Opening This Week
AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’ Fats Waller tribute, musical direction by Darryl Archibald. Fred Kavli Theatre for the Performing Arts, Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks. Opens Fri., Jan. 4; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 2 p.m. (7 p.m. on Sun., Jan. 6); thru Jan. 13. (805) 449-2787.
AS MUCH AS YOU CAN Three siblings react differently when they learn their brother is dating a man, in Paul Oakley Stovall’s play. Celebration Theatre, 7051-B Santa Monica Blvd., L.A. Opens Fri., Jan. 4; perfs Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Jan. 27. (323) 957-1884, www.celebrationtheatre.com.
CHICAGO CLUB RUMBOOGIE Jerry Jones’ gangster drama. Stage 52 Theatre, 5299 W. Washington Blvd., L.A. Opens Jan. 10; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 5 p.m.; thru Feb. 17. (323) 549-9026.
THE DEADLY GAME Retired lawmen in the Swiss Alps charge a traveling salesman with murder, in James Yaffe’s thriller. Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach. Opens Jan. 5; perfs Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 3. (562) 494-1014.
EDGE Angelica Torn’s portrait of Sylvia Plath. Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., L.A. Opens Sat., Jan. 5; perfs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 2. (310) 477-2055.
THE MANOR Kathrine Bates’ gothic romance, loosely based on the tragic history of the Doheny family. Greystone Mansion, 905 Loma Vista Dr., Beverly Hills. Opens Sat., Jan. 5; perfs Sat.-Sun., 1 p.m.; thru March 2 (no perfs Feb. 16, 17 & 24). (310) 550-4796.
RUMPLESTILTZKEN Dwarf helps girl spin straw into gold. Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. Opens Sat., Jan. 5; perfs Sat., 10 a.m.; thru Feb. 23. (310) 285-5160, www.bubblegumplayhouse.com.
TRANCED Bob Clyman’s thriller about suppressed memories. Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach. Opens Sat., Jan. 5, 7:30 p.m.; perfs Tues.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 3. (949) 497-2787.
Reviews by Paul Birchall, Lovell Estell III, Deborah Klugman, Steven Mikulan, Steven Leigh Morris, Amy Nicholson, Tom Provenzano and Neal Weaver.
ATLANTA Elements of Marcus Hummon and Adrian Pasdar’s brand-new American Civil War musical have appeal, but their synthesis results in a train-wreck. Hummon’s music and lyrics consist of a very pleasing amalgam of James Taylor and Ry Cooder’s musical stylings plus some gospel. Hummon and Pasdar’s story idea has its merits as well, despite cliches — a Yankee soldier in Confederate disguise, a Confederate colonel’s penchant for Shakespeare. The larger problem is the creators’ attempt to exploit Southern gothic rather than explore it. Randall Arney directs. 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 Jan. 6. (310) 208-5454. (SLM)
A CHARLIE JAMES BROWN CHRISTMAS This new holiday effort by the Troubadour Theater Company is a loving poke at Charles Schulz’s TV cartoon classic featuring characters from his “Peanuts” strip. Schroeder (Matthew Morgan) tinkles out Vince Guaraldi noodlings on a tiny piano, and soon, the program swings into gear, powered by hits from soul godfather James Brown. The show is funny, but even at under an hour and a half seems 20 minutes too long. TROUBADOUR THEATER COMPANY at the Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Dr., Burbank; Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; mats Sat.-Sun., 4 p.m.; thru Jan. 20. (818) 955-8101. (SM)
GO The Color PurpleBook writer Marsha Norman and composer-lyricists Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray’s stage adaptation of Alice Walker’s 1982 Pulitzer Prize–winning novel is a surprisingly faithful and melodic compression of Walker’s epistolary narrative about a Southern black woman (Jeannette Bayardelle) beaten down almost from birth, but whose resilience allows her to survive. Although Act 2 suffers from an inevitable sugar rush, director Gary Griffin gets great efforts from a huge ensemble. Center Theatre group at the ahmanson theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; Tues.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6:30 p.m.; mats Sat., 2 p.m. & Sun., 1 p.m.; No perfs Dec. 25, Jan. 1 & March 5 or evenings Feb. 3 & March 9; added perfs Dec. 27, Jan. 31 & March 6, 2 p.m. & Dec. 31, 8 p.m.; Perf March 4 is 7:30 p.m.; Thru March 9. (213) 972-7231. (Sm)
GIRLS NIGHT: THE MUSICAL Five female friends hang out, reminisce, bitch and sing. CORONET THEATRE, 366 N. La Cienega Blvd., W. Hlywd.; Tues. & Thurs., 7:30 p.m.; Wed., 2 & 7:30 p.m.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 4 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Jan. 6. (310) 657-7377.
