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Archive for September 2013 – Page 2

THE LARAMIE PROJECT: TEN YEARS LATER at the Davidson/Valenti Theatre

Laramie 3573

Photo by Win Win Imaging

Bob Verini -   ArtsInLA

Time heals everything, so the song goes, and a quick overview of history reveals there’s no calamity so atrocious that the passage of time won’t soften its impact. Shed any tears over the massacre of the Huguenots lately? How about the victims of the Children’s Crusade? Fortunately, art often comes forward to try to ensure that an event’s power will not be blunted for future generations.

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Les Spindle –  Edge on the Net

Though “The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later” has previously been presented in Los Angeles as a staged reading, and a full production was presented this past spring at Orange County’s Chance Theater, this sequel is currently making its L.A. bow in a fully staged rendition.

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Neal Weaver  – LA Weekly

The original production of The Laramie Project rode on the wave of passion and grief spawned by the murder of Matthew Shepard. The current work, which looks at Laramie and the related issues as they appear 10 years after the fact, is necessarily more contemplative and thoughtful, but it builds up its own brand of steam. Read more…

Sharon Perlmutter  -  Talkin’ Broadway

I admit to a certain reluctance to see The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later. The original play was so extraordinary, I feared this would be one of those sequels which is not only weaker than the original, but which somehow spoils the memory of its predecessor. Beyond that, the subject matter alone was somewhat lesser. The original Laramie Project asked what kind of town could give birth to a crime as vile as the murder of Matthew Shepard; the follow-up asks what, if anything, has changed…..Read more…

David C. Nichols – LA Times

History forgotten is history repeated, which underscores “The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later” in its Los Angeles premiere at the Gay & Lesbian Center’s Davidson/Valentini Theatre.

This potent follow-up to the landmark Tectonic Theater Project docudrama about community reactions to Matthew Shepard’s 1998 murder reminds anew of how theater provides context in ways no other form can match.   Read more…

Now running through November 16.

THE BURNT PART BOYS at the Third Street Theatre


Photo by Elizabeth Mercer











   Bob Verini -   ArtsInLA

The Burnt Part Boys, now at the Third Street Theater in a co-production with West Coast Ensemble Theater, is an energetic hoot-’n’-hollerin’ musical play that would benefit from a little less hoot-’n’-hollerin’ and a little more straight talk. Read more…

David C. Nichols – LA Times

If “Floyd Collins” and “Stand By Me” joined forces, the results might resemble “The Burnt Part Boys” at Third Street Theatre.  Mariana Elder, Chris Miller and Nathan Tysen’s chamber tuner about the lingering legacy of a West Virginia mining disaster receives an impressive West Coast premiere. Read more…

Les Spindle –  Frontiers L.A.

Making its L.A. debut, The Burnt Part Boys, which had its New York bow at Playwrights Horizons in 2010, at first brings to mind Adam Guettel’s fact-inspired 1996 musical drama, Floyd Collins. Like that earlier show, Burnt Part Boys offers a folk-tale-styled story that revolves around a tragic mining accident in the backwoods of America. Read more…

Now running through October 20.

FUNNY GIRL at Plummer Auditorium


Photo by Isaac Jacobs











David C. Nichols – LA Times

 A star is reborn in “Funny Girl,” now marching its band out in Fullerton (and soon after, Redondo Beach). This solid 3D Theatricals revival of the classic 1964 musical generally engrosses, and triumphs in lead Nicole Parker.

Shining in every detail, Parker’s nuanced, platinum-voiced Fanny Brice withstands the Streisand factor — a hurdle for every Fanny after the role launched Barbra to superstardom — with breathtaking results. From first entrance on designer Stephen Gifford’s initial bare-stage setting to emotional final moments, Parker reinvents the character, her comic mastery, palpable honesty and soaring chops creating a memorable turn.  Read more…

 Bob Verini -   ArtsInLA

3–D Theatricals’s handsomely mounted but anemic Funny Girl has taken the title too literally. Nicole Parker’s Fanny Brice practically bounces off the walls to get laughs. The actor seems to have internalized much of the available video and audio of the legendary comedienne, and channels Brice’s oy-vey, Baby Snooks mannerisms rather well.
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Now running through September 22.

IN MY CORNER at the Odyssey Theatre



Photo by Enci Box










Mayank Keshaviak – LA Weekly

The theme of fathers and sons occupies well-trodden ground in the theater, but Joe Orrach’s exploration of his relationship with his Puerto Rican father is unique in its presentation. Having been a professional boxer and tap dancer, Mr. Orrach is hardly an average Joe, and he and co-writer Lizbeth Hasse infuse this solo show with elements of his former lives, cleverly employing choreography, a jump rope and a speed bag in the storytelling … not to mention a live jazz trio.   Read more…

Now running through November 3.

THE BELLS OF WEST 87TH at Greenway Court Theatre

Photo by Maria Halac

Photo by Maria Halac










Neal Weaver – LA Weekly

Elin Hampton’s play derives its comedy from the antics of an eccentric family. At 39, Molly (Cameron Meyer) has never escaped from the tyranny of her critical, exploitative parents, who have decided she’s a lesbian because she won’t wear makeup, and taunt her about her lack of a social life.
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Now running through October 13.

