By Steve ZALL And Sid FISH
With the hot summer sun beating down on us once again and the beaches and seas beckoning to us to spend our time enjoying them, let’s not forget the many new productions out there to enjoy, too, including:
“All My Distances are Far” What happens to a foster teen when she ages out of the system? What happens to an adolescent boy with Asperger’s when he falls in love? What happens to a straight-A student who is being sexually molested? All these characters and others confide to the psychotherapist who sees them at their urban high school. Through each of their monologues, the audience becomes the silent confidant – as well as the witness to the therapist herself – as each teenager grapples with his or her struggle by the end of the school year.
Written and directed by Leda Siskind, it runs through Aug. 31 at the Theatre Forty in Beverly Hills. For tickets, call (310) 364-3606 or visit www.theatre40.org.
“The Suitcase” In this darkly surrealistic yet surprisingly humorous drama set somewhere between dreams and reality, one of Poland’s foremost contemporary playwrights takes us deep into the hearts of a father and son and asks us to consider what we are responsible for in the wake of enormous national tragedy. Inspired by the true story of Michel Leleu, the son of a French Jew murdered at Auschwitz who recognized his father’s suitcase at an exhibition on the Shoah.
Written by Małgorzata Sikorska-Miszczuk and directed by Samuel Hunter, it runs through Aug. 18 at the Atwater Village Theatre in Atwater Village. For tickets, call (310) 307-3753 or visit www.EchoTheaterCompany.com.
“Passages” Proudly marking its third year, “Passages” is a one-act play festival of original works written and directed by Theatre Unleashed members that feature independent actors and artists from the city’s expansive pool of theatrical talent in various roles as a way to build collaboration within the ever-growing Los Angeles theatre community. This year’s theme is Classics Remixed.
Directed by Ann Hurd, it runs through Aug. 20 at the Belfry Stage Upstairs at the Crown in North Hollywood. For tickets, call (818) 849-4039 or visit www.theatreunleashed.org.
“RuddiGORE” Sir Rupert Murgatroyd, because of his vicious and sadistic persecution of witches, is the recipient of a curse: He must commit a crime daily or die in agony. After his death, the curse is passed to the family’s oldest surviving male. His descendant, Ruthven, has escaped the curse by faking his death, passing the curse to the next in line, Despard Murgatroyd. Meanwhile, Ruthven has fallen for the village’s cutest young woman, Rose Maybud. Too mortally shy to seal his deal, he seeks assistance of his best friend Dick to help him woo Rose. But Dick is charmed by Rose, and Ruthven’s deception is subsequently exposed. Waiting in the wings are a bevy of beautiful blood-spattered bridesmaids, who also want to ascend to wealth and power. Ruthven’s a good guy. Can he escape the witches’ curse or will he be forced to descend into a pit of evil? And what of Rose? How can he ever be united with the one woman he adores? What chance is there that true love can prevail?
Written by W.S. Gilbert, with music by Arthur Sullivan, lyrics by W.S. Gilbert, and directed by Trace Oakley, it runs through Aug. 28 at the Studio/Stage in Los Angeles. For tickets, call (800) 838-2006 or visit www.brownpapertickets,.com/event/2581451.
“Hello, Dolly!” is the story of turn-of-the-century widowed matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levi, who, after cunningly negotiating marriages for others through a series of comic romantic entanglements, ultimately finds her own match; and, as always, 3-D Theatricals will cast its much heralded spin on “Hello Dolly!” to further enhance an already magical piece of musical theatre filled with such memorable songs as “Put On Your Sunday Clothes,” “Before the Parade Passes By,” “It Only Takes A Moment,” and, of course, the show-stopping title song. Dance numbers like “Dancing” and the “Waiter’s Gallop” are combined with beautiful turn-of-the-century costumes to create a musical the whole family will enjoy!
Written by Michael Stewart, with music by Jerry Herman, and directed by Ken Sawyer, it runs Aug. 6 through Aug. 7 at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center in Redondo Beach. For tickets, call (714) 589-2770 Ext. 1 or visit www.3dtshows.org.
