Theater in L.A. this week: Bill Irwin’s ‘On Beckett,’ Ethan Coen’s ‘A Play Is a Poem’ and more

Bill Irwin stars in “On Beckett” at the Kirk Douglas Theatre.
(Carol Rosegg)

Here is a list of new plays, Critics’ Choices, etc. in for Sept. 15-22. 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.).


All My Sons A family is torn apart by greed and deceit in Arthur Miller’s classic drama. Pacific Resident Theatre, 703 Venice Blvd., Venice. Sun., next Sun., 3 p.m.; Thu.-Sat., 8 p.m.; ends Nov. 19. $29. (310) 822-8392.

Dirty Tricks w/ The New Bad Boys of Magic Daniel Donohue and Eric Siegel mix magic and comedy; ages 21 and up only. The Three Clubs, 1123 Vine St., Hollywood. Sun., 8 p.m. $10.

Los Tres Tristes Tigres: No Es Concierto (Is Not a Concert) The trio performs a mix of music and comedy; in Spanish. The Montalbán, 1615 N. Vine St., Hollywood. Sun., 7 p.m. $35-$135. (323) 461-6999.


Ruben Sings Luther “American Idol’s” Ruben Studdard pays tribute to the late R&B star Luther Vandross. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, 18000 Park Plaza Drive, Cerritos. Sun., 7 p.m. $40-$70. (562) 916-8500.

Unforgettable A fashion major is forced to spend spring break with her Japanese grandmother, who suffers from dementia, in Rochelle Perry’s drama. Write Act Repertory Theatre @ The Brickhouse Theatre, 10950 Peach Grove St., North Hollywood. Sun., next Sun., 2 p.m.; Sat., 8 p.m.; ends Oct. 13. $15. (800) 838-3006.

The Eric Seppala Cabaret Show — Let’s Make Believe Seppala is joined by special guests for an evening of music and comedy. The Cavern Club @ Casita Del Campo, 1920 Hyperion Ave., L.A. Mon.-Tue., 8 p.m. $25. (800) 838-3006.

The Living Room Series Staged reading of Sean Waldron’s “Nixon on Nixon.” The Blank’s 2nd Stage Theatre, 6500 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. Mon., 8 p.m. $15 suggested donation. (323) 661-9827.

Center Theatre Group Library Play Reading Series “The Rodriguezes: A Mariachi Story” by Rosalie Rodriguez; in English and Spanish. Benjamin Franklin Library, 2200 E. 1st St., L.A. Tue., 6 p.m. Also at: Malabar Library, 2801 Wabash Ave., L.A. Wed., 6 p.m.; and Robert Louis Stevenson Library, 803 Spence St., L.A. Thu., 6 p.m. Free.

Pamela Shaw Is Naughty with a Band The actress-singer shares songs and stories. Feinstein’s at Vitello’s, 4349 Tujunga Ave., Studio City. Tue., 8 p.m. $20, $30; food and beverage minimums apply. (818) 769-0905.

On Beckett Tony winner Bill Irwin explores the works of the Nobel Prize-winning Irish writer of classics like “Waiting for Godot.” Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City. Wed.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 and 8 p.m.; next Sun., 1 and 6:30 p.m.; ends Oct. 27. $30-$75. (213) 628-2772.

Sisters in Law Tovah Feldshuh and Stephanie Faracy portray Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, respectively, in the West Coast premiere of Jonathan Shapiro’s docudrama. Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Lovelace Studio Theater, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills. Wed.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2:30 and 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2:30 and 7:30 p.m.; ends Oct. 13. $60. (310) 746-4000.

Treya’s Last Dance Writer-performer Shyam Bhatt explores themes of grief, identity and sexuality in this one-hour comedy-drama. Hudson Guild Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. Wed., 8 p.m.; ends Oct. 23. $20-$35. (323) 965-9996.

American Standard: A Story of Enough West Coast premiere of writer-performer Lilly Bright’s solo show about her years-long struggle with bulimia. Highways Performance Space, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica. Thu.-Fri., 8:30 p.m.; Sat., 2 p.m.; ends Sept. 28. $15, $25.

