Dolly Parton with 9 to 5 cast members
Stephanie J. Block, Allison Janney, and Megan Hilty
(© Justin Stephens)
Dolly Parton with 9 to 5 cast members
Stephanie J. Block, Allison Janney, and Megan Hilty
(© Justin Stephens)
One of L.A.'s most exciting fall lineups in years kicks off with a stellar September roster. The first of two Broadway-bound musicals is 9 to 5: The Musical (Ahmanson Theatre, September 3-October 19), based on the 1980 film comedy, with a score by Dolly Parton, starring Allison Janney and Broadway luminaries Stephanie J. Block, Megan Hilty, and Marc Kudisch. The other is Vanities (Pasadena Playhouse, through September 28), a bittersweet musical adapted by Jack Heifner from his long-running Off-Broadway comedy about the coming-of-age of three high-school cheerleaders. Judith Ivey directs the production, which stars Lauren Kennedy, Sarah Stiles, and Anneliese van der Pol.

Also generating excitement is the first L.A.-produced rendition of Kander and Ebb's dazzling Tony-winning musical drama Kiss of the Spider Woman (Bootleg Theatre, September 19-October 26), courtesy of Nick DeGruccio and Chad Borden's dynamic new Havok Theatre Company. The lavishly renovated Mark Taper Forum reopens with John Guare's seriocomic classic The House of Blue Leaves (through October 19). In Culver City, the new musical This Beautiful City (Kirk Douglas Theatre, September 21-October 26), with book by Steve Cosson and Jim Lewis and score by Michael Friedman, has its West Coast premiere. This docudrama-styled piece explores America's evangelical Christian movement.

Additional musicals on tap include the world premiere of An Italian Straw Hat: A Vaudeville (South Coast Repertory, September 5-October 5), by John Strand and Dennis McCarthy, based on the classic French farce. The effervescent musical frolic She Loves Me (Rubicon Theatre, September 6-28) by Bock and Harnick (Fiddler on the Roof) and Joe Masteroff (Cabaret) is back, as is the Caribbean island fairy tale Once on This Island (Reprise at the Freud Playhouse, September 2-14), directed by Billy Porter and starring Grammy winner Ledisi.

For a change of pace, check out the comic rock tuner It's the Housewives! (Whitefire Theatre, September 5-October 12), charting the adventures of some divas of domesticity. Also for rock fans is the world premiere of Joe's Garage (Open Fist Theatre, September 18-November 22), adapted by Pat Towne and Michael France from the historic album by Frank Zappa.

Switching gears to dramatic fare, there's a return visit from Chazz Palminteri's solo play A Bronx Tale (Wadsworth Theatre, September 9-21), about the rough childhood of a young boy during the 1960s in the Bronx. Emmy and Tony winner Tyne Daly and Tony and Drama Desk nominee Delroy Lindo star in Aeschylus' Greek classic Agamemnon (Getty Villa, September 4-27). Prolific local playwright Nick Salamone has a new play, Sea Change (Davidson/Valentini Theatre, September 19-October 12), directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera and featuring Chad Allen, about three gay men and two lesbians who set sail on a voyage of discovery. Itamar Moses' Off-Broadway play The Four of Us (Elephant Performance Lab, September 5-October 19), is a comic drama about friendship.

Daniel Henning directs the West Coast premiere of the Off-Broadway comedy Speech & Debate (Blank Theatre Company at 2nd Stage Theatre, September 13-October 26), about three teenage misfits in Oregon. Tony Foster's debuting play Asleep on a Bicycle (Lillian Theatre, September 12-October 11) is described as a trippy dreamscape including a motley group of oddballs. Walter Williamson and Larry Tomlinson's True Love (Dorie Theatre at The Complex, September 4-October 12) tells the true story of the bond between playwright John Patrick (The Hasty Heart, The Curious Savage) and Bill Myers, his longtime lover. Award-winning playwright Tom Jacobson unveils his latest, The Friendly Hour (Road Theatre, September 9-November 1), which dramatizes the actual minutes of a women's club in rural South Dakota in 1934.

Linda Edwards stars in Stephen Temperly's Souvenir (La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, September 12-28), a fantasia on the life of "majestically awful" concert singer Florence Foster Jenkins during the 1930's and '40s. Italian comic, Maria Cassi (Carrie Hamilton Theatre, September 18-28), an international sensation, makes her U.S. debut, offering her acclaimed solo discourses, filled with theatricality, humor, and whimsy. Finally, Tom Dudzick's backstage romp Don't Talk to the Actors! (Laguna Playhouse, September 9-October 12), directed by Rick Sparks, follows the adventures of a fledgling playwright and his fiancee, who become swept up in the New York theater scene when his autobiographical play is optioned for Broadway.