Theater in L.A.: ‘Never Not Once,’ ‘Fun Home’ and more

Sydney Berk and Melanie Cruz in "Never Not Once"
Sydney Berk, left, and Melanie Cruz costar in “Never Not Once” at Rubicon Theatre Company in Ventura.
(Veronica Slavin)

Here is a list of new plays, Critics’ Choices, etc., in L.A. for Feb. 2-9. 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.).


Dear Yoko “Chicago Med’s” Anzu Lawson stars in this solo drama based on her life growing up in the U.S. and Japan. The Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. Sun., 3 p.m. $22. (800) 838-3006.

From Play to Libretto: Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice Staged reading of Ruhl’s reimagining of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, followed by a conversation with Ruhl and composer Matthew Aucoin; part of LA Opera’s “Eurydice Found” festival. The Getty Villa, 17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades. Sun., 1 p.m. Free; ticket required. (310) 440-7300.

Just Imagine Tribute artist Tim Piper recreates a concert by the Beatles’ John Lennon. Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center, 3050 Los Angeles Ave., Simi Valley. Sun., next Sun., 2 p.m.; Sat., 8 p.m.; ends Feb. 16. $32, $35. (805) 583-7900.

Tied Up in Knotts Writer-performer Karen Knotts remembers her late father, comedian Don Knotts. Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. Sun., 7:30 p.m.; also Feb. 27, March 20. $20. (800) 838-3006.

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


Escape to Margaritaville A bartender and aspiring singer at a hotel in the Caribbean falls for a young woman on vacay in this jukebox musical with songs by Jimmy Buffett. Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Segerstrom Hall, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. Tue.-Fri., 7:30 p.m.; Sat., 2 and 7:30 p.m.; next Sun., 1 and 6:30 p.m. $26 and up. (714) 556-2787. (Also at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Feb. 18-March 8)

Risk! The storytelling series returns; David Crabb hosts. The Virgil, 4519 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A. Wed., 8 p.m. $12, $15. (323) 660-4540.

Cirque Flip Fabrique: Blizzard The Quebec-based contemporary circus company presents its latest show. Smothers Theatre, Pepperdine University, 24255 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu. Thu., 7:30 p.m. $22-$45. (310) 506-4522.

iambic lab Independent Shakespeare Co. presents this annual festival featuring new works and staged readings of obscure classics, plus lectures, discussions, etc. ISC Studio, Atwater Crossing Arts + Innovation Complex, 3191 Casitas Ave., Suite 130, L.A. Starts Thu.; ends Feb. 15. $25-$40; several free events (reservations recommended). (818) 710-6306.

The Manor — Murder and Madness at Greystone Kathrine Bates’ immersive site-specific mystery drama, inspired by actual events. Greystone Mansion, 905 Loma Vista Drive, Beverly Hills. Thu.-Fri., 6 p.m.; next Sun., 1 p.m.; ends March 1. $65; advance reservations required. (310) 364-3606.

Tina Live: A Tribute to Tina Turner Tribute artist Cookie Watkins salutes the R&B legend. Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach. Thu.-Fri., 7:30 p.m.; Sat., 2 and 7:30 p.m.; next Sun., 1 p.m. $50-$65. (949) 497-2787.

A Body of Water A middle-aged couple wakes up in a strange house in the middle of nowhere in Lee Blessing’s mystery drama. Actors Co-op, Crossley Theatre, 1760 N. Gower St., Hollywood. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2:30 p.m.; ends March 15. $25-$35. (323) 462-8460.

Cirque Mechanics: 42ft — A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels Acrobats, aerialists, cyclists, etc., perform. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, 18000 Park Plaza Drive, Cerritos. Fri., 8 p.m. $40-$75. (562) 916-8500.

The $5 Shakespeare Company The 6th Act stages Matthew Leavitt’s new comedy about a struggling theater troupe in L.A. Theatre 68, 5112 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends March 8. $35.

Frida — Stroke of Passion Odalys Nanin wrote, directed and stars in this drama with music about beloved Mexican painter Frida Kahlo; presented by Macha Theatre/Films. Casa 0101 Theater, 2102 E. 1st St., Boyle Heights. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Feb. 16. $25.

I Decided I’m Fine: A Roach Play The Attic Collective mixes comedy, clowning and magical realism in this exploration of hoarding. Studio/Stage, 520 N. Western Ave., L.A. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 6 p.m.; ends March 1. $25-$35.

