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3327930_57551bd97013239418c16575.pdfPRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT:  San Francisco – One of the gayest films ever made has had a checkered existence as a musical.  First produced in Australia, as was the movie, the musical worked its way to London and then Broadway (where it was produced by Bette Middler!), but did not have a national tour.  The musical follows two drag queens and a transsexual who buy a run-down bus, which they christen Priscilla.  They drive it across the Australian outback when one of them is invited by his ex-wife to perform his drag show at her far-away resort. During their journey, the trio encounters an array of Australian citizens, some of whom aren’t receptive to their lifestyle, including incidents of homo and transphobia. While widening comfort zones, finding new horizons, they strengthen their own friendship. With a dazzling array of over the top costumes, and extraordinary headdresses and a hit parade of dance floor favorites, this wildly fresh and funny musical is a journey to the heart of FABULOUS.  Songs include “I Will Survive,” “Raining Men,” “I Love the Nightlife” – in short, The Gay Man’s Songbook – and of course, there’s a production number about ping pong balls!  5/27 – 7/1 at Theatre Rhinoceros (TheRhino.org).

CABARET - ARTCABARET:  West Hollywood – Ever since Celebration Theatre re-opened last year in its new home, the “Sold Out” sign has been in constant use.  Their theatre, “The Lex,” only seats 60 or so guests, and their productions have been uniformly excellent – a formula that guarantees full houses.  Their next production, Cabaret, is a frequently performed war horse, but when I asked for information about how they were going to distinguish this version, thecy said, “Just wait.  This one will be like nothing you’ve ever seen!”  Previous musicals Boy from Oz and The Color Purple have sold out their full runs, even with numerous extensions, so my best advice to you is to book today!  The intimacy of the theatre combined with the impact of the material in the hands of artistic director Michael Matthews promises to be an event you will long remember.  5/27 – 7/2 (CelebrationTheatre.com).

1462209756_Matthew_Bourne_1061x601_highres_emg_roytan_v1MATTHEW BOURNE’S EARLY ADVENTURES – Beverly Hills:  Ballet’s favorite bad boy, Matthew Bourne, has rocked the dance world with his homoerotic Swan Lake, as well as an iconoclastic staging of Sleeping Beauty, The Car Man, and others.  This month, we have a chance to revisit one of his first works, Early Adventures, at the beautiful Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills.  Actually, it’s a collection of three one-act ballets.  “Watch With Mother” is a tale involving 1950’s schoolboys, going through their paces in gym class, while graceless girls throw themselves about.  “Town and Country” contrasts city dwellers with country folk, and is a series of vignettes, including one about two brilliantined lads who conduct a shy courtship to the strains of a Noel Coward song.  “The Infernal Galop” is a droll satire about English perceptions of the French. There are matelots in stripy shirts, a surreal merman flapping like a seal to Charles Trenet’s La Mer, and jaunty gay assignations around a Paris pissoir. As always, Bourne squeezes the cliche until the pips squeak, and the result is as original as it is unmissable.  On top of this, if you haven’t seen this relatively new theatre, it’s a beauty!  5/17 – 5/20 (TheWallis.org).

JB_ProdPhotoJERSEY BOYS – San Diego, Los Angeles:  This tuneful biography of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons has been in constant production since it first surfaced in 2005.  They were just four guys from Jersey, until they sang their very first note. They had a sound nobody had ever heard… and the radio just couldn’t get enough of it. But while their harmonies were perfect on stage, off stage it was a very different story — a story that has made them an international sensation all over again.  Segments of the story are told by each of the band members, which broaden the perspective, but above all are the songs, flawlessly recreated.  San Diego Civic 5/9 – 5/14 (SanDiegoTheatres.org) and Los Angeles Ahmanson Theatre 5/16 – 6/24 (CenterTheatreGroup.org).

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