A guide to the Hollywood Fringe Festival
Los Angeles isn't just a melting pot of cultures, it's a melting pot of talent. From the city's essential museums and art galleries to its best performing arts centers, there's an abundance of talent to be tapped into. Hoping to do just that is the Hollywood Fringe Festival, an annual event that brings Angelenos together every June to celebrate the performing arts community in L.A. Parks, bars, churches and other venues throughout the city will become hotspots for local performances of all kinds. When is the Hollywood Fringe Festival? The Hollywood Fringe Festival will take place June 8-25, 2017. Where does it take place? A full list of participating venues can be found here. What shows are being presented as part of the festival? There will be more than 2,000 performances taking place throughout the festival. A full calendar of events can be found here. How much are tickets? Ticket prices vary for each show. How can I participate? If you want to participate by creating a show for the festival, click here to find out how.
The best Los Angeles theater of 2016
In looking back at the most unpredictable year in most of our memories, one of the few things we could count on was the brilliance of theater in Los Angeles. Classics and soon-to-be classics, old musicals and new ones, solo shows and big-cast extravaganzas—we had it all. And whatever the vintage, the work seemed to speak to issues the nation has struggled with in every era, and we personally struggle with every day. So, narrowing down a list of the best of the best that quenched our constant thirst for story was a surprisingly tough but happy task, pointing out the quantity and quality of the art we’ve been blessed to see. So before you say hello to the new year, here’s a roundup of the 10 best productions of 2016.
Listings and reviews (53)
‘A Christmas Carol’
Even the grumpiest of list-makers at yuletide has to include a production of Dickens’s most beloved tale of becoming a better person. Geoff Elliott and Julia Rodriguez-Elliott direct this production, with costumes by the imaginative Angela Balogh Calin, starring Elliott and his fellow resident artists of A Noise Within theater company—all ranking among L.A.’s best classical actors—staged in ANW’s spacious house with perfect sightlines from every seat, even for the kids.
‘A Christmas Carol with Charles Dickens’
Not to be confused with the show titled Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol—though the talents involved are equally stellar—here we have the chance to see the story up close. David Melville displays his classically trained, beautifully polished craft to recreate the famous writer as he tells his classic tale of Christmastime redemption; Melville also performs the many iconic characters, all in the intimacy of Independent Shakespeare Company’s indoor theater space.
Come From Away
On the morning of 9/11, nearly 7,000 airline passengers of various nationalities, faiths and temperaments were diverted to Gander, Newfoundland. The story of the Canadians and the frightened travelers they fed, housed and comforted is the subject of this uplifting, joy-filled 2013 musical, with Irish-influenced score by Irene Sankoff and David Hein, directed by Christopher Ashley and performed by 12 actors playing dozens of the memorable people involved.
The Last Ship
This West Coast premiere and start of the national tour features a new book by its director, Lorne Campbell (original book by John Logan and Brian Yorkey), with music and lyrics by Sting (of the Police, for those of you living through the 1980s). And yes, Sting will star in the production. Inspired by Sting’s childhood in the shipbuilding industry of Northumberland in England, the story follows a young man who turns his back on his forebears and decides to explore the planet’s seas. Meantime, Thatcher’s Britain has not been good to his hometown. Time Out New York critic David Cote called the score “magnificent.”
Lula Washington Dance Theatre
For 40 years, Lula Washington has explored political, social and humanitarian issues through dance. A native Angeleno, Washington studied dance at UCLA, then established her own company that has toured the world, creating powerful, visceral, memorable works over the last 40 years in styles encompassing African, Afro-Haitian, modern, ballet, street and gospel. For this pair of performances, she presents several world premieres by up-and-coming choreographers, centering on our times and the city of Los Angeles.
Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake
The stunning ballet that Matthew Bourne first brought us in 1995 features the Tchaikovsky score and the swans. But most famously, this choreographic genius made the swans males, delving deeply into the psychology of the story’s Prince (likely a somewhat fictionalized version of Britain’s Prince Charles). Reportedly, in 2010 Bourne changed a bit of the ballet, revising a subplot and adding a bit more ambiguity to the characters. Christmassy? No. But it will make you forget everything else during the ballet, probably on the drive home and possibly for a day or two afterwards. Not for the kiddies. But then, truthfully, few ballets are.
Australia’s contemporary circus company examines how our bodies, connections and aspirations make us who we are.
