This week's cover story on Pee-wee Herman; this week's Stage feature on An Oak Tree


Fire-eater Julia Prud'homme Photo by Kiff Scholl

Theatre of NOTE presents its 15th annual Performance Marathon this

coming Saturday, Jan. 16, 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. Sunday morn. Performers

include John Fleck, Taylor Negron, Leon Martell, Liam Sullivan, Ten

West, Jon Ruff and the Tuffingtons, Alison Arngrim, Kirsten Vangsness,

Julia Prud'homme, Andy Dick, Culture Clash and more. 1517 N. Cahuenga

Blvd. in Hollywood. Info here


In order to close its budget deficit, the Los Angeles Unified School District plans to eliminate half of its elementary school arts teachers (music, dance, theater, visual arts) in 2011 and the remaining half in 2012, by which time there would be no elementary school arts instruction of any kind in our public schools. The ramifications for that are as daunting as they are obvious. Arts for L.A. is circulating a petition to the LAUSD Board of Education to reconsider its draconian plan. The petition is here

OVATIONS WINNERS ANNOUNCED at its ceremony last Monday at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center. Twenty-nine awards were handed out to 17 different SoCal theater companies, in the peer-nominated competition, administrated by Los Angeles Stage Alliance. Center Theatre Group (Lydia at the Mark Taper Forum and The Little Dog Laughed at the Kirk Douglas Theatre) led with four, followed by the Troubadour Theatre Company (Alice in One Hit Wonderland and As U2 Like It) and the Louis & Keely producing team (Louis & Keely, Live at the Sahara) with three each. NoHo Arts Center Ensemble (Dracula), Musical Theatre West (The Producers), Havok Theatre Company (Kiss of the Spider Woman), Ebony Repertory Theatre (Two Trains Running) and Chalk Repertory Theatre (Family Planning) tied with two awards each. More info here.

in their production of North Atlantic Perfs begin Feb. 10. More info here.

AUDRA MACDONALD CROONS AT UCLA One night only, Feb. 1, 8:30 p.m. at the Freud Playhouse, as part of the Reprise Theatre Company series. Info here 

For COMPREHENSIVE THEATRE LISTINGS press the Continue Reading tab directly below.


Our critics are Paul Birchall, Lovell Estell III,Martin Hernandez,

Mayank Keshaviah, Deborah Klugman, Steven Leigh Morris, Amy Nicholson,

Tom Provenzano, Bill Raden, Luis Reyes, Sandra Ross and Neal Weaver.

These listings were compiled by Derek Thomas


AGA-BOOM The Aga-Boom clowns clown around. Carpenter Performing Arts

Center, 6200 Atherton St., Long Beach; Sat., Jan. 16, 8 p.m.; Sun.,

Jan. 17, 2 p.m., (562) 985-7000.

ARTS IN THE ONE WORLD Only at Calarts: “Presentations, performances

and workshops that demonstrate how survivors, artists and scholars give

testimony and bear witness to circumstances of conflict and social

injustice, opening imaginative space for participation in the recovery

of historical memory and social renewal.”. California Institute of the

Arts, 24700 McBean Pkwy., Valencia; Jan. 21-24, (661) 253-7800.

BAAL Bertolt Brecht's tale of a profligate poet. Sacred Fools

Theater, 660 N. Heliotrope Dr., L.A.; opens Jan. 15; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.;

Thurs., Jan. 28, 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 20, (310)



Baker productions celebrating the marionette theater's 50th

anniversary. Bob Baker Marionette Theater, 1345 W. First St., L.A.;

opens Jan. 19; Tues.-Fri., 10:30 a.m.; Sat.-Sun., 2:30 p.m.; thru April

11, (213) 250-9995.

CAMELOT The Arthurian extravaganza, book and lyrics by Alan Jay

Lerner, music by Frederick Loewe. Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino

Ave., Pasadena; opens Jan. 15; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 4 & 8

p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 7,

(626) 356-PLAY.

CONFUSIONS Quintet of interlinked plays by Alan Ayckbourn. Lost

Studio, 130 S. La Brea Ave., L.A.; opens Jan. 15; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.;

Sun., 4 p.m.; thru March 7, (323) 960-5775.


Negron, Leon Martell, Liam Sullivan, Ten West, Jon Ruff and the

Tuffingtons. Hosted by Alison Arngrim and Kirsten Vangsness. Theatre of

NOTE, 1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd., L.A.; Sat., Jan. 16, 2 p.m., (323) 856-8611.

FIBBER MCGEE AND MOLLY Playhouse actors re-create the original radio

broadcasts, complete with commercials and sound effects. Sierra Madre

Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre; Sun., Jan. 17, 7

p.m., (626) 256-3809.

“FIRESIDE AT THE MILES” Reading of Donald Margulies' Dinner With Friends,

by the Santa Monica College Theatre Arts Department. Miles Memorial

Playhouse, 1130 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica; Sat., Jan. 16, 8 p.m..

(310) 458-8634.

FRIENDS LIKE THESE Gregory Crafts' teen violence drama. Sherry

Theatre, 11052 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood; opens Jan. 15;

Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Jan. 30, (818)


GEORGE GERSHWIN ALONE Music and lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira

Gershwin, starring Hershey Felder. Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon

Road, Laguna Beach; opens Jan. 17; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.;

Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 24, 7 p.m.; Thurs., Jan. 28, 2 p.m.;

thru Feb. 21, (949) 497-2787.

