The week ahead in SoCal theater, Sept. 16-23: ‘The Cake,’ ‘Nightwalk in the Chinese Garden’ and more

Debra Jo Rupp, left, reprises her starring role in a remount of Bekah Brunstetter’s LGBT-themed comedy drama "The Cake" at the Geffen Playhouse. With Carolyn Ratteray.
(Darrett Sanders)

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


Hot Off the Press Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival presents excerpts from new works. Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. Sun., 7 p.m. $10. (818) 760-0408.

I, As Well “SNL’s” Julia Sweeney muses about the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements in this solo comedy. The Groundlings School, Gary Austin Theatre, 7280 Melrose Ave., L.A. Sun., next Sun., 6 p.m.; ends Nov. 4. $10. (323) 934-4747.

Jackie Beat & Sherry Vine The drag performers share the stage in this encore show. Cavern Club Theater, 1920 Hyperion Ave., L.A. Sun., 7 p.m. $25. (800) 838-3006.

The Mousetrap Agatha Christie’s classic thriller about strangers stranded together during a snowstorm with a murderer among them. Crown City Theatre Company, 11031 Camarillo St., North Hollywood. Sun., next Sun., 3 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; ends Oct. 21. $20. (818) 605-5685.


The Gale Improv show celebrates the LGBTQ journey. Groundlings Theatre, 7307 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood. Mon., 8 p.m. $16. (323) 934-4747.

Nathan C. Jones: A Love Story? Benefit reading of a new one-man musical. The Blank’s 2nd Stage Theatre, 6500 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. Mon., 8 p.m. $25. (323) 661-9827.

I Dig Rock & Roll Music Musical revue salutes classic folk-rock tunes and protest songs from the 1960s and 70s. Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach. Wed.-Fri., 7:30 p.m.; Sat., 2 and 7:30 p.m.; next Sun., 1 p.m.; ends Sept. 23. $45-$60. (949) 497-2787.

KAMP Dutch theater collective Hotel Modern uses scale models and miniature figurines to re-create the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz in this multimedia-enhanced work. REDCAT, 631 W. 2nd St., L.A. Thu.-Sat., 8:30 p.m.; next Sun. 7 p.m.; ends Sept. 29. $27–$37. (213) 237-2800.


Ring of Red Mexican American military veterans and their wives share their stories in Tomás Summers Sandoval’s docudrama. Bootleg Theater, 2220 Beverly Blvd., L.A. Thu.-Sat., 7 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Sept. 30. (213) 389-3856.

26 Pebbles The community of Newtown, Conn., comes together in the aftermath of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2013 in Eric Ulloa’s fact-based drama. Theatre 40, Reuben Cordova Theatre, 241 S. Moreno Drive, Beverly Hills. Thu., 8 p.m.; Fri., 7 p.m.; Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Oct. 14. $35. (310) 364-0535.

UK Underdog A bullied Jewish boy in London transforms himself in writer-performer Steve Spiro’s new drama. Zephyr Theatre, 7456 Melrose Ave., L.A. Thu.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Oct. 28. $25. (323) 960-7788.

Zeitgeist Six new short works by established playwrights that examine current social and political trends. The Echo Theater Company, Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave., L.A. Thu.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 7:30 p.m.; ends Sept. 30. $34; Sundays, pay what you want. (310) 307-3753.


Airplane! The Reading!! The Final Chapter!!! Uncensored re-imagining of the first table-reading of the original script for the hit 1980 comedy; with special guests Robert Forster and David Zucker. Coldwater Canyon Park, Taper Amphitheatre, 12601 Mulholland Drive, Beverly Hills. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m. $15-$45. (818) 623-4877.

American Hero IAMA Theatre Company stages the L.A. premiere of Bess Wohl’s darkly comic tale about workers at a struggling sandwich shop during the recession. Pasadena Playhouse, Carrie Hamilton Theatre, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 7 p.m.; ends Oct. 21. $30, $40. 323-380-8843.

Blood Rock: The Musical New musical drama about rival vampire gangs in Philadelphia. Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West L.A. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Sept. 30. $39.50.

