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Summertime is a wonderful opportunity to take your theatre viewing outdoors, so several of my choices this month are presented under the stars.
300-mama-mia-bowlMAMA MIA: Hollywood – Not being a fan of mouse ears, for me, the Hollywood Bowl is the happiest place on earth. Just being at the world-famous landmark is an event, albeit one you have to plan with some care. With 18,000 seats and rather limited parking, you either have to arrive very early and be prepared to pay for onsite parking, or park at one of their satellite lots and be bussed in. You also want to arrive early enough to enjoy a picnic at your seats. And yes, food and bottles of wine are allowed. Each summer, the Bowl stages a concert version of a famous musical. This year they’re producing the Abba rock romp Mama Mia, with an all-star cast headed by Corbin Bleu, Dove Cameron, Lea DeLaria, Jennifer Nettles, and Jamie Camil. The production will be directed and choregraphed by Broadway darling Kathleen Marshall who has directed …. well, just about every Broadway show in the last decade. No one ever really outgrows the effect that Abba’s music has on our souls, and even though the paper-thin plot is just an excuse to hold the songs together, there are usually a group of Speedo-clad Greek men who somehow get involved in the shenanigans, and that carries me a long way. Three performances: 7/28 – 30 (hollywoodbowl.com).
300-blondieBLONDIE: Hollywood – Another rock act that has found its way into our DNA is the inimitable Blondie, appearing at the Hollywood Bowl on Sunday, July 9. Since their debut in the 1970’s, Debbie Harry and her bandmates have never been too far from center stage. Her performance on the legendary outdoor stage is sure to include classics such as “Call Me” and “One Way or Another,” all the way to tracks from her 2017 album “Doom or Destiny” (which includes vocals by Joan Jett, and I’m hoping…..). Blondie will be joined by alternative rock band Garbage, and the evening will open with local songstress Sky Ferreira, whose styles range from new wave and synth rock to more acoustic lines. 7/9 (hollywoodbowl.com).

300-guys-dollsGUYS AND DOLLS: San Diego – San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre is justifiably famous for its outdoor Shakespeare stagings (more on those next month), but over the years, they have staked a claim as one of the country’s top nurturing grounds for new plays and musicals. This summer, they start their seasons with the classic which Entertainment Weekly calls “The Greatest Musical of All Time,” Guys and Dolls. Based on the short stories of journalist Damon Runyon, the show follows the conflicts that ensue when a hardened gambling guy falls for a constricted Salvation Army doll, with opposites eventually attracting. Along the line, we meet a chorus of colorful thugs, strippers from The Hot Box Revue, a ragtag Salvation Army band, and a dozen songs, accompanied by great dancing and dazzling costumes. This show has been attempted by most high schools and colleges in the country, but when The Old Globe reimagines it, magic is sure to happen! Through 8/13 (TheOldGlobe.org).

HEISENBERG: Los Angeles – And if you’re looking for something a bit more meaty this month, Center Theatre Group presents Heisenberg at the Mark Taper Forum. Amidst the bustle of a crowded London train station, Georgie (Mary-Louise Parker from Weeds) spots Alex (Denis Arndt), a much older man, and plants a kiss on his neck. This electric encounter thrusts these two strangers into a fascinating and life-changing game as Heisenberg brings to blazing, theatrical life the uncertain and often comical sparring match that is human connection. The same two actors and director have been with this 300-heisenbergwork since it premier off Broadway in 2015 and its transfer to Broadway in 2016. The script is by award-winning Simon Stephens (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night). Through 8/6 (CenterTheatreGroup.org).

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