Here are some of the shows you can see in our local theaters this month:
“The Importance of Being Earnest” features two carefree bachelors, Jack and Algernon, each with a carefully hidden double life. But when Algernon discovers that Jack has been posing as a man named Ernest to escape to the city, he promptly travels to Jack’s country estate to pose as the fictional figure himself! Silliness ensues with whimsical ingénues, jealous fiancées, indomitable dowagers, and the most famous handbag in theatre history. Written by Oscar Wilde, and directed by Michael Marchak, it runs February 1 through March 31 at the Crown City Theatre Company in North Hollywood. For tickets call 818-605-5685 or visit www.crowncitytheatre.com.
“Too Heavy for Your Pocket” In rural Tennessee at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, two young African-American couples struggle to understand justice, love, and their own responsibilities. It beautifully explores the sacrifices and tolls in the fight for freedom and equality that are placed, not only on the fighters, but the people they love. Written by Jiréh Breon Holder, and directed by Michael Shepperd, it runs February 1 through March 2 at the Black Box Theater space of the Broadwater Theater Complex in Los Angeles. For tickets visit www.sacredfools.org.
“Accidental Death of an Anarchist” a madman, who invades a police station interrogation room where an anarchist accused of bombing a railway station has recently “accidentally” fallen out of a window. Donning various disguises and voices, the madman manipulates policemen into a truth-inducing hysteria. Written by Dario Fo, and directed by Will Thomas McFadden, it runs February 2 through March 9 at the Actors’ Gang Theatre at Ivy Substation in Culver City. For tickets call 310-838-4264 or visit www.TheActorsGang.com.
“Heisenberg” Sweet, sexy and full of surprises, the story follows two strangers whose lives intersect in a bustling London train station. Free-spirited Georgie, an American in her 40s, unexpectedly plants a kiss on the neck of Alex, an Irish butcher in his 70s. She doesn’t really know why. Or does she? When Georgie turns up in Alex’s shop a few days later, full of contradictions, his conventional life becomes chaotic, uncertain and undeniably richer. Peeling away the many layers of everyday relationships with subtle humor and quiet poeticism, this story brings to poignant theatrical life the uncertain and sometimes comical sparring match that is human connection. Written by Simon Stephens, and directed by Katharine Farmer, it runs February 2 through February 17 at the Rubicon Theatre Company in Ventura. For tickets call 805-667-2900 or visit www.rubicontheatre.org.
“Two Trains Running” It’s 1969 in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, where the regulars of Memphis Lee’s restaurant struggle to cope with the turbulence of a world that is rapidly changing around them. With compassion, humor and a superb sense of place and time, it paints a vivid portrait of everyday lives in the shadow of great events. Written by August Wilson, and directed by Michele Shay, it runs February 2 through March 3 at the Matrix Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets call 855-326-9945 or visit www.augustwilsonstwotrainsrunning.eventbrite.com.
“Whoopsie-Doopsie!” a quirky comedy about a popular, smart, good-looking guy whose world is turned upside down when his girlfriend delivers unwelcomed information. Written and directed by Art Shulman, it runs February 2 through March 3 at the Upstairs at the Group Rep in the Lonny Chapman Theatre in North Hollywood. For tickets call 818-763-5990 or visit www.thegrouprep.com.
“Julia Sweeney: Older and Wider” is a hilarious take on parenting, religion, cancer, feminism and even her iconic characters’ place in today’s modern landscape. It’s an evening of laughter with one of comedy’s most indelible, indestructible voices. Written and directed by Julia Sweeney, it runs February 5 through February 10 at the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. For tickets call 310-208-5454 or visit www.geffenplayhouse.org.
“Ragtime: The Musical” begins with an unforgettable sweeping, nine-minute opening number in which all strata of society of the early twentieth century are introduced: immigrant Jews in their ghetto, successful rich Protestants, and African Americans. The fictional characters – pianist Coalhouse Walker Jr., his child’s mother Sarah – who has become part of a respected family headed by the white Father and Mother – and a Latvian immigrant Tateh, are eventually joined by a parade of historic figures — Evelyn Nesbit, Booker T. Washington, J. P. Morgan, Henry Ford, Stanford White, Admiral Peary, Matthew Henson, Emma Goldman and even Harry Houdini – in this much appreciated and well-remembered musical. Written by Terrence McNally, with music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, and directed by David Lee, it runs February 5 through March 3 at the Pasadena Playhouse in Pasadena. For tickets call 626-356-7529 or visit www.pasadenaplayhouse.org.
