By Steve ZALL and Sid FISH
As you get ready for Halloween this month, don’t forget to set aside some time to see one of these great new shows around, including:
“Bitches” Mean girl Sindee is the Big Woman On Campus at Susan B. Anthony High School. She would be entitled to be the head of the cheerleading squad and queen of the formal dance. But along comes gooder-than-good girl Angelatina who usurps both of those titles. Vengeful Sindee and her mom, aided by Sindee’s mean girl buddies, contrive to exact violent revenge. A tabloid TV hostess sees all kinds of ratings opportunities in the sinister doings in the town of Tubbville, Illinois and moves in to exploit them. There will be blood! Written and directed by Sean Abley, it runs October 3 through November 1 at the Acting Artists Theater in West Hollywood. For tickets call 800-838-3006 or visit www.bitchesplay.brownpapertickets.com.
“Better” The world premiere of a gentle, funny examination of family and mortality — a Jewish, Midwestern Chekhov for the 21st century. Annie returns to her childhood home in the Midwest to escape marital discord and visit her father, who is dying of cancer. As dramatic changes outside of her control take place around her, she reconnects with family and childhood friends. Secrets are revealed, wine is drunk, songs are sung, and relationships rekindled. Written by Jessica Goldberg, and directed by Jennifer Chambers, it runs October 4 through November 9 at the Atwater Village Theatre in Atwater Village. For tickets call 310-307-3753 or visit www.EchoTheaterCompany.com.
“Venus in Fur” Auditions are over for the day, and Thomas still hasn’t found the perfect actress for his adaptation of a 19th-century erotic novel. Vanda stumbles into the bare rehearsal studio, soaking wet and hours late. Before he can stop her, she strips down to lingerie, wiggles into a white period dress and mysteriously becomes his elusive leading lady. But will the power play for sexual dominance be limited to the stage? This play is recommended for adults as it contains sexual situations and language. Written by David Ives, and directed by Casey Stangl, it runs October 5 through October 26 at the South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa. For tickets call 714-708-5555 or visit www.scr.org.
“Walk Like a Man” In their return to the El Portal Theatre, Walk Like A Man will remind you why the music of Frankie Valli generated millions of records, sold out crowds and even a Broadway show winning four Tonys including Best Musical. The show runs October 9 through October 19 at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood. For tickets call 818-508-4200 or visit www.elportaltheatre.com.
“Glorious!” Based on a true story, Peter Quilter’s hilarious comedy invites us into the world of Florence Foster Jenkins, a New York socialite of great passion, considerable wealth and zero talent who fancied herself an opera diva. Known as “the first lady of the sliding scale”, Florence warbled and screeched her way through every performance to an audience who cried out with laughter. But this delusional and joyously happy woman paid little attention to her critics, comfortably surrounded by a circle of devoted friends who were almost as eccentric as she was. Written by Peter Quilter, and directed by Richard Israel, it runs October 10 through November 2 at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center in Long Beach. For tickets call 562-436-4610 or visit www.InternationalCityTheatre.com.
“The Player King” Darin Dahms, in his solo performance, portrays the three famous men of 19th Century America’s most important acting family: patriarch Junius Brutus Booth; Edwin Booth, perhaps the greatest Shakespearean actor in American history; and his brother, John Wilkes Booth, best known as “the most handsome man in America” until one fateful evening when he pulled out a derringer and changed the history of the country forever. After John Wilkes Booth assassinates President Lincoln, Edwin is forced off the stage for a year. Will he ever be able to return to the stage? During this enforced hiatus, Edwin has time to explore the question “What does it mean to be an actor?” Written and directed by Darin Dahms, it runs October 10 through October 25 at the MET Theatre, downstairs in the Great Scott Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets call 800-838-3006 or visit www.theplayerking.brownpapertickets.com.
“Ragtime – The Musical” This Tony- Award winning musical is not only a powerful portrait of life in turn-of-the century America, but a relevant tale for today. This musical intertwines the stories of three extraordinary families, as they confront history’s timeless contradictions of wealth and poverty, freedom and prejudice, hope and despair, and what it means to be an American. Written by Terrence McNally, with music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, and directed by T.J. Dawson, it runs October 10 through October 25 at the Plummer Auditorium in Fullerton. For tickets call 714-589-2770 or visit www.3dtshows.com/productions/ragtime.