Experience 20: Queens & Kings, A Royal Drag Show “Wizard of Oz”-inspired show with Crystal Palace, Die Anna and others; for ages 18 and up. El Segundo Museum of Art (ESMoA), 208 Main St., El Segundo. Thu., 6:30 p.m. Free. (424) 277-1020.

The Surveillance Trilogy Three tales by Leda Siskind, set in the 1950s L.A., 2017 Havana and present-day Encino, about everyday people being spied upon. Theatre 40, Reuben Cordova Theatre, 241 S. Moreno Drive, Beverly Hills. Thu., 8 p.m.; Fri., 7 p.m.; Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Oct. 14. $35. (310) 364-0535.

Tarantina: The Un-Official Quentin Tarantino Cabaret Showcase Burlesque show celebrates the heroines in the director’s films. Club Bahia, 1130 Sunset Blvd., L.A. Thu., 9:15 p.m. $25-$300.

Adieu Monsieur Haffmann Jean-Philippe Daguerre’s drama about a jewelry-shop owner in Nazi-occupied Paris; in French with English supertitles. Fri., 7:30 p.m. $20, $30. (310) 286-0553.

Crazy Ladies Katherine Griffith portrays multiple characters in this solo show; part of 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.

Fertile Writer-performer Heather Dowling’s solo show about a 30-something woman looking to conceive a child. The Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. Fri., 8 p.m.; ends Oct. 18. $20.

Monty Python’s Spamalot Musical inspired by the British comedy troupe’s 1975 film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” Rose Center Theater, 14140 All American Way, Westminster. Fri.-Sat., 7:30 p.m.; ends Sept. 29. $15, $20. (714) 793-1150.

Tig Notaro The comic performs. Lewis Family Playhouse, 12505 Cultural Center Drive, Rancho Cucamonga. Fri., 8 p.m. $38-$46. (909) 477-2752.

Risk! David Crabb hosts this live storytelling event. Dynasty Typewriter at The Hayworth, 2511 Wilshire Blvd., L.A. Fri., 10 p.m. (657) 222-6147.

The Spanish Prayer Book An atheist inherits a collection of centuries-old illuminated manuscripts in Angela J. Davis’ new drama. The Road on Magnolia, 10747 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Nov. 3. $15, $34. (818) 761-8838.

Supportive White Parents A young Asian American girl makes a peculiar wish in Joy Regullano’s hourlong musical comedy. The Second City Hollywood Studio Theatre, 6560 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. Fri., 8 p.m.; ends Dec. 3. $12. (323) 464-8542.

BD Wong: A Lecture on Cultural Diversity The Tony winner (“M. Butterfly”) speaks about self-image, Asian American parental pressure and more. Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Cal State L.A., 5151 State University Dr., L.A. Sat., 8 p.m. $30-$50. (323) 343-6600.

Sonia De Los Santos The singer-songwriter performs a bilingual, family-friendly show. Samueli Theater, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. Sat., 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.; next Sun., 1 and 3:30 p.m. $20. (714) 556-2787.

The Drowsy Chaperone Tony-winning musical comedy about a 1920s-era musical comedy. Morgan-Wixson Theatre, 2627 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica. Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Oct. 13. $23-$30. (310) 828-7519.

Grumpy Old Men: The Musical Two elderly former friends vie for the affections of an attractive new neighbor in this stage adaptation of the 1993 comedy; with Hal Linden, Ken Page, Cathy Rigby. La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, 14900 La Mirada Blvd., La Mirada. Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Oct. 13. $15-$84; discounts available. (562) 944-9801.

The Haunting of Hill House A professor and his team investigate paranormal occurrences at a spooky mansion in F. Andrew Leslie’s adaptation of the Shirley Jackson terror tale. Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach. Sat., 8 p.m.; ends Oct. 19. $14-$27. (562) 494-1014.

Las Mujeres del Mar (The Women of the Sea) Playwrights’ Arena stages Janine Salinas Schoenberg’s drama about three generations of women confronting their family’s history. Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave., L.A. Sat., 4 and 8 p.m.; next Sun., 4 p.m.; ends Oct. 14. $30, $40; discounts available. (800) 838-3006.

Last Swallows Convinced her retiree husband is soon to die, a woman plans a family get-together with their grown children in Cailin Harrison’s new comedy drama. The Other Space @The Actors Company, 916-A N. Formosa Ave., West Hollywood. $30. Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Oct. 20. (323) 960-5770.

