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5 must-see theater productions happening this June

Written by
Dany Margolies

It being June, and peak wedding season, these shows happen to center, or at least touch, on marriages that should have been for better but seem to have turned out for worse. Okay, so one of these shows centers on a rock band, but that’s like a marriage, and, not surprisingly, the band is starting to implode. Battles, divorce, adultery, murder—all the grim endings we can think of for “wedded bliss,” and yet there’s laughs in the lineup. Here, listed in order of closing dates, are five shows we’re thinking are worth your theatergoing time and money this month. 

Parallel Worlds: A New Rock Music Experience, “Club Parallel” at CAP Studio, June 3–June 26

This one has "gamble" written all over it—for its producers and for its audiences. It’s a world premiere that promises to be a live rock concert, a stage play and a big-screen love story, all in one show happening in a Ventura Boulevard storefront. But the one sure bet is its director, Matthew McCray, who runs a highly creative ship at the 15-year-old Son of Semele Ensemble near Downtown. The show’s book is by Brandon Beckner, with songs composed by Beckner, Steve Sobel and Paola Jimenez. Plus, the ticket price includes admission and drinks on the house, but “bartenders will use discretion to serve responsibly.” 13752 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks. Thu-Sat 8pm, Sun 7pm. $40 (including drinks). 818-990-2001.

Speaking in Tongues, Australian Theatre Company at Matrix Theatre, June 6–June 27

Australian Theatre Company states its mission is “to further enrich the relationship between Australians and Americans.” So here comes this Andrew Bovell play, described as a “theatrical jigsaw puzzle of parallel stories,” centering on two mutually adulterous couples (the four actors also play the characters around them). And in the spirit of binational collaboration, the company hired four of LA’s best technical theater artists for the show: John Iacovelli (sets), Jared A. Sayeg (lights), Cricket S. Myers (sound) and Kate Bergh (costumes). 7657 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood. Running in repertory with Ruben Guthrie, one or the other plays Mon-Tue 8pm, Thu-Fri 8pm, Sat 4 & 8pm, Sun 3 & 7pm. $34.99 (for one play) or $50 (for both). 323-960-4443.

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at International City Theatre, June 10–July 3

For his charming play, Christopher Durang borrowed plenty from Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, but it’s totally, hilariously American in its clear-eyed yet softhearted take on how we love wallowing in our misery and hopeless dreams. In the play, siblings Vanya and Sonia have given their adult lives to care for their parents. Finally they’re enjoying their own life—sort of. With her fifth marriage now ended, their movie-star sister Masha returns home with her boy toy, Spike, to upset the bowl of cherries from the family’s trees that may or may not constitute an orchard. Directed by Mary Jo DuPrey. 330 East Seaside Way,
 Long Beach. Thu-Sat 8pm, Sun 2pm. $47-$49. 562-436-4610.

Disgraced at Mark Taper Forum, June 19–July 17

Amir, a Pakistani-American lawyer, has rejected his Muslim roots and embraced the corporate culture of his Jewish law firm. Emily, his Caucasian wife who’s an up-and-coming painter, has turned to Islamic traditions for her art. Because this is a play, the climax comes at a dinner party, at which religion, race, art, war and politics form the soothing mealtime conversation. Ayad Akhtar’s 2013 Pulitzer-winning script brings with it the Broadway production’s director, Kimberly Senior. Here it stars J Anthony Crane, Behzad Dabu, Hari Dhillon, Karen Pittman and Emily Swallow. 135 N. Grand Ave, Downtown Los Angeles. Tue-Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm & 8pm, Sun 1pm & 6:30pm. $25–$85. 213-972-4400.

Othello, Shakespeare by the Sea at various outdoor venues, June 23–Aug 8

If you can’t wander far from home to see outdoor Shakespeare, Shakespeare by the Sea brings 10 weeks of admission-free theater to a park near you, with weekday and weekend performances and a tour that reaches from Woodland Hills to Mission Viejo, South Pasadena to Rowland Heights. This season the troupe offers Othello, charting the fall of a great military leader who in a rage of groundless jealousy murders his wife. Stephanie Coltrin directs. Damon Rutledge, Melissa Booey and Patrick Vest star. It’s in repertory with the Bard’s Cymbeline, definitely more suitable if you’re planning to bring the kids. Venues and dates vary. Free admission. 310-217-7596.

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