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Theater Listings

Opening This Week

AVENUE Q Adult-themed Sesame Street-style musical, book by Jeff Whitty, music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx. AHMANSON THEATRE, 135 N. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; opens Fri., Sept. 7, 8 p.m.; perfs Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 1 & 6:30 p.m.; thru Oct. 14 (added perf Sept. 13, 2 p.m.). (213) 628-2772 or www.­centertheatregroup.org.

BURN THIS Lanford Wilson’s romantic drama about young New York artists. 2100 SQUARE FEET, 5615 San Vicente Blvd., L.A.; opens Fri., Sept. 7, 8 p.m.; perfs Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; thru Sept. 23. (323) 960-4420.

BUTTERFLIES OF UGANDA Darin Dahms and Soenke C. Weiss’ story of Uganda’s child soldiers. GREENWAY COURT THEATER, 544 N. Fairfax Ave., L.A.; opens Sat., Sept. 7, 8 p.m.; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Oct. 13. (323) 655-7679.

CAMELOT Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s King Arthur tale. ROYCE HALL, UCLA, Wstwd.; opens Tues., Sept. 11, 8 p.m.; perfs Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 1 & 6:30 p.m.; thru Sept. 23. (213) 365-3500 or www.­UCLALive.org.

CANVAS G. Bruce Smith’s drama about “deception, politics and ambition.” ELECTRIC LODGE, 1416 Electric Ave., Venice; Thurs.-Sat., Sept. 13-15, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 16, 2 p.m. (800) 838-3006.

CLAY Matt Sax’s ascension of a hip-hop star. KIRK DOUGLAS THEATRE, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City; opens Thurs., Sept. 13, 8 p.m.; schedule varies, call for info; thru Oct. 14. (213) 628-2772.

THE COMPOUND DOG Haynes Brooke’s comedy about miraculous pups. ECLECTIC COMPANY THEATRE, 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd., N. Hlywd.; opens Fri., Sept. 7, 8 p.m.; perfs Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Sept. 30. (818) 508-3003 or www.­eclecticcompanytheatre.org.

CONFESSIONS OF A MORMON BOY Steven Fales’ one-man play about a Utah gay man turned New York City call boy. ELEPHANT THEATER, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; opens Fri., Sept. 7, 8 p.m.; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Sept. 30. (323) 960-4446.

DEEP TISSUE COMEDY RELEASE New late-night sketch show. SECRET ROSE THEATER, 11246 Magnolia Blvd., N. Hlywd.; opens Sat., Sept. 8, 11 p.m.; perfs Fri.-Sat., 11 p.m.; thru Oct. 12. (323) 769-5858.

THE DREAMER EXAMINES HIS PILLOW John Patrick Shanley’s exploration of art and women. McCADDEN PLACE THEATER, 1157 N. McCadden Pl., Hlywd.; opens Fri., Sept. 7, 8 p.m.; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Oct. 14. (818) 765-8732.

THE FABULOUS DIVAS OF BROADWAY Alan Palmer portrays 18 of Broadway’s leading ladies. OPEN STAGE WEST, 14366 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; opens Sat., Sept. 18, 8 p.m.; perfs Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; indef. (323) 259-5713 or www.­berlique.com.

FALLING UPWARDS Ray Bradbury’s take on Ireland pub culture. THEATRE WEST, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, Hlywd.; opens Fri., Sept. 7, 8 p.m.; perfs Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Sept. 16. (323) 851-7977.

FOOTSTEPS Roger Rodd’s one-man football dream. THE HAYWORTH, 2509 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; opens Fri., Sept. 7, 8 p.m.; pers Thurs.-Sun., 8 p.m.; thru Oct. 14. (323) 960-5772.

HENRY V Shakespeare’s war story. LEVITT PAVILION, Memorial Park, 85 E. Holly St., Pasadena; opens Fri., Sept. 7, 7:30 p.m.; perfs Fri.-Sun., 7:30 p.m.; thru Sept. 16. (818) 430-7872 or www.­crowncitytheatre.com.

THE HOLLYWOOD FATHER/DAUGHTER PURITY BALL The Reverend Bill Maher speaks on the evils of Hollywood. BULGARIAN CULTURAL CENTER, 1530 Vermont Ave., Hlywd.; Sat., Sept. 8 & 15, 8 p.m. (323) 960-577.

I WAS A TEENAGE HOMO Jeff Scott and Bill Fagan’s disco parody of 1950s B-movies. SECRET ROSE THEATER, 11246 Magnolia Blvd., N. Hlywd.; opens Fri., Sept. 7, 8 p.m.; perfs Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Oct. 13. (323) 769-5858.

LA OFRENDA (THE OFFERING) Jose Casas’ play remembering 9/11. CASA 0101, 2009 E. First St., E.L.A.; opens Fri., Sept. 7, 8 p.m.; perfs Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Sept. 30 (no perfs Sept. 8 & 22; added perf Sept. 11, 8 p.m.). (323) 263-7684.

