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Los Angeles Spotlight: June 2009

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Chris Pine and Chris Noth star in Farragut North
(© Andrew Southam)
The emphasis is on dramatic fare as the summer theatre season heats up, headed by a political play with a stellar cast at the Geffen Playhouse. Beau Willimon's Farragut North (June 16-July 26), directed by Tony winner Doug Hughes and starring two accomplished actors named Chris -- Noth (of Law and Order and Sex and the City) and Pine (of current Star Trek glory). The play is set during a heated presidential race, and is described as a timely tale of hubris, loyalty, and the lust for power. Also directed by the prolific Hughes is David Mamet's harrowing classic Oleanna, starring Bill Pullman and Julia Stiles (Mark Taper Forum, through July 12).

A tragicomic play that received multiple nominations from L.A. awards groups and a Back Stage Garland citation for lead actor Joe Egender following its 2008 world premiere run at Theatre of Note, Erik Patterson's He Asked For It, returns in a retooled version at the Macha Theatre (June 12-July 19). A lacerating look at urban gay life in the 21st century, it explores a dating scene fraught with drugs and disregard for disease, and the search for elusive long-lasting connections. Another drama with a hard-hitting gay theme, Carol Lynn Pearson's Facing East (International City Theatre, June 9-July 5), is about a devout Mormon couple reeling from the suicide of their gay son.

The Unseen (Road Theatre, June 14-August 22) by Emmy and Drama Desk-nominated scribe Craig Wright, is a Kafka-esque prison thriller examining faith in an uncertain world. Hannah Moscovitch's East of Berlin (NoHo Arts Center, North Hollywood, through July 19) is about unlikely love matches in a post-Nazi world. Jacqueline Wright's Love Water (Open Fist Theatre, through July 11), set in a mythical urban neighborhood, follows the friendship of a boy and a woman who find refuge in a water pipe above a polluted riverbed. Shakespeare's gripping political thriller Julius Caesar is revived at the outdoors Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum (June 6-September 26).

The comedic fare for the month is highlighted by Dame Edna: My First Last Tour (Ahmanson Theatre, June 9-21), starring the Tony-winning diva, aka Barry Humphries. The Something-Nothing (Lounge Theatre, June 9-July 2) by Fielding Edlow, is a romantic comedy about a Jewish feminist working for the Lifetime Network and a self-absorbed Jewish ESPN programmer as well as a lesbian stage manager who pines for her heterosexual roommate. In Marisa Wergrzyn's Ten Cent Night (Victory Theatre, June 10-July 26), Chekhov and Sam Shepherd spawned the disparate styles converging in an offbeat family comedy. Jeffrey Hargraves' Carved in Stone (Theatre Asylum, June 19-August 9) involves a traveler who unexpectedly finds himself in the company of Quentin Crisp, Tennessee Williams, Oscar Wilde, and Truman Capote.

Quirky musicals appear to be in vogue this summer. Fellowship! (Falcon Theatre, June 4-July 12), by Kelly Holden-Bashar and Joel McCrary, is a musical parody of The Fellowship of the Ring. Stranger (Bootleg Theatre, June 6-July 4), by Eva Anderson, Keythe Farley, and Tony Bollas, is called a spaghetti Western musical, a tale of redemption and revenge set in the Sierra Nevadas desert in 1847. "Drag is the new black" is the tag slogan for Little Black Veil (Ruby Theatre at The Complex, June 5-July 5), featuring a book by David LeBarron and music by Abby Travis, examining the stigma against gender-benders who fall in love. Scott Claus has fashioned a coming-out tuner, Ecstasy, the Musical! (Art-Works Theatre, June 6-July 12), directed and choreographed by A Chorus Line vet Kay Cole.

On the family entertainment front, Mission-Improvable (Avery Schreiber Theatre, June 6-27) offers improv entertainment for youngsters 4-14. And Emmy-winning newswoman Katie Couric's book The Brand New Kid is the inspiration for a musical adaptation by the same name (South Coast Repertory, through June 14). Book is by Melanie Marnich, music is by Michael Friedman, and both collaborated on the lyrics for the show about a common problem endured by children -- dealing with teasers.


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