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Theater Listings

OPENING THIS WEEK

APPOINTMENT WITH DEATH Agatha Christie’s radical reworking of her mystery novel, complete with a different killer. West Valley Playhouse, 7242 Owensmouth Ave., Canoga Park; opens Fri., Feb. 3, 8 p.m.; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 26. (818) 884-1907.

BAREFOOT BOY WITH SHOES ON A soon-to-be father is desperate to keep his son out of the ghetto, in Edwin Sanchez’s drama. Underground Theater, 1312 N. Wilton Pl., Hlywd.; opens Sat., Feb. 4, 8 p.m.; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru March 11. (323) 960-7744.

B4T Imani Henry’s “one-transman show” about masculine black women. Highways Performance Space, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica; Thurs.-Sat., Feb. 9-11, 8:30 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 12, 2:30 p.m. (310) 315-1459.

BLOOD WEDDING A bride runs off with her lover on the night of her wedding, in Federico Garcia Lorca’s tragedy. Theater 40 at Reuben Cordova Theater, 241 Moreno Dr., Beverly Hills High School Campus; opens Sat., Feb. 4, 8 p.m.; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru March 12 (call for Sat.-Sun. matinee perfs). (310) 364-0535.

BOSTON MARRIAGE L.A. premiere of David Mamet’s drawing-room comedy. Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Wstwd.; previews Fri., Feb. 3, 8 p.m.; Sat., Feb. 4, 4 & 8:30 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 5, 2 & 7 p.m.; Tues., Feb. 7, 7:30 p.m.; opens Wed., Feb. 8, 7:30 p.m.; perfs Tues.-Thurs., 7:30 p.m.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 4 & 8:30 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; thru March 12. (310) 208-5454 or (213) 365-3500.

THE CHILDREN’S HOUR Girl-school gossip snowballs into scandal, in Lillian Hellman’s play. Whitmore-Lindley Theater, 11006 Magnolia Blvd., N. Hlywd.; opens Sat., Feb. 4, 8 p.m.; perfs Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 26 (no perf Feb. 5). (310) 210-0910.

DUTCHMAN Amiri Baraka’s “trip into the underbelly of our culture.” Garage Theater, 251 E. Seventh St., Long Beach; opens Fri., Feb. 3, 8 p.m.; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru March 18. (562) 433-8337.

FORK Courtney Rundell’s multimedia exploration of domestic violence and incest from a child’s perspective. Brick Box Theater, 1608 Cosmo St., Hlywd.; opens Thurs., Feb. 9, 8 p.m.; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 8 p.m.; thru March 4. (323) 960-1056.

GRANDPA’S TRUTH An African-American boy gets a lesson in bigotry. Inglewood Playhouse, 714 Warren Lane, Inglewood; opens Fri., Feb. 3, 8 p.m.; perfs Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 4 p.m.; thru Feb. 19. (866) 468-3399.

INSIDE THE CREOLE MAFIA Mark Broyard and Roger Guenveur Smith’s celebration of New Orleans. Evidence Room, 2220 Beverly Blvd., L.A.; opens Sat., Feb. 4, 8 p.m.; perfs Thurs.-Sun., 8 p.m.; thru March 5. (213) 381-7118.

1984 Tim Robbins directs Michael Gene Sullivan’s adaptation of George Orwell’s book. Actors’ Gang at the Ivy Substation Theater, 9070 Venice Blvd., Culver City; opens Thurs., Feb. 9, 8 p.m.; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru April 8. (310) 838-4264.

NO SECOND TRUMPET William Weber’s account of Ireland’s Great Famine. Celtic Arts Center, 4843 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Studio City; opens Fri., Feb. 3, 8 p.m.; perfs Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 12. (818) 760-8322.

ONE STEP OVER D.B. Levin’s drama about insider trading on Wall Street. Theater East, 6760 Lexington Ave., Hlywd.; previews Fri.-Sat., Feb. 3-4, 8 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 5, 3 p.m.; opens Thurs., Feb. 9, 8 p.m.; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru March 19. (323) 960-7774.

RESTLESS SPIRITS Allan Havis’ story of a paranormal researcher’s supernatural discoveries. San Diego Repertory, Lyceum Space Theater; opens Fri., Feb. 3, 8 p.m.; perfs Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 19. (619) 544-1000.