GRAVITYWORKS L.A. premiere of creator-director-producer Russell

Boast's cabaret that's “part comedy troupe/part vaudeville act/part

kick-ass music/part performance.”. Cinespace, 6356 Hollywood Blvd.,

Second Level, L.A.; opens Jan. 21; Thurs., 7:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 25, (800) 838-3006.

HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE Paula Vogel's story of survival behind the

wheel. Chandler Studio, 12443 Chandler Blvd., Valley Village; opens

Jan. 15; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 20, (800) 838-3006.

THE IMAGINARY INVALID Parson's Nose theater company performs

Moliere's comedy. Pacific Asia Museum, 46 N. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena;

opens Jan. 15; Fri.-Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 5,

(626) 403-7667.

IT'S CRIMINAL! THE COMEDY! Courtroom adventures with criminal

defense attorney Murray Meyer. Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 Fourth St.,

Santa Monica; opens Jan. 16; Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 13. (323) 960-7780.

JACKIE MASON: NO HOLDS BARRED The funny man's comedy tour de force.

Wadsworth Theatre, 11301 Wilshire Blvd. (on the Veterans Administration

grounds), L.A.; Jan. 20-23, 8 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 24, 3 p.m., (800) 982-2787.

THE JAMB World premiere of J. Stephen Brantley's comedy. Eclectic

Company Theatre, 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Valley Village; opens Jan.

15; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 21. (818) 508-3003.

THE LEAGUE OF S.T.E.A.M. “The League creates a multi-sensory

reimagining of the fascinations and foibles of the Victorian past:

steam-powered thrills, ectoplasmic oddities and supernatural

curiosities.”, free. Renee's Courtyard Cafe, 522 Wilshire Blvd., Santa

Monica; Sun., Jan. 17, 7 p.m., (310) 451-9341.

LOYALTIES Two couples' sons enlist in the military at the height of

the war on terror, in Tony Pasqualini's drama. Pacific Resident

Theatre, 703 Venice Blvd., Venice; opens Jan. 16; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.;

Sun., 3 p.m.; thru March 28, (310)


ON THE AIR Golden Age of Radio murder-mystery musical comedy.

Whitefire Theater, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; opens Jan. 16;

Sat., 8 p.m.; thru March 6, (323) 960-4420.

ORPHEUS DESCENDING Gale Harold, Denise Crosby and Claudia Mason star

in Tennessee Williams' modern retelling of the ancient Greek legend.

Theatre/Theater, 5041 Pico Blvd., L.A.; opens Jan. 15; Thurs.-Sat., 8

p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 21, (800) 838-3006.

THE PEE-WEE HERMAN SHOW Paul Reubens returns as the kooky character he

debuted on the Groundling stage in 1981. Club Nokia, 800 W. Olympic

Blvd., L.A.; opens Jan. 20; Tues.-Thurs., 8 p.m.; Sat., 4:30 & 8

p.m.; Sun., 4 & 7:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 7, (800)


PROJECT: WONDERLAND Bootleg's take on the Lewis Carroll fantasy.

Bootleg Theater, 2220 Beverly Blvd., L.A.; opens Fri., Jan. 15, 8 p.m.;

perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Jan. 31. (213) 389-3856.

WAITING FOR GODOT Samuel Beckett's absurdist classic. A Noise

Within, 234 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale; Sat., Jan. 16, 2 & 8 p.m.;

Sun., Jan. 17, 2 & 7 p.m.; Thurs., Jan. 21, 8 p.m.; Fri., Jan. 22,

8 p.m.; Sat., Jan. 23, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 24, 2 & 7 p.m., (818) 240-0910.


raves. Garage Theatre, 251 E. Seventh St., Long Beach; opens Jan. 15;

Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 8 & 10 p.m.; thru Jan. 30. (866) 811-4111.

PRINCESS BEAN'S MESSY WORLD Rock & roll kids musical about a

petite punk princess. Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Ave., Venice; opens

Jan. 16; Sat., 12:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 6, (310)


PROOF David Auburn's Pulitzer Prize winner, starring disabled

actress Teal Sherer. NoHo Arts Center, 11136 Magnolia Blvd., North

Hollywood; opens Jan. 16; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb.

21. (323) 960-7863.

RAY BRADBURY'S WISDOM 2116 Two by science-fiction author Ray Bradbury: Wisdom (1916), a new play, and 2116,

a new musical, book and lyrics by Bradbury, music by John Hoke,

developed, directed and choreographed by Steve Josephson. Fremont

Centre Theatre, 1000 Fremont Ave., South Pasadena; opens Jan. 16;

Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 27, (323) 960-4451.

RUN FOR YOUR WIFE Ray Cooney's marriage farce. Morgan-Wixson

Theatre, 2627 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica; opens Jan. 16; Fri.-Sat., 8

p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 13, (310)


THE SENSUOUS SENATOR Michael Parker's 1988 bedroom farce. Sierra

Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre; opens Jan. 15;

Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 27, (626) 256-3809.

A SONG AT TWILIGHT Orson Bean, Alley Mills and Laurie O'Brien star

in Noel Coward's last play. Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd.,

L.A.; opens Jan. 16; Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 17, 7 p.m.; Sun., 2

p.m.; thru March 7, (310) 477-2055.

THE SURVEILLANCE SOLOS Dance-theater work by Rebecca Alson-Milkman.

