Four Plays That Use Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll, and the Great Plague to Get Your Attention

This is the third go-round at Stages for William Mittler's play about the troubled life and times of former New York Dolls guitarist Johnny Thunders, one of rock's biggest junkies and burnouts. It follows Thunders' career and drug-ravaged descent, but also includes a bunch of songs from the New York Dolls and other Thunders bands performed live. This production stars most of the actors who performed in its last incarnation in 2000, which the Weekly's Frank Seddigh had multiple money shots over. He liked everything, especially "the music, sex, drugs, whores, bitches and death," which he said were "as necessary to this piece as they were to the decade of the 1970s." StagesTheater,400E.CommonwealthAve.,Fullerton,(714)525-4484.July8-Aug.13.$15.

Brian Newell has chosen the stage play that inspired the film to kick off his brand-new theater in downtown Fullerton. It was done a couple of years ago at the theater and drew loads of people because, really, who doesn't like transsexuals from Transylvania? Newell is still finishing his new space—designed to emulate the feel of a 1920s Hollywood speakeasy—so an official opening date hasn't been set, but it's going to be sometime this summer. TheMaverickTheater.110E.Walnut,Fullerton,(714)526-7070.Fri.-Sat.,beginningsometimeinthesummer.

No drugs or rock & roll in this one, but who else sports wood when thinking about the plague? Naomi Wallace's 1996 play is a remarkably provocative, politically infused drama about four people quarantined in a boarded-up house in 17th-century London. As much about modern atrocities like war and genocide as it is about the Black Death, this rough, uncompromisingly brutal play is also powerfully lyrical and eloquent. And it features scenes involving masturbation, urination and drooling. Bring the kids. TheChanceTheater,5552E.LaPalmaAve.,AnaheimHills,(714)777-3033.May21-June12.$17-$20.

This may be the most inspired goof yet on Shakespeare, courtesy of the LA-based Troubadour Theatre Co. This troupe has a twistedly Midas touch with everything it attempts, and telling the story of one great neurotic through the songs of another should be a masterstroke. As the company's website asks, "Can Hamlet recognize the Sign O' the Times and get that Sexy MF Ophelia to give him a Kiss? Or will he find out When Doves Cry that into every life, a little Purple Rain must fall?" MuckenthalerCulturalCenter,1201W.MalvernAve.,Fullerton,(310)979-7196.July15-July23.$25.


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