Opening This Week

BARNUM Life story of the man who created the Greatest Show on Earth, told through musical numbers by Cy Coleman and Michael Stewart. NoHo Arts Center, 11136 Magnolia Blvd., N. Hlywd.; opens Fri., Feb. 10, 8 p.m.; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru March 26. (818) 508-7101, Ext. 5.

BEN FRANKLIN: Unplugged Josh Kornbluth’s history lesson/autobiographical journey. Rubicon Theater, 1006 E. Main St., Ventura; previews Fri., Feb. 10, 8 p.m.; opens Sat., Feb. 11, 7 p.m.; perfs Wed., 2 & 7 p.m.; Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 5. (805) 667-2900.

BOARDERS Privileged kids live the good life at an exclusive co-ed boarding school, in Jeny Quine’s comedy. Cassiopeia Theater Company at the Art/Works Theater, 6569 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; opens Fri., Feb. 10, 8 p.m.; perfs Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru March 4. (323) 860-6585.

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., Feb. 10, 8 p.m.; Sat., Feb. 11, 2:30 & 8 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.

COMMON BONDS Four sets of siblings deal with crises, in Jan Michael Alejandro’s play. Secret Rose Theater, 11246 Magnolia Blvd., N. Hlywd.; opens Sat., Feb. 11, 8 p.m.; perfs Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 12. (818) 766-3691.

ECLIPSED Burke Brogan’s play about Ireland’s Magdalene laundries, where unwed mothers would go to trade their babies for lifelong toil in a church. Theater Banshee at the Gene Bua Theater, 3435 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank; opens Fri., Feb. 10, 8 p.m.; perfs Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 18. (818) 628-0688.

FISH OUT OF WATER IN SHARK CITY A “response” to Vanity Fair writer Nancy Jo Sales’ critique of L.A.’s young generation by Jonathan Caren. Elephant Theater, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; previews Fri., Feb. 10, 8 p.m.; opens Sat., Feb. 11, 8 p.m.; perfs Fri.-Sun., 8 p.m.; thru March 5. (866) 811-4111.

FOOLS IN LOVE Evelyn Duboff’s stories of “love, lust and longing.” Odyssey Theater Ensemble, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., W.L.A.; opens Sun., Feb. 12, 2 p.m.; perfs Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 19. (310) 477-2055.

THE GLASS MENAGERIE Tennessee Williams’ “memory play.” Colony Theater, 555 N. Third St., Burbank; opens Sat., Feb. 11, 8 p.m.; perfs Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m., Sat., 3 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; thru March 12. (818) 558-7000.

HITCHCOCK BLONDE A British professor and his comely student investigate Alfred Hitchcock’s fascination with blondes in peril, in the American premiere of Terry Johnson’s play. South Coast Repertory, Segerstrom Stage, 655 Town Center Dr., Coast Mesa; opens Fri., Feb. 10, 8 p.m.; perfs Sun. & Tues., 7:30 p.m.; Wed.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m.; thru March 12. (714) 708-5555.

JESUS’ KID BROTHER Rock musical about the hassle of having a celebrity sibling. International City Theater, Long Beach Performing Arts Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach; opens Fri., Feb. 10, 8 p.m.; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 12. (562) 436-4610.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN . .?. ETHEL WATERS Charmaine Mancil portrays the blues singer. Space at Fountain’s End, 3929 Fountain Ave., Silver Lake; Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 25. (323) 856-6168.

LOVE LETTERS A lifetime of correspondence is exchanged in A.R. Gurney’s romance. Haven Theater Company at the South Pasadena Woman’s Club, 1424 Fremont Ave., S. Pasadena; Sat., Feb. 11 & 18, 8 p.m. (310) 617-0725.

ON THE VERGE, or The Geography of Yearning A trio of Victorian explorers uncover future artifacts, in Eric Overmyer’s play. Theater 40, Reuben Cordova Theater, 241 Moreno Dr., Beverly Hills High School Campus; opens Mon., Feb. 13, 8 p.m.; perfs Mon.-Wed., 8 p.m.; thru March 8 (added perfs Feb. 19 & 25-26, 2 p.m.). (310) 364-0535.

STARCROSSED S.A. Shipley’s prequel to Romeo and Juliet. Attic Theater, 5429 W. Washington Blvd., L.A.; opens Fri., Feb. 10, 8 p.m.; perfs Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru March 18. (323) 525-0600, Ext. 2.

THAT MAY WELL BE TRUE Two friends reunite to dispute who thought up the idea for a successful novel, in Jay Reiss’ comedy. Ruskin Group Theater, 3000 Airport Dr., Santa Monica Airport; opens Fri., Feb. 10, 8 p.m.; perfs Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru April 1. (310) 397-3244.

URBAN DEATH: Valentine’s Massacre! ZJU’s latest “romantic thriller.” Zombie Joe Underground at ZJU Theater Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; opens Fri., Feb. 10, 8:30 p.m.; perfs Fri.-Sat., 8:30 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru March 12. (818) 202-4120.

A VAST WRECK Richard Caliban’s tragedy. Theater of NOTE, 1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hlywd.; opens Fri., Feb. 10, 8 p.m.; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru March 18. (323) 856-8611.


WAIT UNTIL DARK Suspense thriller by Frederick Knott. Athena Theater Company at the Lounge Theater, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; opens Thurs., Feb. 16, 8 p.m.; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru March 25. (818) 754-1423.

