Cole Porter
Cole Porter
Can you Can-Can? Prolific writer-producer-director David Lee brings us what promises to be a sparkling new version of the naughty-but-nice Cole Porter musical classic Can-Can at the Pasadena Playhouse (through August 8). Abe Burrows' original book for the 1953 Broadway show, about romance, lacy garters, and legal skirmishes in "Gay Paree," has been extensively revised by Lee (who also directs) in collaboration with Joel Fields.

Reprise! Broadway's Best presents a star-studded one-night-only gala benefit, Give My Regards to Broadway, at the Brentwood Theatre July 21. This evening of song features television legends Jason Alexander, Pam Dawber, Florence Henderson, Ken Howard, Shirley Jones, Michele Lee, Hal Linden, Peter Marshall, John Schneider, Jean Smart and Dick Van Dyke.

Another highlight of the month is bound to be Joshua Zeller's ambitious adaptation of Jonathan Swift's social satire Gulliver's Travels (Actors' Gang at the Ivy Substation, July 7-September 8). Yet another stellar attraction will be the latest offering from the popular and widely acclaimed Culture Clash troupe, Zorro in Hell (Hollywood's Ricardo Montalban Theatre, July 11-August 19), mixing pulp fiction with a sendup of Hollywood's image machine.

West Coast Ensemble offers the L.A. premiere of Tim Acito and Alexander Dinelaris' hit Off-Broadway musical Zanna Don't! (Silverlake's Lyric Hyperion Theatre, July 10-September 20), a romantic fairy tale about a high school in an alternate universe where everyone is gay, and being straight is not tolerated by society. Meanwhile, the first of three local productions of Rupert Holmes' rarely revived musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood is being staged by the Neighborhood Playhouse in Palos Verdes (July 13-22).

Elsewhere on the musical front, the long-running cult hit Menopause the Musical returns to the Southland (Laguna Playhouse, July 10-September 2). The venerable Troubadour Theatre Company unveils its latest mix of pop music and fantasy with Alice in One-Hit Wonderland (Falcon Theatre, July 12-August 26). Classical music and Great White Way glitter merge in Jacqueline Bassan's Better Than Beethoven (North Hollywoood's Secret Rose Theatre, July 19-August 12), a bio-musical about Felix Mendelssohn. Disney's Beauty and the Beast comes to the Cabrillo Music Theatre (July 27-August 5), and Pasadena's Theatre@Boston Court unveils the world premiere of Eric Whitacre's Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings (July 28-September 2), about an angel desperately trying to return home against impossible odds.

There's no shortage of non-musical fare on tap. L.A. Theatreworks offers Neil Simon's Biloxi Blues (Skirball Cultural Center, July 11-15), starring TV luminaries Josh Radnor and Justine Bateman. Tim Turner's descriptively titled Out Late (West Hollywood's Macha Theatre (through August 5) concerns a 60-something doctor whose conventional heterosexual life goes topsy-turvy when he falls for a young male journalist. The acclaimed March production of Michael Ellis' fascinating and nostalgic ensemble drama The Catskill Sonata, directed by veteran filmmaker Paul Mazursky (Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice) makes a return engagement at the Matrix Theatre (July 6-September 2).

A promising new play focusing on youthful angst, Rosecrans (Last Escape Productions at Santa Monica Playhouse) charts a destructive triangular relationship among two brothers and a girl. Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga Canyon premieres Ellen Geer's new adaptation of the classic thriller Dracula (July 28-September 29). You can also catch Michael Elyanow's The Idiot Box (Hollywood's Open Fist Theatre, July 5-August 25), about a sitcom world's collision with reality, Richard Calliban's apocalyptic Famine Plays (Hollywood's Theatre of Note, through August 4), Ken Ludwig's adaptation of the classic Hecht-MacArthur farce Twentieth Century (Lillian Theatre, through August 5), and Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit at Theatricum Botanicum (through September 29).

Family fare this month is highlighted by Limecat Family Theatre's The Princess and the Frog (North Hollywood's ZJU Theatre Group, July 14-August 5), and the fanciful audience-participation show The Ohmies! (Burbank's Falcon Theatre, June 9-August 5).