Here’s what’s happening this month in the Southern California theater scene:
“The Gary Plays” chronicles the odyssey of unemployed actor Gary Bean, Mednick’s everyman/anti-hero who has been hailed by KCRW as “a sort of L.A. Leopold Bloom.” Audiences can choose to follow Gary’s journey over the course of three evenings — or view all six plays on a single Sunday. Written by Murray Mednick, and directed by Guy Zimmerman, it runs May 4 through June 4 at the Atwater Village Theatre in Atwater. For tickets call 323-882-6912 or visit www.openfist.org.
“Tales of Modern Motherhood: This Sh*t Just Got Real” is a heartfelt comedy about the uncertainties of becoming a parent, the FEAR of being a parent, and the reservations of why I didn’t just settle for a dog. It addresses the good, the bad and the ugly truth about what really happens behind closed doors and gives a very honest perspective on the hardest job in the world, PARENTING! Written by Pam Levin, and directed by Mark Hatfield, it runs May 4 through June 15 at the Other Space at Santa Monica Playhouse in Santa Monica. For tickets call 800-838-3006 or visit www.talesofmodernmotherhood.com.
“Fefu and Her Friends” On a seemingly ordinary day, a group of women gather to plan a philanthropic fundraiser. As the evening unwinds, the world dips into the surreal and their secrets, fears, and frustrations with society and each other come to light. Featuring an international cast of women, Fornés’ 1977 play explores how women across the world are subtly pressured to conform to an ideal of meekness and femininity. Written by María Irene Fornés, with music by Daniel Szabo, and directed by Kate Jopson, it runs May 5 through May 28 at the Hollyhock House in Los Angeles. For tickets visit www.circlextheatre.org/fefu.
“Hello Again” is based on the 1897 play La Ronde by Arthur Schnitzler. It focuses on a series of love affairs among 10 characters during the 10 different decades of the 20th century. LaChuisa’s musical adaptation follows the structure of Schnitzler’s original material closely, often replicating fragments of his dialogue, detailing a daisy chain of sexual encounters and love affairs. Unlike the book, each scene is set in a different decade of the 20th century and in non-chronological order, allowing for a large and varied pastiche of musical styles ranging from opera to 1970s disco. Written by Michael John LaChiusa, with music by Brenda Varda, and directed by Richard Van Slyke, it runs May 5 through May 28 at the Chromolume Theatre at the Attic in Los Angeles. For tickets call 323-205-1617 or visit www.crtheatre.com.
“Man of La Mancha” tells the poignant story of Don Quixote and his pursuit of the impossible dream. His dream is Everyman’s dream. His tilting at windmills is Everyman’s adventure. Celebrating life – not as it is, but as it should be – is at the heart of this inspiring and unforgettable musical. The Spanish-influenced score is a musical delight, containing the magnificent and uplifting anthem to all that is best in us: THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM. Remember what it is to believe in all that is noble, heroic and romantic with this rousing classic. Written by Dale Wasserman, with music by Mitch Leigh, lyrics by Joe Darion, and directed by Glenn Casale, it runs May 5 through May 7 at the Valley Performing Arts Center in Northridge. For tickets call 818-677-3000 or visit www.ValleyPerformingArtsCenter.org.
“The Monster Builder” follows Rita and Dieter, young architects, who are thrilled to meet Gregor. He’s the world’s most celebrated architect, whose buildings rise from the earth like twisted post-post-modern megaliths. So why has he taken on the remodel of a decaying boathouse, a project that was supposed to go to Rita and Dieter? They’re ready for a confrontation and to defend what they value: historic preservation and human-scale buildings. But nothing prepares them for the truth about their idol. Written by Amy Freed, and directed by Art Manke, it runs May 5 through June 4 at the South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa. For tickets call 714-708-5555 or visit www.scr.org.
“The House in Scarsdale: A Memoire for the Stage” Dan O’Brien traces the roots of his family’s particular unhappiness to learn why his parents and siblings cut him off years ago. The more Dan learns about his family, the more mysterious the circumstances surrounding their estrangement become, until his world is shaken when rumors surface that his real father might be another member of the family. Ultimately, Dan must decide if his pathological pursuit of the truth is worth the risk or should he follow the advice of a psychic and make his life a never-finished work of art. Written by Dan O’Brien, and directed by Michael Michetti, it runs May 6 through June 4 at the Theatre @ Boston Court in Pasadena. For tickets call 626-683-6883 or visit www.bostoncourt.com.
