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Entertainment & Arts

Theater in L.A. this week: ‘Lady Day,’ ‘Little Shop’ and more

Karole Foreman as Billie Holiday in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill”
Karole Foreman portrays jazz great Billie Holiday in the musical drama “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill” at International City Theatre in Long Beach.
(Pat Loeb)

Here is a list of new plays, Critics’ Choices, etc. for Oct. 13-20. 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.).

Openings

Dear One: Love & Longing in Mid-Century Queer America Staged reading of Josh Irving Gershick’s fact-based epistolary drama. A Noise Within, 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena. Sun., 1:30 p.m. $10-$20. (626) 356-3121. anoisewithin.org

Fritz Coleman’s Defying Gravity The comic and local weatherman performs a benefit show. Garry Marshall Theatre, 4252 W. Riverside Drive, Burbank. Sun., 3 p.m. $50. (818) 955-8101. garrymarshalltheatre.org

Story Pirates Musical sketch comedy show for ages 5 and up. Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Promenade Terrace, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills. Sun., 11 a.m. $Free. (310) 746-4000. TheWallis.org

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

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The Who’s Tommy Benefit concert-staged performance of the Tony-winning rock musical. La Jolla Playhouse, Mandell Weiss Theatre, 2910 La Jolla Village Drive, La Jolla. Mon.,t 7:30 p.m. $500-$1000. LaJollaPlayhouse.org

Center Theatre Group Library Play Reading Series “Cosas Pequeñas y Extraordinarias” by Daniela Arroia and Michaela Gramajo; performed in 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. CenterTheatreGroup.org

The Second City’s Greatest Hits (Vol. 59) Current company members revisit some of the storied Chicago-based comedy troupe’s classic routines. Musco Center for the Arts, Chapman University, 1 University Drive, Orange. Wed., 7:30 p.m. $25-$48. (844) 626-8726. muscocenter.org

The Bench, A Homeless Love Story Writer-performer Robert Galinsky explores homelessness and the AIDS crisis in the 1980s in this fact-based solo drama. Hudson Guild Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. Thu., 8 p.m.; ends Nov. 19. $20. onstage411.com

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Betty Buckley The Tony winner performs in this intimate cabaret show. Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Samueli Theater, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. Thu.-Sat., 7:30 p.m. $89 and up. (714) 556-2787. scfta.org

Little Women Brand new stage adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved novel about the hopes and dreams of four sisters living with their mother during the Civil War. Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre. Thu.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2:30 and 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2:30 p.m.; ends Nov. 3. $15-$30. (626) 355-4318. sierramadreplayhouse.org

Los Angeles Diversity in Comedy Festival Fourth annual four-day festival presented by the Second City features stand-up, improv, workshops, panels and more; with the Prima Doñas, the Black Pantherettes, the Katydids, et al. Various locations. Starts Thu.-ends next Sun. Various times and prices; passes, $80, $100. secondcity.com

A Night With Janis Joplin Bio-musical celebrates the legendary 1960s rock singer. The Saban Theater, 8440 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. Thu., 8 p.m. $38-$98. wheremusicmeetsthesoul.com

Tarantina This burlesque show inspired by the films of Quentin Tarantino gets a “From Dusk Til Dawn”-style, Halloween-themed makeover. Club Bahia, 1130 Sunset Blvd., L.A. Thu., 8:15 p.m. $25-$300. tarantinashow.com

Without Walls (WOW) Festival This biennial presented by La Jolla Playhouse returns with a series of site-based and interactive performances by local companies, international guest artists and others. Arts District, Liberty Station, San Diego. Starts Thu.; ends next Sun. Free to $20. lajollaplayhouse.org

The Cockfight Play A gay man meets a woman and falls in love with her in Mike Bartlett’s comedy. The Beverly Hills Playhouse, 254 S. Robertson Ave., Beverly Hills. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 7 p.m.; ends Nov. 17. $25. (323) 348-4979. crimsonsquare.org

Death With Dignity ... Comes in a Milkshake A therapist’s office is overrun by patients with all manner of issues in this new drama from Sam Henry Kass. Theatre 68, 5112 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; ends Nov. 16. $25. Theatre68.com

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Dracula Radio-style presentation of the Bram Stoker terror tale about a Transylvanian vampire loose in London. Long Beach Shakespeare Company, Helen Borgers Theatre, 4250 Atlantic Blvd., Long Beach. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m. $12.50. (562) 997-1494. LBShakespeare.org

Gravity and Other Myths The acrobatic troupe from Australia performs. Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m. $25-$100. (949) 854-4646. thebarclay.org

Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill Jazz great Billie Holiday performs in a rundown bar in Philadelphia in 1959 near the end of her life in Lanie Robertson’s drama with music; for ages 16 and up; contains adult language and situations. International City Theatre, Long Beach Performing Arts Center, 330 E. Seaside Way, Long Beach. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Nov. 3. $47, $49; opening night only, $55, $125. (562) 436-4610. InternationalCityTheatre.org

LGBTQ+ Live! The Short+Sweet Hollywood Festival presents three distinct programs of short plays. Marilyn Monroe Theatre, 7936 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood. Fri., 7 p.m.; Sat., and next Sun., 2 and 7 p.m.; next Mon., 7 p.m. $20. Sweet-Tix.com

Love Connie 2: Electric Boogaloo Drag artists John Cantwell and Kelly Mantle return in this send-up of 1970s and ’80s women-in-prison exploitation flicks. The Cavern Club at Casita Del Campo, 1920 Hyperion Ave., L.A. Fri., 9 p.m.; next Sun., 7 p.m.; ends Oct. 27. $25. (800) 838-3006. brownpapertickets.com

Heather McDonald The comic and podcaster performs. Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, Scherr Forum Theatre, 2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks. Fri.-Sat., 7:30 p.m. $29. (800) 745-3000. ticketmaster.com

The Music Man Broadway’s Adam Pascal heads the cast of 5-Star Theatricals’ staging of the classic Meredith Wilson musical about a con man who tries to swindle the good people of a small Iowa town. Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, Kavli Theatre, 2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks. Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 and 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Oct. 27. $35-$83. (800) 745-3000. 5startheatricals.com

My Favorite Suicide Saudade Theatre presents Portuguese playwright Mickaël de Olivera’s new apocalyptic fable; for ages 16 and up. 905 Cole Theatre at Anthony Meindl’s Actor Workshop, 905 Cole Ave., L.A. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 7:30 p.m.; ends Nov. 3. $20. saudadetheatre.org

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Take Me Nocturnal Fandango presents this immersive, Halloween-themed solo theatrical experience. Time and venue announced to ticket holders upon purchase. Starts Fri.; ends Oct. 27. $155. nocturnalfandango.org

Witkacy / Two-headed Calf Polish avant-garde playwright Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz is celebrated in this U.S. premiere co-presented by CalArts Center for New Performance and Warsaw’s Studio Teatrgaleria. REDCAT, 631 W. 2nd St., downtown L.A. Fri.,-Sat., 8:30 p.m.; next Sun., 3 p.m.; ends Oct. 25. $22-$32. (213) 237-2800. redcat.org

Between Riverside and Crazy L.A. premiere of Stephen Adly Guirgis’ Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy-drama about a widowed former cop and his recently paroled son sharing a rent-controlled New York City apartment. The Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave., L.A. Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Dec. 15. $25-$45. (323) 663-1525. FountainTheatre.com

Buried Child Dark secrets are revealed when a young man and his girlfriend pay an unexpected visit to his family’s farm in Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama. A Noise Within, 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena. Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Nov. 23. $25 and up; student rush, $20; group discounts available. (626) 356-3121. anoisewithin.org

Conversations ’Bout the Girls Towne Street Theatre presents by Sonia Jackson’s drama about customers at a small-town lingerie shop as part of its “Autumn Nights” series. Stella Adler Academy of Acting and Theatre, 6773 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 4 p.m. $10; packages available. townestreetla.org

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. Sat., 8 p.m. $10. badboysmagic.com

Ghosted! by Roz Drezfalez Live! The drag artist and podcaster shares the stage with special guests in this Halloween-themed show. The Cavern Club at Casita Del Campo, 1920 Hyperion Ave., L.A. Sat., 8 p.m. $20. (800) 838-3006. brownpapertickets.com

I Never Saw Another Butterfly A Jewish child who survived the Holocaust shares her story in Celeste Raspanti’s drama. Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach. Sat., 1 and 5 p.m.; next Sun., 1 p.m.; ends Oct. 27. $15-$25; group discounts available. (949) 497-2787. lagunaplayhouse.com

Lila Downs’ Día de Muertos: Al Chile The Grammy-winning vocalist is joined by Grandeza Mexicana Folk Ballet Company and Mariachi Femenil Flores Mexicana for a celebration of Mexico’s Day of the Dead. Ford Theatres, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East, Hollywood. Sat., next Sun., 8 p.m. $35-$70. (323) 461-3673. FordTheatres.org (Also at Segerstrom Center in Costa Mesa, Oct. 27)

