Here are some of the shows you can see in our local theaters this month:
“Scraps” Set in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, three months after the fatal shooting of black teenager Forest Winthrop by a white police officer, this is a highly theatrical, frequently funny mash up of poetry, realism and expressionism that chronicles the effects of Forest’s death on his family and friends. Written by Geraldine Inoa, and directed by Stevie Walker-Webb, it runs July 6 through September 15 at the Matrix Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets call 323-960-7711 or visit www.matrixtheatre.com.
“Mamma Mia!” On the eve of her wedding, a daughter’s quest to discover the identity of her father brings three men from her mother’s past back to the Greek island they last visited 20 years ago. The storytelling magic of ABBA’s timeless hits sets the scene for this infectious tale of love and frolicking fun, creating an unforgettable musical experience that will leave you dancing in the aisles! Written by Catherine Johnson, with music by Benny Andersson & Björn Ulvaeus, and directed by Karen Babcock Brassea, it runs July 7 through August 4 at the Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach. For tickets call 949-497-2787 or visit www.lagunaplayhouse.com.
“The Spitfire Grill” takes place in Gilead, Wisconsin – a bucolic place for those who have dreamed of a town so small they roll the sidewalk up at night; a place where you can walk a hundred miles and leave the trees. At least that is how it seems when Percy, a feisty parolee following her dreams, arrives. She based her living there on a page from an old travel book, as she stumbled into Hannah’s Spitfire Grill. The Grill, the only eatery in this quiet town, is for sale but there are no takers; so newcomer Percy suggests to Hannah that she raffle it off. Entry fees are one hundred dollars and the best essay on why you want the grill wins. Soon, mail is arriving by the wheelbarrow full and things are definitely cookin’ at the Spitfire Grill. This stirring musical erupts when Hannah’s troubled past is confronted with Percy’s struggle to start again, making everyone’s life in this small town anything but quiet. A searching wife, a mysterious vagrant, a gentle sheriff, a brutish husband, and an irritatingly irresistible busybody collide in a musical that bubbles over with toe-tapping fun and soaring, heartfelt melodies accompanied by mandolin, accordion, guitar, violin, and cello – and the musicians step forward to play many of the characters. Written by James Valcq and Fred Alley, based on the film by Lee David Zlotoff, with music by James Valcq, lyrics by Fred Alley, and directed by Dimitri Toscas, it runs July 10 through August 11 at the Garry Marshall Theatre in Burbank. For tickets call 818-955-8101 or visit www.garrymarshalltheatre.org.
“The Caucasian Chalk Circle” satiric comedy of war, love and justice. Deep in the Caucasus Mountains of Georgia, a humble kitchen maid named Grusha risks her life to rescue an abandoned baby from civil war. But when the child’s aristocratic mother returns to claim him, the entire social order of a corrupt and violent world is put on trial. Written by Bertolt Brecht, translated by Alistair Beaton, and directed by Stephanie Shroyer, it runs July 11 through August 26 at the Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center in Glendale. For tickets call 818-506-1983 or visit www.antaeus.org.
“Bakersfield Mist” Maude, a 50-something unemployed bartender living in a trailer park has bought a painting for a few bucks at a thrift store. Despite almost trashing it, she’s now convinced it’s a lost masterpiece by Jackson Pollock worth millions of dollars. But when world-class art expert Lionel Percy flies from New York to Bakersfield, CA to authenticate the painting, he has no idea what he is about to discover. Inspired by true events, this hilarious and thought-provoking play asks vital questions about what makes art and people truly authentic. Written by Stephen Sachs, and directed by Amir Korangy, it runs July 12 through July 28 at the Beverly Hills Playhouse in Beverly Hills. For tickets call 800-838-3006 or visit www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4278478.
“Dancing at Lughnasa” is set in the summer of 1936 during the Celtic harvest festival of Lughnasa. Five unmarried sisters — Kate, Maggie, Agnes, Rose and Chris — live in the rural Irish countryside outside the tiny village of Ballybeg; loosely based on the lives of Friel’s mother and aunts, the play is a rich and deeply moving portrait of their everyday lives, as remembered through the eyes of Chris’s seven-year-old son, Michael, now an adult. Written by Brian Friel, and directed by Barbara Schofield, it runs July 12 through August 18 at the Atwater Village Theatre in Atwater. For tickets call 323-882-6912 or visit www.openfist.org.
“Nancy F***ing Reagan” is set in Palm Springs where David’s best friend and college dean, Maggie, has organized a weekend getaway for a few friends to celebrate his birthday. But the death of the former First Lady that same week with TV coverage that whitewashes Nancy Reagan’s indifference towards AIDS, provokes David’s festering anger, reminding him how the unchecked AIDS epidemic diminished his life and left him single for so many years. The celebration is further derailed when a student from Maggie’s college arrives at the house, demanding that Maggie address the ubiquitous racism on their school campus. Inspired by Allison’s audacity, the friends begin wrestling with the importance of their own racial and sexual identities. Their arguments, and the hilarious actions they take because of them, end up shifting their lives and relationships in new and un-imagined directions. Written by Daniel Hurewitz, and directed by Larry Margo, it runs July 12 through August 4 at the Secret Rose Theatre in North Hollywood. For tickets visit www.nfrnfr.eventbrite.com.
