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Los Angeles Spotlight: April 2008

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Christopher Cazenove and Lisa O'Hare
in My Fair Lady
(© Joan Marcus)
There's a touch of class in the most anticipated offering among L.A.'s bountiful array of April theatre openings. It arrives courtesy of Cameron Mackintosh and the National Theatre of Great Britain's touring revival of the Lerner and Loewe Shavian-based masterpiece My Fair Lady (Ahmanson Theatre, April 9-27). Add choreography and musical staging by the estimable Matthew Bourne, and direction by Trevor Nunn, and the stage will be set for an attraction that musical theatre aficionados won't want to miss.

Two world premiere tuners also sound quite promising. Pest Control...The Musical (NoHo Arts Center, April 19-May 26), is inspired by a novel by Bill Fitzhugh about an exterminator who is mistaken for an assassin. James J Mellon directs and choreographs the new show (book by John Moores, music by Vladamir Shainskiy plus a team of collaborators). And the literary world of Charles Dickens once again becomes fodder for the musical stage in Great Expectations (Hudson Backstage Theatre, March 28-April 27). Librettists are Brian VanDerWilt and Steve Lozier, music is by Richard Winzeler, and lyrics by Steve Lane.

Making its West Coast premiere is Alex Wexler and Bill Parsley's madcap showbiz musical Lost in Hollywoodland (Theatre 40 at the Reuben Cordova Theatre, April 11-May 15). Making its L.A. bow is Mark Harelik's The Immigrant (Colony Theatre, April 2-May 4), based on his play, set in 1909, about a Russian Jew who flees his Czarist country to pursue his dreams in Texas.

Drama is also in abundant supply. Gregory Itzen and Jean Smart star in the West Coast premiere of Julie Marie Myatt's Boats on a River (Skirball Cultural Center, April 9-13). It's a provocative drama about the child sex-slave industry. Alan Ayckbourn's thriller Snake in the Grass (Salem K Theatre Company at the Matrix Theatre, March 29-May 4), in its U.S. premiere, is about a mysterious nurse and the possible murder of her wealthy patient. Politics and scandal go hand in hand in Craig Wright's Lady (Road Theatre, April 25-June 14), in its West Coast premiere. The Furious Theatre Company revisits the show that launched the group six years ago, Paul Slabolepszy's Saturday Night at the Palace (Carrie Hamilton Theatre, April 23-May 31), in which misguided student political activists commit a heinous act. Erik Patterson's debuting play He Asked For It (Theatre of NOTE, April 25-June 1) explores a bombshell of a topic: people who intentionally infect themselves with the HIV virus.

Three solo plays sound intriguing. In the West Coast premiere of Daniel Beaty's Emergency (Geffen Playhouse, April 15-May 25), the writer-actor portrays 40 characters responding to the modern-day phenomenon of a slave ship suddenly rising out of the Hudson River. In writer-performer Mike Okarma's Flavio Medium De Los Muertos (Underground Theatre, through April 28), Okarma plays a medium who brings deceased characters back to life. Hal Ackerman takes a frank look at his own mortality in Testosterone: How Prostate Cancer Made a Man of Me (Powerhouse Theatre, April 18-May 10).

In a more mirthful vein, Paul Provenza stars in a revival of Steve Martin's literate comic romp Picasso at the Lapin Agile (Rubicon Theatre, April 3-27). A new play by Tony winner Richard Greenberg, The Injured Party (South Coast Repertory, April 20-May 11) is a comedy about family, mortality, and the passing of the old guard. SCR also offers the world premiere production of Kate Robbins' What They Have (April 4-May 4), in which a showbiz couple who apparently have it all suddenly realize that they don't. The Actors' Gang revives its 1992 hit Klüb (April 10-May 10) by Mitch Watson, described as an existential comedy that's A Chorus Line in reverse, as 10 dysfunctional performers audition with their life stories to escape from a play in which they are trapped. David Landsberg's An Act of Love (Falcon Theatre, March 26-April 27), starring Susan Sullivan, is about mismatched love mates and family dysfunction. Mariette Hartley and her daughter Liz Sroka star in the world premiere of In the Wings (Whitefire Theatre, March 28-May 11), a backstage comedy, which sounds like a cross between Noises Off and vintage Neil Simon.

Youngsters might want to coax their parents to take them to a family offering at South Coast Repertory. Monica Flory has adapted Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book (March 29-April 6) into what's called a wise and funny new version.

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