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5 must-see theater productions happening this July

Curt Bouril, Liam Tobin, Abby Mueller, Ben Fankhauser and Becky Gulsvig in "Beautiful."
Photograph: By Joan Marcus Curt Bouril, Liam Tobin, Abby Mueller, Ben Fankhauser and Becky Gulsvig in "Beautiful."

What’s red, white, blue and grey? July theatergoing in the Los Angeles area. Among a balanced variety of classics and world premieres, lighthearted and deep, politics joins the standard theatrical topics of sex, love and family dysfunction, while two hit Broadway musicals finally arrive in town. Here, listed in order of closing dates, are five shows we’re betting are worth your theatergoing time and money this month.

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical at Pantages Theatre, through July 17
This jukebox musical, with book by Douglas McGrath, follows the rising career of Carole King, one of music’s preeminent singer-songwriters who hit it big in the 1970s and who was—and is to her adoring fans—instantly recognizable from her iconic “blue-eyed soul” voice. Her home life was not as glorious. The show made its Broadway debut in 2014 and is finally in its national tour. Directed by Marc Bruni, choreographed by Josh Prince, it stars Abby Mueller and Liam Tobin.Get your tickets before it’s too late, baby! 6233 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood. Tue-Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm & 8pm, Sun 1pm & 6:30pm. $45–$195. 800-982-2787.

Church & State at Skylight Theatre Company, July 2–Aug 14
A Republican U.S. senator from North Carolina, in the midst of his campaign for re-election, might have let it slip that he doesn’t believe in God. How that plays in Pinehurst, let alone with his devoutly Christian wife and liberal Jewish campaign manager, is the stuff of this rolling world premiere by Jason Odell Williams. Playing in the heart of LA’s charming Los Feliz district, it’s directed by respected helmer Elina de Santos and stars stage vets Eddie Hong, Tracie Lockwood, Annika Marks and Rob Nagle. 1816-1/2 N Vermont Ave, Los Angeles. Sat 8:30pm, Sun 3pm. $15–$39. 213-761-7061.

Grey Gardens at Ahmanson Theatre, July 13–Aug 14
Two of musical theater’s finest, Betty Buckley and Rachel York, star as the mother-and-daughter relatives of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, living well, and then not so well, in mid-century East Hampton, NY. Their bizarre relationship as they fall from elegance and social rank to squalor and isolation makes ancient Greek drama look tame. Telling their story in this Broadway musical are Doug Wright (book), Scott Frankel (music) and Michael Korie (lyrics). Michael Wilson directs. 135 N. Grand Ave, Downtown Los Angeles. Tue-Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm & 8pm, Sun 1pm & 6:30pm. $25–$130. 213-972-4400.

Baby Doll at Fountain Theatre, July 15–Sept 4
A new play by Tennessee Williams? Well, pretty much. It’s Pierre Laville and Emily Mann’s adaptation of the 1956 film Baby Doll, which had been adapted for the screen by Williams from his one-act play 27 Wagons Full of Cotton. It centers on a woman who must consummate her marriage with her middle-aged husband by her 20th birthday. But first, in walks a handsome stranger. Simon Levy, one of the Southland’s most-respected directors, leads a stellar cast of Daniel Bess, Karen Kondazian, Lindsay LaVanchy, John Prosky and George Roland. 5060 Fountain Ave, 
Los Angeles. Fri-Sat 8pm, Sun 2pm, Mon 8pm. $15–$35, Mondays are pay-what-you-can. 323-663-1525.

Go Back to Where You Are, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble at Odyssey Theatre, July 9–Sept 4
In this West Coast premiere by David Greenspan, a chorus boy from ancient Greece comes back to life to spend a summer with a modern-day theater troupe on Long Island. He comes, however, in the form of an elderly British actress. Directed by the talented Bart Delorenzo, the play stars notable theater vets Bill Brochtrup, John Fleck, Annabelle Gurwitch, Justin Huen, Jeffrey Hutchinson and Maria O’Brien. 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles. Wed or Thu 8pm (alternating weeks), Fri-Sat 8pm, Sun 2pm (additional show Sun 5pm July 10). $25-$34, discounts available. 310-477-2055. Ext. 2.

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