“Apple Season” Lissie returns to her family’s land after many years. A chance encounter with an old flame conjures memories she thought she’d escaped long ago. This striking new play explores family, desire, and whether to confront the tangled past — or burn it to the ground. Written by E. M. Lewis, and directed by Darin Anthony, it runs July 13 through August 5 at the Atwater Village Theatre in Atwater Village. For tickets call 323-472-5646 or visit www.movingarts.org.
“The Last Days of Don Juan” is the earliest known dramatic appearance of literature’s most famous (or infamous) romantic rogue. He is possibly the first of the red hot lovers. The Seducer from Seville goes from place to place, city to city, town to town, village to village, deceiving, deflowering, despoiling and devastating beautiful maiden after beautiful maiden. He is aided and abetted in his adventures by his loyal servant Catalina, who time and again helps Don Juan escape angry pursuers. This libertine lord of lust finds his fortunes begin to change after he slays the angry father of one of his conquests in a sword fight. Not long after, Don Juan finds himself opposed by supernatural forces that seek to punish him for his wicked, wicked ways. Can he seek repentance and find forgiveness in time? Written by Tirso De Molina, adapted by Nick Dear, and directed by Suzanne Hunt-Jenner, it runs July 13 through August 11 at the Kings Road Park in West Hollywood. For tickets call 323-960-5691.
“Pass Over” Moses and Kitch stand around on the corner — talking smack, passing the time, and hoping that today a miracle will come. Emotional and lyrical, it crafts everyday profanities into poetic and humorous riffs, exposing the unquestionable human spirit of young black men who dream about a promised land they’ve yet to find. Written by Antoinette Nwandu, and directed by Deena Selenow, it runs July 13 through August 19 at the Echo Theater Company Atwater Village Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets call 310-307-3753 or visit www.EchoTheaterCompany.com.
“The Skin of Our Teeth” is a satirical testimonial to the dogged determination of human beings to hang in there against all odds. It looks ahead to the future of humanity, while at the same time compounding its entire history. A seemingly average American family — Mr. and Mrs. Antrobus, their son and daughter and the maid, Sabina — must learn to navigate the Ice Age, Biblical times, the invention of the wheel, ancient Greece, the Great War, even a beauty pageant in Atlantic City. Their experiences represent the range of human potential — for genius, love, envy, betrayal, destruction and, most importantly, survival. As they continue to live and rebuild in the face of adversity, they are proof, as Mr. Antrobus says, that “living is struggle.” Written by Thornton Wilder, and directed by Ellen Geer, it runs July 13 through September 29 at the Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga. For tickets call 310-455-3723 or visit www.theatricum.com.
“FRIENDS! The Musical Parody” is the comedic musical that lovingly pokes fun at TV’s Friends, celebrating the adventures of your favorite group of 20-something friends as they navigate the pitfalls of work, life and love in 1990s Manhattan. It’s a typical day at New York’s only coffee shop, Central Perk, until an unexpected runaway bride enters the picture and kicks the whole gang out of second gear! The new musical recreates our favorite moments from all 10 years of Friends through an uncensored, fast-paced, music-filled romp. Written and directed by Bob and Tobly McSmith, it runs July 16 through August 4 at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. For tickets call 213-628-2772 or visit www.KirkDouglasTheatre.org.
“King Lear” How do we respond and who do we become when we are tested by enormous change? King Lear is facing the end of his reign, his third and favorite daughter is leaving him for marriage, and his closest advisers are challenging his decisions. In this brutal, profound and mythic play, plots are devised, parents are pitted against children, and disguise becomes a means of forestalling ruin. Written by William Shakespeare, and directed by Nike Doukas, it runs July 18 through August 3 at the Harold Clurman Laboratory Theater at the Art of Acting Studio in Los Angeles. For tickets call 323-601-5310 or visit www.ovationtix.com.
“Renovations for Six” A young couple (new in town) decide to host a dinner party so they can make friends and promote their business. They invite a couple who have abandoned their song-and-dance act and show biz to raise their daughter; and a haughty psychiatrist and her engineer husband who has given up his high-paying job to write a novel. All three couples are stressed, undergoing house renovations, and could use a little fix-up in the relationship department as well. All hell breaks loose at the dinner party in this fast-paced comedy where couples, designs and cultures clash. The party will have a surprising impact on all six lives. Written by Norm Foster, and directed by Howard Storm, it runs July 18 through August 18 at the Theatre 40, in the Reuben Cordova Theatre in Beverly Hills. For tickets call 310-364-0535 or visit www.theatre40.org.
