Those who like their dramatic experiences sans show tunes have some tantalizing plays to choose from. Beginning October 22, the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center's Davidson/Valentini Theatre is staging a 25th-anniversary production of Jane Chambers's lesbian ensemble drama, Last Summer at Bluefish Cove, a watershed girls-in-the-band seriocomedy. There's yet another lesbian-themed work in writer/director/actress Odalys Nanin's reworked version of her critically lauded 2001 romantic comedy Garbo's Cuban Lover, about the real-life Hollywood romance between Hollywood superstar Greta Garbo and her amour, novelist Mercedes de Acosta. The sparks ignite on October 2 at the Stella Adler Theatre in Hollywood. Dumas's classic tearjerker Camille is adapted by writer/director/star Natalija Nogulich as The Dame of New Orleans, set during the 1947 Mardi Gras. The world premiere work from Grace Players kicks off at the Egyptian Arena Theatre in Hollywood on October 8. A classic of another sort, Harold Pinter's The Homecoming, an enigmatic dissection of family politics, will be offered by Glendale's classics-focused company A Noise Within, starting October 8. Michael Franco's stage adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov's classic Russian novella Heart of a Dog, a scathing social satire, bows October 15 at the Lillian Theatre, presented by Elephant Stage Works. From Russia with love comes another dramatic piece, Charlatan, starring veteran actor Tony Tanner in his solo piece, a salute to fabled Russian impresario Sergei Diaghilev, the driving force behind the Russian Ballet. This show, a hit at the New York and Minneapolis Fringe Festivals, makes its L.A. debut beginning October 16 in Great Hall at West Hollywood's Plummer Park.
There's still more promising dramatic fare. The venerable West Coast Ensemble launches its 22nd season on October 1 with Joseph Heller's stage adaptation of his vintage antiwar novel Catch-22. Famed dramatist John Guare (House of Blue Leaves, Six Degrees of Separation) offers a tragicomic tale of a disastrously failed utopian community in the West Coast premiere of Lydie Breeze, offered at Open Fist Theatre starting October 29. Veteran actress Park Overall co-stars with Alana Stewart and Rebecca Holden in Ed Gracyk's moody Texan drama Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, rolling into town at West Hollywood's Court Theatre on October 8.
Two shows should satisfy those with a taste for the offbeat. Maripat Donovan, as the fierce parochial school nun whom you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley, opens a sequel to her long-running solo comedy hit when she unveils Late Night Catechism 2: The Sequel, opening October 5 at the Hermosa Beach Playhouse. Talkers and gum chewers beware! And those who fondly remember the unique dramatic experience of Tamara will want to check out Joshua Sobol's Alma, in which the audience follows characters of their choice throughout various rooms of a huge mansion. The story is based on the character of Alma Mahler-Werfel, a femme fatale, who bedded and married composer Gustav Mahler, among others. Dinner and drinks supplement the drama in this production, staged at the historic downtown movie palace the Los Angeles Theatre, beginning September 30.
There's something for everyone in a packed month of theatrical temptations. Shut off the DVD player, and go out to support live theater.