“When the Rain Stops Falling” A fish drops from the sky and a lonely middle-aged man is launched on a magical and emotional journey across four generations of family wrestling with the awful legacy of a secret buried deep in the past. In this award-winning drama from Australian playwright Andrew Bovell, each of the characters is trapped in a longing they cannot bear. They reach toward each other, tentatively, uncertainly, but time after time fail to connect. The tragic love story of a young Englishman, Gabriel, whose father has disappeared, and a young Australian girl from the Coorong, Gabrielle, is at the center of this haunting drama that reaches back to London in 1960 and reaches forward to Alice Springs in 2039—from a time when the world began to change, to a future in which environmental catastrophe is the harvest of that change. Written by Andrew Bovell, and directed by Frédérique Michel, it runs October 10 through November 23 at the City Garage, building T1 in Santa Monica. For tickets call 310-453-9939 or visit www.citygarage.org.
“Broomstick” Set in Appalachia and written entirely in verse, the West Coast premiere of John Biguenet’s charming and mesmerizing solo play stars Jenny O’Hara as a wacky, bizarre old woman living in an odd little shack deep in the woods… who just may happen to be a witch. A funny, poignant and “spell” binding tale of the magic of the human heart. Written by John Biguenet, and directed by Stephen Sachs, it runs October 11 through November 30 at the Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets call 323-663-1525 or visit www.FountainTheatre.com.
“Man of La Mancha” takes place during the height of the Spanish Inquisition. While awaiting a hearing with the Inquisition, Miguel de Cervantes presents a play as his defense in a mock trial for the prisoners. In it, he plays Alonso Quijana, a man who has set his own reality aside and becomes Don Quixote De La Mancha. Assisted by Sancho Panza, Quixote attempts to avoid his mortal enemy, the Enchanter, and woo the serving wench and prostitute, Aldonza, who he takes to be the lady Dulcinea. Written by Dale Wasserman, with music by Mitch Leigh, lyrics by Joe Darion, and directed by Randy Brenner, it runs October 11 through November 22 at the Glendale Centre Theatre in Glendale. For tickets call 818-244-8481 or visit www.glendalecentretheatre.com.
“Pope!” an idealistic young Pope (who, incidentally, is named Pope!) is framed for a heinous crime and banished from the Vatican. The people, blinded by the media frenzy, allow a tyrannical archbishop to seize power. As this new Pope tightens his iron fist the people are disheartened and in despair and the world is crying out for a hero…can Pope reclaim his glory to become the hero the world needs? POPE! is an adventure that echoes the timeless mythological hero’s journey; when good and evil engage in an epic power struggle lines must be drawn, sides must be taken, and confrontations must be musical. Written by Justin Moran, with music by Chris Pappas, and directed by Gregory Crafts, it runs October 11 through November 17 at the Belfry Stage Upstairs at the Crown in North Hollywood. For tickets call 818-849-4039 or visit www.theatreunleashed.com.
“Mariela En El Desierto (Mariela in the Desert)” It is 1950 and artists Mariela and José are living an isolated existence in the desert of Northern Mexico, haunted by the ghost of their young son. José is very ill and Mariela sends a telegram to their daughter encouraging her to come home. Where once the walls were beautifully decorated, now only one painting remains, and it is shrouded in mystery. The play portrays Mexico, its history, and its people in a three-dimensional story of a family of high achievers struggling to reconcile the demands of family, the responsibilities of spouses, and the call of art. Written by Karen Zacarias, and directed by Tlaloc Rivas, it runs October 16 through October 25 at the Los Angeles Theatre Center in Los Angeles. For tickets call 866-811-4111 or visit www.thelatc.org/upcoming-shows/mariela-en-el-desierto.