‘Matilda the Musical’
It’s the musical version of the children’s book by Roald Dahl, as little Matilda must overcome cruel parents at home and a sadistic headmistress at school. Book by Dennis Kelly, music and lyrics by Tim Minchin. Michael Matthews directs.
‘The Thanksgiving Play’
November is when we celebrate Thanksgiving and—not a little ironically—Native American Heritage Month. In Larissa FastHorse’s play, three actors must devise an elementary school pageant about the first Thanksgiving, navigating the crosscurrents of political correctness and the power of perceptive theatermaking. Michael John Garcés directs.
‘Between Riverside and Crazy’
Stephen Adly Guirgis’ Pulitzer winner centers on a recently widowed ex-cop who makes room in his home for his newly paroled son. Guillermo Cienfuegos directs.
Brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom fancy themselves as the 17th-century’s greatest theatrical scriptwriters, but a hotshot rival named Shakespeare gets all the attention. John O’Farrell and brothers Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick share credit for this adorably hilarious score and book, which sends up American musicals and Shakespeare’s masterpieces.
‘Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill’
Four months before her death at age 44, legendary singer Billie Holiday looks back on her tragic and triumphant life, in this “play with music” by Lanie Robertson.
5 L.A. theater productions you should see this March 2020
March is Women’s History Month. And Los Angeles–area theater is always attuned to the goings-on in our culture. So this month at least five productions are directed by women, and four of those are also written by or adapted by women. A romantic-comedy features two overwhelmingly withdrawn people destined to fall in love with each other. Another work based on Greek mythology follows a bereaved husband as he journeys to bring his wife back out of Hades. A Los Angeles–born play finds four women in a hotel room who discover something appalling about their pastor. The struggles in coming up with story ideas come to life in a new play from New York. And Alice, that great dreamer—or adventurer, depending on your interpretation—goes down the rabbit hole before our eyes and takes us with her. We’re also including a bonus this month: a workshop production of a timely, timeless brand-new musical about women in history. We’re betting these five productions, listed in order of closing dates, will be worth your theatergoing time and money this month. Romantics AnonymousBram Goldsmith Theater at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Mar 17–29 Angelique is a young woman who makes chocolates (reportedly infused with emotions as well as gourmet fillings), but extreme shyness makes her faint when people merely look at her. Jean-Rene runs an ailing chocolate factory, but he’s pathologically tongue-tied. Director Emma Rice (Kneehigh’s Brief Encounter and The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk) a
5 L.A. theater productions you should see this February 2020
As the adorable Something Rotten! so pointedly points out, “Nothing’s as amazing as a musical.” Not all have happy endings, not all cheer us, but all tell a story though a score. This month, Los Angeles area theaters present a variety of musical-theater offerings. One looks back to a past century, ultimately revealing that we are all family. One reminds us that our identities involve more than our attire. One, reviving the joyous harmonies of the Andrews Sisters, shows that men can step up into a woman’s job. One points out the pros and cons of imposing our values on others. And one—perhaps not technically a musical—is a world premiere play with music that seems to combine all of the above. We’re betting these five music-filled offerings, listed in order of closing dates, will be worth your theatergoing time and money this month. RagtimeMusical Theatre West at Carpenter Center, Feb 7–23 At the start of the 20th century, America held much promise for her inhabitants, yet societal issues plagued her. This expansive musical shows us the America of three groups (Jewish immigrants, African-Americans and wealthy white suburbanites) and stirringly reminds us of what has blessedly changed since then—and what appallingly remains the same. Based on E.L. Doctorow’s novel, with gorgeous score by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, book by Terrence McNally. Paul David Bryant directs. 6200 Atherton, Long Beach (562-856-1999). Fri at 8pm, Sat at 8pm, Sun at 1pm (added performances Feb 13 at 8
5 L.A. theater productions you should see this January 2020