THE MISANTHROPE Martin Crimp’s adaptation of Moliere's love story, about a British playwright and an American celebrity. NEW PLACE THEATRE, 10950 Peach Grove St., N. Hlywd.; opens Sat., Sept. 8, 8 p.m.; perfs Fri.., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2:30 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m.; thru Oct. 14. (866) 811-4111.

9/11: PERSPECTIVES AND PRETENSIONS TRILOGY Poetry, music, multimedia and performance, featuring J.M. Morris. HIGHWAYS PERFORMANCE SPACE, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., Sept. 7-8, 8:30 p.m. (310) 315-1459 or www.­highwaysperformance.org.

ONE FLEW WEST Outlaw Style Thrance Company’s dance/theatre adaptation of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. STUDIO/STAGE, 520 N. Western Ave., Hlywd.; opens Sat., Sept. 8, 8 p.m.; perfs Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Sept. 30. (323) 860-6503.

THE QUARTERLY REPORT First-person narratives by Deb Faith, Victoria Hoffman, Michelle Philippe, Michael A. Shepperd, Lan Tran and Mari Weiss. FAKE GALLERY, 4319 Melrose Ave., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., Sept. 7-8 & 14-15, 8 p.m. (323) 661-0786 or fakedotcom.com.

SYLVIE Jovanka Bach’s psychological drama. ODYSSEY THEATRE, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., W.L.A.; opens Wed., Sept. 12, 8 p.m.; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Oct. 7. (310) 477-2055.

Larger Theaters

Reviews by Paul Birchall, Lovell Estell III, Mayank Keshaviah, Deborah Klugman, Steven Mikulan, Steven Leigh Morris, Amy Nicholson, Tom Provenzano and Neal Weaver.

BAD APPLES Mark Stein’s story of a suburban couple and the huge hole in their living room floor. RUBICON THEATER, 1006 E. Main St., Ventura; perfs Wed., 2 & 7 p.m.; Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Sept. 9. (805) 667-2900.

BLITHE SPIRIT Noel Coward’s comedy about a socialite haunted by a ghost. WILL GEER THEATRICUM BOTANICUM, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga; schedule varies, call for info; thru Sept. 29. (310) 455-3723 or www.­theatricum.com.

CALLING APHRODITE Velina Hasu Houston’s retelling of the true story of the Hiroshima Maidens, two Japanese sisters who traveled to New York for reconstructive surgery following the atom bomb blast. INTERNATIONAL CITY THEATRE, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Sept. 23. (562) 436-4610.

GO CORTEO Daniele Finzi Pasca’s creation for Cirque du Soleil features 61 aerialists, tight-rope walkers, dwarfs and clowns spinning out a circus act of jaw-dropping visual beauty and physical precision around a clown (Jeff Raz), who imagines his own death and funeral procession. With Martin Labrecque’s ethereally beautiful lighting design, this is as close a depiction of a dream as you’re likely to find in the theater. Most of the clowning falls flat, and Act 2 concentrates on the Olympian gymnasts. Under the Grand Chapiteau in the parking lot of THE FORUM, 3900 Manchester Blvd., Inglewood; Tues.-Thurs., 8 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 4 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 1 & 5 p.m. (added perf Thurs., Sept. 20, 4 p.m.); thru Oct. 28. (800) 678-5440. (SLM)

GO DRACULA Live bats and a gigantic summer moon are co-stars in director Ellen Geer’s assured and imaginative outdoor staging of her adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel. The woodsy Theatricum Botanicum theater space provides a perfectly atmospheric, ghost story–like backdrop, particularly the hillside set, decorated with shadowy gravestones. The performers address the histrionic material with indelible commitment, rendering even the most bizarre situations with ironic humor and a genuine horror. WILL GEER THEATRICUM BOTANICUM, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Sept. 29. (310) 455-3723. (PB)

 GO THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES Missy, Suzy, Betty Jean and Cindy Lou (Kim Huber, Bets Malone, Julie Dixon Jackson and Kirsten Chandler) are pleased as punch to entertain at their senior-class prom. As it’s 1958, tonight’s track list is pure bubblegum, soured up by cat fights over stolen songs and stolen boyfriends. Playwright-director Roger Bean, however, is only half-successful in manufacturing drama and character development. EL PORTAL THEATRE, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Oct. 28. (888) 505-7469. (AN)

GO A MATTER OF HONOR See New Reviews.

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM WILL GEER THEATRICUM BOTANICUM, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga; schedule varies, call for info; thru Sept. 30. (310) 455-3723 or www.­theatricum.com.

SIDE BY SIDE BY SONDHEIM Tribute to composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim. WEST VALLEY PLAYHOUSE, 7242 Owensmouth Ave., Canoga Park; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m.; thru Sept. 9. (818) 884-1907.

THE TEMPEST WILL GEER THEATRICUM BOTANICUM, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Sept. 30. (310) 455-3723 or www.­theatricum.com.