“The Tempest” This season, the Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival will also feature various opening acts, a Salon Series of talk-backs, an art workshop and education workshops to make this iconic Los Angeles event this summer’s must-do, free, community get-together! The Old Zoo is located in Griffith Park near the intersection of Crystal Springs Drive and Griffith Park Drive. In addition to the performances, education and engagement programs are presented for learners of all ages. Players in the Park/Teatristas en el parque are family education workshops presented on select evenings. These workshops are an interactive, energetic way to learn about the evening’s performance and to become more engaged in the overall live theater experience. For one special evening, Self Help Graphics will bring its Barrio Mobile Art Unit for an art-making workshop. Also returning this season is the Salon Series, pre-performance discussions led by experts in the field. Guests this year include Steven Leigh Morris, executive director of the L.A. Stage Alliance; John Frank, senior librarian with the Los Angeles Public Library and Ranger Mendibles, park ranger with the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Recreation and Parks. Additionally, ISC is pleased to announce its Festival Arts Partners, local performing artists presenting pre-show performances. This season’s guests will include Invertigo Dance Theatre, La Victoria and The Silver Lake Chorus.
Written by William Shakespeare and directed by Matthew Earnest, it runs Aug. 6 through Sept. 4 at The Old Zoo in Griffith Park in Los Angeles. For tickets, call (818) 710-6306 or visit www.iscla.org.
“Cabaret” features some of the most memorable songs in theatre history, including “Cabaret,” “Willkommen” and “Maybe This Time.” Cabaret is set in the infamous Kit Kat Klub where the emcee, Sally Bowles, and a raucous ensemble take the stage nightly to tantalize the crowd – and to leave their troubles outside.
Written by Joe Masteroff, with music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and directed by Sam Mendes, it runs Aug. 9 through Aug. 21 at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa. For tickets, call 714-556-2787 or visit www.SCFTA.org.
“Rockapella in Hits Like you Never Heard” Since the early ’90s when they first achieved national television fame on PBS’s “Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?” Rockapella has toured the globe and provided a funky powerful soundtrack to several generations of vocal music fans, while keeping it all fresh along the way. “Often imitated – never duplicated” applies here. With buckets of catchy original pop songs, and complete contemporary revisions of sparkling Motown, pop, and soul classics, this group has always been the one to watch. Now they’re better than ever! As one of the progenitors of the astonishing full-band sound of “contemporary” a cappella, Rockapella has shown audiences around the world the raw power of pure vocal talent and originality. And Rockapella has indeed proven that forming original pop & soul magic onstage is what sets them apart.
The show runs Aug. 10 through Aug. 28 at the Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach. For tickets, call (949) 497-2787 or visit www.lagunaplayhouse.com.
“D Deb Debbie Deborah” tackles questions of self, one’s place in the world, where we fit in and who, exactly, takes authorship of his or her art.
Written by Jerry Lieblich and directed by Doug Oliphant, it runs Aug. 11 through Sept. 17 at the Theatre of NOTE in Hollywood. For tickets, call (323) 856-8611 or visit www.theatreofnote.com.
“As Straw Before the Wind” recounts the story of Nene Santos, a Filipina nurse and enterprising owner/operator of a fictionalized San Gabriel Valley convalescent home. Nene has ambitious plans to expand her business, which she intends to leave to her daughter and primary assistant Pilita, who has her own agenda. So what will become of the elderly and fragile resident patients of the convalescent home – Poncing Enrile, a retired Filipino American Army Captain, and Mildred Novak, a chain-smoking retiree widow with Alzheimer’s disease? Nene confronts a string of setbacks and obstacles in her quest. Flashbacks of the horrendous experience she and her family endured during WWII haunt her psyche and lead to a revelation of a long-kept family secret.
Written by Felix Racelis and directed by Lesley Asistio, it runs Aug. 13 through Sept. 4 at the Ruby Theatre at THE COMPLEX in Hollywood. For tickets, call (800) 838-3006 or visit www.strawbefore.brownpapertickets.com.
“Parallel Lives” A pair of capricious supreme beings orchestrate a hilarious montage that makes fun of modern life while celebrating it. With boundless humor, the audience is whisked through this outrageous universe created by comediennes Kathy and Mo, where two women portray numerous men and women struggling though the common rituals of life.
Written by Mo Gaffney and Kathy Najimy and directed by Jenny Sullivan, it runs Aug. 17 through Sept. 18 at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank. For tickets, call (818) 955-8101 or visit www.falcontheatre.com.
