Happy New Year! Here are some of the shows you can see in our local theaters this month:
“A Bundle of Trouble” An inventor’s life crumbles when his estranged, precocious 8 year-old daughter comes to live with him. She unravels this charming curmudgeon’s home, work, and heart. Written by Ruth Hale, adapted by James Castle Stevens, and directed by James Castle Stevens, it runs January 4 through February 2 at the Glendale Centre Theatre in Glendale. For tickets call 818-244-8481 or visit www.glendalecentretheatre.com.
“A Misunderstanding” Leave all your preconceived notions at the door: this play is sure to turn them inside out. A playful play of ideas that challenges our understanding of reality while asking the question, Can two people fundamentally disagree and continue to love one another? Written by Matt Chait, and directed by Elina de Santos, it runs January 4 through February 3 at the Complex (Ruby Theatre) in Hollywood. For tickets call 323-960-4418 or visit www.plays411.com/misunderstanding.
“Soul -Crushing Disco Ball” Killer Kisses, STD Clinics, Marriage…DIVORCE. Sometimes women cause men “lots of pain,” so when a school-yard rumor spreads that one female student has committed manslaughter, two third-grade boys join forces to stop the bleeding by forming a friendship that spans three decades worth of debacles at the hands of the opposite sex. It’s true. Being a best friend can be a soul-crushing job, but one that also comes with surprising benefits. Written by Travis Perkins and Chambers Stevens, and directed by Chambers Stevens, it runs January 4 through February 24 at the Hudson Backstage Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets call 323-960-7822 or visit www.plays411.com/discoball.
“Desert Rats” dark comedy about life and crime in America’s contemporary West. Estranged brothers Frank and Jesse reunite to plan a kidnapping in a squalid motel room on a hellish day in Barstow. When day turns into night and their hostage is brought out of the trunk, the siblings find their troubles have just begun. Written by Nate Rufus Edelman, and directed by Angie Scott, it runs January 5 through January 20 at the Los Angeles Theatre Center in Los Angeles. For tickets call 866-811-4111 or visit www.thelatc.org.
“Forever Brooklyn” is the story of Melvin Kaplofkis, a young man growing up in Brooklyn in the 1950s who emerges in the 1960s as Mel King, The King of Brooklyn. Young Mel entertains his family and friends by telling jokes and stories. He is championed by a local radio personality, and Mel begins to move up, with gigs in the Borscht Belt resorts. It turns out he actually has a flair for performing, and ultimately, he is booked for an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Sounds like a dream, no? Well, not quite. His family doesn’t want him to leave Brooklyn. Also, he’s been pressed into service, against his will, as a bagman for the Mob that’s been ruling Brooklyn with an iron fist. The Mob doesn’t want Mel to leave Brooklyn behind. If he does, there will be a price to be paid. And, oh yes: Along the way, he falls in love. Written and directed by Mark Wesley Curran, it runs January 5 through February 9 at the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks. For tickets call 800-838-3006 or visit www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3613939.
“Bat out of Hell the Musical” is a romantic adventure about rebellious youth and passionate love, set against the backdrop of a post-cataclysmic city adrift from the mainland. Strat, the forever-young leader of The Lost, has fallen for Raven, daughter of Falco, the tyrannical ruler of Obsidian. Written by Jim Steinman, with music by Jim Steinman, and directed by Jay Scheib, it runs January 8 through February 2 at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets call 213-972-4400 or visit www.AhmansonTheatre.org.
“Definition of Man” In the abstracted setting of a burnt-out, post-apocalyptic ruin, the cast of two serves as a stand-in for all of humanity while grappling with their own personal struggles to maintain a sense of self in a world that has ceased to exist. In a tightly-paced narrative progression, they move and shift between verbal and physical intimacy, exploring how these intersect and overlap from start to finish. Nameless but for their titles of XX and XY, they are both universal and specific, two sides of one coin, speaking from their own divergent experiences to reach a place of mutual understanding. Written by Nikki Muller, with music by Chris Thomas, and directed by JJ Mayes, it runs January 10 through January 27 at the Arena Theatre on the Cal State LA Campus in Los Angeles. For tickets visit www.dconstructionarts.org/shop.
