Here comes Peter Cottontail, hopping down the bunny trail… announcing it’s time for Easter once again. As you paint the eggs and corral your little ones, take a moment to check out what’s new and exciting in our local theater scene, like:
OPENING THIS MONTH
“Fishers of Men” The year is 64 A.D. A suspicious fire breaks out in the southern part of Rome, nearly destroying the city. Rumors begin to spread of Emperor Nero’s culpability in causing the inferno after the Senate opposed his plans to build a new palatial complex. In an effort to deflect accusations, Nero pins the blame on a burgeoning religious sect of outliers, otherwise known as “Christians.” Arrests follow speedily. Prisoners are tortured in the hopes of discovering the new religious sect’s key leaders. On the eve of His Majesty’s Anniversary Games, all the leaders are secretly detained, but only one is of utmost importance to Nero. His name is…Simon Peter. In a world where faith and art often clash, the theatrical presentation of Fishers of Men demystifies them both. The performance of actor Rick Segall envelops you the moment he hits the ground – literally. He draws you in by the abrupt entry and the haunting song that follows. His interpretation of two lead characters leaves you spellbound and as the play evolves, you are laughing, crying, frightened, and in love with them both. Written by Rick Segall, it runs March 4 through March 27 at the Hudson Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets visit www.plays411.com/fishersofmen.
“A Gambler’s Guide to Dying” What are the odds of living an extraordinary life? This is the story of one boy’s granddad who won a fortune betting on the 1966 World Cup and, when diagnosed with cancer, gambled it all on living to see the year 2000. An intergenerational tale of what we live for and what we leave behind. Written by Gary McNair, and directed by Paul Linke, it runs March 4 through April 29 at the Ruskin Group Theatre in Santa Monica. For tickets call 310-397-3244 or visit www.ruskingrouptheatre.com.
“Summer and Smoke” A masterwork of love and survival from one of the greatest American playwrights of the 20th Century, this celebrated drama introduces us to the shy, fluttery Miss Alma, a repressed spinster hopelessly in love with the hedonistic son of the town doctor. Their relationship propels her from a world of loneliness and need to one of survival and love. Written by Tennessee Williams, and directed by Thom Babbes, it runs March 4 through April 17 at the Actors Co-op David Schall Theatre in Hollywood. For tickets call 323-462-8460 or visit www.ActorsCo-op.org.
“All Shook Up” Elvis was a white guy singing rhythm and blues music for the first time, which really helped R&B cross over to the mainstream, or to white America. Elvis took rhythm and blues music and really helped to popularize it, and Dipietro thought they really needed to stay true to where that music came from, which is obviously the African American community, especially in the South. So that’s very much why it takes place in 1955. In All Shook Up, this music unleashes the uptightness of these people in small town America and certainly applies to inter-racial dating and same-sex dating. It’s all about loving someone no matter who they are. Written by Joe Dipietro, with music by Anne Gesling, and directed by Nell Teare, it runs March 5 through April 2 at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre in Santa Monica. For tickets call 310-828-7519 or visit www.morgan-wixson.org.
“The Andersonville Trial” Based on a the trial of Henry Wirz, during the most critical point in American history, a commander of the infamous Confederate Andersonville prison is accused of causing the death of thousands of Union soldiers. A seldom-told story in our society today, but it is a story that every American should know. At what point does the responsibility of an individual to his conscience transcend any power or authority? Written by Saul Levitt, and directed by Gary Lee Reed, it runs March 5 through April 10 at the Grove Theatre Center in Burbank. For tickets call 323-960-7738 or visit www.plays411.com/andersonville.
“Audition! The Musical” Movie stars, music, suspense, hilarity, pathos, and the truth behind the Hollywood mystique, as told by those who’ve been there and done that. The 10th Anniversary production of the L.A. Times “Recommended” AUDITION! THE MUSICAL, based on the all-too-true-life Hollywood experiences of the award-winning creative team of Chris DeCarlo and Evelyn Rudie, is back and brings ten years more harrowing, haunting and hilarious Hollywood horror stories than when it opened in 2006. Written by Evelyn Rudie and Matthew Wrather, with music by Evelyn Rudie and Matthew Wrather, and directed by Chris DeCarlo with Serena Dolinsky, it runs March 5 through April 24 at the Santa Monica Playhouse in Santa Monica. For tickets call 310-394-9779 Ext. 1 or visit www.SantaMonicaPlayhouse.com.
