Now that the holiday season is officially at an end, we can turn our attention to live theatre once again, with such fabulous shows as these:
“Louis & Keely: ‘Live’ at the Sahara” Louis Prima and Keely Smith shared a larger-than-life marriage and a groundbreaking Las Vegas act featuring unforgettable songs like “That Ol’ Black Magic,” “Pennies from Heaven,” and “Embraceable You.” “Louis & Keely: ‘Live’ at the Sahara” has grown from a local Los Angeles hit to a national musical phenomenon. After earlier award-winning and extended productions in Los Angeles and more recent acclaim in Chicago, “Louis & Keely: ‘Live’ at the Sahara” returns these outsized personalities and talents to the city in which the show was born. Written by Vanessa Claire Stewart, Taylor Hackford and Jake Broder, with music by Hershey Felder, and directed by Taylor Hackford, it runs through Jan. 17 at the Gil Cates Theater at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood. For tickets, call (310) 208-5454 or visit www.geffenplayhouse.com.
“Another Antigone” In this modern-Antigone-with-twists based on Sophocles’ classic, a gifted Jewish college senior submits a play (an anti-nuclear themed update of Antigone) to her Greek Theater professor in lieu of a formal paper. Refusing to accept her “paper,” he threatens to fail her and keep her from graduating. Tensions mount and accusations fly in this tale of how unbending pride destroys all who fall prey to it. Written by A.R. Gurney and directed by Linda Alznauer, it runs through Feb. 7 at the Lonny Chapman Theatre in North Hollywood. For tickets, call (818) 763-5990 or visit www.thegrouprep.com.
“The Madwoman in the Volvo” In the throes of her own mid-life change, Loh wrote an essay for the Atlantic Monthly, which later became the basis for her memoir, “The Madwoman in the Volvo: My Year of Raging Hormones.” She identified herself as someone who is from the “Triple M Generation—menopausal, middle-aged and a mother.” The New York Times selected Madwoman as one of the paper’s 100 Notable Books of 2014. Booklist called it “hilarious, comforting and enlightening.” The memoir’s three-character stage adaptation is a bumper-car ride through mid-life madness, all sparked by an unlikely trip to Burning Man. Written by Sandra Tsing Loh and directed by Lisa Peterson, it runs through Jan. 24 at the South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa. For tickets, call (714) 708-5555 or visit www.scr.org.
“The Manor” The show is a roman a clef, a fictionalization based on real events with the actual historical characters given new names. To lend authenticity to the presentation, the show is presented in the grand and glorious architectural landmark in which the events of 87 years ago actually took place. Audience members are led from room to room in the lovingly restored marvelous Greystone Mansion as different scenes of the narrative are portrayed, leading up to a shocking and apparent murder and suicide. “The Manor” depicts momentous changes in the fortunes of the fabulously wealthy MacAlister Family (fictional surrogates of the oil-rich Doheny Family). Family patriarch and mining tycoon Charles makes an illegal if well-intentioned loan to Senator Alfred Winston (a stand-in for Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall). Both men face imminent disgrace and worse in the oncoming Teapot Dome bribery scandal, which will engulf the Warren Harding administration. A scion of the MacAlister family faces violent death. Who is to blame? Written by Kathrine Bates and directed by Flora Plumb, it runs Jan. 8 through Feb. 5 at the Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills. For tickets, call (310) 694-6118 or visit www.theatre40.org.
“A Raisin in the Sun” Set on Chicago’s South Side, the plot revolves around the divergent dreams and conflicts within three generations of the Younger family: son Walter Lee, his wife Ruth, his sister Beneatha, his son Travis, and family matriarch Lena, called Mama. When her deceased husband’s insurance money comes through, Mama dreams of moving to a new home and a better neighborhood in Chicago. However, her son Walter Lee, a chauffeur, has other plans: buying a liquor store and being his own man while Beneatha dreams of attending medical school. The tensions and prejudice they face form this seminal American drama, centering on sacrifice, trust and love among the Younger family and their heroic struggle to retain dignity in a harsh and changing world. The play is a searing and timeless document of hope and inspiration. Written by Lorraine Hansberry and directed by Harold Dershimer, it runs Jan. 8 through Feb. 13 at the Westchester Playhouse in Westchester. For tickets, call (310) 645-5156 or visit www.kentwoodplayers.org.
