Kelli Sawyer in Avenue Q
(© Carol Rosegg)
Kelli Sawyer in Avenue Q
(© Carol Rosegg)
The L.A. season gets off to stellar start with a slew of tantalizing September offerings. None is as eagerly anticipated as the Los Angeles premiere of the Tony Award-winning musical Avenue Q (Ahmanson Theatre, September 6-October 14). With music by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx and book by Jeff Whitty, the whimsical and hilarious show -- complete with sardonic puppets -- is about a college graduate and his newfound New York friends struggling to find purpose in life.

Also of wide interest to musical lovers will be South Coast Repertory's revival of Sondheim's masterpiece, A Little Night Music (September 7-October 7), with a strong cast of notable actors, including Stephanie Zimbalist, Mark Jacoby, and Teri Ralston. Meanwhile Lou Diamond Phillips stars as King Arthur in the revised national tour of Camelot (UCLA's Royce Hall, September 11-23), with Rachel deBenedet and Matt Bogart rounding out Lerner and Loewe's royally messed-up love triangle.

More great musicals are on the roster, including Cole Porter's venerable Kiss Me Kate (Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, September 26-October 14), Rupert Holmes' whodunit The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Sacred Fools Theater, September 14-November 3), the world-premiere of Jeff Scott and Bill Fagan's I Was a Teenage Homo! A Scary Fairy Tale (North Hollywood's Secret Rose Theatre, September 7-October 13), Polly Pen and Peggy Harmon's Off-Broadway hit Goblin Market (GTC Burbank, September 13-October 20), and a return of the watershed 1960's hit Hair (Hollywood's MET Theatre, September 7-November 3).

The month's dramatic highlight is Third (Geffen Playhouse, September 11-October 21), the West Coast premiere of a drama by the late Wendy Wasserstein, starring Christine Lahti as a professor facing an ethical challenge. Also on the roster are a rare revival of Tennessee Williams' The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore (Hollywood's Fountain Theatre, September 15-November 4) and writer-performer Matt Sax' solo play Clay (Culver City's Kirk Douglas Theatre, September 13-October 14), about a teenager coping with his parents' divorce.

Still hungry for more? Consider the West Coast premiere of National Theatre of Scotland's Black Watch (UCLA Freud Playhouse, September 18-October 14), Odalys Nanin's Skin of Honey (September 15-October 28), set in Cuba during the 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion, John Patrick Shanley's the dreamer examines his pillow (Hollywood's McCadden Place Theatre, September 6-October 14), and Velina Hasu Houston's Calling Aphrodite (Long Beach's International City Theatre, August 28-September 23), a true story about survivors of the Hiroshima bombing in World War II.

Those seeking yucks can check out: Jessie McCormack's offbeat dramedy Journey to Dollywood (Hollywood's Matrix Theatre, September 15-October 27), about a Dolly Parton lookalike; Rick Spark and Alice Vaughn's Dead Bride Running (Hollywood's Underground Theatre, September 14-October 21), in which a runaway bride sits on death row; Yasmina Reza's frequently revived comedy about three unlikely friends, Art (Laguna Playhouse, September 11-October 14); Arnold Margolin's metaphysical farce Leap (Burbank's Falcon Theatre, September 14-October 7); and Ray Bradbury's Falling Upward (Hollywood's Theatre West, September 7-16), starring veteran actor Pat Harrington, Jr.

The small fry and their parents will be interested in Lou Marshall and Joseph Leo Bwarrie's Far-East fairytale The Enchanted Nightingale (Burbank's Falcon Theatre, through November 4).