“Blood” the world premiere of a political thriller with music about the “Japanese Tainted Blood Scandal,” in which nearly 2,000 people died of AIDS after U.S. companies knowingly sold contaminated blood to Japan. Written and directed by Robert Allan Ackerman, with music by Nick Ackerman and Chris Cester, it runs March 5 through April 3 at The Complex in Hollywood. For tickets call 323-960-7745 or visit www.plays411.com/blood.
“Going to a Place Where You Already Are” is a love story that explores—through humor and hilariously awkward characters—the meaning of life and the afterlife. Is there a heaven? Joe says no. His wife, Roberta, always has agreed with him, but lately she’s beginning to wonder since she’s at the age when funerals are more frequent than weddings. Their granddaughter, Ellie, doesn’t have time to ponder the afterlife. But when mortality confronts them, Roberta’s claim to have gone to heaven and back may not sound so crazy after all. Written by Bekah Brunstetter, and directed by Marc Masterson, it runs March 6 through March 27 at the South Coast Repertory on the Julianne Argyros Stage in Costa Mesa. For tickets call 714-708-5555 or visit www.scr.org.
“Sex With Strangers” When frustrated novelist Olivia meets fast-talking blogger Ethan – known more for his sexual prowess than his prose – she worries she will become just another chapter in his little black book. Their funny and flirty union blurs the lines between rewrites, romance and royalties – proving you can’t judge a book by its author. Written by Laura Eason, and directed by Kimberly Senior, it runs March 9 through April 10 at the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. For tickets call 310-208-5454 or visit www.geffenplayhouse.com.
“Cloud 9” Recommended for mature audiences. Fractures the conventional comedy in a wickedly funny, take-no-prisoners carnal romp. In the wilds of 19th century Africa, the colonizers are restless in more ways than one. Friends and family flirt and fumble with power, gender and sexuality, hilariously pushing against the boundaries of Victorian imperialism. Fast forward 100 years to the concrete jungle of London, where the Victorian legacy finally explodes in a blast of sexual awakening, self-acceptance and delectable humor. Presented by Antaeus Theatre Company in a fully partner-cast production. Written by Caryl Churchill, and directed by Casey Stangl, it runs March 10 through April 24 at the Antaeus Theatre Company in North Hollywood. For tickets call 818-506-1983 or visit www.Antaeus.org.
“Man of La Mancha” tells the story of the “mad” knight, Don Quixote, as a play within a play, performed by Cervantes, his manservant, and his fellow prisoners as he awaits a hearing with the Spanish Inquisition. Cervantes takes out a makeup kit from his trunk and in a few short moments, transforms himself into Alonso Quijana, an old gentleman who has read so many books on chivalry and thought so much about injustice that he has lost his mind and now believes he should go forth as a knight-errant, renaming himself Don Quixote de La Mancha and setting out to find adventures with his “squire” Sancho Panza. Quixote attempts to avoid his mortal enemy, the Enchanter, and woo the serving wench and prostitute, Aldonza, who he takes to be the lady Dulcinea. The musical continues to play in many countries around the world with its principal song, “The Impossible Dream” a much-loved standard. Written by Dale Wasserman, with music by Mitch Leigh, lyrics by Joe Darion, and directed by Susan Goldman Weisbarth, it runs March 11 through April 16 at the Westchester Playhouse in Los Angeles. For tickets call 310-645-5156 or visit www.kentwoodplayers.org.
