Martin Sheen
(Photo courtesy of CTG)
Martin Sheen
(Photo courtesy of CTG)
An American classic is given a fresh look when Martin Sheen stars in Frank D. Gilroy's hard-hitting 1965 kitchen-sink drama The Subject Was Roses (Mark Taper Forum, February 10-March 21). Having played the son in the original production of this Tony and Pulitzer-winning three-hander, as well as in its 1968 film version, Sheen now takes the patriarch role. Frances Conroy plays the mother and Brian Geraghty appears as the son.

There's additional star power on hand in Joanna Murray-Smith's comedy The Female of the Species (Geffen Playhouse, February 2-March 14), starring Oscar and Tony nominee Annette Bening, as well as David Arquette, Julian Sands, Mireille Enos, Josh Stamberg, and Merritt Wever. Bening plays a feminist author with writer's block who gets kidnapped. Another frequently lauded actor, Ed Harris, appears at the Geffen at the intimate Audrey Skirball Kenis space in Neil LaBute's Wrecks (February 4-March 7), a solo drama about a used-car salesman who has lost his wife of 30 years.

Musicals are abundant this month, highlighted by a tour engagement of director-choreographer Robert Longbottom's revival of the ever-popular doo-wop tuner Dreamgirls (Ahmanson Theatre, February 25-April 4). American Idol winner Fantasia reprises her starring role as Celie in the touring edition of the rousing The Color Purple (Pantages Theatre, February 10-28). The debuting musical Broads! (El Portal Forum Theatre, February 13-April 4) is said to be about "four ladies of a certain age." Ivonne Coll, June Gable, Leslie Easterbrook, and Barbara Niles star, under the direction of Jules Aaron, with choreography by Kay Cole. A new bio-musical, in its West Coast premiere, Backwards in High Heels: The Ginger Rogers Story, is presented by Fullerton Civic Light Opera, at Plummer Auditorium, February 12-28. The effervescent Broadway tuner Dirty Rotten Scoundrels receives an intimate staging, courtesy of Interact Theatre Company at the NoHo Arts Center (February 9-March 21). One of Stephen Sondheim's most critically divided shows, Merrily We Roll Along (Chance Theater, through March 7) returns. And the William Finn-Rachel Sheinkin tuner The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is back in the Southland (McCoy Rigby Entertainment at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, February 5-21).

The warped political humor of Christopher Durang will be on view in Why Torture is Wrong and the People Who Love Them (Blank Theatre Company at the Stella Adler Theatre, through March 14). The stellar cast includes Christine Estabrook, Catherine Hicks, Alec Mapa, and Nicholas Brendon. Mayhem in Malibu occurs in Barbara's Wedding (2nd Stage Theatre, February 11-March 6), set in La Streisand's neighborhood on the day of her 1998 nuptials. The wickedly funny Souvenir (Falcon Theatre, through February 28) tells the true story of the unorthodox singing career of Florence Foster Jenkins. A Restoration-styled farce, Charles Evered's Celadine (Colony Theatre, February 6-March 7) is about espionage and intrigue in 17th-century London.

Following the tragic New Year's Day murder of veteran Fountain Theatre director Bennett Bradley, the show he was directing will go on. It's the West Coast premiere of Ifa Bayeza's drama The Ballad of Emmett Till, in celebration of Black History Month. Shirley Jo Finney is now at the helm for this dramatization of the 1935 murder of 14-year-old Till, which helped to spark the civil rights movement. Shakespeare's tragedy Titus Andronicus gets a fresh look, courtesy of Theatre of Note (February 5-March 13).

Among the family fare this month is A Wrinkle in Time (South Coast Repertory, February 5-27), an adaptation of Madeleine L'Engle's popular novel about siblings traveling through time. A seasonal show is also on tap: Valentine's Enchanted Lunchtime Theatre (Santa Monica Playhouse, February 9), an audience-participation show including theatre games, improvisation, and handicrafts.