“Actually” is the story of Amber and Tom, who, finding their way as freshmen at Princeton, spend a night together that alters the course of their lives. They agree on the drinking, they agree on the attraction, but consent is foggy, and if unspoken, can it be called consent? Actually invites the audience to explore the complex dynamics of sexual assault and consent. Written by Anna Ziegler, and directed by Tyne Rafaeli, it runs May 10 through June 11 at the Audrey Skirball Theater at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. For tickets call 310-208-5454 or visit www.geffenplayhouse.org.
“Good People” centers on life in South Boston, a working-class neighborhood on hard times, which is no joke for single mother Margaret Walsh. Fired from her job, facing eviction and with nowhere to turn, she and her grown, disabled daughter, represent a large portion of today’s society. Will she get a break from her young manager at the Dollar Store or the landlady with a craft business selling googly-eyed rabbits, or the man from her past, now a successful doctor, who left town at a crucial moment long ago? Written by David Lindsay-Abaire, and directed by Gail Bernardi, it runs May 12 through June 17 at the Westchester Playhouse in Westchester. For tickets call 310-645-5156 or visit www.kentwoodplayers.org.
“Lucky Stiff” a hilarious musical murder mystery farce mixing diamonds, mistaken identities and a body in a wheelchair (oh, and puppies!), in this all singing, all dancing, killer musical comedy! In fact, you’ll die laughing! Written by Lynn Ahrens, with music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, and directed by Stephen Van Dorn, it runs May 12 through June 18 at the Actors Co-op David Schall Theatre in Hollywood. For tickets call 323-462-8460 or visit www.ActorsCo-op.org.
“The Lyons” In this scathingly funny look at a family in crisis, the Lyons family is falling apart just when they need to pull together. Rita Lyons, in a heroic effort to keep the family united while her husband, Ben, is dying of cancer, has called their grown children together to say good-bye around his hospital bed. In the ensuing maelstrom of kvetching, guilt-giving, and recriminations, they discover that despite being a family, each of them is utterly isolated. Afraid of closeness and afraid of solitude, the Lyons are unexpectedly propelled into foreign territory- human connection. Written by Nicky Silver, and directed by Scott Alan Smith, it runs May 12 through July 1 at the Road on Lankershim in North Hollywood. For tickets call 818-761-8838 or visit www.roadtheatre.org.
“The Sweetheart Deal” 1970 was a tumultuous time for Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers. Obie Award-winning writer/director Diane Rodriguez traces the history of the UFW through the eyes of two journalists who leave their comfortable middle class life in San Jose to volunteer for El Malcriado, the underground newspaper founded by Chavez and Dolores Huerta. Written and directed by Diane Rodriguez, with music by Sage Lewis, it runs May 12 through June 4 at the Los Angeles Theatre Center in Los Angeles. For tickets call 866-811-4111 or visit www.thelatc.org.
“Species Native to California” For a decade, two families—one white and progressive, one undocumented—have lived together on a Northern California wine country estate in something like harmony. But political changes and financial mishaps leave them both suddenly facing uncertain futures. As everyone clamors to save the estate, a vengeful ghost haunts the fruitless vineyard intent on breaking the balance. Mexican folklore meets Mendocino County in this homage to Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard. Performed in English with a liberal sprinkling of Español. Written by Dorothy Fortenberry, and directed by Eli Gonda, it runs May 13 through June 11 at the Atwater Village Theatre in Atwater. For tickets call 323-380-8843 or visit www.iamatheatre.com.
“Five Guys Named Moe” is an exuberant, international hit musical pays tribute to the music of rhythm and blues pioneer Louis Jordan. Written by Clarke Peters, with music by Louis Jordan, and directed by Keith Young, it runs May 18 through June 11 at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles. For tickets call 323-964-9766 or visit www.ebonyrep.org.
