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Archive for July 2012

Incident at Vichy, Sierra Madre Playhouse

Production photo by Michael Sirota.

 

Incident at Vichy by Arthur Miller.

David C. Nichols – LA Times

Resolute craft drives the cautionary content of Incident at Vichy at the Sierra Madre Playhouse. Arthur Miller’s 1964 study of detainees in Nazi-occupied France isn’t exactly top tier, but when executed as intensely as this gripping revival, it might as well be.  Read more…

West Side Story, Chance Theater

Doug Catiller / True Image Studio

 

West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents.

David C. Nichols – LA Times

It’s not just the exposure to countless editions of West Side Story that causes us to stagger dazed and elated from the Chance Theater. Less a revival than a whole-scale reinvention, this stunning chamber version of the landmark 1957 musical by Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents yields breathtaking, deeply moving results.  Read more…

 

Shirle Gottlieb – Stage Happenings

As I suggested in my review of Reborning, all lovers of  musical theater should plan ahead for The Chance Theater’s next  production, West Side Story.  Read more…

 

 

 

 

 

The Pianist Of Willesden Lane, Geffen Playhouse

Photo by Michael Lamont.

 

The Pianist Of Willesden Lane by Mona Golabek.

 

Mayank Keshaviah – LA Weekly

History is most powerful when we see the “all” through the small — the panorama of the textbook through the peephole of the personal. Acclaimed pianist Mona Golabek give us just that in sharing the story of her mother, Lisa Jura, a budding piano virtuoso in late 1930s Vienna.  Read more…

 

David C. Nichols – LA Times

In The Pianist of Willesden Lane, keyboard virtuoso Mona Golabek essentially channels her mother, pianist Lisa Jura, and strikes musical and emotional notes that transcend technical display or biographical sentiment.   Read more…

 

Fluffy Bunnies in a Field of Daisies, Arena Stage at Theatre of Arts

Photo by Svanh.

 

Fluffy Bunnies in a Field of Daisies by Matt Chaffee.

 

Mayank Keshaviah – LA Weekly

“It’s not easy to say what this play is about. It’s not that kind of play,” says writer-director Matt Chaffee in the program notes, and he’s quite accurate in his assessment. What the play is about, he goes on to say, is “four friends figuring it out … or not figuring it out. … It’s about entertainment … and fun … and people.” Correct again.  Read more…

 

The Irish Curse, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble

 

The Irish Curse by Martin Casella.

 

Bob Verini – ArtsInLA

As a dramatic event, Martin Casella’s The Irish Curse is a complete and utter contrivance. But within its rickety structure are some pungent, surprising observations on character delivered with a good deal of sincerity, and that’s not nothing.  Read more…

 

 

 

 

 

Macbeth, The Antaeus Company

 

Macbeth by Shakespeare.

 

Dany Margolies – ArtsinLA

Are we, as an educated audience, expected to know exactly when Macbeth “turns”— when the pathologically evil ambition overtakes his soul? Or must the change in him be left open to interpretation? The answer may determine which cast to see in this double-cast production of Shakespeare’s “Scottish play,” illuminatingly directed by Jessica Kubzansky.  Read more…

 

Terry Morgan – LAist

Macbeth has never been my favorite Shakespeare play. I don’t have anything against it, but it’s never spoken to me in the way King Lear or Hamlet has, doesn’t have quite the flights of poetical brilliance. That being said, when the combined talents of the Antaeus Company take on a particular work, it’s always worthy of one’s time. The new production of Macbeth is expertly done, highlighted by Jessica Kubzansky’s deft direction and superb performances from its two lead actors.  Read more…

 

Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

In Shakespeare’s macabre and unsettling tragedy, a ruthlessly ambitious Scottish general seizes the throne with the help of his scheming wife and guidance from a trio of witches. He then commits further murders to maintain a tenuous grip on his newly won power.  Adopting an unusual approach, director Jessica Kubzansky opens her production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, now running at the Antaeus classical theater Company, with a scene not scripted by The Bard.  Read more…

 

David C. Nichols – Back Stage

The dagger strokes of Macbeth at the Antaeus Company convey vaulting ambition but variable horror. Director Jessica Kubzansky’s intelligent, evocative take on Shakespeare’s daunting tragedy of treason and the supernatural is sensible to feeling as well as to sight, up to a point.  Read more…

 

 

 

The Exorcist, Geffen Playhouse

Production photo by Michael Lamont.

