Theater in L.A. this week: ‘Gem of the Ocean,’ ‘Little Shop of Horrors’

Veralyn Jones in "Gem of the Ocean" at A Noise Within
Veralyn Jones as Aunt Ester in August Wilson’s “Gem of the Ocean” at A Noise Within.
(Daniel Reichert)

Here is a list of new plays, Critics’ Choices, etc. for Sept. 22-29. 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.).


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. 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. Sun., 7 p.m. $45, $49. (818) 243-2539.

The Living Room Series Staged reading of Mattie Bayne’s “No, Love Me.” The Blank’s 2nd Stage Theatre, 6500 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. Mon., 8 p.m. $15 suggested donation. (323) 661-9827.


Yellow Face The “Off the Page” series continues with a staged reading of David Henry Hwang’s semi-autobiographical tale. Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre. Mon., 7 p.m. $5 suggested donation. (626) 355-4318.

Blue Man Group: Speechless The mysterious trio offers up more musically enhanced shenanigans in this new show. Hollywood Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood Tue.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 and 8 p.m.; next Sun., 1 and 6:30 p.m.; ends Oct. 6. $39 and up. (800) 982-2787. (Also at Segerstrom Center, Jan. 7-12)

The Pack Monthly reading series features original short comedies by Eugene Pack; with special guests including Rob Morrow, Gina Gershon, Laraine Newman. Ruskin Group Theatre, 3000 Airport Ave., Santa Monica. Tue., 7:30 p.m. $10; RSVP recommended at

Short+Sweet Hollywood Showcase features short-form theater, film, music and dance works in a variety of languages. Lee Strasberg Creative Center, Marilyn Monroe Theatre, 7936 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood. Starts Tue.; ends Oct. 28. $17.50, $20.

Little Shop of Horrors A mild-mannered florist contends with a bloodthirsty plant in this update of the Howard Ashman-Alan Menken off-Broadway musical comedy based on a 1960 B-movie. The Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena. Wed.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 and 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 and 7 p.m.; ends Oct. 20. $25 and up. (626) 356-7529.

King Lear Outdoor modern-dress staging of Shakespeare’s tragic tale of a monarch driven to madness. Brand Park, 1601 W. Mountain Ave., Glendale. Thu.-Sat., 8 p.m. Pay what you can; reservations required.

Noura A refugee couple from Iraq find their first Christmas as U.S. citizens upended in the West Coast premiere of Heather Raffo’s drama. The Old Globe, 1363 Old Globe Way, San Diego. Thu.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 and 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 and 7 p.m.; ends Oct. 20. $30 and up. (619) 234-5623.

Pop-Up Magazine’s The Escape Issue Writers, journalists, filmmakers and others share multimedia-enhanced stories. The Theatre at Ace Hotel, 929 S. Broadway, L.A. Thu., 7:30 p.m. $39-$49.

Rock of Ages Cast members offer highlights from an upcoming production of the hit musical as part of the Sunset & Dine Festival. Columbia Square, parking lot, 1538 N. El Centro Ave, L.A. Thu., 6 to 9 p.m. $50.

Tonoccus McClain: Living a Why Not Life The musical theater veteran (“The Lion King”) shares songs and stories. The Colony Theatre, 555 N. 3rd St., Burbank. Thu.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 3 p.m. $40. (866) 811-4111.

Almost Famous An aspiring music journalist goes on the road with an up-and-coming rock band in the 1970s in this new musical by writer-director Cameron Crowe and based on his 2000 comedy-drama. The Old Globe, 1363 Old Globe Way, San Diego. Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 and 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 and 7 p.m.; ends Oct. 27. $70 and up. (619) 234-5623.

Charlotte Stay Close Two sisters find their bonds tested as one lays dying of cancer in Christine Hamilton-Schmidt’s new drama. Ensemble Studio Theatre, Atwater Village Theater Complex, 3269 Casitas Ave., L.A. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Oct. 27. $15-$20. (818) 839-1197.

Constantinople A female journalist and a guerrilla fighter join forces to rescue women and children abducted during the Armenian genocide in Aram Kouyoumdjian’s new drama, presented by Vista Players. Secret Rose Theatre, 11246 W. Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.,m.; next Sun., 3 p.m.; ends Nov. 2. $20-$40. (818) 538-4911.

