a passion for anagrams and Dungeons &

Dragons. Director Tracy Woodward delivers a somewhat skillful production

but never quite makes us believe in the wacky events and characters.

(Neal Weaver). Fri., Aug. 2, 8 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 3, 8 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 4,

8 p.m.; Mon., Aug. 5, 8 p.m.; Thu., Aug. 8, 8 p.m.; Fri., Aug. 9, 8

p.m.; Sat., Aug. 10, 8 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 11, 8 p.m. Studio Stage, 520 N.

Western Ave., Los Angeles, 323-463-3900, www.studio-stage.com.


Kitchen Witches:

A comedy that takes on the back-biting world of televised food shows,

written by Caroline Smith. Two on-air chefs with a long-standing feud

are forced to host a new cooking show together, which changes their

quiet mutual disdain into a raging, public cat fight. Fridays,

Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Wed., Aug. 14, 8 p.m.; Thu., Aug. 15, 8 p.m.; Sun.,

Aug. 25, 2 p.m.; Thu., Aug. 29, 8 p.m. Continues through Aug. 31. Little

Fish Theatre, 777 Centre St., San Pedro, 310-512-6030,

www.littlefishtheatre.org.


PICK OF THE WEEK:
Lady Windermere's Fan
:

The Chalk Repertory Theatre Company presents a new production of Oscar

Wilde's comedy of manners. The play will be performed throughout the

lawns and courtyards of the library. Saturdays, Sundays, 6 p.m.

Continues through Aug. 18. William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, UCLA,

2520 Cimarron St., Los Angeles, 323-731-8529,

www.clarklibrary.ucla.edu. See new reviews.



The Last Days of Judas Iscariot: Playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis (The Motherfucker With the Hat)

puts the Bible's most infamous traitor on trial in a modern-day

courtroom and examines the meaning of forgiveness modern, urban and

scathingly provocative contemplation on the meaning of forgiveness by

playwright (), the Bible's most known traitor is tried in a present-day

municipal courtroom. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Aug.

24. Hudson Theatres, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles. See new reviews.


Nickel and Dimed: In her book Nickel and Dimed,

Barbara Ehrenreich detailed her sojourn into the world of the working

poor, illuminating (as no recounting of statistics ever could) the

struggle, heartache and resilience of this often forgotten and/or

disrespected class of Americans. A journalist and college instructor,

Ehrenreich shed her middle-class trappings and traveled the country,

working for minimum wage (and less) as waitress, housekeeper, caregiver

and low-level retail clerk. Joan Holden's stage adaptation dramatizes

Ehrenreich's experiences in a series of vignettes that are moderately

entertaining and, from a progressive standpoint, politically and

culturally on target -- but lacking bracing energy or dramatic punch.

The character of Barbara frequently steps away from the action to

comment, and while performer Zachary Barton emanates the intelligence

and compassion the role calls for, her discursive manner slows the

dynamic. Kathleen Ingle stands out depicting a number of kind-hearted,

blue-collar women. Richard Kilroy directs. (Deborah Klugman). Fridays,

Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Aug. 25. Hudson

Theatres, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles.


Nine: There are two potential audiences for Maury Yeston and Arthur Kopit's 1982 musical fantasia woven from Federico's Fellini's 8 1/2.

The first is those evangelical cineastes that can't get enough of the

auteur's highly personal baroque surrealism. The second is those who can

appreciate Yeston's solid collection of reflective ballads, sizzling

torch songs and clever music-hall numbers in spite of Kopit's

problematically attenuated book. Unfortunately, neither will find much

to like in director Marco Gomez's uninspired and decidedly

un-Felliniesque revival (on Amanda Lawson's drab cinderblock set). As

the story's sexually charged but woman-troubled film director, David

Michael Treviño proves an unusually low-voltage romantic lead. It's a

drawback that retards whatever sparks might have flown among the

admittedly uneven, nearly all-female ensemble. As Luisa, Melissa Anjose

nails the signature tunes "My Husband Makes Movies" and "Be on Your

Own," but it is Toni Smith who shows all the right stuff in a standout

turn as Claudia. (Bill Raden). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3

p.m. Continues through Aug. 18. The Met Theatre, 1089 N. Oxford Ave.,

Los Angeles, 323-957-1152, www.themettheatre.com.


