BRIGHT STAR

Some of the most gorgeous songs I’ve heard in a new musical plus a bevy of equally memorable performances bode well for the post-World Premiere future of Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s Bright Star despite an “original story” so reminiscent of this or that 1930s/40s Hollywood weeper that audience members may find themselves convinced they’re watching the musical stage adaptation of an oldtime Barbara Stanwyck/Claudette Colbert flick. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)
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BETTER

When humorist Erma Bombeck wrote about “loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that [binds] us all together,” the family she was referring to could easily have been the one to whose nest successful New York restaurateur Annie returns to face her father’s imminent death in Jessica Goldberg’s funny, perceptive, beautifully acted and directed new drama Better, the latest World Premiere from The Echo Theatre Company.
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YOU’RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN

Lucy and Linus and Schroeder and Sally and Snoopy and the Good Man himself are alive and well and singing and dancing and reawakening memory after memory after memory as Sustaining Sound Theatre Company and Chromolume Theatre present their family-pleasing intimate revival of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.
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MELISSA ARCTIC

Magic is being made at North Hollywood’s Road Theatre, and not just the slight-of-hand illusions in Alby Selznick’s much-extended Smoke And Mirrors at the Road-on-Lankershim. Magic of the purely theatrical sort lights up the stage of The Road’s spiffy new Magnolia space with the West Coast Premiere of Craig Wright’s Melissa Arctic, as enchanted (and enchanting) a production as any theater lover could possibly wish for.

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SCARY MUSICAL The Musical

RECOMMENDED

Stellar performances and a laugh-packed book are the best reasons to catch Richard Hochberg and Michael Paternosto’s SCARY MUSICAL The Musical. What’s still missing are the kind of catchy, hummable tunes that would take the creative duo’s deliciously campy send-up of Psycho, Carrie, Halloween, and other assorted scream-fests beyond its current NoHo Arts Center World Premiere run.
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CHOIR BOY

A gay African-American prep school student comes of age in the Geffen Playhouse West Coast Premiere of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s play-with-music Choir Boy, exquisitely performed by an all-around superb cast and impeccably helmed by its original New York/Atlanta director.
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THE GOAT, OR WHO IS SYLVIA?

A different kind of Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name speaks its name in Edward Albee’s Tony Award-winning Best Play Of 2002, The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia?, the latest from the theater and director who revived Ira Levin’s Deathtrap to brilliant, controversial life a couple years back—and that’s about all I have to say about the team’s latest production before launching into a spoiler-filled second paragraph. Proceed with caution.
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THE WHY

Comedy might be the last approach you’d expect a playwright to take in response to the Columbine High School massacre of April 20, 1999, but leave it to an audacious teenager to pen The Why, the darkest, funniest, most button-pushing and thought-provoking play you may ever see about gun violence.
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