A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE Oscar Wilde’s ?dark comedy. Fiesta Hall, Plummer Park, Martel Ave. & Santa Monica Blvd., W. Hlywd.; opens Fri., Feb. 10, 7 p.m.; perfs Fri.-Sat., 7 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru March 5. (323) 960-5691.

Larger Theaters

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

For complete reviews, go to

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; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 26. (818) 884-1907.

BOSTON MARRIAGE David Mamet’s drawing-room comedy. Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Wstwd.; 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.

DIVA Redefined and reclaimed over the decades by VH1 specials and glittered T-shirts, sitcom writer turned playwright Howard Michael Gould here re-establishes the concept of diva as pejorative. Deanna Denninger (Annie Potts), star of the Emmy-winning, humbly titled comedy Deanna, drives with Gould’s license, acting like a right bitch. Potts is a fine comedian, trapped here in an irredeemably unfunny role. The lack of onstage chemistry or credibility compounds this show’s problems, which include momentum-stifling reversal of sequences in the plot. David Lee directs. 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. (AN)

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST Who could possibly argue with Oscar Wilde and lines such as, “If you are not too long, I will wait here for you all my life”? There’s not a sincere line in the play, which, in a work about double lives and social deceptions, is part of its brilliance. You wouldn’t know from Peter Hall’s production that Wilde was tortured in prison for his homosexuality, and that his irreverence and humanity paved the way for Joe Orton. You wouldn’t know this because no trouble has been taken by Hall to do much beyond fulfill expectations of what Earnest has always looked and sounded like. Lynn Redgrave’s Lady Bracknell displays contagious glee in the way she contorts her lips around Wilde’s lovely epigrams, and spits them out. The problem with this, however, as with the ensemble, is a kind of over-articulated stiffness, particularly by James Waterston’s Jack Worthing. Robert Petkoff’s Algernon fares better, as do Bianca Amato as Gwendolen and the particularly wry and rueful Charlotte Parry as Cecily. Ahmanson Theater, 135 N. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7:30 p.m. (no eve perfs Feb. 19 & March 5; added 2 p.m. perfs Feb. 16 & March 2); thru March 5. (213) 628-2772. (SLM)

GO JAY JOHNSON: The Two and Only Ventriloquist Jay Johnson’s show is a genre-bender, combining a history of ventriloquism, a bit of autobiography, hilarious comedy and the moving tale of an ex-vaudevillian who came out of retirement to carve Squeaky for young Jay, and shared with him his rich craft. In addition to Squeaky, there’s belligerent Bob from Soap, a severed head or two, a talking snake who’s afraid of snakes, a jive-talking monkey who goes ape and a vulture who calls himself the Bird of Death. Johnson considers ventriloquism an art, and he is truly an artist — as remarkable for his near-magical skill as for his anarchic wit, charm and humanity. Richmark Entertainment at the Brentwood Theater, Veterans Administration grounds, 11301 Wilshire Blvd., W.L.A.; Tues.-Thurs., 7:30 p.m.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 3 & 7 p.m. (added perfs some Wed., 2 p.m., call for schedule); thru Feb. 19. (213) 365-3500. (NW)

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. Pasadena Civic Auditorium, 330 E. Green St., Pasadena; Fri., Feb. 10, 8 p.m.; Sat., Feb. 11, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 12, 2 & 7:30 p.m. (213) 365-3500. Also 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.

OVER THE RIVER AND THROUGH THE WOODS Joe Dipietro’s rumination on a pivotal moment in the life of a young, successful man draws out the laughs, tugs on the heartstrings and plumbs microscopic depths. Joel Bishoff directs a fine cast, and Neil Peter Jampolis’ set is beautiful and unimposing. And if one doesn’t mind the overly expository — and unnecessary — addresses to the audience by nearly every character, and a seemingly interminable epilogue to the action, this is a pleasant, unchallenging night of theater. La Mirada Theater, 14900 La Mirada Blvd., La Mirada; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2:30 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 & 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 12. (562) 944-9801. (Luis Reyes)


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)

RIVERDANCE Irish dancing spectacle. Pantages Theater, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 1 & 6:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 19. (323) 468-1770.

GO ROCK OF AGES In this flashy jukebox musical, the Rock of Ages is a rock club on the Sunset Strip. Busboy/janitor Drew wants to be a rock star, when he isn’t longing for waitress Sherrie, but Sherrie’s seduced by singer Stacee Jaxx and lured into becoming a stripper. Meanwhile, an evil German capitalist wants to buy up the messy Strip and turn it into neat strip malls. Though the plot doesn’t make much sense, even to the characters, it’s gussied up with a huge singing and dancing ensemble who constantly bump, grind and perform acts of simulated fornication in scanty costumes. If you like the Golden Oldies of ’80s rock, this may be your cup of tea. It isn’t mine, but director Kristin Hanggi and the attractive, talented cast eventually won me over. Prospect Pictures at Vanguard Hollywood, 6021 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs., 8 p.m.; Fri., 6 p.m.; Sat., 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 18. (800) 595-4849. (NW)

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. (213) 365-3500. (SM)

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; Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 5. (213) 625-7000, Ext. 20.