“Deathtrap” Sidney Bruhl writes mystery plays for Broadway. A playwright of some repute, he’s hit a creative funk compounded by writer’s block following an early period of stellar successes. Meanwhile, Clifford Anderson, a young student of Sidney’s, has crafted one corker of a mystery play called “Deathtrap.” There are people who would kill to get their hands on a script like this. Would Sidney? Well, it turns out that Sidney has more than a casual interest in Clifford himself. There are complications, however. Sidney already has a wife. What to do about her? In the course of researching his mysteries, Sidney has amassed an impressive collection of weapons of death. But if he utilizes any of them, he’ll immediately become the prime suspect. Why can’t she just die? Then, there are other annoyances, like that meddlesome psychic who’s just moved into the neighborhood. Will Sidney achieve his fondest desires, including his next Broadway hit? Will his schemes come to fruition, as he plans? Does he get away with it? Written by Ira Levin, and directed by Christian Lebano, it runs Jan. 15 through Feb. 20 at the Sierra Madre Playhouse in Sierra Madre. For tickets, call (626) 355-4318 or visit www.sierramadreplayhouse.org.
“Hay Fever” Hoping for a quiet weekend in the country with some guests, David Bliss, a novelist, and his wife Judith, a retired actress, find that it’s an impossible dream when their high-spirited children Simon and Sorel appear with guests of their own. A houseful of drama waits to be ignited as misunderstandings and tempers flare. With Judith’s new flame and David’s newest literary “inspiration” keeping company as the children follow suit, the Bliss family lives up to its name as the “quiet weekend” comes to an exhausting and hilarious finale! Written by Noel Coward and directed by Michael Worden, it runs Jan. 15 through Feb. 21 at the Pierson Playhouse in Pacific Palisades. For tickets, call (310) 454-1970 or visit www.theatrepalisades.org.
“Jack and Jill” Jack and Jill are two very different people. Jack’s eyes light upon Jill one day as she reads a book of poems by Sylvia Plath. He is immediately drawn to her and begins to pursue her. He is a professional “imagist,” she’s a medical student. Both have previous romantic baggage. There’s no special reason they should fall for each other, but fall they do, as Jack and Jill follows the couple through courtship, marriage, disillusionment, and perhaps, finally, hope. Can love endure when the road is so fraught with obstacles? Jack and Jill will have to realize how vital they are to each other. Then again, true love has always been worth the effort. Written by Jane Martin and directed by Jack Heller, it runs Jan. 15 through Feb. 28 at the Santa Monica Playhouse in Santa Monica. For tickets, call (323) 960-1055 or visit www.Plays411.com.
“My Sister” A smash hit at last season’s Hollywood Fringe Festival, Janet Schaphohl’s story of identical twins in pre-World War II Germany has been expanded and receives a full production at the Odyssey Theatre. In early 1930s Berlin, the days are growing dark for freedom of expression and for those who don’t fit the Nazi ideal of physical purity. Beautiful sisters Magda, a fledgling chanteuse and comedienne at the local cabaret, and Matilde, writer of the satirical songs and comedy for Magda’s act, are identical in every way — except one. Identical genetic makeup. Identical humor. Identical dreams for the future. But cerebral palsy affects Matilde’s movement and speech, leaving her housebound. Für immer zusammen (“together forever”) – for how long will that remain possible? An ultimately chilling tale presented with charm and humor. Written by Janet Schlapkohl and directed by Ron Sossi and Paul David Story, it runs Jan. 16 through March 6 at the Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets, call (310) 477-2055 Ext. 2 or visit www.OdysseyTheatre.com.
“Private Eyes” This is a comedy of suspicion in which nothing is ever quite what it seems. Matthew’s wife, Lisa, is having an affair with Adrian, a British theatre director. Or perhaps the affair is part of the play being rehearsed. Or perhaps Matthew has imagined all of it simply to have something to report to Frank, his therapist. Finally, there is Cory – the mysterious woman who seems to shadow the others – who brings the story to its surprising conclusion. Or does she? The audience itself plays the role of detective in this hilarious “relationship thriller” about love, lust and the power of deception. Written by Steven Dietz and directed by Brandon Baer, it runs Jan. 16 through Feb. 7 at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre in Santa Monica. For tickets, call (310) 828-7519 or visit www.morgan-wixson.org.
