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Los Angeles Spotlight: April 2011

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Marcia Gay Harden, Hope Davis, Jeff Daniels,
and James Gandolfini in God of Carnage
(© Joan Marcus)
Leading a stellar April shower of theatrical attractions is the L.A. premiere of Yasmina Reza's Tony-winning God of Carnage (Ahmanson Theatre, April 5-May 29), reuniting the original Broadway cast -- Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, James Gandolfini, and Marcia Gay Harden. Director Matthew Warchus once again helms this scathing comedy of manners, in which two married couples meet in Brooklyn to sort out a playground fight between their sons.

Another star-studded event is the world premiere of Jane Anderson's The Escort (Geffen Playhouse, through May 8), directed by Lisa Peterson, and featuring Polly Draper, Maggie Siff, James Eckhouse, and Gabriel Sunday. This latest work from acclaimed playwright-screenwriter Anderson, about a high-class call girl and her female gynecologist, is described as a great roller-coaster ride, in which the audience reaction will swing between "why not?" and "enough is enough."

Two famous brothers -- Dick Van Dyke and Jerry Van Dyke -- take on classic comedy roles in Neil Simon's bittersweet valentine to vaudeville comedians, The Sunshine Boys at Malibu Stage Company for a brief benefit run (April 13-17). Another vintage Simon play, the seriocomic The Prisoner of Second Avenue (El Portal Theatre, April 21-May 15) will likewise feature star performers -- Jason Alexander and Gina Hecht -- in Doc Simon's tale of angst and economic meltdown in the big city. Sounds much like today's news headlines.

Jon Hamm, Tessa Thompson, and Jennifer Westfeldt are among the stars performing in the L.A. Theatre Works presentation of Chekhov's The Three Sisters at Skirball Cultural Center, April 13-17. The Kirk Douglas Theatre hosts the Druid and Atlantic Theatre Company's touring production of Martin McDonagh The Cripple of Inishmaan (April 5-May 1). Directed by Garry Hynes, this Irish yarn set in 1934 is about news of a Hollywood director coming to the emerald isle, and the stir that it causes.

There are a few musicals on tap. Alan Menken and Howard Ashman's venerable fright-film spoof The Little Shop of Horrors promises a lot of mean-green fun at the La Mirada Theatre of the Performing Arts, April 15-May 1. A little bit of Del Shores and a touch of John Waters? That's what Lust 'n Rust, The Trailer Park Musical sounds like. Playing through April 30 at the Lyric Theatre, this tuneful romp by Frank Haney, Carol Kimball, and Dave Stratton, directed by Thomas Colby, is about a corporate manager from New York who finds himself abruptly reassigned to working and living in country-bumpkin territory.

A cavalcade of hit songs covering a wide range of eras highlight The All Night Strut! (Colony Theatre, through May 1). And fans of the ongoing ballroom-dance craze are invited to watch energetic performers Burn the Floor (Pantages Theatre, April 26-May 8).

Acclaimed Angelino playwright Tom Jacobson's The House of the Rising Son (April 14-May 29), directed by Michael Michetti, is called a Southern gothic romance -- Tennessee Williams meets Anne Rice. It reportedly explores the topic of gay marriage in a whole new light, and plays in repertory at the Atwater Village Theatre with Jacobson's The Chinese Massacre (Annotated), directed by Jeff Liu (April 19-May 28). The latter play chronicles the first race riot in L.A. history -- the 1871 lynching of 18 Chinese men by a mob of 500 people.

Blank Theatre presents the West Coast premiere of Jon Maran's The Temperamentals (2nd Stage Theatre, April 9-May 22), about an early gay-rights battle in the 1950s. Prize-winning writer-director Murray Mednick offers his offbeat DaddyO Dies Well (Padua Playwrights at the Electric Lodge, April 1-May 22), called a lyrical and darkly comic meditation on the secret and the profane. The classics-focused A Noise Within stages the absurdist Eugene Ionesco classic The Chairs (April 2-May 21). Theatre of Note presents Ben Snyder's Shoe Story (April 14-May 22), an urban coming-of-age story. Peter S. Feibleman's Tiger Tiger Burning Bright (Stella Adler Theatre, April 14-May 22), set in mid-20th-century New Orleans, charts the travails of a troubled African-American family.

In a month dominated by dramas, some yuks might be available in Super Sunday (Moth Theatre, April 14-May 15), written by prolific actor Stephen Collins of stage, films, and TV. A Vietnam vet turned ad executive discovers his wife has fallen for her acting partner, a younger man.

The young and young-at-heart might enjoy two family attractions: Steve and Kathy Hotchner's adaptation of The Wizard of Oz (Sierra Madre Playhouse, April 30-June 4), and Laguna Playhouse's swashbuckling classic Treasure Island (April 22-May1).

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