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)

GO AMERICAN KLEZMER Aided by composer Ilya Levinson’s lively tunes and lyricist Owen Kalt’s engaging lyrics, this entertaining musical, set in 1910, builds its plot around a Jewish woman who longs to be a singer. Defying family and tradition, she departs her small Russian village for America, where she struggles to support herself and her pregnant, divorced sister until finally agreeing to marry a wealthy man she doesn’t love. Conventionally directed by Herb Isaacs, the book by Joanne Koch and Sarah Blacher Cohen offers few surprises, but the live klezmer band showcases the best of this musical tradition. Zale Morris’ period costumes compensate well for the minimal set. West Coast Jewish Theater at the Egyptian Arena Theater, 1625 N. Las Palmas Ave., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 19. (323) 860-6620. (DK)


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.

BANNED PLAYS The 10 scenes culled from once-censored plays would raise nary an eyebrow today. Still, someone found them controversial in their time, and though the performances lean mostly to the pedestrian, a few reach the profound, under Michael Donovan’s understated direction. Perhaps selections outside of American or European shores, where playwrights’ words could bring torture and/or death, may have raised the dramatic stakes the show strives for but never quite reaches. GuerriLA Theater at Area 101, 1051 Cole Ave., Stage B, Hlywd.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 7:30 p.m.; thru March 4. (323) 850-3240. (MH)

BARK Directed by Kay Cole, this unusually popular musical by Gavin Geoffrey Dillard and Robert Schrock explores the highs and lows of six canines who are all passing time at the Doggie Daycare Center. Known as “the Pack,” the canines appear onstage (not in doggie costumes) and skillfully mimic the habits and manners of man’s best friend. That’s really the show’s cutesy, facile essence. There is no plot, but each dog has a distinguishable personality. The show’s most compelling elements are David Troy Francis’ songs, ranging from the sublimely reflective to the hilarious. Coast Playhouse, 8325 Santa Monica Blvd.; W. Hlywd; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat. 3 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru April 2. (800) 595-4849 (LE3)

 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)

CHOICE WORDS Based on true events, the 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 onto. 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)

CLOSER THAN EVER This show is basically a musical monologue collection, with each song telling a different story, some touching and some funny. Director Mike Mahaffey has assembled a talented quartet of singers who have the acting chops to illuminate underlying emotional realities. Karen DeThomas provides lively choreography, while musical director Debbie Lawrence admirably shapes and blends the ensemble numbers, and provides fine accompaniment on the electric keyboard. Knightsbridge Theater, 1944 Riverside Dr., Silver Lake; Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m.; indef. (323) 667-0955. (NW)

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 THE DANCE Jason White and Aaron White’s keen-eyed and riotous hourlong history of blackface minstrel shows lets the facts do the talking, from 2500 B.C. to Al Jolson. We’re shown the mongrelized usurpation of African rhythms, musical structure and dance for the entertainment of white audiences reluctant to get any closer to black culture than an Irishman in greasepaint. The duo build a devastating indictment against thug life media stars, posturing gangstas with gats chasing just as injuriously after the dollar as the painted-up and banjo-wielding performers of a century earlier. With this memorable and worthy show, White and White accomplish two rare hat tricks: a seamless blend of entertainment and intellectualism, and a Q&A where everyone stayed. Inthacut Productions at the Kaos Network CineFreestyle Theater, 4343 Leimert Blvd., Leimert Park; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 25; free. Online reservations at (AN)


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)

FORK Courtney Rundell’s multimedia exploration of domestic violence and incest from a child’s perspective. Brick Box Theater, 1608 Cosmo St., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 4 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; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 4 p.m.; thru Feb. 19. (866) 468-3399.

GO GROUNDLINGS SUPER SQUADRON: Defenders of the Universe While there are a few clunkers, director Jim Rash and his sketch-comedy cohorts are sharpest when delving into topical and political ground. In “The Incredible Bolt,” our U.N. Ambassador John Bolton (Hugh Davidson) delivers ignominious testimony before the body he despises and suffers an apoplectic fit of rage that riotously reveals his true identity. Self-indulgence is skewered as NPR personalities Ira Glass (Jim Cashman) and Sarah Vowell (Stephanie Courtney) glibly report their own life-threatening dilemma in “This American Life.”But “Old West”offers a lame joke on frontier hookers, and “The Trial”is just a silly riff on an eccentric juror. Groundling Theater, 7307 Melrose Ave.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 8 & 10 p.m.; indef. (323) 934-4747. (MH)

HAMLET MET Theater, 1089 N. Oxford Ave., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sun., 8 p.m.; thru March 19. (323) 957-1152.

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 innuendoes. Write Act Theater, 6128 Yucca St., Hlywd.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 & 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 25. (323) 960-4429. (Luis Reyes)

JANET KLEIN AND HER BORSCHT BELT BABIES Klein recruited her company from older performers who actually appeared in vaudeville, or descendants of those who did; her show feels pleasantly caught in a 1930s time warp. As a performer, Klein combines the coyness of a silent-movie ingénue with mannered mock-naughtiness. Steve Allen Theater at the Center for Inquiry–West, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri., 8 p.m.; indef. (323) 960-7785. (NW)

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)

LETTING GO OF GOD Julia Sweeney’s one-woman show about religion, God and “the nature of self.” Groundling Theater, 7307 Melrose Ave., Hlywd.; Sun., Feb. 12, 11 a.m.; Mon., Feb. 13, 8 p.m.; also Feb. 28, March 5, 14, 21, 26 & 28; Sun. perfs 11 a.m., Tues. perfs, 8 p.m. (323) 934-4747.

