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Los Angeles Spotlight: October 2006

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Molly Ringwald in Sweet Charity
(© Andrew Eccles)
Musicals are busting out all over in one of the busiest October theatre harvests in recent years. None is as eagerly anticipated as Alan Menken, Glenn Slater and Cheri Steinkellner's Sister Act: The Musical (Pasadena Playhouse, October 24-November 20), helmed by veteran Disney mogul Peter Schneider. Former sitcom star Dawnn Lewis steps into Goldberg's show as the singing "nun" who shakes up the staid church where she's hiding from her gangster boyfriend. This world premiere tuner clearly has its sights on Broadway, and advance word is that the book and score are stellar.

Meanwhile, Molly Ringwald kicks up her brat-pack-groomed heels in the national tour of the Cy Coleman-Dorothy Fields-Neil Simon classic Sweet Charity (Pantages Theatre, October 11-22). Another hot ticket is L.A.'s first locally produced rendition of the exuberant flapper musical Thoroughly Modern Millie (Musical Theatre West at Long Beach's Carpenter Performing Arts Center, October 21-November 5), while Tony Award nominee Mary Gordon Murray headlines the L.A. premiere of The Musical of Musicals: The Musical (Colony Theatre, October 21-November 19).

There's lots more on the tuner front: The award-winning Rubicon Theatre in Ventura brings us Man of La Mancha (October 5-November 5), the culmination of a season of Dale Wasserman works. A world premiere musical, Janet Barnet and Alice Lunsford's Dvorak in America (Sherman Oaks' Whitefire Theatre, October 5-November 12) tells the story of the famed Czech composer. The gay-focused Celebration Theatre has a promising offering: Splendora (October 27-December 3). The recipient of the 1995 Richard Rodgers Production award, the show, which features music by Stephen Hoffman and lyrics by Mark Campbell, is an edgy tale with a gender-bending twist. Also of note is the return of the tireless hit A Chorus Line (Cabrillo Music Theatre at Thousand Oaks' Countrywide Performing Arts Center, October 27-November 5).

Dramatic offerings are led by the premiere of writer-performer Lynn Redgrave's solo drama Nightingale (Mark Taper Forum, October 4-November 19), in which this renowned member of the Redgrave showbiz dynasty offers a tribute to her late grandmother, Beatrice Kempson. Tony Award winner Judy Kaye and co-star Donald Corren re-create their Broadway triumphs in Souvenir (Brentwood Playhouse, October 12-November 12), Stephen Temperly's play about socialite-singer Florence Foster Jenkins. The West Coast Jewish Theatre premieres Wendy Graf's new work, Leipzig (Lee Strasberg Institute's Marilyn Monroe Theatre in West Hollywood, October 20-December 10), starring Salome Jens and Mimi Kennedy, about a divorced journalist searching for long-elusive answers.

The adventurous Furious Theatre Company at the Pasadena Playhouse Carrie Hamilton Theatre offers the Los Angeles premiere of Craig Wright's Grace (October 4-November 11), a darkly funny story about three dead bodies discovered in a Florida condo. Burbank's Victory Theatre stages Arthur Miller's Broken Glass (October 6-November 26) about the long-held secrets of a fragile Jewish marriage, while veteran actor Cliff Osmond takes on the role of Willy Loman in Miller's classic Death of a Salesman (Odyssey Theatre, October 19-December 3).

Hollywood's Open Fist Theatre presents Autobahn (October 13-November 25), a cycle of short plays by renowned playwright-screenwriter Neil LaBute, revealing the undercurrents of modern relationships. The America Play (Pasadena's [email protected] Boston Court, October 5-November 19), by acclaimed playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, is about an African-American man pursuing his dream of impersonating Abraham Lincoln. The fourth in the series of "Gary Plays" by the award-winning Murray Mednick of Padua Playwrights is Out of the Blue (Lost Studio in Hollywood, October 13-November 4), set in post-Katrina New Orleans.

Family fare includes a new musical adaptation of the fairy tale The Ugly Duckling (Theatre West, October 14-February. 24) and Santa Monica Playhouse's Absolutely Halloween (through October 29), about the adventures of a young girl on All Hallow's Eve.

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