Theater in L.A. this week: John Leguizamo’s ‘Latin History for Morons’ and more

John Leguizamo in "Latin History for Morons," opening at the Ahmanson Theatre on Sept. 8.
(Matthew Murphy)

Here is a list of new plays, Critics’ Choices and more for Sept. 1-8. Capsule reviews are by Charles McNulty (C.M.), Philip Brandes (P.B.), F. Kathleen Foley (F.K.F.), Margaret Gray (M.G.) and Daryl H. Miller (D.H.M.).


Magic Monday Albie Selznick (“Smoke and Mirrors”) hosts this weekly showcase for magicians and variety acts. Mon., 8 p.m.; ends Aug. 30. Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 4th St., Santa Monica. $40; discounts and passes available. (310) 450-2849.

Fortunate Son: America’s Tribute to Creedence Clearwater Revival Brad Ford and band salute the classic rockers. El Portal Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. Tue., 7:30 p.m. $35. (866) 811-4111.

The Heal A wounded and abandoned warrior is entreated to return the fray during the Trojan War in writer-director Aaron Posner’s update of Sophocles’ ancient drama “Philoctetes”; co-presented by Maryland’s Round House Theatre. Getty Villa, 17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades. Thu.-Sat., 8 p.m.; ends Sept. 28. $36-$48. (310) 440-7300.


The Mis-Leading Lady Staged reading of Jay Quantrill’s play about a struggling classical actress. Actors Co-op, David Schall Theatre, 1760 N. Gower St., Hollywood. Thu, Sat., 8 p.m. $10 suggested donation.

Willy’s Lil Virgin Queen Writer-performer Terra Taylor Knudson views her life’s journey through the lens of Shakespeare in this solo show. The Garage Theatre, 251 E. 7th St., Long Beach. Thu.-Sat., 8 p.m. $20.

Bless Your Heart A young man goes up against his evangelical family to try to stop his teenage brother’s wedding to a preacher’s daughter in Richard Camp’s comedy drama. Ojai Art Center Theater, 113 S. Montgomery St., Ojai. Fri.-Sat., 7:30 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Sept. 29. $10-$25. (805) 640-8797.

Fool for Love Former lovers reunite at a desert motel in Sam Shepard’s drama. The Sherry Theater, 11052 W. Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 7 p.m.; ends Sept. 22. $20. (800) 838-3006.

Little Island of Joy Staged reading of Christopher Carlson’s drama about deaf and blind activist and author Helen Keller’s later-in-life romance. Actors Co-op, David Schall Theatre, 1760 N. Gower St., Hollywood. Fri., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2:30 p.m. $10 suggested donation.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream Family-friendly take on Shakespeare’s sylvan fantasy. Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. Fri.-Sat., 8:30 p.m.; ends Sept. 28. (818) 202-4120.

Self-Injurious Behavior Writer-performer Jessica Cavanagh costars in this new autobiographical drama about a divorced mother with a severely autistic son; includes mature content and language. Theatre 68, 5112 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Sept. 28. $30. (800) 838-3006.

Stage Raw/PLAY LA Theater Festival Features readings of new works plus panel discussions, and concludes with the 2019 Stage Raw Theater Awards. Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring St., Downtown L.A. Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., noon, 3, 5 and 8 p.m.; next Sun., noon, 3 and 5 p.m.; next Mon., 7:30 p.m. Readings, free; awards ceremony, $25.

Stupid ... Bird Aaron Posner’s comedy updates “The Seagull,” the classic Chekhov drama about a playwright, his actress mother and others. Ophelia’s Jump Productions, 2009 Porterfield Way, Upland. Fri,-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 4 p.m.; ends Sept. 28. $28. (909) 734-6565.

Theatricum Unmasked Company members share behind-the-scenes stories in this entry in the “Under the Oaks” series. Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga. Fri., 7:30 p.m. $25. (310) 455-3723.

To Dad with Love: A Tribute to Buddy Ebsen Kiki Ebsen salutes her father, the late film and television star (“Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Barnaby Jones”). Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, L.A. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Sept. 22. $20, $25; VIP package, $40. (323) 851-7977.

The Chinese Lady A teenage girl from China is brought to 19th-century America and put on display in a museum in Lloyd Suh’s fact-based drama. Greenway Court Theatre, 544 N. Fairfax Ave, L.A. Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 4 p.m.; ends Sept. 29. $25, $34. (323) 673-0544.

Ryan Hamilton The veteran comic performs. Scherr Forum Theatre, Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza Box Office, 2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks. Sat., 7:30 p.m. $34. (800) 745-3000.

