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Los Angeles Spotlight: February 2007

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Megan Hilty in Wicked
(© Joan Marcus)
The Tony winners are coming, the Tony winners are coming! A newly staged open-ended engagement of Stephen Schwartz' monster hit Wicked comes to Hollywood's Pantages Theatre (opening February 9), starring Eden Espinosa as Elphaba, Megan Hilty as Glinda, Carol Kane as Madame Morrible, and John Rubenstein as the Wizard.

Opera and musical theater audiences can enjoy the benefits of genre cross-pollination when the L.A. Opera presents renowned Tony winners Patti LuPone and Audra McDonald in the Bertolt Brecht-Kurt Weill theater piece, Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, February 10-March 4). John Doyle, a 2006 Tony winner for directing Sweeney Todd, is at the helm. For another dose of Weill, the Musical Theatre Guild will present two concert performances of the musical Street Scene, co-written with Elmer Rice and Langston Hughes, February 12 at the Alex Theatre in Glendale and February 18 at the Janet and Ray Scherr Forum in Thousand Oaks.

There's also a strong must-see aura surrounding the local unveiling of director Anthony Page's multi-Tony-honored revival of Edward Albee's immortal tragicomedy, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, starring Kathleen Turner and Best Actor winner Bill Irwin (Ahmanson Theatre, February 6-March 18).

Reprise! Broadway's Best offers two major attractions this month: the James Lapine-Stephen Sondheim masterpiece Sunday in the Park With George (UCLA's Freud Playhouse, through February 11), starring Tony Award nominees Manoel Felciano, Kelli O'Hara, and Nancy Dussault; and a one-night only concert version of Richard Maltby Jr. and David Shire's Broadway musical Baby, starring Tony winner Faith Prince, Alice Ripley, Kerry Butler, and Christopher McDonald (February 5).

The songs of that noted songwriting team make up the score of A Time for Love, at Ventura's Rubicon Theatre (February 1-25). Lois Robbins and Brian Sutherland star in this sweetly comic, romantic, and poignant story of love and marriage. And speaking of songwriting teams, They're Playing Our Song (February 23-March 11), the slightly autobiographical tuner by Marvin Hamlisch, Carole Bayer Sager and Neil Simon, arrives at the Valley Musical Theatre at the El Portal, with Vicki Lewis and Scott Waara in the leads.

Meanwhile, there are stars galore over at the Geffen Playhouse: A rare revival of David Mamet's caustic showbiz satire, Speed-the-Plow (through March 18) features Greg Germann, Alicia Silverstone, and Jon Tenney in the lead roles; while TV favorite Roma Downey and Peter Michael Goetz star in the West Coast debut of Jeffrey Hatcher's A Picasso (February 4-March 25), set during World War II.

Also much anticipated is the West Coast bow of the popular Off-Broadway musical Altar Boyz (Brentwood's Wadsworth Theatre, February 13-25), a spoofy lark about a heavenly guy-group. A debuting intimate tuner is Mommy! Mommy! The Musical..Musical!, about four mothers who meet in parenting class and form a mutual-support pact (Hollywood's Hudson Backstage Theatre, February 16-April 1). The sound of music can also be heard in Song of Singapore (Long Beach's International City Theatre, February 6-March 11), a World War II parody of classic films like Casablanca; and in Long Beach, Musical Theatre West's rendition of the delightful The Full Monty (Carpenter Performing Arts Center, February 24-March 11).

Lest one begin thinking that all theatrical fare in L.A. emphasizes frivolity, a cornucopia of promising dramas join the February mix. Highlights include: the U.S. premiere of Cornelius Schnauber's history-based Wagner and Mendelssohn: Music and Women (Hollywood's MET Theatre; February 2-March 11); David Lindsay-Abaire's seriocomic tale of premature physical aging, Kimberly Akimbo (Burbank's Victory Theatre, February 2-March 25); Jules (Santa Monica's Promenade Playhouse, through March 4), Hawley Anderson's freewheeling contemporary reinvention of Romeo and Juliet; Stephen Adly Guirgis' In Arabia We'd All Be Kings (Hollywood's Elephant Space, through March 3), set in a Hell's Kitchen bar during the 1990s; a new adaptation of August Strindberg's Miss Julie (Hollywood's Fountain Theatre, February 1-April 1); Harold Pinter's dark 1993 play, Moonlight (Hollywood's Lost Studio (February 9-April 1); and Cuts (North Hollywood's Road Theatre, through March 20), featuring eight works from the acclaimed Dog Ear Playwrights' Collective.

The Actors' Gang presents the West Coast premiere of Deborah Brevoort's The Women of Lockerbie (Culver City's Ivy Substation, February 15-April 28), the fact-based story of a New Jersey woman seeking the remains of her son in Scotland, following a plane crash. The venerable Padua Playwrights group premieres Sharon Yablon's The Empty Bed (Stephanie Feury Studio, February 16-March 24), about two lost souls in the Hollywood hills trying to connect. Burbank's Colony Theatre offers Simon Gray's revenge thriller Stage Struck (February 7-March 11).

Yucks are to be found in Laguna Playhouse's rendition of David Rambo's comedy The Ice-Breaker, in which love blossoms in the Arizona desert, and Music From a Sparkling Planet by Douglas Carter Beane (As Bees in Honey Drown), which is about three 1970s-televison-obsessed men tracking down their favorite icon from yesteryear (Silverlake's West Coast Ensemble, February 6-April 1).

On the family-entertainment front, the Theatre for Young Audiences series at Costa Mesa's South Coast Repertory features real-life twins Alex and Graham Miller as the two identity-switching tykes in Jonathan Bolt's adaptation of the Mark Twain classic The Prince and the Pauper (February 9-25). Children can venture into Mad-Hatter mayhem in the musical Alice and the Wonderful Tea Party at the Santa Monica Playhouse (February 17-June 10).

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