A play within a rehearsal by Jackie Siblies Drury, about self-indulgent actors and atrocities in Africa, is our pick of the week. For all the latest new theater reviews, including more Hollywood Fringe reviews and this weekend's citywide theater listings, see below.
This week's theater feature also looks at politics and theater, in reviews of Neva at the Douglas and Yes, Prime Minister at the Geffen.
NEW THEATER REVIEWS, scheduled for publication June 20, 2013:
Ever since the proto-fascist philosopher Thomas Carlyle first articulated the Great Man theory, thinkers and historians have been trying to drive a stake through its vampiric heart. Playwright Peter Sinn Nachtrieb takes his stab in this breezily surreal and all-too-brittle satire from 2011. The play weaves a Fielding-esque web of outrageous coincidence and absurd misadventure as its eponymous protagonist travels roadside America to seek his fortune-cookie destiny of becoming a “great man.” As Bob, star Jeff Galfer gives a creditable turn as Nachtreib's caricatured hero as he ages from Forrest Gump dimwit to Gordon Gekko-like misanthrope. And the show's alternate-cast ensemble — including standouts Jacqueline Wright, Tara Karsian, Jud Williford and Michael McColl — lend inspired support playing the cartoonish dreamers, losers and outright lunatics who cross his path. Despite a smart and technically accomplished staging by director Chris Fields, however, the cleverness of Nachtrieb's intellectual reach winds up disappointingly shy of the play's comic grasp. Atwater Village Theater, 3269 Casitas Ave., Atwater; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; through June 30. echotheatercompany.com. (Bill Raden)
GO: A MIDSUMMER SATURDAY NIGHT'S FEVER DREAM With its partner-swapping plot twists, high-strung lovers and mind-altering magic flowers, Shakespeare's most popular comedy was meant for the excesses of the disco age. The Troubadour Theater Company's sequined reboot of one of its classic mash-ups embraces the polyester suits and gold chains in this unfailingly energetic romp directed by Matt Walker. Choreographed within an inch of its life, the show weaves in glam-era hits punctuated by sassy grooving from the triple-threat cast. (Katherine Malak's Hermia and Suzanne Jolie Narbonne's Hippolyta offer some of the night's sleekest moves.) A trampoline even provides a launch pad for some exquisitely timed acrobatics. There's an actual script in there, too, the original text peppered with whip-smart jokes and bawdy sight gags. The hijinks leave room for some wicked improvising, with Walker, who doubles as puckish Robin Goodfellow, the chief offender. The quartet of lovers may get the most stage time, but Rick Batalla's Nick Bottom and his motley crew of thespians steal the show. The production's controlled mania would work best as one intermissionless push; the abbreviated second half felt labored, and some '90s-vintage jokes could use refreshing. It should take only a few hours or so — this cast could, and do, make jokes in their sleep. Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 4 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 4 & 7 p.m.; through July 7. (818) 955-8101, falcontheatre.com. (Jenny Lower)
NEVA Guillermo Calderon's play, originally presented in Spanish in the 2011 Radar L.A., returns in an English-language presentation co-produced by South Coast Repertory, La Jolla Playhouse and Center Theatre Group. Kirk Douglas Theatre, Culver City, closed. See Theater Feature.
GO: ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
Although rooted in a historic event, Kemp Powers' period piece about the meeting of Sam Cooke, Jim Brown, Malcolm X and Cassius Clay is less about these gentlemen per se than it is about the struggle of African-American men in general to deal with the ubiquitous racism that continually challenges their manhood. The play takes place in a motel room following Clay's victory over Sonny Liston in June 1964. At 22, fresh off his triumph, the young boxer (Matt Jones) is both less scarred and less knowing than the others. He's also a recent convert to Islam, which raises the eyebrows of Cooke (Ty Jones) and Brown (Kevin Daniels) — both alcohol-imbibing, womanizing, pork chop-loving hedonists. Well directed by Carl Cofield, the play heats up around the philosophical divide between Malcolm (Jason Delane), an ideologue and devout Muslim who scorns the White Establishment, and Cooke, a musician and producer who's successfully worked the system for his own gain. Powers' perspicacious script gives the performers plenty to work with, and they make the most of it, bouncing off each other with savvy, skill and humor. Delane is excellent as an understated Malcolm, and Jones augments an intense portrayal with his gifted singing voice. Rogue Machine Theatre, 5041 W. Pico Blvd., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; through July 28. (855) 585-5185, roguemachinetheatre.com (Deborah Klugman)
“I expel all the semen which I have received. I transform the milk of my breasts into deadly poison.” Lifted from Heiner Müller's eternally confounding Hamletmachine, the words are a fitting part of the opening tableau of Polish playwright Magda Romanska's similarly themed postmodernist drama, now in its world premiere at City Garage. Seated behind an old typewriter on a stage that's segmented into halves, Ophelia is realized as something of a triadic entity — brain/narrator, terrorist and madwoman (Kat Johnston, Megan Kim, Saffron Mazzia), while Hamlet (Joss Glennie Smith), situated in the other half of the stage, mostly watches television. Romanska uses this framework for a vigorous deconstruction of the feminine psyche, image and gender roles, and her script — heavy laden with dense imagery and symbolism — explores love, sex, violence, politics, class sensibilities, feminist aesthetics, the vacuities of mass culture and the timeless mystery of death. This is theater that's not easily accessible and is devilishly bleak at times, but it's not without shards of humor, and is relentlessly provocative and challenging under imaginative direction by Frédérique Michel. The production is nicely embellished with a collage of visuals projected on a huge screen and two monitors. Cynthia Mance, RJ Jones and Leah Harf round out the cast. City Garage, building T1.Bergamont Station, 2525 Michigan Ave, Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., 8 pm.; Sun., 4. p.m.; through July 28. (310) 453-9939, citygarage.org (Lovell Estell III)
Chris Phillips' cannily written play examines the need to stand up
against oppression and avenge violence with violence versus the
necessity for love and forgiveness. The six scenes are alternately
comic, brutal and surreal. The piece initially seems fragmented, but the
interrelatedness of the scenes, and their thematic unity, gradually
emerge. Among the more striking scenes are a flamboyant tango danced by
Jesus Christ (Terrance Spencer) and Judas (Daniel Montgomery), wittily
choreographed by Janet Roston, and a posthumous encounter between
Matthew Shepard (Daniel Montgomery) and his assailant Aaron (AJ Jones).
Ryan Bergmann has assembled a terrific team of actors, and directs them
with skill and nuance. Robert Paterno scores as Jim, who's bent on
wreaking terrible revenge on the man (John Colella) who raped and
abandoned his lover. And there's a gem of a performance from Matthew
Scott Montgomery, who brings fatalistic charm, fearful vulnerability,
and impeccable comic timing to his two roles: He's Nelly, an effeminate
actor who's limited to playing gay bit parts, while his ex-lover Butch
(Jones), whom he both loves and resents, achieves far greater success by
“acting straight.” And he's also a young gay reporter interviewing his
hero, a crusading gay journalist (Colella). Celebration Theatre, 7051B
Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; through
July 21. (323) 957-1884, celebrationtheatre.com. (Neal Weaver)
GO: YES, PRIME MINISTER
award-winning British comedy of political power and intrigue, set
against the backdrop of the collapsing Euro, austerity measures, and the
24-hour news cycle. Written by Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, directed
by Jonathan Lynn. Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 3 p.m.;
Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m. Continues through July 14. Geffen Playhouse,
