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Los Angeles Spotlight: December 2010

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Helen Hunt
(© Jack Guy)
Among this month's high-profile shows is a star-studded Much Ado About Nothing, presented by the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles at the Kirk Douglas Theatre (December 1-19). Ben Doneberg directs, and the music of Lyle Lovett is featured. Among the illustrious cast members are Helen Hunt, Tom Irwin, Dakin Matthews, and David Ogden Stiers. Kathleen Turner and Matthew Rhys, of TV's Brothers and Sisters, star in LA Theatre Works' staged reading of Terry Johnson's stage adaptation of the classic novel and film hit The Graduate (Skirball Cultural Center, December 8-12), to be taped for subsequent radio broadcast. Also in the stellar cast are Bruce Davison, John Getz, and Tom Virtue. John Rubinstein directs.

Although The Geffen was forced to cancel a planned run of Dick Van Dyke's solo show due to an injury that's keeping the performer off his feet, the theater is still offering Broadway Holiday (December 17-January 2) on it's mainstage. A cast of Great White Way luminaries -- Marc Kudisch, Ivan Rutherford, Jeffrey Denman, Rita Harvey, and Carter Calvert -- joins forces with creator-musical director Neil Berg for a journey through musical theater history. Tunes from Kander and Ebb, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Loewe, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Stephen Sondheim, Cole Porter, and other legendary songwriters will be included.

The touring version of the 2009 Broadway revival of the Sondheim-Bernstein-Laurents-Robbins classic West Side Story lands at the Pantages Theatre, through January 2. The nostalgic favorite The 1940's Radio Hour is offered by Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities in Redondo Beach (December 1-19). The setting is a Manhattan radio station in December, 1942, in which attempts to broadcast a special program for the troops overseas meets with multiple mishaps. Bootleg Theater continues its annual tradition of holiday-season musicals from multitalented Ken Roht in Ken Roht's Same-O, A 99-Cent Only Electric Ballad (December 4-19). The surrealistic interdisciplinary extravaganza is about two very different young men who get married.

Remembering the Ladies, a musical entertainment starring acclaimed British entertainer Toni Morrell, plays at the El Portal Forum Theatre, December 2-31. The show offers a tribute to famous female entertainers, such as Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich, and more. Troubadour Theater Company unveils its annual holiday spoof, The First Jo-el (Falcon Theatre, December 1-January 16), in which the music of Billy Joel is featured in a new telling of the story of the birth of Jesus.

Among the promising dramatic offerings is the new play, Exit 10 (Theatre 68, December 3-January 23), written by Daniel Dean Darst, and directed by Michael Altman (son of the late film director, Robert Altman). Described as a haunting work of classic Americana, and featuring original songs by Darst (a longtime Robert Altman collaborator), the semi-autobiographical story tells of a man born to heed the call of a freight train and the woman who loves him. The renowned Wooster Group returns to L.A. with its revisionist version of Tennessee Williams' Vieux Carre (REDCAT Theatre, December 1-12). Another classic, Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac (Ruskin Group Theatre, December 4-January 23), directed by Rae Allen, brings us a touch of poetic French romanticism.

Timely sociopolitical issues will be evident in the premiere of David L. Ray's Caught (Zephyr Theatre, through January 23), directed by Nick DeGruccio. It explores the controversial issue of same-sex marriage, through the life of one American family. In writer-director D'Shaun A. Booker's Meetin' in the Ladies Room (Stage 52, December 10-19), five African-American women unleash the secrets of their souls through self-discovery.

Two family attractions are ideally timed for the festive season. The delightful tongue-in-cheek musical, Yo Ho Ho! A Pirate's Christmas -- with a score by Scott DeTurk and James Mellon, and written and directed by Mellon -- returns to the NoHo Arts Center (through December 23). A group of directionally challenged pirates invade the North Pole, to hilarious and tuneful effect. Santa Monica Playhouse offers Holiday Enchanted Lunchtime Fairytale Theatre, on December 14. Included are a fanciful story, theatre games, sing-a-longs, and more.

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