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5 must-see theater productions happening in October

By Dany Margolies
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Maybe it’s because we’re nearing the holidays, maybe it’s because the weather is getting somewhat cooler, but the five productions we’re betting are worth your theatergoing time and money this month seem to center on our search for connection and universal answers. These five disparate plays, old and new, funny and poignant, historical and fantastical, are listed in order of closing dates.

Bars and Measures at Theatre @ Boston Court, through Oct 23 

Eric is a classical pianist and a Christian. His brother, Bilal, is a jazz bassist and a Muslim. When Bilal is accused of terrorism and jailed, their music brings them together. But will politics and religion tear them apart? This timely and intriguing world premiere is written by Idris Goodwin (playwright, rapper and essayist) and directed by Weyni Mengesha (theater director, composer and educator), and stars Brian Abraham, Zehra Fazal, Matt Orduna and Donathan Walters. 70 N Mentor Ave, Pasadena. Thu-Sat 8pm, Sun 2pm (plus added Wed performances). Running time 80 minutes, no intermission. $20–$39. 626-683-6883. 

Our Town at Actors Co-Op, through Oct 23

If you’ve never seen a play, or you’ve seen them all but need to be reminded of what the very best ones can do, Thornton Wilder’s 1938 classic is your best opportunity this month. It’s about appreciating life and death, as enacted by the residents of old small-town America. Actors Co-Op, known for its charming work on classic plays, presents it. But making this version unique is the cast is multicultural. Richard Israel directs Eva Abramian, Joseph Arujo, David Atkinson, Vanessa Benavente, Heather Chesley, Shannon Dieriex, RJ Farrington, Tim Hodgin, Deanna Hudgens, Crystal Jackson, Isabella Magas, Deborah Marlowe, Christopher Salazar, James Simenc, Gunnar Sizemore, Richard Soto and Michael Worden. 1760 N Gower St, Hollywood. Fri–Sat 8pm, Sun 2:30pm (Sat 2:30pm Sept 24 and Oct 22). $15–$30. 323-462-8460.

A Taste of Honey at Odyssey Theatre, Oct 1–Nov 27

In Manchester, England, Jo becomes pregnant by a black sailor, then is cared for by a gay art student because her alcoholic mother is busy elsewhere. None of these circumstances was standard subject matter for theater when the play premiered in 1958. But even the subjects weren’t as shocking as the fact that the playwright, Shelagh Delaney was 18 years old when she wrote it, capturing the essence of being a teen in tough circumstances. Directed by Kim Rubinstein, who helmed last year’s stunning revival of Anna Christie, this rare revival stars Eric Hunicutt, Gerard Joseph, Kestrel Leah, Leland Montgomery and Sarah Underwood Saviano. 2055 S Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles. Wed or Thu 8pm (alternating weeks), Fri-Sat 8pm, Sun 2pm. $25-$34, discounts available. 310-477-2055, Ext. 2.

The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe: Revisited at the Davidson/Valentini Theatre at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, Oct 8–Dec 11

In the 1980s, Jane Wagner wrote this one-woman show to showcase the heart and talents of Lily Tomlin, who played its entire array of characters, from homeless bag lady to angsty teen and bored rich wife. The Los Angeles LGBT Center offers this “revisiting” of the piece, dividing the characters among 12 actors—hopefully not just because no one woman can re-enact Tomlin’s bravura work. The hearty, talented Ken Sawyer directs a cast of Julia Aks, Charlotte Gulezian, Joe Hart, Julanne Chidi Hill, Kristina Johnson, Kimberly Jürgen, Bellini Logan, Jeremy Luke, Ann Noble, Sasha Pasternak, Anny Rosario and Rachel Sorsa. 1125 N McCadden Place, West Hollywood. Fri-Sat 8pm, Sun 7pm. $30. 323-860-7300. 

BLOOD, The Garage at The Complex, Oct 14–Dec 18

In the 1980s, 2,000 people died of AIDS after the U.S. knowingly sold contaminated blood to Japan. This “political thriller with music,” written and directed by Robert Allan Ackerman, follows an American reporter and Japanese attorney who investigate. Original music and songs are by The Virgins bassist Nick Ackerman and Jet drummer-vocalist Chris Cester. This return engagement stars James Kyson and former Steppenwolf Theatre star Glenne Headly, with Kazumi Aihara, Miho Ando, Takuma Anzai, Peter Chung, Andrew Dits, Anthony Gros, Takaaki Hirakawa, Tomoko Karina, Andrew Nakajima, Daryl L. Padilla, Mika Santoh, Shinichiro Shimizu and Michael Yama. 6476 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood. Fri-Sat 8pm, Sun 3pm. $25-$35. 323-960-7745.

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