The Music of Brian Gallagher Broadway veterans including Megan Hilty and Carly Hughes perform songs by the singer-songwriter and guitarist. The Colony Theatre, 555 N. 3rd St., Burbank. Oct. 19. Sat., 8 p.m. $45, $60. (866) 811-4111. colonytheatre.org

1984 The Actors’ Gang revives its 2006 stage adaptation of Orwell’s classic novel about life in a totalitarian dystopia. The Actors’ Gang Theater, 9070 Venice Blvd., Culver City. Sat., 8 p.m.; ends Dec. 7. $25-$50; Thursdays, pay what you can. (310) 838-4264. TheActorsGang.com

Ravenswood Manor Justin Sayre’s campy mix of horror and soap opera, told in 12 stand-alone episodes over the course of six weeks. Celebration Theatre, 6760 Lexington Ave., L.A. Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Nov. 24. $30, $40. (323) 957-1884. celebrationtheatre.com

Something Rotten! Musical Theatre West opens its 67th season with the West Coast regional-theater premiere of this musical comedy about two brothers in 16th-century London looking to create a show to compete with Shakespeare’s plays. With Davis Gaines. Carpenter Center for the Performing Arts, 6200 E. Atherton St., Long Beach. Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 1 p.m.; ends Nov. 3. $20 and up. (562) 856-1999. musical.org

Wicked Lit X8 Unbound Productions presents excerpts from eight of its site-specific terror tales in this fundraiser. Mountain View Mausoleum and Cemetery, 2300 N. Marengo Ave., Altadena. Sat., 6:30, 7:30, 9 and 10 p.m. $50. (323) 332-2065. wickedlit.org

Gene Kelly: The Legacy Patricia Ward Kelly, the entertainment legend’s widow, shares stories from his life and career. La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, 14900 La Mirada Blvd., La Mirada. Next Sun., 2 p.m. $25-$46. (562) 944-9801. lamiradatheatre.com

Critics’ Choices

Almost Famous Spun from Cameron Crowe’s autobiographically inspired 2000 film about a teenage rock journalist’s freewheeling sentimental education while on the road with an up-and-coming band, this new musical (with original music by Tony winner Tom Kitt complementing the selection of 1970s rock classics) is as shimmering as a stadium of lighters during a Led Zeppelin encore. Crowe has adapted his Oscar-winning screenplay into the musical’s book, which preserves much of what was so appealing about the film without insisting on perfect fidelity. What is perfectly distilled is the chaotic, communal spirit of ’70s rock in a musical that seems destined to conquer Broadway. (C.M.) The Old Globe, 1363 Old Globe Way, San Diego. Sun., next Sun., 2 and 7 p.m.; Tue.-Wed., 7 p.m.; Thu.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 and 8 p.m.; ends Oct. 27. $70 and up. (619) 234-5623. TheOldGlobe.org

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 Oct. 27. $25-$34. (310) 822-8392. pacificresidenttheatre.com

In Circles David Schweizer directs a tantalizing revival of this 1967 work created by composer Al Carmines, a seminal figure in the off-off-Broadway movement, from Gertrude Stein’s 1920 “A Circular Play.” The austerity of this playful collage of wordplay is unusually amiable when set to music: Imagine Dr. Seuss as a cubist poet with a taste for avant-garde performance and a love for old-fashioned musical showmanship. The game cast and sharp design keep us in the eternal present, which was Stein’s theatrical goal in jettisoning all that we’ve come to expect from theater: definable character, linear dialogue and developing plot. What’s left is a shimmering sensibility that gambols freely in a new age. (C.M.) Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West L.A. Sun., next Sun., 2 p.m.; Wed., Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; ends Nov. 10. $32-$37; discounts available; $10 tickets on select dates. (310) 477-2055. www.OdysseyTheatre.com

Little Shop of Horrors If “Sweeney Todd” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” mated, the offspring would look something like “Little Shop of Horrors,” the off-off-Broadway camp-thriller musical by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken that became a long-running off-Broadway hit in the 1980s. This new revival, directed by Mike Donahue, finds more realism than usual in this over-the-top doo-wop-infused tale about a clerk at a flower shop who makes a pact with a carnivorous, talking plant (powerfully voiced by “Glee’s” Amber Riley) that promises fame, fortune and romantic bliss for the price of his soul and flora world domination. The touching leads, George Salazar as Seymour, the nerdy flower shop drone with an unusual horticultural flair, and Mj Rodriguez (“Pose”) as Audrey, the delicate co-worker he would like to rescue from a malignant relationship, draw out the full humanity of their characters. (C.M.)The Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena. Sun., next Sun., 2 and 7 p.m.; Tue.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 and 8 p.m.; ends Oct. 20. $25 and up. (626) 356-7529. pasadenaplayhouse.org


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