Celia Keenan-Bolger and Dan Fogler in
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
(© Joan Marcus)
Celia Keenan-Bolger and Dan Fogler in
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
(© Joan Marcus)
The most sought-after ticket in town this spring is the L.A. premiere of Des McAnuff's Tony-winning Broadway smash Jersey Boys, which charts the thrilling rise to fame and the personal ups and downs of the legendary 1960s pop-rock quartet The Four Seasons (Ahmanson Theatre, May 25-June 2). Another Tony-winning blockbuster, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, featuring the complete original Broadway cast, makes its L.A. bow at the Wadsworth Theatre (May 24-June 17).

Two dramas also qualify as must-see attractions. Renowned playwright-screenwriter David Henry Hwang unveils his semi-autographical work Yellow Face at the Mark Taper Forum (May 10-July 1). This satire places the Tony-winning author in the midst of familial politics and international intrigue erupting out of a seemingly benign casting choice.

Neil LaBute's provocative Off-Broadway drama Fat Pig comes to the Geffen Playhouse (May 5-June 10). It's a hard-hitting look at what happens when love and affection go against the grain of conventional society, as "fat" bias becomes a stumbling block in a relationship. Appearing in the production are former television heartthrob Scott Wolf, Kirsten Vangsness, Chris Pine, and Andrea Anders. Another LaBute drama is The Distance From Here (Other Space at Santa Monica Playhouse, May 4-20), an intense look at the dark side of American suburbia.

Stellar musical offerings are headed by LA Opera's staging of George and Ira Gershwin's masterpiece Porgy and Bess (Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, May 4-20), directed by Francesca Zambello. Reprise! Broadway's Best presents the rarely revived Richard-Rodgers-Samuel Taylor musical No Strings (UCLA Freud Playhouse, May 9-20), starring Scott Bakula and Sophina Brown. Meanwhile, Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities offers the Irving Berlin classic Annie Get Your Gun (Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, May 2-20), and Actors Co-op in Hollywood premieres the new musical Tales of Tinseltown (May 11-June 17), a parody of moviemaking in the 1930s.

There's also a fine slate of sundry comedies and dramas. Albert Innaurato's 1977 comedy Gemini (Celebration Theatre, May 10-June 17) is about the romantic travails of a young gay man in Philadelphia. Terri Sissman's new play Throwing Rubies (Stella Adler Theatre, May 4-June 10) presents a journey stretching from the TB sanitariums of the 1940s to the AIDS hospital wings of the 1990s.

L.A. Theatre Works' staged reading of Charles Busch's comedy The Tale of the Allergist's Wife (Skirball Cultural Center, May 16-20), starring Jobeth Williams and Richard Kind, will be taped for subsequent radio broadcasts. Jeffrey Sweet's McCarthy blacklist-era drama The Value of Names, starring Emmy winner Jack Klugman, Liz Larsen, and Dan Lauria will be presented at Garry Marshall's Falcon Theatre in Burbank (May 31-June 24).

Pasadena's Theatre@Boston Court offers the world premiere of Mickey Birnbaum's Bleed Rail (May 12-June 17), a comic lament for the younger generation for whom the American dream has become an unending nightmare. The same week, another youth-oriented Birnbaum play (albeit in a much darker vein), Big Death & Little Death, opens at North Hollywood's Road Theatre (May 11-July 21). It chronicles the trial of the metal band Judas Priest for responsibility in the double suicide of two teenage boys.

Family audience fare includes Anne of Green Gables, presented by the Laguna Playhouse's Youth Theatre program (May 11-20), and Santa Monica Playhouse Young Professional Company's musical The Silver Key: A Search for a Way Out (May 25-31), set in a magical world and intended for audiences age eight to adult.