The cops busted up Arthur Przybyszewski's head pretty good at an anti-war rally in late-'60s Chicago. His dad added insult to injury later, calling Arthur a “coward” amid his efforts to dodge the draft. There must have been a reconciliation along the way somewhere; even as he sports his ponytail of yore, tired old Arthur is today working the family business—a tired old doughnut shop in tired old Chicago's tired old Uptown neighborhood. His assistant, Franco Wicks, has ideas to brighten the place up with hot music and healthful food—but as we later see, Franco has a few skeletons of his own.
Come to think of it, a reunion between father and son might have served Tracy Letts' Superior Donuts pretty well, since Arthur's anti-establishment sensibilities have ruled so much of his life—but the idea isn't forthcoming, leaving Letts free to meander into disconnected character studies and uneven dialogue (Arthur is alternately sloppily and well-spoken for no particular reason).
But it's always nice to see Old Globe Theatre associate artist Robert Foxworth, and his Arthur is as worldweary as he can make it. Franco's spiritedness is no small part of the show, and L.A. actor Anthony B. Phillips supplies it in no small measure.
DeAnna Driscoll is her usual pert self as lonely Office Osteen, and helmer Sam Woodhouse gets the most from Dimiter D. Marinov as a no-nonsense Russian immigrant who's hot to buy the shop. There's also some very well-executed stage combat as Arthur rises to Franco's defense. I recommend this one, but you only need to see it once.
Through March 6 at The Lyceum Space, 79 Horton Plaza, Downtown. $35- $47. sdrep.org
Last of the Red-Hot Lovers: Dreary barney invites three women to his house while his wife and kids are away for the summer. Opens Feb. 18 at OnStage Playhouse in Chula Vista. $8-$16. onstageplayhouse.org
The Beard of Avon: A writing partnership is formed as William Shakespeare meets up with an unknown but excellent playwright. Opens Feb. 18 at Patio Playhouse in Escondido. $7-$15. patioplayhouse.com
Little Miss Sunshine: When Olive Hoover enters a regional children's beauty pageant, the family thinks its bad luck could change and embarks on a cross-country trek. Produced by La Jolla Playhouse, it's in previews now and opens Feb. 22 at the Mandell Weiss Theatre in La Jolla. $49-$64. lajollaplayhouse.org
Wonder Wounded Heroes: Dangerous skirmishes and Shakespeare mix as siblings face off over a mysterious past. Produced by Ion Theatre Company, it runs through Feb. 19 at BLK BOX @ 6th & Penn in Hillcrest. $10-$25. iontheatre.com
The Tragedy of the Commons: The view from Dakin Adams' La Jolla home (and a friendship) is in jeopardy amid new construction. Through Feb. 20 at Old Town Theatre in Old Town. $24-$49. cygnet theatre.com
The Wizard of Oz: Dorothy (Toto, too) follows the Yellow Brick Road and learns an important lesson about her roots. Produced by Broadway / San Diego, it runs through Feb. 20 at the Civic Theatre, Downtown. $26.50-$116.50. broadwaysd.com
Shotgun Wedding Anniversary: What happens after 25 years in a less-than-blissful marriage? For Basil and Petals, it can mean murder. Through Feb. 26 at Mystery Cafe, in the Imperial House restaurant in Bankers Hill. $59.50, including dinner. mysterycafe.net
* Death of a Salesman: Salesman Willy Loman promises his clients the moon but never delivers the same in his private life. Through Feb. 27 at The Old Globe Theatre's Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre in Balboa Park. $29-$67. oldglobe.org
* miXtape: Generation X was torn between disillusionment and hope in this cavalcade of music from the 1980s. Produced by Lamb's Players Theatre, it runs through Feb. 27 at the Horton Grand Theatre Downtown. $28-$58. lambsplayers.org
Big Daddy is Here, A Play with Music: This piece is a nod to Muddy Waters, “Ma” Rainey and many other black artists who've prominently figured into the evolution of rock 'n' roll and rhythm and blues. Through March 6 at Community Actors Theatre in City Heights. $12-$14. communityactorstheatre.com
* Jane Austen's Emma—a Musical Romantic Comedy: A beautiful and clever young woman who prides herself on her matchmaking is clueless to her own feelings of love. Through March 6 at The Old Globe Theatre mainstage in Balboa Park. $39-$94. oldglobe.org
Leading Ladies: Leo falls in love with a dowager's niece after a series of costume changes and mistaken identities. Through March 6 at Coronado Playhouse in Coronado. $12.50-$25. coronadoplayhouse.com
* Steel Magnolias: Truvy Jones' hair salon is a cultural center of Chinquapin, La.—a place where three generations of women can laugh, cry and celebrate together. Produced by Lamb's Players Theatre, it runs through March 20 at the Ione and Paul Harter Stage in Coronado. $28-$58. lambsplayers.org