GO TRYING Set in 1967-68, playwright Joanna McClelland Glass’s memory play chronicles her working relationship with American blueblood, Francis Biddle (Alan Mandell) – former clerk for Oliver Wendell Holmes and Attorney General under FDR. Here, Glass’ standin, Sarah Schorr (Rebecca Mozo), is a 25 year old newlywed. The play turns on the developing rapport between the cantankerous octogenarian and his disciplined young assistant. Under Cameron Watson’s direction, its strongest asset is Mozo’s crisp performance. COLONY THEATRE, 555 N. Third St., Burbank; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m. (added perfs Aug. 25, 3 p.m.; Aug. 30 & Sept. 6, 8 p.m.); thru Sept 9. (818) 558-7000. (DK)

GO WICKED In this musical riff on the witches of Oz (by Stephen Schwarz and Winnie Hollzman), Joe Mantello directs a marvelous spectacle that looks like a diversion but is actually quite the opposite. Eden Espinoza as the green-skinned, bespectacled girl-witch Elphaba has a contagiously smart appeal. After recognizing that Elphaba’s not going to power-play along with the Wizard’s (John Rubinstein) Stalinist shenanigans, Mrs. Morrible (the delightful Carol Kane), starts a witch hunt for the girl, and the whole thing starts to resemble some of the tawdrier chapters in American history. PANTAGES THEATER, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 1 & 6:30 p.m.; indef. (213) 365-3500. (SLM)

GO ZORRO IN HELL Zorro, the post-WWI creation of pulp writer Johnston McCulley, became the avatar of masked comic book heroes everywhere and, somewhat improbably, an inspiration for Chicano pride. Or did he? Culture Clash (Richard Montoya, Herbert Sigüenza and Ric Salinas) investigates the Zorro myth and history through a rollicking, sometimes untidy farce that suffers from an unfocused Act 2 but still delivers provocative comedy. Tony Taccone directs. RICARDO MONTALBÁN THEATRE, 1615 Vine St., Hlywd.; Wed.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2:30 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 & 7:30 p.m.; thru Sept. 30. (877) 359-6776. (SM)

Smaller Theaters

Hollywood, West Hollywood, Downtown

GO BAD SEED Director-performer Danny Schmitz’s low-tech remake of Maxwell Anderson’s 1954 Broadway play about a psychopathic 8-year-old tyke traffics in such high camp that Schmitz positions a gymnast-dramaturge (Kyle Blitch) — script in hand — on top of the living room fridge. From that height, like a referee, he throws down a white tissue whenever the uproarious cast veers off text. Most surprising is how every syllable of the ludicrous exposition is word perfect. Except for a few slack bits, the audience is kept laughing to the risk of asphyxiation. Buzzworks Theatre Company at the LOUNGE THEATRE, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m., plus some Sun. & Thurs. shows; thru Sept 23. (323) 960-5563. (AN)

GO BEAUTIFUL MORNING See New Reviews.

GO THE CAR PLAYS Given that this is a city whose inhabitants live and die by their cars, this unique melding of site-specific theater and freeway crawl should be hailed as a local treasure. The production consists of 15 one-act plays, performed in 15 different cars in the theater parking lot. It’s quite amazing how many stories can be told in the front seat of a car, and the production’s voyeuristic appeal is undeniable: You fee like a ghost popping in and out of the characters’ lives, in plays that are brief and quite charming. Moving Arts and the Steve Allen Theater in the parking lot of the CENTER FOR INQUIRY–WEST, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; call for schedule; thru Oct. 7. (866) 811-4111. (PB)

GO THE COMPLICATIONS OF PURCHASING A POODLE PILLOW The brilliance of Mary Lynn Rajskub’s standup act stems from a kind of bewildered, inarticulate persona who goes off on digressions and deliberately neglects to finish stories. The disarray is a con; by show’s end, it all adds up. Because of Chloe – her character on Fox’s 24 -- she says she was invited to a counter-terrorism panel hosted by Rush Limbaugh, who, in a moment of introduction, accidentally kissed her on the lips. After rumors of their affair spread around the country, she e-mailed Limbaugh, asking for a date — the response was blistering. If none of this is actually true, it’s even more impish and delightful. Steve Allen Theater at the CENTER FOR INQUIRY–WEST, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Sun., 8 p.m.; indef (no perfs first Sunday of every month). (800) 595-4TIX. (SLM)

GO DANNY AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA I’m not ­really a fan of Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, John Patrick Shanley’s 1984 “Apache dance” for two actors. A richly textured examination of generic emotions, it’s been done here so often because it offers a showcase for a man and woman who meet in a Bronx bar to play the walking wounded from the lower depths, slide into a moonlit fantasy of love and marriage in her modest bedroom, and then wake to find themselves in a wrestling match with that same fantasy. But actors Deborah Dir and Daniel De Weldon play out Shanley’s Apache dance with scrupulous honesty and attention to the details of blackened knuckles and bruised pasts, we see the art and craft of being, the sacred authenticity of it in a world of fakery. ELEPHANT PERFORMANCE LAB, 1076 N. Lillian Way, Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Oct. 6. (323) 960-7753. (SLM)

