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The week ahead in L.A. theater, Oct. 8-15: 'Helen Lawrence,' Karen Finley and more

The week ahead in L.A. theater, Oct. 8-15: 'Helen Lawrence,' Karen Finley and more
CAP UCLA presents Canadian Stage's multimedia-enhanced, film noir-style tale "Helen Lawrence" at Royce Hall. (David Cooper)

Capsule reviews are by Philip Brandes (P.B.), F. Kathleen Foley (F.K.F.), Margaret Gray (M.G.), Charles McNulty (C.M.), Daryl H. Miller (D.H.M.) and David C. Nichols (D.C.N.).

Openings

An Accident Griot Theatre stages Lydia Stryk's drama about a woman who is visited by the man who struck her with his car; contains nudity; 18 and over only. The Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A. Sun., next Sun., 3 p.m. Thu.-Sat., 8 p.m.; ends Oct. 29. $17.50, $25. (323) 205-6642.

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Cagney West Coast premiere of this bio-musical about the vaudeville star turned tough-guy actor. El Portal Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. Sun., 3 p.m.; Tue., 7:30 p.m.; Wed., 2 and 8 p.m.; Thu., 8 p.m.; Fri., next Sun., 2 and 8 p.m.; ends Oct. 29. $25-$89. (866) 811-4111.

Chisme y Queso Short sketches by local playwrights, plus improvisations based on audience suggestions; presented by Center Theater Group; 21 and up only. Eastside Luv Wine Bar, Boyle Heights, 1835 E. First St., Boyle Heights. Sun., 7:30 p.m. Free. www.centertheatregroup.org

Matt Groening & Lynda Barry: Love, Hate & Comics — The Friendship That Would Not Die The creator of "The Simpsons" and writer of "Ernie Pook's Comeek" share the stage in this CAP UCLA presentation. The Theatre at Ace Hotel, 933 S. Broadway, L.A. Sun., 7 p.m. $39.50–$69.50. (888) 929-7849.

A Mooving Night of Cow-medy Kevin Nealon ("SNL," "Weeds") headlines this benefit show. United Citizens Brigade Sunset, 5419 W. Sunset Blvd., L.A. Sun., 9 p.m. $60. www.sunset.ucbtheatre.com.

So Long, Boulder City Jimmy Fowlie's comedic take on Emma Stone's character's one-woman show in the 2016 musical "La La Land." Celebration Theatre @ The Lex, 6760 Lexington Ave, Hollywood. Sun., Mon.-Tue., next Sun., 8 p.m.; ends Nov. 6. $25. www.celebrationtheatre.com.

Twelve Angry Men Jurors must render a verdict in the case of a young man accused of murder in Reginald Rose's classic drama. Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach. Sun., 5:30 p.m.; Tue.-Fri., 7:30 p.m.; Sat., 2 and 7:30 p.m.; next Sun., 1 and 5:30 p.m.; ends Oct. 22. $45-$80. (949) 497-2787

High Winds Writer Sylvan Oswald performs this tale of a trans man who undertakes a fantastical journey; part of the LAX Festival. Bob Baker Marionette Theater, 1345 W. 1st St., L.A. Mon., 8 p.m. $20. (213) 446-9556.

Sorority Works-in-progress, readings, solo pieces, etc., by women, trans and queer performers; part of the LAX Festival. The Bootleg Theater, 2220 Beverly Blvd., L.A. Wed., 7 p.m. $20. (213) 446-9556.

Tilda Swinton Answers a Craigslist Ad The British actress, portrayed by "Buffy's" Tom Lenk, studies a shy gay man for a film role in Byron Lane's satirical comedy. Celebration Theatre @ The Lex, 6760 Lexington Ave, Hollywood. Wed., 8 p.m.; ends Oct. 25. $25. www.celebrationtheatre.com.

The Expanded Unicorn Gratitude Mystery Veteran performance artist Karen Finley surveys the current political, social and media landscapes in this solo show. REDCAT, 631 W. 2nd St., L.A. Thu.-Sat., 8:30 p.m.; next Sun., 7 p.m.; ends Oct. 15. $16-$25. (213) 237-2800.

