Valerie Harper 
(© Joseph Marzullo/WENN)
Valerie Harper
(© Joseph Marzullo/WENN)
One can expect a lot of "dah-lings," a temper tantrum or two, and plenty of Southern-fried histrionics when the notorious screen diva Tallulah Bankhead comes to life at the Pasadena Playhouse. Four-time Emmy winner Valerie Harper (Rhoda, The Mary Tyler Moore Show) stars as the fabled film star in the world premiere of Matthew Lombardo's Looped (June 27-August 3), co-starring Chad Allen. It's reportedly based on a recording session from hell, in which Bankhead had been summoned back after finishing her final film, Die! Die! My Darling, to re-record one line of dialogue. Another highly anticipated world premiere is Tanya Barfield's Of Equal Measure (Kirk Douglas Theatre, June 29-July 27), a World War I drama exploring the Woodrow Wilson presidency. The cast includes Lawrence Pressman, T. Ryder Smith, Michael T. Weiss, and Michole Briana White.

Gotta sing, gotta dance will be the watchword during the sizzling midsummer lineup of musicals. The Drowsy Chaperone briefly returns to the Ahmanson, where it made its U.S. debut, July 8-20. Librettist-lyricist Nick Salamone and composer Maury McIntyre present Gulls (Pasadena's Theatre @ Boston Court, July 17-August 24), a free adaptation of Chekhov's The Seagull, set in 1959 Greenwich Village and Hollywood, directed by Jessica Kubzansky. Visionary theater artist Ken Roht unveils his latest effort, Bobbie Weingarter Presents... (Bootleg Theatre, July 21-30), a musical revue about a brother and sister who have an impact on the porno world before disaster strikes.

Beloved movie icon Debbie Reynolds graces the neighborhood of her youth, North Hollywood, with Debbie Reynolds: An Evening of Music and Comedy (El Portal Theatre, July 9-20). Meanwhile, the stage adaptation of the 1952 movie that shot Reynolds to stardom, Singin' in the Rain, is offered by Cabrillo Music Theatre in Thousand Oaks (Fred Kavli Theatre, July 25-August 3), starring David Engel and directed by Larry Raben (both original performers in Forever Plaid). Stephen Sondheim's compelling musical Assassins is being presented once again, this time by West Coast Ensemble (El Centro Theatre, July 8-August 31). A beloved classic The Wizard of Oz is offered by Musical Theatre West (Long Beach's Carpenter Performing Arts Center, July 11-27). Jason Robert Brown's powerful history-based musical Parade receives its first full production in L.A. (Neighborhood Playhouse, July 10-27). A new show described as a "garage rock musical," The Next Big Thing (Art/Works Theatre, July 19-August 16) includes music and lyrics by members of the indie band Breech. Book is by Jeff Favre, music and lyrics by Missy Gibson and Mike Flanagan. The Troubadour Theatre Company returns with its latest musical spoof, Alice in One-Hit-Wonderland 2: Through the Looking Glass (Falcon Theatre, July 19-October 12).

There are several dramas on tap. Bound to stir up interest is a new adaptation of Frank Wedekind's groundbreaking1891 German masterpiece Spring's Awakening (Powerhouse Theatre, July 3-26), translated by the group that will perform it, Los Angeles Theatre Ensemble. Jessica Goldberg's drama Body Politic (Zephyr Theatre, July 26-August 24), presented by Echo Theatre Company, is about a screenwriter's attempt to gain access to Ward 57 of Walter Reed Hospital, where soldiers who have suffered cataclysmic injuries in Iraq recover. Modern-day war is also the theme in Israeli Army veteran Misha Shulman's Desert Sunrise (Lillian Theatre, July 10-August 9), about human bonding amongst diverse individuals who meet on a battlefield. Political themes are likewise evident in the West Coast première of Bernard Weintraub's The Accomplices (Fountain Theatre, July 3-August 24), exploring what the U.S. government and American Jews did -- and didn't do -- to help Jews fleeing the Nazis during the 1940s.

There are even a few comedies this month. Joshua Fardon's This Contract Limits Our Liability -- Read It! (Theatre of NOTE, (July 2-August 7), is about a young couple wanting to swing who place an ad in a local rag. In a more traditional vein, Shakespeare Festival/LA brings us The Taming of the Shrew (multiple locations, July 9-27), though it is reset in contemporary Los Angeles. L.A. Theatre Works offers readings of Neil Simon's vintage comedy Broadway Bound (Skirball Cultural Center, July 9-13), taped for subsequent radio Broadcast. Josh Radnor of How I Met Your Mother, Dan Castellaneta, Jonathan Silverman, Caroline Aaaron, and Alan Mandell star. Jenny Sullivan directs.