GO A DOLL’S HOUSE Director Elina DeSantos’ emotionally wrenching production of Henrik Ibsen’s marital drama avoids trendy directorial gimmicks and political interpretation, and instead focuses, as it should, on the story of a marriage based on mutual incomprehension. DeSantos’ wonderfully nuanced, intimate staging is energetic and lively, and it shrewdly limns the characters’ psychologies in subtle ways. As Anna Quirino Miranda’s Nora darts all over the stage, her fixed expression of bubbly happiness is almost painful to watch. One small flaw is the demonizing of her husband. ARK THEATRE COMPANY, 1647 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Sept 8. (323) 969-1707. (PB)

GO GROUNDLINGS YEARBOOK Director Deanna Oliver returns the Groundlings to the classic, irreverent content, creative élan and manic energy that put this house on the map. The sketches all yield laughs; even the customarily hit-and-miss improv segments deliver the goods. Complementing the material is a skilled cast of comics who are as funny as they are relaxed on stage. For example, “Yanni” features a befuddled and mustachioed Andrew Friedman as a flamboyant Greek composer struggling desperately to get it right for a PSA on behalf of victims of multiple sclerosis. GROUNDLINGS THEATRE, 7307 Melrose Ave., L.A.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 8 & 10 p.m.; thru Sept. 22. (323) 934-9700. (LE3)

GO HAVANA BOURGEOIS Politics is “just a bunch of old rich white men fighting over money” proclaims Manuel (Theodore Borders), the Afro-Cuban errand boy at an advertising agency in 1958 Havana. The statement portends the communist revolution, which slowly but surely transforms the life of each employee in the agency’s art department during the course of Carlos Lacámara’s play. Despite the at times heavy and political nature of the drama, humor undercuts the tension. Director Jon Lawrence Rivera brings to life the well-delineated characters of Lacámara. A Fixed Mark Production at THE HAYWORTH THEATRE, 2509 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Oct. 7. (213) 389-9680. (MK)

GO HEADS EM Lewis’ intense drama portrays the nightmare of four Western hostages in Iraq. American engineer Harold Wolfe (James Eckhouse) has been held in isolation for six months when Caroline (Beth Broderick), a British Embassy employee, is tossed into his tiny, dank holding cell, gagged and blindfolded. Meanwhile, in a neighboring cubicle, two journalists (Jeremy Gabriel and J. Richey Nash) clash over whether to attempt an escape. Under Darin Antony’s direction, the question of who we are beneath our posturing lands with such force, it jangles the nerves long after the play has ended. THE BLANK THEATRE, 6500 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Sept. 23. (323) 661-9827. (DK)

GO THE IDIOT BOX Michael Elyanow’s beguiling parody of sitcoms unfolds in a capacious New York penthouse shared by six friends. This disparate group provides comic fodder for most of the first act, as they become embroiled in familiar sitcom foibles embellished with laugh tracks. Just when you get the impression that this is all nothing more than an trivial sitcom run amok, the mood subtly darkens, the sound effects cease and reality intrudes. Elyanow’s intelligent script is rife with humor and irony, and is superbly augmented by Jeremy B. Cohen’s perceptive direction of the fine cast. NEW OPEN FIST THEATRE, 6209 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat, 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m., thru Sept. 8. (323) 882-6912 (LE3)

GO THE IDIOTS Somewhere between the insanity of Monty Python, the cynicism of Penn and Teller and the stupidity of the Three Stooges exists this bizarre comedy by writer-performers Craig Anton and Ron Lynch. The conceit framing their wild physical and verbal antics is the reunion of two rivals — respectively the sons of Watson and Crick, who discovered DNA. With the appearance of a guest comic, the hour show flies by with humor and even some human insight and pathos beneath the Idiots’ smug stupidity, a sadness that stems from their emotional slavery to their much smarter and famous fathers. STEVE ALLEN THEATER, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., Los Feliz; last Thurs. of the month, 8 p.m.; indef. (800) 595-4TIX. (TP)

GO INVASION! THE MUSICAL After a mysterious light appears in the sky, the inhabitants of Tucker County, New Mexico, panic and demand answers from Sheriff Brewster (Will Harris), a potbellied mountain of a man who loves liquor and X-rated jokes. Things get stranger when old man Fletcher (Ben Giroux) turns up without genitals, walking like a zombie and chanting the names of menu items from a Mexican restaurant. Playwright-director Aaron Matijasic’s book and lyrics leave no ethnic group unskewered, and the fine ensemble’s physical comedy stays at just the right pitch. HUDSON BACKSTAGE THEATRE, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Sept. 23. (323) 960-7612 (LE3)