GO: One Night in Miami:

Although rooted in a historic event, Kemp Powers' period piece about a

meeting between Sam Cooke, Jim Brown, Malcolm X and Cassius Clay is

less about these gentlemen per se than it is about the struggle of

African-American men in general to deal with the ubiquitous racism that

continually challenges their manhood. The play takes place in a motel

room following Clay's victory over Sonny Liston in 1964. At 22, fresh

off his triumph, the young boxer (Matt Jones) is both less scarred and

less knowing than the others. He's also a recent convert to Islam, which

raises the eyebrows of Cooke (Ty Jones) and Brown (Kevin Daniels) --

both alcohol-imbibing, womanizing, pork chop-loving hedonists. Well

directed by Carl Cofield, the play heats up around the philosophical

divide between Malcolm (Jason Delane) an ideologue and devout Muslim who

scorns the White Establishment, and Cooke, a musician and player in the

music business who's successfully worked the system for his own gain.

(Sadly and ironically, both these men would be dead within a year.)

Powers' perspicacious script gives the performers plenty to work with,

and they make the most of it, bouncing off each other with savvy, skill

and humor. Delane is excellent as an understated Malcolm, struggling to

master not only his passions but his well-founded fear that his life is

in danger. A charismatic Jones augments an intense portrayal with his

gifted singing voice. Giovanni Adams and Jason E. Kelley add menace and

levity as Malcolm's bodyguards. (Deborah Klugman). Fridays, Saturdays, 8

p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Aug. 18. Rogue Machine Theatre,

5041 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, 855-585-5185,

www.roguemachinetheatre.com.


GO:
Open House
:

An audacious real estate salesman needs to sell an overpriced house

during an off season. Enter a seductive, mysterious woman new to

California who senses that something wrong has happened in the house, in

writer Shem Bitterman's third dramatic production at the Skylight

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

Aug. 25. Skylight Theater, 1816 1/2 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles,

323-666-2202. See theater feature.



Pack Up the Moon:

Directed by Amy K. Harmon, this not-ready-for-prime-time production

concerns a married gay couple, Andre (David Jette) and Carter (Brad

Harris), whose relationship sours after the death of their adopted

infant son. Distraught over their empty nest, the fragile Carter

persuades his flaky cousin, T-Anne (Emilia Richeson), to become a

surrogate for the couple's second child. Tension between Andre, the

biological father, and T-Anne segues into physical attraction once she

is carrying his baby. Christina Cigala's soap-operatic script is an

uphill challenge; the play's first half is especially uninvolving as a

result of the lack of visible chemistry between the spouses and the

noisy and/or unshaded performances from the three primary performers.

Richeson is a potentially watchable presence whose ditzy mother-to-be

would fit nicely into some screwball comedy. But this is serious drama,

in which her character's clamorous shtick becomes a distraction. The

problem seems directorial. (Deborah Klugman). Fridays-Sundays, 8 p.m.

Continues through Aug. 13. Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Los

Angeles, 323-469-9988.


Peter Pan: The Boy Who Hated Mothers:

A radical retelling of the J.M. Barrie classic, written by Michael

Lluberes. Fri., Aug. 2, 8 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 3, 8 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 4, 2

p.m.; Fri., Aug. 16, 8 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 17, 8 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 18, 2

p.m. The Blank Theatre, 6500 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles,

323-661-9827, www.theblank.com.