La Brisa Teatro Línea de Sombra stages this fact-based drama about a bar in Ciudad Juárez that served as a center for activism in the 1990s; in Spanish with English supertitles; part of the LAX Festival. The Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring St., L.A. Thu., Sat., 8:30 p.m.; next Sun., 6 p.m.; ends Oct. 15. $25. (213) 489-0994.

Piaf! The Show Anne Carrère portrays the legendary French chanteuse in this bio-musical. Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine. Thu., 8 p.m. $38-$100. (949) 854-4646.

Play Mexico City-based ensemble Pentimento presents an interactive performance that tries to transform audience members into actors; part of the LAX Festival. Automata, 504 Chung King Ct., L.A. Thu.-Fri., 7 and 9 p.m.; Sat.-next Sun., 2, 4, 7 and 9 p.m.; ends Oct. 15. $20. (213) 446-9556.

Sinatra & Me "Rat Pack Confidential" star Richard Shelton salutes Ol' Blue Eyes. Catalina Bar & Grill, 6725 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood. Thu., 8:30 p.m. $15-$30; food and drink minimums apply. (866) 468-3399.

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Watch on the Rhine L.A. Theatre Works records Lillian Hellman's WWII-era thriller for its radio program; with Susan Sullivan. James Bridges Theater, UCLA, 235 Charles E. Young Drive, Westwood. Thu.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 and 8 p.m.; next Sun., 4 p.m.; ends Oct. 15. $15-$60. (310) 827-0889.

Afterlife: a ghost story A couple mourn the loss of their son in Steve Yockey's dramatic thriller. The Avery Schreiber Playhouse, 4934 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 7 p.m.; ends Nov. 12. $15, $20. (323) 860-6569.

American Dreamers Benefit features comedy, music and more, plus performers including Ernie G. and Josefina Lopez. The Los Angeles Theatre Center, Tom Bradley Theatre, 514 S. Spring St., L.A. Fri., 8 p.m. $25, $50. (866) 811-4111.

Collected Stories Donald Margulies' two-character drama about an author's contentious relationship with the grad student she mentors. Dorie Theater at the Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 3 p.m.; ends Nov. 5. $30. www.showorksentertainment.com

The Daughters of the Kush George W. Corbin's new drama about a historically black sorority in 1930s Iowa. Stella Adler Theatre, 6773 Hollywood Blvd., 2nd floor, Hollywood. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 3 p.m.; ends Oct. 29. $20-$30. (213) 908-5032.

The Final Girl The School of Night stages this '80s-themed thriller about a woman seeking revenge against a psychotic killer; contains adult language, sexuality and violence; no one under 17 admitted. The McCadden Place Theatre, 1157 N. McCadden Place, Hollywood. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 7 pm.; ends Nov. 4. $20. (800) 838-3006.

Helen Lawrence Canadian Stage blends theater and film in this noir-ish fable about assorted shady characters in post-WWII Vancouver; presented by CAP UCLA. Royce Hall, UCLA, 340 Royce Drive, Westwood. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; ends Oct. 14. $39-$79. (310) 825-2101.

The Hits Broadway veteran Sam Harris sings show tunes, standards and more. Catalina Bar & Grill, 6725 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood. Fri.-Sat., 8:30 p.m. $25-$50; food and drink minimums apply. (866) 468-3399.

Is He Dead? A 19th-century French painter fakes his own death to raise the value of paintings in Mark Twain's farce. Glendale Centre Theatre, 324 N. Orange St., Glendale. Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 and 8 p.m.; next Sun., 3 p.m.; ends Nov. 18. $20-$32. (818) 244-8481.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat 5-Star Theatricals (formerly Cabrillo Music Theatre) opens its season with the Tim Rice-Andrew Lloyd Webber musical based on the Biblical tale of Joseph; with Patrick Cassidy as Pharaoh. 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. 22. $36-$84. (800) 745-3000.

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Julie Brown's Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun — The Musical! Campy comedy based on Brown's 1980s-era novelty song. Cavern Club Theater at Casita del Campo, 1920 Hyperion Ave., L.A. Fri., 9 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Oct. 21. $30. www.cavernclubtheater.com.

