Paul Reubens as Pee-Wee Herman
Paul Reubens as Pee-Wee Herman
As the new year begins, Paul Reubens brings his beloved Pee Wee Herman character to life once again in The Pee-Wee Herman Show (Club Nokia @ LA Live, January 12-February 7). It's described as "for grownups and appropriate for ages 16 to 106."

The classic Lerner-Loewe musical Camelot is being revived at Pasadena Playhouse (January 8-February 7), under the helm of veteran director David Lee, who is known for putting fresh spins on vintage musical gems, such as Can-Can, Zorba, and Do I Hear a Waltz? Adding additional luster to the month's lineup is the Rodgers and Hammerstein favorite Carousel (Reprise Theatre Company at the UCLA Freud Playhouse, January 26-February 7), directed by Michael Michetti.

Adam Gwon's new musical Ordinary Days is on tap at South Coast Repertory (January 3-24). It's called an ode to New York, and it stars three Broadway performers (David Burnham, Nancy Anderson, Deborah S. Craig), along with Nick Gabriel. Two popular musical attractions make return engagements at the Pantages Theatre: the Irish dance spectacular Riverdance (January 12-24) and a revised version of the one-of-a-kind spectacle Stomp (January 26-February 7).

Revivals of several acclaimed dramas are also part of the mix. Clifford Odets' Tony-winning 1935 masterpiece Awake and Sing! is offered as part of L.A. Theatre Work's The Plays the Thing series of staged readings, taped for subsequent radio broadcast. Mark Ruffalo repeats his role from the Broadway revival, and it's directed by Barlett Sher, repeating his Tony-winning work.

The Production Company is bringing back Paula Vogel's controversial Pulitzer and Lucille Lortel winner How I Learned to Drive (Chandler Studio Theatre, January 15-February 20), a play that handles a taboo subject with wit and good taste. Tennessee Williams' seldom-produced play Orpheus Descending is presented by Frantic Redhead Productions at Theatre/Theater (January 15-February 21). Gale Harold, Denise Crosby, and former cover model Claudia Mason head the cast in this modern version of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. Also in the classic vein is the world premiere of Jeffrey Hatcher's adaptation of the Honore de Balzac novel Cousin Bette (Deaf West Theatre, January 23-March 21). Set in mid-nineteenth century France, the play explores themes of virtue and vice that play out in classical French opulence juxtaposed with the squalor of the times.

Two noted playwrights with a flair for the offbeat are represented in shows never before produced in L.A. TheSpyAnts offers Charles L. Mee's bobrauschenbergamerica, directed by Bart DeLorenzo and choreographed by Ken Roht, at [Inside] the Ford (January 21-February 28). It's a kaleidoscopic road trip through the American landscape. The Blank Theatre presents the West Coast premiere of Christopher Durang's Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them (Stella Adler Theatre, January 30-March 14). In the cast are Nicholas Brendon, Christine Estabrook, Mike Genovese, Catherine Hicks, Sunil Malhotra, Alec Mapa, and Rhea Seehorn.

There's some tantalizing comedy to be seen in the American premiere of Confusions (Lost Studio, January 15-March 7), Alan Ayckbourn's evening of interlinked plays. Heating up the night will be Naked in the Tropics (Macha Theatre, January 15-February 21), director-playwright Odalys Nanin's new play with music, set in a West Hollywood night club, while the descriptively titled Six Degrees of Fornication (Whitefire Theatre, January 28-March 4) is David Wally's new play, billed as La Ronde for the 21st century.

Meanwhile, a Chicago company, Breadline Theatre Group, has moved to L.A., introducing itself with Paul Kampf's 11, September (Odyssey Theatre, January 8-February 7), in which incredible circumstances bring two people together, altering their lives forever.

For family audiences, Mainstreet Theatre Company in Rancho Cucamonga offers Cinderella, with a "fractured fairy tale" approach (Lewis Family Playhouse, January 30-February 13).