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Entertainment & Arts

The 99-Seat Beat: Sexual confusion, a Sharr White premiere and Marissa Jaret Winokur

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Melissa Peterman and Marissa Jaret Winokur in “Heartbreak Help.”
(Adam Southard)

Sexual confusion, real-life drama, Marissa Jaret Winokur and a world premiere by Sharr White: It’s a full week in Los Angeles’ intimate theaters. Here are our weekly picks — productions you might otherwise miss at 99-seat theaters and other small venues.


1. “Billy Boy” at Playwrights’ Arena

The essentials: Veteran Los Angeles playwright Nick Salamone’s works have included “Riffs and Credos,” about a dying priest’s hallucinatory final days, and “The Sonneteer,” about the ravaging consequences of a closeted life. His director is Jon Lawrence Rivera, founder of Playwrights’ Arena, which champions works by L.A. playwrights. The two have a track record that bodes well for this production.

Why this? Salamone has said his non-linear works are often loosely autobiographical. In this premiere, he examines the rippling effects of shame on a sexually conflicted young man’s emotional development — a theme he has exploited to shattering effect in the past.

Details: A Playwrights’ Arena production at Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave., L.A. 8 p.m. Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sundays, 8:30 p.m. Mondays, through Oct. 15. Also 8:30 p.m. Oct. 13. $25-$30. www.playwrightsarena.org

Matt Pascua, left, and Nick Salamone in "Billy Boy."
Matt Pascua, left, and Nick Salamone in "Billy Boy." (Playwrights' Arena)

2. “Stupid Kid” at the Road on Magnolia

The essentials: Sharr White, the rising playwright behind this work, recently had his play “The Other Place,” starring Laurie Metcalf and Daniel Stern, leap from off-Broadway to the Manhattan Theatre Club’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. “Stupid Kid” director Cameron Watson is a veteran with deep roots in the L.A. scene. The fact that the Road has scored a world premiere by White is a coup for this well-regarded company.

Why this? As evidenced in the 2013 production of “Annapurna” at the Odyssey (and a later run off-Broadway), White can segue effortlessly from hilarity to wrenching poignancy. “Stupid Kid,” described as a “gothic western” about a young man returning home after 14 years in prison for a crime he swears he didn’t commit, may present similar comic-tragic opportunities.

Details: The Road on Magnolia, 10747 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood. 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays; ends Nov. 12. $34. (818) 761-8838. www.RoadTheatre.org

Taylor Gilbert, from left, Joe Hart, Ben Theobald and Allison Blaize in "Stupid Kid."
Taylor Gilbert, from left, Joe Hart, Ben Theobald and Allison Blaize in "Stupid Kid." (Brian Cole)

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3. “Heartbreak Help” at the Complex

The essentials: Justin Tanner has penned a plethora of plays, droll comedies (“Voice Lessons,” “Pot Mom”) populated with lost eccentrics orbiting Los Angeles and its environs.

Why this? This play, a revival of a well-received 1996 show, is a hoot — a rewritten one-act about women on a spiritual retreat in Joshua Tree. It features four well-known comic actors including Tony winner Marissa Jaret Winokur (“Hairspray”).

Details: The Dorie Theatre at the Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A. 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 3 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays; ends Oct. 1. $25-$30. heartbreakhelp.bpt.me


Marty Dew plays Fred Herko.
Marty Dew plays Fred Herko. (Ed Krieger)

4. “Freddy” at Caminito Theatre

The essentials: Deborah Lawlor co-founded Los Angeles’ acclaimed Fountain Theatre in 1990 with Stephen Sachs. This world premiere, written by Lawlor, directed by Frances Loy and choreographed by Cate Caplin, launches the Fountain’s new partnership with the Los Angeles City College’s Theatre Academy.

Why this? Lawlor, whose flamenco showcases have long been a fixture at the Fountain, began her career on the New York dance scene. She’s well equipped to write the real-life story of Fred Herko, the dancer and Warhol factory habitué whose descent into addiction, homelessness and despair culminated in ritualistic tragedy.

Details: A Fountain Theatre and LACC Theatre Academy co-production at the Caminito Theatre, LACC, 855 N. Vermont Ave., L.A. Opens Wednesday, with performances 8 p.m. Wednesdays, 3 and 8 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; ends Oct. 14. $25. (323) 663-1525, www.FountainTheatre.com


The 99-Seat Beat appears every Friday. Our team of reviewers — people with more than 50 years of combined experience tracking local theater — shortlist current offerings at 99-seat theaters and other smaller venues. Some (but not all) recommendations are shows we’ve seen; others have caught our attention because of the track record of the company, playwright, director or cast. You can find more comprehensive theater listings posted every Sunday at latimes.com/arts.

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MORE THEATER NEWS AND REVIEWS:

Review: ‘Incognito’ at the Rubicon

Review: Matthew Bourne’s ‘The Red Shoes’

Review: 'Ain't Misbehavin' ‘ at La Mirada Theatre

Review: Paul Rudnick’s new ‘Big Night’ at the Kirk Douglas

The playwright who’s big in L.A.'s small theaters

Interview with Matthew Bourne on the American premiere of ‘Red Shoes’

Marc Masterson stepping down as artistic director at South Coast Rep


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