In My Mind’s Eye Doug Haverty’s fact-based memory play about a legally blind woman teaching public school. The Group Rep, Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends March 15. $25, $30. (818) 763-5990.

Kristina Wong for Public Office The performance artist explores her recent foray into local politics in this solo show. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., L.A. Fri., 8 p.m. $10, $20; includes museum admission. (310) 440-4500.

Linda Purl and Her Big Band Romance The actress and singer salutes Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, Rosemary Clooney, et al. Catalina Bar & Grill, 6725 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood. Fri., 8:30 p.m. $25-$50; food and drink minimums apply. (866) 466-2210.

Love From a Stranger A sweepstakes winner is romanced by a mystery man in this Agatha Christie thriller. West Valley Playhouse, 7507 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Canoga Park. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2:30 p.m.; ends March 1. $28, $30. (818) 884-1907.

The MisMatch Game All-new edition of host Dennis Hensley’s campy, off-color parody of the 1970s-era game show. L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center’s Renberg Theatre, 1125 N. McCadden Place, Hollywood. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m. $15. (323) 860-7300.

Pins! Interactive burlesque show presented by the CRayProject celebrates black sexual liberation. Long Beach Playhouse, Studio Theatre (upstairs), 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m. $20. (562) 494-1014.

The Revolutionists Four heroic and historic women fight the power during the French Revolution in Lauren Gunderson’s comedy; for ages 16 and up (contains adult themes and language). Santa Paula Theater Center’s Main Stage 125 S. 7th St., Santa Paula. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2:30 p.m.; ends March 15. (805) 525-4645.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Edward Albee’s Tony-winning dark comedy about a middle-aged married couple’s bitterly dysfunctional relationship. Ophelia’s Jump Studio Theater, 2009 Porterfield Way, Suite H, Upland. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 4 p.m.; ends March 7. $28. (909) 734-6565.

Ain’t Misbehavin’ — The Fats Waller Musical Revue Stage show celebrates the songs of the Harlem Renaissance. Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine. Sat., 8 p.m. next Sun., 2 and 7 p.m. $40-$100. (949) 854-4646.

Dada Divas Singer-composer Jacqueline Bobak and company salute the early 20th-century art movement’s unsung female pioneers. REDCAT, 631 W. 2nd St., downtown L.A. Sat., 8:30 p.m. $18, $22. (213) 237-2800.

Fun Home Intimate staging of Jeanine Tesori’s hit musical based on cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s autobiographical graphic novel about coming of age in a dysfunctional family in rural Pennsylvania; for ages 13 and up (contains adult language and themes). Chance Theater, Cripe Stage, 5522 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim. Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 3 p.m.; ends March 1. $25-$49. (888) 455-4212.

The Imaginary Invalid A wealthy but miserly hypochondriac tries to marry his daughter off to a would-be doctor in Molière’s classic farce. Parson’s Nose Theater, 95 N. Marengo Ave., Pasadena. Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 3 p.m.; ends March 1. $20-$35. (626) 403-7667.

Jane Austen’s Emma Ensemble Theatre Company stages this musical based on Austen’s classic 19th century novel about a young woman’s disastrous attempts at playing matchmaker. The New Vic, 33 W. Victoria St., Santa Barbara. Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 and 7 p.m.; ends Feb. 23. $25-$82. (805) 965-5400.

Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill Ebony Repertory Theatre presents the International City Theatre production of Lanie Robertson’s drama with music about legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday. Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, 4718 W. Washington Blvd., L.A. Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 3 p.m.; ends March 1. $30-$50. (323) 964-9766.

A Little More Love Connie The drag artist salutes pop music’s Olivia Newton-John in this new show. Cavern Club Celebrity Theater, Casita del Campo, 1920 Hyperion Ave. Silver Lake. Fri.-next Sun., 8 p.m.; ends Feb. 22. $25. (800) 838-3006.

The Mac King Comedy Magic Show The veteran Las Vegas magician performs. Musco Center for the Arts, Chapman University, 415 N. Glassell St., Orange. Sat., 8 p.m. $20-$53. (844) 626-8726.

Never Not Once West Coast premiere of Carey Crim’s drama about a college student, raised by two mothers, who hires a private detective to track down her biological father. Rubicon Theatre Company, 1006 E. Main St., Ventura. Sat., 7 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m. $29-$64; discounts available; opening night only, $150. (805) 667-2900.