Highways Performance Space, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica; Jan. 15-16.

(310) 315-1459.

TFN TILTED FRAME NETWORK Live improv comedy, simultaneously

broadcast via Internet from L.A. and San Francisco. Theatre Asylum,

6320 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; opens Jan. 15; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru

Jan. 29. (323) 962-1632.

UNDERNEATH THE LINTEL Glen Berger's tale of a library book returned

133 years overdue. Little Fish Theatre, 777 Centre St., San Pedro;

opens Jan. 20; Wed.-Thurs., 8 p.m.; thru Jan. 28. (310) 512-6030.

WEST Steven Berkoff's 1983 working-class London play. Electric

Lodge, 1416 Electric Ave., Venice; opens Jan. 15; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.;

thru Feb. 6, (310) 823-0710.


AWAKE AND SING! L.A. Theatre Works' staged reading of Clifford

Odets' Great Depression story. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N.

Sepulveda Blvd., Brentwood; through Jan. 15, 8 p.m.; Sat., Jan. 16,

2:30 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 17, 2 p.m., (310) 827-0889.

GO FROSTY THE SNOW MANILOW Take one measure of

maudlin, '70s TV holiday kitsch; add a dozen, inappropriate pop

melodies from the same decade's premier adult-contemporary hit maker;

fold in generous helpings of sardonically retooled lyrics and camped-up

choreography; season to taste with puerile puns, off-color double

entendres and relentlessly self-mocking ad libs; and half-bake for an

hour with an ensemble of crack clowning parodists. This, in a roasted

chestnut shell, is the winning recipe for the Troubadour Theater

Company's annual, off-kilter Christmas confections. To their die-hard

fans, it is immaterial that this year's musically mashed-up targets are

the treacly 1969 cartoon special, Frosty the Snowman, or the

sentimental mewling of the Barry Manilow songbook. With top

chef/director Matt Walker again at the controls of the comedy

Cuisinart, all that matters is that the resulting purée is flavored

with his peerless timing and mischievously wry sensibility. Paul C.

Vogt fills designer Sharon McGunigle's appropriately ludicrous Frosty

costume as the magically animated snowman who hates kids but is

nonetheless resigned to being saved from melting by the cloyingly

effusive schoolgirl, Karen (Christine Lakin). Walker is the evil

magician, Hinkle, who throws plot complications and one-liners in their

path. Standouts include Beth Kennedy, who literally stops the show to

perform insult standup as the Winter Warlock (think Juliette Lewis on

stilts); Rick Batalla as the Station Master with Vegas ambitions; Jack

McGee as the cantankerous narrator and a jive-talking Santa; and the

always remarkable musical director, Eric Heinly, and his Troubadour

band. (Bill Raden)., $32.50 & $40. Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside

Dr., Burbank; Wed.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 4 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 4 & 7

p.m.; thru Jan. 17. (818) 955-8101.

HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL Directed by Obba Babatunde, Choreography by Rena

Phillips and Sherman Steward, Musical Direction by DeBorah

Sharpe-Taylor. Madrid Theater, 21622 Sherman Way, Canoga Park; Fri., 7

p.m.; Sat., 3 & 7 p.m.; thru Jan. 16. (818) 347-9938.

GO MARY POPPINS The riveting theatricality of Bob

Crowley's production design, climaxing in chimney sweep Bert (Gavin

Lee) soft-shoeing straight up, then upside down across the proscenium

arch, and culminating in a showstopping umbrella flight over the

audience by the famous titular nanny, produces an excitement that far

outshines the limited value intrinsic in much of the musical's written

material. Likewise the sublime showmanship of choreographer Matthew

Bourne and stage director Richard Eyre hides the flaws in Julian

Fellowes' disjointed script and new music by George Stiles and Anthony

Drew. Unlike most of Disney's Broadway smashes that producer Thomas

Schumacher has magically transformed from animated film to stage, this

is a hybrid between Disney's 1964 movie masterpiece, whose fun and

fanciful score by Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman still holds up, and

the operetta gleaned from the original novel (with rights held by the

Cameron Mackintosh team). The two styles battle one another for

dominance, and neither wins. Most of the film's story lines are

banished in favor of closer adaptation of the P.L. Travers books with

the familiar songs wedged into the scenes, while the new songs more

closely fit the story, but lack spark. Nevertheless the production is

an audience pleaser, with demonstrable talent on or off the stage. (Tom

Provenzano)., $20-$92. Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., L.A.;

Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 1 & 6:30 p.m.; thru

Feb. 7. (213) 628-2772.

NEW YEAR NEW WORKS FESTIVAL Theatre West Writers' Workshop's

readings of new plays. Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, L.A.;

Through Jan. 16, 8 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 17, 12 & 3 p.m.. (323) 851-7977.

Photo by Henry DiRocco/SCR

Though meant to be ironic because it is a story of New

York City which, of course, is always extraordinary, the title is

actually prophetic about Adam Gwon's light, predictable pop-musical

“ode to New York” that only occasionally rises above the ordinary. Four

whimsical young characters (played by Nick Gabriel, Deborah S. Craig,

David Burnham and Nancy Anderson) try to navigate through the

turbulence of Manhattan searching for love and purpose. Unfortunately

most of the 18 songs are pattery ditties that give the talented cast

little to work with. Only Burnham  gets to let loose with his belting

voice. At one point, in the Metropolitan Museum, Gwon's composition

actually moves into high-gear with some complicated rhythms,

beautifully handled by musical director Dennis Castellano, that

actually sound like an homage to Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with

George. The characters in simple situations of youthful angst — though

a moving tribute to 9/11 stops the show with unearned emotion. The

evening's best aspect is Fred Kinney's mechanical stage design of

Manhattan architecture, complemented by Jason H. Thompson's clever

projections. South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa;

Sat.-Sun., 2 & 7:45 p.m.; Tues.-Fri., 7:45 p.m.; thru Jan. 24.

