Things are finally beginning to return to normal for the LA theater scene. COVID still rears its ugly head now and then but with the steady drop in case numbers it seems to be under control for now. While county and state Public Health guidelines state that masks are no longer required and that vaccination checks are not mandatory, ticketholders may still have to show proof of vaccination and wear a mask in some venues; please check with the venue before attending an event to find out the venue policy.
The information presented in this column is the latest available at the time of printing; however, you should check with the theater to confirm before making definite plans.
Here are the shows that have announced opening dates for this month or are already running at this time:
“Classic Couples Counseling” Dr. Patricia Cataldo is a psychotherapist with a special celebrity clientele: they’re all couples from Shakespeare! She analyzes Kate and Petruchio; Macbeth and Lady Macbeth; Romeo and Juliet; Othello and Desdemona; Hamlet and Ophelia. She also has them all come in for group sessions. They all trust her with their tender psyches. However, she has a few kinks of her own. Dr. Cataldo’s caseload is occasionally reduced by attrition. If you know any of Shakespeare’s plays, you’ll know how that happens.
Written by Lloyd J. Schwartz and directed by Nick McDow Musleh, it runs through May 8 at the Theatre West in Los Angeles. For tickets, call (323) 851-7977 or visit www.theatrewest.org.
“L.A. Now and Then” This brand new musical revue celebrates the City of Angels, its past and present. Songs, dances, sketches and projections musically commemorate this unique city. With a cast of 13 and a live band, this show aims to entertain, educate and reminisce.
Directed by Bruce Kimmel, it runs through May 8 at the Lonny Chapman Theatre Main Stage in North Hollywood. For tickets, call (818) 763-5990 or visit www.thegrouprep.com.
“A Death-Defying Escape!” Who wouldn’t like to add a little magic to their life? Comedy Workshop Productions presents a darkly funny, inspiring new comedy about one woman’s miraculous escape from the secrets of her past.
Written by author, stand-up comedian and magician Judy Carter, who also heads the three-person cast, “A Death-Defying Escape!” combines extraordinary feats of magic with an inspiring story about escaping life’s emotional shackles to find love.
Written by Judy Carter and directed by Lee Costello, it runs through May 8 at the Hudson Guild Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets, visit www.deathdefyingescape.com.
“Bright Half Life” This moving love story spans decades in an instant – from marriage, children, skydiving and the infinite moments that make a life together.
Written by Tanya Barfield and directed by Amy K. Harmon, it runs through May 22 at the Road Theatre in North Hollywood. For tickets, call (818) 761-8838 or visit www.RoadTheatre.org.
“King Solomon’s Treasure” It’s New York in 1990. In midtown Manhattan, King Solomon’s Treasure is a shop where curios, collectables and vintage items are for sale, things as disparate as a 30-year-old bottle of Orange Crush and a baseball signed by Jackie Robinson. The store is run by an elderly chap, born when the 20th century was young, a Holocaust survivor whose adventures have taken him to different parts of the globe. Franz Altman is a man who has accumulated enough decades of experiences to make him a very appropriate choice to run a store trafficking in memories.
Franz has a little store but a development corporation is trying to force him out so that the developers can put a great big steel-and-concrete structure where the King Solomon’s Treasure now stands. Smelling a story, Susan Carmichael, a beautiful young reporter for People Magazine, visits Franz with the object of obtaining an interview. She becomes his ally in a plan to fend off the pitiless advances of the soulless development corporation. Can Franz and Susan succeed against the forces of dubious “progress?”
Written by Charles Dennis and directed by Ron Orbach, it runs through May 12 at the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks. For tickets, visit www.tix.com/ticket-sales/foodogfilms/6940.
“The Concrete Jungle” The play follows Jorge Garcia after he gets fired because a local businessman, Slink, arranges a shelf of books the way he knew them to be when growing up. From then on, Jorge and Slink find themselves distracted by a metaphorical boxing match while the city and the people around them change beyond recognition.
