By Steve ZALL and Sid FISH
Thanksgiving with its family celebrations is fast approaching, but not so fast that you can’t get out to see some of these great shows around town this month, such as:
“The Game’s Afoot or Holmes for the Holidays” It’s Christmas Eve 1936, and William Gillette – the first actor to portray the iconic Sherlock Holmes on stage and in silent film – recovers from a gunshot wound inflicted during a performance. Donning his Sherlock alter ego, Gillette attempts to learn the identity of his would-be assassin and invites his cast and a vituperative theatre critic to his home for the holidays. But during the festivities, the theatre critic is murdered, and the murderer must be found out before he or she strikes again. Written by Ken Ludwig and directed by Gene Franklin Smith, it runs Nov. 6 through Dec. 13 at the Theatre Palisades’ Pierson Playhouse in Pacific Palisades. For tickets, call (310) 454-1970 or visit www.theatrepalisades.org.
“Prairie-Oke” Largely known for his viral video spoofs of Chloe Sevigny, Drew Droege was awarded the Outfest Film Festival’s Special Programming Award for Emerging Talent and was featured in OUT Magazine’s Out 100. In 2012, Droege was cited by LA Weekly as one of Los Angeles’ Top 10 Comedy Acts to Watch. He regularly appears on stage, TV, and film, and in the wildly popular web series, “Hollywood Acting Studio” and “Not Looking.” Written and directed by Dane Whitlock, it runs Nov. 6 through Nov. 22 at the Cavern Club in Silverlake. For tickets, visit www.prairie-okethemusical.brownpapertickets.com.
“The Shoplifters” When the 60-something Alma is caught by a gung-ho security guard-in-training stuffing a 16-oz. rib eye steak under her skirt at the supermarket where he has just been hired, she and her younger and decidedly more traumatized accomplice Phyllis are herded into the backroom of the store, only to have the novice guard quickly be placed more on the defensive than the offensive. Alma, who admits she is “at the top of her game” in the petty theft business, immediately begins to blast the young rookie for his impertinence rather than exhibiting any contrition, reminding him that even Prometheus stole fire from the gods, and after all is said and done, that didn’t turn out to be such a bad thing. There’s nothing in Dom’s training manual that helps him deal with the situation as the chapter on what to do when meat falls out of a customer’s underwear seems to have been omitted. Luckily, Dom is confident he can rely on the expertise of his colleague Otto, the older security guard who’s been showing him the ropes. Unfortunately, that lesson might still be hard to come by, as Otto not only has been watching Alma steal from the market on a regular basis without ever stopping her, his professional duties are compromised because he has developed a massive crush on her right through the monitor of the store’s surveillance system. Written by Morris Panych and directed by Maria Gobetti, it runs Nov. 6 through Dec.13 at the Big Victory Theatre in Burbank. For tickets, call (818) 841-5421 or visit www.thevictorytheatrecenter.org.
“Timeshare” Tom is a writer whose career has hit a slump. To save his home and his marriage, he takes a job as a timeshare salesman. He’s not exactly thrilled: He’s selling a product, after all, that people don’t actually need, to contracts some of his customers can’t comfortably afford. He’s not great at this at first. He’s distracted by backstabbing co-workers and the office hottie, who is determined to seduce him. He needs this job to work, so he applies himself, telling himself over and over again, “I am a professional salesman, I am a professional salesman.” One day in the firm’s showroom, a disgruntled customer pulls out a gun and starts shooting. It will take all of Tom’s charm and newfound professional selling skills to defuse the situation and get himself, his co-workers, and the other customers through this alive. Who will survive? Written and directed by Steve B. Green, it runs Nov. 6 through Dec.13 at the Eclectic Company Theatre in Valley Village. For tickets, call (818) 508-3003 or visit www.eclecticcompanytheatre.org.
“A Year with Frog and Toad” Onstage, the Caldecott and Newbery award-winning stories come to life in wonderful ways – complete with foot-tapping music. Frog, Toad and their friends plant a garden, fly kites, swim in the pond and skip rope with a large and terrible frog. Or sometimes they just like to settle down in a warm house by the swamp and sip a bowl of soup. This song-filled year in the life of these two charming woodland characters has captivated children, adults and critics alike. Written by Willie Reale with music by Robert Reale and directed by Nick DeGruccio, it runs Nov. 6 through Nov. 22 at the South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa. For tickets, call (714) 708-5555 or visit www.scr.org.
“’57 Chevy” Cris’ dad comes from Mexico to the U.S.A. legally – as a skilled mechanic who can repair any car, especially German cars like Volkswagens. He saves his money and pays cash for an immaculate ’57 Chevrolet: a thing of beauty, a work of art, a masterpiece of engineering. More than that, it is a symbol: A symbol of American excellence, a symbol of the hope for a better future, enhanced by a boundless optimism. On a vacation from his job, Dad drives to Mexico and collects the rest of the Franco family. Cris spends most of his early childhood in South Central, then a happy wonderland of cultural diversity (from his very young perspective). His father, achieving upward mobility, packs up the clan and moves to the “Same Fernando Valley,” where everything and everyone is the same, except for the fact that Cris is the only Mexican boy in his new neighborhood. He’s in for a culture shock. “’57 Chevy” takes the audience for a ride as Cris grows up with his sisters, his friends, his cousins, his mom, but most especially with his dad, who teaches his son that “life is work and work is life.” It’s a large and loving family, and “’57 Chevy” is filled with fun, warmth, wit and humor, ensuring a feel-good experience for the audience.Written by Cris Franco and directed by Valerie Dunlap, it runs Nov. 7 through Dec. 6 at the Los Angeles Theatre Center in Los Angeles. For tickets, call (866) 811-4111 or visit www.thelatc.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.
