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Los Angeles Spotlight: February 2009

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Alicia Silverstone
(Courtesy of Geffen Playhouse)
Hopefully the title is a harbinger of a riveting dramatic experience in Time Stands Still, at the Geffen Playhouse, February 3-March 15. It's the world premiere of a new work by Pulitzer-winning playwright Donald Margulies, helmed by Tony-winning director Daniel Sullivan. Anna Gunn, David Harbour, Alicia Silverstone, and Robin Thomas star in this drama about a longtime couple/journalistic team who return to New York from an extended stint in the war-torn Middle East, facing readjustment to domestic life.

Strife on the home front is also on view in Divorce! The Musical (Hudson Mainstage Theatre, February 5-March 29), featuring book, music, and lyrics by Erin Kamler, and directed by Rick Sparks. Also featuring that "m" word in the title is Forever, the Musical (Sacred Fools Theater, February 5-28), the story of a young woman's "first time," set in the AM-friendly music world of the mid-1970s. For a change of pace, try Dale Wasserman's vintage Broadway musical Man of La Mancha (Reprise at the UCLA Freud Playhouse, February 14-March 1), starring Brent Spiner, best known as Data the android in Star Trek. How's that for an impossible dream?

More classical tastes can be satisfied with a revisit to Brecht and Weill's Threepenny Opera (International City Theatre, February 17-March 22), directed by Jules Aaron. A play-with-music is on tap in the West Coast premiere of Alan Knee's The Jazz Age (Blank Theatre Company at 2nd Stage, February 7-March 22), directed by Michael Matthews. It's billed as a sexy new play exploring the issue of inspiration for talented artists, featuring Luke Macfarlane (of ABC's Brothers and Sisters) as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jeremy Gabriel as Ernest Hemingway, and Heather Prete as Zelda Fitzgerald.

Three Off-Broadway plays make their West Coast premieres. Wayne Lemon's edgy comedy Jesus Hates Me (Chance Theater, through March 1), is about a former high-school football star desperately seeking identity and fame. Iris Bahr's Lucille Lortel-winning solo play DAI (Enough), at the Lillian Theatre (through February 15), presents 15 characters depicting a cross-section of Israeli society. The life of famed pilot Charles Lindbergh is dramatized in Garth Wingfield's Flight (Attic Theatre and Film Center, February 7-March 14), directed by James Carey.

There's more drama on the roster. Stage and TV vet Joe Spano costars with Karyl Lynn Burns in director Jenny Sullivan's revival of the Edward Albee classic Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Rubicon Theatre, through February 22). Daniel Berrigan's free-verse, fact-based The Trial of the Catonsville Nine (Actor's Gang, February 5-March 21), is about a legendary Vietnam War protest in 1968. Returning is Jonathan Tolins' thoughtful exploration of parents, gay children, and genetic tampering, The Twilight of the Golds (Chandler Studio Theatre, February 6-March 14), directed by TL Kolman. And a new adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula (NoHo Arts Center, February 7-March 22) by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston, directed by Ken Sawyer, is being touted as darker and sexier than ever.

Comedy is also in plentiful supply. George Bernard Shaw's timeless social satire Candida (Colony Theatre, February 4-March 8) is directed by Kathleen F. Conlin. Daniel Landberg's world premiere farce Surviving Sex (Falcon Theatre, through March 1) follows the misadventures of an average accountant with a far-from-average sex life. Terry Johnson's stage adaptation of Mike Nichols' watershed Dustin Hoffman-Anne Bancroft film The Graduate (West Coast Ensemble at the El Centro Theatre, February 11-April 5) makes its local debut. The Elephant Theatre in Hollywood offers the latest in a popular series, Love Bites: Volume 8.0 (February 14-March 14), called an evening of not-so-romantic shorts and dysfunctional comedies, written by and featuring company members. South Coast Repertory brings back a favorite knockabout backstage farce: Michael Frayn's Noises Off (February 6-March 8).

The small fry can choose from two separate productions of the fanciful, Tony-nominated musical, A Year With Frog and Toad. Lewis Family Playhouse at the Victoria Gardens Cultural Center in Rancho Cucamonga stages it through February 14. South Coast Repertory's Costa Mesa staging is February 18-March 1.

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