Written by Travyz Santos Gatz and directed by Mitch Rosander and Ignacio Navarro, it runs April 8 through April 23 at the Loft Ensemble in North Hollywood. For tickets, call (818) 452-3153 or visit www.loftensemble.org.
“One Way Ticket to Oregon” This play takes place in Alexandria, Louisiana during the very hot and humid summer of 2010. At its core are two life-long friends, June Collins, an older no-nonsense African American woman with an intuitive understanding of people, and Leigh Anne Rainey, a fiery and opinionated older Southern belle living in an aging house that has been home to her family for over 150 years.
When Leigh Anne receives the diagnosis that her cancer has returned and spread to her pancreas, she’s forced to confront her mortality and how it will affect her son Bobby, who relies on her stability, his unstable wife Eve, and her young grandson Duke, who has autism. With help from her friend June, Leigh explores her limited options, including the use of medical marijuana to curb her symptoms, and learns about doctors in Oregon who can legally help her “die with dignity.” As she wrestles with her faith, unresolved issues of race and heritage threaten to unravel the core of Leigh’s fragile family, an emotional struggle taking place all too often around the world today.
Written by B.C Caldwell and directed by JJ Mayes, it runs April 8 through April 24 at the Blue Door in Culver City. For tickets, visit www.onewaytickettooregon.com.
“A Heated Discussion” A trio of Orishas (entities of the spirit world), dismayed and enraged at the state of the world today and the fates of African Americans in particular, convenes the spirits of famous departed Black iconic figures (among them Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Ida B. Wells, James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry, Maya Angelou, Richard Pryor, Tupac Shakur, Nina Simone and more). What follows is “A Heated Discussion.” Viewpoints, comments and solutions are as diverse as the individuals comprising this combustible mix of personalities. What do our iconic Black men and women (and the spirit entities) conclude? You’ll have to witness it to find out.
Written by Levy Lee Simon and directed by Ben Guillory, it runs April 9 through May 15 at the Los Angeles Theatre Center, Theatre Four in Los Angeles. For tickets, call (213) 489-7402 or visit www.therobeytheatrecompany.org.
“Rapunzel Alone” Lettie, a young mixed-race girl from London, is sent to the countryside for her own safety during the daily bombings of World War II. On an isolated country farm, she faces her own battles with a strict new guardian and a very “fowl” goose. Appropriate for ages 7+.
Written by Mike Kenny, with music by Bradley Brough, and directed by Debbie Devine and Jesús Castaños-Chima, it runs April 9 through May 1 at the 24th Street Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets, call (213) 745-6516 or visit www.24thstreet.org.
“True West” This character study is about two very different brothers, one a successful family man and the other a drifter, who must cooperate in writing a screenplay that will make or break both of their lives.
Written by Sam Shepard and directed by Brooklyn Sample, it runs April 9 through May 8 at the Lonny Chapman Theatre Upstairs at the Group Rep in North Hollywood. For tickets, call (818) 763-5990 or visit www.thegrouprep.com.
“Yemandja” The story is set in 19th century Dahomey, the West African kingdom that once occupied the territory that is now Benin; the slave trade is in full swing. In the port city of Ouidah, where the world of the gods is close to that of men, Yemandja – deity of water and fertility – has given her protégé́ Omolola a secret gift: the power of song to change the course of history. But there is one caveat: the power only works if your heart is pure. As DeSalta, a Brazilian slave trader who has struck a deal with King Akaba and controls the city, kills or enslaves those around Omolola, she struggles to access her song, her desire for revenge threatening to surpass her will to be a positive force.
Written by Naïma Hebrail Kidjo, with music by Angélique Kidjo and Jean Hebrail, lyrics by Naïma Hebrail Kidjo, and directed by Cheryl Lynn Bruce, it runs April 14 through April 16 at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica. For tickets, call (310) 434-3200 or visit www.thebroadstage.org.
