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Entertainment & Arts

Latino Theater Company pulls no punches with ‘Aliens, Immigrants & Other Evildoers’

José Torres-Tama in “Aliens, Immigrants & Other Evildoers,” presented by Latino Theater Company at the Los Angeles Theatre Center.
José Torres-Tama in “Aliens, Immigrants & Other Evildoers,” presented by Latino Theater Company at the Los Angeles Theatre Center.
(Jonathan Traviesa)

Theatrical possibilities are far-ranging this weekend, as the New American Theatre presents Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya” and Celebration Theatre gets goofy with “Ravenswood Manor,” both in Hollywood, while the perennially popular “Matilda the Musical” opens in La Mirada. First up: the solo show “Aliens, Immigrants & Other Evildoers” presented by Latino Theater Company in downtown L.A. offers trenchant social commentary.

‘Aliens, Immigrants & Other Evildoers’ at LATC

The essentials: José Torres-Tama’s multimedia solo show is based on interviews he conducted with Latinos fleeing war, violence and poverty in their native countries. Torres-Tama portrays multiple roles of different genders and ages, pulling no punches in his indictment of U.S. border policy.

Why this? The New Orleans performance artist changes his show regularly to reflect current events — and this show will touch upon the recent deportation of Spanish performance artist Marta Carrasco and her colleagues, who were scheduled to perform for Latino Theater Company shortly before Torres-Tama’s run. Moments of wry humor and poignant poeticism salvage the evening from being a straight-on polemic, but Torres-Tama does not shy away from making the evening a raw call to action.

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Details: Latino Theater Company at the Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles. 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; 4 p.m. Sundays. Ends Nov. 3. $38. (866) 811-4111. thelatc.org

Don Harvey in New American Theatre’s “Uncle Vanya.”
Don Harvey in New American Theatre’s “Uncle Vanya.”
(Jeannine Wisnosky Stehlin)

‘Uncle Vanya’ at New American

The essentials: Vanya and his niece Sonya, who manage a modest country estate, are disrupted by the arrival of Vanya’s former brother-in-law, Serebryakov, and his beautiful, much younger wife, Yelena. Vanya and local doctor Astrov, for whom Sonya nurses an unrequited passion, are besotted with Yelena, but she remains unhappily faithful to her pompous spouse, a university professor who supports his urban lifestyle on the proceeds from the estate. When Serebryakov announces he’s selling the property, leaving Vanya and Sonya effectively homeless, already volatile emotions threaten to explode.

Why this? Anyone who’s had difficulty finding the much-vaunted humor in Chekhov may find this play’s wistful yearners as funny as they are heartbreaking — especially Vanya, one of the most magnificently unprepossessing protagonists in Chekhov’s oeuvre. L.A. theater devotees expect savvy director Jack Stehlin to illuminate the reasons behind the characters’ comically willful inaction.

Details: New American Theatre, 1312 N. Wilton Place, Hollywood. 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays. Ends Dec. 7. $35. (310) 424-2980. newamericantheatre.com

Michael A. Shepperd and Audrey Cymone in the La Mirada Theatre production of “Matilda the Musical.”
Michael A. Shepperd and Audrey Cymone in the La Mirada Theatre production of “Matilda the Musical.”
(Jason Niedle)

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‘Matilda the Musical’ at La Mirada

The essentials: A highly unusual little girl, neglected and abused by her low-life parents and a nightmarish headmistress, uses her telekinetic powers to champion her maltreated fellow students, escape her unhappy home life and find a loving new mother who appreciates just how special she is.

Why this? To say “Matilda” has staying power is an understatement. Based on Roald Dahl’s 1988 book and later adapted into the 1996 film, this Olivier- and Tony Award-winning show completed a four-plus-year Broadway run in 2017, and it’s still playing in London. This production comes courtesy of La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts and McCoy Rigby Entertainment, the latter a Tony- and Emmy-nominated company with an impressive track record. Director Michael Matthews is impressive too. Plus, Michael A. Shepperd’s drag turn as the terrifying Miss Trunchbull promises plenty of laughs.

Details: La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, 14900 La Mirada Blvd., La Mirada. 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, through Nov. 17. No 2 p.m. performance this Saturday Additional 1 p.m. performance Nov. 15. $20-$89. (562) 944-9801. lamiradatheatre.com

Sam Pancake in “Ravenswood Manor”
Yup, it’s like this. Sam Pancake in Celebration Theatre’s “Ravenswood Manor.”
(Bryan Carpender)

Celebration Theatre’s ‘Ravenswood Manor’

The essentials: In a tiny New England town, circa 1976, people are atwitter because home-grown film star Bettina Doors is returning to her ancestral home, Ravenswood Manor, after a 20-year absence. Rumors of witchcraft persist at Ravenswood, and Bettina’s brother Sheridan is apparently conducting unspeakable experiments in the manor’s basement. But that’s just the tip of the lurid goings-on in this gothic burg, where everyone is on a high boil and salacious sex is the favorite pastime. More to the point, is a ravenous monster stalking the town’s gay residents? Can the killer be found among the townsfolk, all of whom seem to have a hidden agenda and an ax to grind?

Why this? Justin Sayre’s outrageous tongue-in-cheek parody at the LGBTQ-friendly Celebration Theatre consists of 12 episodes — two per evening, changing weekly over a six-week run with a recap to keep newcomers abreast of the frenetic action. The high-profile cast includes Drew Droege, Alec Mapa and Sayre himself, will play a variety of gender-bending roles. A huge fan of “Dark Shadows,” Sayre looked to trendsetters like Charles Ludlam for what he calls “this updated version of the craziness that was high camp.” Ambitious in its scope, “Ravenswood” echoes every bad gothic movie you ever hooted through.

Details: Celebration Theatre at the Lex, 6760 Lexington Ave., Hollywood. 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, through Nov. 24. $30-$40. celebrationtheatre.com/ravenswood

You always can find our latest theater coverage at latimes.com/theater. Recent reviews include “Buried Child” at A Noise Within, “1984" from Actors’ Gang, “Between Riverside and Crazy” at the Fountain, “The Abuelas” at Antaeus, “Baby Shark Live!” at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center, “Anastasia” at the Pantages, “The Light in the Piazza” by Los Angeles Opera, “Gem of the Ocean” at A Noise Within, “How the Light Gets in” by Boston Court Pasadena, “The Vandal” by Chance Theater and “The Canadians” at South Coast Repertory.


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