Kaidan Project: Walls Grow Thin East West Players and Rogue Artists Ensemble join forces for this immersive, site-specific theatrical experience inspired by Japanese ghost stories; contains mature themes, language and violence. Six-story warehouse, address provided to ticket holders, L.A. Fri.-next Sun., with entry every 20 minutes, and up to 6 performances a night starting at 7:30 p.m.; ends Nov. 5. $65-$75; opening night, $125. (213) 596-9468.

Night of the Living Dead Brand-new stage adaptation updates the 1968 horror flick. Archway Studio/Theatre, 10509 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Oct. 1. $28. (818) 980-7529.

Turn Me Loose "Scandal's" Joe Morton portrays late comic and civil rights activist Dick Gregory in Gretchen Law's bio-drama. Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Lovelace Studio Theater, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills. Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2:30 and 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2:30 p.m.; ends Nov. 12. $60, $75. (310) 746-4000.

Cabaret Classic Kander & Ebb musical about the denizens of a decadent nightclub in pre-WWII Germany. The Studio at Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach. Sat., 8 p.m.; ends Nov. 18. $14-$27. (562) 494-1014.

Group Therapy Members of Poor Dog Group open up about the personal lives in this experimental work; part of the LAX Festival. The Bootleg Theater, 2220 Beverly Blvd., L.A. Sat., 2 p.m. $12. (213) 446-9556.

Gut Churn Radiolab's Jad Abumrad explores the creative process in this multimedia show. Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Cal State L.A., 5151 State University Drive, L.A. Sat., 8 p.m. $30-$50. (323) 343-6600.

LA Broads Staged readings of short plays and sketches by local female playwrights. The Flight Theater at the Complex, 6476 Santa Monic Blvd., Hollywood. Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m; ends Oct. 15. $5, $8. www.BroadsWordEnsemble.com.

Little Shop of Horrors Hit musical comedy based on the 1960 B-movie about a timid flower shop employee and a man-eating plant. Stage Door Repertory Theatre, 1045 N. Armando St., Anaheim Hills. Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 5 p.m.; ends Nov. 4. $22, $28. (714) 630-7378.

A Love Affair Jerry Mayer's comedy charts the ups and downs of one couple's 38-year marriage. Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 4th St., Santa Monica. Sat., 7:30 p.m.; next Sun., 3:30 p.m.; ends Nov. 19. $27.50, $35; reservations required. (310) 394-9779.

Mrs. Warren's Profession A recent university graduate discovers that her mother is actually a prostitute-turned-madame in George Bernard Shaw's classic drama. A Noise Within, 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena. Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Nov. 18. $25 and up; student rush, $20. (626) 356-3100.

Once in a Lifetime: A Musical Tribute to Sammy Davis, Jr. With Obba Babatundé. Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, 4718 W. Washington Blvd., L.A. Sat., 2 p.m. $30. $125. (323) 964-9766.

Sing Along with The Muppet Movie Family-friendly screening of the 1979 comedy features live puppetry, audience participation, etc. Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Samueli Theater, 615 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. Sat., 1 p.m.; next Sun., 1 and 4:30 p.m.; ends Oct. 15. Free with purchase of a goodie bag. (714) 556-2787.

The Ugly Duckling Storybook Theatre offers a family-friendly interactive musical based on the fairytale. Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, L.A. Sat., 1 p.m.; ends March 3. $12, $15. (818) 761-2203.

Upright Citizens Brigade All-Stars Improv comedy with "SNL" alum Horatio Sanz and others. Valley Performing Arts Center, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge. Sat., 8 p.m. $25 and up. (818) 677-3000.

An Evening With Neile Adams The showbiz veteran shares songs and stories. Catalina Bar & Grill, 6725 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood. Next Sun., 7:30 p.m. $20; food and drink minimums apply. (323) 466-2210.

Thelma Houston: My Motown Memories & More! The R&B singer shares songs and stories in this cabaret show. The Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, 4708 W. Washington St., L.A. Next Sun., 7:30 p.m. $35 and up. (323) 964-9766.

