International Center Theatre offers Michael Learned and Granville Van Dusen in Kathleen Clark's romantic drama Southern Comforts (March 15-April 10), about the sparks that fly between a feisty widow and crusty widower who engage in a December-December fling. Tony-winning actor and TV favorite Phylicia Rashad makes her L.A. directorial debut with Lorraine Hansberry's groundbreaking drama A Raisin in the Sun (Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, March 23-April 17).
The world premiere musical, Having it All (NoHo Arts Center, March 12-April 24), starring Lindsey Alley, Kim Huber, Alet Taylor, Shannon Warne, and Jennifer Leigh Warren, charts the fateful meeting of five women at an airport, leading to their sharing of hopes, dreams, and disappointments in life. The music is by John Kavanaugh, lyrics by David Goldsmith, and book by Goldsmith and Wendy Perelman. Another debuting musical, Brian Pugach's The Next Fairy Tale (Celebration Theatre, March 2-April 24), is a fanciful story, more gay than Grimm, set at the dawn of a new century. Additional musicals on tap are a new touring edition of Disney's Beauty and the Beast (Pantages Theatre, March 9-26) and from San Francisco, the Royal Underground Theatre Company's production of the rock classic Rent (Hudson Backstage Theatre, March 18-April 23).
Some impressive-sounding dramas are also in the mix. Center Theatre Group revives Lanford Wilson's Burn This (Mark Taper Forum, March 23 - May 1), directed by Nicholas Martin. Tennessee Williams' rarely produced final play A House Not Meant to Stand (Fountain Theatre, through April 17) incorporates expressionistic comic elements in this story of a blazingly dysfunctional family, directed by Simon Levy. Neil LaBute's The Mercy Seat (VS. Theatre Company at [Inside] the Ford, March 17-April 24), set on the day after the infamous September 11, 2001, follows the effect disaster has on two lovers. Israela Margalit's Trio (Lounge 2 Theatre, March 5-April 10), directed by Rick Sparks, in its U.S. premiere, dramatizes the intense inter-relationship among classical composer Robert Schulmann, his wife Clara, and the young Johannes Brahms.
Horton Foote's Pulitzer-winning The Young Man From Atlanta (The Production Company at the Lex Theatre, beginning March 11), directed by August Viverito, set in 1950 Houston, focuses on a family coming unglued. Vitality Productions offers the West Coast premiere of Jessica Brickman's The Insomnia Play (March 18-April 10), in which a woman who can't sleep finds two men compatible with her nocturnal habits. Irish playwright Conor McPherson's The Weir (South Coast Repertory, March 13-April 3) is an atmospheric drama about four hard-drinking friends telling ghost stories.
Comedic fare includes the debuting Pursued by Happiness (Road Theatre, March 19-May 14), by Keith Huff, in which an unexpected meeting between two 40-something biochemists takes a strange turn when they fall in love, and it's time to meet the parents. In a more classical vein, Shakespeare's popular frolic, The Comedy of Errors, will be offered under the direction of Michael Michetti (A Noise Within, through May 14), and Laguna Playhouse revives Noel Coward's Private Lives (March 15-April 10). The world premiere of Oh, Momma! & Obama (Fremont Centre Theatre, March 11-May 1) promises comedy with a topical edge, in which the well-meaning daughters in the White House stir up a hornet's-nest of political problems. Rogue Machine unveils the West Coast premiere of Edward Anthony' s solo play, Wish I Had a Sylvia Plath (Lounge Theatre, March 12-indefinite), featuring Amy Davidson in a look at the legendary poet's moments before her death.
A show likely to delight audiences of all ages is the swashbuckling adventure Treasure Island (Sierra Madre Playhouse, March 12-April 16), in an audience-participation adaptation by Steve Hotchner and Kathy Hotchner.