“Premeditation” Esmeralda’s husband is driving her crazy. She finds his attitudes and habits (leaving underwear on the floor after a shower; not maintaining the car properly; keeping the garage cluttered) pushing her beyond the limits of human endurance. So she does what any woman in her position would do: she hires a hit man to kill him! There’s a wrinkle: Mauricio The Assassin doesn’t just kill people for profit. A killer with a conscience, he insists that Esmeralda comes up with a really good reason for him to kill her man. For Mauricio, it isn’t about the money – it’s about justice. There is also one other complication: Esmeralda and Mauricio share a connection that neither of them suspects. Written by Evelina Fernandez, and directed by Jose Luis Valenzuela, it runs October 16 through November 8 at the Los Angeles Theatre Center in Los Angeles. For tickets call 866-811-4111 or visit www.thelatc.org/encuentro2014.
“The Diviners” This Depression-era fable weaves the humorous, beautiful, and tragic into the story of a disturbed young boy and his friendship with a conflicted preacher in southern Indiana. A powerfully theatrical journey, both touching and compelling by one of Los Angeles’ most acclaimed playwrights. Written by Jim Leonard, and directed by Mark Henderson, it runs October 17 through November 23 at the David Schall Theatre in Hollywood. For tickets call 323-462-8460 or visit www.ActorsCo-op.org.
“Enrique’s Journey” Enrique, a young male growing up in Honduras (recently cited by National Public Radio as the “murder capital of the world”), struggles to survive in a dangerous land afflicted by poverty, drugs, and rampant criminality, where cops and judges are as crooked as gang members. His grandmother, his uncle, his sister, and his girlfriend all love him, but he longs to be reunited with the mother from whom he has been separated since childhood. She is in North Carolina, working hard and sending money back home. Repeatedly beaten, robbed, and deported, he will risk everything to be reunited with the mother he needs so desperately. He will try again and again, no matter how many miles, how many years it takes. Can he possibly achieve his goal? Written by Sonia Nazario, and directed by Anthony J. Garcia, it runs October 17 through November 7 at the Los Angeles Theatre Center in Los Angeles. For tickets call 866-811-4111 or visit www.thelatc.org/upcoming-shows/enriques-journey.
“How I Fell in Love” centers on two lost souls, Nessa and Todd, each haplessly seeking their ideal romantic partner as they stumble into adulthood alone. When they accidentally find their way into each other’s lives while seeking professional help, they soon discover their individual stories may be more intertwined than they could ever have imagined, leading each to start questioning the meaning of fate, friendship, and true love. Can two people not attracted to each other actually be perfect life partners? With the audience acting as their sounding board, Nessa and Todd’s story unfolds amid the many twists and turns in their search for true love and happiness – despite their neuroses! Written by Joel Fields, and directed by Steve Jarrard, it runs October 17 through November 16 at the Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets call 323-860-6569 or visit www.plays411.com/inlove.
“La Esquinita, USA” A town in “Anywhere, USA” is devastated when its largest employer, the Thompson Tire Factory, moves its operations to China, breaking its social contract with its American workers and leaving the people in its former location to deal with blight, poverty, drugs, gang warfare and racism. There is still a way out of despair. Written by Rubén C. González, and directed by Kinan Valdez, it runs October 17 through November 8 at the Los Angeles Theatre Center in Los Angeles. For tickets call 866-811-4111 or visit www.thelatc.org/upcoming-shows/la-esquinita-usa.
“Othello” Disinformation, deceit and blunt ambition: Washington politics as usual? Talk show pundits? No, it’s Shakespeare’s classic tale of power, lust, and jealousy. Written by William Shakespeare, and directed by John Perrin Flynn, it runs October 17 through December 14 at the Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets call 310-477-2055 or visit www.OdysseyTheatre.com.
“Re-Animator™ The Musical” tells the story of Herbert West, a brilliant young medical student who has created a glowing green serum that can bring the dead back to life. What should be a medical breakthrough results in hideous monstrosities and ghastly consequences. “I guess he just wasn’t fresh enough”, is West’s constant refrain in his quest for fresh subjects. Written by Dennis Paoli, Stuart Gordon, and William J. Norris, with music by Mark Nutter, and directed by Stuart Gordon, it runs October 17 through November 2 at the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood. For tickets call 800-595-4849 or visit www.trepanyhouse.org.