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.

ME2 Courtney Fine goes on the date from hell. Masquers Cabaret, 8334 W. Third St.; Wed., 7:30 p.m.; Sat., 9:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 18. (310) 590-7229.

 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 April 9. (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)

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

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 made a successful landing with his caustically humorous 1974 one-act exploring a skirmish on the Chicago front of the war between the sexes. While Mamet displays sparks of his storied knack for terse and profane dialogue, the play consists of such brief scenes that, while funny and disturbing, the vignette structure stifles character development. Within that frame, director Paul Wagar’s cast delivers satisfactory yet superficial performances. Ark Theater Company, 1647 S. La Cienega Blvd.; Thurs. & Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 19. (323) 969-1707. (MH)

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 March 16. (323) 466-3134. (LE3)

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

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

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)

SUNSET CHRONICLES: Episode Three Serial drama set on Sunset Boulevard, starring marionettes. Little Fakers at the Velaslavasay Panorama, 1122 W. 24th St., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., Feb. 10-11, 8 & 10 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 12, 2 & 4 p.m. (323) 377-6049.


 GO  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.

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.; Thurs.-Fri., 8:30 p.m.; Sat., 3 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 & 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 19. (323) 465-0800.

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.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru March 12. (866) 966-6623. (DK)

VON LUTZ Dennis Miles’ new play is a rich stew — equal parts Jean Cocteau’s Enfants Terribles and Greek tragedy, with a dash of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd. Yet the work is not derivative, as its most prominent feature is Miles’ own brand of dysfunctional family values. Miles is an accomplished writer, with a gift for florid arias, but his plotting here is rudimentary and is not much helped by Jon Lawrence Rivera’s workmanlike direction. Lillian Theater, 1076 N. Lillian Way, Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 12. (866) 811-4111. (David Mermelstein)

 GO  WHAT’S MY LINE? is an homage to the CBS game show in which a team of celebrity panelists attempted to guess the occupation of the contestant. In this stage version, director Jim Newman brings back the gentility of yore, with host J. Keith van Straaten stepping into the spit-and-polished shoes of predecessors Wally Bruner and Larry Blyden. Amazingly, this doesn’t parody the original show but offers a replica sample of a vintage pop culture. Acme Comedy Theater, 135 N. La Brea Ave., Hlywd.; Wed., 8 p.m.; indef. (323) 525-0202. (SLM)

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.

THE CHILDREN’S HOUR Girl-school gossip snowballs into scandal, in Lillian Hellman’s play. Whitmore-Lindley Theater, 11006 Magnolia Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 26. (310) 210-0910.

CONFESSIONS OF A NICE JEWISH GIRL Lizzie Maxwell’s meditation on acting, addiction and survival. Avery Shreiber Theater, 11050 Magnolia Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru March 5. (866) 811-4111.

DECEIT Since Bruce Kimmel’s melodrama hinges entirely on misinformation and gimmicks, it’s impossible to describe his murder mystery without giving the game away. Who is killed and why is a vexing question. In Act 1, we see a grisly murder (committed, oddly enough, with a lady’s safety razor). It soon appears that two out of the three characters are dead, though there’s still an act to go. The actors strive in vain to flesh out sketchy characters, but set designer Matt Scarpino provides a handsome and clever interior, with a scrim wall that allows us to see the offstage skullduggery. 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)

THE DEVIL & BILLY MARKHAM Alex Wilde stars in Shel Silverstein’s one-man narrative poem. Complete Actors Place, 11316 Ventura Blvd., Studio City; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru March 26. (818) 506-5111.

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.

THE ELEPHANT MAN For all the many accolades it won when it first premiered in 1979, Bernard Pomerance’s drama, a mix of ponderous dialogue and limp sentimentality, has not aged well — and director June Chandler’s stiff production compounds the piece’s innate fustiness. Some of the production’s clunkiness can be blamed on designer Randy Kone’s actor-unfriendly set, which is masked by a murky brown scrim that succeeds only in blocking sightlines. Meanwhile, Chandler’s staging floats across the surface of the text. Victory Theater Center, 3326 W. Victory Blvd., Burbank; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 26. (818) 841-5421. (Paul Birchall)

THE GIRLS OF SUMMER Mystery drama by Layon Gray. African American Repertory Company at the Whitmore Lindley Theater Center, 11006 Magnolia Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Sat., 8:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 18. (323) 769-5090.


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.

GO HEROTIQUE-AAHH Equally motivational cabaret and sensual sermon, the troupe called 3 Blaque Chix vamps and gyrates like Marlene Dietrich as a preacher speaking in tongues — not about the Holy Spirit, but about masturbation, stimulation and sex after 40. Split into three archetypes, the dominatrix (Lola Love), the grounded goddess (Iona Morris) and the randy Donna Reed (hammy, hilarious Mariann Aalda), the ladies keep their minds in the gutter with the loftiest intentions. Their jumble of overlapping paeans, poems and rhapsodies about female pleasure has a body- and sex-positive empowerment. Director James Reynolds keeps them looking fun, comfortable and in control. Fremont Center Theater, 1000 Fremont Ave., S. Pasadena; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 26. (626) 441-5977. (AN)

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)

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; 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; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 12. (818) 760-8322.

