By Steve ZALL and Sid FISH
Well, summer is close to being over – the kids are back in school for the most part and the Labor Day weekend is but a memory. No need to be sad, though. After all, there are new shows opening around town. such as:
“Equivocation” is both an explosive comedy of ideas and a high-stakes political thriller, a bold new work that deftly reveals the cat-and-mouse games in politics and art, and the craft of learning how to speak the truth in difficult times. Set in London in 1605, a down-and-out playwright called “Shagspeare” receives a royal commission from King James to write a play promoting the government’s version of the Gunpowder Plot, a recent failed attempt to blow up Parliament and the monarchy. As Shag navigates the dangerous course between writing a lie and losing his soul or writing the truth and losing his head, his devoted theater troupe helps him negotiate each step of the way. Written by Bill Cain and directed by Mike Peebler, it runs through Oct. 4 at the Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga. For tickets, call (310) 455-3723 or visit www.theatricum.com.
“O’Neill’s Ghosts” brings to life playwright Eugene O’Neill’s troubled relationship with his son and the haunting memories of his family that affected him and his writings. Taking place in 1950, the play also explores his relationship with his wife/manager Carlotta Monterey O’Neill and, through his imagination, sends him into the past and his memories while writing his last play. Written by Jovanka Bach and directed by John Stark, it runs through Sept. 28 at the Odyssey Theatre in West Los Angeles. For tickets, call
“The Western UnScripted,” Impro Theatre’s critically acclaimed award-winning ensemble of improvisers, which the L.A. Times calls “an amazing comedy troupe that spins comedy gold right before your eyes,” create completely new, completely unscripted and completely hilarious full-length plays at every performance.
Using only their wits and audience suggestions, Impro Theatre saddles up and rides headlong into the dangerous high chaparral of places like Tombstone and Deadwood to create a new-fangled full-length play in the style of the great film westerns of John Ford and Howard Hawks. Complete with cattle barons, desperadoes, saloon girls, frontier women and slick, no-account sidewinders, Impro Theatre manifests destiny at every show! Directed by Dan O’Connor and Stephen Kearin, it runs through Oct. 5 at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank. For tickets, call (818) 955-8101 or visit www.FalconTheatre.com.
In “Women,” Jo March really thinks she could be the voice of her generation … or at least a voice of a generation. This fast-paced comedy is a mash-up of Louisa May Alcott’s classic “Little Women,” and HBO’s critically acclaimed “Girls,” delivering a smartly crafted and hilarious 55-minute show. Written by Chiara Atik and directed by Stephanie Ward, it runs through Oct. 25 at the Theatre Asylum in Los Angeles. For tickets, visit
“Buried Child” takes a macabre look at a midwestern family with a very dark secret. Written by Sam Shepard and directed by Bryan Rasmussen, it runs through Oct. 11 at the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks. For tickets, call (818) 990-2324 or visit
“Orphans” centers on two abandoned grown-up boys who live in a dilapidated North Philly row house. Treat, the older, and a violent, predatory thief, has assumed the role of head of household, while Phillip, a reclusive and sensitive man-child, would never survive without his brother. In their horrifying way, these two brothers are a family, until one night when Treat kidnaps a drunken wealthy businessman named Harold. Harold turns the table on the two brothers in a strange, hilarious, and moving way, becoming a force that will forever change their lives. Written by Lyle Kessler, and directed by Kathy Dershimer, it runs September 12 through October 18 at the Westchester Playhouse in Westchester. For tickets call 310-645-5156 or visit www.kentwoodplayers.org.
“Happy Days” Brooke Adams plays Winnie, a woman buried up to her bosom in a mound of dirt with nothing to pass the time but the ragged contents of her bag, her nimble wit, and her husband Willie, played by Tony Shalhoub, lurking somewhere behind her. This droll, existential allegory demonstrates the vitality of the human spirit in the face of a deteriorating world. Written by Samuel Beckett, and directed by Andrei Belgrader, it runs September 13 through October 12 at the Boston Court Performing Arts Center in Pasadena. For tickets call 626-683-6883 or visit www.BostonCourt.org.
