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Los Angeles Spotlight: October 2009

Before Parade Passes By logo
T.R. Knight in Parade
(© Craig Schwartz)
The bountiful fall theater harvest in L.A. gets into full swing with the long-awaited L.A. premiere of Jason Robert Brown and Alfred Uhry's 1998 Tony-winning musical drama Parade (Mark Taper Forum, through November 15). The acclaimed Donmar Warehouse version from London, directed and choreographed by Rob Ashford, is presented in a new rendition, starring Grey's Anatomy's T. R. Knight. He plays factory supervisor, Leo Frank in post-Civil War Atlanta, a man falsely convicted of murdering 13-year-old Mary Phagan in this lyrical fact-based tragedy.

Additional musical fare is on hand. God Save Gertrude (Theatre @ Boston Court, October 1-November 8), a punk-rock riff on Hamlet by Deborah Stein and David Hanbury, makes its world premiere. It's set in an abandoned theatre, where Queen Gertrude takes the stage and sings, while riots rage outside the theatre. Cabrillo Music Theatre revives the perennially popular Frank Loesser classic Guys and Dolls (October 16-25), directed by Nick DeGruccio. Theatre West offers the world premiere of Sally Spectre: The Musical (October 16-November 29), with book, music, lyrics and direction by David P. Johnson, which is described as a singing, dancing ghost story about a girl frolicking her way through a nightmare-laced purgatory. Just Imagine (NoHo Arts Center, October 2-November 8) is a multimedia show starring Tim Piper as the late rock star John Lennon taking us on a time-capsule trip back through his life and career.

Tony nominee Cathy Rigby and four-time Emmy winner Michael Learned star in La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts' revival of Robert Harling's popular rural dramedy Steel Magnolias (October 2-18). Other dramatic fare includes a world-premiere play by renowned filmmaker Henry Jaglom, Just 45 Minutes from Broadway (Edgemar Center for the Arts, October 1-December 20), about a mostly Jewish extended family of actors.

Two world-premiere plays transport us to past decades. The Happy Ones (South Coast Repertory, through October 18) is about an Orange County man (Raphael Sbarge) in the 1970s who must rediscover his optimism in the wake of a tragedy. Charles Bartett and Jack Cooper's That Perfect Moment (NoHo Arts Center, October 1-November 8) is a comedy, set in Southern California's San Fernando Valley, about four aging baby boomers desperate to recover their lost youth.

Lee Blessing's Chesapeake (Syzygy Theatre Group at GTC Burbank, October 8-31) is called a magical-realist fable about a New York performance artist, a firebrand conservative Southern politician, and the dog that unites their fates. Phyllis Nagy's Never Land (Rogue Machine at Theatre/Theater, October 8-November 15), which was first presented at London's Royal Court Theatre, is set in a remote, rain-swept village in the South of France, following three fateful days in the life of a family. Michael Hyman's debuting drama Love Will Tear Us Apart (Hudson Guild Theatre, October 16-November 22) follows the unique experience of a young gay man who is visited each night by the voice of a former lover, nagging him about his character flaws. Bill Seamans and Roy M. Close's Exit Strategy (Falcon Theatre, October 14-November 15), starring Debra Mooney, James Sikking, and John C. Moskoff, explores the plight of an elderly couple about to be evicted, who are encouraged by a stranger to make a bold move. Those in the mood for the Bard can look forward to A Noise Within's staging of Shakespeare's historical drama Richard III (through December 12).

Family fare this month includes two participatory offerings. Fairy Tales--Some Assembly Required (Secret Rose Theatre, October 3-November 21) is an interactive musical in which kids decide the storyline and Ooooogy Green and Other Fables (Geffen Playhouse, Oct. 10) is a large-scale puppet extravaganza in which children are encouraged to join in.

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