SALLY ON THE MOUNT Jeanne Darst’s solo play about a “fucking artist.” Fluxco, 2042 Bay St., L.A.; opens Sat., Feb. 4, 8 p.m.; perfs Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 25. (213) 489-9002.

SORDID LIVES Del Shores’ white-trash comedy. Zephyr Theater, 7456 Melrose Ave., W. Hlywd.; opens Fri., Feb. 3, 8 p.m.; perfs Tues. & Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru April 23. (800) 595-4849.

STONE COLD DEAD SERIOUS A computer-game whiz tries to save his dysfunctional family, in Adam Rapp’s play. Powerhouse Theater, 3116 Second St., Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru March 4 (added perfs Feb. 12, 19 & 26, 7 p.m.). (310) 396-3680, Ext. 3.

SWEENEY TODD A lecherous judge ends up as delicious meat pie, in the Stephen Sondheim musical thriller. East West Players at the David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center for the Arts, 120 Judge John Aiso St., Little Tokyo; previews Fri.-Sat., Feb. 3-4, 8 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 5, 2 p.m.; opens Wed., Feb. 8, 8 p.m.; perfs Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 5. (213) 625-7000, Ext. 20.

TO SHAKESPEARE WITH LOVE The Bard’s ghost speaks on “life, love and the pursuit of happiness.” Note: Cast alternates. Hollywood Fight Club Theater, 6767 Sunset Blvd., No. 6, Hlywd.; opens Thurs., Feb. 9, 8:30 p.m.; perfs Thurs.-Fri., 8:30 p.m.; Sat., 3 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 & 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 19. (323) 465-0800.

VAGRANT Guy Zimmerman’s noir mystery set in an appliance-repair shop. Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Ave., Venice; opens Fri., Feb. 3, 8 p.m.; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru March 4. (310) 823-0710.

LARGER THEATERS

Reviews by Lovell Estell III, Martín Hernández, Deborah Klugman, Steven Mikulan, Steven Leigh Morris, Amy Nicholson, Tom Provenzano and Neal Weaver.

THE CHERRY ORCHARD Chekhov’s tale of an aristocratic family on the verge of bankruptcy. Center Theater Group, Mark Taper Forum at the Music Center, 135 N. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; previews Fri.-Sat., Feb. 3-4 & 10-11, 8 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 5, & Sat., Feb. 11, 2:30 p.m.; opens Sun., Feb. 12, 2:30 p.m.; perfs Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2:30 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 & 7:30 p.m.; thru March 19. (213) 628-2772.

DIVA Howard Michael Gould’s portrait of an egomaniacal sitcom star. Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena; Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 5 & 9 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 19. (626) 356-7529.

DRAGON TALES LIVE: Missing Music Mystery The PBS kids’ show, live onstage. Pantages Theater, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri., Feb. 3, 10:30 a.m. & 7 p.m.; Sat., Feb. 4, 10:30 a.m. & 2 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 5, 1 & 4:30 p.m. (213) 365-3500.

THE GOOD BODY Wadsworth Theater, Veterans Administration, 11301 Wilshire Blvd., Bldg. 226, W.L.A.; Tues.-Thurs., 7:30 p.m.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 & 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 12. (213) 365-3500. See Stage feature.

GO I’M NOT PAYING FOR THIS! After a two-year absence, Varla Jean Merman (the drag alter ego of writer-performer Jeffery Roberson) returns to tackle the Seven Deadly Sins. From the opening video of Varla’s surreal encounter with her own teenage self to a hilarious “before and after” celebrity-photo slide show illustrating the sin of pride, Miss Merman combines wit with her commanding singing voice — as in her operatic version of disco tunes and her “lust” song to an improbable (well, let’s say unconventional) lover. L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center’s Renberg Theater, 1125 N. McCadden Pl., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 5. (323) 860-7300. (MH)

THE LION IN WINTER James Goldman’s play about King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, circa Christmas 1183. Theater West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru April 1. (323) 851-7977.

MAMMA MIA! You know you love ABBA, just admit it. Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, Fred Kavli Theater, 2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks; Fri., Feb. 3, 8 p.m.; Sat., Feb. 4, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 5, 2 & 7:30 p.m. (805) 449-2787. Also at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, 330 E. Green St., Pasadena; Wed.-Fri., Feb. 8-10, 8 p.m.; Sat., Feb. 11, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 12, 2 & 7:30 p.m. (213) 365-3500. And at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach; Tues.-Fri., Feb. 14-17, 8 p.m.; Sat., Feb. 18, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 19, 2 & 7:30 p.m. (714) 740-2000.