10886 Le Conte Ave., Los Angeles, 310-208-5454, www.geffenplayhouse.com.
See Theater Feature
PICK OF THE WEEK: WE ARE PROUD TO PRESENT A
PRESENTATION ABOUT THE HERO OF NANIBIA, FORMERLY KNOWN AS SOUTHWEST
AFRICA, FROM THE GERMAN SUDWESTAFRIKA, BETWEEN THE YEARS 1884-1915
let the disconcerting title put you off. Playwright Jackie Sibblies
Drury's compelling drama is a stunning work of ferociously creative
stagecraft. In director Jillian Armenante's deceptively
improvised-seeming production, a group of actors, under the leadership
of a young, angry actor (Julanne Chidi Hill, fierce), attempt to stage a
play about a 19th-century African atrocity during which the German army
slaughtered entire populations of African tribes. It sounds dire, I
know, but the tale is told impressionistically, sometimes as a rehearsal
exercise, sometimes as a dreamlike set of dances, fights and
interactions.A ladder becomes a railroad trestle, a Sparkletts water
bottle becomes a tribal drum, and Spolin-esque theater games are mocked
but then utilized to make searingly powerful emotional points about race
and morality. Through exercises meant to channel an atrocity, the cast
simultaneously juggle a number of issues, from the near-comic
self-absorption of actors, to the ultimate inability to depict true
evil, to a final, unbearably disturbing coda that suggests the past is
not nearly as distant as one would wish. Armenante's assured
intellectualization and the perfect comic and dramatic timing of the
cast together craft a rare work of charged political agitprop that
awakens us to the pure imaginative potential of the theater. Matrix
Theatre, 7657 Melrose Ave., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.;
through Aug. 11. (323) 852-1445, matrixtheatre.com (Paul Birchall)
HOLLYWOOD FRINGE REVIEWS, scheduled for publication June 20, 2013:
GO A MAN OF NO IMPORTANCE The first fully staged
L.A. production of this musical — about a conflicted, theater-obsessed
bus conductor in 1964 Dublin directing a community-btheater performance
of Oscar Wilde's Salome — is hilarious and devastating in equal
measure. Director Janet Miller is confident in guiding a uniformly
beguiling ensemble, led by the warmth of Dominic McChesney as Alfie.
David Gilchrist gives great shading to antagonist Mr. Carney, while
Shirley Anne Hatton as Alfie's sister, Lily, is beyond stunning in a
non-showy role. “The Cuddles Mary Gave,” a second-act song beautifully
performed by Matt Stevens, is a standout in a wonderful score by Lynn
Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (Ragtime) — it's rich with character
details and genuine longing. Katherine Barrett's lighting design is the
only true weak point, with spotlights always slightly off their target.
The overall impact is unhampered by this glitch, however, as this
production is truly enthralling. Lillian Theatre at the Elephant Stages,
1076 Lillian Way, Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; Sat, June 29,
2 p.m.; through June 30. hollywoodfringe.org/projects/1093. (Kevin O'Keeffe)
GO: MUD There's a certain fragility mixed with
permanence in Maria Irene Fornes' melancholy tragedy Mud, and the
characters seem to exist beyond the performance that unfolds before us.
In 17 short (sometimes brutally short) scenes, Fornes depicts a
squabbling couple, Lloyd (Riley Smith) and Mae (Annie Hamilton), who
seem stuck in some kind of rural poverty. While Lloyd appears slightly
mentally retarded, Mae is merely illiterate and wants to better herself
and get out. Her romance with unsympathetic local fellow Henry (A.J.
Helfet) sparks jealousy from Lloyd. But then the worm turns… Director
Shaya Mulcahy's slightly stylized approach has the cast members
remaining in character during the dim “blackouts,” silently playing tag
as the action advances. Actors Company, 916 N. Formosa Ave., Hlywd.;
June 22, 28 & 29, 7 p.m.; June 23, 4 p.m.; June 27, 5:30 p.m. hollywoodfringe.org/projects/1225. (Pauline Adamek)
THE REAL HOUSEKEEPERS OF STUDIO CITY Joe Green's derivative,
amateur and R-rated musical assembles all the beloved maids from TV
sitcoms, past and present, and parades them through his nostalgic
tribute. The slim premise has divorcee and mother of two teens Ashley
(Lani Shipman) vying for an audition on a reality TV show. Her gay BFF,
Scot (Ryan O'Connor), insists she needs a housekeeper and places an ad
on Craigslist. Pretty soon we're meeting a range of candidates, from
Lurch from The Addams Family to Rosey the Robot from The Jetsons to
sassy black maids of all shapes from Gimme a Break, The Jeffersons and
The Fresh Prince of Bel Air (all played by Lorie Moore) to Tony Danza to
— inexplicably — Gilligan (Harris Markson). The unremarkable songs
feel unoriginal, the voices are weak and it all seems like an excuse for
Markson to show off his manly chest and composer Green to get up in
monstrous drag. Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; June 20
& 28, 7 p.m.; June 21, 11:30 p.m.; June 22, 2:30 p.m.; June 27, 10
p.m. hollywoodfringe.org/projects/1186. (Pauline Adamek)
GO: LOST MOON RADIO PRESENTS ROGER WODEHOUSE'S ANDROGYMNASIUM
When the BBC offered to let him host his own children's television
program in 1975, glitter-fabulous, animal-loving and sexually fluid
Roger Wodehouse said that he would do it so long as he could be sexually
honest and have live animals — at least according to this show's
fictional premise. Brought to the stage by last year's “Top of the
Fringe” and “Best of Comedy” winner Lost Moon Radio, Roger Wodehouse's
Androgymnasium presents a spoof children's TV program that you can only
pray no child ever sees. The sassy — and often nearly naked — Roger
(Ryan Harrison) walks the audience through an all-grown-up version of
every quintessential part of a children's TV program. You've got your
arts and crafts to learn how you can give yourself a Japanese makeover
using your mom's favorite tablecloth, a musical guest who sings about
the horrors of mistreated circus animals and a species of confused
cat/dog puppet who sings a spectacularly upbeat song about the hardship
of feeling as though he were born in the wrong puppet body. Monica
Miklas has produced a show that flawlessly walks the funny/offensive
line. Better yet, you'll be so busy laughing that you'll hardly notice
that the show is knitting in hot-topic social issues of sexuality. Open
Fist Theatre, 6209 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Sun., June 23, 5 p.m.;
Thurs., June 27, 8 p.m.; Sat., June 29, 6:30 p.m. hollywoodfringe.org/projects/1382 (Anya Cohen)
THE RUBY BESLER CABARET Ruby Besler (Anastasia Barnes) is
presumably a big star doing a cabaret retrospective on her life, in an
extension of Barnes' nine-episode web series, The Ruby Besler Show.
Despite her previous work developing the character of Ruby Besler,
Barnes appears to have been handed the character and material just five
minutes before curtain, tripping over lines and appearing uncomfortable
throughout the show. Everything else seems unrehearsed as well — light
and voiceover cues are frequently missed, and while backup performers
Ruby Violet (Regan Carrington) and Ruby You Know Who (Laurel Vecsey) are
game and fun, they often seem just as unrehearsed. (The third
background player, Ruby Blue (Tatiana Giannoutsos), looks thoroughly
bored.) Barnes' writing has some spark, and Flame Cynders' choreography
has its moments, but Barnes simply doesn't project that she is Ruby
Besler — in part a failure on director Doug Oliphant's part. Theatre
Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; June 20 & 29, 10 p.m.; June
25, 8:30 p.m. hollywoodfringe.org/projects/1117 (Kevin O'Keeffe)
ONGOING SHOWS IN LARGER THEATERS REGIONWIDE:
Africa Umoja: The Spirit of Togetherness:
A musical celebration of South African song and dance. Fri., June 21, 8
p.m.; Sat., June 22, 8 p.m.; Sun., June 23, 2 p.m. Pantages Theater,
6233 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, 800-982-2787, www.broadwayla.org.
Writer-performer Jozanne Marie's intense solo show encompasses the
wrongs done to three generations of women — her grandmother, her mother
and herself — but its primary motif is her struggle for a relationship
with her sexually abusive father, whose approval she sought despite his
pernicious assaults. Born in Jamaica, Marie spent her earliest years in
her grandmother's care, after her teenage mom suffered a breakdown
following her rape by Marie's father and Marie's subsequent, unwelcomed
birth. Depicting multiple characters in this sometimes appalling but
insightful tale, Marie delivers an impassioned performance, beginning
with a portrayal of her grandmother, who loved rum and dancing and her
ne'er-do-well boyfriend but could be tough when the situation demanded
it. Directed by Geoff Rivas on a stark proscenium, with shifts in time
and place well-illustrated by Patsy McCormack's crystallizing
videography, this is a promising work that still needs pruning, polish
and a pacing adjustment. (Deborah Klugman). Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.;
Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through June 23. Los Angeles Theatre Center,
514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, www.thelatc.org.
