Tracy Letts
Tracy Letts
March roars in like a lion with the West Coast premiere of the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Man From Nebraska by one of our nation's hottest up-and-coming playwrights, Tracy Letts (Killer Joe, Bug), at South Coast Rep. As if that wasn't exciting enough, the show's director is the Oscar-winning William Friedkin (The French Connection

Hope Runs Eternal, a new play starring and written by veteran actor Richard Brooks (Law and Order) inaugurates the state-of-the-art Nate Holden Performing Arts Center. Brooks plays a 30-something singer dreaming of making it big in the music business; his co-stars include film actress Cynda Williams (Opens March 11). There's also hope that the Cornerstone Theatre Company/Pasadena Playhouse co-production of As You Like It: A California Concoction, will score big with audiences. Alison Carey's freewheeling adaptation of Shakespeare's classic comedy of Eros, set in Pasadena and the Mojave desert, emphasizes themes of sex, gay marriage, politics, and love (Opens March 17).

Another highly anticipated attraction is director David Galligan's annual star-studded S.T.A.G.E. benefit for AIDS, Do Re Mi--Comden & Green's Broadway, saluting the music of the legendary team of Betty Comden and Adolph Green (Cal State University's Luckman Fine Arts Complex, March 10-12). Then there's the return engagement of director-choreographer Matthew Bourne's ever-popular all-male version of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake Ahmanson Theatre, opens March 9). For something new, look to the world premiere musical, Pilgrim (Hollywood's Ricardo Montalban Theatre, opens March 25). Ace director Nick DeGruccio helms this tuner, with book, music and lyrics by John Stothers, which follows the plight of two young lovers in a mythical world.

The Fountain Theatre stages August Wilson's Joe Turner's Come and Gone, the third play in the late master's 10-play cycle about the African-American experience during the 20th Century (Opens March 11). Another revival of interest is Edward Albee's 1967 black comedy, Everything in the Garden, adapted from a play by Giles Cooper. It's about a status-conscious couple desperately trying to compete with their neighbors (The Space, opens March 3). Jon Robin Baitz' 1993 Three Hotels (Fremont Centre Theatre, opens March 11), is about a hatchet man for a huge corporation dealing with a moral crisis.

Another work about people facing crossroads in their lives is Ron Klier's world premiere play Waste of Shame (Hollywood's Elephant Theatre, opens March 11), about a group of friends living in a cramped apartment amid escalating tensions. Eric Coble's dark comedy Bright Ideas (North Hollywood's Avery Schreiber Theatre, opens March 18), concerns a couple who will do absolutely anything to ensure their three-year-old son's ticket to greatness. Inconceivable (Globe Playhouse, opens March 10), penned by cousins Tim and Dan Furlong, and helmed by award-winning director Rick Sparks. It's a farcical fairy tale about two sperms struggling to come to life.

Those in the mood for an absurdist classic should take note of A Noise Within's production of Alfred Jarry's Ubu Roi (opens March 4), about an oafish and murderous dictator. Also on view this month is Talk Radio, Eric Bogosian's caustic drama about a button-pushing radio talk show host is presented by Gangbusters Theatre Company at Theatre 68 in Hollywood (Opens March 14). And the outrageous Barry Humphies returns as the Aussie diva Dame Edna Everage in Dame Edna: Back With a Vengence (Ahmanson Theatre, opens March 28).

Family fare is highlighted by Into the Woods, Jr. (North Hollywood's Eclectic Company Theatre, opens March 3), a 75- minute kid-performed version of the hit musical, authorized by its author, Stephen Sondheim. Santa Monica Playhouse offers a local preview Youkoso! (Welcome!), a musical "welcome party" in one act, prior to its Japanese tour (March 9).