(714) 708-5555. (Tom Provenzano)

PALESTINE, NEW MEXICO When U.S. Army Captain Catherine Siler

(Kirsten Potter) stumbles into “Bumfuck” –a New Mexico Indian

reservation –she's already tripping, exhausted from crossing the

desert, dehydrated and addicted to her now-terminated prescription meds

for pain and stress. That's before she drinks a peyote-laced beverage

given to her by one of the natives, for dehydration. So in Richard

Montoya's mess of a new play, which contains the germ of a beautiful

idea, there are dreams, and then there are dreams. I tracked at least

four plays, each in different styles, and for a 90-minute experience

without intermission, that's the dramaturgical definition of a cake

just been put in the oven, with ingredients still bumping up against

each other. Lisa Peterson directs. (Steven Leigh Morris). Mark Taper

Forum, 135 N. Grand Ave., L.A.; Tues.-Sun..; thru Jan. 24. (213)


GO POINT BREAK LIVE! Jaime Keeling's merciless

skewering of the 1991 hyper-action flick starring Keanu Reeves and Gary

Busey is loaded with laughs, as well as surprises, like picking an

audience member to play Reeves' role of Special Agent Johnny Utah. It's

damn good fun, cleverly staged by directors Eve Hars, Thomas Blake and

George Spielvogel. (LE3). Dragonfly, 6510 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.;

Fri., 8:30 p.m.; Sat., 8 p.m.. (866) 811-4111.


7-and-under set, this good-natured interactive musical exudes appeal

beyond its demographic. Inspired by a German folktale, writers Lloyd

Schwartz and Hope Juber's adaptation features a good fairy named

Hyacinth (Mary Garripoli) as the prime mover of events. After she

welcomes the audience with a song about the importance of “doin' good,”

along comes a prince (understudy Iain Gray) who sings about “lookin'

good.” His attitude so annoys Hyacinth that she turns him into a frog,

stipulating that he can only return to his natural form if kissed by a

princess. The rest of the story proceeds along more or less traditional

lines: The frog recovers the lost ball of a querulous princess (Jenn

Wiles) who is reluctant to keep her promise to kiss him until pressured

by her father, the king (Anthony Gruppuso). Much of the piece's charm

stems from the delight –and the unintended comedic faux pas

–displayed by the youngsters called up on the stage to participate.

The non-patronizing performers seem to be enjoying themselves as well.

A song “Croak Croak, Ribbit, Ribbit” involving a couple of frog puppets

is contagiously entertaining, whatever one's age. The uncredited

costumes are fun too. Barbara Mallory Schwartz directs, with songs by

Hope Jube and musical director Laurence Juber. (Deborah Klugman).

Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, L.A.; Sat., 1 p.m.; thru Feb.

27. (323) 851-7977.

RIVERDANCE The Irish step-dancing spectacular. Pantages Theater,

6233 Hollywood Blvd., L.A.; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.;

Sun., 1 & 6:30 p.m.; thru Jan. 24, (213)




1920s Shanghai is the setting of Debbie McMahon's wonderfully

environmental tour de force of clowning, dancing and blood, which

evokes, with ferocious imagination, not just a bygone era but also the

atmosphere of the Grand Guignol. Upon arrival at the theater, we are

ushered into an ante-chamber outside the actual auditorium, which has

been set up to resemble a Shanghai bazaar. There are sallow-eyed

maidens serving tea — and also warm absinthe, strained through sugar,

Thomas De Quincey-style. The scent of the absinthe wafts through the

entire theater, melding with dry ice and creating a mood that elegantly

mixes pleasure and decay. The play's first act, “Sing Song Girl Sings

Last Song,” is a haunting ballet of despair, involving a cast that

includes jaded “Sing Song Girl” prostitute Bright Pearl (Tina Van

Berckelaer), a young virgin protégé (Amanda Street) who dreams of

becoming Top Whore, and calculating Madame Old Bustard (Dinah Steward),

who plots to sell the virgin to be raped and mutilated by a piglike

mobster (Roy Starr). Anchored by Jeanne Simpson's pleasingly

melodramatic choreography, the dance tackles a compelling story of

rage, despair and vice. Steward's charmingly sinister Old Bustard

steals every scene she's in –but Street's scheming, loathsome virgin

is a standout as well. Act 2's vignette, Chris Bell's “The Cabinet of

Hands,” is a gripping horror tale, with a sharp twist of quirky humor.

A prissy young French couple (Robin Long and Zachary Foulkes),

vacationing in Shanghai, gets more than they bargain for when they go

slumming at the opium den owned by a seemingly kind old woman (Elyse

Ashton). As the thrill-seeking Westerners get happily stoned on The

Dragon's Tail, the old woman's diabolical true nature shows through.