Like the 1980s, this revival of the Cold War-themed musical that
produced the hit song “One Night in Bangkok” is kitschy, colorful and
full of spectacle. Yet its return also reveals the contrived, confusing
plot and threadbare characters that have perennially plagued this piece.
That's to take nothing away from director Tim Dang and his ensemble,
who embrace the source material and make it their own. Undergirding
their efforts are Adam Flemming's cleverly tiered set and eye-catching
projections, Anthony Tran's bold costumes, Dan Weingarten's
kaleidoscopic lighting and Ken Takemoto's wonderfully detailed props.
Dang chooses the through-sung U.K. version of the show, which heavily
features his soloists, all of whom have great pipes. Joan Almedilla
(Florence) soars, Elijah Rock (Anatoly) belts with gusto — though,
oddly, without a Russian accent — and Carey Rebecca Brown (Svetlana)
showcases delicate power. Victor E. Chan (Freddie) has moxie but runs
hot and cold, while Ray A. Rochelle (Molokov) brings Bond-villain fun to
the show. If only the story were as resonant as the vocals, this
musical could really be something. (Mayank Keshaviah).
Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through June 23.
East West Players, 120 N. Judge John Aiso St., Los Angeles,
The Circus Is Coming to Town:
Interactive kids play, presented by Storybook Theatre. Saturdays, 1
p.m. Continues through July 6. Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. W., Los
Angeles, 323-851-7977, www.theatrewest.org.
Dead Man's Cell Phone:
A lonely woman is forced to confront her assumptions about morality,
redemption and the need to connect in a technologically obsessed world
as she steps into the life of a dead man by taking his cell phone calls.
Written by Sarah Ruhl. Directed by Richard Israel. Thursdays-Saturdays,
8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through June 30. Long Beach
Performing Arts Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, 562-436-4610.
GO: Falling for Make Believe:
The Colony Theatre's latest effort isn't quite there yet: Mark
Saltzman's world-premiere musical about the wordsmith half of
songwriting duo Rodgers and Hart requires polishing (and a hit would
help get the faltering theater back on its feet). But for music lovers
and nostalgic theater buffs, this revue directed by Jim Fall offers
tender moments, two dozen of the pair's greatest hits and a sobering
glimpse at the backstage paradox of Lorenz Hart — snappy wit and lyric
genius but a sodden, tormented closet case. Saltzman hangs the narrative
on Fletcher (Tyler Milliron), a Pennsylvania Dutch farm boy who longs
to hit it big, or at least find himself a talented boyfriend. After a
series of go-nowhere run-ins with Hart (Ben Goldberg), the two finally
connect and the play picks up tension and momentum. Their affecting
dynamic creates the evening's most potent moments, but both seem
slightly miscast: Saltzman's script calls for a hunkier farm boy and a
homelier lyricist. Those discrepancies should be addressed, as should an
oddly layered set design that leaves intimate scenes swimming in a
cavernous space. Rebecca Ann Johnson adds pizzazz as Hart's Broadway
muse, along with some dreamy renditions of “Bewitched” and “Blue Moon.”
(Jenny Lower). Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 3 p.m.; Sundays, 2
p.m. Continues through June 30, $29-$49. Colony Theatre, 555 N. Third
St., Burbank, 818-558-7000, www.colonytheatre.org.
The enduringly popular 1960 American musical, about a boy and a girl
who are destined to be together, despite their chosen paths in life
which almost steer them apart. Book and lyrics by Tom Jones. Music by
Harvey Schmidt. Directed by James Fowler and Barbara Schofield. Fridays,
Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2:30 p.m. Continues through July 13. Sierra
Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre, 626-355-4318, www.sierramadreplayhouse.org.
The Future Perfect:
A staged reading about a singer whose band is on the verge of their
dreams, but who can't seem to keep his family together behind the
scenes. Book by Jonathan Caren, music and lyrics by Emmy Award-winning
composer and songwriter Ben Decter, directed by Kristin Hanggi. Tue.,
June 25, 8 p.m.; Wed., June 26, 8 p.m. Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El
Molino Ave., Pasadena, 626-356-PLAY, www.pasadenaplayhouse.org.
The Judy Show: My Life as a Sitcom:
Judy Gold's critically acclaimed off-Broadway show about her life
story, told through references to the sitcoms she grew up watching as a
child in New Jersey. Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 3 p.m.;
Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m. Continues through July 28. Geffen Playhouse,
10886 Le Conte Ave., Los Angeles, 310-208-5454, www.geffenplayhouse.com.
Between the years of 1938 and 1940, over 10,000 Jewish children were
voluntarily sent by their parents to the UK to escape Nazi concentration
camps. Most never saw their parents again. Kindertransport celebrates
the heroism and hope that kept these children alive. All performances
will be recorded live in front of an audience (without sets or costumes)
to air on L.A. Theatre Works' radio theater series. Written by Diane
Samuels. Fri., June 21, 8 p.m.; Sat., June 22, 3 & 8 p.m.; Sun.,
June 23, 4 p.m. James Bridges Theater, 1409 Melnitz Hall, Westwood,
Late Nite Cathechism Las Vegas: Sister Rolls the Dice: The latest class in the comedic Catechism
series. The convent needs a new roof, so the order has decided that
Sister (with her extensive gambling experience running church bingo
night for the last 25 years) will organize a Las Vegas night. Written
and performed by Maripat Donovan. Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2
& 8 p.m.; Sun., June 23, 2 & 7 p.m. Continues through June 23.
Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, 949-497-2787, www.lagunaplayhouse.com.
A Midsummer Night's Dream:
A summer standard, this is the Theatricum's signature production of
Shakespeare's wondrous enchanted forest tale of love, fairies, and the
power of nature. Sat., June 22, 4 p.m.; Sat., June 29, 4 p.m.; Sun.,
July 7, 3:30 p.m.; Sat., July 13, 4 p.m.; Thu., Aug. 1, 8 p.m.; Thu.,
Aug. 8, 8 p.m.; Thu., Aug. 15, 8 p.m.; Thu., Aug. 22, 8 p.m.; Thu., Aug.
29, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 1, 7:30 p.m.; Mon., Sept. 2, 6:30 p.m.; Sun.,
Sept. 8, 3:30 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 14, 4 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 22, 3:30 p.m.;
Sat., Sept. 28, 8 p.m. Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga
Canyon Blvd., Topanga, 310-455-3723, www.theatricum.com/index.html.
A new musical that tells a timeless story of star-crossed lovers from
the rival “Mod” and “Rocker” factions in swinging 60s London. Book by
Hagan Thomas-Jones, songs by classic British invasion superstars,
musical arrangements by David O. Starting June 23, Sun., June 23, 5
p.m.; Thu., June 27, 8 p.m.; Fri., June 28, 8 p.m.; Sat., June 29, 3
& 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m.; Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.;
Saturdays, 3 p.m. Continues through July 28,
El Portal Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood,
Next to Normal:
A Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical about a family trying to take
care of themselves and each other. Music by Tom Kitt, book and lyrics
by Brian Yorkey, musical direction by Darryl Archibald, directed by Nick
DeGruccio. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Saturdays, 2
p.m. Continues through June 23. La Mirada Theatre for the Performing
Arts, 14900 La Mirada Blvd., La Mirada, 562-944-9801, www.lamiradatheatre.com.