“Just Imagine” transports you to another place and time, putting you “one on one” with the musical legend who shook the world. Experience Lennon’s timeless musical genius as Tim Piper takes you through John’s life from tumultuous childhood to worldwide pop music superstar to groundbreaking social icon that influenced generations.
Written by Tim Piper with music by Greg Piper and directed by Steve Altman, it runs Nov. 7 through Nov. 8 at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood. For tickets, call (866) 811-4111 or visit www.elportaltheatre.com.
“The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek” Aging farm laborer Nukain has spent his life transforming the rocks at Revolver Creek into a vibrant garden of painted flowers. Now the presence of the final unpainted rock, as well as his young companion Bokkie, has forced Nukain to confront his legacy as an artist and a black man in 1980s South Africa.
Written by Athol Fugard and directed by Simon Levy, it runs Nov. 7 through Dec. 14 at the Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets, call (323) 663-1525 or visit www.FountainTheatre.com.
“Reunion, a Musical Comedy” For some of us, high school was the best time of our lives. But for many of us, it’s hard to return there. For Elliot, a neurotic but very successful novelist, the searing memory of his night at the school dance when he lacked the courage to tell that special girl exactly how he felt about her, still haunts him. Now, years later, a twist of fate has sent Elliot to his high school reunion for a second chance.
Written by Marc Ellis, Michael Lange, David M. Matthews, with music by Marc Ellis, and directed by Kay Cole, it runs Nov. 7 through Dec. 13 at the NoHo Arts Center in North Hollywood. For tickets, call (323) 960-7773 or visit www.Plays411.com/REUNION.
“Shrek the Musical” Based on the Oscar-winning DreamWorks Animation film, “Shrek the Musical” is a Tony Award-winning fairy tale adventure that brings all the beloved characters you know from the film to life on stage. In a faraway kingdom turned upside down, things get ugly when an unseemly ogre – not a handsome prince – shows up to rescue a feisty princess. Throw in a donkey that won’t shut up, a villain with a short temper, a cookie with an attitude and over a dozen other fairy tale misfits, and you’ve got the kind of mess that calls for a real hero. Luckily, there’s one on hand … and his name is Shrek.
Written by David Lindsay-Abaire with music by Jeanine Tesori, lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire, and directed by Anne Gesling, it runs Nov. 7 through Dec. 12 at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre in Santa Monica. For tickets, call (310) 828-7519 or visit www.morgan-wixson.org.
“Women w/o Walls” Pamela, a spoiled and sheltered woman from the Upper East Side, steps onto her first New York subway train and is confronted by a nurse who quickly makes it clear that all is not as it seems. They are joined by the homeless, deteriorating Inez, and a music-obsessed punk Tank. Gradually through the course of an increasingly fast journey from the underworld of NYC to the underworld of myth and legend, the true realization of what this journey entails dawns on them. Each must find a way to fulfill her destiny before the train reaches its destination.
Written by Robin Rice Lichtig, it runs Nov. 7 through Dec.12 at the Lounge Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets, visit www.plays411.net/womenwowalls.
“Something’s Afoot” This musical murder mystery spoofs detective stories, most particularly Agatha Christie’s, “And Then There Were None” (a.k.a. “Ten Little Indians”). The play involves a group of standard British mystery characters (the Cockney servants, the brash retired military man, the imperious dowager, the snoopy spinster, the ne’er-do-well nephew, the ingénue couple) who are invited to the lake estate of Lord Dudley Rancour. When the wealthy lord is found dead, it’s a comical race against the clock and some outrageous booby traps to find out whodunit.
Written by James McDonald, David Vos and Robert Gerlach, with music by James McDonald, David Vos, and Robert Gerlach, with additional music by Ed Linderman, and directed by Catherine Rahm, it runs Nov. 13 through Dec. 19 at the Westchester Playhouse in Los Angeles. For tickets, call (310) 645-5156 or visit www.kentwoodplayers.org.
“Winter Dance Party” This is the official live and authentic re-creation of the final tour of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper and the only show endorsed by the Holly, Valens and Richardson estates. Each live concert performance includes over two hours of unbridled, high voltage entertainment featuring all the hit songs of the ’50s era: “That’ll Be the Day,” “Peggy Sue,” “Oh, Boy,” “Rave on,” “La Bamba,” “Chantilly Lace,” and many, many more. Starring John Mueller as Buddy Holly, Linwood Sasser as the Big Bopper, and Ray Anthony as Ritchie Valens.
Written by John Mueller, it runs Nov. 13 through Nov. 15 at the El Portal Mainstage Theatre in North Hollywood. For tickets, call (818) 508-4200 or visit www.elportaltheatre.com.