“Smart Love” is a contemporary comedy with a scientific twist. The Wachowski household is turned upside down when their son makes a surprise visit home, from MIT, with an unexpected guest. How far will human beings go in order to salvage love? Written by Brian Letscher, and directed by Elina de Santos, it runs January 10 through February 24 at the Pacific Resident Theatre in Venice. For tickets call 310-822-8392 or visit www.pacificresidenttheatre.com.
“Jocasta: A Motherf**king Tragedy” An alcoholic tattoo artist, a kid who’s been swimming laps for 25 years, an ex-con, and a woman who believes she can see the future help Jocasta when she is awakened from a dream into a literal nightmare, discovering her husband Oedipus is also her son. This at once disturbing and darkly comic theatrical work, explores modern feminism, the nature of fate, and what it takes to regain control of one’s own destiny. Written and directed by Brian Weir, it runs January 11 through February 10 at the Broadwater Main Stage in Hollywood. For tickets call 310-281-8341 or visit www.ghostroad.org.
“Our Town” The residents of the small town of Grover’s Corners remain as universal and timeless as when they first appeared on stage in 1938. Written by Thornton Wilder, and directed by Stanley Brown, it runs January 11 through February 16 at the Westchester Playhouse in Westchester. For tickets call 310-645-5156 or visit www.kentwoodplayers.org.
“The Twelfth Night or What You Will” This is Illyria, folks! Our heroine is shipwrecked. Her brother is presumably drowned. Disguising herself as a boy, she joins Duke Orsino’s court. She is sent out as an emissary to the Countess Olivia, who is mourning the death of her brother. Olivia falls for the youth. Mistaken identity, gender confusion, a mordant clown, a pompous mayor domo, whackadoodle relatives (Sir Toby) – makes for a great deal of fun! Written by Williams Shakespeare, and directed by Sabrina Lloyd, it runs January 11 through February 17 at the Theatre Palisades Pierson Playhouse in Pacific Palisades. For tickets call 310-454-1970 or visit www.theatrepalisades.com.
“1776 the Musical” is the electrifying musical about the founding of America. Featuring a thrilling cast, this Tony Award-winning smash begins with a deadlocked Congress – sound familiar? Its attempts to adopt the Declaration of Independence are boiling over in heated confrontations. Spoiler alert: by the evening of July 2nd, the two sides are still miles apart! But remarkably, these contentious Founding Fathers harness their shared determination to do the right thing for a fledgling nation. See how they get it done! Engaging, tuneful, witty and passionate, this Broadway musical shows us the likes of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson as we’ve never seen them before — with humor and humanity. Written by Peter Stone, based on a concept by Sherman Edwards, with music by Sherman Edwards, and directed by Glenn Casale, it runs January 12 through February 3 at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts in La Mirada. For tickets call 562-944-9801 or visit www.lamiradatheatre.com.
“The Diary of Anne Frank” is one of the most famous and haunting stories to emerge from the 20th Century. The memoirs of this young Jewish girl, forced to hide for nearly two years to escape Nazi persecution, are an essential part of how we remember one of the darkest periods of our human history. Written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett and newly adapted by Wendy Kesselman, and directed by Stan Zimmerman, it runs January 12 through February 24 at the Complex Dorie Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets visit www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3921444.
“Stockholm” Meet the couple every couple wants to be. Attractive and immaculately turned out, they are the perfect team. Tomorrow they will be in Stockholm, a city where, in summer, the sun shines 24/7 and sometimes it’s dark all day long. Today, it’s his birthday and she’s going to give him all his presents, treats and surprises. Treading a fine line between tenderness and cruelty, it reveals a relationship unravelling. It’s beautiful, but it’s not pretty. Written by Bryony Lavery, and directed by Kim Rubenstein, it runs January 12 through January 28 at the Pico Playhouse in West Los Angeles. For tickets visit www.stockholmla.brownpapertickets.com.
“Driving Miss Daisy” is about the decades-long relationship between a strong-willed, well-to-do Jewish woman and her black chauffeur, in the Jim Crow south. Set against a backdrop of changing world events between the late 1940s and early ‘70s, what begins as a troubled and hostile pairing soon blossoms into a profound, life-altering friendship that transcends all the societal boundaries placed between them. Written by Alfred Uhry, and directed by Michael Bloom, it runs January 13 through January 27 at the Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach. For tickets call 949-497-2787 or visit www.lagunaplayhouse.com.
