Several popular musicals make return appearances to the Southland. Reprise Theatre Company revives Stephen Sondheim's madcap Roman farce A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (UCLA Freud Playhouse, March 16-28), starring Lee Wilkof, Larry Raben, Michael Kostroff, and Ruth Williamson, and directed by David Lee. More Sondheim is on tap with the sprightly revue Side By Side By Sondheim (Attic Theatre, March 12-April 18). Andrew Lloyd Webber's ever-popular feline tuner Cats makes a stop at the Pantages Theatre (March 9-21) Andrew Lippa's dark musical about scandal in the Roaring 20s, The Wild Party, will be offered at the Ruby Theatre at the Complex (March 12-22).
Two debuting musicals promise to offer diverse pleasures. Liberty Inn: The Musical (book and lyrics by Dakin Matthews, music by B.T. Rybak)) is adapted from Goldoni's comic masterpiece La Locandiera (The Landlady). A courtship comedy with strong feminist themes, the story is transported from the 18th century to the early days of the new American republic. Produced by the Andak Stage Company, it will be presented at the New Place Studio Theatre (March 13-April 25). Grammy nominated songwriter Barbara Hart and Cheryl Foote Gimbel join forces as librettist-songwriters for The Rose Bowl Queens (Lounge Theatre, March 6-April 11), about a lowlife building inspector who tries to bring down the decade-old Rose Bowl bowling alley.
Among the dramatic offerings is RFK: The Journey to Justice (Skirball Cultural Center, March 17-21), a world premiere docudrama, presented by L.A. Theatre Works in readings, recorded for subsequent radio broadcasts. Starring are Henry Clarke as Robert F. Kennedy, Philip Castnoff as John F. Kennedy, and Kevin Daniels as Martin Luther King, under the direction of John Rubenstein. Howard Korder's new play, In a Garden, premieres at South Coast Repertory (March 7-28), charting the relationship between an architect and the Minister of Culture for a fictional country. Obie-winning solo performer Daniel Beaty debuts his latest idiosyncratic work, Through the Night, combining music, poetry, movement, and story, presented at the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theatre at the Geffen Playhouse (March 16-April 4). Playing Jordan Goldman, a new play by David Neiman and Andy Neiman, tells of a 30-year-old stunted musician who attempts to extort money from his Jewish community. It's at Theatre/Theater (March 18-April 23).
Jim Leonard Jr.'s Depression-era epic The Diviners, directed by T.L. Kolman (Chandler Studio Theatre, March 5-April 10), involves a disillusioned preacher and a teenage soothsayer. Brett Neveu's Old Glory (Victory Theatre, February 26-April 25) offers a glimpse of war and the magnitude of loss that can result. Jay Paul Deratany's Haram Iran, in its West Coast premiere (Celebration Theatre, March 3-April 4), is based on the real-life trial and execution of Iranian teenagers who are convicted of being gay in Mashad, Iran, in 2005.
Comedic fare is on tap as well. Sam Bobrick's The Psychic (Falcon Theatre, March 17-April 18) follows the chaotic life of a down-on-his-luck writer who decides to sell sessions as a psychic reader. Caryl Chuchill's award-winning Cloud Nine (Lyric Theatre, March 5-28) is an absurdist tale about a family that travels through the ages. The classics-focused A Noise Within presents Shakespeare's merry romp Much Ado About Nothing (through May 21).
Two family attractions offer alternative fare. Storybook Theatre has The Emperor's New Clothes (Theatre West, March 6-July 10), and Glendale Centre Theatre presents a new musical adaptation of Pinocchio (through June 26).