GO The Kid From Brooklyn: the danny kaye story Sometimes the old showbiz stories are the best, and in Mark Childers and Peter J. Loewy’s peppy and assured musical biography of entertainer Danny Kaye, we find crackling showmanship interlaced with just a hint of irony. Performer Brian Childers offers a dazzling turn as the legendary Broadway star which is eerily convincing, even to the slight smirk. Director Loewy’s crisp staging is nicely complemented by Childers’ beautiful tenor, which dazzles with spot-on renditions of such Kaye favorites as “Mad Dogs and Englishmen.” EL PORTAL THEATRE, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Jan. 20. (818) 508-0281. (PB)
GO WICKED In this musical riff on the witches of Oz (by Stephen Schwarz and Winnie Hollzman), Joe Mantello directs a marvelous spectacle that looks like a diversion but is actually quite the opposite. Eden Espinoza as the green-skinned, bespectacled girl-witch Elphaba has a contagiously smart appeal. After recognizing that Elphaba’s not going to power-play along with the Wizard’s (John Rubinstein) Stalinist shenanigans, Mrs. Morrible (the delightful Carol Kane) starts a witch-hunt for the girl, and the whole thing starts to resemble some of the tawdrier chapters in American history. PANTAGES THEATER, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 1 & 6:30 p.m.; indef. (213) 365-3500. (SLM)
Hollywood, West Hollywood, Downtown
ALL THIS, & HEAVEN TOO “I stopped believing in things when Diana Ross started playing rodeos,” laments aging queen Terry (Sammy Williams), who along with his band of gay brothers has seen better days. Now all over 40, they’ve assembled to honor the just-deceased Boomie (James Warnock). Over the course of Dick DeBenedictis’ 10 breezy musical numbers, they mourn the end of the disco era and wax nostalgic for the bathhouses of yore. Though its heart is in the right place, Bill Dyer’s play seems like a time capsule, a comfort food buffet of soft shoe numbers and references to the Andrews Sisters. MACHA THEATRE, 1107 N. Kings Rd., W. Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Jan. 27. (323) 960-7776. (AN)
ANYTHING In Tim McNeil’s comedy, Early Landry (McNeil) is a transplanted Southerner still grieving for his wife, while also tamping down the demons that have caused him to attempt suicide four times. His next-door transvestite prostitute neighbor Freda (Louis Jacobs) has just been dumped by her more-or-less straight boyfriend (Max Williams). The rebounding Early and Freda take a while to reach eye level for the romance that inevitably follows. McNeil and Jacobs are personable actors, but David Fofi’s direction doesn’t nudge them off their single-note performances. Elephant Theater Company at the LILLIAN THEATER, 1076 N. Lillian St., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Jan. 13. (323) 960-4410. (SM)
THE COMMON AIR Six characters in search of an airport departure, by Alex Lyras and Robert McCaskill. LILLIAN THEATRE, 1076 Lillian Way, Hlywd.; Wed., 8 p.m.; thru Jan. 23 (added perf Jan. 24, 8 p.m.). (323) 960-4443, www.thecommonair.com.
THE GAY MAFIA: NU-QUEER WINTER In the old Mickey and Judy movie musicals, “Hey, kids, let’s put on a show!” provided sufficient purpose to get them through the final credits, but in the real world one hopes for something a little more substantial. The cast are bright and energetic, and the material is fairly amusing but so evanescent that two days later I could barely remember it. Going through my mind at the end was a familiar British locution: “What’s this in aid of?” LOUNGE THEATRE, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., W. Hlywd; Wed., 8 p.m.; Jan. 9, 16 & 23. (323) 634-2820. (NW)
HARLEM’S NIGHT: A CABARET STORY: A sultry tale of a lonesome woman looking for love. Fri., Jan. 4, 7:30 p.m.; Fri., Feb. 1, 7:30 p.m.; Mon., March 3, 7:30 p.m. The Mint, 6010 W. Pico Blvd., L.A., (323) 954-9400.