“Villa Thrilla” Ring in the holidays with a hilarious seasonal twist on the classic English murder mystery. Austin Powers meets The Sopranos by way of Agatha Christie to produce a merry, mod, madcap mystery thriller. Written by Anna Nicholas, and directed by Gary Lee Reed, it runs October 18 through November 23 at the Atwater Village Theatre in Atwater Village. For tickets call 800-838-3006 or visit www.VillaThrilla.com.
“Wedding Band: A Love/Hate Story in Black and White” As WWI rages in Europe, two individuals wage their own battle against injustice in America, risking their lives for the right to marry. Alice Childress’ masterpiece tells the story of two people in love who yearn to be together as husband and wife, but are kept apart by society’s mores and laws prohibiting interracial marriage. Written by Alice Childress, and directed by Gregg T. Daniel, it runs October 18 through December 7 at the ANTAEUS THEATER in North Hollywood. For tickets call 818-506-1983 or visit www.Antaeus.org.
“Pippin” tells the story of a young prince on a death-defying journey to find meaning in his existence. Will he choose a happy but simple life? Or will he risk everything for a singular flash of glory? Noted for many Broadway standard songs, including “Corner of the Sky,” “Magic to Do,” “Glory,” “No Time at All,” “Morning Glow” and “Love Song.” Written by Roger O. Hirson, with music by Stephen Schwartz, and directed by Diane Paulus, it runs October 21 through November 9 at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. For tickets call 800-982-2787 or visit www.HollywoodPantages.com.
“Buffalo Soldier” In the summer of 1874, three soldiers of the “all negro” tenth cavalry and their white commander go on a dangerous reconnaissance mission to establish an outpost in the heart of Comanche territory. Shortly after making camp they inadvertently capture a Comanche brave and soon discover that he is none other than Chief Quanah Parker, the government’s most wanted renegade. As the night grows darker, the life and death stakes get higher. The tensions that erupt are multilevel and multiracial: between the black soldiers and their white captain, between the soldiers and the defiant warrior-and mostly, among the soldiers themselves. Written by Mitch Hale, and directed by Sara Wagner, it runs October 23 through November 20 at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood. For tickets call 818-508-4200 or visit www.elportaltheatre.com.
“Our Lady of 121st Street” A group of childhood friends reunites in Harlem for the wake of their beloved yet feared teacher, Sister Rose, the “lady of 121st Street”. Gathered together for the first time in years, passions are ignited, tensions are heightened, and old wounds are opened. Written by Stephen Adly Guirgis, and directed by Leslie Ferreira, it runs October 24 through November 1 at the Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets call 310-477-2055 or visit www.OdysseyTheatre.com.
“This is Banned” is a fully immersive evening of ghosts, robots, and otherwise dangerous theatre. Set in two worlds hundreds of years apart, this is a brutal look at war in a dystopian future, and the haunting of firearm heiress Sarah Winchester. Written by Samantha Macher, and directed by Jonathan Price and JR Esposito, it runs October 24 through November 29 at the NoHo Actors Studio in North Hollywood. For tickets call 800-838-3006 or visit www.ATHEATRECONNECTION.com.
“Zealot” The British consul pours tea for the American undersecretary of state, avoiding her questions—with answers to ones she hasn’t even asked—that’s diplomacy at work. Meanwhile, in the street below, a group of women set in motion a carefully planned protest. The results are devastating enough to ignite a battle of wills and wits—now that a life hangs in the balance. Written by Theresa Rebeck, and directed by Marc Masterson, it runs October 24 through November 16 at the South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa. For tickets call 714-708-5555 or visit www.scr.org.
“Beauty and the Beast” This classic with a twist, set in a fantasy Medieval milieu “long, long ago,” introduces audiences to a lively, lovely and spirited Beauty and a most endearing Beast, offering a rose garden of a thousand and one delights, replete with dizzily ditzy sisters, a sweetly sensitive sire, a spell-binding sorceress and a flamboyantly foppish suitor, who all inadvertently or intentionally strew more than a few thorns along Beauty and her Beast’s arduous, and amorous, path. But the determination and spirit of true love win out, allowing them to find the magic that will ultimately unite them for a happily-ever-after ending that leaves all who are young at heart breathless. Written by Chris DeCarlo & Evelyn Rudie, with music by Evelyn Rudie, and directed by Chris DeCarlo, it runs October 31 through December 12 at the Santa Monica Playhouse Main Stage in Santa Monica. For tickets call 310-394-9779 or visit www.santamonicaplayhouse.com.