LA Escena Inaugural bilingual festival showcasing Hispanic classical theater features works by or inspired by noted Spanish-language writers including Cervantes, Lope de Vega and María de Zayas. Greenway Court Theatre, 544 N. Fairfax Ave., L.A. Fri.-Sat., 6 and 8 p.m.; next Sun., 5 and 7 p.m.; ends Sept. 23. $10. (800) 838-3006.


Nightwalk in the Chinese Garden Tales set in 16th-century China and 1920 Los Angeles converge in the world premiere of this fantastical site-specific drama from writer-director Stan Lai; in English, with some passages sung in Chinese; co-presented by CalArts Center for New Performance. The Huntington, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino. Fri.-Sat., 7:30 p.m.; ends Oct. 26. $85-$150. (626) 405-2100.

On Clover Road Reneé O’Connor (“Xena: Warrior Princess”) stars in the L.A. premiere of Steven Dietz’s thriller about a woman who enlists a deprogrammer to help rescue her daughter from a cult. Little Fish Theatre, 777 Centre St., San Pedro. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; ends Oct. 20. $15-$27. (310) 512-6030.

The Rescued Julie Marie Myatt’s new drama draws parallels between the recently incarcerated and rescue animals. The Road Theatre on Magnolia, NoHo Senior Arts Colony, 10747 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Nov. 11. $15, $34. (818) 761-8838.

Rope Two students plan the perfect murder in Patrick Hamilton’s classic thriller that later became a 1948 Hitchcock film. Actors Co-op, Crossley Theatre, 1760 N. Gower St., Hollywood. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2:30 p.m.; ends Oct. 28. $25-$35. (323) 462-8460.


Thoroughly Modern Millie Tony-winning musical based on the 1967 film about flappers in New York City during the Jazz Age. Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center, 3050 Los Angeles Ave., Simi Valley. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Oct. 21. $18-$25. (805) 583-7900.

Wolf Cub A woman comes of age during troubled times in this solo drama by writer-director Ché Walker. McCadden Place Theatre, 1157 N. McCadden Place, Hollywood. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; ends Oct. 13. $14. (800) 838-3006.

Blind Spot CAP UCLA opens its season with this multimedia-enhanced collaboration between photographer and author Teju Cole and jazz pianist Vijay Iyer. The Theatre at Ace Hotel, 933 S. Broadway, L.A. Sat., 8 p.m. $29.50–$59.50. (310) 825-2101.

Miranda Sings Live... No Offense Writer-performer Colleen Ballinger performs as herself and her YouTube alter-ego in this music-and-comedy show. Musco Center for the Arts, Chapman University, 415 N. Glassell St., Orange. Sat., 7:30 p.m. $39.50-$70. (844) 626-8726.


Old Clown Wanted Three aging clowns vie for the same job in the West Coast premiere of Romanian-French playwright Matei Visniec’s absurdist fable; performed in English. Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West L.A. Sat., 8 p..; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Nov. 4. $32-$37. (310) 477-2055.

She Loves Me Musical based on the 1930s-era Hungarian play that inspired the romantic comedies “The Shop Around the Corner” and “You’ve Got Mail.” Morgan-Wixson Theatre, 2627 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica. Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Oct. 14. $23, $28. (310) 828-7519.

Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary detective plays a dangerous game in Jeffrey Hatcher’s darkly comic mystery. Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach. Sat., 8 p.m.; ends Oct. 20. $14-$27. (562) 494-1014.

Sing-a-long Sound of Music Celebration of the beloved 1965 Julie Andrews film based on the Broadway musical; Melissa Peterman hosts. Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood. Sat., 6 p.m. $14-$99. (323) 850-2000.


Tenor by Night A mannequin salesman’s dream of becoming a professional opera singer takes a fantastical turn in James Chiao’s semi-autobiographical new musical. The El Portal Theater, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. Sat.-next Sun., 2 and 7:30 p.m.; ends Sept. 26. $25-$45. (818) 508-4200.

