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Entertainment & Arts

The week ahead in SoCal theater, Sept. 30-Oct. 7: ‘Oppenheimer,’ ‘Gloria’ and more

Oppenheimer Rogue Machine Theatre
James Liebman, center, portrays physicist Robert Oppenheimer in the West Coast premiere of the biographical drama “Oppenheimer” at Rogue Machine Theatre.
(John Perrin Flynn)

Capsule reviews are by Philip Brandes (P.B.), Charles McNulty (C.M.) and Daryl H. Miller (D.H.M.).

Openings

Connectivity Staged reading of Nancy Beverly’s drama about two strangers struggling to survive on a remote island. Theatre 40, 241 S. Moreno Drive, Beverly Hills. Sun., 7 p.m. Free. (310) 364-0535.

From Broadway to Italy Brothers Will and Anthony Nunziata perform show tunes, standards and more. Upstairs at Vitello’s, 4349 Tujunga Ave., Studio City. Sun., 7:30 p.m. $20 and up. (877) 987-6487.

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Fran Lebowitz The social commentator chats with KCRW’s Matt Holzman in this CAP UCLA presentation. The Theatre at Ace Hotel, 929 S. Broadway, L.A. Sun., 7 p.m. $29.50–$59.50. (310) 825-2101.

Hundred Days Husband-and-wife writer-performers Abigail and Shaun Bengson celebrate living life to the fullest in this intimate musical memoir. La Jolla Playhouse, Mandell Weiss Forum, 2910 La Jolla Village Drive, La Jolla. Sun., 7 p.m.; Tue.-Wed., 7:30 p.m.; Thu.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 and 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 and 7 p.m.; ends Oct. 21. $35 and up. (858) 550-1010.

James Garner: A Musical Tribute to Johnny Cash The country music legend is celebrated with songs and stories. Carpenter Performing Arts Center, 6200 Atherton St., Long Beach. Sun., 2 p.m. $40. (562) 985-7000.

Shirley MacLaine The Oscar-winner shares stories from her life and career. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, 18000 Park Plaza Drive, Cerritos. Sun., 2 p.m. $40-$75. (562) 916-8500.

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Tomás and the Library Lady Family-friendly bilingual play with music. Pepperdine University, Smothers Theatre, 24255 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu. Sun., 2 p.m. $10 and up. (310) 506-4522.

Totalmente Juan Gabriel West Coast premiere of Aida Cuevas’ tribute to the late Mexican singer-songwriter. Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine. Sun., 7 p.m. $45-$100. (949) 854-4646.

Voombodian Women From Outer Space Staged reading of Barry Schwam and Bronson Rogers’ sci-fi farce. Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre. Sun., 7 p.m. Free. (626) 355-4318.

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

Donny Most & Elijah Rock Celebrate the Classic Crooners The vocalists perform favorites by Sinatra, Nat King Cole and others. Catalina Bar & Grill, 6725 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood. Wed., 8:30 p.m. $25. (323) 466-2210.

Mostly Broadway Starring David Burnham The musical-theater veteran performs. Carpenter Performing Arts Center, 6200 Atherton St., Long Beach. Wed.-Thu., 7 p.m. $45, $55. (562) 985-7000.

Villainy, or H.H. Holmes’ Own Story John Strysik’s new fact-based drama about the notorious 19th century serial killer. Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. Wed., 8 p.m.; ends Nov. 7. $25. (800) 838-3006.

The Bench, A Homeless Love Story Writer-performer Robert Galinsky explores homelessness and the AIDS crisis in the 1980s in this fact-based solo drama. Hudson Guild Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. Thu.-Fri., 8 p.m.; ends Nov. 9. $25. (323) 960-7822.

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The Tempest Shakespeare’s fantastical tale about a banished duke, his daughter and others on a magical isle. Brand Park, 1601 W. Mountain Ave., Glendale. Thu.-Sat., 7:30 p.m.; ends Oct. 20. Free; donations accepted; reservations required. www.deanproductionstheatre.com

American Saga — Gunshot Medley: Part 1 Rogue Machine presents a double-cast production of Dionna Michelle Daniel’s fantastical new drama with music, set in a haunted graveyard in North Carolina, about the struggle against systemic racism. WLCAC Theatre, 10950 S. Central Ave., Watts. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Oct. 14. $35; pay what you can, local residents only. (855) 585-5185.

