“GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER” – We are so lucky! This production beset by scheduling problems and hit by COVID, was due to close this weekend but has now been extended into August. So… run, don’t walk, don’t miss it. We never know what will happen tomorrow. There are nine actors involved, whereas most theater companies are going with two or three, during COVID. That’s a lot of chances of a star player being felled. Then there is other stuff: two days before the Friday performance the actor who plays the father character (Spencer Tracy in the movie) lost his mother and had to take care of business. Veteran Paul Linke stepped in and killed it, even while holding his script the entire time. Amazing. Fri 8 p.m., Ruskin Group Theatre, SM Airport, $20-35.
THE HOT CLUB OF LOS ANGELES – One of LA’s music treasures, holding forth with their breakneck Django-style swing music in the little Culver City dive, on Sepulveda just over the line from Santa Monica, that is also a treasure. I will mention every so often that Santa Monica’s’ Harvelle’s dates from 1931, but the Cinema Bar is almost 75. That’s a long time to build up character, reputation and a vibe, and both venues have it. But the music is the thing, right? You could go from Harvelle’s on Sunday night (see below) to The Hot Club Monday then back to Harvelle’s Tuesday (see below). Three very different shows, rare or unique, and all top caliber. You would spend a total of $22 for cover charges.
I tell you, it’s gigs like this that make moving to LA completely worth it. I did, even though it was years before they first power strummed at the intimate Cinema Grill. But there is always someone like this if you explore all the nooks of this great city. But you don’t have to. I do it for you, in this column. Every Mon 9 p.m., Cinema Bar, Culver City, $0.
EM – She’s back! And she’s still amazing. But nothing good lasts forever, you know. So, why not this Tues? Every Tues 9:30 p.m., Harvelle’s, Santa Monica, $10. Every Tuesday. 9:30 p.m., Harvelle’s, Santa Monica, $10.
THEATRICUM BOTANICUM – You can get the full summer program this weekend. Bring a sleeping bag and two days’ picnic breakfasts, lunches and dinners. (Not a serious suggestion.)
“MERRY WIVES” is transported to small town America, 1950s, with music to match the rolicking fun. Wait until you see Falstaff ride in on a big Harley. But it’s not all hilarity – there is an undercurrent of the blossoming women’s rights movement. Sat 3:30 p.m.
“TROUBLE THE WATER” – is the rivetting, barely believable true story of Robert Smalls’ escape from slavery. in a most creative and bold way. Making real the notion that slavery is so abhorrent that one will do anything, anything, to end it. TB is so good at these kinds of topical plays that leave you with a lot to think about. Sat 7:30 p.m.
“A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM” – It’s their signature Shakespeare, presented every season for decades, and why not? It’s an enduring audience favorite for more than 400 years, a magical tale of unrequited love taking place in an enchanted forest, and TB is already nestled into their own forest. Sun 3:30 p.m.
“WESTSIDE WALTZ” – TB artistic director Ellen Geer (daughter of legendary TB founder actor-activist Will Geer), her sister Melora Marshall; and daughter Willow Geer take on the roles of an aging concert pianist, her violinist spinster neighbor, and a would-be actress on New York’s Upper West Side in the tumultuous ‘80s. What an amazing acting lineage on display in this play, penned by Oscar-winner Ernest Thompson (“On Golden Pond”). Sun 7:30 p.m.
All shows Theatricum Botanicum, Topanga Canyon, $10-60 (discounts for seniors, students, teachers, veterans, AEA, ages 5-15).
TOLEDO DIAMOND — The true hipster (when that sobriquet meant something way cool), choreographer to the stars, smoky Svengali, showman supreme. Toledo and his unquestionably unique show always pleases, if you are ready for the very different. Every Sun 9:30 p.m., Harvelle’s, Santa Monica, $12.
COMING ATTRACTIONS: “GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER,” Ruskin Group Theatre, 7/15, 16, 17; “THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR,” 7/15, 16, 17; “TROUBLE THE WATER,” 7/16, 23, 31, “THE WESTSIDE WALTZ,” 7/17, 24, 29, “A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM,” 7/17, 22, 31, Theatricum Botanicum; DANCE DTLA, Argentine Tango 7/29, The Music Center; TOLEDO DIAMOND, Harvelle’s, 7/17, 24; 31; LA PHIL, DUDAMEL, PARIS OPERA BALLET, Hollywood Bowl, 7/20, 21; HOT CLUB OF LOS ANGELES, Cinema Bar, 7/24, 31; EM, Harvelle’s, 7/26; BURNING SPEAR, Youtube Theater, 7/24; THE CHAMBERS BROTHERS, Maui Sugar Mill, 7/25; LA PHIL, DUDAMEL, BEETHOVEN’S 5th, Hollywood Bowl, 7/26; BILLIE EILISH, DEBBY HARRY, SETH MCFARLANE, DIANNE REEVES, BETTYE LAVETTE – Tribute to PEGGY and FRANK, Hollywood Bowl, 7/27; LA PHIL, DUDAMEL, LA MASTER CHORALE – CARMINA BURANA, Hollywood Bowl, 7/28; JOHN FOGERTY, Hollywood Bowl, 7/30; MICHAEL FRANTI & SPEARHEAD, The Ford, 7/31.
Charles Andrews has listened to a lot of music of all kinds, including more than 3,000 live shows. He has lived in Santa Monica for 36 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at email@example.com