Come Together: When the 1960s Met the 1970s Vocalist Carole J. Bufford performs classic pop hits from the era in this cabaret show. Upstairs at Vitello’s, 4349 Tujunga Ave., Studio City. Next Sun., 7:30 p.m. $20 and up. (877) 987-6487.

Future Court: The Bindy Lipton Massacre A woman stands trial for crimes against artificial intelligence in the year 3032 in David Dickens’ new thriller; for ages 16 and up. Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. Next Sun., 8:30 p.m.; ends Oct. 24. $15. (818) 202-4120.

Mame Musical Theatre Guild opens their season with this classic Jerry Herman musical about a bohemian woman during the Depression Era. The Alex Theatre, 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale. Next Sun., 7 p.m. $45. (818) 243-2539.


The Subject Staged reading of Carolyn Kras’ historical thriller set in the court of England’s King George III. Theatre 40, Reuben Cordova Theatre, 241 S. Moreno Dr., Beverly Hills. Next Sun., 7 p.m. $5 suggested donation. (310) 364-0535.

Critics’ Choices

Arrival & Departure Noel Coward’s 1945 screenplay for “Brief Encounter” inspires playwright Stephen Sachs’ tale of two present-day Manhattan commuters, a hard-of-hearing woman and Deaf man, who meet by chance and begin to fall in love. Problem is, they are already married to others. Moral and emotional conundrums add twist after twist to this sadly beautiful yet hopeful romance, which is gracefully directed by Sachs and gorgeously performed by Deanne Bray and Troy Kotsur. (D.H.M.) The Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave. L.A. Sun., next Sun., 2 p.m.; Mon., Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; ends Sept. 30. $20-$40; Mondays, pay what you want (subject to availability). (323) 663-1525.

Cabaret The world is ending? What good is sitting alone in your room, where you’ll merely brood? Come see what director Michael Matthews has cooked up in an especially dark take on this ever-relevant musical. The dancing is sexy, the emcee is a bit magical, and everyone’s partying like there’s no tomorrow. (D.H.M.) Celebration Theatre, 6760 Lexington Ave., L.A. Ends Sun., 2 p.m. $25-$65. (323) 957-1884.

The Cake With understanding, respect and compassion for opposing points of view, “This is Us” writer/co-producer Bekah Brunstetter’s impeccably staged new dramedy explores the human repercussions when that quintessential symbol of union and hope — the wedding cake — becomes a flashpoint in the culture war over marriage equality; with “That ’70s Show’s” Debra Jo Rupp. Geffen Playhouse, Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Westwood. Thu.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 and 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 and 7 p.m.; ends Oct. 21. $30-$120. (310) 208-5454


I Go Somewhere Else This inventive new play by rising L.A. playwright Inda Craig-Galván tells an autobiographical tale about a black mother’s internalized racism and her daughter’s resistance to it. Boundaries of time and space are stripped away to allow us to see the daughter’s perspectives at different periods in her life. Director Jon Lawrence Rivera and a riveting cast deliver the story with lyricism and grace. (D.H.M.) Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave., L.A. Sun., 4 p.m.; Mon., 8 p.m.; ends Sept. 17. $25, $30; discounts available. (800) 838-3006.

Sense and Sensibility South Coast Repertory’s 55th season opens with a delicious stage adaptation of the beloved Jane Austen novel about two marriageable sisters governed, respectively, by the head and by the heart. Jessica Swale’s script streamlines the plot while preserving Austen’s gently mocking characterizations and tongue-in-cheek humor, and director Casey Stangl imparts such taut suspense to drawing-room intrigues that the audience gasps each time a visitor is announced. Hilary Ward and Rebecca Mozo are irresistible as Elinor and Marianne, and the supporting cast members, who all play multiple roles, continually delight and surprise with their witty performances and sumptuous period costumes. (M.G.) South Coast Repertory, Segerstrom Stage, 655 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa. Sun., next Sun., 2:30 and 7:30 p.m.; Tue.-Thu., 7:30 p.m.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2:30 and 8 p.m.; ends Sept 29. $23 and up. (714) 708-5555.