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 KILL At the monthly dinner party of three college buddies, the plates have been cleared and the putters unsheathed, while in the kitchen, the wives debate knocking them off before dessert. Their husbands’ crimes are numerous, familiar and well-documented by Betty Friedan: infidelity, ennui, obsession and their uniform contributions to the missus’ feelings of unfulfillment. The sustained gossipy frisson of Michele Lowe’s script drags here and there, never quite reaching venomous suspense, yet the ladies’ sharp performances give buoyancy to Lowe’s fleet of one-liners. 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. (AN)

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

BARNYARD MADNESS WITH THE THREE LITTLE PIGS Country-Western musical for kids. Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 Fourth St., Santa Monica; Sat.-Sun., 12:30 & 3 p.m.; thru March 5 (added perf Feb. 20, 2 p.m.). (310) 394-9779, Ext. 2.

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.

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; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru March 12 (call for Sat.-Sun. matinee perfs). (310) 364-0535.


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)

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

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)

NIGHT OF THE BLACK CAT Magical musical cabaret, set in Paris circa 1881. Edgemar Center for the Arts, 2437 Main St., Santa Monica; Sat., Feb. 11, 8 p.m. (310) 392-7327.

NO SHAME SEASON FOUR, PART DEUX: Declaring Victory and Pain All-new under-five-minute works, which may or may not include “dance pieces, rants, Dadaist constructions, serialized epics, corrupt magicians, chainsaw juggling, puppet abuse.” Powerhouse Theater, 3116 Second St., Santa Monica; Fri., 11 p.m.; thru May 19. (323) 646-0033.

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)

THE SHELTER Set in a contemporary flophouse, Valery Belyakovich’s stylized reworking of Maxim Gorky’s The Lower Depths is a collection of the biographies of various “types” whose lives have been ruined by alcohol. These include a lawyer, an actor, a whore, a cardsharp — even a deli owner. They’ve lost everything and are reduced to living in a filthy room crammed with bunk beds, tyrannized by the flophouse’s owners. The overuse of a fog machine is one tip-off that we’re in for an evening of atmosphere masquerading as philosophy; another is the recurring use of calliope music to underscore reminiscences, and Wojciech Kilar’s theme from Bram Stoker’s Dracula to suggest menace. Black Square Productions at the Odyssey Theater, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., W.L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru March 5. (310) 477-2055. (SM)

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

THE AFFAIRS OF ANATOL A bored newlywed gets his extramarital freak on, in Arthur Schnitzler’s play. Beverly Garland Holiday Inn, 4222 Vineland Ave., N. Hlywd.; Tues., Feb. 14, 1:30 & 7:30 p.m. (213) 683-3422.

BENEATH RIPPLING WATER Sybyl Walker’s work-in-progress. Company of Angels Theater, 2106 Hyperion Ave., L.A.; Sun.-Mon., 8 p.m.; thru March 6. (323) 883-1717.

FROM BROADWAY WITH LOVE Dale Kristien and Michael Maguire perform a variety of show-tune love songs. Pepperdine University, Smothers Theater, 24255 Pacific Coast Hwy., Malibu; Sat., Feb. 11, 8 p.m. (310) 506-4522.

GARRISON KEILLOR Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, 12700 Center Court Dr., Cerritos; Sun., Feb. 12, 3 p.m. (800) 300-4345.

HEARTS AFLAME II WordTheaterLA presents readings of “love and hate letters, from 18th-century missives to 21st-century e-mails.” M Bar, 1253 N. Vine St., Hlywd.; Sun., Feb. 12, 7 p.m. buffet dinner, 8 p.m. readings. (310) 398-9999.

A KINGDOM IN CONNECTICUT Staged reading of Estep Nagy’s play about a wealthy blind man. MET Theater, 1089 N. Oxford Ave., Hlywd.; Mon., Feb. 13, 8 p.m. (323) 957-1152.

PROJECT SIX Staged reading of Michael Holmes’ Blatchford Farm. Action/Reaction Theater Company at the Chandler Studio, 12443 Chandler Blvd., Studio City; Sat., Feb. 11, 3 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 12, 7 p.m. (818) 786-1045.

SOCK HOP REUNION Fifties-themed musical dinner theater. Mysteries en Brochette at Harbor House Restaurant, 4211 Admiralty Way, Marina del Rey; Tues., Feb. 14, 7-10 p.m. (310) 399-1507.

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 for full schedule.

Comedy Clubs

ACME COMEDY THEATER, 135 N. La Brea Ave., Hlywd. No booze. All ages. (323) 525-0202.

Fri.—LOL Those Crazy Kids!, 7 p.m., thru April 28, $8; Captain Creamsicle’s Laughtateers, 8:30 p.m., thru Feb. 24, $12; Rue des Monstres, Scandal! The Soap Opera, 10 p.m., thru March 24, $12.

Sat.—Acme Five-O, 8 p.m.; thru April 22, $15; Oddball Comics, Scott Shaw’s showcase of weird comic-book covers, 10 p.m., thru Feb. 25, $21.50.

Sun.—Harry Potter and the Sunday Show, 8 p.m.; thru March 12; $12.

Tues.—Jimpressions, the voices of Jim Meskimen, 8 p.m.; thru March 7.

Wed.­—What’s My Line? with host J. Keith van Straaten and celebrity panelists, 8 p.m.; $15.

Thurs.—Annie Korzen: Straight From the Mouth, 8 p.m.; thru March 16; $25.

