Curated by Christina Campodonico | Compiled by Brian Marks
“Paradise — A Divine Bluegrass Musical Comedy” @ The Ruskin Group Theatre Through Sept. 23
This unusual bluegrass musical returns to Santa Monica’s Ruskin Group Theatre (where it debuted in 2013) with four new songs, a revised book and timely new relevance to the Trump era. An alluring preacher blows into a depressed coal town with his ex-stripper assistant, but he’s soon in conflict with a conniving reality TV show producer who wants to make the town great again.
3000 Airport Road, Santa Monica. $30-$35.
(310) 397-3244; ruskingrouptheatre.com
“School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play” @ Kirk Douglas Theatre Sept. 2 – 30
This transplanted update on “Mean Girls” transfers from an acclaimed off-Broadway run to Center Theatre Group’s flagship Westside outpost. Paulina is the most popular student at her exclusive Ghanaian boarding school, but the arrival of a bookish yet beautiful new student threatens her chance at the Miss Universe pageant.
9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City. $25+.
(213) 628-2772; centertheatregroup.org
“The Cake” @ The Geffen Playhouse Sept. 10 – Oct. 21
Devout Christian and conflicted baker Della faces a contentious decision when her best friend’s daughter asks her to make a cake for her impending nuptials to another woman. After making a big splash with The Echo Theater Company in Atwater Village last year, this dramedy by “This is Us” writer-producer Bekah Brunstetter gets a West L.A. run.
10886 Le Conte Ave., Westwood. $30+. (310) 208-5454; geffenplayhouse.com
“Old Clown Wanted” @ The Odyssey Theatre Sept. 15 – Nov. 4
Romanian-French playwright Matei Visniec charts man’s fear of being forgotten by society in this surrealistic dramedy inspired by Federico Fellini’s classic film “The Clowns.” Three over-the-hill clowns — the funny kind, not the scary kind — all vie for a single job.
2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West L.A. $30-$35. (310) 477-2055; odysseytheatre.com
“Barber Shop Chronicles” @ Freud Playhouse Oct. 18 – 20
The West Coast premiere of Inua Ellams’ play arrives at UCLA’s intimate Freud Playhouse for a limited engagement that explores the importance of the barbershop to African men, illustrated through vignettes set in London and five African cities.
245 Charles E. Young Drive East, Westwood. $29+. (310) 825-2101; cap.ucla.edu
“Radiant Vermin” @ The Odyssey Theatre Oct. 18 – Nov. 18
This dark satire by popular L.A. theater company Door Number 3 examines just how far one couple, Ollie and Jill, is willing to go in order to win the house of their dreams — no matter how many homeless people they have to eradicate in the process. 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West L.A. (310) 477-2055; odysseytheatre.com
“Winter Solstice” @ City Garage Oct. 19 – Nov. 25
The U.S. premiere of lauded German playwright Roland Schimmelpfenig’s new work is another politically charged production for Santa Monica’s City Garage. Bettina and husband Albert’s idyllic family Christmas is upset when Bettina’s mother arrives accompanied by a stranger with a dark connection to Nazi Germany.
2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica. $20-$25. (310) 453-9939; citygarage.org
“Quack” @ Kirk Douglas Theatre Oct. 21 – Nov. 18
The world premiere of Eliza Clark’s satirical comedy joins the Kirk Douglas’ roster of exciting Culver City premieres. A celebrity doctor (with a passing resemblance to Dr. Oz) finds his TV show and social life in free fall after the publication of a destructive exposé.
9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City. $25+. (213) 628-2772; centertheatregroup.org
“The Bitter Game” @ The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts Nov. 14 – 17
Keith A. Wallace writes and stars in this critically-acclaimed one-man show about Jamel Smith, a child in the inner-city who witnesses an act of violence that uproots his life and affects his relationship to the police. Structured in five acts to mirror the four quarters and overtime period of a basketball game, this show got props from The New York Times and L.A.’s own Charles McNulty, so be sure to get into the game at The Wallis.
9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills. $40. (310) 746-4000; thewallis.org/bitter
“Sisters Matsumoto” @ James Bridges Theater Nov. 16 – 18
Three Japanese-American sisters return home to their family farm after spending years in an internment camp, but their new life is far from the comfort of the pre-war years. Fans of L.A. Theatre Works’ public radio broadcasts and podcasts can see and hear the play recorded live at UCLA’s James Bridges Theater.
235 Charles E. Young Drive West, Westwood. $45-65. (310) 827-0889; latw.org