Critics’ Choices

The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey If you're the kind of person who enjoys human-centered stories, who can't resist a detective yarn and who enjoys watching an actor impersonate a town full of kooky yet hilariously recognizable characters, James Lecesne's off-Broadway sleeper about the disappearance of a teen whose fabulousness doesn't conform to restrictive Jersey Shore gender expectations is what you've been waiting for. (C.M.) The Old Globe, San Diego, 1363 Old Globe Way, San Diego. Sun., next Sun., 2 and 7 p.m.; Tue., 7 p.m.; Wed., 2 and 7 p.m.; Thu.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 and 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 and 7 p.m.; ends Oct. 29. $30 and up. (619) 234-5623.

Ain't Misbehavin' When Thomas "Fats" Waller played, life was a party. The revue built of his jumping jazz returns in a terrific staging by original cast member Ken Page for McCoy Rigby Entertainment. The five fantastic singers include Frenchie Davis, whom you might recognize from "American Idol" or "The Voice." Mostly, the music bubbles with high spirits, but when it turns serious it resonates anew as the all-black company sings about being "Black and Blue." (D.H.M.) La Mirada Theatre, 14900 La Mirada Blvd., La Mirada. Ends Sun., 2 p.m. $20-$70. (562) 944-9801.

Billy Boy Veteran playwright Nick Salamone once again treats his own Catholic upbringing as a primary theme in this loosely autobiographical, boldly non-linear work about a regretful gay man confronting the tragically lost loves of his past life, all of whom he abandoned at critical junctures. Director Jon Lawrence Rivera, Salamone's frequent collaborator, delivers a luminous staging, mooring his solidly capable performers, including Rachel Sorsa, Matt Pascua, and Salamone himself, in a bracing naturalism that emphasizes the piece's inherent mystery. (F.K.F.) Playwrights' Arena at Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave., L.A. Sun., next Sun., 7 p.m.; Mon., Fri., 8:30 p.m.; Sat., 8 p.m.; ends Oct. 15. $15-$30. (800) 838-3006.

Daytona Set in 1986 Brooklyn, Oliver Cotton's flawed but fascinating play about three Holocaust survivors dealing with the explosive legacy of the past receives an optimum staging from director Elina de Santos and her superlative cast. De Santos is a proven, protean director, and this production stands beside her very best work, while George Wyner, Sharron Shayne and Richard Fancy are extraordinary performers at the peak of their craft who invest the play with a harrowing emotionalism that is unforgettable. (F.K.F.) Rogue Machine Theatre (in The Met), 1089 N. Oxford Ave., L.A. Sun., next Sun., 3 p.m.; Mon., Sat., 8:30 p.m.; ends Oct. 30. $40. (855) 585-5185.

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Fixed Amid drag balls and cross-dressing massage parlors, Boni B. Alvarez tells a tale of two people who might find love if the world would just leave them alone. His new play powerfully addresses identity and authenticity. (D.H.M.) Echo Theater Company, Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave., L.A. Sun., next Sun., 4 p.m.; Mon., Fri.-Sat., 8:30 p.m.; next Sun., 4 p.m.; ends Oct. 22. $20, $34. (310) 307-3753.

La Razón Blindada Presented in Spanish with English supertitles, this sharply political play sheds light on Argentina's infamous "Dirty War" as filtered through the deeply personal perspective of writer-director Aristídes Vargas, who experienced the madness first-hand. Vargas' harrowing, surprisingly funny piece centers around two political prisoners who escape into the world of Cervantes' "Don Quixote" during their incarceration. Hallucinatory, trance-inducing and surreal, this deeply humanistic production hammers home man's gross capacity for inhumanity — and his transcendent ability to endure. (F.K.F.) 24th Street Theatre, 1117 W. 24th St., L.A. Sun., next Sun., 3 p.m.; Sat., 3 and 7:30 p.m.; ends Oct. 15. $10-$24. (213) 745-6516.

Rhinoceros With darkly hilarious urgency, this superbly staged and disconcertingly timely revival illuminates playwright Eugene Ionesco's absurdist warning about the seductively corrosive lure of herd mentality and the fragility of civilized norms we take for granted. (P.B.) Pacific Resident Theatre, 703 Venice Blvd., Venice. Sun., next Sun., 3 p.m.; Sat., 8 p.m.; ends Oct. 22. $25-$34; discounts available. (310) 822-8392.

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