The Royal Family:
George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber's comedy about a family of actors, a
parody of the Barrymores, will be performed by Topanga's own theatrical
clan, the Geers. Sat., June 22, 8 p.m.; Sun., June 23, 7:30 p.m.; Sat.,
June 29, 8 p.m.; Sun., June 30, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., July 6, 8 p.m.; Sat.,
July 13, 8 p.m.; Sun., July 14, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., July 20, 4 p.m.; Sun.,
Aug. 4, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 10, 8 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 17, 4 p.m.; Sun.,
Aug. 18, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 25, 3:30 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 31, 4 p.m.;
Sat., Sept. 7, 4 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 8, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 15, 3:30
p.m.; Sat., Sept. 21, 4 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 28, 4 p.m. Will Geer
Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga,
GO: The Scottsboro Boys:
From its haunting, memory-play opening to the uplifting poignancy of
its final, surprise reveal, John Kander and Fred Ebb's 2010 risk-taking
musical retelling of one of the galvanizing episodes of the early
civil-rights movement makes for a stirring summation of the songwriting
team's 45-year Broadway career. The Scottsboro Boys' biggest
gamble is its greatest coup: namely, its conceit of staging one of the
most outrageous injustices of the Jim Crow South as a minstrel show. But
how better to implicate a 21st-century audience in the degradation of
Jim Crow than through one of its most pervasive and contemptible
cultural artifacts? David Thompson's incisive book nicely blends broad
burlesque with the harrowing tale of nine black teenagers arrested off a
rural Alabama freight train in 1931 and framed with the state's
then-capital crime of black-on-white rape. Of the nine, the book focuses
on the illiterate Haywood Patterson (the magnificent Joshua Henry),
fashioning a portrait of resilience, dignity and resistance under
adversity. Director-choreographer Susan Stroman mines Kander's canny
survey of early jazz (ranging from faux-Stephen Foster blackface tunes
and New Orleans rags to 1930s swing) and pulls out some thrilling
production numbers, most notably Deandre Sevon's show-stopping, Max
Fleischer-homage tap dance to “Electric Chair.” (Bill Raden).
Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 1 p.m.;
Thu., June 27, 2 p.m. Continues through June 30. Ahmanson Theatre, 135
N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, 213-628-2772, www.centertheatregroup.org.
Sleepless in Seattle: The Musical: Based on the Tristar Pictures film Sleepless In Seattle,
about a widower and his precocious son who is searching for the perfect
mother. Book by Jeff Arch, music by Ben Toth, lyrics by Sam Forman.
Musical Staging by Spencer Liff, directed by Sheldon Epps.
Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 4 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m.
Continues through June 23. Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave.,
Pasadena, 626-356-PLAY, www.pasadenaplayhouse.org.
The Taming of the Shrew:
Shakespeare's rowdy romp about the lovely Bianca and her sister
“Katherine the Cursed,” who must be married off before Bianca is allowed
to entertain suitors. Sun., June 23, 3:30 p.m.; Sun., June 30, 3:30
p.m.; Sat., July 6, 4 p.m.; Sun., July 7, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., July 14, 3:30
p.m.; Sun., July 28, 3:30 p.m.; Fri., Aug. 2, 8 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 3, 4
p.m.; Sat., Aug. 10, 4 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 11, 3:30 p.m.; Fri., Aug. 16, 8
p.m.; Fri., Aug. 23, 8 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 24, 4 p.m.; Fri., Aug. 30, 8
p.m.; Fri., Sept. 6, 8 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 13, 8 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 21, 8
p.m.; Sun., Sept. 29, 3:30 p.m. Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N.
Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga, 310-455-3723, www.theatricum.com/index.html.
Yes, Prime Minister:
An award-winning British comedy of political power and intrigue, set
against the backdrop of the collapsing Euro, austerity measures, and the
24-hour news cycle. Written by Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, directed
by Jonathan Lynn. Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 3 p.m.;
Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m. Continues through July 14. Geffen Playhouse,
ONGOING SHOWS IN SMALLER THEATERS SITUATED IN HOLLYWOOD, WEST HOLLYWOOD AND THE DOWNTOWN AREAS:
by Danny Rothschild, Interlochen, MI, Age 19. Visit
youngplaywrights.com for a full schedule and list of performances.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through June 30,
www.youngplaywrights.com/. The Blank Theatre, 6500 Santa Monica Blvd.,
Los Angeles, 323-661-9827, www.theblank.com.
Social worker Ann Gentry finds herself with a very unusual case: the
Wadsworth family, whose youngest member, Baby, is an adult man who
sleeps in a crib and acts like an infant. Based on the 1973 cult movie
of the same title, adapted for the stage and directed by Dan Spurgeon.
Sat., June 22, 8 p.m.; Sun., June 23, 8 p.m.; Wed., June 26, 8 p.m.;
Fri., June 28, 8 p.m.; Sat., June 29, 8 p.m. Lex Theatre, 6760 Lexington
Ave., Los Angeles, 323-871-1150.
The Los Angeles premiere of Peter Sinn Nachtrieb's comedy exploring the
American mythology of happiness and success. Born and abandoned in a
White Castle bathroom in Louisville, and determined to become a “great”
man, Bob takes an epic journey across America where he encounters
inspiring generosity, crushing hardships, blissful happiness, stunning
coincidences, true love and heartbreaking loss. Fridays, Saturdays, 8
p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through June 30. Atwater Village
Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave., Los Angeles, 323-644-1929, www.atwatervillagetheatre.com. See New Reviews.
Bob Baker's It's a Musical World!:
The Bob Baker Marionette Theater continues its 53rd season with a day
at the circus, a stop at an enchanted toy shop, and a visit to a teddy
bear's picnic. Saturdays, Sundays, 2:30 p.m.; Tuesdays-Fridays, 10:30
a.m. Bob Baker Marionette Theater, 1345 W. First St., Los Angeles,
Bobbywood: The Longest Death Scene:
Written by and starring voiceover performer Bill Ratner, a Best of
Fringe 2012 Honoree and 8-time Moth Story Slam Winner. Ratner delves
into the mystery of what happened to his uncle, actor Bobby Jellison,
who played I Love Lucy's “Bobby the Bellboy” for thirteen
episodes. Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m. Continues through June 29. Ruby
Theater at the Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles,
The Boomerang Effect:
A comedy, written by Matthew Leavitt, consisting of five interrelated
short plays that peek into the sex lives of five different couples in
various bedroom scenarios. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through
July 27. Zephyr Theater, 7456 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, 323-852-9111.
Michael Kass' solo performance, which weaves a true tale of love, fear
and Ayahuasca. In 2012, Michael met a girl who broke his heart open, so
he quit his job and journeyed to Peru to delve into the world of Andean
Shamanism. Sun., June 23, 1 p.m.; Wed., June 26, 10 p.m. Asylum Lab,
1078 Lillian Way, Los Angeles, 323-962-1632, www.theatreasylum-la.com.
Connie Loves Juice:
John Cantwell's romance-horror-soap opera-comedy incorporates dance,
film homages, pop culture references, and photography. Fri., June 21, 9
p.m.; Sat., June 22, 9 p.m.; Fri., June 28, 9 p.m.; Sat., June 29, 9
p.m. Cavern Club Theater, 1920 Hyperion Ave., Los Angeles, 323-969-2530,
GO: Cops and Friends of Cops: The title Cops and Friends of Cops
references the raucous “cops only” night held monthly at the tumbledown
St. Louis bar in Ron Klier's suspenseful drama. While Dom (Paul Vincent
O'Connor) prepares the bar for the night's guests, he is joined by the
shabby-looking Paul (Johnny Clark), who insists on staying, in spite of
Dom's repeated warnings that “the place is slammed with cops” and his
prediction that things will “turn rowdy.” After Emmett (Andrew Hawkes),
plus Roosevelt (Rolando Boyce) and his soon-to-be-retired partner Sal
(Gareth Williams), clamor in, the mood turns deeply malevolent — fast.
Emmett's inexplicable browbeating of Paul turns increasingly ugly and
confrontational, while Sal's seemingly endless assortment of “all in
good fun” racist jokes slowly begin to anger his young African-American
partner. This initial ratcheting-up of tension, however, is nothing
compared with what happens after a gun is suddenly produced and the
reason for Paul's visit is revealed. What follows is anything but
predictable. Klier's rough-hewn characters are completely convincing,
and the script, in addition to forcefully probing issues of morality,
bigotry, loss and redemption, takes hold and allows little in the way of
relief, as does Klier's highly charged, violent staging. The ensemble
work here is first-rate, while Danny Cistone nails his meticulously
crafted bar mock-up, complete with pay phone and old-timey jukebox.
(Lovell Estell III). Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through June
29, $25. VS. Theatre, 5453 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, www.vstheatre.org.
GO: Dying City:
When Peter (Burt Grinstead) unexpectedly shows up at Kelly's (Laurie
Okin) Lower Manhattan apartment, the mood is prickly and awkward. That's
understandable; Peter is the identical twin of her husband, Craig, a
hard-as-nails soldier who recently died in a military accident in Iraq.
