You don’t come across a lot of relationship dramas centered on a grandson and his grandmother. But Amy Herzog’s 4000 Miles, onstage at ion theatre in Hillcrest, is just that. Self-absorbed and self-suffering Leo (Connor Sullivan) is not going to get it together unless cranky but sage Grandma Vera (Jill Drexler) teaches him a few hardscrabble life lessons. Leo is kind of a tool, whining (or exploding) so much that you almost don’t feel sorry for him because his best friend was killed while the two were bicycling across America, or because his nervous girlfriend Bec (Michelle Marie Trester) has dumped him. But when he crashes at his kin’s NYC flat, her no-B.S. grandparenting begins to humanize him.
For a 90-minute one-act play, the narrative is over-packed (Vera was a “Commie!” Leo kissed his sister!), but 4000 Miles, directed at ion by Claudio Raygoza, is absorbing and, except for one scene that’s played out in the dark with Leo sobbing to Grandma, not soapy. Drexler is excellent, rising above her Sofia Petrillo (from Golden Girls) wig and a hearing aid that wouldn’t stay in, Yumi Roussin is a crackup as a party girl in platforms whom Leo wants to bed, and the cozy apartment set is as meticulous as you’ll ever see at ion.
4000 Miles runs through Oct. 15 at ion theatre’s BLKBOX in Hillcrest. $14-$32. iontheatre.com
It’s nigh on impossible for The Producers not to be funny, even 49 years after Mel Brooks’ comic romp about Bialystock, Bloom and “Springtime for Hitler” first hit the big screen. The stage musical, which opened on Broadway in 2001, was—and is—true to the wacky, un-P.C. genius of the movie. Though the show isn’t new to San Diego audiences, it’s always a welcome return. San Diego Musical Theatre’s production, running through this weekend, is directed by Jamie Torcellini, with John Massey as the lecherous Max and Bryan Banville as timid Leo. They and the rest of the game cast give it their all. The results are boffo, if you don’t factor in the acoustic dead spots that are either technical or, more likely, Spreckels-related. Even if you’ve seen the musical or the film many times before, The Producers remains delightfully shocking in its irreverence and bawdiness.
The Producers runs through Oct. 9 at Spreckels Theatre, downtown. $20-$70. sdmt.org
Blood Wedding: With a plot straight out of a telenovela, this play centers on a bride who leaves the groom at the altar to be with Leonardo, the man who also just happened to kill her father. Written by Frederica Garcia Lorca, it opens Oct. 6 at the Grossmont College Theatre in El Cajon.
The Mousetrap: Set in Monkswell Manor, this long-running Agatha Christie murder mystery is known for its shocking twist at the end. Presented by the Theatre School @ North Coast Repertory, it opens Oct. 6 at the North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach. northcoastrep.org
I Was Never Alone: A “documentary play” adapted from interviews with Russians living with disabilities and how they’re often segregated from society. Written by Cassandra Hartblay, it opens for two performances on Oct. 7 at the Shank Theatre at UCSD San Diego in La Jolla. calendar.ucsd.edu
Blood at the Root: Racial tensions in a small Louisiana town boil over in Dominique Morisseau’s poetry and hip-hop-infused play. Directed by Randy Reinholtz, it runs through Oct. 9 at the SDSU Experimental Theatre in the College Area.
Manifest Destinitis: Set in 1800s Alta California, this world-premiere satire is about a crazed Don Aragon, who’s trying to marry off his daughter, but little does he know she’s in love with (gasp!) a guapo Americano. Written by Herbert Siguenza, it runs through Oct. 9 at the Lyceum Space in the Gaslamp. sdrep.org
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike: This Tony Award-winner for “Best Play” tells the tale of two small-town siblings whose world is thrown into upheaval when they get a visit from their movie star sister and her much younger boyfriend. Written by Christopher Durang, it runs through Oct. 9 at the Scripps Ranch Theatre. scrippsranchtheatre.org
Seussical the Musical: A family-friendly musical where all of the characters of Dr. Seuss share the stage at the same time. Directed by Desha Crownover, it runs through Oct. 9 at the Coronado Playhouse. coronadoplayhouse.com
Dangerous Obsession: A disturbed man obsessed with the death of his wife terrorizes a married couple. Directed by Jay Mower, it runs through Oct. 16 at PowPAC Community Theatre in Escondido. powpac.org
October Sky: Adapted from the popular 1999 film, this new musical set in ‘50s West Virginia tells the story of a high schooler who’s hell bent on building his own space rocket. Featuring music by Michael Mahler, it runs through Oct. 23 at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org
The Lion: Benjamin Scheuer’s acclaimed one-man-show rock ‘n’ roll musical about his life. Directed by Sean Daniels, it runs through Oct. 30 at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org
Lizard Boy: A disfigured gay boy, who had always been afraid to be seen in public, sets out on a rock ‘n’ roll musical adventure with help from his new Grindr friend Cary. Written by Justin Huertas, it runs through Oct. 30 at the Diversionary Theatre in Hillcrest. diversionary.org
ART: Yasmina Reza’s Tony-winning comedy about three pals whose friendship is tested when one buys an expensive piece of modern art. Presented by Intrepid Theatre Company, it runs through Nov. 6 at the Horton Grand Theatre in the Gaslamp. intrepidtheatre.org
Seven Guitars: Set in ’40s Pittsburgh, this comical mystery centers on a blues guitarist who dies just as his career is about to take off. Written by August Wilson and presented by Cygnet Theatre, it runs through Nov. 6 at the Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com
King Hedley II: A man recently released from prison struggles to reclaim his life, family and community. Written by August Wilson and presented by Cygnet Theatre, it runs through Nov. 6 at the Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com