Linda Eder: An Evening of Broadway Hits & Standards The showbiz veteran performs. Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine. Sat., 8 p.m. $50-$175. (949) 854-4646.

Marleena Barber: Thank You for the Music Barber tells her story of growing up legally blind due to albinism in this cabaret show. Ruth B. Shannon Center for the Performing Arts, 6760 Painter Ave., Whittier. Sat., 7:30 p.m. $10, $25. (562) 907-4203.

Miss Lilly Gets Boned A Sunday school teacher has a sexual awakening, while elsewhere, an elephant grows restless in captivity in Bekah Brunstetter’s comedy. Rogue Machine Theatre, Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Ave., Venice. Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 3 p.m; ends Oct. 28. $25, $40. (855) 585-5185.

Never Is Now Wendy Kout’s drama based on the stories of survivors of the Nazis’ genocidal regime. Skylight Theatre, 1816 N. Vermont. Ave. Los Feliz. Sat., 8:30 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Oct. 27. $20 and up; discounts available; opening night only, $75. (866) 811-4111.

A Play Is a Poem “Fargo” filmmaker Ethan Coen’s new collection of five short tales about Americans from all walks of life. Mark Taper Forum, 135 N. Grand Ave., L.A. Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 1 p.m.; ends Oct. 13. $25-$110. (213) 628-2772.

Rita Rudner The veteran comic performs. Scherr Forum Theatre, Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza Box Office, 2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks. Sat., 6 and 8:30 p.m. $49. (800) 745-3000.

Sandra Bernhard: Quick Sand The comic, singer and actress returns with her latest stage show. Carpenter Performing Arts Center, 6200 Atherton St. Long Beach. Sat., 8 p.m. $60. (562) 985-7000.

Sing-a-long Sound of Music Celebration of the beloved 1965 Julie Andrews film based on the Broadway musical about a young woman who leaves the convent to become governess to an Austrian widower’s children. Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood. Sat., 6 p.m. $12-$99. (323) 850-2000.

The Australian Pink Floyd Show: All That You Love World Tour 2019 Tribute act salutes the British rock band. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, 18000 Park Plaza Drive, Cerritos. Next Sun., 7 p.m. $50-$85. (562) 916-8500.

Barnum Musical Theatre Guild opens its 24th season with a concert performance of this Tony-winning tale about the 19th-century showman. The Alex Theatre, 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale. Next Sun., 7 p.m. $45, $49. (818) 243-2539.

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. 28. $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.; Thu.-Sat., 8 p.m.; ends Sept. 29. $32-$37. (310)

The Gin Game Real-life husband and wife Alan Blumenfeld and Katherine James illuminate the darker loneliness and desperation beneath the comedy in D.L. Coburn’s deceptively simple two-hander, providing an opportunity to see two of L.A.’s most accomplished actors at the top of their game. (P.B.) Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga. Sun., Sat.-next Sun., 1 p.m.; ends Sept. 29. $10-$38; ages 4 and under, free. (310) 455-3723.

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., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 4 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. Ends Sun., 3 p.m. $35. (323) 960-7711.

Witch Jen Silverman’s delightful and provocative “riff” on a Jacobean tragicomedy, “The Witch of Edmonton,” opens the Geffen Playhouse’s 2019/2020 season, starring Maura Tierney in the title role of Elizabeth Sawyer, whom the villagers believe (wrongly) to be a witch. The devil, a smooth-talking salesman, happens to be in the area, shopping for souls in a dysfunctional noble family. He approaches Elizabeth with a pitch, assuming she’ll jump at the chance to take revenge on her accusers. When she hesitates, he’s intrigued, and the two develop an unexpected rapport, hanging out all night talking about the big issues — gender roles, the meaning of life, and whether human society will ever get any better or whether it might be time to toss it out and start again. Silverman’s zingy script gives the design team and the lively, charming cast endless opportunities to amuse. (M.G.) Geffen Playhouse, Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Westwood. Sun., next Sun., 2 and 7 p.m.; Tue.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 and 8 p.m.; ends Sept. 29. $30-$130. (310) 208-5454.