The final scene consists of a jaw-dropping gorefest that will have you

simultaneously howling with terror and laughter (while slipping your

hands in your pockets for safekeeping). Ashton's wicked old woman is

the perfect embodiment of mysterious evil –and the horrific fate of

Long's ill-fated naif hilariously suggests an anti-drug teaching moment

that's very effective. (Paul Birchall). Artworks Performance Space,

6569 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru

Jan. 23. (800) 838-3006.

GO ACCOMPLICE: HOLLYWOOD Part game, part theater,

part tour: It all begins with a phone call disclosing a secret meeting

location. Aided by clues and mysterious cast members strewn throughout

various locations, such as street corners, bars, iconic landmarks and

out-of-the-way spots, the audience traverses the city streets, piecing

together clues of a meticulously crafted plot. (Steven Leigh Morris).

Hollywood Blvd., TBA, L.A.; Fri.-Sat.

ACME SATURDAY NIGHT ACME's flagship sketch show, with celebrity

guest hosts each week., $15. Acme Comedy Theatre, 135 N. La Brea Ave.,

L.A.; Sat., 8 p.m.. (323) 525-0202.


Photo by J. R. Lawton

In The Ninth Ward of New Orleans, Marcus (Keith

Arthur Bolden) isn't scared of the newly arrived hurricane, Katrina.

Marcus is an expert on everything — at least, he watches a lot of TV

— and vows the water won't rise above 10 feet. But Marcus' theories

and conclusions have always gotten him, brother Quentin (Tony Williams)

and Marcus' girlfriend Charlie (Candice Afia) in over their heads with

one bad hustling scheme after another. Still, Marcus is convinced he's

the brains of the group, even if he has to badger Quentin and Charlie

until they agree. When Quentin limps in, sopping wet and still in his

orange prison jumpsuit with a bullet hole in his thigh, the two

siblings have a violent score to settle. Terence Anthony's taut one-act

drama is effective agony. Two character twists may not add up, but

while the audience perches practically in the living room of Jorge I.

Velasquez's realistic dingy set, with the rain hammering down, the

tension is as thick as the storm clouds we imagine overhead. Solid

performances keep the spell going, particularly by Afia as the

strong-willed girlfriend trying to break free from Marcus' emotional

abuse. Sara Wagoner directs. Moving Arts, 1822 Hyperion Ave., Silver

Lake; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 28. (323) 666-3259.

(Amy Nicholson)

DOCTOR NOGUCHI Gary LeGault's story of an L.A. County coroner and

the ghosts of celebrities past. Ruby Theater at the Complex, 6476 Santa

Monica Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun..; thru Jan. 31. (310)


F*CKING MEN Joe DiPietro's observations on the sex lives of modern

urban gay America. Celebration Theatre, 7051-B Santa Monica Blvd.,

L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 14. (323) 957-1884.

FRIDAY NIGHT LIVE That's weekly sketch comedy done by some of the

best in the sketch biz. Acme Comedy Theatre, 135 N. La Brea Ave., L.A.;

Fri., 8 p.m.. (323) 525-0202.

GO THE GLASS MENDACITY Devotees of Tennessee

Williams will surely delight in this send-up of the playwright's

best-known dramas. Maureen Morley and Tom Willmorth have blended

characters and motifs from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire

into one big, irreverent stew of laughs. Gathered together at the Belle

Reeve plantation are Mitch (Ken Johnson, who doubles as a narrator),

Amanda (Stephanie Strand), Maggie (Renee Scott), Brick (a dummy named

Eliot Barrymore), Stanley (Joe Dalo) and Blanche (Catherine Cronin, who

traveled by way of a certain streetcar). The occasion is Big Daddy's (a

hilarious Quincy Miller) arrival from the hospital and a celebration of

his birthday. As in Cat, the cigar-smoking patriarch has cancer but is

told he is suffering only from a “spastic colon.” And we must not

forget dear Laura Dubois (Strand), who limps and vomits her way

throughout, while fixated on her menagerie of animals made of ice

cubes. From this disparate collection of Williams' familiars, the

writers weave a quirky narrative involving lust, insanity, infidelity,

sibling rivalry, intrigue and lots of mendacity. It probably helps if

you have some knowledge of Williams' plays, (in one scene Stanley calls

out “Starland,” instead of Stella). Andrew Crusse provides the solid

direction. (Lovell Estell III). Hayworth Theatre, 2511 Wilshire Blvd.,

L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Jan. 30,

(323) 969-1707.

HAMLET The Porters of Hellsgate present Shakespeare's tragedy.

Flight Theater at The Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.;

Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 13. (951) 262-3030.

HELLZ KITCHEN ABLAZE Tommy Carter's drama of urban malaise, police

brutality, and corruption. Elephant Space Theatre, 6322 Santa Monica

Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 6, (323) 962-0046.

THE HOUSE OF BESARAB Anyone expecting Tamara II may want to give a pass to this disappointing adaptation of Dracula.