After enjoying the sheltering days of the year-end holidays spent with family and friends and indulging in treats, in January theatermakers look outward again, to the issues facing the globe. Often at the fore of ideas and inspirations, theaters now put sociopolitical themes and stories back in our line of sight—not that any of these will be dreary lectures. We’re betting these five stage offerings, listed in order of closing dates, will not only be worth your theatergoing time and money this month but also motivate you to help shape our world in 2020. Lula Washington Dance TheatreBram Goldsmith Theater at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Jan 30–Feb 1 For 40 years, Lula Washington has explored political, social and humanitarian issues through dance. A native Angeleno, Washington studied dance at UCLA, then established her own company that has toured the world, creating powerful, visceral, memorable works over the last 40 years in styles encompassing African, Afro-Haitian, modern, ballet, street and gospel. For this pair of performances, she presents several world premieres by up-and-coming choreographers, centering on our times and the city of Los Angeles. 9390 N Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills (310-746-4000). Thu–Sat at 7:30pm. $29–$79. The Last ShipAhmanson Theatre, Jan 14–Feb 16 This West Coast premiere and start of the national tour features a new book by its director, Lorne Campbell (original book by John Logan and Brian Yorkey), with music and lyrics by
5 L.A. theater productions you should see this December 2019
Whether we enjoy them or not, the year-end holidays are upon us. But no matter our individual opinions, attending theater that’s holiday-related with other enthusiasts—of theater or of festivity—always seems to fit perfectly with the weather and the tinsel-y ambience of the Southland. We bet these five theatrical offerings, listed in order of closing date, will fill you with a holiday mood—or make you forget the holidays for a few hours. Irving Berlin’s Holiday InnMusical Theatre West at Carpenter Performing Arts Center, Dec 6–15 Jim, Ted, Lila and Linda may swap song-and-dance (and life) partners as they ricochet from a club in Manhattan to a farmhouse in Connecticut to Hollywood to Vegas in the convoluted plot of this musical, based on the 1942 film. This new version, which opened on Broadway in 2016, boasts a libretto by Gordon Greenberg and Chad Hodge, with music and lyrics by Irving Berlin. And those Berlin songs are among the best ever penned—including “Blue Skies,” “Shakin’ the Blues Away,” “Cheek to Cheek,” “Easter Parade” and, of course, “White Christmas.” Danny Pelzig directs, Christine Negherbon choreographs. 6200 Atherton St, Long Beach (562-856-1999). Fri at 7pm; Sat at 1, 7pm; Sun at 1, 6pm (added show Thu, Dec 12 at 7pm). $20–$240 plus facilities charges. A Christmas Carole KingTroubadour Theater Company at El Portal Theatre It’s not just that Troubadour Theater Company has sneakily insinuated the music of America’s great singer-songwriter into Charles Dickens’
5 L.A. theater productions you should see this November 2019
Most of us are gearing up for Thanksgiving, widely considered a particularly American holiday. But what does “American” really mean? How do we define ourselves as Americans? What do we want, and how do we go about getting it? This month, these five theatrical offerings, listed in order of closing date, center on these questions and merit our attention. Summer: The Donna Summer MusicalPantages Theatre, Nov 5–24 We are a nation of people who rise above perceived obstacles. And one sparkly example: This 2018 Broadway musical charts the extraordinary life of the woman we came to know as Donna Summer, who rose to become a 1970s music icon. (She worked hard for the money.) Thanks to the book by Colman Domingo, Robert Cary and Des McAnuff, we meet her in three stages of her life: as a young duckling, a disco queen and a diva. The show’s music includes Summer’s hits, written by Summer, Giorgio Moroder, Pete Bellotte, Paul Jabara and others. McAnuff, who turned the jukebox musical Jersey Boys into effective storytelling, directs. 6233 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood (800-982-2787). Tue–Fri at 8pm, Sat at 2, 8pm; Sun at 1, 6:30pm. $39–$149, prices may fluctuate. The Thanksgiving PlayAudrey Skirball Kenis Theater at Geffen Playhouse, through Dec 1 We are a nation of artists. And now that it’s November, the country simultaneously celebrates Thanksgiving and recognizes Native American Heritage Month—oftentimes through theatrical interpretations. In Larissa FastHorse’s play, under Michael John G
5 L.A. theater productions you should see this October 2019
The Los Angeles area boasts world-renowned theaters. Broadway shows tour here, but we also springboard shows to Broadway and London’s West End. This month, however, a handful of productions at several of our smaller but equally artistic theaters caught our eye. A political drama emphasizing the personal side of war, a horror spoof, a musical version of a comedy giant’s version of a Russian classic, a site-specific Halloween-appropriate version of Shakespeare and a look at manic but meaningful life in New York City currently fill our stages. That’s why we bet these shows, listed in order of closing date, will be worth your theatergoing time and money this month. The AbuelasAntaeus Theatre Company at Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center, Oct 3–Nov 25 In 1976, a military regime seized power in Argentina, claiming to wrest back their conservative ways of life from the lefties, and ultimately culminated in the establishment of a concentration camp and the subsequent tens of thousands of murders. Stephanie Alison Walker focuses her play on the “disappeared” persons of this so-called Dirty War, examining its repercussions and our abilities to forgive. Andi Chapman directs the West Coast premiere of the script, developed in the Antaeus Playwrights Lab. Stars Denise Blasor, Irene De Bari, David DeSantos, Seamus Dever, Carolina Montenegro and Luisina Quarleri. 110 E Broadway, Glendale (818-506-1983). Fri, Sat at 8pm; Sun at 2pm; Mon at 8pm. $35. The Mystery of Irma VepDavid Scha