 

The Exorcist by John Pielmeier.

 

Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

The Geffen Playhouse have commissioned John Pielmeier to adapt author William Peter Blatty’s legendary horror story to the stage for a world-premiere presentation, and it’s difficult to comprehend why. Why take a sensational novel that was cleverly parlayed into a hit movie to great effect and then – almost forty years later – adapt that story for the theatrical stage? Why?  Read more…

 

Dany Margolies – ArtsInLA

Give John Doyle’s direction its due: It lends an effective visual and aural atmosphere to a problematic script. Regrettably, the direction does not quite create the fearsome battleground presumably intended by the writers. John Pielmeier’s scrip, in its premiere here, is of course based on William Peter Blatty’s iconic novel. Missing from the direction is thorough-enough dramaturgy and any passion—maternal or religious.  Read more…

 

Sharon Perlmutter – Talkin’ Broadway

When you enter the theatre for the world premiere adaptation of The Exorcist, you’ll notice that the set looks church-like, with a massive wooden cross suspended over the stage. There is nothing subtle about it.  Read more…

 

Bob Verini – Variety

The Geffen’s updated stage adaptation clearly hopes helmer John Doyle’s theatricality will compensate for cinematic pea-soup vomit and a moppet’s spinning head, but his black magic never quite rises to the spine-chilling. Read more…

 

 

Stoneface, Sacred Fools Theatre Company

Photo by Shaela Cook

 

Stoneface by Vanessa Claire Stewart.

 

Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

Be advised – Vanessa Claire Stewart’s wonderful play about Buster Keaton is not a barrel of laughs. Dealing largely with the latter, dismal years of the legendary silent film comedy star’s career and failed marriages (two), many of the dramatic scenes are truly heartbreaking. That’s thanks to superbly subtle and emotional performances from both French Stewart and Joe Fria as Buster Keaton (older and younger, respectively).  Read more…

 

 

 

 

War Horse, Center Theatre Group

Production photo by Brinkhoff/Mögenburg

War Horse by Nick Stafford.

 

Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

War Horse, the spectacular stage show that captivated Steven Spielberg, is now playing at the Ahmanson Theater in Downtown LA until July 29, 2012.  A unique theatrical experience that combines intense drama with elaborate staging and dazzling puppetry, War Horse is essentially a love story between a boy and his horse. At the heart of the show are full-sized puppets that thrillingly bring breathing, galloping and charging horses to life on stage.  Read more…

 

DanyMargolies – ArtInLA

“Where have you been?” asks soldier Albert of his beloved horse Joey near the conclusion of this epic tale. Yes, we’ve spoiled the ending, as you now can be certain man and steed make it through World War I. But the answer to the question is the artistic—dare it be called unique—recounting of a straightforward but unfortunately historic tale, based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo, adapted by Nick Stafford, and directed by Bijan Sheibani based on the original direction of Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris.  Read more…

 

Bob Verini – Variety

A total theater experience sure to dazzle, as they used to say, children from 8 to 80. Read more…

 

Melinda Schupmann – Showmag

For its range of powerful emotion and dazzling theatricality, this production raises the bar for what theater companies can produce when all the right elements are aligned. A searing indictment of war and its dehumanizing anguish is at the core of the story, and looking at it through the eyes of a boy and a horse is wrenching and poignant. Nearly a million horses were forced into cavalry combat against war weapons and most perished in the “war to end all wars.”  Read more…