BANG, 457 N. Fairfax Ave., W. Hlywd. No booze. All ages. (323) 653-6886.

Fri.—Bring sicko suggestions for improv fest The Big Show, 8 p.m., followed by alumni jam; $7.

Sat.—Slice, 8 p.m.; Big Hollywood Big Time Big Shots, 9 p.m.; thru March 11; $10, $11 for both.

Thurs.—Funeral for a Friend, improvised one-act, 8 p.m., thru Feb. 23; $10.

THE COMEDY & MAGIC CLUB, 1018 Hermosa Ave., Hermosa Beach. Full bar; two-drink min. Over 18. Resv. required. (310) 372-1193.

Fri.-Sat.—Bob Marley, Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 7 & 9:15 p.m.; $20.

Sun.—Jay Leno, 7 p.m.; $30.

Tues.—Valentine’s Day with Gabriel Iglesias, 7:30 p.m.; $85.

Wed.-Thurs.—Michael Jr., Butch Bradley, 8 p.m.; $13.50.

COMEDY DISTRICT, in San Gennaro, 9543 Culver Blvd., Culver City. (310) 367-9977.

Fri.­—Off the Wall Improv Comedy Show,8:30 p.m.; $5, two-drink min.

Sat.—Dan Rosenberg & friends with Mike Casentini, Willis Turner, Jimmy D, 10:15 p.m., $5, two-drink åmin.

COMEDY STORE, 8433 Sunset Blvd., W. Hlywd. Full bar; two-drink min. Over 21. (323) 656-6225.

Original Room:

Fri. & Tues.-Thurs.­—Continuous Comedy, 9 p.m.; $15.

Sat.­—The Hippest, 10:30 p.m.; $20.

Sun.-Mon.—Potluck/Pop-ins featuring 40 comics, 7 p.m.-2 a.m.; $10, free before 9 p.m.

Main Room:

Sat.­—Best Of, 9 p.m.-12:30 a.m.; $20.

Every Tues.­—Trippin’ on Tuesday, hosted by Alex Thomas, 9 p.m.; $15.

THE COMEDY UNION, 5040 W. Pico Blvd. Full bar; two-drink min. Over 18. (323) 934-9300.

Fri.—C.U. Fridays with comedians from Def Comedy Jam,hosted by Rodney Perry, 10 p.m.; $10.

Sat.—Max Comedy Crush, 7:30 p.m.; Super Saturdayz,10 p.m.; $10.

Mon.—Monday Night Comedy Extravaganza, hosted by Michael Colyar, 9 p.m.; $10.

Tues.—Prime Cutz, 9 p.m.; $10.

Wed.—Crack ’Em Up College,8:30 p.m.; ladies free, guys $7.

THE EMPTY STAGE, 2372 Veteran Ave., W.L.A. No booze. All ages. (310) 470-3560.

Fri.—Being Humans, 8 p.m.; POP!, 9 p.m.; Empty Mike Night, 10 p.m.; $10 for one or all shows.


Sat.—The Waterbrains, 8 p.m.; The Transformers, 9 p.m.; The Fortune Room, 10 p.m.; $10 for one or all shows.

Thurs.—Sketchatorium, 9 p.m.; $10.

THE FAKE GALLERY, 4319 Melrose Ave., Hlywd. No booze. (323) 661-0786.

Sun.—Fake Radio: The Third Man, 7:30 p.m.; $5.

GROUNDLING THEATER, 7307 Melrose Ave. No booze. Not recommended for under 17. (323) 934-9700.

Fri.-Sat.—Groundlings Super Squadron: Defenders of the Universe; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 8 & 10 p.m.; $20.

Sun.—Julia Sweeney’s Letting Go of God, 11 a.m., $20; 00Sunday, 7:30 p.m.; $13.50.

Mon.—Julia Sweeney’s Letting Go of God, 8 p.m.; $20.

Wed.—The Crazy Uncle Joe Show, 8 p.m.; $10.

Thurs.—Cookin’ With Gas, 8 p.m.; $16.50.

HA HA CAFE COMEDY CLUB, 5010 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd. Full bar, two-drink min. Over 18. (818) 508-4995.

Fri.—All-Star Comedy, 8:30 p.m.; $15.

Sat.—Latino Comedy Jam, 8:45 p.m.; $15.

Sun.—Comics From the Mediterranean,9 p.m.; $10.

Mon.—The Nasty Showwith K.C. Armstrong, 9 p.m.; $10.

Tues.—The Comedy Mob,9 p.m.; $10.

Wed.—The Earthquake Show, 9 p.m.; $10.

Thurs.—America’s Funniest Comedians hostedbySean Collins, 9 p.m.; $12.

THE ICE HOUSE, 24 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena. Full bar; two-drink min. Over 18. (626) 577-1894.

Fri.-Sun.—Gabriel Iglesias & friends; Fri., 8:30 & 10:30 p.m.; Sat., 7, 9 & 11 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; $20.

Mon.—Latino Comedy Showcase hosted by Rudy Moreno, 8:30 p.m.; $12.50.

Tues.—My Funny Valentine, 8:30 p.m.

Wed.­—Comedy Time Showcase, 8:30 p.m.; $12.50.

Thurs.—Ian Bagg, 8:30 p.m.; $12.50.

THE IMPROV, 8162 Melrose Ave., W. Hlywd. Full bar; two-drink min. Over 18. Resv. suggested. (323) 651-2583.