“A Doll’s House, Part 2” This is a bitingly funny, thoroughly modern, 90-minute “sequel” (no need to know the original) to Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 classic. In the final scene of Ibsen’s groundbreaking 19th century masterwork, Nora Helmer makes the shocking decision to leave her husband and children to begin a life on her own. Hnath’s play begins with a knock on that very same door 15 years later. Nora has returned and it is she who is knocking. But why is she back? And what will it mean for those she left behind? Hnath’s smart comedy explores all the ways that women’s roles have – and haven’t – changed in the 143 years since Ibsen’s play was first staged.
Written by Lucas Hnath and directed by Trevor Biship-Gillespie, it runs April 15 through May 1 at the International City Theatre Long Beach Performing Arts Center in Long Beach. For tickets, call (562) 436-4610 or visit www.InternationalCityTheatre.org.
“Both And (A Play About Laughing While Black)” Through clowning, poetic text and a tour-de-force performance, the play deeply investigates the nucleus of Black joy. As her mother is dying, Teayanna finds herself in a netherworld between life and death, struggling to help her mother cross over. The journey reveals the wisdom of the ancestors, invokes the legacy of the Middle Passage and unfolds the surprising secrets within her mother’s purse. This unique and powerful story, rich with humor, raw honesty and passion, becomes a brilliant meditation on how to reconnect with joy.
Written by Carolyn Ratteray, with music by John Ballinger, and directed by Andi Chapman, it runs April 16 through May 15 at the Boston Court Pasadena in Pasadena. For tickets, call (626) 683-6801 or visit www.bostoncourtpasadena.org.
“Jane Austen Unscripted” An afternoon of improv and English tea in our garden starring the critically acclaimed Impro Theatre in a love-struck and hilarious outdoor production. This is a fully improvised play that brings the world of Jane Austen to life with audience suggestions and, dare we say, participation. The always-new production will be presented on the new outdoor stage in the garden at Garry Marshall Theatre.
Written by Impro Theatre Company, it runs April 16 through May 8 at the Garry Marshall Theatre in Burbank. For tickets, visit www.garrymarshalltheatre.org.
“The Sound of Music” This spirited, romantic and unforgettable musical story of Maria and the von Trapp family will thrill audiences with its Tony, Grammy and Academy Award-winning Best Score. Unforgettable songs include “My Favorite Things,” “Sixteen Going on Seventeen,” “Climb Every Mountain,” “Edelweiss,” “Do-Re-Mi” and the iconic title song, all performed by a live 17-piece orchestra!
Written by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, suggested by “The Trapp Family Singers” by Maria Augusta Trapp, with music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, and directed by Glenn Casale, it runs April 23 through May 15 at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts in La Mirada. For tickets, call (562) 944-9801 or visit www.lamiradatheatre.com.
“Tea” Five Japanese women learn to adjust to a new life in rural Kansas alongside their American GI husbands after World War II in this deeply moving, humorous and surprising play that explores a little-known chapter in American history.
Written by Velina Hasu Houston and directed by Rebecca Wear, it runs April 23 through May 15 at the Rosenthal Theater Inner-City Arts in Los Angeles. For tickets, call (323) 206-6415 or visit www.herotheatre.org.
“Three Tables” Three overlapping conversations take place at three separate tables. The first is occupied by a threesome of actors (Laura Liguori, Corey Rieger, Michael Uribes); the second by a trio of friends, also “theater people” (Eric Stanton Betts, Raquel Cain, Dennis Renard); and the third by a pair of waiters (Steve Apostolina, Matt Gottlieb) who are probably descendants of Holocaust survivors.
Written and directed by Murray Mednick, it runs April 23 through May 22 at the Zephyr Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets, visit www.onstage411.com/tables.