“Witness Uganda” follows Griffin, a New York City-based American volunteer, as he arrives in Uganda to help build a village school and escape his church’s condemnation of his sexuality. When he falls into a complicated relationship with a group of destitute, orphaned teenagers, he finds himself driven by a mission that will change his and their lives forever. From the rolling hills of the Ugandan countryside to a stifling apartment in New York City, from a joyous celebration of African youth to a terrifying abduction 8,000 miles away, it explores the question, “is changing the world even possible?” Written by Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews, with music by Matt Gould, and directed by Griffin Matthews, it runs February 5 through February 24 at the Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts Lovelace Studio Theater in Beverly Hills. For tickets call 310-746-4000 or visit www.TheWallis.org/Witness.
“The Mountaintop” takes place on the night of April 3, 1968. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has just given one of his most impassioned and famous speeches to support sanitation workers during an intense strike in Memphis. Known as his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, he spoke as if he knew what might happen the next day. It is a dark night, and lighting and thunder crack the sky. Room 306, the Lorraine Motel. Tonight, it is just another stopover motel for Dr. King. Tomorrow, it becomes the scene of one of our nation’s greatest losses. Water stains pockmark the walls. Bright orange and fading brown sixties décor accent the room. The carpet is the color of bile. Dr. King, tired and hungry, wants cigarettes and coffee. But mostly he is weary. Written by Katori Hall, and directed by Gregg T. Daniel, it runs February 6 through March 10 at the Garry Marshall Theatre in Burbank. For tickets call 818-955-8101 or visit www.garrymarshalltheatre.org.
“Man of God” A hidden discovery in a hotel bathroom changes the lives of four Korean Christian girls on a mission trip to Thailand. Samantha is hurt that someone she trusted could betray her. Jen is worried about how this might affect her college applications. Kyung-Hwa thinks everyone should adjust their expectations. Mimi’s out for blood. Amid the neon lights and go-go bars in Bangkok, the girls plot revenge in this funny, feminist thriller. Written by Anna Moench, and directed by Jesca Prudencio, it runs February 7 through February 24 at the David Henry Hwang Theater in Los Angeles. For tickets call 213-625-7000 or visit www.eastwestplayers.org.
“1776 The Musical” the electrifying musical about the founding of America. Featuring a thrilling cast, this Tony Award-winning smash begins with a deadlocked Congress. Its attempts to adopt the Declaration of Independence are boiling over in heated confrontations. Sound familiar? Spoiler alert: by the evening of July 2nd, the two sides are still miles apart! Written by Peter Stone, with music by Sherman Edwards, and directed by Glenn Casale, it runs February 8 through February 10 at the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts in Northridge. For tickets call 818-677-3000 or visit www.TheSoraya.org.
“Anna Karenina” an upside-down telling of Tolstoy’s classic tale, this eight-person dramatic event is a fast-paced examination of love, adultery and marriage. Written by Helen Edmundson, adapted from the novel by Leo Tolstoy, and directed by Heather Chesley, it runs February 8 through March 17 at the Actors Co-op Crossley Theatre in Hollywood. For tickets call 323-462-8460 or visit www.ActorsCo-op.org.
“Miss America’s Ugly Daughter: Bess Myerson & Me” is a fascinating account of growing up a confused ugly duckling in the shadow of a spectacular mother. An awkward, chubby kid with frizzy hair, buck teeth and no obvious talent, Barra was beauty queen Myerson’s only child. The first and only Jewish Miss America, Myerson was famous — an accomplished pianist, television personality, New York City’s first Commissioner of Consumer Affairs, a close advisor to Mayor Ed Koch, and a national spokesperson against anti-Semitism — until she became infamous, falling in love with the wrong man and going down with her Mafia boyfriend in a judge-bribing scandal. In the play, Barra takes us on the journey of her life: a feisty struggle as she tries to fit in at school, meet the right man, find a career and forge her own place in the universe. But Bess (voiced off stage by Piper) is ever-present, fixated on “improving” Barra by molding her into a version of herself. Written by Barra Grant, with music by Mark Adler, and directed by Eve Brandstein, it runs February 8 through March 24 at the Greenway Court Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets call 323-285-2078 or visit www.MissAmericasUglyDaughter.com.