But during their conversation, many questions tug at this pair,
threatening to bring them down into an emotional undertow. Did Craig
really die in an accident? Why is Kelly's phone number unlisted and why
is she obscuring evidence she may be moving out? Christopher Shinn's
writing is sophisticated and elusive, presenting only tantalizing
fragments and expecting you to make the connections and piece the
backstory together. The language is raw and real — people really do
talk this way — and Shinn, a Pulitzer Prize finalist for this play,
perfectly captures the discomfort of a relationship that exists only
through a marital connection yet becomes cathected and extremely
complicated. Director Michael Peretzian stages the one-act play well,
using lighting and sound cues sparingly but above all extracting superb
and deeply expressive performances from his cast of two. Both actors are
called upon to negotiate some difficult emotional terrain, and
Grinstead, in particular, demonstrates his range. (Pauline Adamek).
Saturdays, 5 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m.; Mondays, 8 p.m. Continues through
July 8, $30. Rogue Machine Theatre, 5041 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles,
Fathers at a Game:
In Trey Nichols' explosive play, fantasy and reality collide with
deadly force. Moe and Edie are buddies watching their sons play
football, but something strange is lurking underneath this harrowing and
comedic portrait of the American Dream. Part of the Hollywood Fringe
Festival. Sat., June 22, 2:45 p.m.; Fri., June 28, 9:45 p.m.; Sat., June
29, 9:45 p.m. East Theatre at the Complex, 6468 Santa Monica Blvd., Los
Groundlings Prom After-Party:
All-new sketch and improv, directed by Damon Jones. Fridays, 8 p.m.;
Saturdays, 8 & 10 p.m. Continues through July 6. Groundling Theater,
7307 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, 323-934-9700, www.groundlings.com.
A middle-aged Jewish woman struggling with a crisis of faith is
convinced to join a flamenco class for “out of shape” women which
forever changes her life. Written by Stephen Sachs. See Stage feature: https://www.laweekly.com/2013-05-30/stage/fried-octopus-bootleg/full/.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through July 14.
Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave., Los Angeles, 323-663-1525,
Hollywood Fringe Festival 2013:
Over 1,000 performances of 200 plus performing arts productions will be
presented at 20 venues throughout central Hollywood. Visit
hollywoodfringe.org for a complete list of showtimes and locations.
Mondays-Sundays. Continues through June 30, prices vary by show,
www.hollywoodfringe.org/. Fringe Central Station, 6314 Santa Monica
Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-455-4585, www.hollywoodfringe.org.
The House of Yes:
A play by screenwriter and playwright Wendy McLeod, about an unbalanced
familial homecoming for a young man and his new fiancé. Fridays,
Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 5 p.m. Continues through June 30. Studio
Stage, 520 N. Western Ave., Los Angeles, 323-463-3900, www.studio-stage.com.
How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse:
It would take a cultural philosopher to adequately explain why zombies
have so profoundly resonated with audiences at this historical moment.
One does not, however, need to be a Gilles Deleuze to understand its
baroque potential for satire. Which is to say that anyone with even a
passing acquaintance with the genre rules laid down by George Romero
will find a lot to like in director Patrick Bristow's amiable,
Americanized version of this improv-derived British fringe import by Ben
Muir, Jess Napthine, David Ash and Lee Cooper. Bristow is zombiologist
Dr. Bobert Dougash. Jayne Entwistle, Mario Vernazza and Chris Sheets are
his seminar's panel of conspicuously underqualified experts, who take
very seriously the ludicrous prospect of surviving a fictional,
species-exterminating epidemic. Bristow expertly leads the crew through
some clever wordplay routines worthy of Abbott & Costello, padded
out with some genial barbs directed at audience targets of opportunity.
(Bill Raden). Sat., June 22, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., June 29, 5:30 p.m.,
combinedartform.com. Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd., Los
Angeles, 323-962-1632, www.theatreasylum-la.com.
An experiment in interactive theater that puts spectators in control of
the performers. Via radio remote, audience members can guide the words
and motions of a single actor, and determine how he/she interacts with
the environment and other performers. Presented by the Brimmer Street
Theatre Company. Fri., June 21, 10:30 p.m.; Fri., June 28, 10:30 p.m.
Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-469-9988.
Hungry Woman: A new play, written by Josefina López, based on an abridged adaptation of her novel, Hungry Woman in Paris.
Rachel González stars in the central role of Canela Guerrero, a Chicano
journalist who breaks off her marriage engagement, and uses tickets
intended for her honeymoon to go to Paris alone so that she can find
herself and the meaning of life. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 5
p.m. Continues through June 30. Casa 0101, 2102 E. 1st St., Los Angeles,
I Am Google:
What if Google was not a high tech search engine, but a regular guy in
an apartment full of maps, calendars and reference books whose job was
doing research 24 / 7 without time to crash? What if Twitter was his
ex-girlfriend and currently dating Facebook. What if Wikipedia was just
his know-it-all buddy giving him bad information while Bing seeks to
destroy him at every turn? Come visit Google and get all your questions
answered, LIVE and in person! Free cookies for all visitors! Written and
performed by actor and computer expert Craig Ricci Shaynak. Sat., June
22, 10 p.m.; Fri., June 28, 8:30 p.m.; Sat., June 29, 2:30 p.m.; Sun.,
June 30, 5:30 p.m. Elephant Theatre Lab, 1078 N. Lilian Way, Los
I Could've Been Dancing…An Evening of Song and Laughter:
Ben Fuller and Sara Collins serenade audiences with a selection of
songs and duets, filled with sharp banter and tongue-in-cheek
interpretations. Presented by the Brimmer Street Theatre Company. Fri.,
June 21, 9:15 p.m.; Fri., June 28, 9:15 p.m. Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa
Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-469-9988.
A dark comedy that examines enhanced interrogation techniques and the
endless cycle of man's inhumanity to man. An American citizen is being
detained and interviewed, but he doesn't know where he is or why he is
there. His Interviewers seem to think he knows something and they will
stop at nothing to get the information they need, but oddly enough they
never seem to ask him anything. Written and directed by Michael Franco.
Sat., June 22, 3:30 & 6:30 p.m.; Fri., June 28, 8 p.m.; Sun., June
30, 3:30 p.m. Open Fist Theatre, 6209 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles,
Backed by a live band, Tim Piper channels John Lennon in this
multimedia rock 'n roll tribute that celebrates Lennon's life and music.
Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m.; Sat., July 6, 8 p.m.; Sun., July 7,
3 p.m.; Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Aug. 25.
Hayworth Theatre, 2511 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-213-6955, www.thehayworth.com.
The Last Days of Mary Stuart:
An electro-opera written and directed by Becca Wolff with music by
Byron Kahr and John Nixon. Mary Stuart is the disgraced and charismatic
Queen of Scots in 16th century England. As she drives herself into the
rift over Queen Elizabeth's legitimacy, foreign powers threaten and
youths are radicalized abroad. Starting June 22, Saturdays, 8 &
10:30 p.m.; Thu., June 27, 8 p.m.; Fridays, 8 p.m.; Thu., July 11, 8
p.m.; Thu., July 18, 8 p.m. Continues through July 20. Son of Semele,
3301 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, 213-351-3507, www.sonofsemele.org.
A comedic and poignant journey of one man's battle to defend himself
against the IRS, told through receipts, anxiety, and diet coke. Written
and performed by Steve Mize. Part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival.
Sat., June 22, 5:30 p.m.; Fri., June 28, 8:30 p.m.; Sun., June 30, 1
p.m. Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-962-1632,
John Grady's one man performance of his true tales of being picked on,
chased down, and beat up, from childhood to adulthood. Chosen as “Best
of the FrigidNY Festival.” Sat., June 22, 2 p.m.; Thu., June 27, 10
p.m.; Sat., June 29, 1:25 p.m. Theatre of NOTE, 1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd.,
Los Angeles, 323-856-8611, www.theatreofnote.com.
The Katrina Comedy Fest:
In 2006, the mayor of New Orleans proposed celebrating Hurricane
Katrina's first anniversary with a fireworks display and comedy hour,
which was canceled due to public outrage. Through the words of five New
Orleans residents, experience the heartbreak, humanity, and “comedy” of
those who rode out the storm. Written by Rob Florence, directed by Misty
Carlisle. Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays, 8 p.m. Continues
through June 30. Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles,
Love Songs, A Musical:
Six friends and colleagues live through the vagaries of love and
marriage. Book, music, and lyrics by Steven Cagan, directed by Kay Cole.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through July 28,
www.crtheatre.com/lovesongs.html. Chromolume Theatre, 5429 W. Washington
Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-205-1617, www.chromolume-theatre.com.
