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Los Angeles Spotlight: February 2011

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Tracee Chimo and Kevin Anderson in The Break of Noon
(© Michael Lamont Photography)
A highly varied bill of theatrical fare in February leads off with the L.A. premiere of Neil LaBute's The Break of Noon (Geffen Playhouse, through March 6), directed by Jo Bonney. Tony award nominee Kevin Anderson heads the cast as a man who hears the voice of God during a tragic office shooting, leading to an amazing personal transformation. The cast also features Catherine Dent, Tracee Chimo, and John Earl Jelks.

The Pasadena Playhouse unveils a world premiere musical, Dangerous Beauty (February 1-27) directed by Tony nominee Sheryl Kaller, written by librettist Jeannine Dominy, lyricist Amanda McBroom, and composer Michael Brourman. Broadway veterans Jenny Powers, James Snyder, Bryce Ryness, and Michael Rupert star in this stage adaptation of the film of the same name. Based on a true story, it's the tumultuous tale of a celebrated poet-courtesan of 16th-Century Venice who goes on trial for witchcraft.

Several additional musicals are on tap. The national touring edition of the hit Tony-nominated Rock of Ages comes to the Pantages Theatre (February 15-27). Constantine Maroulis, an American Idol finalist who received a Tony nomination for his work in the Broadway production, reprises his role. In the fun-filled show, set in 1987 Hollywood, a small-town girl meets a big-city dreamer. A musical bound to strike resonant chords during the current U.S. economic recession, Mark Blitzstein's 1937 classic The Cradle Will Rock, directed by Daniel Henning, is offered by Blank Theatre Company at the Stella Adler Theatre (February 5-March 20). Film, theater, and recording star Rex Smith heads a distinguished cast in this tuneful Depression-era story, a scathing satire of greed, corruption, and politics.

Andrew Lloyd Webber's perennially popular feline frolic Cats is offered by Musical Theatre West (Carpenter Performing Arts Center, February 11-27), and the latest installment of the hit Nunsense franchise, Nunsensations! will be presented by the Lyric Theatre (February 11-March 13). A show that had its pre-Broadway U.S. premiere in L.A., the rib-tickling lark The Drowsy Chaperone, returns in a new production (3D Theatricals at Plummer Auditorium, February 11-27). It's a goofy homage to American musicals of the jazz age, starring Sally Struthers. Those with a taste for revues have two to choose from. Debbie Kasper and Pat Sierchio's spoof Boomermania (El Portal Theatre, February 3-March 27), offers nostalgic musical fun for a particular generation. And veteran triple-threat performer Rita McKenzie once again channels a legendary Broadway star in Ethel Merman's Broadway (El Portal Theatre, February 16-27).

Promising dramatic fare is also in the offing. The Audrey Skirball Kenis Theatre at the Geffen Playhouse offers the anthology In Mother Words, starring Jane Kaczmarek, Saidah Arrika Ekulona, and James Lecesne. The collage of stories by several major playwrights -- Beth Henley, Lisa Loomer, Michele Lowe, Theresa Rebeck, and more -- runs February 23-May 1. From award-winning playwright Nick Salamone and likewise pedigreed director Jon Lawrence Rivera comes The Sonneteer (Davidson/Valentini Theatre, February 11-March 6), in which a young professor discovers the secret sonnets of his estranged dead mother, providing lots of surprising information about his past. Athol Fugard's classic Master Harold…and the Boys, directed by Brian McDonald (Rubicon Theatre, February 9-March 6), features Daniel Stewart, Anthony J, Haney, and Chris Maddox. The Kirk Douglas Theatre stages Tim Crouch's The Author (February 15-27), an experimental piece exploring a startling perspective on the relationship of the audience to a performer.

Theatre of Note premieres B. Walker Simpons' Alceste (February 4-March 12), directed by Darin Dahms, a free adaptation from Eurpides, pitting gods, ghosts, and superheroes with ordinary individuals. John Billingsley, Karole Foreman, and Travis Schuldt star in Richard Greenberg's The Violet Hour (Lillian Theatre, February 12-March 13), directed by Darin Anthony, set in the world of publishing in 1919, in which writers face big stakes in getting their books published.

There's also comedy on the roster. Deaf West Theatre offers a unique spin on the classic The Adventures of Pinocchio (February 19-March 26), in a commedia dell arte adaptation combining signed and voiced theater. Taped during readings for subsequent radio broadcast, L.A. Theatre Works brings us the Pulitzer prize finalist Becky Shaw (Skirball Cultural Center, February 9-13), by Obie award winning playwright Gina Gionfriddo and starring Emily Bergl, Matt Letscher, and Marsha Mason in a spry romantic comedy with elements of a psychological thriller.

Two attractions sound like enticing family fare. The musical spoof Lucky Duck (South Coast Repertory, February 11-27), by Bill Russell, Jeffrey Hatcher, and Henry Krieger, offers a modern twist on a fairy-tale classic. Santa Monica Playhouse presents Barnyard Madness with the Three Little Pigs (February 5-April 17), a 1940s country-and-western musical romp.

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