“Airport Encounters: Brace for Impact!” is a comedic anthology of inter-connected vignettes centered around a central hub that take a hard and hysterical look at human behaviors and the problems we face, all in real time as both weary and excited passengers pass through an airport and onto their next adventure. Featuring individual stories of the eclectic but all too familiar passengers written by a team of top writers, the stories comprise a bigger picture, a full show in itself, making for a truly unique theatrical experience from Neo Ensemble Theatre. Written by Elayne Heilveil, Mark Harvey Levine, Scott Mullen, Beth Polsky, Jessica Rowe and Rom Watson, and directed by June Carryl, David Bickford, Valerie Gould, Joe Ochman, Richard Pierce, Matthew Singletary and Lauren Smerkanich, it runs February 9 through February 24 at the Lounge Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets visit www.neoensembletheatre.org.
“Death of a Salesman” is a haunting and moving portrait of a man whose belief in, and pursuit of, the American dream ends in tatters. Written by Arthur Miller, and directed by Joseph Hanreddy, it runs February 9 through February 24 at the New Vic in Santa Barbara. For tickets call 805-965-5400 or visit www.etcsb.org.
“The Servant of Two Masters” Lombardi’s son Silvio loves Clarice, but her father, Pantalone, has promised her to the wealthy dung merchant Federigo Rasponi, who is really Beatrice Aretusi disguised as a man searching for her lover, the tango teacher Florindo, so they can run off and open a dance studio in Brooklyn. It’s complicated. Written by Carlo Goldoni, and directed by Lance Davis, it runs February 9 through March 10 at the Parson’s Nose Theater in Pasadena. For tickets call 626-403-7667 or visit www.parsonsnose.com.
“Lights Out: Nat “King” Cole” imagines Nat “King” Cole as he faces the final Christmastime broadcast of his groundbreaking variety show and weighs the advice of his friend Sammy Davis Jr. to “go out with a bang.” Cole’s hit songs, such as “Nature Boy,” “It’s a Good Day” and “Smile,” underscore this boldly original homage to the renowned performer who struggled to break through America’s color barrier in the early days of television. Written by Colman Domingo and Patricia McGregor, and directed by Patricia McGregor, it runs February 13 through March 17 at the Gil Cates Theater at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. For tickets call 310-208-5454 or visit www.geffenplayhouse.org.
“Born to Win” Pinky Corningfield has always dreamed of her daughter winning the “Supreme Queen.” So when Marge, a newcomer to the child pageant circuit, shows up with her daughter and starts grabbing all the glory, Pinky will stop at nothing to get the crown. Written by Matthew Wilkas and Mark Setlock, and directed by Michael Matthews, it runs February 15 through March 31 at the Celebration Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets call 323-957-1884 or visit www.celebrationtheatre.com.
“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” is the knock-’em-dead, uproarious romp filled with unforgettable music and non-stop laughs. When the low born Monty Navarro finds out that he’s eighth in line for an earldom in the lofty D’Ysquith family, he figures his chances of outliving his predecessors are slight and sets off down a far more murderous path. Can he knock off his unsuspecting relatives without being caught and become the ninth Earl of Highhurst? And what of love? This fun musical follows him on his adventures that will change the course of his future. Written by Robert L. Freedman, with music by Steve Lutvaki, lyrics by Robert L. Freedman and Steve Lutvaki, and directed by Peggy Hickey, it runs February 15 through March 3 at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts in Cerritos. For tickets call 562-916-8500 or visit www.Cerritoscenter.com.