Avenue Q Musical comedy with puppets, like an adult version of a kids’ show; for ages 13 and up. Cupcake Theater, 11020 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood. Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 7 p.m.; next Sun., 4 p.m.; ends Nov. 25. $39-$79. www.cupcaketheater.com

Chinese Warriors of Peking Acrobats and martial artists perform. Musco Center for the Arts, Chapman University, 1 University Drive, Orange. Fri., 7:30 p.m. $20-$50. (844) 626-8726.

Double Play Pairing of Dennis Danziger’s 1980 one-act romantic comedy “Pennant Fever,” about two lonely people who meet at a baseball game, with his new follow-up, “Home Plate,” set 28 years later. The Stephanie Feury Theatre, 5636 Melrose Ave., L.A. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m; end Oct 28. $25. (323) 463-7378.

Groundlings Halloween Show Sketches and improv. Groundlings Theatre, 7307 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood. Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 8 and 10 p.m.; ends Oct. 27. $22. (323) 934-4747.

House on Haunted Hill Live reading of the screenplay for the classic 1959 horror flick; with drag stars Drew Droege, Roz Drezfalez and others. Cavern Club Celebrity Theater, Casita Del Campo, 1920 Hyperion Ave., L.A. Fri.-Sat., 9 p.m. $30, $35. (800) 838-3006.

She Stoops to Conquer A marriageable young woman sets her sights on a well-to-do Londoner in Oliver Goldsmith’s 19th century romantic comedy. West Valley Playhouse, 7242 Owensmouth Ave., Canoga Park. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2:30 p.m.; ends Oct. 28. $26, $28. (818) 884-1907.

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Urban Death Tour of Terror Immersive Halloween-themed theatrical attraction. Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. Fri.-Sat., 8, 9, 10, 10:45 and 11:30 p.m.; ends Nov. 3. $15. (818) 202-4120.

Wicked Lit 2018 Unbound Productions’ 10th presentation of immersive, site-specific spooky tales includes adaptations of Dickens’ “The Chimes: A Goblin Story” and Ernest Rhys’ “Teig O’Kane and the Corpse.” Mountain View Mausoleum and Cemetery, 2300 N. Marengo Ave., Altadena. Fri.-next Sun., 7:30 and 9 p.m.; ends Nov. 10. $30 and up. (323) 332-2065.

Tim Allen The sitcom star performs an adults-only stand-up show. Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Segerstrom Hall, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. Sat., 8 p.m. $84 and up. (714) 556-2787.

David Brighton’s Space Oddity 2018: The Ultimate David Bowie Experience Tribute artist celebrates the late rock musician. El Portal Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. Sat., 8 p.m. $20-$75. (866) 811-4111.

Everything That Never Happened Sarah B. Mantell’s time-bending new dramedy uses Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” to explore Jewish life and history. Boston Court, 70 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena. Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Nov. 4. $20-$39. (626) 683-6801.

Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band The Latin Grammy-winning children’s entertainers perform. Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Samueli Theater, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. Sat., 1 p.m.; next Sun., 1 and 3:30 p.m.; ends Oct. 7. $20. (714) 556-2787.

Night Fever — The Bee Gees Tribute Salute to the Australian pop trio. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, 18000 Park Plaza Drive, Cerritos. Sat., 8 p.m. $35-$65. (562) 916-8500.

Oppenheimer For the first show at its new venue, Rogue Machine Theatre presents the U.S. premiere of Tom Morton-Smith’s bio-drama about physicist and Manhattan Project leader J. Robert Oppenheimer. Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Ave., Venice. Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 3 p.m.; ends Dec. 30. $40. (855) 585-5185.

The School for Lies Ensemble Theatre Company stages David Ives’ rhyming-verse adaptation of Molière’s classic farce “The Misanthrope.” The New Vic, 33 W. Victoria St., Santa Barbara. Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 and 7 p.m.; ends Oct. 21. $40-$75. (805) 965-5400.

10th Anniversary Celebration of Stories From the Golden Age Includes a theatrical performance based on the L. Ron Hubbard mystery novel “Spy Killer.” L. Ron Hubbard Theatre, 7051 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. Sat., 7:30 p.m. $15. (323) 466-3310.