“Separate Tables” is actually a compilation of two short plays. The two pieces share a location, a dining room in a residential hotel in Bournemouth, England, and also share some of the same characters. In the first act, Table by the Window, an alcoholic left-wing writer loves the female manger of the hotel. Their world is rocked when the man’s ex-wife, a glamorous model dreading the approach of her middle age, checks into the hotel. The model has her ex in her sights. What will he do? In the second act, Table Number Seven, an ex-Army man enjoys the company of a spinster. They have things in common: Both are afraid of life and of other people in particular. When the woman’s manipulative, domineering mother exposes the man’s hidden sins, will she succeed in driving the soldier and the spinster apart? Written by Terence Rattigan, and directed by Jules Aaron, it runs May 18 through June 18 at the Theatre 40, in the Reuben Cordova Theatre in Beverly Hills. For tickets call 310-364-0535 or visit www.theatre40.org.
“Annie Get Your Gun” This show hits the target with every song and dance! It’s the story of Annie Oakley, one of the Old West’s greatest marksmen, and Frank Butler, who was also renowned for his amazing shooting ability. Both proud and headstrong, they compete against each other and eventually fall in love! It’s tons of fun from start to finish and of course, filled with some of Irving Berlin’s greatest hits! You’re going to love this show! Written by Dorothy Fields and Herbert Fields, with music by Irving Berlin, and directed by Tim Dietlein, it runs May 19 through July 1 at the Glendale Centre Theatre in Glendale. For tickets call 818-244-8481 or visit www.glendalecentretheatre.com.
“Freeway Dreams” a musical about commuters, stuck in freeway traffic, and as they wait for the gridlock to disperse they begin to daydream, their dreams emerging through songs such as ‘Manic-Depressive Blues,’ ‘A Big Woman Needs A Big Man,’ ‘…And A Pizza To Go,’ ‘My Superman’ and ‘What If The Other Guy Wins?’ hitting the mark in satirizing the L.A. lifestyle. Written by Wayne Moore, with music by Wayne Moore, and directed by Jim Blanchette, it runs May 19 through June 11 at the Write Act Repertory @ Brickhouse Theatre in North Hollywood. For tickets call 800-838-3006 or visit www.brownpapertickets.com.
“I Carry Your Heart” Phoebe is a young poet, forever living in the shadow of her estranged mother’s literary acclaim. When her mother unexpectedly dies Phoebe is left with two complicated legacies: donating her mother’s organs and reading her mother’s unpublished confessional journal. Meanwhile, Tess and her partner Lydia receive an early morning phone call, informing them that a donor heart is available for Tess – good news, but news that has come far sooner than they were prepared for. As these two families form an unlikely connection, they struggle to understand the politics and poetics of organ donation—and they dare to hope that pieces of us can live on after great tragedy. Written by Georgette Kelly, and directed by Jessica Hanna, it runs May 19 through June 10 at the Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles. For tickets visit www.bootlegtheater.org.
“Long Way Down” The darkly comic and harrowing story of Maybelline Ferris, a damaged young woman living with her pregnant sister Saralee and her forlorn husband, Duke, in their run-down family home north of Nashville. As the play begins, Karen, a close friend of Maybelline’s jailed older sister, marches into the house with the news that Doolee James kid came into Kindercastle today with a black eye. Doolee is beating her child. That accusation starts a chain of events that set the entire Ferris family into a downward spiral towards the plays stunning conclusion. Written by Nate Eppler, and directed by Steve Jarrard, it runs May 19 through June 18 at the Sherry Theatre in North Hollywood. For tickets call 323-860-6569 or visit www.longwaydown.brownpapertickets.com.
“Emmitt & Ava” a contemporary tale of love and loss. Two families, unacquainted with one another, suddenly find themselves forced to communicate on most intimate terms. Emmitt and Ava is a play as dynamic as it is relevant. Written and directed by Dominic Hoffman, it runs May 20 through June 18 at the Edgemar Center for the Arts in Santa Monica. For tickets visit www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2907900.