“The Empty Nesters” hard working parents Greg and Frances stop for a visit to the Grand Canyon’s breathtaking Skywalk, a not-to-be missed sight, after delivering their final child to college in Phoenix. But, instead of seeing a limitless horizon full of fresh possibilities, one half of the couple faces an empty chasm, while the other begins to wonder if freedom is only a loss of solid footing. Written by Garret Jon Groenveld, and directed by Richard Seyd, it runs January 17 through February 17 at the Zephyr Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets visit www.EmptyNestersPlay.com.
“It Is Done” Hank’s Bar is a roadside joint on a desolate highway in the middle of nowhere. Hank the barkeep passes the time when he has no customers by perusing a porn mag while pleasuring himself. He likes the bar’s isolated location: It keeps him away from his ex-wife and kids. But Hank does have one customer this evening: Jonas, a drifter who wants to drink, not chat. Jonas has been haunted by troubling dreams. He travels from place to place to escape his past. Into the bar strides Ruby, a sexy woman who informs them that her car has broken down nearby. Can she use the phone to call the auto club? A howling dust storm outside suggests that the three are going to remain at the bar for a while. A mysterious traveler, a horny barkeep, a sensuous woman trapped in a dive bar with an abundant supply of bourbon. Anything could happen. Whatever happens, one thing is certain: There will be hell to pay. Written by Alex Goldberg, and directed by Jeff G. Rack, it runs January 17 through February 19 at the Theatre 40, in the Reuben Cordova Theatre in Beverly Hills. For tickets call 310-364-0535 or visit www.theatre40.org.
“Brilliant Traces” Rosannah Deluce has been driving for days. Her car dies in a snowbound corner of Alaska. In distress, she seeks shelter in the only nearby structure, an old barn that is the home of Henry Harry, a man she does not know. She is attired in a wedding gown. She is a runaway bride. Henry Harry is an oil rig worker who lives a hermit’s existence during the periods he is not working. His solitude is a refuge from the pain and trauma of events past. The last thing he wants is company, but a beautiful woman has landed literally at his doorstep. Both have run away from circumstances too difficult to endure. Over the next few days, alternately repulsed by and attracted to each other, they might discover that they are kindred spirits. Written by Cindy Lou Johnson, and directed by Kiff Scholl, it runs January 18 through February 10 at the Lounge Theatre in Hollywood. For tickets call 440-465-8878 or visit www.our.show/brillianttraces.
“Death House” On the night a death-house chaplain must hand over the reins to the confident young pastor set to replace him, the men encounter an enigmatic inmate who challenges their convictions and changes their lives forever. This is a startling new piece of theatre that explores justice, redemption, and the possibility that we’re all more connected than we may want to admit. Written by Jason Karasev, and directed by Michael Peretzian, it runs January 18 through March 10 at the Road on Lankershim in North Hollywood. For tickets call 818-761-8838 or visit www.roadtheatre.org.
“Last Call” the Vaughn family’s go-to defense mechanism of sarcasm and mordant humor falls short when the aging parents hatch a not-so-funny way to avoid the retirement home. Written by Anne Kenney, and directed by Lane Allison, it runs January 18 through February 23 at the Atwater Village Theatre in Atwater. For tickets call 323-882-6912 or visit www.openfist.org.
“Nude/Naked” Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Bennett Duquesne and his daughter Addy have had their controversial work collected by major art museums all over the world. When Addy’s trust funder boyfriend shoots one of Duquesne’s students in their living room, photos meant to be viewed on art gallery walls or in coffee table books become plastered all over the Internet. The Duquesnes struggle to hold onto their unique, intuitive relationship while the local District Attorney pressures them to reveal more about their personal lives, and the mainstream and social media launch brutal attacks. Written and directed by Paul Hoan Zeidler, it runs January 18 through February 17 at the McCadden Place Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets call 310-204-4883.
“Aleichem Sholom” This new musical, performed in English with just a taste of Yiddish, follows the life of the beloved Yiddish story-teller and his mespoche, spinning tales of his loves and losses, his fame and his failures, his travels, his travails and the tremendous joy and optimism that kept him going against all odds. Written by Chris DeCarlo and Evelyn Rudie, with music by Ben Weisman, Emery Bernauer, Evelyn Rudie and Sholom Aleichem, and directed by Arthur R. Tompkins, it runs January 19 through February 24 at the Santa Monica Playhouse in Santa Monica. For tickets call 310-394-9779 Ext. 1 or visit www.santamonicaplayhouse.com/aleichem-sholom.html.
