Fall Theater Picks

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This is Anthony Byrnes Opening the Curtain on LA Theater for KCRW.

Okay, despite your best attempts to deny it and stretch it out, the end of summer is almost here. It’s time to plan your fall theater calendar. Here are some quick highlights from LA theaters.

Let's start downtown and with the more adventurous. One of my favorite small companies, Four Larks, is remounting their The Temptation of St. Antony. This is a work that's one part art installation, one part theater, one part opera, with stunning live musicians. They call their work "junk yard operas" -- and it's a perfect description. This young company transforms spaces and hurdles over the boundaries between genres to create immersive, transformative events. Don't miss this one downtown through September.

Sticking downtown and experimental, Los Angeles Performance Practice is presenting Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour’s White Rabbit Red Rabbit. The play has gotten a lot of buzz as an event and it's unique in that the actor and the audience are encountering the script for the first time on the day of the performance. So each night, out of necessity, has a different actor. If you're ready for a journey, it's at the Bootleg Theater through the beginning of October.

Let's shift to the classics. Center Theater Group is tackling two of them in September. First, at the Ahmanson, Arthur Miller's classic American play, A View from the Bridge. This is Ivo Van Hove's Tony Award-winning production that strips the play down to its core. It got raves in London and New York, now it's LA's turn.

Right next door at the Mark Taper Forum, Phylicia Rashad is directing August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Ms. Rashad directed a taut and moving Joe Turner's Come and Gone at the Taper in 2013 with some of the same actors. I'm anxious to see how these great plays resonate in our current climate. Both of these play through October at the Music Center downtown.

Now, let's stay local but shift to Seattle. You heard that right. One of the productions I'm excited to follow isn't happening in LA but was born here at Circle X one of LA's intimate theaters. Bad Apples is a challenging, complicated musical that takes as it's source the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. That's right a musical about torture and a twisted love triangle. It's being done in Seattle by ACT in their 400 seat theater. If you're looking for a reason that small theater in LA is essential, this show is a perfect example. You'd never develop something this challenging at a more audience dependent theater but it's a stunning work. I'm excited to see how it plays to a larger house outside of LA.

Sticking with the political, John Robbin Baitz's new play's setup may sound topical: a real-estate magnet, reality TV star finds himself in need of a suit to run for president. Sound familiar? That's the point. Vicuña is the story of the personal tailors responsible for this suit. It's at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in October -- just in time for the elections.

I haven't even gotten to the biggest drama happening in LA's theaters or Robert Wilson and Shakespeare's canon on a tabletop at UCLA. For the rest of my picks, subscribe to the weekly KCRW theater newsletter this week at kcrw.com/theater.

It's going to be a busy, theatrical fall Los Angeles.

This is Anthony Byrnes Opening the Curtain on LA Theater for KCRW.

Photo: Mark Strong (C) and company in the Tony Award-winning Young Vic production of Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge. (Jan Versweyveld)