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING The Aquila Theater Company’s offbeat take on the Shakespeare comedy. La Jolla Playhouse, 2910 La Jolla Village Dr., La Jolla; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 19. (858) 550-1010.

GO PERMANENT COLLECTION (Note: This review is of a production that opened last year and has transferred to the current venue.) Thomas Gibbons sets his eloquent and revelatory drama in and around a suburban gallery of mostly Impressionist masters, where the new director — an African-American executive from the business world — clashes with the museum’s white director of education over adding African treasures to the main exhibit, setting off a maelstrom of public charges. The knot of bigotry in this country is wound so tightly with guilt and indignation, it’s beyond rational discussion, yet in his play Gibbons loosens it ever so slightly, through the woman who stands between the two gallant, stubborn opponents. Harry J. Lennix and Dwain Perry co-direct this quite wonderful production. Robey Theater Company and the Greenway Arts Alliance at the Kirk Douglas Theater, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 12. (213) 628-2772. (SLM)

THE PRICE Arthur Miller’s story of two brothers. A Noise Within, 234 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 5 (no eve. perf Feb. 5). (818) 240-0910, Ext. 1.

700 SUNDAYS Billy Crystal’s one-man show is a loving family memoir of growing up in the 1950s and ’60s on Long Island — and a tribute to sentimental self-indulgence. At two hours and 40 minutes, Crystal’s peformance feels as though it needs a semester break instead of an intermission. Wilshire Theater, 8440 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 & 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 18 (no perfs Feb. 3-5). (213) 365-3500. (SM)

GO 2 PIANOS 4 HANDS The charm of playwrights Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt’s presumably autobiographical story comes from its simplicity: Two actor-musicians (Richard Carsey and Tom Frey) playing beautifully on two grand pianos while rushing in and out of scores of characters. They parody eccentric music teachers who range from incompetent to insufferable. Large scrims surrounded by fancy picture frames offer grotesque shadows of angry parents, through Steve Lucas’ ingeniously understated set and lighting. Finally, this play is about the music, and the performers provide that with skill. Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 5. (949) 497-2787. (TP)

SMALLER THEATERS

Hollywood, West Hollywood, Downtown

AMERICAN IDLE In his domestic comedy-drama, playwright-director Edward Ryan is so angry at America’s pointless warmongering and the termination of a social contract that’s been honored since WWII, his play indulges in pedantic binges. Ryan’s range of concerns is heroic, but the buffeting of styles between a farce by Dario Fo (an examination of symptoms) and a tragedy by Arthur Miller (an examination of causes) lands American Idle in a thicket of opinions that seem obvious, even as the play reaches for something loftier. The Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 11. (310) 228-6237. (SLM)

APPLES + VODKA = SALVATION Frazzled teachers come undone in class. Hollywood Court Theater, Hollywood United Methodist Church, 6817 Franklin Ave., Hlywd.; Sun., 3 & 5 p.m.; thru Feb. 26. (323) 692-8200.

ARSENIC AND OLD LACE Senior sisters murder by poison in Joseph Kesselring’s comedy. Knightsbridge Theater, 1944 Riverside Dr., Silver Lake; Sat., 5 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 18. (323) 667-0955.

GO THE BOOK OF LIZ In Amy Sedaris and David Sedaris’ comic fable, Ann Magnuson is sweet, goofy Sister Elizabeth Donderstock, a buck-toothed member of the Cluster Haven “Squeamish” community (a parody of the Amish), sent on a Candide-like journey into a sugar-and-spicy Prairie Home Companion world. Blank Theater Company at 2nd Stage Theater, 6500 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 26. (323) 661-9827. (SLM)

GO THE BREAK-UP NOTEBOOK: The Lesbian Musical Based on the successful play by Patricia Cotter, composer-lyricist Lori Scarlett’s adaptation follows the travails of a woman who has been dumped by her girlfriend and is desperate to find new love. Scarlett’s generally excellent score only occasionally falls into the kind of contemporary light pop that so often inhabits modern musicals. Most of the songs are heartfelt or truly funny, and all carry the story forward. Under Sue Hamilton’s fine direction, the cast breezily handles an array of characters while ably carrying the tunes with humor and commitment. Hudson Backstage Theater, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru March 12. (323) 960-5563. (TP)