“Hir” is a dysfunctional family dramedy for a new era: a highly intelligent, heartfelt and deeply, darkly humorous portrayal of a family in crisis, in which domestic abuse, the trauma of war and the acceptance of gender neutrality are illustrated in a nearly absurd, emotionally gripping, intensely real dynamic. Somewhere in the American suburbs, Isaac, dishonorably discharged from his tour in Afghanistan, has returned home to discover a household in revolt. The insurgent: his mom. Liberated from an oppressive marriage to Isaac’s father by his debilitating stroke, and with Max, Isaac’s newly out transgender sibling, as her ally, Paige is on a crusade to dismantle the patriarchy. Written by Taylor Mac, and directed by Bart DeLorenzo, it runs January 19 through March 17 at the Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets call 310-477-2055 Ext. 2 or visit www.OdysseyTheatre.com.
“The Marriage Zone” Cal and Beth are selling their home. They’re visited by Skip and Ellie, an engaged couple, very much in love who are eager to buy their first home. They’re joined by Mike and Liz, apparently a couple of lookie-loos who decided to drop by and take a peek at the house for sale. The three couples get to chatting and begin to marvel at just how much they have in common. WAY too much in common, in fact. So much in common that it begins to become surreal. Written and directed by Jeff Gould, it runs January 19 through March 31 at the Santa Monica Playhouse in Santa Monica. For tickets call 800-838-3006 or visit www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3919605.
“Red Hot Mama – the Sophie Tucker Songbook” chronicles the life and career of the first lady of show business, whose remarkable career spanned six decades. Sophie Tucker was a consummate performer on stage screen and radio, was part of the Ziegfield Follies early in her career, and in addition to her legendary artistry, was a great humanitarian. Featuring the music and history of burlesque, vaudeville, Broadway and Las Vegas, the show features over two dozen songs made famous by Tucker including compositions by Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, and DeSylva & Brown. Written by Sharon McNight, and directed by Richard Riccardi, it runs January 19 through January 20 at the Rubicon Theatre Company in Ventura. For tickets call 805-667-2900 or visit www.rubicontheatre.org.
“Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” follows Sweeney Todd as he settles into a barber shop, above Mrs. Lovett’s struggling pie shop, and plots revenge on the lecherous judge who wronged Todd and his family. The barber’s strange alliance with the pie-maker seems to provide the perfect solution to their problems. The themes in Sweeney—power, abuse of power, revenge and responsibility—continue to resonate with 21st-century audiences. Written by Stephen Sondheim, with music by Stephen Sondheim, and directed by Kent Nicholson, it runs January 19 through February 16 at the Segerstrom Stage at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa. For tickets call 714-708-5555 or visit www.scr.org.
“Rod Serling’s Stories from the Zone” consists of stage adaptations of two classic episodes of his best-loved TV series. Mr. Garrity and the Graves: In the Old West circa 1890, a man and his wagon find their way into the town of Happiness, Arizona. The man, Garrity, claims to have the ability to resurrect the dead. Some of the townspeople figure that resurrecting the folks planted on Boot Hill might not be the best idea. Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?: Passengers of a snow-bound bus originally bound for Boston are stranded at a roadside diner. There’s a growing realization that one of their number might actually be an invader from Mars. Written by Rod Serling, adapted by Jeff G. Rack, and directed by Jeff G. Rack and Charlie Mount, it runs January 21 through February 17 at the Theatre Forty, in the Reuben Cordova Theatre in Beverly Hills. For tickets call 310-364-0535 or visit www.theatre40.org.
“An Inspector Calls” set in 1912, about Inspector Goole and his unexpected arrival at the prosperous Birling family home, shattering their peaceful dinner party by his investigations into the death of a young woman. His startling revelations shake the very foundations of their lives and challenge audiences to question their own consciences. Written by J.B. Priestley, and directed by Stephen Daldry, it runs January 22 through February 10 at the Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. For tickets call 310-746-4000 or visit www.TheWallis.org/Inspector.
“Well” is a hilarious, moving story that combines the genres of solo performance and experimental theatre with the timeless story of mothers and daughters. Written by Lisa Kron, and directed by Bradley Griffin, it runs January 22 through January 25 at the Lindhurst Theatre, Pepperdine University in Malibu. For tickets call 310-506-4522 or visit www.arts.pepperdine.edu.
