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Where you should be in 2003

January 02, 2003|Diane Haithman

"Rose and Walsh." (Geffen Playhouse, Feb. 5-March 9). In June, the Geffen presented classic Neil Simon with a new twist: "Oscar and Felix, a New Look at the Odd Couple" updated the 1965 comedy to the brave new world of e-mail and cell phones. This year, the Geffen offers really new Simon with the world premiere of "Rose and Walsh." Details? Simon won't say -- but here's what we know: Set on Long Island, a celebrated but penniless author (Rose) receives nightly visits from Walsh, the love of her life and a celebrated writer himself. Now, Walsh is leaving forever, but not before offering to secure Rose's financial future with an extraordinary proposal. Jane Alexander and Len Cariou star as the literary lovers. David Esbjornson ("The Goat or Who Is Sylvia?") will direct.

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"Elaine Stritch ... At Liberty." (Ahmanson Theatre, April 8-27). Stritch's "At Liberty" is an intensely personal one-woman show about -- hey, would you let me finish? After four nominations, Stritch won her first Tony Award for this one, but CBS cut her acceptance speech before she'd completed her heartfelt remarks on the June 2 Tony broadcast, causing the 77-year-old actress to fume backstage after winning in the special theatrical event category. But Stritch will be at liberty to talk, sing and confess as long as she likes in this autobiographical evening that deals with, among other things, her lifelong battle with the bottle.

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"Intimate Apparel." (South Coast Repertory, April 11-May 18). The newest work from award-winning Brooklyn playwright Lynn Nottage, author of "Crumbs From the Table of Joy," "Mud, River, Stone" and others. The drama tells the story of a plain, uneducated but talented African American designer who creates undergarments for a clientele that ranges from New York high society women to ladies of the night. When the designer falls in love through the mail with a worker on the Panama Canal, she shares his letters with her customers.

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"The Producers." (Pantages Theater, May 29-Jan. 4, 2004). Will Martin Short and Jason Alexander, stars of the L.A. production, be as good as Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane, Broadway's original cast? Who cares? It's already springtime at the box office for Mel Brooks' hit show about the two hapless producers of the worst musical of all time, "Springtime for Hitler." This musical, based on Brooks' film and recipient of a record 12 Tony Awards, grossed $2 million in ticket sales the first week the golden tickets went on sale in L.A. in May and remains one of the hottest tickets in town.

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"Chavez Ravine." (Mark Taper Forum, May 29-July 6). The L.A.-based theater troupe Culture Clash began its current phase of locally themed work in 1994 with "Radio Mambo," set in and around Miami, following with shows about San Diego, New York's Puerto Rican community, San Francisco's Mission District and the post-Sept. 11 "Anthems: Culture Clash in the District," about Washington, D.C., among others. Now, Culture Clash comes home with this look at the bitter history of the community that was displaced by Dodger Stadium. The play was commissioned and developed by the Taper.

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"House of Flowers." (Pasadena Playhouse, June 20-July 27). Set in a West Indies bordello, this musical by Truman Capote and Harold Arlen launched the career of Diahann Carroll; the Pasadena presentation will be one the show's first major revivals since its 1954 premiere. This production will feature a revised book written by Charles Busch, author of "The Tale of the Allergist's Wife," and Busch's frequent collaborator, Kenneth Elliott -- as well as what Pasadena Playhouse calls "a more authentically vibrant Afro-Cuban treatment of the score." The tale promises a love triangle, magic, sharks, turtles and voodoo.

-- Diane Haithman

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