GO JUNK: A ROCK OPERA Scandinavian band Brainpool’s decade-plus career ranges from sugary pop to this anticorporate musical that draws on influences as varied as ELO, Meatloaf, Madame Butterfly and Michael Moore. At the headquarters of Junk Inc. (a fascist conglomerate with a tabloid and nightclub), the office drones live in ecstatic fear of The Man, who struts around in Lucifer’s red suit and preys on their self-esteem. The winsome, fanciful music overwhelms the lyrics and plot, which seems to be that diva Martina has big ambitions, but her boyfriend Hanes keeps singing about quitting Junk to work with his hands. The large ensemble invests in the show’s simplistic, agreeable politics with passion, whirling around in neon brights to director Shakina Nayfack and co-choreographer Raime Becker’s mash of moves that recall capoeria, cheerleading and, of course, marionettes. LYRIC THEATRE, 520 N. La Brea Ave., L.A.; Thurs.-Sun., 8 p.m.; thru Sept. 30. (AN)

GO IT’S JUST SEX Writer-director Jeff Gould’s clever comedy relies on the familiar device of a dangerous party game to send its plot spinning, but that familiarity turns provocative and surprisingly enlightening. When Joan (Carolyn Hennesy) finds her husband, Phil (Eric Lutes), inflagrante with a hooker (Tiffany Ellen Solano) in their living room, she’s doubly furious because she’s expecting guests for a party. Gould steers his terrific cast with an unerring eye, and designer Gary Guidinger provides the handsome set. ZEPHYR THEATRE, 7456 Melrose Ave., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Sept. 23. (323) 960-7721. (NW)

THE LARK This production of Jean Anouilh’s play about Joan of Arc, translated by Lillian Hellman and directed by Robert Craig, is well done. Amanda Karr is an eloquent, spunky Joan, and the clerical forces lined up to destroy her are forcibly presented. The play shows a barbarous assault by a horde of self-righteous Catholics on a naive girl, who, if a man, would surely have been hailed as a hero. Brian Reindel’s set, Vicki Conrad’s costumes and Mike Mahaffey’s fight choreography are all first rate. The play sounded fresh in 1953, but in a new century of shorter attention spans, it drowns in verbosity. KNIGHTSBRIDGE THEATRE, 1944 Riverside Drive, L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; indef. (323) 667-0955. (NW)

THE MAGIC STRING See New Reviews.

MODELOGUES Sarah Happel’s collection of monologues about beauty, fame and fashion. DORIE THEATER AT THE COMPLEX, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Oct. 14. www.­modelogues.com.

OUT OF YOUR MIND! Theatergoers sip wine at a tasteful private home until a pushy assistant director (Patrick Censoplano) announces the first of Steven Kane’s two short plays, In the Night of the Bed. The man (Andrew Macbeth) claims to be an extra, only this isn’t a movie, but Molly’s (Kelly Anne Ford) dream, and the rest of the cast are the regrets and pains she revisits every night. Less pat and engaging is Rhinovirus, a chipper sci-fi saga set in a future New New York where pain, suffering and disease have been criminalized. Under Jane Lanier’s direction, the staging is intimate but the acting is as broad as the Grand Canyon. GuerriLA Theatre at a PRIVATE RESIDENCE, 2806 Nichols Canyon Place, L.A.; schedule varies, call for info; thru Dec. 8. (818) 972-2467. (AN)

THE OUTSKIRTS OF PARADISE The parameters of playwright Jamie Virostko’s tale of family dysfunction will at first seem quite familiar — a family get-together over a holiday weekend gradually turns into a veritable No Exit of backbiting, recriminations and burnt dinner entrées. Virostko’s dialogue is heartfelt and poignant, hanging in limbo on a formless plot. Director Adam Legg’s laggardly paced production adds inappropriate weight and listlessness at times. Still, by the end of the show, we’ve started to feel we’ve been with wonderfully familiar people whom we actually know. Alliance Theater at THE MET, 1089 N. Oxford Ave., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Sept 15. (323) 223-6564. (PB)

PIRATES AND NINJAS: An Extravagant Adventure See New Reviews.

PROOF David Auburn’s drama about a mathematician’s daughter. ACTORS CIRCLE THEATRE, 7313 Santa Monica Blvd., W. Hlywd.; Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Sept. 8. (323) 882-8043 or www.actorscircle.net.

RESTING IN PIECES Sam Bobrick’s wacky funeral comedy. THEATRE 68, 5419 Sunset Blvd., Suite D, Hlywd.; perfs Wed.-Thurs., 8 p.m.; thru Oct. 4. (323) 960-7827.

RUMOURS OF OUR DEATH The allegory for our political society concocted by playwright George F. Walker may be too literal, but its wackiness liberates producer-director Michele Lainevool’s zippy production from this venue’s claustrophobic confines. When the King (the commanding Stone Van Gorder) leads the country into an imminent war, the common people, already struggling to make a livelihood, are forced to pay the Princess’s ransom to terrorists. At least Walker’s dialogue is thought provoking, and the production contains some high points. Ethos Theatre Company at TRES STAGE THEATRE, 1523 N. La Brea Ave., Second Floor, Hlywd.; Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Sept. 15. www.theatrehollywood.com. (Sophia Kercher)

SONDHEIM UNSCRIPTED Impro Theater improvs Sondheim-style opuses based on audience suggestions. THEATRE/THEATER, 5041 W. Pico Blvd., L.A.; Thurs., 8 p.m.; thru Oct. 11. (323) 401-6162 or www.improtheatre.com.

