Another tantalizing star vehicle is set for the Geffen Playhouse (though August 8) when Tony and Emmy winner Laurence Fishburne tackles the role of famed Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in the solo play Thurgood. The actor is repeating the role that earned him Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards and a Tony nomination.
The midsummer is predictably filled with musical fare. Topping the list is the L.A. bow of the acclaimed Broadway tuner [title of show] at the Celebration Theatre (July 14-September 5). Michael A. Shepperd directs the offbeat romp by songwriter Jeff Bowen and librettist Hunter Bell. It's a show about making a musical, created by -- and for -- people who love them. Renowned musical comedy star Ruth Williamson plays the iconic title role in Jerry Herman's classic Hello, Dolly! (OC Pavilion, July 9-August 1), directed by Calvin Remsberg. The stars will also be out in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella (Kavli Theatre in Thousand Oaks, July 23-August 1), with Sally Struthers as the Fairy Godmother and Marcia Wallace as the cruel Stepmother. Beyond... (El Portal Theatre, July 1-August 1.) is described as an elegant French cabaret featuring multicultural entertainers, dancers, aerialists, acrobats, and a smoky torch singer.
Pete Townshend and Des McAnuff's perennially popular rock tuner The Who's Tommy brings its pinball wizardry to the Chance Theater (July 2-August 8). David Gaines, among Broadway's many Phantom of the Opera headliners, plays Richard Henry Lee in the patriotic favorite 1776 (Musical Theatre West at Carpenter Performing Arts Center, July 9-25), directed by Nick DeGruccio. And country-and-western fans can look forward to the bio-musical Ring of Fire, The Johnny Cash Musical (FCLO Music Theatre at Plummer Auditorium, July 16-August 1).
There are some promising dramas on tap. Distinguished actress-director Ellen Geer plays opera diva Maria Callas in Terrence McNally's Master Class (Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, July 3-September 25). Thai Development Center has partnered with Company of Angels to produce Fabric (July 10-August 8) at the Angels' theatre. It's based on the 1995 Thai Workers slavery case. Another history-based play is Stephen McDonald's Not About Heroes (Lounge Theatre, July 16-August 22), charting the intense friendship between World War II soldier-poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. Three Sisters After Chekhov (Lower Depth Theatre Ensemble at the Lost Studio, July 7-August 8) is Mustapha Matura's adaptation of Chekhov's The Three Sisters, set in 1941 colonial-era Trinidad.
Comedy is part of the mix as well. Bill Cakmis and Jack Grapes' Circle of Will (Macha Theatre, July 15-August 15) imagines the "lost years" of William Shakespeare, between the date of his last great play written alone (The Tempest in 1610) and his death in 1616. Steven Dietz' play Becky's New Car (Pacific Resident Theatre, July 3-August 14) is about a married, late-40s woman working in a car dealership who's suddenly offered an opportunity to step into another life.
On the family entertainment front, Theatre Unleashed presents Super Sidekick, a new musical about a superhero duo, Blackjack and Inky, by Gregory Crafts and Michael Gordon Shapiro (playing at Sherry Theatre, July 18-August 15). Santa Monica Playhouse offers All Join In: A Fairytale Sing-a-Long Afternoon (July 3-September 26), featuring songs from classic fairy tales.