Contra Costa Musical Theatre has scored big time as it becomes the first local company to produce the incomparable "Les Miserables," running March 21-April 20 at Walnut Creek's Lesher Center for the Arts.

Starring Noel Anthony as Jean Valjean, Victor Hugo's soaring epic tells the story of a French peasant and his quest for redemption after spending 19 years in jail for stealing a loaf of bread.

Scott Denison directs the large cast full of a "who's who" list of favorite Bay Area performers.

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    Get ready for breathtaking surprises and lots of revelations as Center Rep presents "Sleuth," running March 28-April 26 at the Lesher Center.

    Anthony Shaffer's thriller has entertained audiences for decades with its intricate twists and clever dialogue as it weaves the story of successful British mystery writer Andrew Wyke and his schemes involving his wife's lover. Mark Anderson Phillips directs the high-powered cast of five -- Philip Farrar, Thomas Gorrebeeck, Harold K. Newman, Roger Purnell and Kit Wilder.

    Artistic director Michael Butler will lead a discussion with the cast and designers following the 2:30 p.m. matinee on March 30. For tickets to the show, call 925-943-SHOW or go to www.lesherartscenter.org.

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    Be among the first to experience Butterfield 8's developmental reading of "38 Witnesses" by Jeremy Cole.

    On March 13, 1964, a young woman was stabbed to death in Queens, NY. The police counted 38 witnesses who saw or heard some portion of the attack, yet no one called the police or intervened.

    Cole now tells her story on the 50th anniversary of her passing. Coincidentally, Butterfield 8's reading takes place on March 13 at Cue Productions Live, 1835 Colfax St. in Concord. This free event (donations accepted) includes a talkback with the playwright. For curtain time and more information, go to www.b8company.com or email b8@butterfield8.org.

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    The costumes have been fitted and the songs and dances rehearsed as an energetic cast of 23 young adults readies "Wonderland!" for its March 14 opening at Walnut Creek's Lesher Center for the Arts. Produced by Center Stage Theatre of Diablo Valley and Contra Costa Christian Theatre, this musical version of Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking Glass" runs through March 23. Call 925-943-SHOW or go to www.lesherartscenter.org.

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    Here's your chance to "Wash That Man (or woman) Right Out of Your Hair" as Pittsburg Community Theatre continues its production of "South Pacific" at the historic California Theatre, 351 Railroad Ave. in Pittsburg.

    From "Bali Hai" to "Nothing Like a Dame" to "Some Enchanted Evening," this Rogers and Hammerstein musical is hard to beat. The show runs Friday and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through March 16. Call 925-427-1611 or go to www.pittsburgcommunitytheatre.org.

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    The Vagabond Players reprise their popular presentation of Andrew Bergman's hilarious "Social Security" with three upcoming performances.

    The story about a cranky aging mother has never been funnier, with Sheilah Morrison as said mother and Stu Klitsner as her amour. The cast also includes Marisa Barley, Rhonda Taylor, Gary Mutz and Barry Hunau.

    Vagabond Players tours its shows to senior centers and residential facilities, with several performances available for the general public. The group will perform on March 25 at 7 p.m. in Rossmoor's new event center, and on March 29 and 30 at the El Campanil Theatre in Antioch. Call 925-757-9500 or go to www.vagabondplayersinc.com for tickets.

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    The Eugene O'Neill Foundation recently celebrated its 45th year by honoring Claudia Mauzy Nemir of Alamo and the Role Players Ensemble of Danville. Nemir received the Foundation's Open Gate Award, which honors those who have served as director of the Foundation and whose dedication and service has enhanced the memory of Eugene O'Neill.

    Role Players received the group's Partnership Award in recognition of cooperative efforts to perpetuate the life and literary contribution of O'Neill. Role Players and the Foundation teamed up last year to present O'Neill's "Anna Christie" and "Chris Christopherson."

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    A jilted wife, violent acts and an obsessive need for revenge dominate Euripides' infamous Greek tragedy "Medea."

    Based on the myth of the hero Jason and his wife Medea, the drama shows to just what lengths a woman scorned will go when her world is threatened.

    The African-American Shakespeare Company, under the leadership of L. Peter Callender, brings its own unique take to this timeless tale of deception through March 30 at the Buriel Clay Theater, 762 Fulton Street, in San Francisco. Khary Moye, who did such a powerful performance in Role Players' "Requiem for a Heavyweight," plays Jason. Go to www.african-americanShakes.org.

    Contact Sally Hogarty at sallyhogarty@gmail.com