“Doubt: A Parable” It is 1964, a time of movement and change, but Catholic school principal Sister Aloysius values a stern hand over progressive education. When evidence seemingly points to an inappropriate relationship between Father Flynn and the school’s first black student, she begins a crusade to force Flynn out. John Patrick Shanley’s riveting psychological drama examines the fine line between what seems certain and ambiguity, between conviction and doubt.
Written by John Patrick Shanley and directed by caryn desai, it runs Aug. 19 through Sept. 11 at the International City Theatre – Long Beach Performing Arts Center in Long Beach. For tickets, call (562) 436-4610 or visit www.InternationalCityTheatre.org.
“Drama Queens from Hell” A washed up TV actress, a former blaxploitation bit player and a pre-op transgender woman compete for the role of Norma Desmond in a remake of “Sunset Boulevard.” A rollicking farce that skewers Hollywood, ageism, political correctness and everything else in its path, “Drama Queens” is the answer for anyone seeking a laugh-out-loud, escapist night on the town. These three divas will stop at nothing “to get arrested” – absolutely nothing.
Written by Peter Lefcourt and directed by Terri Hanauer, it runs Aug. 20 through Sept. 25 at the Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets, call (323) 960-7787 or visit www.plays411.com/dramaqueens.
“How to Love a Republican” Tim and Ruth McCoy are the real deal. Long married, wildly in love – the only catch is he’s a Christian, she’s a Jew, he’s a way-right Republican and she’s a way-left Democrat. Contributing to the tension? Ruth and Tim decide to play matchmaker to their single daughter with hilarious, yet edifying, results introducing her to the perfect men, one a Democrat and one a Republican, both running for Congress – against each other! Margie decides it’s finally time to research Democrats and Republicans. Find out, along with Margie, who gets her vote, in and out of the bedroom.
Written by Jerry Mayer and directed by Chris DeCarlo, it runs Aug. 20 through Dec. 18 at the Santa Monica Playhouse in Santa Monica. For tickets, call (310) 394-9779 Ext. 1 or visit www.santamonicaplayhouse.com.
“Please Don’t Ask About Becket” It’s been years since he disappeared, but Emily Diamond is still haunted by dreams of her twin brother, Becket. The issue of nature versus nurture is at the heart of this evocative memory play that’s sure to resonate with anyone who has a family. “Please Don’t Ask About Becket” grapples with universal questions many of us ask ourselves everyday: To what extent are parents responsible for their children’s bad behavior? Can parents love a child too much? Where do we draw the line between standing up for our kids and forcing them to overcome obstacles on their own?
Written by Wendy Graf, it runs Aug. 20 through Sept. 18 at the Sacred Fools Theater Black Box in Los Angeles. For tickets, call (323) 960-7745 or visit www.plays411.com/becket.
“CarneyMagic” John Carney is a unique blend of comedian, actor and sleight-of-hand virtuoso. His approach is smart, engaging and often … hilarious. Carney is widely acknowledged by his peers as one of the finest sleight-of-hand performers in the world, with awards and accolades worldwide. Hollywood’s Magic Castle has awarded Carney more awards than anyone in its history, as well as the Academy of Magical Arts prestigious Performing Masters Fellowship. Television appearances include “The Late Show with David Letterman” and the Jerry Seinfeld HBO special. He has performed in theaters throughout the world as well as casinos in Atlantic City, Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas. He is an accomplished actor with featured appearances on such TV shows as “Spin City” and “Two and a Half Men,” as well as numerous sketch comedy shows, plays and theatrical productions. He has done a number of television commercials including a stint as spokesman for MasterCard, designing and performing dazzling visual effects for its television commercials. Carney often incorporates different characters, from silly to sentimental, into his performances, creating a complete theatrical experience. He is a tireless creator of original material and has shared may of his ideas, techniques and presentations in several books and instructional videos of advanced sleight-of-hand. He has lectured extensively throughout the world, and his books “Magic by Design,” “Carneycopia” and “The Book of Secrets” are considered modern classics in instruction of the art form. Carney embodies the state of his art, combining exceptional skill and creativity … with pure entertainment. Prepare yourself for an evening of laughter and astonishment when you experience “CarneyMagic.”
Written and directed by John Carney, it runs Aug. 25 through Aug. 28 at the Sierra Madre Playhouse in Sierra Madre. For tickets, call (626_ 355-4318 or visit www.sierramadreplayhouse.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.