“I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change!” This musical comedy is about everything you have ever secretly thought about dating, romance, marriage, lovers, husbands, wives and in-laws but were afraid to admit. This witty musical revue tackles modern love in all its forms: from the perils and pitfalls of the first date to marriage, children and the twilight years of life. An insightful and hilarious musical, this show will have audiences shouting, “This is my life!” It takes on the truths and myths behind that contemporary conundrum known as “the relationship.” This hilarious revue pays tribute to those who have loved and lost to those who have fallen on their face at the portal of romance to those who have dared to ask, “Say, what are you doing Saturday night?”
Written by Joe DiPietro, with music by Jimmy Roberts, lyrics by Joe DiPietro, and directed by Paula Hammons Sloan, it runs April 24 through May 8 at the Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach. For tickets, call (949) 497-2787 or visit www.lagunaplayhouse.com.
“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” George and Martha, the American theater’s most notoriously dysfunctional couple, have invited the young and naive Nick and Honey over for drinks. What begins as harmless patter escalates to outright marital warfare with the provincial newcomers caught in the crossfire.
Written by Edward Albee and directed by Gordon Greenberg, it runs April 28 through May 22 at the Gil Cates Theater at Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. For tickets, call (310) 208-2028 or visit www.geffenplayhouse.org.
“Miss Coco Peru is Bitter, Bothered & Beyond” After everything that’s been going on in the world, YouTube sensation Miss Coco Peru is ready to unleash her thoughts about the past, present and future! Yes, this exhausted dinosaur of drag will not be holding anything back! Coco (aka Clinton Leupp) has been a household name in the LGBT community for more than 25 years. She got her start in the early ’90s as a downtown favorite in the cabaret world of New York after she wrote, produced, directed and starred in her first show, “Miss Coco Peru in My Goddamn Cabaret.” She has since enjoyed an expansive career, ranging from intimate cabaret stages in New York and LA to television sets in millions of living rooms. She has toured around the world and been in many cherished feature films (“To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar;” “Trick;” the cult classic “Girls Will Be Girls” and more), garnering multiple awards and nominations for her work. She has been seen on television in such shows as “How I Met Your Mother,” “Arrested Development” and “Will & Grace” among many others. Coco has also become a viral sensation on social media platforms, including Instagram and YouTube, where she has amassed nine million views. Considered “the hostess with that something … extra,” Coco has received worldwide acclaim for her award-winning solo shows as well as her remarkable series of tributes to great performers, “Conversations with Coco” in which she conducted live career-retrospective interviews with such luminaries as Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Liza Minnelli and the late Bea Arthur.
Written by Clinton Leupp and directed by Michael Schiralli, it runs April 29 through May 1 at the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Renberg Theatre in Hollywood. For tickets, call (323) 860-7300 or visit www.lalgbtcenter.org/theatre.
“The Path to Catherine – A New Musical” There is not much more a noblewoman can do in 1740s Germany than dream of love and the intrigues of court life. She can become a nun if she fails at a betrothal, or she can marry. Young Princess Sophie plans to do just that and do it well! Empress Elizabeth needs to strengthen her throne because her heir and nephew, Peter, is unfit to rule. She invites Sophie and her mother Joanna to visit with a view that Sophie might prove to be a suitable bride for Peter and could thus produce a proper heir. But when Sophie’s focus shifts from love to power, each woman must decide what is most important to her and what she is willing to do to achieve it.
This is the true backstory of three women, their complicated relationships with power, and the path that led a teenage princess to become one of the world’s most powerful female monarchs, Catherine the Great.
Written by Patricia Zehentmayr, with music by Jan Roper, lyrics by Patricia Zehentmayr, and directed by Joanna Syiek, it runs through May 1 at the Write Act Rep at Brickhouse Theatre in North Hollywood. For tickets, visit www.thepathtocatherine.bpt.me.
Steve Zall, Scene in LA Publisher
Sid Fish, Co-Publisher and Editor