GO: The Rainmaker:

A con-man/drifter walks into a small town, usually in the Midwest, and

seduces a vulnerable local female. He not only seduces her, he awakens

her to her true self and potential, which the opinions of others -- her

family and society -- have been suffocating. Oh, brother. Get the broom

and sweep off the cobwebs. In lesser hands than director Jack Heller's,

watching The Rainmaker would be like trudging through a slightly

dank, primeval marsh without rubber boots -- the kind of experience

where you might say, "Well, isn't this historic and curious. Where can I

dry my socks?" The production is saved in part by its linchpin, Tanna

Frederick's droll, rat-smart Lizzie. With subtlety and composure that

often belies the text, she knows who she is and what she wants. Though

the play is over-written, Frederick's performance lies so entrenched

beneath the lines, it's as though she absorbs the play's excesses so

that they don't even show. Her terrific performance is not enough to

turn the play into a classic, but it does provide enough of an emotional

pull to reveal the reasons why it keeps getting staged. (Steven Leigh

Morris). Fridays, Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 5 p.m. Continues

through Aug. 31. Edgemar Center for the Arts, 2437 Main St., Santa

Monica, 310-399-3666, www.edgemarcenter.org.


GO: Rebecca's Gamble:

Issues of science, medical ethics and criminal law propel Art Shulman

and Robert Begam's provocative courtroom drama. Director Rick Walters

has transformed this small venue into a courtroom interior surrounded by

audience members, some of whom render a verdict at play's end. The

site-specific setting is used to good effect. The accused, Dr. Rebecca

Adler (Diane Linder), is charged with murder for her part in the cryonic

disposal of her terminally ill patient. Counsel for the defense is Joe

Purcell (Randy Vasquez), while the state is represented by Scott Novak

(Jerry Weil), with Judge Dale Fox (Henry Holden) presiding. The format

follows the procedures of a real court proceeding: Witnesses are called,

testimony is given, cross-examination is allowed and a verdict is

rendered. There are even a number of emotional outbursts, which are a

bit overworked. The compelling thing about this thoughtfully written

script is that it explores in detail some topical scientific, ethical

and legal subjects that are easily grasped. Cast performances, on

balance, are quite good, notwithstanding a few glaring instances of

botched lines. (Lovell Estell III). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays,

2 p.m. Continues through Sept. 1. Theatrecraft Playhouse, 7505 1/2

Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-876-1100.


Revelation:

Playwright Samuel Brett Williams' comedy takes place during The Rapture

-- you know, the day when God summons up to Heaven all the righteous

souls, leaving behind the lustful, the angry, the greedy and the just

plain doofy. Into this last category falls young Brandon (appealingly

Everyman-esque Marco Naggar), a likable shlep who wakes up in a doomsday

Manhattan where airplanes fall pilotless from the skies, cars smash

driverless into walls and faces erupt with pus-filled boils. Joining up

with his sultry next-door neighbor Rebecca (Zibby Allen, nicely ironic)

for a crosscountry road trip in search of a way into Heaven, Brandon

endures all sorts of biblical misadventures in an insane world. Many of

the play's calculatedly wacky comic strip-like incidents become

repetitive, but the ferocious pacing of director Lindsay Allbaugh's

quick-witted staging keeps the story sailing straight along. Plus,

Williams' writing is nicely black-humored, and the performances are

sprightly, hitting a perfect note of creepy quirkiness. (Paul Birchall).

Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through Aug. 25.

Elephant Stages, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles.


Rounding Third:

A lighthearted look at fatherhood and baseball, written by Richard

Dresser. Wed., Aug. 7, 8 p.m.; Thu., Aug. 8, 8 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 11, 2

p.m.; Fri., Aug. 16, 8 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 17, 8 p.m.; Wed., Aug. 21, 8

p.m.; Thu., Aug. 22, 8 p.m. Little Fish Theatre, 777 Centre St., San

Pedro, 310-512-6030, www.littlefishtheatre.org.


GO: Smoke and Mirrors:

If you've forgotten the childlike joy and sublime wonderment of seeing

magic performed, Albie Selznick's theatrical show is an enchanting

reminder. The accomplished actor-magician puts on a bewildering tour de

force that has more "how did he do that" flashes than can be counted.