5 L.A. theater productions you should see this September 2019
September means back to school—and that might even include all of us. As the kids head off, we start to look back on our own schooldays, sometimes recalling long-forgotten texts, sometimes wishing we’d paid more attention in class. September’s local theatrical offerings seem to transport us back to school, with plays bringing to life history, social studies and literature. A modern retelling of an Ancient Greek legend; the story of two great legal minds who come together for the good of the nation; a look at Americans across the country; a scouring of our history books in search of even one Latinx hero; and a scholarly, admiring, humorous examination of one of literature’s greats—these five September productions provide mighty good schoolin’ for their audiences. That’s why we bet these shows, listed in order of closing date, will be worth your theatergoing time and money this month. The HealGetty Villa, Sept 5–28 At the time of the Trojan War, Philoctetes was a gifted archer and a relatively faithful soldier. But he was wounded in his heel (thus the pun of this play’s title). The wound festered and stank. And so, despite his immense skill and the fact that he was a fellow human being, the Greeks dumped him on the Isle of Lemnos, stranding him alone there, until they realized they needed him for battle again. Aaron Posner, a gifted adaptor who skillfully turns the classics upside down and sideways, adapted and directs this work, based on the Sophocles original, about wounds an
5 L.A. theater productions you should see this August 2019
Gods and monsters pervade the theatrical consciousness this month. Charming animated characters come into lively existence, while an archetypal figure comes to reanimated life. Meantime, history repeats itself, as good and evil battle for our souls, and women battle the men in their lives until they find themselves battling one another. But theater always comes out the winner here. That’s why we bet these five shows, listed in order of closing date, will be worth your theatergoing time and money this month. Shrek the Musical3–D Theatricals at Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, Aug 9–25 What if a grumpy ogre is really not a monster inside? All our favorite characters from the 2001 animated feature film are onstage in this 2008 Broadway musical, with music by Jeanine Tesori, and book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire. Beautiful ain’t always pretty, but it could be hilarious under David F.M. Vaughn’s direction. And then we’ll have waffles. 12700 Center Court Dr, Cerritos (714-589-2770). Thu at 7:30pm; Fri at 8pm; Sat at 2, 8pm; Sun at 2pm. $45–$85. FrankensteinA Noise Within, Aug 11–Sept 8 As Mary Shelley’s novel does, Nick Dear’s theatrical script shows us a man who tries to play God and ends up creating a monster. But human behavior turns out to be the most monstrous thing here. Michael Michetti helms, so we’re expecting to see creative staging and feel the story’s roiling emotions. This show is not for the kiddies, obvs. 3352 E Foothill Blvd, Pasadena (626-356-3100). S
5 L.A. theater productions you should see this July 2019
And so, our long hot summer begins. Should we try to get cool or should we celebrate the long, searing days that inevitably fade into long evenings? This month, local theater offers us a show full of belly laughs to take our minds off all else, a refreshing trip under the sea, a superb outdoor Shakespeare company in one of the Bard’s great comedies, the promise by a 1940s playwright that we will still continue to survive global calamities and—if you’re looking for yet more depth—a modern retelling of the Exodus story with pointed nods at roiling socio-political issues that still need fixing. We bet these five shows, listed in order of closing date, will be worth your theatergoing time and money this month. Disney’s The Little MermaidCarpenter Performing Arts Center, July 12–28 What would you give up to make your dream a reality? The mermaid in the original Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale gave up her tongue in exchange for a pair of legs, and the possibility of love, though she would feel unending sharp pains in her feet. Disney made the story cheerier in its 1989 animated film, then again in this 2007 musical—with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater, book by Doug Wright. But we love it, “If Only” to spend an evening “Under the Sea” and in the cool breezes of “The World Above.” Daniel Pelzig directs; Katharine McDonough and David Burnam star. 6200 Atherton St, Long Beach (562-856-1999). Fri, Sat at 8pm, see theater schedule for Sat, Sun matinees.