Though the production shares the venue –the landmark Hollywood

American Legion Post –that housed the legendary environmental stage

hit and promises a similarly immersive theatrical experience,

playwrights Terance Duddy (who directs and is also the set and light

designer) and Theodore Ott's anemic text simply pales before the

full-blooded characterizations and labyrinthine simultaneity that made Tamara

so richly rewarding. Here the Post stands in for Castle Dracula as

Dracula (Michael Hegedus) himself appears in the atrium to welcome the

assembled audience “to witness a battle between good and evil.” In

point of fact, what ensues is essentially the final chapter of Bram

Stoker's novel embroidered with the reincarnation-romance subplot of

Francis Ford Coppola's 1992 film version and a bizarre, mad-scientist

twist worthy of Roger Corman. The audience can either follow the Count

and his servile assistant, Renfield (David Himes) into “the Great Hall”

or wait for Dr. Van Helsing (Travis Michael Holder), Dr. Seward

(Jessica Pagan understudying for Terra Shelman) and Harker (Dane

Bowman), who soon arrive with a somnambulent Mina (Chase McKenna) on a

mission to save her vampire-baptized soul. (Hint: Follow Van Helsing;

he's where the action — and the better writing — is.) Despite the

capable cast's game effort and some elegant costuming by Sara Spink

(who also does a fine turn as one of Dracula's very pregnant brides), a

lackluster production design and stolid direction only compound the

exposition-laden script's failure to realize its environmental-theater

ambitions. (Bill Raden). Hollywood American Legion, 2305 N. Highland

Ave., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 9 p.m.; Sun., 8 p.m.; thru Jan. 17. (310)


THE INTERNATIONALISTS Poor Dog Group re-creates the space race.

Lillian Theatre, 1076 Lillian Way, L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Jan.


JUST A SONG AT TWILIGHT Willard Manus' drama about growing up in a

deaf household. Write Act Theater, 6128 Yucca St., L.A.; Thurs.-Sun..;

thru Feb. 28. (323) 469-3113.

GO LIFE COULD BE A DREAM This affectionate doo-wop jukebox musical by writer-director Roger Bean (The Marvelous Wonderettes),

with clever choreography by Lee Martino, handsome set by Tom Buderwitz,

and spectacular lighting by Luke Moyer, is designed to incorporate hit

songs of the 1960s, ranging from the goofy “Sh Boom” and “Rama Lama

Ding Dong” to anthems like “Earth Angel,” “Unchained Melody,” “The

Great Pretender,” and “The Glory of Love.” In small-town Springfield,

the local radio station is sponsoring a rock-and-roll contest, and

go-getter Denny (Daniel Tatar) is convinced he can win and become a

star. He enlists his klutzy, nerdish, endearing friend Eugene (Jim

Holdridge) and church-choir singer Wally (Ryan Castellino) to join him.

Needing a sponsor to provide the $50 entrance fee for the contest, they

apply to the proprietor of the local auto chain. He sends his top

mechanic, handsome, hunky Skip (Doug Carpenter), and his pretty

daughter Lois (Jessica Keenan Wynn), to audition the guys, and by the

end they're incorporated in the new group, Denny and the Dreamers. This

is pure fluff, and the terrific ensemble makes every note count in this

rousing good-time musical. (Neal Weaver). Hudson Mainstage Theatre,

6539 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 & 8

p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 28. (323) 960-4412.

MEETING OF MINDS If you don't remember who Steve Allen was, here's a

primer: The bespectacled writer, radio personality, TV talk and game

show host (he was the first Tonight Show host), musician and

composer (“This Could Be the Start of Something Big”) was ahead of his

time –Bill Maher, David Letterman, Johnny Carson and David Frost

rolled into one. He asked guests hard questions, was book-smart,

inimitably witty and took chances. One chance that paid off and set a

precedent for intelligent TV (now there's an oxymoron) was his PBS show

Meeting of Minds, which consisted of teleplays featuring

roundtable “interviews” with historical figures such as Cleopatra,

Teddy Roosevelt, Attila the Hun and Plato. The show ran from 1977 to

1981 and became hugely popular as an entertaining and riveting way to

learn about history. Now, you can witness live performances of Allen's

actual scripts in a revival of the original shows. Steve Allen Theater,

at the Center for Inquiry-West, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., L.A.; Third

Sunday of every month, 7 p.m.. (323) 666-4268.

MOIST! Mariann Aalda and Iona Morris are MILF-y inspirational

sexperts, heading (so to speak) the Multiple Orgasm Initiative for

Sexual Transformation. Hayworth, 2509 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; Sun., 7

p.m.; thru Feb. 28, (323) 960-4442.

PICASSO AT THE LAPIN AGILE Steve Martin's 1993 comedy. East Theatre

at the Complex, 6468 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.;

Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 13. (323) 960-7714.

NEW REVIEW GO SHAKESPEARE UNSCRIPTED The Impro Theatre specializes in improvising

full-length plays in the literary style of prominent writers,

including, in the past, Jane Austen, Tennessee Williams, and Stephen

Sondheim. Here, under the direction of artistic directors Brian Lohman

and Dan O'Connor, they're tackling the Bard, taking the most minimal

suggestions from the audience and spinning them into dizzily amusing

mock-Shakespearean epics. At the performance I attended, they created a

comedy that might be called Much Ado About Blue-Birds. Miranda (Lisa

Frederickson) is the slightly deaf daughter (she seems to hear clearly

only the songs of blue-birds) of the Duke of Kent (Lohman). Kent has

decided to marry her off to the elderly Duke of York (Floyd Van

Buskirk), but she has already developed a fancy for Price (O'Connor), a

young man from the village who loves her, and has learned to tweet like

a blue-bird to woo her. The course of true love is threatened by a

couple of mischievous fairies (Brian Jones and Edi Patterson) and a

man-eating bear until the blissful final scene, which is as sententious

as any old Will created. The company (including Michele Spears and

Stephen Kearin) is clever, nimble and quick on its feet, and the result

is an amiable, crowd-pleasing divertissement. Theatre Impro at Theatre

Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.;

Sun., 7 p.m., thru Feb. 14. (323) 401-9793. (Neal Weaver) 

SUNDAY OF THE DEAD All-new sketch and improv by the Sunday Company.