GO THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV Unlike other adaptations of the Russians we’ve seen here over the past decade, the Circle X actors are all in the same play: fiery, manic, desperate in their sundry searches for purity and in their fight against their own depravities. Anthony Clarvoe’s play crosses the ocean and the centuries with a comparatively light heart and some American colloquialisms, playing up the humor so that the comedy feels closer to Chekhov and Bulgakov than Russian lit’s prince of darkness. Circle X Theater Company at [Inside] the Ford, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 4. (213) 804-5491. (SLM)

THE CATHOLIC GIRL’S GUIDE TO LOSING YOUR VIRGINITY A 24-year-old virgin vows to go all the way before her next birthday, in Annie Hendy’s comedy. Hudson Guild Theater, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Wed., 8 p.m.; thru March 1. (323) 960-7753.

CHOICE WORDS This hourlong play, Hector Hill’s first as playwright, serves basically to educate us to the torments of OCD sufferers. The dialogue also spins off into social and philosophical issues such as abortion and the intrinsic value of life. Unfortunately, there are no fully fleshed characters or plot to grab on to. Under Sal Romeo’s direction, Hill sounds tiresomely one-note as the voice of ignorance. Laurelgrove Theater Company at the Hollywood Court Theater, United Methodist Church, 6817 Franklin Ave., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 25. (323) 692-8200. (DK)

THE CREDEAUX CANVAS Roommates hatch a plan to forge a nude painting but end up in a love triangle, in Keith Bunin’s play. 2100 Square Feet Theater, 5615 San Vicente Blvd., L.A.; Tues.-Sun., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 19 (added perfs Sun., Feb. 12 & 19, 2 p.m.). (323) 960-4420.

GO DO YOU FEAR WHAT I FEAR? David Jahn knows quite a bit about the subject of fear and the deleterious impact it can have on one’s life. His first dose of paralyzing fear was administered by a well-meaning but zealous teacher who instructed him about the dangers of provoking God’s wrath. Not long afterward, an ulcer ensued, followed by family changes, Ritalin therapy, a love affair with his best friend and the gradual, painful journey to self-acceptance as a gay male. Through the bleak subject matter, Jahn skillfully mimics a gallery of characters and spices the show with outrageously funny singing and dancing, under Robert and Ian Tucker’s sharp direction. Elephant Asylum Theater, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 26. (323) 960-4412. (LE3)

IT CAME FROM BEYOND! The most inventive aspect of the show is writer Cornell Christianson’s dual storyline, the first being that of a dork in high school who’s reading a comic book to find the secret to completing his science experiment; the other is the actual story of the comic book, which features the same actors in parallel roles. But dull humor and belabored plotting spoil the potential of the conceit. Stephen Michael Schwartz and Norman Thalheimer’s songs, though somewhat forgettable, are far cleverer than the book. The result is a bopping two hours of obvious innuendos. Write Act Theater, 6128 Yucca St., Hlywd.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 & 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 25. (323) 960-4429. (Luis Reyes)

THE ITALIAN IN ME A Catholic girl moves to Italy to study cinema, only to end up navigating “a sexual obstacle course,” in Dina Morrone’s play. Globe Playhouse, 1107 N. Kings Road, Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m., thru Feb. 11; then Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 5. (323) 960-5521.

IT’S TOO BAD STUPIDITY ISN’T PAINFUL Sarah Hyland’s one-woman show. Masquers Cabaret, 8334 W. Third St., W. Hlywd.; Thurs., 9:30 p.m.; thru March 9. (323) 653-4848.

JUDY AT THE STONEWALL INN Upon her death, the ghost of Judy Garland materializes at the Stonewall Inn — the famous New York City drag-queen saloon where the riotous resistance to police crackdowns on gay bars in 1969 began. Though this may sound like a playful setup for high camp, playwright Tom O’Neil and director Derek Charles Livingston are actually attempting a serious history lesson sprinkled with sardonic humor. The result is disastrous. Depressing characters slog through painfully melodramatic dialogue, punctuated with beleaguered Wizard of Oz references and a few, mostly weak, Garland numbers. Celebration Theater, 7051-B Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 24. (323) 957-1884. (TP)

THE LIZA AND LORNA SHOW The Boofont Sisters’ tribute to Judy Garland’s daughters. Celebration Theater, 7051-B Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 10:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 24. (323) 957-1884.

