This Week in LA Theatre

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Written By Julio Martinez


  • Geffen Playhouse will honor singer, songwriter, actor and activist Harry Belafonte and performer, comedienne and activist Lily Tomlin during its 17th annual Backstage at the Geffen fundraiser. Mr. Belafonte will receive the Artistic Impact Award, which will be accepted on his behalf by daughter Gina Belafonte, and Ms. Tomlin will receive the Distinction in Theater Award. Backstage at the Geffen will be held May 19 in Geffen Playhouse’s Gil Cates Theater. In addition to host Julia Sweeney, the evening will include unscripted, surprise performers and storytellers sharing songs and personal stories of life behind-the-scenes.
  • In tribute to our own first responders and brave Woolsey Fire fighters, actors Dan Lauria and Wendie Malick star in the acclaimed two-hander, The Guys by Anne Nelson, chronicling the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. This benefit performance takes place May 18 on the main stage of Theatricum Botanicum’s outdoor amphitheater in Topanga Canyon. A portion of the proceeds will also go to Los Angeles Fire Station #69, which serves Topanga and Pacific Palisades, and to Lost Hills/Malibu Sheriff’s Station.



  • IAMA Theatre Company presents the world premiere of Mama Metal, an irreverent black comedy by 2017 Humanitas Play LA award-winner Sigrid Gilmer that entwines issues of identity with pop culture icons to tell a truly unique mother-daughter story, set by sound designer Jeff Gardner to a heavy metal soundtrack. Cast includes Courtney Sauls, Lee Sherman, Chris Gardner, Graham Sibley, Rodney To and Jamie Wollrab. Deena Selenow directs for a May 23 opening at Atwater Village Theatre.
  • Boston Court Pasadena continues its 2019 theatre season with the premiere of Kit Steinkellner’s Ladies, a fictional account of the real women behind The Blue Stocking Society, the world’s first major feminist movement in 1750’s London, told through a modern lens. directed by Jessica Kubzansky. Features Meghan AndrewsCarie KawaJully Lee and Tracey A. Leigh. Opens June 1.



  • Celebration and Orgasmico present a guest production at Celebration Theatre, the 2018 Hollywood Fringe Festival award-winning burlesque rock musical, Dr. Nympho Vs. The Sex Zombies, book, music & lyrics by Michael Shaw Fisher, choreography by Brin Hamblin, musical direction by Sandy Chao Wang and directed by Sarah Haworth-Hodges. The cast features Alli Miller, Michael Shaw Fisher, Kristyn Evelyn, Kim Dalton, Natalie Masini, Jeff Sumner, Madeleine Heil and a ten-member ensemble. Opens Apr 26 at Celebration @ the Lex Theatre in Hollywood.
  • Open Fist Theatre Company presents Anna In The Tropics, the 2003 Pulitzer Prize-winner that focuses on the lives of a Cuban-American family working in a cigar factory in Ybor City, Florida during the Prohibition Era, written by Cuban-American playwright Nilo Cruz. Jon Lawrence Rivera directs Steve Wilcox, Antonio Jaramillo, Jill Remez, Presciliana Esparolini, Javi Mulero, Jade Santana and Byron Quiros. Opens May 3 in Atwater Village Theatre.
  • The Promenade Playhouse is reviving 12 Angry Men – 12 Impassioned Women, and all-female production of the play, adapted by Sherman L. Sergel, based on the Emmy-Award winning 1954 television movie by Reginald Rose, directed by Natalia Lazarus. Opens May 10 at the Promenade Playhouse in Santa Monica.
  • David Henry Hwang’s 1988 Tony-winning M. Butterfly, inspired by a true account, the compelling story of espionage, East-West relations and betrayal, closes South Coast Repertory’s Season. The two leads are Jake Manabat (as Song Liling) and Lucas Verbrugghe (as René Gallimard). Also featured are SCR veterans Aaron Blakely, Melody Butiu,  Stephen Caffrey, Nike Doukas, Juliana Hansen and dancers Annika Alejo, Yoko Hasebe and Andres Lanang. Desdemona Chiang, in her SCR debut, directs the show on the Segerstrom Stage. Opens May 17.
  • L.A. Theatre Works presents Die Mommie Die, a camp send-up of ‘60s melodramas, written by and starring female impersonator Charles Busch as Angela Arden, a role he created on both stage and screen, recorded before a live audience for future radio broadcast. Other cast members include Mark Capri, Willie Garson, Jeffery Self and Ruth Williamson. Carl Andress directs. Plays May 17 through May 19 at UCLA’s James Bridges Theater in Westwood.



  • Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks is becoming the go-to venue for solo shows. Lemur Mom, one mother’s eye-opening journey into life on the spectrum, written & performed by Megan Dolan, directed by Wendy Hammers, opens Apr 28.
  • Also at the Whitefire, Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival presents Hot Off The Press, a program of excerpted new solo writings presented by talented women playwrights in staged readings. The program includes: Real As It Can Be, written and performed by Yvette Cason; Strong As Honey, written and performed by Alma Collins; and Self-ish!, written and performed by Roxana Ortega. The evening will be hosted by Jessica Lynn Johnson and Juliette Jeffers. Opens May 23.
  • Theatre West’s “Then And Now Series” is presenting The long Gravel Road, a retelling of the Parsifal myth, written & performed by Abbott Alexander, with original sound score/musical direction, performed by Garrett Parks. Opens May 4.



  • Ben Hill discusses the upcoming 10th Anniversary of the Hollywood Fringe Festival, beginning June 13.

Julio Martinez

Julio Martinez

Julio pens the weekly LA STAGE Insider column for @ This Stage Magazine, as well as the monthly LA STAGE History column. He is a recurring contributor to Written By (the monthly publication of the Writer’s Guild of America) and is the TeleVision columnist for Latin Heat Entertainment. On air, he hosts the weekly Arts in Review program for KPFK 90.7 FM. An active journalist for over 30 years, Julio’s articles and reviews have appeared in Los Angeles Times Magazine, Daily Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, L.A. Weekly, Stage Raw, Backstage West, Westways Magazine, and Drama-Logue Magazine, among others.