Groundling Theater, 7307 Melrose Ave., L.A.; Sun., 7:30 p.m.. (323)


NEW REVIEW TWENTY-TWO A friend once explained his decision to quit cocaine as his

weariness of the disreputable types with whom he was forced to deal and

of the even scarier places where they invariably dealt. So it is in

actor-playwright Julia Morizawa's hyperkinetic, autobiographical

addiction nightmare. For Leila (Morizawa), the story's 22-year-old

heroine, however, no amount of unsavory associations can deter her from

her unapologetic, single-minded snorting of coke with the fierce

efficiency of a shop vac. Her unbridled enthusiasm for the powder soon

ensnares her two best friends, Zoe (Shaina Vorspan) and the musician,

Danny (Matthew Black), whose cluttered apartment becomes Leila's de

facto drug den. And with her boyfriend/dealer, Eric (Raymond Donahey),

as their enabler/supplier, the friends' walk on the sordid side quickly

careens into a coked-up version of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Director

Donahey intensifies the luridness of the proceedings by seating the

audience on the set like so many uninvited guests. But Morizawa's

restricting focus on the outward spectacle of her characters' freefall

rarely musters pathos for their plunge. While the play hints at deeper

demons whetting Leila's manic appetite (i.e. fear and self-loathing),

the evening's most poignant and revealing moment belongs not to its

protagonist but to its bogeyman, Sol (the fine James Adam Patterson),

when the unscrupulous street dealer speaks with pride over a daughter's

scholastic achievements. Had Morizawa been as generous with her other

characters, she might have delivered something more engaging than

sideshow debasement and morbid, voyeuristic thrills. Knightsbridge

Theater, 1944 Riverside Dr., Silver Lake; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Jan.

30. (323) 667-0955. (Bill Raden)

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., L.A.; Sat., midnight. (323)


THE WINDUP PUPPET SHOW Windup puppets come to life to the music of

Manheim Steamroller. Created by Chris Berube, directed and co-written

by Wendy Carter. Next Stage Theater, 1523 N. La Brea Ave., Second

Floor, L.A.; Thurs., 8 p.m.; thru Jan. 28, (323)



AFTER HOURS SHOW Presented by Neo Acro Theatre Company. Avery Schreiber Theater, 11050 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood; Sat., 11 p.m.; thru Jan. 30.

NEW REVIEW ALMOST, MAINE Love is very much in the air in the idyllic community of

Almost, Maine, the setting for John Cariani's homage to Cupid's often

strange, unpredictable machinations. The play is formatted as a series

of star filled, romantic encounters that are mostly sugary sweet, with

a sprinkling of salt for good measure. Director Ashley Archambeau does

a fine job marshaling the cast of 18, all of whom turn in good

performances. This more than makes up for the sillier, vacuous moments

that spring up during some of these vignettes. A good example of this

would be “They Fell,” with Erout Dolen and Adam Sandroni as two pals

whose underlying sexual attraction for each other causes them to fall

on the floor. It's funny for all of 10 seconds, but the skit lasts far

longer. Ditto for “This Hurts,” where a bout of head bashing with

ironing boards turns gratingly sentimental and silly. “Where it Went”

is a heart wrenching meditation on love lost with Luke Wright and

Arianna Arias as a couple whose once magical attraction has evaporated.

“Sad and Glad” tosses in a bit of the mysterious with Greyson Lewis and

Lauren Andrea as strangers brought together by a misspelled tattoo. Neo

Acro Theatre Company at the Avery Schreiber Theater, 11050 Magnolia

Blvd.; North Hollywood.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m., thru Jan. 30. (Lovell Estell III)

A BIG GAY NORTH HOLLYWOOD WEDDING Interactive homo-nuptials by William A. Reilly and Ben Rovner. Crown City Theatre, 11031 Camarillo St., North Hollywood; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Jan. 23. (818) 605-5685.

CIRCUS WELT Pavel Cerny wrote and directs this world-premiere production with “20 actors, 50 costumes, 6 clowns, 6 Nazi stormtroopers, several love affairs, laughter and tears.”. Whitefire Theater, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; Sun., 2:30 & 7:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 14. (866) 811-4111.

GBLT: GAYS, BACON, LETTUCE AND TOMATO Tasty treats from Theatre Unleashed's sketch comedy troupe Die Gruppe. Sherry Theatre, 11052 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood; Through Jan. 16, 10:30 p.m.; Wed., Jan. 27, 9 p.m.; Sat., Jan. 30, 10:30 p.m., (818) 849-4039.

NEW BEGINNINGS Neo Acro Theatre Company presents six original short plays by local writers. Avery Schreiber Theater, 11050 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood; Sun..; thru Jan. 31…

ONE MAN, TWO PLAYS Dan Hildebrand in The Nonsense by Kevin Cotter and Whatever Gets You Through the Night by Andrew Kazamia. Sidewalk Studio Theatre, 4150 Riverside Dr., Burbank; Thurs., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 25. (323) 960-5650.