“Two Sisters” It’s set on an Israeli kibbutz in 1996, one day after older sister Edith’s 75th birthday. Edith was one of the early pioneering kibbutznik collective farmers, a Socialist who stayed. She’s discouraged by Israel’s tilt towards its right wing. Rika, four years younger, was a Holocaust survivor. She’s about to leave for New York on an extended stay, and hopes to take her beautiful 18-year-old granddaughter Janine with her. But Janine has a man and is reluctant to leave him. Rika is visiting Edith for the latter’s birthday. Over the course of reminiscences, it turns out they both have secrets in their pasts. They shared one particular thing in common. Hint: It has something to do with a man. Written by Gail Louw and directed by Stewart Zully, it runs Jan. 21 through Feb. 21 at the Theatre 40 in Beverly Hills. For tickets, call (310) 364-0535 or visit www.Theatre40.org.
“Red” Mark Rothko, abstract expressionist, living legend and uncompromising bad boy asks Ken, his seemingly naïve new assistant “What do you see?” It’s 1958, and Rothko is at the height of his glory. In a converted gym deep in New York City’s Bowery, he has begun work on the biggest commission in the history of modern art—and everything is at stake. Rothko’s movement has stomped out cubism, but pop art looms threateningly on the horizon. As canvases are stretched, paint mixed and feverishly applied, Ken’s answers turn into questions, becoming more probing—and provoking—with each brush stroke in this heart-stopping Tony Award winner about the nature of art and artists. Written by John Logan, and directed by David Emmes, it runs January 22 through February 21 at the South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa. For tickets call 714-708-5555 or visit www.scr.org.
“Forever House” Post-equality brings a new twist to this world premiere comedy, with a touch of foreboding. Moving forward with social respectability and a first mortgage…what could possibly go wrong for this thirty-something gay couple? Jack and Ben are buying their first home, a “forever” house, which happens to be where Jack was born. But, from the day they close, a host of unleashed demons seem to invade their lives, testing the strength of their bond and bringing new meaning to the limits of square footage. Forever House is a play about the challenges of commitment. Written by Tony Abatemarco, and directed by Elizabeth Swain, it runs January 23 through February 28 at the Skylight Theatre complex in Los Angeles. For tickets call 213-761-7061 or visit www.skylighttix.com.
“Inland Empress” Returning home from a seven-year prison stint, Louise finds she’s lost her place as matriarch of the family, and boss of the family business. Running meth on a mostly defunct horse ranch seemed like the perfect setup. As Louise has come back from prison a very different woman, she now wants to change things—make them better for the sister and three nieces she’s done nothing but scam, lie and corrupt their whole lives. What she didn’t count on was that they were doing just fine without her. At least, that’s what they all want to believe. Written by Tom Cavanaugh, and directed by Jessica Hanna, it runs January 23 through February 28 at the Lounge Theatre 2 in Los Angeles. For tickets call 323-960-7787 or visit www.plays411.com/empress.
“Dream Catcher” Solar power confronts spirit power in this new drama about climate change, cultural change and the moral consequences of personal choice. Roy is the youngest member on a team of high-level engineers brought in to launch the most important project of his career — the construction of a solar energy plant in the middle of the Mojave Desert — when the sudden discovery of long-buried Native American artifacts threatens to bring the billion-dollar operation to a halt. The disaster gets deeply personal when the whistle-blower turns out to be Opal, the fiery and unpredictable young Mojave Indian woman with whom Roy has been having an affair. Written by Stephen Sachs, and directed by Cameron Watson, it runs January 30 through March 21 at the Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets call 323-663-1525 or visit www.FountainTheatre.com.
“Santa Claus is Comin’ to Motown” Telling the tale of Kris Kringle’s (aka Santa Claus) origin, the Troubies take the jolly old man himself and send him to the land of Smokey Miracles and Supreme Temptations. Join us for what the LA Times calls a “wild and wooly romp” filled with “a careening mix of circus, theatrics and musical mayhem”. The Falcon Theatre will host Talkbacks with members of Troubadour Theater Company after the show for patrons attending the Jan. 6, Jan. 7, Jan. 13 and Jan. 14 performances. Written and directed by Matt Walker, it runs through January 17 at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank. For tickets call 818-955-8101 or visit www.FalconTheatre.com.
So take the family out to see one of these great productions tonight!