From classic musical to classical music: Monsieur Chopin (Geffen Playhouse, August 9-26) is actor-pianist Hershey Felder's solo biography of the legendary composer, offering details about his life and his art, as well as a sampling of the master's works. In an entirely different vein is the Troubadour Theatre Company's musical spoof, OthE.L.O, which offers the Bard's tragedy set to the tunes of 1970s rockers, Electric Light Orchestra (Falcon Theatre, August 1-26).
Some familiar faces from film and television headline two of the month's most intriguing properties. Ed Begley Jr. reprises his musical Cesar & Reuben (NoHo Arts Center, August 10-September 9) which chronicles the life of labor activist Cesar Chavez. Meanwhile Beth Broderick, James Eckhouse, Jeremy Gabriel, and J. Richey Nash star in the world premiere of E.M. Lewis' drama Heads (Blank Theatre, August 14-September 23), about a quartet of civilians taken hostage in Iraq.
The American Coast Theatre Company in Costa Mesa makes its debut with Tennessee Williams' classic, A Streetcar Named Desire (Lyceum Theatre, August 3-18). Another show coming to the OC this summer is the national tour of the campy ABBA musical Mamma Mia! (Orange County Performing Arts Center, August 7-19).
The venerable if recently dormant Playwrights 6 returns with the world premiere of Nancy Beverly's Godislav (Miles Memorial Playhouse, August 3-26), about a promising young documentary filmmaker who profiles volatile Russian surgeon Valdimir Godislav, uncovering some big surprises. Meanwhile, Limonade Tous les Jours (2100 Square Feet, August 2-26), by the acclaimed iconoclastic playwright Charles Mee, makes its West Coast premiere. It's a sexy romantic comedy set in Paris.
Donald Margulies' award-winning drama Sight Unseen (Hollywood's Art/Works Theatre, August 3-September 1) explores the plight of the artist as superstar, plunged into the exorbitant hype of the American art world, where a publicist is as necessary as a brush and canvas. The Asian-American-focused Lodestone Theatre Ensemble offers a unique take on Euripides' Greek classic, The Trojan Women (GTC Burbank, August 2-26).
Writer-performer Susan Damante's Life...Death...and Entertainment (Santa Monica Playhouse, through September 1) is an autobiographical solo drama in which life, death, and music collide in a story of overcoming incredible adversities. Flying Pig Productions inaugural production, the world premiere of Aaron Matijasic and Billy Thompson's Invasion! The Musical (Hudson Backstage Theatre, August 17-September 23), is a satire in which an alien attack prompts the residents of Tucker County, New Mexico to do and say all the things they've been keeping bottled up inside -- with disastrous consequences.
There's also some highly promising family fare this month. The Actor' Gang, sponsored by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, presents an outdoors production, Titus the Clownicus (Culver City's Media Park, adjacent to the Ivy Substation, August 11-September 2), presented for free, on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Also for the younger set is Make Mine Myths (Santa Monica Playhouse, August 3), a bilingual Japanese-English musical based on American and Japanese myths. Finally, Costa Mesa's South Coast Repertory offers the musical Time Again in Oz (August 11-19), Susan L. Zeder's adaptation of L. Frank Baum's classic Oz tales.