A SONG FOR VANYA Robin Eschner, Bret Martin and John Shillington’s musical version of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya. THEATRE/THEATER, 5041 W. Pico Blvd., L.A.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Oct. 6. (323) 954-9795.

SPOOK NIGHT See New Reviews.

SYLVIA A.R. Gurney’s comedy about a man, his wife and his dog. META THEATER, 7801 Melrose Ave., L.A.; perfs Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Sept. 23. (323) 993-7113.

THINGS YOU SHOULDN’T SAY PAST MIDNIGHT Peter Ackerman’s “comedy in three beds.” LYRIC-HYPERION THEATER, 2106 Hyperion Ave., Silver Lake; perfs Tues.-Thurs., 8 p.m.; thru Sept. 27. (323) 906-2500.

THE TOMORROW SHOW Late-night variety show created by Craig Anton, Ron Lynch and Brendon Small. STEVE ALLEN THEATER AT THE CENTER FOR INQUIRY–WEST, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Sat., mid.; indef. (323) 960-7785.

WALKING INTO TRAFFIC Kyle T. Wilson’s comedy about a radio newscaster who cracks. UNKNOWN THEATER, 1110 N. Seward St., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m.; thru Oct. 13. (323) 466-7781 or www.unknowntheater.com.

GO ZANNA DON’T There’s something strange about a gay-friendly musical in which the characters are homosexuals at the beginning, but magically turn straight by the end. Is this lurking gay self-hatred, or perhaps a cross-over ­strategy? Writer-composer Tim Acito (with additional material by Alexander Dinelaris) has created a clever, fast-­moving show that relies more on charm than logic. Director Nick DeGruccio shepherds a young cast through a crowd-pleasing romp. Musical direction, choreography and technical credits are all top-notch. West Coast Ensemble at the LYRIC-HYPERION THEATRE, 2106 Hyperion Ave., Silver Lake. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m., Sun., 3 p.m.; indef. (323) 906-2500. (NW)

The Valleys

ALICE IN WONDERLAND THRU THE LOOKING GLASS Lewis Carroll’s dream with songs (by Christopher Reiner), is re-imagined by Alice’s great-granddaughter (Jessica Amal Rice). “Dream your own dreams,” Alice’s Sister (Jana Wimer) counsels the kid before Alice takes a nap, and we’re off. The 70-minute production’s arch and unmodulated presentational style becomes something of a shriek fest, The piece nonetheless flies to dystopia on the cleverness and the whimsy of co-directors Denise Devin and Zombie Joe’s adaptation, in conjunction with their blazingly theatrical impulses. ZOMBIE JOE’S UNDERGROUND, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8:30 p.m.; thru Sept. 8. (818) 202-4120. (SLM)

ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN Adaptation of Robert Fulghum’s inspirational best-seller, musical direction by Daniel Gary Busby. WHITEFIRE THEATRE, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Oct. 7. (818) 990-2324 or www.plays411.com.

ARSENIC AND OLD LACE Joseph Kesselring’s comedy about lethal spinsters. LONNY CHAPMAN GROUP REPERTORY THEATRE, 10900 Burbank Blvd., N. Hlywd.; perfs Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Sept. 23. (818) 700-4878 or www.­lcgrt.com.

GO CESAR & RUBEN Most of Ed Begley’s spirited musical tribute to labor activist Cesar Chavez (Danny Bolero) and L.A. Times labor reporter Ruben Salazar (Mauricio Mendoza) essays Chavez’s story. In Act 2, we learn of Salazar’s tragic shooting by an L.A. County Sheriff’s deputy at a 1970 Vietnam War protest. For the sake of balance and the underlying reasons that these two men meet, more needs to be dramatized about the Latino journalist. Under Begley’s smart direction, Bolero and Mendoza are rock solid, and the lives of their characters unfold with compelling interest. NOHO ARTS CENTER, 11136 Magnolia Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 & 8 p.m.; thru. Sept. 9. (818) 508-7101. (LE3)

CONFESSIONS OF A CATHOLIC CHILD In Elizabeth Appell’s melodrama, 70-something Regina (Sandra Lafferty) lives tormented by recollections of abortion, adultery and a shattered marriage. Her suicidal thoughts are interrupted by ghosts from the past and the fantastical apparition of a pleasure-loving, free-will-spouting Pope (Paul Strolli). Directed by Lauren McCormack, the piece stumbles on Lafferty’s too-deliberate performance but comes vividly to life around Kinberly Atkinson’s vivacious, fun-loving phantom from the past. Virtual Theatre Project at DEAF WEST THEATRE, 5112 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Sept. 23. (323) 663-0112. (DK)

GO ECCENTRIC Ernest Hemmings’ gruesomely funny play is a cynicism-fest about promiscuity and marital frustration. The Winkermans (James Thomas Gilbert and Rachel Sorsa Khoury) are a caustic pair — highly sexual and bitterly acidic with each other. The solution to their woes, they believe, is to bring in another woman to spice things up. David L. Stewart’s smart, focused direction captures the play’s every nasty moment, resulting in a hilarious evening that makes one feel a bit dirty for having enjoyed it. RIPRAP STUDIO THEATRE, 5755 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Sept. 29. (818) 990-7498. (TP)

THE GINGERBREAD LADY Neil Simon’s dramatic comedy about a post-rehab cabaret singer. SIERRA MADRE PLAYHOUSE, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre; perfs Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m.; thru Sept. 22. (626) 256-3809.

