Lisa Loomer's Distracted (Mark Taper Forum, March 15-April 29), starring Rita Wilson and Bronson Pinchot, is about a woman who tries to find a remedy for her 8-year-old son's anxious and distracted behavior. David Mamet's rarely performed drama Squirrels, (Miles Memorial Playhouse, March 22-April 29), tells of two collaborating writers (James Harper and Ben Messmer) and the lovable but vicious cleaning woman (Vicki Lewis) who regularly interrupts their work session.
Looking for more stars: Nanette Fabray stars in The Damsel Dialogues (March 3-April 7, Sherman Oaks' Whitefire Theatre), in which five women bare their souls in song and dance in 23 original songs and five monologues. Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life (Orange County Performing Arts Center, March 20-25, and L.A.'s Wilshire Theatre March 27-April 1) is the Tony Award-winning star's biographical musical. Another highly personal vehicle, Billy Connolly Live (Brentwood Theatre, March 6-24), features the internationally popular British comedian in his uncut and unpredictable standup vehicle.
Meanwhile, television favorite French Stewart headlines Justin Tanner's Space Therapy (Zephyr Theatre, March 7-April 15), a wacky comedy set in the near future, which co-stars Julie Brown. L.A. Theatre Works' The Play's the Thing series of readings taped for radio broadcast presents Rinne Groff's The Ruby Sunrise (Skirball Cultural Center, March 14-18), featuring Tony nominee Jayne Atkinson, Asher Brook, Jason Ritter, and Missy Yager.
Other promising offerings on tap include Relentless Theatre Company's Jigsaw Nation (Costa Mesa's South Coast Repertory, March 16-17), in which a team of writers conducted man-on-the-street interviews for this people's forum vehicle; Thornton Wilder's time-traveling classic The Skin of Our Teeth (Actors Co-op, March 2-April 16); and the West Coast premiere of Charles Randolph-Wright's Cuttin' Up: Wit and Wisdom from Black Barber Shops (Pasadena Playhouse, March 9-April 15).
On the musical front, the venerable foot-stomper Smokey Joe's Café returns to the civic-light-opera circuit (Thousand Oaks' Countrywide Performing Arts Center, March 23-April 1); the Tony-winning Urinetown: The Musical appears in its umpteenth Southland incarnation (Fullerton's Maverick Theatre, March 2-April 14); and that perennial favorite, Man of La Mancha, is served up by Glendale's classics-based A Noise Within (March 3-May 27).
Dramatic fare is also in abundant supply. Highlights include Robert Olen Butler's gruesome-sounding Severance (Hollywood's McCadden Place Theatre, March 2-31), delving into the thoughts of the decapitated; Ghost Road Company's ensemble-developed Greek tragedy adaptation, Orestes Remembered: The Fury Project (Santa Monica's Powerhouse Theatre, March 1-31); and The Catskill Sonata, a 1950s-set ensemble play, by screenwriter Michael Elias and directed by veteran film writer-director Paul Mazursky at the Hayworth (March 8-April 14).
Also on tap are Sam Shepherd's Seduced (Circus Theatricals at the Hayworth, through April 1); Celebration Theatre's staging of Jonathan Harvey's British-working-class gay romance Beautiful Thing (March 16-April 15); and South Coast Repertory's world premiere staging of Julia Cho's The Piano Teacher (March 11-April 1), about a retired instructor haunted by her past.
Family highlights this month include Lee Meriwether's musical adaptation of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (Theatre West, March 31-July 14), and Santa Monica Playhouse's Sugoi! (Cool!), a Japanese-English one-act musical, featuring members of SMP's American Cultural Youth Ambassadors program. It plays at SMP on March 8 prior to its tour to Japan.