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5 must-see theater productions happening this August

By Dany Margolies
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August is usually a vacation month, but, ironically, so many shows on the boards this month seem to focus on job security and saving money. The five productions we’re betting are worth your theatergoing time and money this month, listed in order of closing dates, comprise a satirical comedy written 350 years ago, a thought-provoking reimagining of a real-life quandary, a thoroughly entertaining musical and two offbeat world premieres.

One of the Nice Ones by Echo Theater Company at Atwater Village Theatre, through Aug 21

Wheelchair-bound Tracy will stop at nothing to avoid being laid off at her weight-loss-system company, even if co-workers and customers are Tracy’s collateral damage. But this world premiere comedy, despite pre-show warnings of crass situations and adult language, turns out to have a delicate heart reminding us we are our brothers’ keepers. Written by the always intriguing Erik Patterson, directed by the always daring Chris Fields, it stars an excellent cast of Rebecca Gray, Graham Hamilton, Tara Karsian and Rodney To. 3269 Casitas Ave, Atwater Village. Fri-Sat 8pm, Sun 4 & 7pm. $30. 310-307-3753.

The Drowsy Chaperone at Torrance Theatre Company at James Armstrong Theatre, Aug 13–27

In one of the most delightful contemporary musicals around, a rather grumpy loner introduces us to the joys of a (fictitious) 1928 Broadway show, in which a megastar wants to give up her career for marriage, throwing her fellow theatermakers into musical-theater tizzies. In this genius sendup, the effervescent music and lyrics are by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison, book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar, all of whom helped create Slings & Arrows, TV’s genius sendup of a Canadian repertory theater. 3330 Civic Center Dr., Torrance. Aug. 13, 20, 26 and 27 at 8pm; Aug. 14 and 21 at 2pm. $35. 310-781-7171.

Blueprint for Paradise at the Athena Cats at Hudson Theatres, July 30–Sept 4

In autumn 1941, real-life, well-respected African-American architect Paul Revere Williams, who designed Downtown’s County Courthouse, is asked by a wealthy American couple to design a compound and training ground in Pacific Palisades for Nazi sympathizers. Can’t a fella just earn a living? Or do appearances unfailingly deceive us? This world premiere is written by Laurel M. Wetzork, directed by Laura Steinroeder. Regi Davis stars as Williams. The site, Murphy Ranch in Rustic Canyon, is now city-owned. 6539 Santa Monica Blvd, 
Hollywood. Fri-Sat 8pm, Sun 2pm. $25. 323-960-4412.

Drama Queens From Hell by Theatre Planners at Odyssey Theatre, Aug 20–Sept 25

In Peter Lefcourt’s world premiere comedy, a has-been TV actor, an African-American political activist and a pre-op transwoman compete for the could-be-plum role of Norma Desmond in a remake of Sunset Boulevard. Reportedly, they would kill for the part. We get to be that fly on the wall—if they don’t chew us up along with the scenery. Directed by Terri Hanauer. Stars Chad Borden, Christopher Callen, Andrew Diego, Dee Freeman, Paul Galliano and Rick Podell. 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd, West Los Angeles. Thu-Sat 8pm, Sun 2pm & 7pm. $25-$30. 323-960-7787.

The Imaginary Invalid at Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum, through Oct 2

Molière’s 17th-century play about a hypochondriac who tries to marry his daughter into a family of physicians gets a 21st-century shot in the arm: It stars Ellen Geer in the traditionally male role of said imaginary invalid. Directed by Mary Jo DuPrey, it also stars stage vets Alan Blumenfeld, Melora Marshall and Katherine Griffith. Theatricum’s summer repertory season also includes Romeo and Juliet, Titus Andronicus, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and a world premiere adaptation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. 1419 N Topanga Canyon Blvd, Topanga. The theater is outdoors, cushions available for rent. Repertory schedule. $10–$38.50. 310-455-3723.

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