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Los Angeles Spotlight: October 2008

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Christy Altomare and Kyle Riabko in Spring Awakening
(© Paul Kolnik)
The Tony-winning Broadway hit Spring Awakening makes its Los Angeles premiere at the Ahmanson Theatre, October 29-December 7. The groundbreaking musical, adapted from Frank Wedekind's play, features a bold rock score by Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater, and a controversial but universal sexual coming-of-age story.

Also of high interest is David Rambo's drama The Lady With All the Answers (Pasadena Playhouse, October 17-November 23), providing a reportedly hilarious and touching peek into the inner life of the late advice columnist Ann Landers. Mimi Kennedy (Dharma & Greg) stars. And Geffen Playhouse has a must-see attraction with the L.A. premiere of By the Waters of Babylon (October 28-December 7), the latest play from Pulitzer-winning playwright Richard Schenkkan, directed by Richard Seyd. The work juxtaposes Cuban politics with Southern stoicism, in which two relative strangers learn the truth about themselves.

Two musicals of vastly different types are on tap. The venerable Rodgers and Hammerstein classic The King and I (Fred Kavli Theatre, October 17-26) starring popular singer-songwriter-actor Deborah Gibson, is presented by Cabrillo Music Theatre in Thousand Oaks. Jonas Oppenheim's new sci-fi tuner Earth Sucks (Art/Works Theatre, through November 2) is about a high-school girl who believes that life sucks, as she dreams of touring the galaxy with an alien rock band.

James Denton of Desperate Housewives stars in the new play How Cissy Grew (El Portal Forum Theatre, October 16-November 23), about the aftermath of a young girl's abduction and the subsequent return to her parents. Chay Yew's controversial gay-themed drama Porcelain (Celebration Theatre, October 10-November 9) examines a 19-year-old man's crime of passion, shooting his lover. Charles Gordone's Pulitzer-winning No Place to Be Somebody (Stella Adler Theatre, October 2-November 9) is about a black restaurant owner in New York and the prostitute who loves him. Another classic about African-American culture, August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean, is revived at the Fountain Theatre (October 3-November 16). Paul Mullins' drama The Sequence (Theatre @ Boston Court, October 2-November 9) is a new play, directed by John Langs, following the race between two scientists to sequence the human genome.

Noel Coward's Waiting in the Wings (Theatre West, October 10-November 23) is about a longtime feud and other travails in a retirement home. Senator Robert F. Kennedy is the subject of Good Bobby (Greenway Court Theatre, October 17-November 23), a new play by writer-actor Brian Lee Franklin, who reportedly looks a great deal like the late politician. Pulitzer finalist Will Eno penned Tragedy: A Tragedy (Son of Semele, October 17-November 16), a satire about the news media's tendency to spin and sensationalize events. Stephen Massicotte's Mary's Wedding (Colony Theatre, October 22-November 21) is described as a breathtaking story about young lovers who must surrender their fate to the uncertainties of tumultuous times.

Comedy is also on the roster. Two legendary stars of Broadway musicals, Carol Lawrence (West Side Story) and Donna McKechnie (A Chorus Line) headline the West Coast premiere of Joni Fritz' Girl's Room (El Portal Theatre, October 8-November 2), about three generations of lively women and the lies and truths in their mutual relationship. L.A. and New York favorite Jason Graae and veteran actress Constance Towers star in a remounting of Arthur Allam Siedelman's perennially popular Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks (Falcon Theatre, October 22-November 23), a bittersweet piece about an unusual friendship, including choreography by Kay Cole. The award-winning Furious Theatre Company offers Gina Gionfriddo's prize-winning U.S. Drag (Carrie Hamilton Theatre, October 18-November 22), a jet-black comedy about young women in Manhattan who try to capture a local serial attacker. Matt Morillo's outrageously sexy comedy, Angry Young Women in Low-Rise Jeans With High-Class Issues (Hudson Mainstage Theatre, October 3-November 9), makes its West Coast bow, and consists of five one-acts exploring the modern day trials and tribulations of being young, female, and living in the big city.

Two family offerings this month sound enticing. Mainstreet Theater Company in Rancho Cucamonga presents James and the Giant Peach (October 18-November 1), adapted by David Wood from Roald Dahl's classic tale. Alive Theatre in Long Beach stages Grimm's Fairy Tales: A Children's Show (October 18-25), reinventing five beloved stories.


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