“The Joy Wheel” Life is changing for Frank and Stella. On the night of Frank’s retirement party, this once loving and simple couple find themselves pulled in different directions as the winds of change blow through Joy, Illinois. The world is not what it was. Joy is not what it was. Stella is shaken, but inspired, by her best friend becoming a liberated, sexualized, independent woman, while Frank decides to emulate his doomsday prepper friend by building an underground bunker that once was the family swimming pool. It’s as if all of them are riding the Joy Wheel, hanging on to someone else so they can stay their ground. Written by Ian McRae, and directed by Jason Alexander, it runs February 15 through March 24 at the Ruskin Group Theatre in Santa Monica. For tickets call 310-397-3244 or visit www.ruskingrouptheatre.com.
“America Adjacent” In pursuit of the American Dream, six pregnant Filipina women risk everything. Confined to a one-bedroom one-bath unit in East Hollywood, they do their best to overcome fears of jail and deportation so that their children can have a better life. Playwright Boni B. Alvarez examines the promise of US Citizenship asking, “How far would we go to give our children a better future?” Written by Boni B. Alvarez, and directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera, it runs February 16 through March 24 at the Skylight Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets call 213-761-7061 or visit www.SkylightTix.org.
“Life Could Be a Dream” SH-BOOM! Meet fledgling doo-wop singing group the Crooning Crabcakes as they prepare to enter the Big Whopper Radio contest and realize their dreams of making it to the big time. The ’60s doo-wop songs in this award-winning jukebox musical say it all: “Fools Fall in Love,” “Tears on My Pillow,” “Runaround Sue,” “Earth Angel,” “Stay,” “Unchained Melody,” “Lonely Teardrops” and “The Glory of Love.” Written by Roger Bean, with music by Bill Wolfe, and directed by Jamie Torcellini, it runs February 22 through March 10 at the International City Theatre in Long Beach. For tickets call 562-436-4610 or visit www.InternationalCityTheatre.org.
“Hype Man” A hip-hop trio – frontman, hype man and beat maker – is on the verge of making it big on national TV when a police shooting of a black teen shakes the band to its core, forcing them to confront questions of race, gender, privilege and when to use artistic expression as an act of social protest. Written by Idris Goodwin, and directed by Deena Selenow, it runs February 23 through April 14 at the Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets call 323-663-1525 or visit www.FountainTheatre.com.
“The Judas Kiss” In spring of 1895, Oscar Wilde was larger than life. His masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest, was a hit in the West End and he was the toast of London. Yet by summer he was serving two years in prison for gross indecency. Punished for “the love that dare not speak its name,” Wilde remained devoted to his beloved, Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas. This story revolves around two pivotal moments in his life: the day when, cajoled by Bosie into an ill-fated trial, he decides to stay in England and face imprisonment, and a night when, after his release two years later, the lover for whom he risked everything betrays him again. Written by David Hare, and directed by Michael Michetti, it runs February 23 through March 24 at the Boston Court in Pasadena. For tickets call 626-683-6801 or visit www.BostonCourtPasadena.org.
“Tuesdays with Morrie” Mitch Albom, on his graduation day from Brandeis University, promises to stay in touch with his beloved sociology professor, Morrie Schwartz. Mitch gets busy with life and doesn’t keep his promise. At first, he’s a jazz pianist, but abandons that career when he becomes successful as a sports journalist and sportscaster. One night, he sees Morrie on ABC-TV’s Nightline with Ted Koppel. Morrie’s joie de vivre in the face of his challenges from Lou Gehrig’s Disease captivates the Nightline audience. Mitch re-connects with Morrie, flying in to see him ultimately every Tuesday (hence this play’s title). In the time that Morrie has left, he will equip Mitch for his life ahead. Written by Jeffrey Hatcher and Mitch Albom, and directed by L. Flint Esquerra, it runs February 23 through March 31 at the Sierra Madre Playhouse in Sierra Madre. For tickets call 626-355-4318 or visit www.sierramadreplayhouse.org.
“Blues in the Night” The 26 hot and torchy numbers – by icons Bessie Smith, Duke Ellington, Johnny Mercer, Harold Arlen and more – tell of the sweet, sexy and sorrowful experiences that three women have with the lying, cheating, snake of a man, who represents the men who do them wrong. Written and directed by Sheldon Epps, with music by Abdul Hamid Royal, it runs February 24 through March 10 at the Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach. For tickets call 949-497-2787 or visit www.lagunaplayhouse.com.