Picture This! Multimedia show hosted by Brandie Posey mixes live comedy and animation. The Virgil, 4519 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A. Sat., 7 p.m. $8, $10.

The Pink Floyd Concert Experience Tribute act salutes the legendary British rock band. Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, Scherr Forum Theatre, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks. Sat., 7:30 p.m. $38-$48. (805) 449-2787.

Pop-Up Magazine’s Winter 2020 Issue Writers, filmmakers and others share multimedia-enhanced stories. The Theatre at Ace Hotel, 929 S. Broadway, L.A. Sat., 7:30 p.m. $39-$49.

Ragtime: The Musical Musical Theatre West stages this adaptation of the E. L. Doctorow novel about the lives of assorted characters in early 20th-century America; with book by Terrence McNally, music by Stephen Flaherty and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens. Carpenter Center for the Performing Arts, 6200 E. Atherton St., Long Beach. Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 1 p.m.; ends Feb. 23. $20 and up. (562) 856-1999.

The Father Alfred Molina stars in Christopher Hampton’s translation of French playwright Florian Zeller’s drama about an elderly man suffering from dementia. Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena. Next Sun., 5 p.m.; ends March 1. $25 and up. (626) 356-7529.

Critics’ Choices

Disposable Necessities Neil McGowan’s play is set in the not-so-distant future, when society’s privileged have become essentially immortal, able to download their identities into new “modules” — i.e., bodies of the recently deceased — while have-nots must content themselves with providing premium carcasses for the affluent. Director Guillermo Cienfuegos and a lively cast nail down the laughs – or, conversely, the pathos — in this richly imaginative world premiere, which challenges our expectations at every twist of its deliciously disturbing plot. Just don’t lay bets on where the story ends up. You’ll lose. (F.K.F.) Rogue Machine Theatre, Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Ave., Venice. Sun., next Sun., 7 p.m.; Mon., 8 p.m.; Sat., 4 p.m.; ends Feb. 23. $25, $40. (855) 585-5185.

Jitney Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s Tony-winning revival of August Wilson’s “Jitney,” a triumphant melding of acting and drama, puts the audience in the unique position of eavesdroppers on the colloquial music of life. This early Wilson play, the first to be written in his 10-play cycle exploring the 20th century African American experience, takes place in the 1970s at a gypsy cap station threatened by the city’s urban renewal program. Wilson takes us inside the drivers’ lives to reveal the way history has challenged and changed their destinies. What was once dismissed as a minor Wilson drama is now considered major. And it’s not because our standards have plummeted. Rather, it’s that the play, when fully realized by a company of actors working in communal concord, satisfies our growing hunger for complex and compassionate character truth. (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 Feb. 23. $30 and up. (619) 234-5623.

Red Ink In a beleaguered newsroom, the top editor huddles under a desk, shuddering with fear. Declining revenues, corporate consolidation and staff cuts are just a few of the factors that have sent him there. The waking nightmare of journalists across America is given bleakly humorous expression in Steven Leigh Morris’ new play, in which shifting realities are a vivid metaphor for media’s changing circumstances. Nike Doukas directs some of L.A.’s premier actors. (D.H.M.) Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave., L.A. Sun., next Sun., 4 p.m.; Mon., Sat., 8 p.m.; ends Feb. 24. $30, $40. (800) 838-3006.

What the Constitution Means to Me At a time when the Constitution is being assailed by those who have sworn an oath to defend it, this buoyant and often-stirring civics lesson is the theatrical curriculum Americans desperately need now. As much a play as a performance piece, this category transcending offering by Heidi Schreck took Broadway by storm last spring. Schreck is no longer performing in the work, which reveals with courageous poignancy the way our nation’s founding legal document intersects with the choices, opportunities, relationships and destinies of those who have had to fight for their foothold in our imperfect democracy. For the L.A. premiere, Maria Dizzia takes over the role of Heidi. Schreck’s autobiographical confidences about her family history and reproductive choices may not have the same emotional rawness in Dizzia’s portrayal, but the larger story about the ongoing legal struggle for gender equality is powerfully served. (C.M.). Mark Taper Forum, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown L.A. Sun., next Sun., 1 and 6:30 p.m.; Tue.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2:30 and 8 p.m.; ends Feb. 28. $25 and up. (213) 628-2772.