HAMLET at the Odyssey Theatre


Photo by Enci Box










Pauline Adamek  – LA Weekly

An all-female production of Hamlet — why?! The gender-bending (and multicultural) casting permits this motley cast of women to tackle the tragedy’s meaty classic roles but adds nothing to the production. Rather, it distracts and detracts. Lisa Wolpe and Natsuko Ohama co-direct and star (as Hamlet and Polonius, respectively) in a lively rendition that gallops toward its (implied) bloody finale. Read more…

Sharon Perlmutter – Talkin’ Broadway

I sometimes judge High School Shakespeare festivals. My biggest complaint about the performances is often what I’ve come to call “chair-throwing”: when young actors express high emotions by screaming and throwing the props around without any apparent justification. There’s nothing in their performances that leads you to believe these characters are so angry, and feel so trapped and powerless by their anger, that they’re going to take it out on inanimate objects. And to all of those chair-throwing kids I say, “Go see Lisa Wolpe playing Hamlet.”
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Dany Margolies  -  Arts In LA

Here’s an aphorism that could have been included with Polonius’s fatherly advice to his children: Turnabout is fair play. Today we find it incomprehensible that women were not allowed to appear onstage when this play premiered. In this production, the cast is entirely female. And at many times throughout, you could prove it only by the program.  Read more…

Now running thru October 27.


Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Adapter and director Ramon Monxi Flores weaves Mayan mythology into this otherwise predictable message drama about a gangbanger and his uncertain journey toward redemption. Originating from a 1992 script by Victor Tamayo, which focused primarily on drug abuse, the familiar plot revolves around Carlos (Johnny Ortiz), a parentless youth living an empty, violent existence.  Read more…


Photo by Ed Krieger


Now running through September 29.


BARE: A ROCK MUSICAL at the Hayworth Theatre


Photo by Leigh Schindler


Les Spindle –  Frontiers L.A.

Following its aptly acclaimed 2000 world premiere run at the Hudson Theatre in Hollywood, the groundbreaking bare: A Pop Opera (now retitled bare: A Rock Musical) met with success off-Broadway and in regional theaters, developing a strong cult following. The passionate and musically vibrant pop-rock piece returns to L.A. following some sad news. This musical’s prodigiously talented and award-winning composer/co-librettist Damon Intrabartolo recently died in his hometown of Phoenix, following a prodigious career as an orchestrator and conductor and the composer of music for theater and film. Director Calvin Remsberg’s well-cast and musically superb production serves as a fitting tribute to Intrabartolo’s distinguished legacy.
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Pauline Adamek – LA Weekly

A closeted gay couple in a Catholic boarding school struggle with their secret love affair. Peter (a superb Payson Lewis) wants to come out to his mom and the world, but Jason (an equally outstanding Jonah Platt) refuses, dreading the fallout. Jon Hartmere and Damon Intrabartolo’s contemporary rock opera is uplifting despite its sorrowful elements…
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Now running through September 22.

REBECCA’S GAMBLE at Theatrecraft Playhouse

Photo by Rick Walters

Photo by Rick Walters

Dany Margolies – Arts In LA

Robert Begam and Art Shulman wrote this play as a courtroom drama. Their story could also pass for a gothic tale. Unfortunately, it totters between styles, and director Rick Walters makes a simultaneous case for both. And so this production sits precariously, leaving its audience wondering how to react.
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Now running through October 6.

PROMETHEUS BOUND at the Getty Villa

"Prometheus Bound"

Photo by Craig Schwartz











Bob Verini -   ArtsInLA

As Greek tragedies go, Prometheus Bound poses something of a staging nightmare. There’s no betrayed wife out to murder her own children and her rival, no king brought to understand the truth about the older woman he married. Instead, it’s a solemn religioso pageant in which the god who created mortal man, and went on to endow us with intelligence, hope, skills, and fire, is sentenced to be chained to a rock face and tormented for eternity, in perhaps the world’s first example of no good deed going unpunished.
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Steven Leigh Morris – LA Weekly

In his program note to his elegant and fervent staging of the 5th-century Greek tragedy, Prometheus Bound director Travis Preston writes, “The dramaturgy of Prometheus Bound asks us to question common assumptions of theater practice — assumptions related to individual psychology, personality, and the nature of human motivation and identity. This exceptional play urges investigation of other pathways,” which Preston goes on to describe as “communal identity, gestural power and the iconic.”
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Now running through September 28.

COYOTE ON A FENCE at Arena Stage


Rob-Nagle-Cody-Kearsley-in-Coyote-on-a-Fence.-Photo-by-Jujube-Zaoer Dany Margolies  -  Arts In LA

Coyotes don’t play fetch and greet us at the door and guard us in our homes. Coyotes are the predator version of our snuggly pups. They are the canines with the need to kill, excused—but not usually forgiven—because they’re programmed that way. Do we know of people like that?
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Steven Leigh Morris  – LA Weekly

Solid performances by Rob Nagle and Cody Kearsley as death-row inmates in side-by-side cells distinguish Theatre Arts’ production of Bruce Graham’s 2000 social-issue drama. College-educated John Brennan (Nagle, in a contemplative and wise performance) edits the prison newspaper and writes eloquent obituaries for the men being executed in their Alabama penitentiary with alarming frequency and considerable public outcry. Read more…

Now running through September 15.

AUTO PARTS at the Fremont Centre Theatre

auto_parts_aNeal Weaver – LA Weekly

Writer-director Steve Sajich’s play consists of four tenuously interrelated scenes, centering on the murder of a hooker. For reasons best known to Sajich, the four scenes are juggled in performance, with the audience deciding what their order will be. But this seems like a mere gimmick, designed to keep us from realizing just how thin and unsubstantial the play is.
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Now running through September 20.