“Cuff Me: The Fifty Shades of Grey Musical Parody” is the hilarious parody of the Fifty Shades of Grey bestselling book/movie/t-shirt phenomenon! Grab your bestie, your entourage, and that family member that always drinks a little too much and get ready to laugh at this irreverent, hysterical romp in an evening of goofy, satirical fun. The show bounces between nail salon gossip and an exaggerated telling of the erotic novel while the cast of four belt out parodies of songs like “Hit Me Baby” and “Call Me Maybe” while spoofing Fifty Shades of Grey! Written by Bradford McMurran, Jeremiah Albers, and Sean Michael Devereux, it runs May 23 through May 28 at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood. For tickets call 818-508-4200 or visit www.elportaltheatre.com.
“Battlefield” begins as the devastation of war is tearing the Bharata family apart. The victorious new king must unravel a mystery: how can he live with himself in the face of the devastation and massacres that he has caused. Using just four actors and a musician, Battlefield has the economics of storytelling and the signature style of Peter Brook’s theater. Battlefield is an immense canvas in miniature; this central section of the ancient Sanskrit text is timeless and contemporary, asking how we can find inner peace in a world riven with conflict. Written by Jean-Claude Carrière, and directed by Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne, it runs May 24 through May 28 at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. For tickets call 310-746-4000 or visit www.TheWallis.org.
“S/He & Me” chronicles the unvarnished, complex, desperate, and often hilariously wacky story of Billings’ life, centering on the transition from the young Scott to the show-stopping Alexandra. She carries the story forward through story and plenty of songs. Written by Alexandra Billings, and directed by Joanne Gordon, it runs May 25 through June 11 at the Renberg Theatre in Hollywood. For tickets call 323-860-7300 or visit www.lalgbtcenter.org/theatre.
“Les Blancs” depicts the waning days of colonialism crossing into the 20th century as it reveals the impossible moral choices faced by individuals who must reconcile personal happiness with idealism. It is rich with music and dance and set in and around a mission compound in Africa. The time is yesterday, today, and tomorrow– but not very long after that. Written by Lorraine Hansberry, and directed by Gregg T. Daniel, it runs May 27 through July 3 at the Rogue Machine Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets call 855-585-5185 or visit www.roguemachinetheatre.com.
“Allen Wilder 2.0” a director of softcore porn returns from Hollywood to his dead parents’ house in Levittown, Long Island, to sort through his belongings and re-examine his life. Can a chance meeting with his former babysitter and his estranged niece soothe the wounds of the failure he feels? Is it too late? His search for redemption gets comic treatment in this new play. Written and directed by Matt Morillo, it runs through May 21 at the Lounge Theatre in Hollywood. For tickets call 323-960-7792 or visit www.kadm.com.
“Harold and Maude” This is a stage adaptation of the movie about a 19 year-old boy who finally learns how to truly live when he meets that delightfully wacky octogenarian, Maude. Harold is the proverbial poor little rich kid—his alienation has caused him to attempt suicide several times, though these incidents are more cries for attention than actual attempts. His peculiar attachment to Maude, whom he meets at a funeral (a mutual passion) is what saves him and what captivates us. Written by Collins Higgins, and directed by Brandon Baer, it runs through May 21 at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre in Santa Monica. For tickets call 310-828-7519 or visit www.morgan-wixson.org.
“The Awful Grace of God” is actually an evening of six original one-act plays:
Off, set in 1972 Flushing, Queens, New York, explores the effect that violence has on two friends and how their personal experiences of our world’s brutality influence their ability to cope with their respective lives.
Surrender, set in present day Porch, New England, is an exploration of a couple’s search for meaning and the power of their love for each other after the passing of their child. The play looks into the potential interpenetrative nature between heaven and earth.
Willy and Rose, set in a present day Motel Room, depicts two people’s struggle to love each other and survive in a harsh world. The play explores desperation, aggression and fear expressed through their tragic love affair.
The Long Walk Home, set in 1950 in New York City, is a story exposing powerlessness, loss and the courage of a family to continue on after unspeakable harm has been done while in the grip of addiction.
Need (Shelter from the Storm), set in present day in a Psychotherapist’s office in New York, explores the pure force of love and how that love transcends all boundaries when discovered.
Through, set here in the present, is a play about transformative suffering in adversity depicting one person’s journey from bondage into freedom.
Written by Michael Harney, and directed by Mark Kemble, it runs through May 28 at the Other Space @ The Actors Company in West Hollywood. For tickets call 323-960-7784 or visit www.plays411.com/graceofgod.