The Edgar Allan Show Comedic musical celebrates the terror tales of Edgar Allan Poe. Two Roads Theatre, 4348 Tujunga Ave. Studio City. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; ends Oct. 19. $25.

Evita in Concert Concert presentation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical about former Argentine first lady Evita Peron. Norris Theatre, 27570 Norris Center Drive, Palos Verdes Peninsula. Fri- Sat. 7:30 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m. $35-$70. (310) 544-0403.

Legends in Concert Tribute artists salute Elvis, Lady Gaga, Sting and Donna Summer. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, 18000 Park Plaza Drive, Cerritos. Fri., 8 p.m. $60-$95. (562) 916-8500.

Multitudinous One-Act Marathon (MOM) Readings of one-acts by Shaw, Chekhov, Oates, Ionesco, etc. Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga. Fri., 7:30 p.m. $25. (310) 455-3723.

Perfect Halloween! Drag artist Frieda Laye of Chico’s Angels stars in this comedic mash-up of the two 1980s-era Jamie Lee Curtis flicks. Cavern Club Celebrity Theater, Casita Del Campo, 1920 Hyperion Ave., Silver Lake. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m. $25.

Piff the Magic Dragon The illusionist and his canine companion Mr. Piffles perform in this comedy magic show. Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Samueli Theater, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. Fri.-Sat., 7 and 9 p.m. $39 and up. (714) 556-2787.

Representative Misbehavior A state legislator’s campaign for governor is fraught with complications in Tom Walla’s new political farce. Grove Center Theatre Theatre, 1111 W. Olive Ave., Burbank. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Oct. 20. $25, $30. (213) 533-9982.

Gem of the Ocean An African American man seeking redemption in 1904 Pittsburgh turns to an aged matriarch for help in August Wilson’s classic drama. A Noise Within, 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena. Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Nov. 16. $25 and up; student rush, $20; group discounts available. (626) 356-3121.

How the Light Gets In The lives of a travel writer, an architect, a tattoo artist and a homeless girl intersect in E.M. Lewis’ new drama. Boston Court, 70 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena. Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Oct. 27. $20-$39. (626) 683-6801.

Los Empeños de una Casa Spanish-language production of this Baroque-era comedy of errors. Ruth B. Shannon Center for the Performing Arts, 6760 Painter Ave., Whittier. Sat., 3 and 7:30 p.m. $10-$25. (562) 907-4203.

Never Ever Land A young man and his family deal with the repercussions from allegations of sexual abuse made against a world famous pop star in Rider Strong’s new drama. Theatre Unleashed, studio/stage, 520 N. Western Ave., L.A. Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 7 p.m.; ends Oct. 27. $35. (818) 849-4039.

Secrets & Illusions Illusionist Ivan Amodei performs. Scherr Forum Theatre, Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza Box Office, 2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks. Sat., 8 p.m. $59, $89. (800) 745-3000.

The Vandal A woman waiting for a bus, a chatty teen and the owner of a nearby liquor store have a series of fateful interactions in the West Coast premiere of Hamish Linklater’s spooky fable; contains adult language; for ages 13 and up. Chance Theater, 5522 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim. Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 3 p.m.; ends Oct. 20. $20-$39; discounts available. (888) 455-4212.

The Bob Baker Marionettes Family-friendly puppet show. Soka Performing Arts Center, 1 University Drive, Aliso Viejo. Next Sun., 3 p.m. $5, $15. (949) 480-4278.

The Greatest Love of All: A Tribute to Whitney Houston Singer Belinda Davids and company salute the late music star. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, 18000 Park Plaza Drive, Cerritos. Next Sun., 7 p.m. $50-$90. (562) 916-8500.

Yoga Play The new female CEO of a yoga-apparel giant tries to right the company’s ship in the wake of a scandal in Dipika Guha’s comedy. Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach. Next Sun., 5:30 p.m.; ends Oct. 13. $45-$65; group discounts available. (949) 497-2787.

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., 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.; Wed., Fri.-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., next Sun., 4 p.m.; ends Sept. 29. $10-$42; 4 and under, free. (310) 455-3723.

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.