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Los Angeles Spotlight: November 2008

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Julie White in The Little Dog Laughed
(© Carol Rosegg)
2008 is rapidly winding to a close, but L.A.'s incredibly prolific theater year is not letting up yet. Highlighting a very promising November roster is the local premiere of Douglas Carter Beane's hit Broadway comedy The Little Dog Laughed (Kirk Douglas Theatre, November 16-December 21), with Scott Ellis repeating his directing duties. Original cast members Julie White (who won a Tony for her performance), Johnny Galecki, and Zoe-Lister Jones are joined by Brian Henderson for this rollicking satire of the homophobic film industry.

Also of high interest is the American premiere of Peter Whelan's The School of Night (Mark Taper Forum, through December 17), a political thriller set in 16th-century England, exploring the mysterious sudden demise of famed Renaissance dramatist Christopher Marlowe -- an atheist, a homosexual, and a free thinker, all dangerous qualities in his day.

Heading a handful of tantalizing musical offerings is the world premiere of a revised version of the classic Cole Porter musical Silk Stockings (Musical Theatre West at Long Beach's Carpenter Performing Arts Center, November 7-23). Writer-director Stuart Ross (Forever Plaid) has revised the original book by George S. Kaufman, Laueen McGrath, and Abe Burrows. The stage show is inspired by the classic Greta Garbo film Ninotchka. Another vintage musical, Frank Loesser's operatic-flavored gem The Most Happy Fella is presented in a semi-staged concert by Musical Theatre Guild (November 10 at Glendale's Alex Theatre and November 23 at Thousand Oaks' Scherr Forum Theatre).

Kicking off its national tour is the Garry Marshall-Paul Williams piece of bubble-gum nostalgia, Happy Days--A New Musical (La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, through November 16). A longtime local favorite, Theatre of Note's satiric holiday-themes parable A Mulholland Christmas Carol (Sacred Fools Theatre, November 20-December 21) makes a return visit. Also in a holiday-season vein, Glendale's classics-focused company A Noise Within presents Neil Bartlett's adaptation of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist (November 1-December 14).

Among the dramatic offerings to anticipate is Cornerstone Theatre Company's For All Time (Shakespeare Festival/LA, through November 23), bringing stories of crime and punishment to life and raising questions about the nature of retribution and the endless cycle of violence. In its L.A. premiere, A.R. Gurney's O Jerusalem (Chandler Studio Theatre, November 14-December 8) is a terrorist-age tale offering a message of hope. Award-winning playwright E.M. Lewis offers her new work, Song of Extinction ([Inside] the Ford, November 5-December 14). It's about a boy's struggle for grief that turns into a magical musical journey for him, his family, and the teacher who tries to save him.

Comedic fare is led by something that sounds truly unusual. Cute With Chris: LIVE (Elephant Theatre, November 7-December 14), starring Gemini Award-nominated Chris Leavins, brings the world of Internet technology to the stage. Gentler humor will be on tap in Tim Clue and Spike Manton's nostalgic Leaving Iowa (Laguna Playhouse, November 11-December 14), about a journalist who returns home to a small Iowa town to find a final resting place for his father's ashes. West Coast Ensemble offers Christopher Durang's zany Miss Witherspoon (El Centro Theatre, through December 14), which sends up religion, spirituality, and our quest for something beyond ourselves. And the legend of the man from La Mancha gets a new spin in the Los Angeles Theatre Ensemble's Quixotic (Powerhouse Theatre, through November 22), about an insurance company that is downsizing and an office Don Quixote.

Family fare this month is highlighted by Snow White (Eclectic Company Theatre, November 1-23), Tim Kelly's adaptation of the ancient fairy tale, and Bruce Mason's Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (South Coast Repertory, November 7-23), based on Judy Blume's children's book about sibling rivalry.

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