HARM’S WAY Shem Bitterman’s play is a thoughtful, stateside view of America’s actions in Iraq, centered on an Army atrocity that is investigated by a military father (Jack Stehlin) whose daughter (Katie Lowes) falls in love with the case’s chief suspect (Ben Bowen). While it doesn’t completely fulfill its dramatic potential, the two-hour show, directed by Steve Zuckerman, mostly avoids editorializing, preferring instead to question how good people do terrible things. CIRCUS THEATRICALS STUDIO THEATER at the Hayworth, 643 Carondelet St., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m. (no perfs Dec. 28-29 & Jan. 4-5); thru Feb. 9. (323) 960-1054. (SM)
GO THE LAST SCHWARTZ In her witty, thoughtful play, Deborah Zoe Laufer questions the role of family and religious traditions. As the Schwartz children gather in their now empty childhood Catskills home to honor their father’s Yarzheit (the one-year anniversary of his death), an outsider stirs up issues the family prefers left undisturbed. Lee Sankowich’s direction is first-rate and designer Giulllio Perrone’s set suggests an atmosphere of barrenness, an apt metaphor considering the clan’s regretful past and uncertain future. Zephyr Theater, 7456 Melrose Ave., L.A. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 24. (323) 852-9111.
LESSONS Wendy Graf’s drama shows a series of life-changing meetings between a young, derailed female rabbi (Larissa Laskin) and a retired shoe manufacturer (Hal Lindon). One finds oneself screaming for some of these characters’ back stories to arrive between the lines rather than in them. Yet the play grapples with profound ideas about faith and optimism, so it’s clear why Gordon Davidson chose to make this his first directing assignment since leaving CTG. West Coast Jewish Theatre and The Group at Strasberg, LEE STRASBERG CREATIVE CENTER, 7936 Santa Monica Blvd., W. Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m.; thru Jan. 6. (323) 650-7777. (SLM)
LOVE LOVES A PORNOGRAPHER Jillian Armenante directs a perfectly calibrated send-up of English gothic lit in Jeff Goode’s new play. The lord and lady of the manor (William Salyers and Gillian Doyle) invite neighbors Miles and Millicent Monger (Jim Anzide and Johanna McKay) for a friendly game of blackmail. Loveworthy is a novelist; Monger, a cleric and viperous literary critic for “The Times.” Jokes abound about venomous literary critics when most newspaper’s book sections are now being eviscerated; the gender superiority of stupid men, and the moral hypocrisy of the English upper class. Are these tired themes worth all these resources? That said, the acting and set are terrific. Circle X Theatre Company at [INSIDE] THE FORD, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East, Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; thru Jan. 20. (323) 461-3673. (SLM)
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 Reeve’s role of Special Agent Johnny Utah. The city’s banks are being hit by a gang of robbers known as the Ex Presidents, surfers who always wear the masks of former chief executives while making their withdrawals. Utah gets his man, but not before a Grand Guignol scene of blood and guts that’s so hideously over the top you can’t stop laughing. Charlie O’s in the ALEXANDRIA HOTEL, 501 S. Spring St., dwntwn.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; indef. (866) 811-4111. (LE3)
GO SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK LIVE! The 19 ditties belted out by Chad Borden, Tameka Dawn, Antoine Reynaldo Diel, Eduardo Enrikez, Elaine Loh and Susan Rudick are one-third of the entire output of the beloved ’70s and ’80s kids program and, as such, they cover a lot of educational ground. While the lyrics are often so mumbled that the exact definition of a pronoun is indecipherable, the tots in the surprisingly hipster-free matinee audience were downright giddy about multiplying by fives. Director Mark Savage and choreographer Brian Paul Mendoza keep the mood peppy without parody. GREENWAY COURT THEATER, 544 N. Fairfax Ave., L.A.; Sat., 4 p.m.; Sun., 4 & 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 24. (323) 655-7679. (AN)
SERIAL KILLERS “Five stories. Five cliffhangers. Only three can continue.” SACRED FOOLS THEATRE, 660 N. Heliotrope Dr., Hlywd.; Sat., 11 p.m.; indef. (310) 281-8337 or www.sacredfools.org.