THE MERCY SEAT Neil LaBute’s play about a man who cheated death on 9/11 by cheating on his wife. MET Theater, Great Scott Theater, 1089 N. Oxford Ave., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 25. (323) 957-1152.

GO MOTHER ON FIRE With her trademark manic energy and merciless eye for detail, writer-performer-humorist Sandra Tsing Loh tackles the unsexiest of subjects — her kids’ education — and comes up with a trenchant, mostly fluid show that’s thought-provoking when it’s not funny. Directors David Schweizer and Bart Delorenzo make good use of space, and of Loh’s physicality — amid the yuks, it’s easy to forget she moves like a dancer. 24th Street Theater, 1117 W. 24th St.; Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 19. (800) 838-3006. (Erin Aubry Kaplan)

NAKED DECEPTION Writer-director-actor Paul Vander Roest and writer-actor Bruce Hart’s comedy centers on three gay couples, in more or less stable relationships, till they’re invaded by a handsome, sulky, sociopathic hustler and would-be actor. He gains entry by pretending to be the unknown house guest they’re expecting, and creates havoc in each of the three households with his lies, manipulations, multiple seductions and a bit of blackmail. Despite the prevailing amateurishness, there are some solid laughs, dollops of wit and some engaging performances. Vanderhart Productions at Studio/Stage, 520 N. Western Ave., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 19. (323) 960-7738. (NW)

GO PAPA Playwright John deGroot’s one-man show, starring Adrian Sparks, displays Ernest Hemingway in full sunset glory as self-mythologist, raconteur and critic of American small-mindedness. Downing Bloody Marys, he broods over growing up in a female-dominated family, regales us with gossip about F. Scott Fitzgerald and grumbles about his four marriages. Under Martha Demson’s relaxed direction, Sparks is a brawling, profane and surprisingly likable Hemingway who guides us along an anecdotal safari of his life. Open Fist Theater, 6209 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 18. (323) 882-6912. (SM)

GO REGRETROSEXUAL In a funny, sharply observed commentary on the strange byways that sexual confusion can lead to, comedian-monologist Dan Rothenberg turns the usual coming-out story on its ear: He’s trying to come out as straight. After moving to Los Angeles, Rothenberg began to move in gay circles, where he got the kind of gratifying attention from gay men that he’d never received from women. Then nature revolted. He faced the same problems a gay man faces while trying to convince himself he’s straight. Louie Liberti directs Rothenberg’s finely articulated performance. Lounge Theater, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Wed., 8 p.m.; thru March 29. (323) 969-4790. (NW)

SEXUAL PERVERSITY IN CHICAGO David Mamet’s 1974 war between the sexes. Ark Theater Company, 1647 S. La Cienega Blvd.; Thurs. & Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 19. (323) 969-1707.

GO SHUFFLE, SHUFFLE, STEP Theatre/Theater inaugurates its capacious new venue with this bill of one-acts by Samuel Beckett, under R.S. Bailey’s well-calibrated direction. Bailey does a fine acting turn in Krapp’s Last Tape as the gray-haired, wheezing and decrepit Krapp, caught in the merciless tentacles of doubt and despair, reduced to listening to a tape from 39 years ago that chronicles a love affair and a time “when there was still a chance of happiness.” Theatre/Theater, 5041 W. Pico Blvd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m. (Krapp’s Last Tape, every performance; Footfalls, Fri. only; Rough for Theatre One, Sat. only) ; thru Feb. 11. (323) 466-3134. (LE3)

GO SOUTHERN BAPTIST SISSIES Playwright Del Shores has a visceral hatred for the rigidity, intolerance and homophobia of the Baptist Church, but his loathing is tempered by a nostalgic love for the Texas church he grew up in, and these conflicted feelings make his play both funny and moving. He centers his tale on four gay boys whose lives are blighted by the self-hatred the church engenders. As a director, Shores is a consummate showman, assembling a well-nigh perfect cast, and punctuating the church scenes with sly verbal wit. Note: Several roles are double-cast. Far From Right Productions at the Zephyr Theater, 7456 Melrose Ave., W. Hlywd.; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 & 7 p.m.; thru April 2. (800) 595-4849. (NW)

SQUARE ONE Steve Tesich’s Orwellian romance. Company of Angels Theater, 2106 Hyperion Ave., Silver Lake; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 26. (323) 960-7784.