Fri.—Friday Night Pick-up with Zach Galifianakis 8:30 p.m., $15; Refried Fridays with Richard Villa, 10:30 p.m., $10.

Sat.—Saturday Night Special, 8:30 p.m., $15; Improv Uncensored, 10:30 p.m., $10.

Sun.—Voice for the Animals benefit with Bob Saget, 8 p.m., $5; East Coast Comedy, 10 p.m., $12.

Mon.­—Mo Betta’ Monday, 8 p.m.; $15.

Tues.—Tammy Pescatelli & Jeremy Hotz’s Valentine’s Show, 8 p.m., $25; House Party with Kris Martinez, 10 p.m.

Wed.—Pretty Funny Women, 8 p.m., $10; National Lampoon’s, 10 p.m., $14.

Thurs.­—Slanted Comedy withEdwin San Juan, Rosie Tran, Dan Gabriel, A.C., Eric Schwartz, Dean Edwards, Dr. Ken, 8 p.m.; XXX Comedy withK.T. Tatara, Louis Katz and Zach Galifianakis, 10:30 p.m., $15.

I.O. WEST, 6366 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd. (323) 962-7560.

Fri.—Rewind, Adsit & Sagher, 8 p.m., $10; Opening Night: The Musical, 9 p.m., $10; God Squad, Box of Wolves, 10 p.m., $10; People of Whoville, Potluck, 11 p.m., free.

Sat.­—The Lampshades, 8 p.m., $10; Beer Shark Mice, 9 p.m., $10; The Red Shirt Freshmen, 10 p.m., $10; Fellowship of Christian Improvisers, 11 p.m., free.

Sun.—Level 6, 6:30 p.m., Jeff Garlin’s Combo Platter, 7:30 p.m., Cog, 9 p.m.; improv jam, 10 p.m.; standup hosted bySam Saifer, 11 p.m.; all free.

Mon.­—Baby Wants Candy, 8 p.m., $10; Armando, 9 p.m., $10; Lottery, 10:30 p.m., free; TBA, 11 p.m., free.

Tues.—Krystal Park, 8 p.m., $10; The Tarts, Murph, 9 p.m., $10; Jungle, Dr. Jones, 10 p.m., free; Accidentes?, DHT, 11 p.m., free.

Wed.—Krystal Park, 8 p.m., free; Clark & Belmont, Trophy Wife, 9 p.m., free; King Ten, 10 p.m., free; Dasariski, 11 p.m., free.

Thurs.—Big News, 8 p.m., $10; Dana & Julia, 9 p.m., $10; Baron’s Barracudas, Squadron, 10 p.m., free; Cagematch, 11 p.m., free.

L.A. CONNECTION, 13442 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. No booze. All ages. (818) 784-1868.

Fri.—Sketch comedy, 7:30 p.m., $10; Friday Night All-Star Improv Doubleheader, 9 p.m., $10.

Sat.—New All-Stars, 7 & 8 p.m., $10; L.A. Connection’s 2001: An Improv Odyssey, 9 p.m., $12; Late Night All-Stars Improv, 10:30 p.m., $10.

Sun.—Comedy Improv for Kids by Kids, 3:30 p.m., $7; Rock & Roll Rookies, 5:30 p.m., $7.

Thurs.—Every Time I Look at You, You Change Colors, 9 p.m.; $8.

THE LAUGH FACTORY, 8001 Sunset Blvd., W. Hlywd. Full bar; two-drink min. Over 18. Resv. required. (323) 656-1336, Ext. 1.

Fri.-Sat.—All-Star Comedy, 8 & 10 p.m. & mid.; $17.

Sun.—Chocolate Sundaes hosted by Chris Spencer, 8 & 10 p.m.; $17.

Mon.—Latino Night, 8 p.m.; $17.

Tues.—College Night, 8 p.m., $15; Real Life of the Party hosted by Jay Davis, 10 p.m., $15.

Wed.—An Evening With Jon Lovitz, 8 p.m.; $15.

Thurs.—All-Star Comedy, 8 p.m., $15; Asian Night hosted by P.K., 10 p.m., $15.

M BAR, 1253 N. Vine St., Hlywd. Full bar; one-drink min. Over 18. Resv. recommended. (323) 856-0036.

Tues.—Un-Cabaret’s Go Where the Love Is with Beth Lapides, Julia Sweeney, Laura Kightlinger, 8 p.m.; $15.

Wed.—Tangent, hosted by Melinda Hill and Natasha Leggero, 8 p.m.; $5.

THE McCADDEN PLACE THEATER, 157 N. McCadden Place, Hlywd. (323) 463-2942.

Wed.­—Angry Jellow Bubbles, 7:30 p.m.; $10.

THE NEXT STAGE, 1523 N. La Brea Ave., Second Floor, Hlywd. (323) 850-7827.

Sat.—The Great Adventure, long-form improv, 10 p.m. (310) 621-3328.


Sun.—Id Vicious, short-form improv, 8:30 p.m.

THE SECOND CITY STUDIO THEATER, 8156 Melrose Ave. Full bar. Over 18. (323) 658-8190.

Fri.—WritingImmersion Showcase, 7 p.m., $5; Boob Tube’s Love Episodes, 8 p.m., $5; The Printers’ Daughters, 9 p.m.