Trainwreck Writer-director Bree Pavey’s new fable uses archetypal circus characters and choreographed movement to explore the darker corners of the human mind. Loft Ensemble Theater, 13442 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 7 p.m.; ends Nov. 18. $20. (818) 616-3150.

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike A movie star returns to her family’s home in Pennsylvania in Christopher Durang’s Tony-winning, Chekhov-inspired farce; Bart DeLorenzo directs. South Coast Repertory, Julianne Argyros Stage, 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. Sat., next Sun., 2 and 7:45 p.m.; ends Oct. 21. $23 and up. (714) 708-5555.

The Woody Guthrie Story A salute to the folk singer, songwriter and activist. Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga. Sat., 2 p.m. $10-$25; 5 and under, free. (310) 455-3723.

Dr. Bradley’s Fabulous Functional Narcissism ... The Psychoanalytic Odyssey of a Once Glorified Chorus Boy A Broadway veteran turned psychoanalyst shares stories from his life and career in this solo show. Sterling’s Upstairs at the Federal, 5303 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. Next Sun., 7 p.m. $28.42. (800) 838-3006.

Fancy Nancy, The Musical Family-friendly show based on the children’s books. Chance Theater, 5522 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim. Next Sun., 5 p.m.; ends Oct. 28. $21-$30; discounts available. (888) 455-4212.

Inara George Presents Eleni Mandell’s Song Club Music and conversation with local songwriters including George, Mandell, and Van Dyke Parks; KPCC’s John Horn moderates. Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga. Next Sun., 4 p.m. $25, $35. (310) 455-3723.

jackbenny Brothers Jack and Benny Lipson perform a topical two-act show. The Lyric Hyperion Theatre, 2106 Hyperion Ave., Silver Lake. Next Sun., 7 p.m. $15. (323) 928-2299.

Michael Feinstein: The Great American Songbook The singer-pianist performs classic tunes. Smothers Theatre, Pepperdine University, 24255 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu. Next Sun., 2 p.m. $40-$70. (310) 506-4522.

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. Ends Sun., 2 p.m. $20-$40. (323) 663-1525.

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. (P.B.) Geffen Playhouse, Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Westwood. Sun., next Sun., 2 and 7 p.m.; Tue.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 and 8 p.m.; ends Oct. 21. $30-$120. (310) 208-5454.

Gloria It’s a given in a work by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins that something startling will occur that will have you rethinking everything you thought you understood about the play. It would be a disservice to give away what happens in this smart and bitingly funny workplace comedy, set initially in a New York magazine office staffed by wildly ambitious millennial assistants. But the writing and acting in this Echo Theater Company production are so scrupulously observed that the unpredictable turns feel completely and terrifyingly natural. (C.M.) Echo Theater Company, Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave., L.A. Sun., next Sun., 4 p.m.; Mon., Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; ends Oct. 22. $34; Mondays, $20 in advance or pay-what-you-will at the door. (310) 307-3753.

School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play Set at a boarding school in central Ghana in 1986, Jocelyn Bioh’s play follows the youthful rivalries and machinations of a group of high school girls. (Fans of the “Mean Girls” movie will appreciate how Bioh has made the underlying concept completely her own.) The plotting is formulaic, but the cultural setting introduces new wrinkles into the familiar setup. The production, which originated off-Broadway, is under the pitch-perfect direction of Rebecca Taichman. It’s hard to imagine a better staging. (C.M.) Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City. Ends Sun., 1 and 6:30 p.m. $25-$72. (213) 628-2772.

Sweat Directed with a firm narrative grip by Lisa Peterson, Lynn Nottage’s 2017 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama set in a blue-collar bar in a faltering factory town in Pennsylvania in 2000 offers one of the most insightful explorations of the economic insecurity that has been fueling the political fury and racial tensions now engulfing us. (C.M.) Mark Taper Forum, 135 N. Grand Ave., L.A. Sun., 6:30 p.m.; Tue.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2:30 and 8 p.m.; next Sun., 1 and 6:30 p.m.; ends Oct. 7. $30-$99. (213) 628-2772.


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