The show also has a personal element, as Selznick recounts his long path

to becoming a master magician, starting when he lost his father at the

age of 9 and used magic to escape reality, and then as a means of

challenging and overcoming his fears. He knows how to work the crowd,

and uses members of the audience in a number of his routines. Toward

show's end, he swallows some razors (kids, don't try this), then

regurgitates them on a long string, and wows with a demonstration of

fire eating and juggling some wicked-looking knives. Other amazing

moments are the eerie conjuring of doves out of nowhere and a

mind-blowing exhibition of midair suspension. Like all good magicians,

Selznick has highly capable assistants -- Brandy, Kyle, Tina and Daniel

-- who dazzle with their own magic in a stylish preshow. Paul Millet

directs. (Lovell Estell III). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2

p.m. Continues through Aug. 25, 800-595-4849, smokeandmirrorsmagic.com.

Lankershim Arts Center, 5108 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood,

www.lankershimartscenter.com.


Something to Crow About:

The Bob Baker Marionettes' musical "Day on the Farm." Saturdays,

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

Theater, 1345 W. First St., Los Angeles, 213-250-9995,

www.bobbakermarionettes.com.


Suburban Showgirl:

In this story conceived and performed by perky pro dancer-actress

Palmer Davis, the travails of invented character Wendy Walker apparently

hew closely to her own life experiences. Suburban Showgirl

presents the trials and tribulations of a woman who's been passionate

about ballet since she was young but whose leggy stature eventually

steered her into glittering, plumed costumes and onto the stages of

Broadway. Marriage and her first of two babies don't quite derail a

white-hot career; she switches to the less demanding tasks of teaching

dance while serving as a magician's assistant. Though Walker is bringing

in the bread while juggling mommy duties for two toddlers, Davis stops

short of dissing her unreliable, alcoholic husband, even claiming,

unconvincingly, "He's a great father!" She does let his negligent

behavior speak for itself, though. The first third (of the 80 minutes)

feels slow, but eventually Davis wins you over with her playfulness and

superb dancing prowess, often relying on mime, song and costume changes

and adeptly adopting numerous personae. (Pauline Adamek). Fridays,

Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 4 p.m. Continues through Aug. 4. NoHo Arts

Center, 11136 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, 818-763-0086,

www.thenohoartscenter.com.

Summer Playwrights Festival:

The Road Theatre Company presents its 22nd Summer Festival of new work.

For a full schedule and additional information visit roadtheatre.org.

Through Aug. 4, roadtheatre.org. Lankershim Arts Center, 5108 Lankershim

Blvd., North Hollywood, 818-752-7568, www.lankershimartscenter.com.

Tanglin' Hearts:

Zora Margolis wrote this country Western musical set in contemporary

Texas about a greedy businessman who wants to establish a resort next to

a toxic waste dump but is opposed by his own brother.

Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Aug. 25.

Theatre 40 at the Reuben Cordova Theater, 241 Moreno, Beverly Hills,

310-364-0535, www.theatre40.org.

Tom Rubin: Success Guru:

A one-man comedy by Tom Rubin that skewers and mocks a self-help

seminar. Fridays, 9 p.m. Continues through Aug. 30. Dorie Theater at the

Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-465-0383,

www.complexhollywood.com.

Trio Los Machos:

A comedic Latino bromance set to music, written by Josefina López.

Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 5 p.m. Continues through Aug. 11.

Casa 0101, 2102 E. 1st St., Los Angeles, 323-263-7684, www.casa0101.org.

See new reviews.

