Aside from a New Year's Eve show, the Red Hot Chili Peppers haven't played the Southland since their 1999 album "Californication" reestablished the band as an essential voice of Los Angeles rock. They share the bill with two other bands with similar back-from-the-brink stories to tell, Stone Temple Pilots and the Bicycle Thief, led by Thelonious Monster's Bob Forrest.
* Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stone Temple Pilots, the Bicycle Thief, Friday and Saturday at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, 8808 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine. 7:30 p.m. $25 to $35 (Friday sold out). (714) 740-2000 (Ticketmaster).
Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot, who returns to O.C. for a show Friday in Anaheim, hasn't quite been cranking out the albums in recent years. His latest, "Painter Passing Through," is now 2 years old, and it came five years after its predecessor, "Waiting for You." But as Rhino Records' four-CD career retrospective box set of 1998 clearly showed, Lightfoot still has a short-story writer's sense of detail in his lyrics and a pop musician's gift of melody that have long distinguished such Lightfoot songs as "Early Morning Rain," "If You Could Read My Mind," "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" and "Sundown."
* Gordon Lightfoot, Sun Theatre, 2200 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim. 8:30 p.m. $39.50 to $45. (714) 712-2700.
The ruler of the queen's navy and his romantic and oh-so-silly nautical cohorts sail into Anaheim Hills (and you thought it was landlocked) in a small-stage production of Gilbert and Sullivan's "H.M.S. Pinafore." The Chance Theater is offering it as a sequel to a successful run of "The Mikado" last spring, with local Gilbert and Sullivan specialist Kent Johnson directing.
* "H.M.S. Pinafore," by Gilbert and Sullivan, at the Chance Theater, 5576 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim Hills. Fridays and Saturdays 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Ends Sept. 17. $15 to $17.50. (714) 777-3033 or http://www.chancetheater.com.
"Everett Beekin" hits close to home: The entire second act of Richard Greenberg's new play is set in Orange County, where the New York City playwright has become a fixture through his 10-year, five-play association with South Coast Repertory. As always, Greenberg takes his shots with satiric wit, but he also explores the deeper sense of loss that sets in when families keep their tragedies secret and leave their young clueless about their antecedents.
* "Everett Beekin" by Richard Greenberg, South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. Previews through Sept. 7; opens Sept. 8. Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7:30 p.m.; matinees Saturdays and Sundays, 2:30 p.m. Through Oct. 8. $18 to $49. Sept. 8 show sold out. (714) 708-5555.
Sam Shepard's 1994 play "Simpatico" deals with the ongoing repercussions of a racetrack scam, offering a noir-ish mixture of blackmail and past sins unearthed. "Simpatico" reached local movie screens early this year in an adaptation starring Nick Nolte, Jeff Bridges and Sharon Stone, but this production by the Rude Guerrilla Theater Company marks its Orange County stage premiere.
* "Simpatico" by Sam Shepard, Empire Theater, 200 N. Broadway, Santa Ana. Fridays and Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2:30 p.m. Also Thursday, Sept. 28, 8 p.m. No performances Sept. 15-17 or Sept. 30. Through Oct. 1. $10 to $12. (714) 547-4688.