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A fruitful autumn harvest / Highlights from the season's stage, dance, architecture, books, art, classical and pop.

September 07, 2008

'9 to 5, the Musical'

There's no sure thing in the theater, but the Broadway-bound "9 to 5, the Musical" must be giving its producers blockbuster goose bumps. With a book by Patricia Resnick, who co-wrote the much-adored 1980 movie, and a new score by bluegrass bombshell Dolly Parton, the show revisits three overworked, underpaid employees who take revenge on their chauvinistic boss in a farcical spree aimed at cracking a heel through that low-hanging glass ceiling. Directed by multiple Tony winner Joe Mantello, the production features Allison Janney ("The West Wing"), Stephanie J. Block ("Avenue Q") and Megan Hilty (the glorious Glinda of the Pantages' "Wicked") as the working-gal rebels who don't just snatch the reins from their creepy employer (Mark Kudisch) but literally tie him up as they show just how a company can be both equitably and profitably run.

Ahmanson Theatre, Sept. 6-Oct. 19, www.centertheatregroup.org

'The Third Story'

Funnyman Charles Busch ("The Tale of the Allergist's Wife," "Vampire Lesbians of Sodom") delves into the Alice-in-Wonderland world of the screenwriter's imagination in his new play, about a Golden Age Hollywood scribe (Mary Beth Peil) trying to stage a comeback with her son (Jonathan Walker), who has fled the biz to become a mail carrier in the Midwest. Don't let the domestic setting fool you -- Busch, who takes a couple of roles himself, is sure to lace his story with madcap explosions. And how can it be otherwise when the comedy careens from B-movie high jinks to Russian fairy tale frenzy, to say nothing of a "botched science experiment named Zygote with seven nipples and a chemical dependency"? Some things you'll have to be brave (and bawdy) enough to discover on your own.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday, September 07, 2008 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 35 words Type of Material: Correction
"9 to 5": The Fall Preview item about "9 to 5: The Musical" in today's Arts & Books section said the show was to open Saturday. It is now scheduled to begin preview performances Tuesday.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday, September 09, 2008 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 53 words Type of Material: Correction
"9 to 5": The Fall Preview item in Sunday's Arts & Books section about "9 to 5: The Musical" at the Ahmanson Theatre said that one of the show's actors, Stephanie J. Block, appeared in "Avenue Q." Block, whose Broadway credits include "Wicked" and "The Boy From Oz," was not in "Avenue Q."
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday, September 14, 2008 Home Edition Sunday Calendar Part E Page 2 Calendar Desk 1 inches; 47 words Type of Material: Correction
"9 to 5": An article last Sunday about "9 to 5: The Musical" at the Ahmanson Theatre said that one of the show's actors, Stephanie J. Block, appeared in "Avenue Q." Block, whose Broadway credits include "Wicked" and "The Boy From Oz," was not in "Avenue Q."

La Jolla Playhouse, Sept. 21-Oct. 19, www.lajollaplayhouse.org

'Equus'

Harry Potter makes his Broadway debut. Wait, don't get that excited -- it's Daniel Radcliffe who's having his coming-out party on the Great White Way. The vehicle is Peter Shaffer's psychological drama about a boy with a pathological penchant for blinding horses. The play seemed to run forever when it was originally done in New York in the '70s, but Radcliffe brings fresh excitement to it. Yes, he has a nude scene, but we're talking legit theater here. The brilliant stage actor Richard Griffiths, late of "The History Boys," who also has played Harry Potter's mean Uncle Vernon, takes on the role of the psychiatrist trying to sort out this curious case of animal cruelty. And Thea Sharrock, who staged the acclaimed London revival with Radcliffe and Griffiths, directs.

Broadhurst Theatre, New York, Sept. 25, www.equusonbroadway.com

'The Sound and the Fury (April Seventh, 1928)'

Elevator Repair Service, a New York-based offbeat experimental company with wacky Wooster Group roots, can resist anything but the impossible. In "The Sound and the Fury (April Seventh, 1928)," the group takes on William Faulkner, but don't expect Masterpiece Theatre. If the past is prelude, there should be plenty of narrative hopscotching (perfect for Faulkner), oddball choreography (less so) and enough deadpan delivery to lay a horse low with irony -- in short, postmodern kicks given a seductive Southern twang. John Collins directs a 12-member troupe.

REDCAT, Oct. 9-12, www.redcat.org

'The Playboy

of the Western World,'

'The Shadow of the Glen'

Few writers marry landscape and language as lyrically as John M. Synge, the Irish playwright whose death in 1909 at age 38 didn't stop him from having a huge influence on his country's theater. This double bill, directed by Tony winner Garry Hynes, was originally part of an 8 1/2 -hour cycle in which Ireland's Druid Theatre Company performed Synge's collected dramatic works. Critics lauded the ensemble for the way it negotiated the shifts from comedy to tragedy while rooting the poetry in everyday reality. The pairing of two of Synge's greatest works, which should satisfy most appetites, will surely demonstrate the truth of his remark that "in a good play every speech should be as fully flavored as a nut or apple."

Freud Playhouse, UCLA, Oct. 14-18, www.uclalive.org

'U.S. Drag'

Theater folk have been keeping an eye on Gina Gionfriddo since she burst onto the scene with "After Ashley," a play about media exploitation and all-too-real grief. Her "U.S. Drag," a winner of the prestigious Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for women playwrights, is a satire about the murderous lengths Americans will go to obtain their 15 minutes of fame. Two ambitious young women (self-described as "nonreflective and solutions-oriented") decide that the answer to their financial woes and frustrating anonymity lies in catching a serial killer who's apparently as elusive as Beckett's Godot. Directed by Darin Anthony, this Furious Theatre Company offering explores how we're all increasingly contestants on the most cringe-worthy reality show.

Carrie Hamilton Theatre/Pasadena Playhouse, Oct. 25-Nov. 22, www.furioustheatre.org

'Billy Elliot: The Musical'

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