A View From the Bridge:

Many consider Arthur Miller's dramas moral tragedies, but you also can

think of them as mysteries, as their narratives contain events whose

true meaning only becomes clear at the end. Longshoreman Eddie (Vince

Melocchi) is a salt-of-the-earth type who thinks he's doing a good deed

when he lets a pair of his wife's distant cousins, both illegal

immigrants from the old country, move in with his family. He soon has

reason to rue this decision, though, as his lovely niece, Catherine

(Lisa Cirincione), falls in love with the more handsome of the two

cousins, Rodolpho (Jeff Lorch) -- and Eddie is destroyed by his own

inexplicably over-the-top jealousy. This is a mostly powerful, admirably

straightforward production by co-directors Marilyn Fox and Dana

Jackson, which stumbles slightly during the clumsy, frenetically staged

final sequence. The production is anchored by Melocchi's nicely gruff

Eddie, whose turn suggests a character swept along by passions he lacks

the articulacy to express. (Paul Birchall). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.;

Sundays, 3 p.m.; Thursdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Aug. 25. Pacific

Resident Theatre, 703 Venice Blvd., Venice, 310-822-8392,

www.pacificresidenttheatre.com.

GO: We

Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia,

Formerly Known as South-West Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika,

Between the Years 1884-1915: Don't let the disconcerting title put you off: We

Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia,

Formerly Known as Southwest Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika,

Between the Years 1884-1915. Playwright Jackie Sibblies Drury's

compelling drama is a stunning work of ferociously creative stagecraft.

In director Jillian Armenante's deceptively improvised-seeming

production, a group of actors, under the leadership of a young, angry

actor (Julanne Chidi Hill, fierce), attempt to stage a play about a

19th-century African atrocity during which the German army slaughtered

entire populations of African tribes. It sounds dire, I know, but the

tale is told impressionistically, sometimes as a rehearsal exercise,

sometimes as a dreamlike set of dances, fights and interactions. A

ladder becomes a railroad trestle, a Sparkletts water bottle becomes a

tribal drum, and Spolin-esque theater games are mocked but then utilized

to make searingly powerful emotional points about race and morality.

Through exercises meant to channel an atrocity, the cast simultaneously

juggle a number of issues, from the near-comic self-absorption of

actors, to the ultimate inability to depict true evil, to a final,

unbearably disturbing coda that suggests the past is not nearly as

distant as one would wish. Armenante's assured intellectualization and

the perfect comic and dramatic timing of the cast together craft a rare

work of charged political agitprop that awakens us to the pure

imaginative potential of the theater. (Paul Birchall).

Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Aug. 11.

Matrix Theatre, 7657 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, 323-852-1445,

www.matrixtheatre.com.

Whore's Bath:

Robert Riemer's theatrical re-imagining of the Biblical travails

between King David and Saul, and their attempt to attain "the throne of

man." Saturdays, 8:30 p.m. Continues through Aug. 10. Zombie Joe's

Underground Theatre, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood,

818-202-4120, zombiejoes.homestead.com.

GO: Wrap Your Heart Around It:

Polka star LynnMarie Rink describes herself as "the Susan Lucci of the

Grammys" -- after the soap star who often lost at the Daytime Emmys --

in her solo show, Wrap Your Heart Around It. But Rink is nothing

short of winning in this production, which mixes her music with her

real-life story. Rink's life hasn't been easy, from struggling with her

alcoholic father to raising a child with Down's syndrome, yet she

effortlessly infuses her tale with heart and humor. Tragedy becomes

triumph through Rink's charming stage presence, and her storytelling

avoids the cliché, as it's rich with specificity and detail. Though

polka isn't to everyone's taste -- a fact Rink acknowledges and jokes

about -- her musical and emotional bravado trumps any difference in

genre taste. Plus, it's not often you'll get to hear a polka version of

The Proclaimers' ubiquitous late-'80s song "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)."

Michael Kearns' direction and Paul Carrol Binkley's musical direction

are good, but it's Rink who transforms the show into a true wonder.

(Kevin O'Keeffe). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 4 & 7:30 p.m.

Continues through Aug. 11. Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive,

Burbank, 818-955-8101, www.falcontheatre.com.

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