INSIDE OUT See New Reviews.

KING OF THE CITY: An Evening With Al Capone Robert Gallo’s one-man show. LONNY CHAPMAN GROUP REPERTORY THEATRE, 10900 Burbank Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Sat., 2 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Sept. 22. (818) 700-4878 or www.lcgrt.com.

GO LUCY & THE WOLF When needy Lucy (Tara Hunnewell) returns home after work, she cuts through a dark alley and comes upon Johnny Wolfe (Scott Conte), preparing to blow his brains out. The chemistry between them is intense, and suddenly they’re having violently satisfying sex. He’s apparently a hit man, but Lucy marries him anyway. Act 2 reveals how the first act was merely a performance, and the two characters are actors appearing in a small not-for-profit theater. The play, written and directed by Stefan Marks, is strange and intriguing; Hunnewell and Conte are terrific. TWO ROADS THEATRE, 4348 Tujunga Ave., Studio City; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 23 & 30, 7 p.m.; thru Sept. 30. (888) 210-3649. (NW)

MATTER OF HONOR Michael J. Chepiga’s story of an African-American West Point cadet. PASADENA PLAYHOUSE, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 4 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; thru Sept. 30. (626) 356-PLAY or www.pasadenaplayhouse.org.

THE SPOT Danny LeGare’s coming-of-age dramedy set in a bar. THE BANSHEE (FORMERLY THE GENE BUA THEATRE), 3435 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Sept. 22. (818) 761-6551.

THE TENDER TRAP Max Shulman and Robert Paul Smith’s revival of a classic Broadway show. STAGE DOOR THEATRE, 28311 Agoura Rd., Agoura Hills; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun. 2 p.m.; thru Sept. 15. (818) 889-5209.

GO TITUS ANDRONICUS If you thought today’s slasher movies were gruesome, check out this rarely performed early Shakespeare classic, generally regarded as historically fascinating literary crap. Natasha Vargas-Cooper’s sturdy direction comes with requisite dark humor applied to this loud, long gore fest relocated from ancient Rome to 1930s Italy under the fascists. While the spray-on gray in 20-something Charles Pasternak’s hair does not convince one of Titus’ maturity, the stentorian tone of his line deliveries does. Porters of Hell’s Gate at the WHITMORE-LINDLEY THEATER CENTER, 11006 Magnolia Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 4 p.m.; thru Sept. 9. (310) 497-2884. (MH)

Westside, Beaches

GO GULLIVER’S TRAVELS Joshua Zeller’s bawdy, scatological adaptation of Jonathan Swift’s political satire rockets by, yet loses none of its Augustan bite. Lemuel Gulliver (the likable Keythe Farley) is the ship surgeon who voyages to four “remote nations of the world,” finding, along the way, increasingly unflattering reflections of contemporary human behavior. Zeller’s telling of the classic only rarely strains to draw direct parallels with the 21st century, but by evening’s end, we don’t feel some sense of a larger story. P. Adam Walsh directs the enthusiastic ensemble. Actors’ Gang at the IVY SUBSTATION THEATER, 9070 Venice Blvd., Culver City; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Oct. 27. (310) 838-4264. (SM)

GO THE HASTY HEART In John Patrick’s sentimental play, produced on Broadway in 1945, director Michael Rothhaar’s offers such a restrained yet detailed staging, the three acts move swiftly. In a British army hospital in Burma during World War II, Yank (Keith Stevenson), Digger (Nathan Mobley), Kiwi (Michael Balsley) and Tommy (Ron E. Dickinson) cheerfully endure tropical heat and slow recoveries until the arrival of Lachy (the excellent Scott Jackson), a laconic, grumpy Scot. Only hard hearts will be able to resist the playwright’s belief in the redemptive power of friendship. PACIFIC RESIDENT THEATER, 703 Venice Blvd., Venice; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Oct. 14. (310) 822-8392. (David Mermelstein)

KILLER JOE Acclaimed playwright Tracy Letts touches audiences . . . inappropriately, with a voyeuristic journey that pushes the limits of decency and comedy. GARAGE THEATRE, 251 E. Seventh St., Long Beach; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Sept. 8. (866) 811-4111 or www.garagetheatre.org.