One Night In Miami:
Kemp Powers' historical fiction explores the night in 1964 that Cassius
Clay defeated Sonny Liston to become heavyweight champion of the world,
and Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and football player Jim Brown threw a party
for him at a small hotel. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m.
Continues through July 28. Rogue Machine Theatre, 5041 W. Pico Blvd.,
Los Angeles, 855-585-5185, www.roguemachinetheatre.com. See New Reviews.
Philosophy in the Boudoir:
Brazilian theater company Os Satyros performs this explicit stage
adaptation of the Marquis de Sade's 1795 book. This show contains
frontal nudity, sex, and extreme violence. Audience discretion is
advised. Sat., June 22, 12:30 p.m.; Mon., June 24, 10:30 p.m.; Tue.,
June 25, 10 p.m.; Thu., June 27, 8:30 p.m.; Fri., June 28, 11:59 p.m.;
Sat., June 29, 10:30 p.m. Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd., Los
Angeles, 323-962-1632, www.theatreasylum-la.com.
Pieces (of ass):
A series of original “Pieces,” delivered by a cast of twelve of the
country's most dynamic and beautiful performers, exploring what defines
an attractive woman, from the perks and privileges to the problems and
pressures. Fri., June 21, 11 p.m.; Fri., July 19, 11 p.m.; Fri., Aug.
16, 11 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 20, 11 p.m. Beacher's Madhouse at The Roosevelt
Hotel, 7000 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-785-3036, www.thompsonhotels.com.
A play about deception and broken trust, written by Steven Dietz.
Thursdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through June 30. Hudson
Theatres, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles.
Rent: Because of its repetitive musicality, rock opera Rent
lives or dies on the vocal strength of its cast. This production has
mostly excellent, robust and irrepressible singing that is only
occasionally obliterated by the mediocre live band. The plot of Jonathan
Larson's legendary Broadway smash in some ways clings to its source
material (Henri Murger's novel and Puccini's opera), gaining gravitas
with its contemporary updating to Manhattan in the mid-'90s.
Tuberculosis becomes AIDS, the oppressed mobilize and artists sell out.
This production's highlights include the hilarious “Tango: Maureen”
(sung by Reagan Osborne and Kate Bowman) and “Light My Candle” (Juan
Lozano and the sultry Lauren Joy Goss as a sexed-up Mimi). Jonathon
Grant steals the show with his dynamite performance as cheeky drag queen
Angel, especially in his athletic first solo, “Today 4 You.” Director
Kristen Boulé never finds the balance between the show's rock & roll
power and its quiet, reflective ballads, and commencing Act Two in full
house lights undermines the dreamy, multipart harmonies of “Seasons of
Love.” (Pauline Adamek). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m.
Continues through June 30. Hudson Theatres, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Los
A new play, written by Chris Phillips, choreographed by Janet Roston
and directed by Ryan Bergmann. Like the six barrels in a revolver, six
scenes displaying the aftermath of emotional and physical violence are
examined in the gun-shaped city of West Hollywood. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8
p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through July 21. Celebration Theatre,
7051-B Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-957-1884, www.celebrationtheatre.com. See New Reviews.
A yuppie dentist gets pulled into the lore of a dusty, unmarked place
called Rodeo Town when his Range Rover breaks down in the middle of a
road trip. Written by Graham Bowlin. Directed by Cameron Strittmatter.
Fridays, Saturdays, 7 p.m. Continues through June 29. East Theatre at
the Complex, 6468 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles.
The Ruby Besler Cabaret:
A funny, sexy show starring principal writer and producer Anastasia
Barnes. Her character, Ruby, goes to secretarial school in Manhattan
while pursuing the dream of being a Broadway star. Along the way, she
beds and loses a great love before moving on to the next chapter of an
adventurous life. Tue., June 25, 8:30 p.m.; Sat., June 29, 10 p.m.
Elephant Stages, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles.
Sewer Rats at Sea:
A genre-bending production exploring what happens when a stowaway
sneaks aboard a yacht and falls for a stunning woman whose wit matches
his own. The drama plays out at sea as characters, trapped, find their
secrets slipping out. Written by 20-year-old playwright ZK Lowenfels.
Mon., June 24, 7 p.m.; Sat., June 29, 8:30 p.m. Theatre Asylum, 6320
Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-962-1632, www.theatreasylum-la.com.
Something to Crow About:
The Bob Baker Marionettes' musical “Day on the Farm.” Saturdays,
Sundays, 2:30 p.m.; Tuesdays-Fridays, 10:30 a.m. Bob Baker Marionette
Theater, 1345 W. First St., Los Angeles, 213-250-9995, www.bobbakermarionettes.com.
Brian Friel's 1980 play is set in 1833. England has sent British troops
to carry out the first geographic survey of Ireland, with orders to
translate the old Gaelic place names into English, obliterating
centuries of Irish history and culture. In Gaelic-speaking Baile Beag,
in Country Donegal, the reaction is decidedly mixed. The forward-
looking young Maire (Sammi Smith) welcomes the move as a way of
connecting their isolated backwater with the modern world, while others
engage in sabotage and harbor deep resentment against the British, which
escalates into violence. The first victim is the young British
Lieutenant Yolland (Kurt Quinn), who's romantically involved with Maire,
despite the fact that they don't speak the same language. Ironically,
Yolland is a naive romantic with a deep love for all things Irish.
Director Ryan Wagner leads his able cast in a solid production, despite
some near-impenetrable Irish brogue. (Neal Weaver). Fridays, Saturdays, 8
p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through June 23. Lost Studio, 130 S. La
Brea Ave., Los Angeles, 323-871-5830.
In this solo show, Marie Lively shares the true story of how a naive
Christian temp became a corporate smut queen for one of the most famous
(and infamous) pornographers in town. Presented by the Brimmer Street
Theatre Company. Fri., June 21, 7:45 p.m.; Fri., June 28, 7:45 p.m.
Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-469-9988.
Watson and the Dark Art of Harry Houdini:
After a string of brutal murders, Watson and Holmes travel to New York
on the trail of a killer, where they meet the mysterious Harry Houdini,
who seems to know more than he's telling. Written and directed by Jaime
Robledo,. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through
July 27. Sacred Fools Theater, 660 N. Heliotrope Drive, Los Angeles,
PICK OF THE WEEK:
We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia,
Formerly Known as South-West Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika,
Between the Years 1884-1915: The West Coast premiere of Jackie
Sibblies Drury's chilling and funny new work about a group of actors who
lose control of their play and discover some startling hidden truths.
What could possibly go wrong when a group of eager young amateur actors
attempt to dramatize genocide? Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2
p.m. Continues through Aug. 11. Matrix Theatre, 7657 Melrose Ave., Los
Angeles, 323-852-1445, www.matrixtheatre.com. See New Reviews.
A dark, psychological thriller by playwright Tommy Smith, about a love
triangle between a troubled woman, her sexy sister, and her
opportunistic husband. Tue., June 25, 7 p.m.; Fri., June 28, 7 p.m.
Asylum Lab, 1078 Lillian Way, Los Angeles, 323-962-1632, www.theatreasylum-la.com.
ONGOING SHOWS IN SMALLER THEATERS SITUATED IN THE VALLEYS:
Attack of the Rotting Corpses:
Zombie Joe's disgusting new thriller-comedy about a condo complex in
the San Fernando Valley, where the water supply becomes contaminated
with a dangerous microbe, transforming the residents (and their pets)
into ravenous, flesh-eating zombies. Fridays, 11 p.m. Continues through
July 12. Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North
Hollywood, 818-202-4120, zombiejoes.homestead.com.
Brian Golden's drama is a well-intentioned homage to the monumental
career of Jackie Robinson, with the action set in a diner (a stunner by
Desma Murphy) in Cooperstown on the eve of Robinson's Hall of Fame
induction. Junior (Cecil Burroughs), a black man, hopes to wheedle a
promotion to manager of the diner from its white owner, whose cynical
political ambitions would be aided by hosting the induction dinner.