“Hollywood Party” Aspiring actors and longtime friends, Alberto Samaniego & Rodrigo Altamirano are invited (so they think) to a fabulous Hollywood party for the premiere of Fred Niblo’s latest movie, “The Mysterious Lady” staring Greta Garbo. At the party, Alberto and Rodrigo discover that two guests are there to murder a VIP Hollywood celebrity. While trying to unmask the culprits, they have to deal with lights, cameras, press, a parade of movie stars from Greta Garbo to Joan Crawford, jewel thieves, cross dressers and a snooping butler. Written and directed by Octavio Carlin, it runs through October 19 at the Hudson Mainstage Theatre in Hollywood. For tickets call 323-960-4418 or visit www.plays411.com/hollywoodparty.
“Affluence” The fortunes of the once-wealthy Woodley family have been savaged by the most-recent Great Recession. Grandma, however, is dying and will leave her kin a bundle. But (and there’s always a but), thanks to a quirk in the estate tax laws, the Woodleys stand to gain even more millions from Grandma if she dies before Midnight on New Year’s Eve: Enough millions, in fact, not only to erase their debts, but also to return them to financial abundance. Will Grandma simplify things by cooperatively dying before the stroke of twelve? If she is still clinging to life as the hour of twelve approaches, might someone in the Woodley household be motivated to give her a shove over the edge into the Abyss? Grandma is terminal, after all. But such an assist would in fact be murder, wouldn’t it? Written by Steven Peterson, and directed by Larry Eisenberg, it runs through October 20 at the Theatre 40, in the Reuben Cordova Theatre in Beverly Hills. For tickets call 310-364-0535 or visit www.theatre40.org.
“The Mystery of Edwin Drood” the raucous world of a Victorian era music hall will come to life in this environmental take of the classic musical and is the backdrop for this play-within-a-play. Follow the journey of a troupe of actors as they sing and dance through the unfinished story of Edwin Drood – allowing the audience, to vote on the ending! Written by Rupert Holmes, with music by Rupert Holmes, and directed by Stephen Van Dorn, it runs through October 26 at the Actors Co-op Theatre in Hollywood. For tickets call 323-462-8460 or visit www.ActorsCo-op.org.
“You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown” chronicles an average day in the life of Charlie Brown set to music. Follow the journey of all your favorite peanuts characters, Charlie, Sally, Linus, Schroeder, Lucy and of course Snoopy as they share their observations of Charlie Brown. As the plot develops, so does the relationship of the various Peanuts characters; Lucy is infatuated with Schroeder and takes great pleasure in tormenting Charlie Brown. Linus loves his blanket. Snoopy lives in his rich imagination. Charlie Brown is in love with a mysterious little, redheaded girl. The show ends with each character listing things that for him or her equal happiness. Finally, Lucy ends up telling Charlie Brown what a good man he is leaving a smiling, happy Charlie Brown alone on stage. Written by Clark Gesner, with music by Clark Gesner, and directed by Cate Caplin, it runs through November 2 at the Chromolume @ The Attic Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets call 323-205-1617 or visit www.crtheatre.com.
“4000 Miles” The 4000 miles of the title refers to the distance between Seattle and New York Leo, in his early twenties, has traveled that distance on his bicycle and intends to make a very brief stop at the West Village apartment of his grandmother, a nonagenarian widow and a leftist who has retained her sharp wits despite her years. He winds up staying one week, then another, then another…. Leo is still reeling from the sudden death of his traveling companion and best friend. Not grounded (his bicycle travels could be interpreted as a metaphor for his rootlessness), he seeks and finds a connection in his grandmother Vera that he cannot make with his family in St. Paul. Leo is beginning his life’s journey as an adult; Vera is nearing the end of hers. There is much she can contribute to him before he faces the long ride back home. Written by Amy Herzog, and directed by Christian Lebano, it runs through November 8 at the Sierra Madre Playhouse in Sierra Madre. For tickets call 626-355-4318 or visit www.sierramadreplayhouse.org.
So make your “treat” going to see a great local show tonight!