“Julius Caesar” relates the fall of the Roman dictator of the title, murdered by conspirators before he can become absolute monarch of the Roman Empire by public acclamation. Only one of the assassins, Caesar’s beloved friend Brutus, acts in what he truly believes are the best interests of the Roman Republic. The others have more selfish motives. Caesar dies midway through Shakespeare’s play. The remainder of the action concerns what comes after, including the fates of the conspirators, and the political manipulation of the Roman masses. Written by William Shakespeare, and directed by Josh Machamer, it runs September 13 through October 5 at the Studio Theatre in Pomona. For tickets call 909-869-3900 or visit classcsupomona.tix.com.
“Spring Awakening” multiple Tony Award-winning musical about lost innocence and the struggles of youth with an immersive production performed simultaneously in American Sign Language and spoken English. Based on Frank Wedekind’s controversial 1891 expressionist play of the same name and featuring an electrifying rock/pop score, Spring Awakening follows the lives of a group of adolescents as they navigate their entry into sexual awareness. Featuring a cast of 25 deaf, hard of hearing and hearing actors and musicians. Written by Steven Sater, based on the play by Frank Wedekind, with music by Duncan Sheik, and directed by Michael Arden, it runs September 13 through October 19 at the Rosenthal Theater Inner City Arts in Los Angeles. For tickets call 818-762-2998 or visit www.deafwest.org.
“Kiss Me, Kate” includes some of musical theatre’s most famous songs: “So in Love,” “Another Op’nin’ Another Show,” “Too Darn Hot,” and “Brush Up Your Shakespeare.” It is without a doubt one of the great classics of the American musical theatre, celebrating Shakespeare (it describes a production of The Taming of the Shrew) and the joys, madness, and the rewards of working in the theatre – both onstage and off. Written by Bella and Samuel Spewack, with music by Cole Porter, and directed by Sheldon Epps, it runs September 16 through October 12 at the Pasadena Playhouse in Pasadena. For tickets call 626-356-7529 or visit www.PasadenaPlayhouse.org.
“On The Razzle” Set in Vienna at the turn of the 20th Century, “On The Razzle” follows the hilarious adventures of two naughty grocer’s assistants, who flee their country establishment and go “on the razzle”. That is, they head for the big city (Vienna) in search of adventure and relief from the tedium of their daily routines. They find love, romance, and naughty hijinks. Their boss, meanwhile, has also headed for Vienna in pursuit of a romance of his own. Suffice it to say, several of the characters are in for some major surprises. Written by Tom Stoppard, and directed by Pete Parkin, it runs September 19 through October 26 at the Theatre West in Los Angeles. For tickets call 323-851-7977 or visit www.theatrewest.org.
“Vox Lumiere-The Phantom of the Opera” An explosive mash-up of music, dance, technology and silent film that offers a fresh take on this timeless tale. Original songs and powerful live performances blend with the 1925 silent film to create a show-stopping spectacle that brings the Lon Chaney classic to three-dimensional, high-decibel life. Singers, dancers, and musicians give voice to the silent film projected behind them, playing off each other, the audience, and the onscreen story to create a magical exchange. Written by Gaston Leroux, with music by Kevin Saunders Hayes, and directed by Rupert Julian, it runs September 19 through December 13 at the Los Angeles Theatre Center in Los Angeles. For tickets visit www.voxlumiere.com.
“Low Hanging Fruit” The play centers around four homeless women, all combat vets of Iraq/Afghanistan. Without support from society, the women face their toughest battles trying to make their way on the mean streets of LA’s Skid Row. Written by Robin Bradford, and directed by Lee Sankowich, it runs September 20 through October 26 at the Zephyr Theatre in West Hollywood. For tickets call 323-960-7788 or visit www.plays411.com/low.
“Young Frankenstein” The hilarious musical stage adaptation of the 1974 cult film by the Tony Award-winning team of Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan (The Producers), complete with show-stopping numbers, tap-dancing monsters, innuendo, and outrageous accents. Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (excuse me, that’s “Fronkensteen”) has inherited his grandfather’s Transylvanian castle and laboratory. There, he reanimates a monster and turns the village on its head when his creation turns out to have a mind of his own. Written by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan, with music by Mel Brooks, and directed by Marco Gomez, it runs September 26 through November 16 at the MET Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets call 323-802-9181 or www.domatheatre.com.