Trouble looms, however, because of a planned civil-rights protest by
Junior's ultra-militant sister (Jamye Grant) and her cohorts. On site
for the ceremony is an endearing baseball groupie (TJ McNeill), whose
amorous puppy-dog attachment to waitress Dylan (Alexa Shoemaker) makes
for a humorous diversion but is as insubstantial as Junior's puzzling
relationship with the owner's neglected wife (Ann Hu). There is much to
enjoy here, especially if you're a baseball fan. Director Darryl
Johnson's cast perform consistently well, but Golden's winding,
here-and-there script makes disappointingly ineffective use of the rich
potential of the subject matter. (Lovell Estell III). Fridays,
Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through July 20. NoHo
Senior Arts Colony, 10747 Magnolia Blvd., Los Angeles.
GO: The Crucible:
Arthur Miller's play, first produced on Broadway in 1953, was Miller's
impassioned response to McCarthyism and the witch-hunts launched by the
House Un-American Activities Committee. But the fact that it has become
an oft-produced American classic and the basis for two films (including a
French version with screenplay by Jean-Paul Sartre) reminds us that
it's not just a political screed. Miller presents the Salem witch
trials, and the ensuing executions, as a lethal combination of greed,
personal resentment, religious fanaticism and hysteria, ordinary human
fears and the need to find someone to blame for all misfortunes. It was a
climate in which honesty and integrity were dangerous, and lies and
manipulation could thrive. Co-directors Armin Shimerman and Geoffrey
Wade have given the piece a highly presentational production, in which
the actors deliver their lines directly to the audience rather than to
each other. This approach drives the ideas home with force and clarity
but some loss of psychological subtlety. The large ensemble (all roles
are double-cast) delivers a production that is powerful and always
engrossing. There are especially fine portrayals, in the performance
reviewed, by James Sutorious as Deputy Governor Danforth, Bo Foxworth as
John Proctor and Ann Noble as Reverend Hale. (Neal Weaver). Thursdays, 8
p.m.; Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Saturdays, 2
p.m. Continues through July 6. The Antaeus Company and Antaeus Academy,
5112 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood.
Fool For Love:
Sam Shepard's sexy play about two obsessed and volatile lovers can be
intense and mesmerizing when it's done right, and a terrible
screech-fest when done wrong. This production trends uncomfortably
toward the latter. Chad Doreck delivers a natural, nuanced performance
as Eddie, a flawed drifter with a tenuous grasp on the truth, who
arrives at a seedy motel to revisit his half-sister and longtime
paramour, May (Lauren Plaxco). The pair have been on-again, off-again
for years, and May now wants out but gets hysterical each time Eddie
heads for the door. Throughout, Plaxco touts May's anger and anguish at
earsplitting volume while neglecting the more subtle details of her
persona — and the production suffers. Zach Killian is spot-on as an
amiable guy who inadvertently lands in the middle of this incestuous
duo. Robert May's rendering of their deranged dad lacks the bizarre,
haunting element that's called for. Gloria Gifford directs. (Deborah
Klugman). Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7:30 p.m. Continues through June
23, www.tix.com/Schedule.asp?ActCode=92083. T.U. Studios, 10943
Camarillo St., North Hollywood, 818-205-1680.
The Fourth Wall:
Peggy, a woman of generally good taste, has left one wall undecorated
in her living room, to the consternation of her husband, Roger. A comedy
with songs by Cole Porter. Written by A.R. Gurney, directed by Randall
Gray. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through July 20. Stages of
Gray, 299 N. Altadena Drive, Pasadena, www.stagesofgray.com.
Ghostwriter and The Legend of Little Lump:
Rehearsed readings of two free comedies by Mark Bate and Jeff
Folschinsky, respectively. Fri., June 21, 8 p.m. Eclectic Company
Theatre, 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Valley Village, 818-508-3003,
Like it or not, in a country of melting-pot mongrels, the dislocating
immigrant experience is part of our cultural DNA. So it is no surprise
that performer Tara Grammy's partly autobiographical solo show
(co-written with Tom Arthur Davis) about Toronto's Iranian expatriate
community should resonate with such poignant and universal familiarity.
Grammy interweaves multiple characters: Mahmoud, a middle-aged cab
driver and refugee from the Khomeini revolution; a flamboyant Spanish
gay man and his Iranian boyfriend, who has returned to Tehran on family
business; and Grammy herself, both as an adolescent born in Tehran but
raised in Canada, and as an adult struggling to launch a career in
Toronto's film and TV industry. The freshest and funniest material —
aided by Davis' smart and brisk staging — belongs to the 11-year-old
Tara and her fixation on somehow mitigating the physical differences
between her own dark complexion and that of her class's most popular
blond, blue-eyed girl. What ultimately thwarts all the characters,
however, is an Iran of the imagination whose relation to the truth
becomes increasingly problematic as headlines from that country's 2009
elections hint at a more complicated and disturbing reality. (Bill
Raden). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through June 29. Whitefire
Theater, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, 818-990-2324,
GO: A Midsummer Saturday Night's Fever Dream:
A disco re-imagining of Shakespeare's summer love story. Directed by
Matt Walker. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays, 4 p.m.;
Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through July 7. Falcon Theatre, 4252
Riverside, Burbank, 818-955-8101, www.falcontheatre.com.
Tammy Minoff's tepid relationship drama centers on small people who
can't understand why relationships aren't easier than they are, though
its smattering of laughs compensates somewhat for taking the long way
around to where we always knew we were going. Immediately after moving
to New York, Rosemary, a painter (read: free spirit), meets Tom, the
architect who will be instantly smitten with her. By the end of the
week, they've moved in together, and their relationship plays out in
contrast to that of Donald and Mae, friends of Tom's a few years married
who have hit a rough patch, thereby offering up the obligatory alarming
future. The well-executed multimedia design by Paige Selene Luke
(lighting), Adeline Newmann and Joe LaRue (video) and Borja Sau (sound)
plays nicely off of J.J. Wickham's simple, fluid set, but staging that
necessitates the actors' incessant fidgeting with its various elements
can become a distraction, dissipating some of the couples' chemistry.
(Mindy Farabee). Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through June 29.
Sidewalk Studio Theatre, 4150 Riverside Drive, Burbank, 818-558-5702,
Joe Musso's comedy about a county unemployment office manager and her
mission to restrain shiftless, hell-bent poets (including Walt Whitman,
Emily Dickinson, and Edgar Allan Poe), from devouring free government
cheese. Saturdays, 8:30 p.m. Continues through July 6. Zombie Joe's
Underground Theatre, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood,
GO: Smoke and Mirrors:
If you've forgotten the childlike joy and sublime wonderment of seeing
magic performed, Albie Selznick's theatrical show is an enchanting
reminder. The accomplished actor-magician puts on a bewildering tour de
force that has more “how did he do that” flashes than can be counted.
The show also has a personal element, as Selznick recounts his long path
to becoming a master magician, starting when he lost his father at the
age of 9 and used magic to escape reality, and then as a means of
challenging and overcoming his fears. He knows how to work the crowd,
and uses members of the audience in a number of his routines. Toward
show's end, he swallows some razors (kids, don't try this), then
regurgitates them on a long string, and wows with a demonstration of
fire eating and juggling some wicked-looking knives. Other amazing
moments are the eerie conjuring of doves out of nowhere and a
mind-blowing exhibition of midair suspension. Like all good magicians,
Selznick has highly capable assistants — Brandy, Kyle, Tina and Daniel
— who dazzle with their own magic in a stylish preshow. Paul Millet
directs. (Lovell Estell III). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2
p.m. Continues through Aug. 25, 800-595-4849, smokeandmirrorsmagic.com.
Lankershim Arts Center, 5108 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood,
Henry Ong's drama, based on true events about a Khmer Rouge survivor
and Oscar winner who was tragically gunned down in the streets of Los
Angeles. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through
July 20. Grove Theater Center, 1111-B W. Olive Ave., Burbank,
ONGOING SHOWS IN SMALLER THEATERS SITUATED ON THE WESTSIDE AND IN BEACH TOWNS:
The Amazing Bubble Man:
Louis Pearl has been thrilling audiences around the world for over 30
years with the art, science, and fun of bubbles, as well as comedy and
plenty of audience participation. Expect square bubbles, bubbles inside
bubbles, fog-filled bubbles, giant bubbles, bubble volcanoes, and people
inside bubbles. Sat., June 22, 11 a.m., 1 & 3 p.m.; Sun., June 23,
11 a.m., 1 & 3 p.m.; Sat., June 29, 11 a.m., 1 & 3 p.m.; Sun.,
June 30, 11 a.m., 1 & 3 p.m. Edgemar Center for the Arts, 2437 Main
St., Santa Monica, 310-399-3666, www.edgemarcenter.org.