Handjob Various issues arise when a gay writer hires a man to work as a “shirtless cleaner” in the premiere of Erik Patterson’s dark comedy; includes adult content, male nudity. Echo Theater Company, Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave., L.A. Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 4 p.m.; ends Oct. 21. $34; Mondays, $20 in advance, pay what you want at the door. (310) 307-3753.

Love &/Or Fear: A Celebration of Genders Large-scale public event features performance art, dance, visual art, workshops, etc. Public sidewalks, 6500-6600 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. Sat., 8 to 11 p.m. Free.

Pam Ann Returns Australian comic Caroline Reid’s alter ego sends up air travel. The Montalbán, 1615 N. Vine St., Hollywood. Sat., 7 p.m. $49-$101. (323) 461-6999.

Dirty Disney Drag artist Sherry Vine guest stars in this off-color musical send-up. Cavern Club Celebrity Theater, Casita del Campo, 1920 Hyperion Ave., L.A. Next Sun., 7 p.m. $25. (800) 838-3006.

Latin History for Morons Writer-performer John Leguizamo salutes little-known Latin American heroes in this solo comedy. Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., L.A. Next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Oct. 20. $35-$145. (213) 972-4400.

The Queen’s Fool SkyPilot Theatre Company’s Runway series continues with a reading of Kristina Lloyd’s gender-fluid tale inspired by Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.” Oh My Ribs! Theater, 6468 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A. Next Sun., 8 p.m. $5.

Critics’ Choices

Andy Warhol’s Tomato In this deftly staged debut, Vince Melocchi’s two-hander imagines an encounter in 1946 Pittsburgh between 18-year old Warhol (only an aspiring commercial artist at that point) and a blue-collar barkeep harboring secret dreams of becoming a writer. Carefully researched factual accuracy notwithstanding, the play isn’t so much a biographical portrait as a touching exploration of cultural division bridged by a fundamental human need to create. (P.B.) Pacific Resident Theatre, 703 Venice Blvd., Venice. Sun., next Sun., 3 p.m.; Thu.-Sat., 8 p.m.; ends Sept. 22. $25-$34. (310) 822-8392.

Fefu and Her Friends There are many reasons to recommend the new production of María Irene Fornés’ feminist theater classic, but chief among them is the rarity of this opportunity. This is play that’s taught more often than it’s performed — mostly because of the logistical difficulties it poses. Long before immersive theater was a trend, Fornés was experimenting with the form by having the middle section of “Fefu” take place in four different rooms. The audience breaks up into groups, with each group taking turns eavesdropping on a different set of characters. Director Denise Blasor handles this challenge ingeniously in a production that, fittingly for a work on the necessity of female community as a corrective to patriarchal culture, is distinguished by its teamwork. (C.M.) Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West L.A. Sun., next Sun., 2 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; ends Sept. 29. $32-$37. (310) 477-2055.

Frankenstein In a potent mix of horror and eloquence, Nick Dear’s refreshingly literate and deeply philosophical adaptation elegantly streamlines Mary Shelley’s novel, illuminating the prescient scientific, medical, and ethical questions it posed over two centuries ago. (P.B.) A Noise Within, 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena. Sun., next Sun., 2 p.m.; Thu., 7:30 p.m.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 and 8 p.m.; ends Sept. 8. $25 and up; student rush, $20; group discounts available. (626) 356-3121.

Moby Dick — Rehearsed Director Ellen Geer and a cast of 19 imaginatively bring to life Orson Welles’ 1955 adaptation of Herman Melville’s philosophical whaling novel, constructing the Pequod of little more than a bit of rope and sending it into the rolling Atlantic. The ghostly title cetacean isn’t physically manifested, but we see it nevertheless in the wonder and terror in the actors’ eyes. (D.H.M.) Sun., 4 p.m.; Sat., 8 p.m.; ends Sept. 29. $10-$42; 4 and under, free. (310) 455-3723.

Scraps Beginning as a slice of inner-city life, Geraldine Inoa’s drama is set in Bedford-Stuyvesant, where Jay-Z famously rapped his way out of the projects. A stoop scrawled with graffiti is the site of the gripping first part of this 90-minute play about a group of black neighbors in their early 20s whose lives have been upended by the death of one of their own at the hands of a white police officer. The work radically shifts gears in the second part, shooting off into the surreal as a way out of the maddening historical loop. (C.M.) The Matrix Theatre, 7657 Melrose Ave., L.A. Sun., next Sun., 3 p.m.; Mon., Sat., 8 p.m.; ends Sept. 15. $35; Mondays, pay what you can ($10 minimum), at the door only. (323) 960-7711.