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New York Spotlight: January 2011

Los Angeles Spotlight: January 2011

Fonda Variations

By Los Angeles
Jane Fonda in 33 Variations
(© Joan Marcus)
Jane Fonda in 33 Variations
(© Joan Marcus)
Two-time Oscar winner Jane Fonda and Zach Grenier reprise their Tony-nominated roles in the L.A. premier of writer-director Moises Kaufman's 33 Variations (Ahmanson Theatre, January 30-March 6), which transports us from contemporary New York to 17th-century Vienna, as a musicologist (Fonda) attempts to solve the mystery of why Beethoven (Grenier) obsessively spent his last years working on what appeared to be a mediocre waltz.

Another eagerly anticipated star vehicle making its local bow is John Lithgow's Stories by Heart (Mark Taper Forum, January 4-February 13). The accomplished actor combines his storytelling of short works by P.G. Wodehouse and Ring Lardner with remembrances of his youth. A third show from New York making its way westward is the touring edition of the 2009 Tony-winning revival of the 1960s counterculture classic Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical (Pantages Theatre, January 5-23).

Making a return visit is the equestrian extravaganza, Cavalia: A Magical Encounter Between Horse and Human, showcasing equestrian arts, multimedia, dramatic effects, live music, dance and acrobatics. It's at the White Big Top in Burbank, January 19-30. A different sort of circus spectacular will be on hand in Circus INcognitus (Kirk Douglas Theatre, January 15-23), Jamie Adkins' solo comedy featuring zany acrobatics, various stunts, and even a message.

Linda Gehringer, Brian Kerwin, Marin Hinkle, Arye Gross, and Lilly Holleman comprise the cast of South Coast Repertory's production of Annie Baker's Obie Award-winning play, Circle Mirror Transformation (January 9-30), about five individuals whose lives intersect in an amateur theater class in Vermont. Meanwhile, James Roday (of TV's Psych) directs Red Dog Squadron's production of greedy (El Centro Theatre, January 6-29), about five people struggling with the consequences of an emailed plea for money that garners big returns.

Gerald McCullouch of TV's CSI stars in Daddy (Hudson Mainstage Theatre, January 8-Feburary 13), directed by Rick Sparks, a tragicomedy about a soccer player who falls for a man half his age, leading to a confrontation with the elder man's friend. The Hunger Artists Theatre Company presents the world premiere of Fengar Gael's The Cantor's Tale (January 7-30), in which a priest falls from grace as he wreaks havoc in the life of a young seminarian. Another new work, The Trial of Lizzie Borden (ZJU Theatre Group, January 7-February 5) is a thriller about the infamous axe murderer of the title, inflaming Victorian society and the American justice system.

In the West Coast premiere of Rachel Axler's Smudge (Syzygy Theatre Company at GTC Burbank, January 14-February 19), directed by Darin Anthony, a couple's life is turned topsy-turvy with the birth of their first child. Presenting a new spin on a classic, Andak Stage Company offers The Capulets and the Montagues (New Place Studio Theatre, January 30-February 27), Dakin Matthews' modern-rhyming verse translation of Lupe de Vega's Spanish play based on Romeo and Juliet.

The debuting solo play New Eyes (Whitefire Theatre, January 8-February 13), by Yafit Josephson and Suzanne Bressler, tells Josephson's true story of living in Israel and joining the army to serve her country, followed by her pursuit of an acting career in L.A. Another one-woman show, Macho Like Me (Coast Playhouse, January 8-February 13), performed by Helie Lee, sounds like a modern-day Yentl, relating the true story of Lee's six months of living like a man to prove that men have it better than women in life.

William Van Zandt and Jane Milmore's Love, Sex, & the IRS (The Complex, January 7-30) relates the plight of two male roommates who have filed tax returns posing as a married heterosexual couple, leading to catastrophe when a tax auditor pays them a visit. Ira Lewis' Chinese Coffee (The Complex, January 6-February 13), directed by Jack Heller, is about an unemployed photographer and his novelist pal, and the manuscript that tests their friendship. Play Dates (Theatre Asylum, January 27-March 6), by Sam Wolfson, tells all about love -- falling in, falling out, and everything in between. Kindergarten is just the beginning.

Family audiences can look forward to a new audience-participation musical adaptation of the fairy-tale classic Cinderella (Sierra Madre Playhouse, January 22-February 19), from the June Chandler Fairy Tale Theatre, starring jazz vocalist Jane Fuller, and featuring her original songs.


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