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Los Angeles Spotlight: October 2010

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Andrea McArdle
(© Tristan Fuge)
Leapin' lizards! Andrea McArdle is back in Annie. Yet rather than reprising her original title role of the spunky but lovable orphan from the 1977 Broadway premiere of the classic family musical, she's taken on the villainous orphanage head Miss Hannigan. Musical Theatre West revives the ever-popular tuner at Carpenter Performing Arts Center, October 29-November 14.

Another show featuring well-known actors in the leads is the L.A. premiere of Edmund White's drama Terre Haute (Blank Theatre Company at the 2nd Stage Theatre, October 2-November 14), co-starring Mike Farrell of TV's M*A*S*H and Providence and Jim Parrack of HBO's True Blood. The play imagines a meeting between imprisoned terrorist Timothy McVeigh and opinionated novelist Gore Vidal, who were reportedly pen pals. L.A. Theatre Works opens its season with Lucy Prebble's Enron, starring Gregory Itzin, Amy Pietz, and Steven Weber (October 20-24). The story of greed and loss during financial meltdown will be taped for subsequent radio broadcasts.

The Falcon Theatre offers Matthew Lombardo's solo piece about Katharine Hepburn, Tea at Five (October 13-November 14), starring Stephanie Zimbalist as the legendary movie star. Marilu Henner and Caroline Aaron star in Charles Busch's newly revised version of his Broadway hit The Tale of the Allergist's Wife (October 1-17).

The world-premiere musical Venice (Kirk Douglas Theatre, October 7-November 14) is said to be a story of war, love, betrayal, and the quest for peace. It features a book by director Eric Rosen and an eclectic score by Rosen and Matt Sax, encompassing hip-hop, R&B, and opera. Those with a taste for spectacle should be interested in an ambitious British-bred production of Peter Pan (Orange County Performing Arts Center, through December 5). J.M. Barrie's classic story is told with the aid of 22 actors, puppets, epic music, flying sequences, and a 360-degree CGI tent-theatre, especially constructed for the production.

The fall cornucopia of musicals continues with Cornerstone Theatre Company's Making Paradise: The West Hollywood Musical (Fiesta Hall in Plummer Park, October 14-November 7). Cornerstone and the City of West Hollywood both celebrate their 25th anniversaries with this festive glimpse at a city's colorful history. A Hollywood glamour queen has a lot to say in the world premiere of When Garbo Talks! (International City Theatre, October 12-November 7), featuring a book and lyrics by the late Buddy Kaye and music by the late Mort Garson.

Additional tuners on tap include the nostalgic Happy Days: The Musical (based on the long running TV series), offered by Cabrillo Music Theatre (Kavli Theatre in Thousand Oaks, October22-31), and starring Derek Keeling and Misty Cotton. Samuel Warren Joseph and Jon Detherage's satire, Campaign (Met Theatre, through November 7) is said to be about a pompous, arrogant politician who can't keep his zipper shut. And based on the movie The Brain That Wouldn't Die is another musical in a separate space at the Met Theatre: the zany rock tuner Head: The Brain That Wouldn't Die (October 2-November 6), which features book, music, and lyrics by Ivo Shandor. Hoboken to Hollywood: A Journey Through the Great American Songbook (Edgemar Center for the Arts, October 8-December 12), by Luca Ellis, Paul Litteral, and Jeremy Aldridge, is set behind the scenes during taping of a TV show, and features classic American songs.

Heading the dramatic bill of fare is Lillian Hellman's rarely produced The Autumn Garden (Antaeus Company at the Deaf West Theatre, October 23-December 19), featuring two alternating casts. It's about people facing disappointment in the autumnal period of their lives. The Fountain Theatre features the U.S. premiere of Athol Fugard's The Train Driver (October 8-December 12), starring Morlan Higgins and Adolphus Ward, directed by Stephen Sachs, about a traumatized train driver whose life is transformed by an extraordinary stranger. Patrick Meyers' K2 (Underground Theatre, October 7-November 14) is a tense tale of two mountain climbers stranded on a ledge at 27,000 feet. Theatre @ Boston Court presents Jordan Harrison's new drama Futura (through November 7), directed by Jessica Kubzansky, about a rogue professor in the not-too-distant future where people search for the tangible in an ever-more virtual age.

Comedic fare is highlighted by the Southland debut of Sarah Ruhl's Pulitzer finalist and Tony nominee In the Next Room, or the vibrator play (South Coast Repertory, through October 17), set in the Victorian era, before corseted women shed their inhibitions. The venerable performing couple Renee Taylor and Joe Bologna debut their new vehicle Sort of a Love Story (El Portal Theatre, October 14-24), written by Bologna and Richard Krevolin. John van Druten's fanciful classic Bell Book and Candle, starring Mary Jo Catlett, runs at the Colony Theatre (October 23-November 21).

Family attractions this month includes the fairy tale classic Jack and the Beanstalk, an interactive musical, including a rapping giant and a talking goose (Theatre West, October 9-February 20, 2011). There's also Hamlet, Prince of Puddles, a comical all-ages Shakespearean adaptation, offered by L'Enfant Terrible (Bootleg Theatre, through October 30).

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