“Jersey Boys” the 2006 Tony, Grammy and Olivier Award®-winning Best Musical about Rock and Roll Hall of Famers The Four Seasons: Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi. This is the true story of how four blue-collar kids became one of the greatest successes in pop music history. They wrote their own songs, invented their own sounds and sold 175 million records worldwide – all before they were 30! JERSEY BOYS features their hit songs “Sherry”, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, “Rag Doll”, “Oh What a Night” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”. Written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, with music by Bob Gaudio, lyrics by Bob Crewe, and directed by Des McAnuff, it runs September 30 through October 19 at the Hollywood Pantages in Los Angeles. For tickets call 800-982-2787 or visit www.HollywoodPantages.com.
“Fried Meat 3: The Unfryable Meatness of Being” Hard times have fallen upon the Mohigan Arms and its residents. Flip is dodging the fire inspector, Marlene is trying to scratch together enough to pay Tommy’s overdue rent, and Mitchell receives an unexpected – and unexpectedly complicated—guest. Meanwhile, a mysterious man discovers JD and finds him to be just the opportunity he was looking for. Written by Keith Stevenson, and directed by Guillermo Cienfuegos, it runs through September 7 at the Pacific Resident Theatre in Venice. For tickets call 310-822-8392 or visit www.pacificresidenttheatre.com.
“Oh My Goodness… It’s Paul Lynde” Michael Airington is the legendary comedian Paul Lynde starring in the critically acclaimed Oh My Goodness… It’s Paul Lynde. Based in part on Lynde’s life and 1976 touring show, “Oh My Goodness… It’s Paul Lynde” is produced with the full approval and cooperation of the estate of Paul Lynde. Features voice-overs by the Master of the Hollywood Squares himself, Peter Marshall. The show traces Paul’s Life from his humble beginnings to his rise to stardom as one of America’s funniest and biggest stars on television in the 70’s! Come see this Hollywood legend brought back to life in a legendary room. The show features some of Lynde’s own words, performance pieces, and comedic monologues to honestly bring to life the actor’s comic genius. Written by Michael Airington, and directed by John Hall, it runs through September 27 at the Hudson Backstage Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets call 323-960-7773 or visit www.plays411.com/ohmygoodness.
“The Vacancy” follows three low life thugs (Vincent, Winston, and Buck) to the Canadian/Washington border where they are holed up in an off the main road motel waiting for their ringleader (Dallas) to arrive. Their waiting becomes tense when a young yuppie couple (Howard and Lucy) show up in the room next to theirs. The play is intermittently narrated by the ghost of Lucy’s father (Miles). Written and directed by Jeptha Storm, it runs through September 27 at the Lost Studio in Los Angeles. For tickets call 323-933-6944.
“Suburban Showgirl” Davis creates the character “Wendy Walker” — wife, mother of two, and professional dancer — whose life is not turning out quite the way she had hoped. While working as a magician’s assistant in Las Vegas, a backstage mishap forces Walker to evaluate her life like never before — in the five minutes before curtain! During an emotional journey through her past, Walker relives some of her most pivotal moments… and comes to a decision that will change her life perspective forever. Coping with the unpredictable demands of career and family, Wendy Walker’s journey takes her down a path to self-acceptance, and the strength and courage to…”just be.” Written and directed by Palmer Davis, it runs through September 28 at the Hudson Backstage Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets call 323-960-7784 or visit www.plays411.com/showgirl.
“The Tempest” As the wizard Prospero plots revenge on the enemies who banished him, this exuberant tale takes on a new life—thanks to the haunting ballads by the inimitable Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan, the magic by Teller and the movement by Matt Kent of the dance troupe Pilobolus. Written by William Shakespeare, adapted by Aaron Posner and Teller, with music by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan, and directed by Aaron Posner and Teller, it runs through September 28 at the South Coast Repertory Segerstrom Stage in Costa Mesa. For tickets call 714-708-5555 or visit www.scr.org.
“Thoroughly Modern Millie” In the fast-paced 1920s, a girl from Kansas moves to New York City to marry a rich man. She samples the “thoroughly modern” flapper life, makes friends, finds unexpected romance, and nearly gets caught up in a white slavery ring in this stage version of the 1967 film musical. Written by Richard Morris and Dick Scanlan, with music by Jeanine Tesori, lyrics by Dick Scanlan, and directed by Danny Michaels, it runs through October 4 at the Glendale Centre Theatre in Glendale. For tickets call 818-244-8481 or visit www.glendalecentretheatre.com.
Make September complete by seeing one of these spectacular productions today!