SHUT UP AND EAT YOUR GROUNDLINGS See New Reviews.
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.
A TUNA CHRISTMAS See New Reviews.
A TUNA CHRISTMAS Holiday hijinks in Tuna, Texas, by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears and Ed Howard. Actor’s Art Theater, 6128 Wilshire Blvd., No. 110, L.A. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Jan. 6. (323) 969-4953.
THE VAMPIRES Chris Berube’s story of an outcast vampire clan. THE NEXT STAGE, 1523 N. La Brea Ave., Second Floor, L.A.; perfs Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Jan. 26. (323) 850-7827.
A DOLL HOUSE Blame Oprah that Henrik Ibsen’s melodrama about a sheltered wife who empowers herself by leaving her paternalistic husband has irrevocably lost its shock value. What remains is a fatalistic, long-winded and aging play that needs a fresh approach. Aramazd Stepanian’s production, updated to the 1950s, draws the play into the world of an I Love Lucy episode: Georgan George’s Nora is a dizzy schemer with flaming red hair and pearls. This approach would be worth exploring more deeply, Instead, this friendly but tepid revival simply can’t shake off the dust. LUNA PLAYHOUSE, 3706 San Fernando Road, Glendale; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m. (no perfs Jan. 4-5); thru Jan. 19. (818) 500-7200. (AN)
GO Paging Dr. Chutzpah Inspired by ’60s sex farces and ribald Vaudeville skits, playwright Mark Troy’s comedy is a romp that rolls by on director Lynne Moses and her cast’s commitment to the play’s zany shenanigans. Dr. Lester Oronofsky (Marq Del Monte) is considered top psychiatrist in Manhattan. But one wonders how he hasn’t gotten slapped with a sexual-harassment lawsuit due to his predilection for seducing his patients. You’re in for a wacky night, punctuated by Troy’s snappy one-liners, Moses’ breezy staging, and Del Monte’s lecherous leer and Yiddish kvetching. SIDEWALK STUDIO THEATRE, 4150 Riverside Dr., Burbank; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Jan. 26. (818) 558-5702. (MH)
THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA William Shakespeare’s early and utterly average comedy stands out for its climactic scene, where antihero Proteus (Thomas Bigley) attempts to rape sweet, sensible ingenue Silvia (Jennifer Bronstein), only to find himself engaged to first love Julia (Amanda Marquardt) within five minutes. That director Charles Pasternak (also playing Proteus’ best friend and rival, Valentine) settles instead for trying to make his actors inflate the froth with plummy, fast-pattered recitations and a whole mess of screaming and mugging. WHITMORE-LINDLEY THEATRE CENTER, 11006 Magnolia Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3:30 p.m.; thru Jan. 13. (310) 497-2884. (AN)
AFTER-PLAY Two couples dine in a Manhattan restaurant, in Anne Meara’s serio-comedy. LONG BEACH PLAYHOUSE, Studio Theatre, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Jan. 14 (added perfs Jan. 6 & 13, 2 p.m.). (562) 494-1014.
ALICE SIT-BY-THE-FIRE See New Reviews.
DICKWHIPPED!: Sketches and video by performance trio Butchlalis de Panochtitlan. Jan. 4-5, 8:30 p.m. HIGHWAYS PERFORMANCE SPACE, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica, (310) 315-1459, www.highwaysperformance.org.
@HEART J-Powers’ epistolary drama uses e-mail and instant messaging to tell an old-fashioned story of love and war. Following 9/11, idealistic young Harris (Mikey Myers) feels like he must do something, so he enlists in the Army, with the wholehearted support of his doting wife, Jennifer (Jessica McClendon). The moral of J-Powers’ drama — caught between a tear-jerker and a polemic — seems to be that warrior adventuring is ultimately vanity, while the brave are often left behind. Director Paul Linke’s static production mainly consists of the two performers seated behind a pair of laptops. RUSKIN GROUP THEATRE, 3000 Airport Ave., Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Jan. 20. (310) 397-3244. (PB)
SPARK The first Monday of every month seven people are invited to write and perform personal narratives “sparked” by a unifying concept. Tonight’s theme: “Heat.” Mon., Jan. 7, 7:30 p.m. Powerhouse Theatre, 3116 Second St., Santa Monica.