“Spies Are Forever” His name is Mega, Curt Mega. He’s America’s greatest superspy, one of a very few individuals called upon to save the planet on a regular basis while plunging into a world of danger, fast cars and lovely women (or is it lovely cars and fast women?). While on one particularly dangerous mission in 1959, he apparently causes the death of his British counterpart and best friend through carelessness. Mega subsequently sinks into an alcoholic decline. Four years later, Mega has a chance to redeem himself, as he’s called upon to undertake another dangerous assignment. He’ll have to prevent a Nazi imperial resurgence and recover a bomb. Does he still have what it takes? In an unlikely turn of events, he’ll have to join forces with a beautiful femme fatale Russian spy. But she has hidden agendas of her own. Will Mega be able to resist her seductive charms? (The answer is yes, but it would be a spoiler to reveal how and why in this release.) There are plots within plots and layers upon layers of villains to defeat. Will Curt Mega and the lovely Tatiana be able to save the world from a hideous fate? A clue is contained in the title: Spies Are Forever. Oh, yes: This is a musical. There will be singing and dancing. Written by Tin Can Brothers, with music by TalkFine, and directed by Corey Lubowich, it runs March 11 through April 3 at the NoHo Arts Center in North Hollywood. For tickets call 800-838-3006 or visit www.spiesareforever.diamonds.
“Casa Valentina” is a moving and insightful play set in an inconspicuous bungalow colony nestled in the Catskills in 1962, the land of dirty dancing and borscht belt comedy. Based on real events, Casa Valentina is more than a place to retire from the sweltering summer heat. For a group of heterosexual men it is a place to escape. Written by Harvey Fierstein, and directed by David Lee, it runs March 15 through April 10 at the Pasadena Playhouse in Pasadena. For tickets call 626-356-7529 or visit www.PasadenaPlayhouse.org.
“Stopping By” The world premiere of actress Barbara Tarbuck’s loving, touching and often hilarious solo show about an older woman’s encounter with the vast open space, violent dust storms, glowing night skies and uninhibited joy of thousands at Burning Man. Written by Barbara Tarbuck, and directed by Brian Drillinger, it runs March 16 through April 6 at the Atwater Village Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets call 310-307-3753 or visit www.EchoTheaterCompany.com.
“A Shred of Evidence” Richard Medway is a corporate functionary about to be elevated to a major executive post. He has a lovely, devoted wife, a smart daughter about to enter college, and a young son away at boarding school. The Medways have a beautiful home on a country road in Guildford, outside of London. One night, he arrives home drunk after attending a rugby club reunion dinner. The next day, he hears an item on the radio about a hit-and-run slaying a few miles from his home and comes to believe that he may have been the perpetrator of this horrible crime. He isn’t quite sure of it; he was too drunk the previous evening to clearly remember what he did and where he went. But circumstantial evidence begins to mount against him, and he begins to work at covering his tracks. He has the misfortune to cross the path of a pair of nasty blackmailers. Is Richard in fact a drunk-driving murderer? Will the events of one fateful night destroy him, his career, his marriage, his family? Written by R.C. Sherriff, and directed by Jules Aaron, it runs March 17 through April 11 at the Theatre 40, in the Reuben Cordova Theatre in Beverly Hills. For tickets call 310-364-0535 or visit www.theatre40.org.
“Bach at Leipzig” Leipzig, Germany – 1722. Johann Kuhnau, revered organist of the Thomaskirche, suddenly dies, leaving his post vacant. The town council invites musicians to audition for the coveted position, among them young Johann Sebastian Bach. Imagine Amadeus meets The Three Stooges. Written by Itamar Moses, and directed by Calvin Remsberg, it runs March 18 through May 1 at the Lonny Chapman Theatre in North Hollywood. For tickets call 818-763-5990 or visit www.thegrouprep.com.
“Liza and Judy Together Again” Starring Denise Rose as “Judy” and Suzanne Goulet as “Liza” – Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli, the most famous mother and daughter entertainers the world of show business has ever seen, performed only just a few times “Together”. In 1963, Judy introduced to the world her daughter, Liza, on the Judy Garland TV show and in 1964 they had a concert at the Palladium in London. Yes, it’s the highly acclaimed Judy who gave her teenage daughter her first taste of show business. The world, unfortunately, never saw them performed “Together Again” as Judy passed away before Liza was successfully recognized as her mother’s equal. “Judy & Liza Together Again” is a tribute show with a concept that fulfills many people’s desire, which is to see the experienced Liza at her peak, back together with her proud mother. Denise and Suzanne have the looks, the voices and the dancing ability to make this fantasy come true. They also have the great energy that the originals always brought on stage and most importantly, they transmit the love they had for each other. “Judy” and “Liza” sing lots of duets, dance to old style choreography and have moving dialogues. The “Cabaret Dancers” join our stars with a high level of energy and together they recreate classic production numbers like Get Happy, Swanee, Bye Bye Blackbird, City Lights, etc. At the end of the show, it is revealed that it was a reverie … a day dream in which “Liza” let’s her mother know, with the help of video clips, that “It was a good time, it was the BEST time”. Written and directed by Denise Rose and Suzanne Goulet, it runs March 18 through March 20 at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood. For tickets call 818-508-4200 or visit www.elportaltheatre.com.
