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TAKARAZUKA!!! at East West Players

Photo by Michael Lamont

Photo by Michael Lamont

David C. Nichols – LA Times

A high degree of skill and individuality accompanies “Takarazuka!!!” at East West Players. In its elegant West Coast premiere, Susan Soon He Stanton’s very promising albeit still-forming play with music uses the famed all-female troupe in the titular Japanese city as a backdrop to an intriguing study of gender roles, intergenerational schisms and the cost of success. Read more…

Now running through Dec. 7.

RONNIE BURKETT THEATRE OF MARIONETTES: THE DAISY THEATRE at the Actors’ Gang Theatre

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Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Master marionettiste Ronnie Burkett pays homage to vaudeville and its indefatigable performers in his latest piece, which played all too briefly this past week as part of UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance Program. The name Daisy Theatre derives inspiration from the underground puppet cabarets that flourished in Prague during the Nazi Occupation. Read more…

The production is closed.

THE OLD WOMAN at Royce Hall, UCLA

Photo by Lucie Jansch

Photo by Lucie Jansch

Myron Meisel – Stage Raw

One of my seminal experiences in 40 years of Los Angeles theatergoing was the single performance in 1977 at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre of the first local exposure to the work of Robert Wilson, I was sitting on my patio this guy appeared I thought I was hallucinating, a collaboration with Lucinda Childs. Beyond being transfixing and innovative, it embodied a transformative vision for a total theater in which every constituent creative element – movement, text, light and sound and set design, tempo – was marshaled toward an unique sense of charged space and time. Read more…

THE PENIS CHRONICLES at East West Players

Photo by Brian Perez

 

Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

Apparently playwright Tom Yewell wanted to provide a male variation on The Vagina Monologues. The title might suggest that the show is a bit of pornography or an exercise in sensationalism, but the play is neither, despite a brief interlude of male nudity. It is, rather, a series of eight engaging and provocative monologues, dealing with male vulnerabilities and sexual dilemmas. Read more…

Now running through December 14.

A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE at Sacred Fools Theatre

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Pauline Adamek  – Stage Raw

Oscar Wilde’s satire of English upper-class society has solemn and feminist undertones to it, making a precursor of the “dramedy of manners.” After all, it was first performed in 1893 at London’s Haymarket Theatre. The titular “Woman of No Importance” turns out to be a survivalist who suffered scandal, estrangement from her father (and his fortune) and single motherhood in an age where that route caused irreparable damage to one’s reputation, and social ostracism. Read more…

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Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Sacred Fools is famous for mounting edgy adventuresome productions. Every so often they take a shot at one of the classics: Richard III a couple of years ago, and now A Woman of No Importance, a drawing room comedy by Oscar Wilde concerned with gender roles and the sexual double standard. Read more…

Now running through December 20.

BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS at Torrance Theatre Company

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Dany Margolies  -  Arts In LA

Widely considered the best of writer Neil Simon’s well-made plays, Brighton Beach Memoirs—about a Jewish family in 1930s Brooklyn—has landed in the South Bay through Dec. 19 at Torrance Theater Company. But can this Southern California cast give it that New York zing and Jewish bittersweetness?

Read more…

Now running through December 14.

SPRING AWAKENING at the Long Beach Playhouse

Photo courtesy of Long Beach Playhouse

Photo courtesy of the Long Beach Playhouse

Shirle Gottlieb – Gazette Newspapers

Set in 1891 when Germany was a rigid, class-oriented culture — one that was strictly dominated by male authority-figures — “Spring Awakening” was censored and banned from the stage. Those in charge considered it to be unfit for anyone in Germany’s “proper, well-brought-up society.” Resurrected and presented to audiences more than 100 years later, it was enormously successful as an authentic slice of drama. Read more…

Now running through November 22.

 

KINKY BOOTS at the Pantages Theatre

Photo by Lawrence K. Ho, Los Angeles Times

Photo by Lawrence K. Ho, Los Angeles Times

Margaret Gray – LA Times

Would you believe that in the Broadway juggernaut “Kinky Boots,” which has just arrived at the Pantages Theatre, nobody even wears boots?

Of course you wouldn’t. I’m kidding. The show, which won six Tonys last year, including awards for musical, choreography and score, fulfills half of the promise of its title: boots, and plenty of ‘em. By the end of the evening, the stage has become a forest of colorful, thigh-high, stiletto-heeled, feathered and tasseled and sequined contraptions that look as though they could snap a badly planted ankle like a twig. Read more…

Dany Margolies  -  Arts In LA

Please, if you can’t tolerate disco music and you loathe musicals about accepting people for who they are, skip this one. If, however, you appreciate the propulsive glory of that musical genre, and if the theme of acceptance cheers you, this show is worth your while. Read more…

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Now running through November 30.

THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME at the La Jolla Playhouse

Photo by Kevin Berne

Photo by Kevin Berne

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

When Disney Theatricals launched an epic musical version of the 1996 animated film in Berlin in 1999, The Hunchback of Notre Dame was the first Disney production to open outside the United States. With additional songs by the original writers Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz and a book and direction by the acclaimed James Lapine, the show broke box-office records and ran for three years. Now the producers have mounted the first U.S. production at San Diego’s La Jolla Playhouse but with a new book by Peter Parnell and direction by Scott Schwartz. Read more…

 

CANNIBAL! THE MUSICAL – Coeurage Theatre Company at the Lyric-Hyperion Theatre & Café

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Photo by Nardeep Khurmi

Pauline Adamek  – Stage Raw

Trey Parker is best known for being one half of the duo who created the irreverent animated TV show South Park. He and Matt Stone also recently earned Tony Awards for their smash-hit musical The Book of Mormon. Working solo, Parker’s hysterically funny western spoof Cannibal! The Musical is an appealing mash-up of Mormon and South Park… Read more…

Now running through November 22.

 

COMPLETENESS at VS. Theatre

Photo by Ed Krieger

Photo by Ed Krieger

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Itamar Moses’ Completeness is chockfull of discourse about protein processes and algorithmic probabilities, and if, like myself, you’re not of a scientific bent, you could drift off amidst the disquisition and the theory.  Chances are you won’t, however. As directed by Matt Pfeiffer, VS. Theatre’s current production is so smart and the ensemble so crisp and so charming that despite the yaddiyadda, one stays engaged.

Read more…

Now running through December 7.

 

SERIAL KILLER, BARBIE at the NoHo Arts Center

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Les Spindle –  Edge on the Net

This fall, a string of new musicals that spoof horror films was kicked off with “Scary Musical, The Musical” and “Scream!” Those productions are now joined by ”Serial Killer Barbie,”featuring a book and lyrics by Colette Freedman, with music and additional lyrics by Nickella Moschetti. Despite its amusing title, “Barbie” is less concerned with sending up the horror genre than offering a boisterous off-the-wall satire of adolescent angst and crass social values. Read more…

Now running through December 21.