5 L.A. theater productions you should see this June 2019
Sometimes, with their unfathomable creativity, playwrights can weave entire stories straight out of their imaginations. But this month, theaters seem to have been attracted to stories playwrights built from a real-life source—whether current or historical events, or perhaps from well-known material other authors have penned. A chaplain’s recollections of a months-long ordeal, an acting troupe’s attempts to turn a classic novel into a play, a production about a play whose artists fought to keep it onstage when it “upset” American audiences, the story of history’s most poignant diary and a true story involving fiction’s greatest detective—they all make up this month’s theatrical best bets, listed in order of closing dates. From the Words and Writings of Dana H.Center Theatre Group at Kirk Douglas Theatre, through June 23 Playwright Lucas Hnath (The Christians, Red Speedo) tells a real-life story about his mother, Dana Higginbotham, based on her recollections of her years as a nondenominational hospice chaplain. Most memorably, most life-alteringly, she helped a mentally ill ex-convict turn his life around. But then, for five months, he held her completely captive. Les Waters (The Christians) directs this world premiere, which stars Deirdre O’Connell. 9820 Washington Blvd, Culver City (213-628-2772). Tue–Fri at 8pm; Sat at 2, 8pm; Sun at 1, 6:30 pm. $25–$70. IndecentAhmanson Theatre, June 4–July 7 In her 2015 play, playwright Paula Vogel shines a light on a production of Sholom
5 L.A. theater productions you should see this May 2019
How about seeing theater just for fun this month—just to feel better about the world. The L.A. area has five shows opening in May that could cheer anyone up: a musical about making new life bloom in a long-abandoned garden, a hilarious mash-up of millennial music and a Shakespearean classic, a gleeful look at what happens backstage when the show goes wrong onstage, a Samuel Beckett piece about optimism, and a new play about what really matters in love. We’re betting these five shows, listed in order of closing date, will be worth your theatergoing time and money this month. The Secret Garden3–D Theatricals at Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, May 3–19 Orphaned, unloved and unconsciously feeling every bit of it, embittered 10-year-old Mary Lennox blossoms when she learns to love the plants, animals and other children in a safe walled garden hidden from all but them. This musical premiered on Broadway in 1991, based on the 1911 novel of the same name by Frances Hodgson Burnett, with music by Lucy Simon, book and lyrics by Marsha Norman. 12700 Center Court Dr, Cerritos (714-589-2770). Thu at 7:30pm; Fri at 8pm; Sat at 2, 8pm; Sun at 2pm. $45–$85. Julius WeezerTroubadour Theater Company at El Portal Theatre, May 9–19 Yep, Troubadour Theater Company has finally gotten around to messing up Shakespeare’s classic political-historical tragedy by musicalizing it, using the songs of Weezer and forever ruining any future straight versions for us. Adapted, directed and choreographe
5 L.A. theater productions you should see this April 2019
Spring is springing and bringing with it a varied bouquet of shows about what love means and how it can change our circumstances. In full bloom this month are a tasty new musical based on a classic children’s book, a “traditional” musical, another one about really bucking tradition, a splashy musical based on a classic film about making movie musicals and a 110-year-old play that just might be your cup of tea. We’re betting these five shows, listed in order of closing date, will be worth your theatergoing time and money this month. Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryPantages Theatre, through April 14 Do you like watching superb musical-theater performances in a show in which evil is punished in hilarious ways while good triumphs? The national tour of this 2017 Broadway treat has arrived in Los Angeles, guaranteed to make audiences crave chocolate—or at least more time in the theater. David Greig penned the book, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman wrote the score and Jack O’Brien directs. But the performances, starring Noah Weisberg as Willy Wonka, plus an alternating trio of young men as Charlie, will leave a sweet taste in your mouth. 6233 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood (800-982-2787). Tue–Fri at 8pm; Sat at 2, 8pm; Sun at 1, 6:30pm. $52–$179. Fiddler on the RoofPantages Theatre, April 16–May 5 You don’t have to be Jewish to love this 1964 musical about what it takes to bend with the times when following tradition is expected of us. Tevye the milkman lives in czarist Russia, where it’s