STUCK Jessica Goldberg’s new play about two girls trying to escape their Midwestern town. Meta Theater, 7801 Melrose Ave., Unit 3, W. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 5. (323) 445-6632.

GO TRIPTYCH A backstage dressing-room encounter sets off Edna O’Brien’s savvy, three-pronged one-act, a lyric work that explores a woman — or women — scorned. Under Robin Gammell’s direction, this smart, polished production registered solidly on track opening night with a satisfying destination not yet in sight. Laura Fine’s set and Jeffrey A. Burke’s lighting create an elegant, uncluttered ambiance that contrasts with the ladies’ tortuous passions, while Gelareh Khalioun’s varying costumes artfully complement each character. Some roles are double-cast. Nomad Theater Company at the Matrix Theater, 7657 Melrose Ave., W. Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 12. (866) 966-6623. (DK)

VON LUTZ Dennis Miles’ new play. Lillian Theater, 1076 N. Lillian Way, Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 12. (866) 811-4111.


The Valleys

ASIAN BIRD FLU OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST Asian-American sketch-comedy chaos, courtesy the 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors. GTC-Burbank, 1111-B W. Olive Ave., Burbank; Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 12. (818) 754-4500.

BOB’S HOLIDAY OFFICE PARTY Rob Elk and Joe Keyes’ seasonal satire on corporate greed, small-town values and alcohol abuse. Third Stage, 2811 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank; Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 11. (818) 842-4755.

DECEIT Bruce Kimmel’s melodrama. Kritzerland Theater Company at El Portal Forum Theater, 5269 Lankershim Ave., N. Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 19. (800) 595-4849. (NW)

DON JUAN, THE TRICKSTER OF SEVILLE Dakin Matthews’ new translation. NewPlace Theater Center, 4900 Vineland Ave., N. Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 26. (818) 506-8462.

GOOD NEWS Brian Chenoweth’s solo play about growing up gay in the Bible Belt. NoHo Arts Center, Studio Theater, 11146 Magnolia Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Thurs., 8 p.m.; thru March 2. (818) 508-7101, Ext. 5.

HOW I RUINED EVERYTHING In writer-director Natasha Levinger’s lightweight romantic comedy, men are from Mars, women Venus, and actors must come from a loopy satellite spinning just past Pluto. So discovers 20-something Kate when she ditches her staid but affectionate husband for Jack, a melodramatic artist. The largest stumbling block is its leading lady’s grating performance, which suggests more evil twin Meg Ryan than Molière. Cast as a charmless, high-pitched egotist, Kate’s an unlikely fulcrum for any love triangle, which belabors the play’s inevitable thud of romantic redemption. Eclectic Company Theater, 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 18. (818) 508-3003. (AN)

IF YOU GET TO BETHLEHEM, YOU’VE GONE TOO FAR Mariette Hartley’s one-woman show, based on her memoir Breaking the Silence. Whitefire Theater, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 26. (866) 811-4111.

THE RABBI AND THE CHEERLEADER Sandy Wolshin’s journey from Raiderette to rabbi’s bride. Whitefire Theater, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; fourth Sun. of the month, 7 p.m.; thru April 30. (866) 811-4111.

REFLECTIONS OF A BLACK DEAF WOMAN Michelle Banks stars in her own play about the relationship between a deaf mother and her deaf daughter. Little Victory Theater, Victory Theater Center, 3324 W. Victory Blvd., Burbank; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 4 p.m.; thru Feb. 26. (818) 841-5422 or TTY (818) 843-9253.

SMELL OF THE KILLThree malicious wives versus three unloving husbands, in Michele Lowe’s black comedy. NoHo Arts Center, Second Stage, 11136 Magnolia Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 12. (818) 765-8732.

GO STRING OF PEARLS In Stephen Sachs’ handsome production of Michele Lowe’s play, a quartet of fine actresses (Jacqueline Schultz, Suanne Spoke, Stephanie Stearns, Alicia Wollerton) play 27 women and children whose lives are changed by contact with the treasured beads of the title. Lowe creates memorable characters, brought to vibrant life by director and cast, despite a few too many themes and an over-reliance on the long arm of coincidence — all of which plays out on Desma Murphy’s stunning, semi-abstract set. Road Theater Company, Lankershim Arts Center, 5108 N. Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; thru March 26. (818) 761-8829. (NW)

SYLVIA A.R. Gurney’s comedy about a married man’s preoccupation with a stray dog. Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 18 (added perf Feb. 16, 8 p.m.). (626) 256-3809.


