A startling slice of Southern California history is revealed in Tom Jacobson's debuting drama The Twentieth-Century Way (Theatre @ Boston Court, through June 6). It's described as a theatrical thrill ride exploring the collision of reality and fantasy as two actors juggle various roles to entrap homosexuals for "social vagrancy" in the public restrooms of 1914 Long Beach. The ever-adventurous Furious Theatre Company offers Peter Sinn Natchtrieb's Boom (Carrie Hamilton Theatre, May 19-June 20), starring seven-time Emmy winner Julia Duffy. It's called a comedy both intimate and epic spanning billions of years, beginning with a sex date as a result of a personal ad.
Writer-performer-director David Cale presents his solo play Palomino (Kirk Douglas Theatre, May 7-June 6), portraying seven characters in a sensuous tale about a Central Park carriage driver who tries his hand as male escort. The Asian-American-focused East West Players offers the world premiere of developer-director Jon Lawrence Rivera's Road to Saigon (David Henry Hwang Theatre, May 13-June 13). The play tells the story of three actresses (Joan Almedilla, Jennifer Paz, Jenni Selma) who have played Kim in productions of the mega-musical hit Miss Saigon.
Three musicals promise to bring high spirits to a drama-dominated month. The Pulitzer-winning Frank Loesser classic How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, will star award-winner Josh Grisetti, John O'Hurley, Simon Helberg, and Vicki Lewis. FCLO Music Theatre in Fullerton brings back the magical Lerner-Loewe classic Brigadoon (Plummer Auditorium, May 7-23). Santa Monica Playhouse's Other Space offers Backstreet: The Musical (through June 20), called a passionate and whimsical portrait of life, love, and loyalty played by a family of backstreet ladies in a house of Jewish "working girls" in 1905 New York.
Wendy Graf's new drama Behind the Gates (Marilyn Monroe Theatre, May 12-June 27) spins the harrowing mystery of a troubled American teenage girl who vanishes into the mysterious world of Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox haredi community while on a summer trip to Israel. The Road Theatre Company offers two plays by JT Rogers, running in repertory. In its West Coast premiere, Madagascar (May 5-June 26), tells of a mysterious disappearance that changes three lives forever. White People (May 18-July 10), called controversial and darkly funny, is about three Americans wrestling with guilt, prejudice, and the price they and their children must pay for their actions. An early Ingmar Bergman film comedy, The Devil's Eye (Arena Stage at Theatre of Arts, May 14-June 13), is adapted for the stage. It's a followup to Moliere's Don Juan, dealing with the scoundrel's after-life.
Family audiences might enjoy Robert Louis Stevenson's adventure classic Treasure Island (Lewis Family Playhouse at Main Street Theatre, May 8-22). There is also the fairy-tale classic Sleeping Beauty (Sierra Madre Playhouse, through May 8) in an interactive staging.
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