Pasadena Playhouse is staging the world premiere of Twist: An American Musical (June 14-July 17), a modern-day adaptation of Charles Dickens' novel Oliver Twist. It features a book by William F. Brown and Tina Tippit, and a score by Gary Prim. Debbie Allen will direct and choreograph, and the cast is headlined by Cleavant Derricks and Tamyra Gray. A major new production of the classic musical Les Miserables comes to the Ahmanson Theatre, June 14-July 31. This 25th anniversary touring edition includes complete new staging, featuring scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo.
Laz Alonso joins original Off-Broadway cast member Tate Donovan in L.A. Theatre Works' presentation of Kenneth Lonergan's Lobby Hero in a production taped for subsequent radio broadcast. It plays June 15-20 at the Skirball Cultural Center.
Major special events in June include the second annual Hollywood Fringe Festival (June 9-26, in various venues), which reportedly will feature more than 200 attractions of diverse fare, and RADAR LA, a week-long celebration of more than 15 theatrical projects from around the world (REDCAT Theatre, June 14-19). Also on tap is the 19th annual Blank Theatre Company's Nationwide Young Playwrights Festival (Stella Adler Theatre, June 2-26), featuring prize-winning new works from promising writers, which were selected by a panel of theater professionals.
Among several dramatic offerings that sound intriguing is The Method Gun (Kirk Douglas Theatre, June 14-26), created by Rude Mechs, written by Kirk Lynn, and directed by Shawn Sides. This piece follows the disciples of the obscure acting teacher Stella Burden, who has mysteriously moved to South America, leaving behind her unusual adaptation of A Streetcar Named Desire. Katselas Theatre Company presents the world premiere of Shem Bitterman's A Death in Colombia (Skylight Theatre, June 10-July 31), starring Roxanne Hart, Joe Regalbuto, and Sarah Foret. This thriller is about the wife of an activist missing in the Colombian jungle, and a mysterious visitor.
Arthur Miller's autobiographical A Memory of Two Mondays (Ruskin Group Theatre, June 4-July 25) is about a young man yearning for a college education and a new life beyond the hopelessness of the 1930s Great Depression. Michael Golamco's Year Zero (Colony Theatre, June 4-July 3), directed by David Rose, is about two young Cambodian-Americans in Long Beach, California, hoping to break free and move forward in life. Blackbird, by David Harrower (Rogue Machine at Theatre/Theater, June 5-July 24), is about a woman forcing her lover to come to terms with the effects of their relationship.
The West Coast premiere of Len Jenkin's Margo Veil (Odyssey Theatre, June 11-July 31), directed by Bart DeLorenzo, is called a noir fantasy, a cross between a surreal radio melodrama and a wacky comedy filled with music. Jenny O'Hara and Nick Ullett star in Stephen Sachs' debuting comedy Bakersfield Mist (Fountain Theatre, June 4-July 31). Inspired by true events, it charts the sparks that fly when an unemployed, chain-smoking ex-bartender butts heads with a stuffy art expert. The Victory Theatre offers Lissa Levin's Sex and Education (June 3-July 10), about a duel between a graduating basketball star and a retiring public high-school English teacher.
The Will Geer Theaticum Botanicum kicks into high-gear with its summer repertory season of classics, offering two Shakespeare comedies (The Merry Wives of Windsor, June 4-September 10, and A Midsummer Night's Dream, June 5-September 25), and Moliere's Tartuffe, ou I'Imposteur (June 11-October 1), which includes original songs by Ellen Geer and Peter Alsop.
International City Theatre stages John Henry Redwood's bittersweet comedy The Old Settler (through June 26), which is set in Harlem during World War II, as two middle-aged sisters learn to put past differences behind them. Coeurage Theatre Company offers Gregory Nabours' new song cycle, The Trouble With Words (Actors Circle Theatre, June 10-July 16). It explores the relationships people have with words and with each other.
Family audiences should enjoy L'Enfant Terrible's Fun Family Festival of Tragedy (Bootleg Theatre, June 4-July 31), which includes weekend matinees of Shakespeare plays, adapted by Angela Berliner. Included are Hamlet, Prince of Puddles; Titus the Clownicus, King O'Leary, and Macbeth and the Monster.