The Assassination of Leon Trotsky: A Comedy:
A new comedy that finds Leon and Natalya Trotsky in Mexico during their
final days as guests of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, when a group of
actors revolts and turns their world upside down. Written by Peter
Lefcourt and directed by Terri Hanauer. Starting June 22, Fridays,
Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through July 28. Odyssey
Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-477-2055,
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged):
ALL the comedies, ALL the tragedies, ALL the histories, and even a nod
to the sonnets, all compressed neatly into a 97-minute package,
performed by three actors. Written by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess
Winfield. Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through
June 30. Promenade Playhouse, 1404 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica,
In Amy Tofte's vicious black comedy, an affair under the influence
oscillates between realism and absurdity. Directed by Vincent Paterson.
Fri., June 21, 8:30 p.m.; Sat., June 22, 8:30 p.m. Highways Performance
Space, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica, 310-315-1459,
From Wharf Rats to Lords of the Docks: the Life and Times of Harry Bridges:
A one-man show, in which actor and playwright Ian Ruskin portrays the
legendary union organizer Harry Bridges, capturing his passion,
struggles and wicked sense of humor. Thu., June 27, 8 p.m. Electric
Lodge, 1416 Electric Ave., Venice, 310-306-1854, www.electriclodge.org.
I'm Not Rappaport:
A new stage production of the Tony award-winning comedy by Herb
Gardner, in which seniors Midge, an African American, and Nat, a Jewish
man, meet in Central Park and develop a friendship. Directed by Howard
Teichman. See Stage feature: https://www.laweekly.com/2013-05-02/stage/colorblind-im-not-rappaport/full/.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through June 23,
$35. Pico Playhouse, 10508 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-204-4440,
Ionescopade, A Musical Vaudeville:
Taken from the works of “Theatre of the Absurd” playwright Eugène
Ionesco, this is a zany musical vaudeville featuring mime, farce and
parody. Music and lyrics by Mildred Kayden, original concept by Robert
Allan Ackerman, directed and choreographed by Bill Castellino. Fridays,
Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Thu., June 27, 8 p.m.; Thu., July
11, 8 p.m.; Wed., July 17, 8 p.m.; Thu., July 25, 8 p.m.; Wed., July 31,
8 p.m. Continues through Aug. 11. Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda
Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-477-2055, www.odysseytheatre.com.
A Midsummer Night's Dream:
Bottom is the tops in New American Theatre's take on the classic tale
of love and mischief, here set in 1930s Greece. Director and company
founder Jack Stehlin brings energy and cheeky wit to the character of
Nick Bottom by fully exploring the hills and valleys of Shakespeare's
linguistic landscape. As director, however, Stehlin doesn't get the
remainder of the cast to a similar level of performative precision and
understanding. The actors, while competent, never quite find the rhythms
and finer contours of the language that are crucial to making
Shakespeare feel contemporary while retaining his lilting lyricism. The
transposition to '30s Greece also lacks dramatic justification, making
Barbara Little's costuming as quizzical as it is colorful. Roger
Bellon's original music and John Farmanesh-Bocca's choreography add
flair to the fairies' moments onstage, but not enough to deliver
whatever message about class or Orientalism is intended by reimagining
them as gypsies. (Mayank Keshaviah). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sun.,
June 30, 7 p.m. Continues through June 30. Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S.
Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-477-2055, www.odysseytheatre.com.
GO: One White Crow:
Playwright Dale Griffiths Stamos' drama boasts a charged debate about
faith versus science that's engagingly even-handed and surprisingly
evocative. Renowned TV celebrity psychic Judith Knight (Michelle Danner)
offers an exclusive interview to hard-boiled reporter Teresa (Jane
Hajduk), who is mystified by the request, given that she is a fierce
disbeliever in the occult and is also the daughter of Christopher
Hitchens-like religious skeptic Robert. Robert has recently died and
Teresa is sure that Judith is scheming some sort of fake séance for PR
purposes — but the real truth turns out to be far more ambiguous and
disturbing. Director Deborah LaVine's nicely character-driven staging
crafts figures who represent two extreme poles of dogmatic belief —
Teresa and her Richard Dawkins-like boyfriend Alex (a nicely prickly Rob
Estes) contrast arrestingly with Danner's Knight, whose inscrutable,
Paula Dean-meets-carnival fortune-teller persona is fascinating.
Although Stamos' plot runs out of steam at the end, and the dialogue
occasionally falters into banality, the premise is enough to make the
play intellectually intriguing. (Paul Birchall). Fridays, Saturdays, 8
p.m.; Sundays, 5 p.m. Continues through June 23, $35. Edgemar Center for
the Arts, 2437 Main St., Santa Monica, 310-399-3666,
A fierce, modern-day Ophelia is trapped inside the machinery that has
created her consciousness, fighting to be heard. Hamlet, overwhelmed by
the ceaseless flood of media, watches TV mindlessly, flipping channels
with his remote control. He wants to understand the world but all he can
do is stare at it. The two of them are on opposite sides, between them,
the Atlantic Ocean. Written by Magda Romanska. Fridays, Saturdays, 8
p.m.; Sundays, 4 p.m. Continues through July 28. City Garage at Bergamot
Station Arts Center, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica, 310-453-9939,
www.citygarage.org. See New Reviews
GO: The Rainmaker:
A con-man/drifter walks into a small town, usually in the Midwest, and
seduces a vulnerable local female. He not only seduces her, he awakens
her to her true self and potential, which the opinions of others — her
family and society — have been suffocating. Oh, brother. Get the broom
and sweep off the cobwebs. In lesser hands than director Jack Heller's,
watching The Rainmaker would be like trudging through a slightly
dank, primeval marsh without rubber boots — the kind of experience
where you might say, “Well, isn't this historic and curious. Where can I
dry my socks?” The production is saved in part by its linchpin, Tanna
Frederick's droll, rat-smart Lizzie. With subtlety and composure that
often belies the text, she knows who she is and what she wants. Though
the play is over-written, Frederick's performance lies so entrenched
beneath the lines, it's as though she absorbs the play's excesses so
that they don't even show. Her terrific performance is not enough to
turn the play into a classic, but it does provide enough of an emotional
pull to reveal the reasons why it keeps getting staged. (Steven Leigh
Morris). Fridays, Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 5 p.m. Continues
through Aug. 31. Edgemar Center for the Arts, 2437 Main St., Santa
Monica, 310-399-3666, www.edgemarcenter.org.
An eclectic group of ladies share their joys and sorrows in this
beloved comedic drama by Robert Harling. Fri., June 21, 8 p.m.; Sat.,
June 22, 8 p.m.; Fri., June 28, 8 p.m.; Sat., June 29, 8 p.m.; Fri.,
July 5, 8 p.m.; Sat., July 6, 8 p.m.; Sun., July 7, 2 p.m.; Wed., July
10, 8 p.m.; Thu., July 11, 8 p.m.; Fri., July 12, 8 p.m.; Sat., July 13,
8 p.m. Little Fish Theatre, 777 Centre St., San Pedro, 310-512-6030,
To Begin the World Over Again: The Life of Thomas Paine:
Ian Ruskin's play about the story of Thomas Paine, America's eloquent
and egalitarian “apostle of freedom” who inspired revolutions on two
continents. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sun., June 23, 3 p.m.; Sun.,
June 30, 7 p.m. Continues through June 30. Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric
Ave., Venice, 310-306-1854, www.electriclodge.org.
Years to the Day:
A dark comedy written by Allen Barton about two 40-something men who
have been friends for decades, and who finally get together for coffee
after only staying in touch via social media. See stage feature.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through June 29, $25-$35. Beverly
Hills Playhouse, 254 S. Robertson Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310-855-1556,