Westside, Beaches

BASH Neil LaBute’s trio of one-acts. Odyssey Theater, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., W.L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru March 12. (310) 477-2055.

CATERPILLAR SOUP Lyena Strelkoff’s one-woman play about her spinal cord injury. Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 Fourth St., Santa Monica; Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 11. (310) 394-9779.

DIALECTICS OF THE HEART Set in and around a university, Dale Griffiths Stamos’ new play studies the crisis of a professor of philosophy and rationalist who gets in a lather over Plato — until she starts falling for her T.A. And this, after she testified against a male colleague over his affair with a student. But this isn’t really about indiscretion, or even ethics, it’s about how we know what we know, and who we think we are as we negotiate inner conflicts between duty and desire. Director Alison Vail Fuller could spice up some of the scene transitions with pace and a wider variety of musical accompaniment: Excerpts from composers straddling the classical and romantic ages make the point, many times, that we’re in a world of the mind versus the heart, in case you zoned out during the lectures. Venice Sky Productions at the Edgemar Center for the Arts, 2437 Main St., Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., 7:30 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 26. (310) 392-7327. (SLM)

GO MR. KOLPERT Those in search of blood and nudity can’t do better than this West Coast premiere of German playwright David Gieselmann’s black comedy. Ralf and Sarah are an unmarried couple bored by life and in search of a catharsis to jump-start their emotions. Being Germans, they mitigate their condition by inviting another couple over for drinks and telling them they have just murdered a man for kicks. Supposedly his body reposes in a large trunk that dominates center stage, and much of this 70-minute evening is given to guessing the seriousness of Ralf and Sarah’s claims. Director Scott Cummins expertly guides a game cast through David Tushingham’s translation. Odyssey Theater Ensemble, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., W.L.A.; Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m., except Sun., Feb. 12 & March 5, when 7 p.m. perfs replace mats; no Wed. perfs March 1-15; thru March 19. (310) 477-2055. (SM)

THE PRISONER OF SECOND AVENUE Neil Simon’s rat race comedy. Morgan-Wixon Theater, 2627 Pico Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 18. (310) 828-7519.

GO RAYMOND CHANDLER’S THE BLUE DAHLIA Director Dan O’Connor adapted Raymond Chandler’s Oscar-nominated 1946 screenplay in a production that premiered at this venue in 1989. This is a remounting with a different cast — or casts — of a production that opened last year. The story is a murder mystery about the shooting death of a dress-shop owner shortly after her hot-headed sailor husband returns from the war to find her getting a bit too cozy with a local club owner. There are red herrings and wrong turns, but the point is really a small mystery wrapped in a big bubble of atmosphere. The central character is Los Angeles, shrouded in cigarette smoke and Chandler’s noir wit — not so much the city as a myth of the city that paved the way for Dragnet, and is now part of an international, bygone mystique. Pacific Resident Theater, 703 Venice Blvd., Venice; Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 26. (310) 822-8392. (SLM)

GO TURN OF THE SCREW Jeffrey Hatcher’s ascetic adaptation of Henry James’ eerie, heavily symbolic tale of a governess haunted by ghosts demands that the production use no props, no effects and no more than two actors. Tracie Lockwood plays the fledgling governess, which leaves the talented Matthew Elkins slipping between seven roles merely by shifting about his distinct features, which he does with aplomb. The audience’s awareness of the gulf between their eyes and the crumbling governess’s loses some of the novella’s tension and immersion, but Robert Bailey’s execution is first-rate. Pacific Resident Theater, 705½ Venice Blvd., Venice; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru March 12. (310) 822-8392. (AN)

SPECIAL EVENTS

CASH ON DELIVERY An unemployed bloke scams the welfare system in this British farce. Glendale Center Theater, 324 N. Orange St., Glendale; Wed.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 & 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 11. (818) 244-8481.

A MAN OF NO IMPORTANCE Terrence McNally and Lynn Ahrens’ musical version of the 1994 film. Alex Theater, 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale; Mon., Feb. 6, 7:30 p.m. (818) 243-2539.

WINTERFEST Readings of more than two dozen new plays, presented by Ensemble Studio Theater — The L.A. Project. Miles Memorial Playhouse, 1130 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica; Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 2, 5 & 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 19. (213) 368-9552 or www.ensemblestudiotheatrela.org for full schedule.

—Compiled by Derek Thomas

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