GO THE BROWNING VERSION Though not as widely known or acclaimed as his contemporary British playwrights, Terence Rattigan was a superb dramatist and chronicler of human emotions. Here, Rattigan's The Browning Version, the gloomy story of an aging schoolteacher crushed by failure and disappointment, receives a stellar mounting by director Marilyn Fox. A well-regarded scholar of the classics, Andrew Crocker-Harris (the superb Bruce French) has spent the last 18 years as an instructor at a public school in England but must leave the position because of failing health to take a less-stressful job elsewhere. Now the object of jokes and ridicule by his students, and denied a pension by the school, he has a bearing that is subdued by sadness, yearning and a palpable “gallows” surrender to circumstance. His wife, Millie (Sally Smythe), has given up on being happy with him and has contented herself with numerous dalliances with his colleagues (which she delights in reminding him of), and cruelly undermining what remains of his sense of manhood. Her current lover, Frank (understudy David Rogge), is torn between a sense of guilt, his admiration for Andrew, and the dying embers of lust for Millie. It is only when the professor is presented with a rare translation of Agamemnon from a student (Justin Preston) that his mask of stoic restraint melts to reveal a desperately fragile inner life. From this sedate tapestry of characters, Rattigan artfully probes marriage, relationship and our perverse capacity to embrace lacerating emotional pain and self-deceit, which all unfolds beautifully on Norman Scott's cleverly designed sitting-room mock-up. Fox directs this piece with masterful subtlety and draws devastatingly convincing performances from her actors.(Lovell Estell III). Pacific Resident Theatre, 703 Venice Blvd., Venice; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 14. (310) 822-8392.

CHAPTER TWO Neil Simon's 1977 comedy about a widowed writer. Theater Palisades' Pierson Playhouse, 941 Temescal Canyon Road, Pacific Palisades; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 14. (310) 454-1970.

Photo by Heather Kampf

Playwright-performer Paul Kampf may have come up with the

perfect rationalization for writing what would seem, at face value, the

most implausible plot twists for his psychological thriller. It

concerns an affair between a mathematician, Martin Healy (Kampf),

visiting New York from his London home to attend a conference, and a

waitress, Angela Madison (Liz Rebert), with whom he becomes smitten.

Under Gita Donovan's direction, the actors' waves of attraction and

repulsion (from mutual distrust that slowly and hauntingly seeps out)

have a truthfulness that matches the authenticity of  the uncredited

studio apartment set, where the entire saga plays out. A rising tension

from the violence in the air and some very intriguing inter-connections

adds to play's capacity to entrance, and Chris Cash's musical

compositions help segue the many scenes with a delicate solemnity,

giving the event a cinematic feel. References to chaos theory and

conspiracy theory become the philosophical frame for plot developments

what might otherwise raise eyebrows in skepticism. The play rides the

line between exploring and exploiting coincidences, yet it gets bogged

down in its own psychological realism. This raises questions that can't

be answered by chaos theory, or any other – such as why the characters

sometimes blurt out incendiary details of their past, given how neither

is particularly trust-worthy, or why Martin would drop by uninvited and

wind up reading Angela's diary, conveniently left in her bed. Breadline

Productions at the Odyssey Theater, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los

Angeles; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; through Feb. 7. (310)

477-2055. (Steven Leigh Morris)       

IN THE COMPANY OF JANE DOE Los Angeles Theatre Ensemble presents Tiffany Atone's world premiere. Powerhouse Theatre, 3116 Second St., Santa Monica; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 6, (310) 396-3680.

ITALIAN AMERICAN RECONCILIATION John Patrick Shanley's comedy about two lifelong friends. Ruskin Group Theater, 3000 Airport Dr., Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Jan. 23. (310) 397-3244.

LOVE IN BLOOM By Chris DeCarlo and Evelyn Rudie. Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 Fourth St., Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m.; thru Feb. 26. (310) 394-9779.


Photo by William Adashek

On the simplest story-telling level, actor-performer Tim

Crouch's play is the tale of a hypnotist, falling apart at the seams,

who accidentally struck and killed a girl with his car, and how he one

day finds the victim's father on his stage. Wrenching stuff. But on a

conceptual level, the event takes this very emotional saga and uses it

as a kind of ping pong ball to bat around the idea of suspension of

disbelief – realities that we create through suggestion. In order to

accomplish this, he employs a different actor for each performance,

whom he meets less than one hour before the performance, and who reads

the role of the father from a script. And so, through a frame of

hypnotism that's just one of the play's many artifices, begins a

breathtaking examination of the blurred  line between what is real and

what is suggested, of how we live in dream worlds in order to get by,

and how theater itself is a kind of hypnosis that serves this very same

purpose. Its brilliance is unfetttered and inexplicably moving, for

being such a head-trip. Odyssey Theater, 2055 Sepulveda Boulevard, West

Los Angeles; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; through Feb. 14. (310)

477-2055. (Steven Leigh Morris) See Theater feature on Wednesday night.

PICK OF THE VINE Nine original short plays selected from submissions by playwrights from around the world. Little Fish Theatre, 777 Centre St., San Pedro; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 31, 7 p.m.; Thurs., Feb. 11, 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 13. (310) 512-6030.

SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION The Kentwood Players present John Guare's drama. Westchester Playhouse, 8301 Hindry Ave., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 13, (310) 645-5156.

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