By Steve ZALL and Sid FISH
Here comes Peter Cottontail, hopping down the bunny trail … announcing it’s time for Easter once again. As you paint the eggs and corral your little ones, take a moment to check out what’s new and exciting in our local theatre scene, like:
“Fishers of Men” The year is 64 A.D. A suspicious fire breaks out in the southern part of Rome, nearly destroying the city. Rumors begin to spread of Emperor Nero’s culpability in causing the inferno after the Senate opposed his plans to build a new palatial complex. In an effort to deflect accusations, Nero pins the blame on a burgeoning religious sect of outliers, otherwise known as “Christians.” Arrests follow speedily. Prisoners are tortured in the hopes of discovering the new religious sect’s key leaders. On the eve of His Majesty’s Anniversary Games, all the leaders are secretly detained, but only one is of utmost importance to Nero. His name is … Simon Peter. In a world where faith and art often clash, the theatrical presentation of “Fishers of Men” demystifies them both. The performance of actor Rick Segall envelops the audience the moment he hits the ground – literally. He draws you in by the abrupt entry and the haunting song that follows. His interpretation of two lead characters leaves you spellbound and as the play evolves, you are laughing, crying, frightened and in love with them both.
Written by Rick Segall, it runs March 4 through March 27 at the Hudson Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets, visit www.plays411.com/fishersofmen.
“A Gambler’s Guide to Dying” What are the odds of living an extraordinary life? This is the story of one boy’s granddad who won a fortune betting on the 1966 World Cup and, when diagnosed with cancer, gambled it all on living to see the year 2000. An intergenerational tale of what we live for and what we leave behind.
Written by Gary McNair, and directed by Paul Linke, it runs March 4 through April 29 at the Ruskin Group Theatre in Santa Monica. For tickets, call 310-397-3244 or visit www.ruskingrouptheatre.com.
“All Shook Up” Elvis was a white guy singing rhythm and blues music for the first time, which really helped R&B cross over to the mainstream, or to White America. Elvis took rhythm and blues music and really helped to popularize it, and Dipietro thought they really needed to stay true to where that music came from, which is obviously the African American community, especially in the South. So that’s very much why it takes place in 1955.
In “All Shook Up,” this music unleashes the uptightness of these people in small town America and certainly applies to inter-racial dating and same-sex dating. It’s all about loving someone no matter who they are. Written by Joe Dipietro, with music by Anne Gesling, and directed by Nell Teare, it runs March 5 through April 2 at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre in Santa Monica. For tickets, call (310) 828-7519 or visit www.morgan-wixson.org.
“The Andersonville Trial” Based on a the trial of Henry Wirz, during the most critical point in American history, a commander of the infamous Confederate Andersonville prison is accused of causing the death of thousands of Union soldiers. A seldom-told story in our society today, but it is a story that every American should know. At what point does the responsibility of an individual to his conscience transcend any power or authority? Written by Saul Levitt, and directed by Gary Lee Reed, it runs March 5 through April 10 at the Grove Theatre Center in Burbank. For tickets, call (323) 960-7738 or visit www.plays411.com/andersonville.
“Audition! The Musical” Movie stars, music, suspense, hilarity, pathos and the truth behind the Hollywood mystique, as told by those who’ve been there and done that. The 10th anniversary production of the L.A. Times “Recommended” “Audition! The Musical,” based on the all-too-true-life Hollywood experiences of the award-winning creative team of Chris DeCarlo and Evelyn Rudie, is back and brings 10 years more harrowing, haunting and hilarious Hollywood horror stories than when it opened in 2006. Written by Evelyn Rudie and Matthew Wrather, with music by Evelyn Rudie and Matthew Wrather, and directed by Chris DeCarlo with Serena Dolinsky, it runs March 5 through April 24 at the Santa Monica Playhouse in Santa Monica. For tickets, call (310) 394-9779 Ext. 1 or visit www.SantaMonicaPlayhouse.com.
“Blood” The world premiere of a political thriller with music about the “Japanese Tainted Blood Scandal,” in which nearly 2,000 people died of AIDS after U.S. companies knowingly sold contaminated blood to Japan. Written and directed by Robert Allan Ackerman, with music by Nick Ackerman and Chris Cester, it runs March 5 through April 3 at The Complex in Hollywood. For tickets, call (323) 960-7745 or visit www.plays411.com/blood.
“Going to a Place Where You Already Are” This is a love story that explores — through humor and hilariously awkward characters — the meaning of life and the afterlife. Is there a heaven? Joe says no. His wife, Roberta, always has agreed with him, but lately she’s beginning to wonder since she’s at the age when funerals are more frequent than weddings. Their granddaughter, Ellie, doesn’t have time to ponder the afterlife. But when mortality confronts them, Roberta’s claim to have gone to heaven and back may not sound so crazy after all. Written by Bekah Brunstetter, and directed by Marc Masterson, it runs March 6 through March 27 at the South Coast Repertory on the Julianne Argyros Stage in Costa Mesa. For tickets, call (714) 708-5555 or visit www.scr.org.
“Cloud 9” Recommended for mature audiences, it fractures the conventional comedy in a wickedly funny, take-no-prisoners carnal romp. In the wilds of 19th century Africa, the colonizers are restless in more ways than one. Friends and family flirt and fumble with power, gender and sexuality, hilariously pushing against the boundaries of Victorian imperialism. Fast forward 100 years to the concrete jungle of London, where the Victorian legacy finally explodes in a blast of sexual awakening, self-acceptance and delectable humor. Presented by Antaeus Theatre Company in a fully partner-cast production.
Written by Caryl Churchill, and directed by Casey Stangl, it runs March 10 through April 24 at the Antaeus Theatre Company in North Hollywood. For tickets, call (818) 506-1983 or visit www.Antaeus.org.
Steve Zall and Sid Fish of Scene in L.A. know a lot about L.A. theatre and are ready to share with CV Weekly readers. You can read more at CVWeekly.com/LEISURE.