Theater: High Drama
Love, marriage and death take center stage in fall’s theater lineup
By Jana J. Monji 08/25/2011
Pasadena is a theater town with three dazzling jewels in its crown: The Theatre@Boston Court, the Pasadena Playhouse and now A Noise Within, which premiers at its new home in East Pasadena with an Oct. 29 gala. You can hop on the Gold Line or drive on the 110 Freeway to add the Mark Taper Forum, the Ahmanson and the David Henry Hwang Theatre (home of the East West Players) to your list of theater-going jaunts. The main themes this season seems to revolve around the topics of love, marriage and death.
This fall, A Noise Within officially moves out of Glendale and into its new home at the corner of Foothill Boulevard and Sierra Madre Villa Avenue in East Pasadena. The season begins with the classic Shakespeare comedy, “Twelfth Night, Or What You Will” set in pre-revolutionary Cuba.
Fans of Jerry Springer and/or dysfunctional families in general might enjoy A Noise Within’s production of Eugene O’Neill’s “Desire Under the Elms” starting Nov. 19. The 1924 play is about a father whose new bride is more interested in his farmland and one of his sons than she is in the marriage.
If you prefer your classics to be light and with a lot of laughs, try “All the Great Books” as the bad boys of abridgment, the Reduced Shakespeare Company, mash up and mangle books you should have read during its one-night only Oct. 15 performance at Caltech.
The Pasadena Playhouse bounced back from bankruptcy last year and is ready to start the season afresh with a new musical comedy, “South Street,” which takes us to a bar on South Street in Philadelphia, where a magical rabbit resides in a moon clock and we’re waiting at the crossroads during the Full Moon Festival.
You might have left behind your inner monster when you turned 3, but what about “The Dinosaur Within”? John Walch’s play, which will take center stage at Boston Court Sept. 29, mysteriously connects ancient dinosaur tracks, a grieving father, tunnels under Hollywood Boulevard and an aboriginal elder. Expect Aussie accents, but no crocodile hunters.
For Halloween (Oct. 21 to Nov. 6), be sure to join in our new local tradition when Wicked Lit unfolds two productions at the Mountain View Mausoleum and Cemetery in Altadena, including three new short plays based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Body Snatcher,” M.R. James’ “Casting the Runes” and Mark Twain’s “A Ghost Story.” What better place to contemplate the dead, undead and wish-they-were-dead than at a cemetery?
Also in October, South Pasadena’s Fremont Centre Theatre presents a world premiere play about death and dying, titled “Holding On, Letting Go.” In it, a man has entered hospice and he and his wife must face their final parting.
Farther afoot, East West Players consider that there is life after widowhood and some marriages die before either member of the couple does. In Shane Sakhrani’s “A Widow of No Importance,” a widow considers going cougar, while in Julia Cho’s “The Language Archive,” a linguist hasn’t yet mastered the language of love.
In September, the sharp-witted and clear-eyed playwright Theresa Rebeck will have a world premiere play at the Mark Taper Forum, “Poor Behavior.” This new play explores lust and deception in marriage.
The Ahmanson will “Bring It On” in a musical about girls in short skirts bending over backward for cheerleading and for love. Will there be some great dance moves and a catfight, or have we been watching too much “Glee”?
Whatever your theatrical tastes, there’s something for everybody this season, so get out and be part of the Pasadena theater scene if you’re not too busy making some drama yourself.
A Noise Within
3352 East Foothill Blvd., | Pasadena, CA 91107
(626) 356-3100 | anoisewithin.org
Oct. 29 to Dec. 16:
Julia Rodriguez-Elliott directs her take on a Shakespearian romantic comedy with “Twelfth Night, Or What You Will.”
Nov. 19 to Dec. 18:
Eugene O’Neill adapted the Greek tragedy of Phaedra, Hippolytus and Theseus, re-setting it in rural New England in “Desire Under the Elms.” Directed by Damaso Rodriguez.
216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale
(818) 243-ALEX (2539)
Singha Beer pesents “Calories Blah Blah”
at 8 p.m.
The Alex Film Society presents “The Penalty”
at 2 p.m.
The Musical Theatre Guild Presents “High Fidelity” 7:30 p.m.
The GLA presents Music for Scholarships with the Glendale Pops at 6 p.m.
Glendale Pops Orchestra presents “Bossa Nova on Brand” at 8 p.m.
The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra presents “electric” at 8 p.m.
weSPARK Cancer Support Center presents “Broadway & Beyond” at 7:30 p.m.
70 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena
Sept. 29 to Nov. 6:
Michael Michetti directs John Walch’s “The Dinosaur Within,” a play about disappearing dinosaur tracks, an Australian Aboriginal elder and a grieving father.
Caltech Beckman Auditorium
332 S. Michigan Ave., Pasadena
Oct. 15 only:
“All the Great Books,” courtesy of the Reduced Shakespeare Company
Fremont Centre Theatre
1000 Fremont Ave., South Pasadena
(866) 811-4111| fremontcentretheatre.com
Oct. 14 to Nov. 20:
A world premiere play, “Holding On, Letting Go,” by Bryan Harnetiaux looks at how a husband, now in failing health and under hospice care, and his wife prepare for his imminent death.
39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena
(626) 274-7342 | pasadenaplayhouse.org
Sept. 16 to Oct. 16:
“South Street” is the scene for a Full Moon Festival celebration that might change some people’s lives in this new musical comedy.
Nov. 1 to Nov. 27:
For its second fall production, the Playhouse takes us to Harlem with Pearl Cleage’s 1995 “Blues for an Alabama Sky.”
Mountain View Mausoleum & Cemetery
2300 N. Marengo Ave. Altadena CA 91001
(818) 242-7910 | wickedlit.org
Oct. 21 to Nov. 5 (dark Oct. 24 to 26, Nov. 1):
Production A (“The Cask of Amontillado,” “The Unnamable” and “The Chimes.”)
Oct. 27 to Nov. 6 (Dark Nov. 1):
Production B (“The Body Snatcher,” “Casting the Runes,” and “A Ghost Story”).