“Down on Your Knees & Up to the Moon” is a new jukebox musical set against the backdrops of both the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs, both of which took place in New York. At the World’s Fairs, new technology offered promises of a bright utopian future. Inventors and celebrities converge at a swank hotel. Glamor and wealth attract beautiful women with burning lips in glittering gowns and the bright young men who woo them. There’s the giddy excitement and romance (some of it very sudden) that come with a very special event. But where’s there’s wealth (or the potential of new wealth in technological advances), there will be thieves. And where there are thieves, there will be detectives, men and women who will do their best to ensnare them. Some of the circumstances and events of both of these New York World’s Fairs are remarkably similar. The more things change, the more they stay the same. What changes most radically in the intervening 25 years is the music, as we emerge from the golden years of the great American songbook and transition to the era of rock and pop and the early days of the British invasion. One constant among the two fairs is the presence of a psychic fortune teller who always tells the truth and is uncannily accurate. A crook tries to frame her for larceny. Couples fall for each other with reckless abandon. And always, there is music, music, music. Written by Gloria Gifford, Lucy Walsh, Jade Warner, Lauren Plaxco, Chad Doreck, Billy Budinich and Danny Siegel, and directed by Gloria Gifford, it runs March 19 through April 30 at the T.U. Studios in North Hollywood. For tickets call 310-366-5505 or visit www.tix.com.
“Future Thinking” Pet photographer and middle-aged super fan, Peter, finds himself in a makeshift interrogation room with Comic Con security—the outcome of violating a restraining order placed against him by his favorite television starlet, Chiara. Despite this setback, Peter is determined to fulfill his destiny—fantasies of a dream world, where they happily live together forever. Meanwhile, the only thing Chiara cares about is how to ditch her stage mom, her bodyguard and the demands that come with being a rising sci-fi star. Written by Eliza Clark, and directed by Lila Neugebauer, it runs March 25 through April 24 at the South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa. For tickets call 714-708-5555 or visit www.scr.org.
“Waiting for Johnny Depp” Inspired by true events in the lives of the creators, the story takes us on a wild ride with New York actress Rita Donatella, in her quest to land a starring role in a Johnny Depp film. She constantly re-invents herself to be more perfect for the role, as she navigates the rough waters of surviving in the big apple with her dream intact. Written by Janet Cole Valdez and Deedee O’Malley, with music by Bettie Ross, Janet Cole Valdez and Deedee O’Malley, and directed by Holly Friedman, it runs March 25 through June 10 at the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks. For tickets call 800-838-3006 or visit www.johnnydepp.brownpapertickets.com.
“Dreamgirls” Full of onstage joy and backstage drama, this sensational new production tells the story of an up-and-coming 1960s girl singing group, and the triumphs and tribulations that come with fame and fortune. With music by Academy Award nominee Henry Krieger and book and lyrics by Tony and Grammy Award winner Tom Eyen, it features the unforgettable hits: “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” “One Night Only” and “Listen.” This Tony and Academy Award winning musical sparkles like never before. Written by Tom Eyen, with music by Henry Krieger, and directed by Robert Longbottom, it runs March 26 through April 17 at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts in La Mirada. For tickets call 562-944-9801 or visit www.lamiradatheatre.com.