“Blithe Spirit” This hilarious supernatural farce centers on fussy, cantankerous socialite and novelist Charles Condomine, who invites the eccentric “kooky medium” Madame Arcati to his house to conduct a séance, hoping to gather material for his next book. The scheme backfires when he is haunted by the ghost of his annoying and temperamental first wife, Elvira, who makes continual attempts to disrupt Charles’s marriage to his second wife, Ruth, who cannot see or hear the ghost during the séance or afterwards. Boundless laughs and constant pandemonium ensue. Written by Noel Coward, and directed by Gail Bernardi, it runs July 19 through August 24 at the Westchester Playhouse in Westchester. For tickets call 310-645-5156 or visit www.kentwoodplayers.org.
“The Direction Home” West Hollywood, 1979. It’s a moment in time before cityhood, before sweeping demographic changes, before gentrification and exorbitant prices, before a decade of the tumultuous upheaval of historic events. It’s a time that’s slightly simpler and perhaps more naïve and innocent. Four disparate twenty-something individuals move into a rented West Hollywood home. There’s Brad, handsome and straight, but a six-pack away from putting the bi in bi-sexual; Ted, flamboyant but in very deep denial about his sexual orientation; Stephen, virginal and questioning where he’s headed; and a last-minute addition, Katie, Brad’s ex. The living arrangements are less awkward than they might be. Brad and Katie both know that they are over. Brad starts seeing someone new, Mimi. Katie catches the eye of Michael, a neighbor who’s a successful actor in commercials. This comedy explores these characters’ relationships, the difficulties of coming of age in a big city, and how important it is to find your own First Family. Written by Greg Vie, and directed by Kiff Scholl, it runs July 20 through August 18 at the Let Live Theatre @ The Actors Company in Los Angeles. For tickets call 323-960-1055 or visit www.onstage411.com/Home.
“Billie Holiday: Front and Center” Billie Holiday (1915-1959) was a trail-blazing musical artist, known as perhaps the first female vocalist to use her voice in the style of jazz improvisation. Recording first with Benny Goodman, she became the first Black female vocalist to front a white band, that of Artie Shaw. She also performed with Count Basie and Duke Ellington. She had long professional associations with saxophonist Lester Young (who named her Lady Day; she called him Prez) and pianist Teddy Wilson. Born to poverty in Philadelphia, she was a victim of sexual assault while still a child and sentenced by the court to a Catholic correctional institution. It was only her first experience with the court, however. She was convicted at age 13 (along with her mother) of prostitution. Subsequent arrests involved possession of narcotics and substance abuse. Despite a turbulent life, abusive relationships, and racism, she prevailed to become one of the greatest jazz and blues artists of her time, before her untimely demise at age 42 from cirrhosis of the liver. In addition to multiple hit recordings, she sold out Carnegie Hall three times. Written by Sybil D. Jatta, and directed by B’ANCA, it runs July 26 through August 18 at the WACO Theater Center in North Hollywood. For tickets visit www.eventbrite.com/e/billie-holiday-front-and-center-tickets-63407808462.
“Good Enough” is the true journey of world renown author and story teller Ted McGrath. Playing 15 characters, McGrath takes us on an emotional roller coaster ride through addiction as he sabotages his family, his career and ultimately his life in the attempt to answer one question burning inside him his entire life: AM I GOOD ENOUGH? Now, having reclaimed his life and at the pinnacle of success, McGrath’s play asks each of us that same question: Are you “Good Enough?”. Written by Ted McGrath, and directed by James Barbour, it runs July 26 through August 25 at the Lounge Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets visit www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4260825.
“Into the Woods” As the result of the curse of a once-beautiful witch, a baker and his wife are childless. Three days before the rise of a blue moon, they venture into the forest to find the ingredients that will reverse the spell and restore the witch’s beauty: a milk-white cow, hair as yellow as corn, a blood-red cape, and a slipper of gold. During their journey, they meet Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Jack, each one on a quest to fulfill a wish. Written by James Lapine, with music by Stephen Sondheim, and directed by Robert Longbottom, it runs July 26 through July 28 at the Hollywood Bowl in Hollywood. For tickets call 323-850-2000 or visit www.hollywoodbowl.com.
“West Side Story” is a gripping, modern rendition of Shakespeare’s classic Romeo and Juliet. Tony and Maria are young lovers in a forbidden relationship, caught in a web of intolerance and vengeance that threatens to tear them apart. With music by Leonard Bernstein, and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, this unforgettable production spins a story of star-crossed love, clashing cultures and the heartache of vengeance. Written by Arthur Laurents, with music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and directed by Larry Raben, it runs July 26 through August 4 at the Kavli Theatre, Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza in Thousand Oaks. For tickets call 800-745-3000 or visit www.5startheatricals.com.