Sat.—Totally Looped, with Dan Castellaneta, Joe Liss, Rick Overton, Rick Kuhlman, Deb Lacusta, Gail Matthius and Angela Shelton improvising over old movies and TV, 8 p.m., $15, or two for $20 in advance; The 313, 9:30 p.m., $10, or two for $15 in advance; improv jam, 11 p.m., $5.

Tues.—Second City Sings, 8 p.m.; $5.

Wed.­—Detention Hall, 7 p.m., $5; Your Wednesday Night 4cast, 8 p.m., $5.

Thurs.—Underwhelmed, 8 p.m., $10; Sketch-a-Sketch, 10 p.m., $5.

UPRIGHT CITIZENS BRIGADE THEATER, 5919 Franklin Ave., Hlywd. No booze. (323) 908-8702.

Fri.—Jimmy Pardo’s Dance Party, 8 p.m., $8; Woo Pig Sooie! withMatt Besser, 9:30 p.m.; Filet O’Film, 11 p.m., $8; Not Too Shabby, mid., free.

Sat.—ASSSSCAT, 8 p.m., $8; Winchester Preparatory Sketch Academy, Crime Scenes, 10 p.m., $8; Director’s Commentary Live!, mid., $5 .

Sun.—ASSSSCAT, 7:30 p.m.; free.

Mon.—Harold night, 8 p.m., $5; My Space, 9:30 p.m., $5.

Tues.—Comedy Death-Ray, 8:30 p.m., $5; See You Next Tuesday, 10:30 p.m., free.

Wed.—Jimmy Pardo’s Dance Party, 8 p.m., $5; My Space, 9:30 p.m., $5; Pimp’d, 11 p.m., free.

Thurs.—Running Your Trap With Jimmy Pardo, 8 p.m., $5; Stand-up Spotlight: Sean Conroy, Morgan Murphy, 9:30 p.m., $5; Long Hard Improv Jam, 11 p.m., free.

Other Comedy

Kathy Griffin: Strong Black Woman is sold out. Does that make Ms. Griffin a sell-out? The Orpheum, 842 S. Broadway, dwntwn.; Sat., Feb. 11, 8 p.m., $20 (if you could buy one, which you can’t). (213) 480-3232.

Patton Oswalt hosts McSweeney’s Presents: The World, Explained, with John Hodgman, Michael Colton, Yeti Researcher, David Rees and music by Jon Brion. REDCAT, 631 W. Second St., dwntwn.; Sat., Feb. 11, 8:30 p.m.; $10. (213) 237-2800.

Largo presents Louis C.K., Laura Kightlingerat 432 N. Fairfax Ave.; Mon., Feb. 13, 9 p.m.; $5. (323) 852-1073.

John Cleese: Seven Ways to Skin an Ocelot is an outstanding show you can’t get tickets to at Pepperdine’s Smothers Theater, 24255 Pacific Coast Hwy., Malibu; Tues., Feb. 14, 8 p.m. (310) 506-4522.

Vance Sanders hosts The Open Mike of Love, this week with Amy Stiller, Jan Davidson, Joe Wilson, Nosmo King, Martha Kelly, others, at The Westwood Brewing Company, 1097 Glendon Ave., Wstwd.; Tues., Feb. 14, 8 p.m.; free. (310) 209-2739.

Carl “Alan Brady” Reiner reads from and discusses his latest novel, NNNN. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd.; Thurs., Feb. 16, 7:30 p.m.; $20, resv. required. (866) 468-3399 or (310) 440-4500.

The Ministry of Unknown Science Is Bigger Than God, and they are ready to prove it to you at some mysterious location, every Sat., 8:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 25; $10. (323) 791-7289;

The Sisters of Bubik, “a theatrical boutique café,” hosts standup comedy at 34 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena; every Fri., 9:30-11 p.m.; $5, or $5 minimum food purchase. (626) 744-9220.

Get kooky for The Coconuts at Mixed Nuts Comedy Club, 4000 W. Washington Blvd.; every Fri., 7:30 p.m.; free. (323) 735-6622.

The Straitjacket Society sketch it like their lives depended on it at 1501 N. Gardner St., Hlywd.; every Fri.-Sat., 8:30 & 10 p.m.; $10. (323) 769-5575.

The Jimmy and Joey Comedy Show featuring Fat James takes over The Sportsmen’s Lodge, 12833 Ventura Blvd., Studio City; every Fri.-Sat., 9 p.m.; free. (818) 755-5000.

It’s Comedy Love Hour with hosts Damon Epps and Marty Laquidara at The Highlands, 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Fourth Floor, Hlywd.; every Fri., 9 p.m. (323) 461-9800.

Aboard The Queen Mary: “G-rated” comedy, every Fri.-Sat., 8:30 p.m., then “adult humor” at 11 p.m.; Rainmakers Comedy Showcase, every Thurs., 8:30 p.m.; $20-$8, one-drink min. 1126 Queens Hwy., Long Beach. (562) 499-6611.

ComedySportzKidz is an “improvisational, clean comedy show for kids and their parents” at National Comedy Theater, 733 N. Seward St., Hlywd.; the first Sat. of every month, 3 p.m.; $9. (323) 856-4796.

Jeff Hilliard’s comedy show with host Paul Hughes takes over The Ramada Inn Hollywood’s 1160 Bar & Lounge, 1160 N. Vermont Ave.; every Mon., 9 p.m.; free. (323) 315-1845.<

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