“La Olla” sets the action in Los Angeles in the 1950s at a Mexican night club. The night club’s guardian spirit intends for a four-pound pot of gold to benefit young Phaedria, a conscientious and good-hearted woman. But the pot falls into the hands of her father Euclio, a clown and bit player in the club’s floor show. He immediately becomes consumed by greed and attendant paranoia, not to mention an obsession with becoming the show’s star. Several other individuals become aware of the treasure in Euclio’s possession and wish to relieve him of its custody. Phaedria, meanwhile, replaces a drunken diva as the show’s star female singer. But she needs to conceal her growing baby bump, courtesy of her lover Lyconides. But Euclio has promised her hand in marriage to Lyconides’ well-to-do uncle Megadorus, a man of “ambiguous” sexual orientation. Lyconides loves Phaedria and wants to be a father to her baby. Will he be reunited with Phaedria in time? Will Euclio become a star? Who will wind up with a fortune in gold? There’s laughter, singing and dancing as this very modern version of an old tale comes to life on stage. Its themes of greed, obsession, family and love will resonate with audiences between laughs, as the story is spun in a spirit of fun. Written by Evelina Fernandez, and directed by Jose Luis Valenzuela, it runs March 26 through April 24 at the Los Angeles Theatre Center in Los Angeles. For tickets call 866-811-4111 or visit www.thelatc.org.
“Utopia” After investing his entire life savings into a condemned building, Martin Tomas, a 40-something burgeoning art impresario, is committed to establishing his name and his studio as a way to bring culture back to the neighborhood. He calls on David, his old art school friend, who’s made a small name for himself in the art world of Albuquerque, New Mexico, to ensure a successful opening of his new art space. Together the two are excited and hopeful, working to beat the clock and sharing laughs about family, life, and old times before old grudges and rivalries begin to surface. A dispute between the two regarding a high profile police brutality case tests their friendship, further jeopardizing the show’s production. As they near the opening, it becomes clear that things inside the studio and within the community are a lot more complicated and violent than they appeared to be, driving each of them to suspect the other and question why they do what they do, and ultimately what kind of people they’ve become. Written by David Douglas and Martin Head, and directed by Katherine Whitney, it runs through March 5 at the Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles. For tickets visit www.bootlegtheater.org/event/1081873-city-players-utopia-los-angeles.
“Dusk Rings a Bell” In this romantic and wistful dramedy, Molly and Ray unexpectedly meet 25 years after a one-afternoon adolescent fling. Their encounter reveals two vastly different paths taken and two lonely souls attempting to reclaim a moment of possibility, when they were young and perhaps at their very best. This poignant drama explores the fragile threads that bind the heart and the choices we make that break them. Written by Stephen Belber, and directed by John Hindman, it runs through March 13 at the Lounge Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets call 323-960-7784 or visit www.plays411.com/dusk.
“My Fair Lady” Henry Higgins wagers he can transform a Cockney flower girl into an aristocratic lady never dreaming he will be transformed! A sparkling score of enduring favorites includes “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” “The Rain in Spain,” and “Get Me to the Church on Time.” My Fair Lady is a joyful, crowd-pleasing celebration for the entire family. Written by Alan Jay Lerner, with music by Frederick Loewe, and directed by Tim Dietlein, it runs through April 2 at the Glendale Centre Theatre in Glendale. For tickets call 818-244-8481 or visit www.glendalecentretheatre.com.
“The Unauthorized Musical Parody of The Devil Wears Prada” Rockwell weaves in its signature brand of campiness and musical zaniness to the hit 2006 movie about the boss everyone loves to hate. Kelley Jakle and Lana McKissack alternately portray Andy, the fresh-faced assistant who must endure her employer’s wrath in the fast paced world of high fashion. In addition to its seam-splitting hijinks and hilarious musical score, Rockwell pushes things over the top once again. Actors Drew Droege (Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse) and John Flynn (Upright Citizen’s Brigade) alternately play the maniacal role of Miranda Priestly, the devilishly demanding and narcissistic editor-in-chief of fashion bible Runway Magazine. Written by Ray Wetmore, and directed by Tye Blue, it runs through May 8 at the Rockwell Table & Stage in Los Angeles. For tickets visit www.rockwell-la.com.
If all of that doesn’t give you enough reasons to go out and see a show, then we don’t know what will.