“The Cripple of Inishmaan” is set on the small Aran Island community of Inishmaan (Inis Meáin) off the Western Coast of Ireland in 1934, where the inhabitants are excited to learn of a Hollywood film crew’s arrival in neighboring Inishmore (Inis Mór) to make a documentary about life on the islands. “Cripple” Billy Claven, eager to escape the gossip, poverty and boredom of Inishmaan, vies for a part in the film, and to everyone’s surprise, the orphan and outcast gets his chance… or so some believe. Antaeus Theatre Company presents a fully partner-cast production, presenting two equally excellent but very different sets of actors at alternating performances. Written by Martin McDonagh, and directed by Steven Robman, it runs January 24 through March 11 at the Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center in Glendale. For tickets call 818-506-1983 or visit www.Antaeus.org.
“Laundry and Bourbon and Lone Star” is two one-act plays where three young women who are neighbors and friends share drinks and hard truths about life, love, and marriage while doing laundry on a very hot day. In another part of town three men beat-the-heat in the backyard of a bar as the local high school hero, recently returned after a hitch in Vietnam, details his military and amorous exploits. Laughs are shared, souls are bared. Written by James McLure, and directed by Barbara Brownell, it runs January 25 through March 3 at the Lonny Chapman Theatre in North Hollywood. For tickets call 818-763-5990 or visit www.thegrouprep.com.
“Link Link Circus” is a comedic and scientifically informed look at the links between humans and animals, via Darwin’s theory of evolution. Rossellini is a vivid monologist exploring the brilliance of the animal kingdom. The show is illustrated with her short comic films, home movies, and animation. Rossellini transforms herself into Aristotle, Descartes, a medieval theologian, B.F. Skinner, Charles Darwin and other helpful thinkers of the past, while her dog Pan plays various animals, assisted by puppeteer and animal handler Schuyler Beeman. Written by Isabella Rossellini and Guido Torlonia, with music by Andy Byers, and directed by Isabella Rossellini, it runs January 25 through January 27 at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica. For tickets call 310-434-3200 or visit www.thebroadstage.org.
“Paradise” Two outsiders, a gifted Yemeni-American teenager at a poorly rated high school in the South Bronx and her disillusioned biology teacher, form an unlikely scientific partnership in the hope of securing her a scholarship. But when conflicts arise over differences in religion, culture and the boundaries of mentorship, their capacity to alter the course of each other’s lives becomes greater than either had imagined. Written by Laura Maria Censabella, and directed by Vicangelo Bulluck, it runs January 26 through February 17 at the Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets call 323-960-7724 or visit www.Plays411.com/Paradise.
“The P.O.W. and the Girl” It’s the 1980s in Britain. Sarah, a college student, lives with her grandfather, John (Johnny) Harris, after the sudden death of her mother. John was a prisoner of war in a Japanese prison camp during World War II. Several decades later, he openly manifests classic symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, including flashbacks and petty to explosive outbursts directed at his granddaughter. This in turn, has a negative impact on Sarah’s well-being. Meanwhile, Sarah meets a sweet, sincere young man named Paul and a budding romance ensues. When she discovers that Paul’s life also is far from perfect, it emerges that she may have found a kindred spirit in Paul. Torn between familial duty and a chance at love and happiness, can Sarah’s new relationship with Paul survive? Can John ever overcome the traumas of incarceration, torture and abandonment? Written by Katrina Wood, and directed by Trace Oakley, it runs January 26 through February 16 at the Sherry Theatre in North Hollywood. For tickets call 800-838-3006 or visit www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3742908.
“Forever Motown” is an incredible collection of nine all-star performers including the Spinners original lead singer G.C. Cameron and former Temptations Lead Singer Glenn Leonard, along with members of The Marvelettes and a live band singing your favorite hit songs from all the Motown legends including The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, Smoky Robinson and more. Directed by Terri Giordano, it runs January 30 through February 2 at the Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach. For tickets call 949-497-2787 or visit www.lagunaplayhouse.com.
“S.O.S.” explores how political opportunists and economic systems have fed off and taken advantage of a rise in our sense of personal isolation and how we might find a way back to belonging to each other and the world we inhabit. Written by various famous writers, and directed by Madeleine Dahm, it runs January 31 through February 10 at the Circle X Theatre in Atwater Village. For tickets call 310-746-4000 or visit www.TheWallis.org/SOS.