GO MODERN ORTHODOX hangs on Michael Goldstrom’s blisteringly funny portrayal of an Orthodox Jewish Tartuffe, Hershel Klein, in Daniel Goldfarb’s schematic comedy. Diamond merchant Hershel bursts into Ben (Ross Benjamin) and girlfriend Hannah’s (Robyn Cohen) life, so that the unobservant couple suddenly find themselves in the middle of The Dybbuk. The comedy’s glee and cultural satire make up for its lapses in credulity, and Howard Teichman directs the action with the perfect interplay of farce and pathos. Theatre 40, on the campus of BEVERLY HILLS HIGH SCHOOL, 241 Moreno Drive (enter on Olympic due to road construction); in repertory, call for schedule; thru Sept. 9. (310) 364-0535. (SLM)

PRIVATE LIVES Noel Coward's comedy about exes honeymooning in the same hotel. LONG BEACH PLAYHOUSE, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Sept. 29 (added perfs Sept. 9 & 23, 2 p.m.). (562) 494-1014.

GO QUARTET German Heiner Müller’s adaptation of Choderlos de Laclos’ 18th-century novel, Les Liasons Dangereuses is a dense and poetical sequence of arias and dialogues spoken by two characters (Troy Dunn and Sharon Gardner), terrified of aging and playing out a jealousy duet. Set against the sky-blue backdrop of Charles A. Duncombe’s elegant production design, director Frederique Michel’s spectacle is as beautiful to watch as it is to hear. Michel’s overlay of Kabuki formalization helps elevate the lusty melodrama from a poem about the meaning of sex to one about the meaning of life. CITY GARAGE, 13401?2 (alley) Fourth St., Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 5:30 p.m.; thru Sept. 23. (310) 319-9939. (SLM)

SOME GREEKS ARE NOT IN THE RESTAURANT BUSINESS Greg Lewis’ solo comedy. BEVERLY HILLS PLAYHOUSE, 254 S. Robertson Blvd., Beverly Hills; Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Sept. 9. (310) 358-9936 or www.­camelotartists.com.

TUG OF WAR Adaptation of Amy Richlin’s translation of Plautus’ Rudens, by Meryl Friedman. GETTY VILLA, 17985 Pacific Coast Hwy., Malibu; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Sept. 29. (310) 440-7300.

TITUS THE CLOWNICUS “Shakespeare’s bloodiest and most macabre drama (Titus Andronicus) becomes rip-roaring family fare” in Angela Berliner’s adaptation. ACTORS’ GANG AT THE IVY SUBSTATION THEATER, 9070 Venice Blvd., Culver City; Sat.-Sun., 11 a.m.; thru Sept. 9. (310) 838-4264.

Special Events

DANCING QUEEN Cabaret dinner theater history of the Queen Mary cruise liner. Aboard the QUEEN MARY, 1126 Queens Hwy., Long Beach; Fri., 7:30 p.m.; Sat., 7 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Nov. 18. (562) 435-3511 or www.tibbiescabaret.com.

A DELICATE ARRANGEMENT Staged reading of Dawn Leary’s play about a young actor and an artist’s widow. THE HAYWORTH, 2509 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; Mon., Sept. 10, 8 p.m. (213) 389-9860.

ESCAPE REALITY Steve Spill and Bozena Sparrow perform classic illusions. MAGICOPOLIS, 1418 Fourth St., Santa Monica; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; indef. (310) 451-2241 or www.magicopolis.com.

FALSETTOS William Finn’s Broadway musical. WILSHIRE THEATRE, 8440 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills; Sat., Sept. 8, 8 p.m. (213) 480-3232.

IN HELL Radomir Luza’s one-man show. WHITEFIRE THEATRE, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; Wed., Sept. 12, 8 p.m. (818) 990-2324.

THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD Rupert Holmes’ Victorian musical. WESTCHESTER PLAYHOUSE, 8301 Hindry Ave., Westchester; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Oct. 20. (310) 645-5156.

THE NEED TO KNOW Former intelligence analyst April Fitzsimmons’ take on Cold War bureaucracy. A benefit performance for VetStage. WHITEFIRE THEATRE, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; Sun., Sept. 9, 8 p.m. (310) 880-0911.

THE OH! SHOW: OLD & HORNY Monica Palacios’ solo show, part of three-day event Tongue 2 Tongue for “queer women of color.” THE VILLAGE AT ED GOULD PLAZA, L.A. GAY & LESBIAN CENTER, 1125 N. McCadden Place, Hlywd.; Sat., Sept. 8, 7 p.m. (323) 860-7300 or www.tonguetotongue.org.

SHOUT! Meme Kelly’s “literary musical.” BARNSDALL GALLERY THEATER, 4800 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Sun., Sept. 9, 7 p.m. (818) 990-6967.

SPONTANEOUS FANTASIA J. Walt Adamczyk’s musical-visual-theatrical extravaganza. GLENDALE COMMUNITY COLLEGE PLANETARIUM, 1500 N. Verdugo Rd., Glendale; schedule varies, call for info; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 6:30 & 8 p.m.; thru Nov. 10. (626) 688-0778 or www.spontaneousfantasia.com.


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