Shadows off the vine

From Pick of the Vine, Season 10.

From Pick of the Vine, Season 10.

Little Fish Theatre’s Pick of the Vine: Season 10 has become a San Pedro tradition, and the nine plays offered in an amazingly fast and efficient two hours are as engaging, amusing and sometime poignant as ever. But then, chosen from the more than 700 works offered to them every year, that is what you’d expect. To list and explore all of them is beyond the scope of the space in this column. A couple of highlights: Bath Time is Fun Time by Arthur M. Jolly explores what the bath implements are thinking after the plug has been pulled, from the rubber duckie’s point of view, that of the toy submarine, and a couple of others, all suffering post-bath angst. Press Play by Seth Freeman shows what religion might become if you have to respond to voice prompts to get solace. The Rental by Mark Harvey Levine suggests a new twist on the subject of romantic loneliness. You’ve got to go to see them all and it is a great evening in the theatre.

Tickets are $25, $23 for seniors and students. Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., with shows at 2 and 7 p.m. Feb. 5., and at 8 p.m. Feb. 16, through Feb. 18.

Details: (310)512-6030;
Venue: Little Fish Theatre
Location: 777 Centre St., San Pedro

Barefoot in the Park has been around just short of 50 years (it opened on Broadway in 1963) and the Neil Simon play has become a classic, perhaps even a tired classic, in the many productions since then. But, rethought and enhanced by the creative mind of director Denis McCourt the new production at the Long Beach Playhouse’s Mainstage Theatre is a delight from start to finish, with a cast, including Vanessa Rose Parker as Corie Bratter and Eric Pierce as Paul Bratter and music provided by David Anthony, the play is bright and original once again.

McCourt takes the original play, set in a fifth-floor apartment in Greenwich Village, and enhances it, using the playhouse’s often awkward thrust stage as an advantage, making players walk up and down the aisle to get to the apartment, always arriving out of breath. He moves some of the action downstage as well. And, most importantly, he has added the services of three sexy singers, Whitney Reed, Elaine Hayhurst and Deborah Cartwright, with music by Anthony, to give the story a new focus. It’s wonderful.

Tickets are $24, $21 for seniors and$14 for students and children. Performances are Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. through Feb. 11.

Details: (562) 494-1014;
Venue: Long Beach Playhouse Mainstage Theatre
Location: 5021 E. Anaheim, Long Beach

Orson’s Shadow is a provocative look at the clash of two titans of the theater when they come together, at the urging of a third, to produce a version of Ionesco’s absurdist play Rhinoceros. Orson is Orson Welles (played with a brilliant bravado by Robert Edward, in full Wellesian dress, right down to the towel around the neck and the neck scarf instead of a tie) and he has been talked into directing Larry Olivier (Tim Thorn, every bit as proper and demanding as you’d expect) by the critic Kenneth Tynan ( played with a very real-sounding cigarette cough by Jonathan Lewis.)

The play was finally produced, without Welles directing, but that’s not the point. The story is about two great actors, one about to find 10 years of critical success, the other living in the shadow of his great success as a youth, a success he never achieved again, and how their two very titanic egos react, especially as Olivier must deal also with his current wife, Joan Plowright (Ashley Allen) and the crazy and still remarkable glamorous Vivian Lee (the very stylish and arch Cassie Vail Yeager.) It is a rich tapestry of the backstage life of the theater, and a triumph for Alive Theatre, Long Beach’s peripatetic theater company which is doing this play as part of the Long Beach Playhouse’s Collaborative project.

Tickets are $24, $21 for seniors, $14 for students and children. Performances at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturday, and at 2 p.m. Sundays, through Feb. 5.

Details: (562) 494-1014,,

Spit Like a Big Girl is a sparkling and revealing one-woman show now in a special run at Little Fish Theatre, a showcase for its star Clarinda Ross and the story of her family, her special-needs child and her life. It’s running at Little Fish through Feb. 2 and is moving, with plenty of heart.

Tickets are $25. Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursdays, and at 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, through Feb. 2.

Details: (310)512-6030,
Venue: Little Fish Theatre
Location: 777 Centre St., San Pedro


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