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Archive for November 2013 – Page 2

WHY I DIED, A COMEDY at the Hudson Theatres

Pauline Adamek – LA Weekly

Katie Rubin’s energetic solo piece presents a typical tale of the struggling actor who, yearning for success, ventures on a journey of spiritual discovery and then cobbles together a string of experiences and calls it a show. The result is a meandering yarn featuring miscellaneous miracles and offering little insight with no clear resolution.
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WhyIDied

Photo by Michael Lamont

 

Bob Verini – ArtsInLA

Why I Died, A Comedy! is an example of the vast and ever-growing subgenre of autobiographical monodrama that might be called Self-Help Theater, works evidently constructed either in lieu of therapy or in tandem with it. In any such entertainment—a word I hope isn’t too frivolous for the sensibilities of the artists involved—the performer details one or more pivotal life events, often though not always wrapped up in some sort of spiritual quest, and fills us in on how he or she has struggled and changed and come out on the other side.
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Now running through January.

A PERFECT LIKENESS at Fremont Centre Theatre

David C. Nichols – LA Times

Charles Dickens meets Lewis Carroll, literally, in “A Perfect Likeness” at Fremont Centre Theatre in South Pasadena. This beautifully appointed two-hander about the authors of “Great Expectations” and “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” isn’t exactly deep-dish, but it should appeal to those seeking a pleasantly literate 90 minutes in the theater.
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Photo by Will Hastings

Photo by Will Hastings

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Charles Dodgson, more popularly known as Lewis Carroll, was a fascinating study in contrasts: a conservative, reticent, religiously devout lecturer in mathematics whose incredible imagination bred Alice in Wonderland and other wildly fantastical novels and poems. In writer-director Daniel Rover Singer’s 90-minute two-hander A Perfect Likeness, the prim Dodgson (Daniel J. Roberts) spends an afternoon with an even more celebrated literary icon, Charles Dickens (Bruce Ladd), struggling to reconcile his prior adoration for the universally acclaimed older writer with an appalled response to Dickens’ rough language, bald earthiness and frank skepticism.
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Now running through December 22.

TWELVE ANGRY MEN at the Pasadena Playhouse

Melinda Schupmann – Arts In LA

TAM

Photo by Jim Cox Photography

From 1954 to the present, Reginald Rose’s Emmy-nominated teleplay on CBS’s Studio One has been rewritten as a theatrical piece, was made into an Academy Award–winning film with some of the finest actors in the business, and has been reworked by theater companies over the years, even as 12 Angry Women. In this Pasadena Playhouse production, director Sheldon Epps has gathered an accomplished group of actors who have the heft and charisma to tackle this nearly archetypal work.
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Now running through December 1.

LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL at the Secret Rose Theatre

Neal Weaver – LA Weekly

Ketti Frings’ 1958 adaptation of Thomas Wolfe’s autobiographical novel tells the story of young writer-to-be Eugene Gant (Grant Tambellini) and his embattled efforts to break free of his grasping, controlling mother, Eliza (Alison Blanchard), and his savagely dysfunctional family, and acquire an education. Frings’ script won a Pulitzer Prize in its day, but in some respects time hasn’t been kind to it, particularly in the early scenes, which seem weak, unfocused and dated.
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LookHomeward

Now running through December 14.

THE LION IN WINTER at the Sierra Madre Playhouse

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

James Goldman’s smart 1968 drama re-imagines a nightmarish home-for-the-holidays reunion for the dysfunctional family of 12th century monarch Henry II and his estranged wife, Eleanor (historically, a brilliant duo whose early political conquests rocked their generation) . Thirty years into the marriage, relations have soured, with Eleanor (Diane Hurley) under indefinite house arrest for plotting Henry (John Rafter Lee)’s overthrow, but furloughed on this holiday occasion to take part in determining his heir.
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Lion

Photo by Gina Long

 

THE LATE, LATE SHOW at the Bootleg Theatre

Mayank Keshaviak – LA Weekly

It’s probably not surprising that a show about a vampire that opened on Halloween night features great costumes and is quite the visual spectacle. A fantasia spanning three acts and three vastly different time periods in the life of 300-year-old former slave Porphyrion (creator and performer Paul Outlaw), the piece is a playground for visual exploration, and director Asher Hartman and scenic and lighting designer François-Pierre Couture take full advantage.
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Late

Bootleg Theatre

 

GIDION’S KNOT at the Pasadena Playhouse/Carrie Hamilton Theatre

GidionsKnot

 

Pauline Adamek – LA Weekly

Aaron Francis’ bold scenic design has the audience seated in school desks for Gidion’s Knot, getting you into the right frame of mind for Johnna Adams’ intense one-act showdown between a fifth-grade teacher and a parent. Corryn (Vonessa Martin) shows up for a teacher-parent conference, having been summoned a few days earlier by Miss Clark (Paula Cale Lisbe) after she inexplicably suspended Corryn’s son, Gidion.

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 Sharon Perlmutter  -  Talkin’ Broadway

Furious is back and as furious as ever. Let the people rejoice! Well, the people who love dark, confrontational theatre that takes them for a hell of a ride and leaves them drained afterward—let them rejoice. Furious is back in residence at Pasadena Playhouse’s Carrie Hamilton Theatre, and I’m happy to report that the company’s temporary absence hasn’t dulled its edge.

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Now running through November 24.

LONE-ANON at Rogue Machine Theatre

Steven Leigh Morris – LA Weekly

Lone-Anon is, at core, an Orwellian social satire, set five years in the future, when the NSA and/or FBI has set up a watch list for people with antisocial tendencies. For instance, if you’re invited to a party on Facebook and you don’t respond, you may well land on the list and find yourself in a court-ordered therapy session for loners…
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A GOOD GRIEF at the Lounge Theatre

Steven Leigh Morris – LA Weekly

Coincidentally, two unrelated plays about group therapy opened last week in small theaters less than a mile from one another. Neil McGowan’s comedy Lone-Anon, about maladroit loners subjected to court-ordered therapy, is running late nights at Rogue Machine on Pico near La Brea, while Leslie Hardy‘s A Good Grief airs the dirty linen of its grief-struck characters at Hollywood’s Lounge Theatre, in a production by Fierce Backbone.

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good-grief

DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE at the Actors Co-Op David Schall Theatre

JH

Photo by Lindsay Schnebly

Bob Verini -   ArtsInLA

 With two weekends to go until Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde vacates Actors Co-op in Hollywood, those who enjoy horror stories brought to the stage don’t have many chances to take it in. But they should make the effort. An ensemble of six sports fine accents and great versatility in bringing to life Jeffrey Hatcher’s adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson novella.
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Now running through November 17.

YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN at Richard and Karen Carpenter Performing Arts Center

Melinda Schupmann – Arts In LA

yf

Photo by Salvador Farfan

Mel Brooks’s very funny 1974 film became The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein in late 2007. Receiving mixed reviews from the critics, it nonetheless played on Broadway for more than 500 performances, and it began a very successful touring show in 2009. Its appeal comes from a lively cast, very silly jokes, and energized musical numbers.
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Now running through November 17.

THE BLACK SUITS at the Kirk Douglas Theatre

blacksuits

Photo by Craig Schwartz

This world premiere musical, now at Kirk Douglas Theatre, manages to get plenty of new wine into very old, if not downright dusty, bottles. The saga of the making of the eponymous garage band soars despite a paper-thin, clichéd plot; derivative character types; and QED themes of friendship and youthful dream-making.

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Now running through November 24.