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Archive for March 2014

PAUL ROBESON at the Ebony Repertory Theatre

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Margaret Gray – LA Times

Even the sparest account of the life of Paul Robeson, the lawyer, actor, singer and civil rights activist who died in 1976, has a mythic power: He accomplished more, against greater odds, than seems quite humanly possible.

Phillip Hayes Dean’s one-man play “Paul Robeson” (1977), in a revival directed by the playwright at Ebony Repertory Theatre, derives real momentum from this astonishing biography — then fritters it away.Read more…

Running through March 30.  Additional performances April 18-20

A SONG AT TWILIGHT at the Pasadena Playouse

Photo by Michael Lamont

Photo by Michael Lamont

Bob Verini -   Arts In LA

Noël Coward’s A Song at Twilight first saw the light of day as the centerpiece of 1966’s Suite in Three Keys, a two-night triptych of works set in a single luxurious Swiss hotel suite. Eight years later, with one play jettisoned, Song reached Broadway as part of Noël Coward in Two Keys. Now it stands by itself at Pasadena Playhouse, though there’s nothing one-key, or one-note for that matter, about Art Manke’s incisively acted production. Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Last year, the Pasadena Playhouse presented the frothy concoction Fallen Angels, a light comedy about marriage and jealousy amidst lots of alcohol. The elements in A Song at Twilight remain similar to his earlier work, but the consequences carry more weight. Despite being written in 1966, when British law still prosecuted homosexuals, the play openly contemplates homosexual “outing” among celebrities, judging the character not for being gay, but for damaging others by remaining closeted. Read more…

Now running through April 13.

 

 

ORPHEUS at the Paul Getty Museum’s Getty Villa

4Larks - Orpheus - by Eugene Lee

Photo by Eugene Lee

Pauline Adamek  – ArtsBeatLA

Four Larks’ production of Orpheus made its premier last night in Downtown Los Angeles. Previously developed and presented at the J. Paul Getty Museum’s Getty Villa as part of their Theater Lab Series (March 2014), the workshopped production then moved to a Downtown warehouse, where audiences had to traverse a fabric maze before they entered the performance space. What greeted us upon entry was an upper floor transformed by tree branches festooned with small round opaque light globes, dimly lit. Old suitcases, books and assorted but well-selected junk littered the sand covered stage. Live musicians were seated on boxes upstage right.   What followed was a 70-minute one act expressionistic interpretation of the classical Greek myth of Orpheus and his forlorn yet bold descent into the underworld to retrieve his beloved Eurydice, snatched away from him on their wedding day by a viper’s fatal bite. Read more…

Now running through Wed., April 2.

L.A. DELI at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute

Photo by Ed Krieger

Photo by Ed Krieger

 

Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

Set in a Hollywood delicatessen, this new comedy by Sam Bobrick (Norman Is That You?, Murder at the Howard Johnson’s) consists of 12 snarky but good-humored sketches about the movie business and its denizens. Read more…

Now running through April 27.

IS THERE SEX AFTER MARRIAGE at Two Roads Theatre

SexAfterMarriageSylviaSpross

Photo by Sylvia Spross

Pauline Adamek  – Stage Raw

Playwright-director Jeff Gould has found a formula that works. Several years ago he had a huge hit with his play It’s Just Sex!, which played off-Broadway and all over the world and enjoyed a two-year run at Studio City’s tiny Two Roads Theatre. Gould has returned to the 56-seat house with a world premiere comedy that is an offshoot of his former hit.

Read more…

Now running through May 4.

TARTUFFE at A Noise Within

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Bob Verini -   Arts In LA

For Tartuffe to achieve maximum comic, emotional, and thematic impact, the privileged Orgon must serve as the central figure. He must be a misanthrope (a type not unknown to Molière) well and truly disgusted with the world’s vanities as typified by his frivolous, feckless family. Orgon’s profound despair explains his retreat into excessive piety, and it’s what renders him vulnerable to the spell of a seemingly holy visionary. Read more…

Now running through May 24.

FIDDLER ON THE ROOF at the Westchester Playhouse

Photo by Shari Barrett

Photo by Shari Barrett

Dany Margolies  -  Arts In LA

The score of the classic Fiddler on the Roof is among American musical theater’s best. In this production, the music and lyrics get top-tier treatment. But the direction misses opportunities, while so tightly cramming performers into scenes that the audience may fear for the performers’ safety. Among those squandered elements, a too-glib protagonist and his happy-go-lucky wife fail to develop any historical and personal gravitas.

Read more…

Now running through April 19.

LEND ME A TENOR at Actors Co-op

Photo by Lindsay Schnebly

Photo by Lindsay Schnebly

Neal Weaver  – ArtsInLA

The central character in Ken Ludwig’s farce is famous Italian tenor Tito Merelli (Floyd Vanbuskirk), who’s scheduled to appear in the title role in Verdi’s Otello for the Cleveland Opera Company. But Tito is well-known for his heavy drinking, womanizing, and general troublemaking. On the day of the performance, Tito has overindulged at lunch and is at loggerheads with his fiery and tempestuous wife, Maria (Gina D’Acciaro).   Read more…

Now running through May 4.

TOP GIRLS at the Antaeus Company

latopgirlsTopGirlsDaniel-G-300x200 (1)Pauline Adamek  – Stage Raw

During the ‘greed is good’ ‘80s and the tumultuous era of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, London-born playwright Caryl Churchill informed her scathing political satires with an examination of feminist themes — challenging and charting the evolving notions of gender and sexuality in the workplace. Her plays were bold, different, and felt thrillingly immediate. They were of their time, yet they still scorch.  Read more…

Terry Morgan  -  Talkin’ Broadway

Top Girls, by Caryl Churchill, is a play considered a modern classic, but for some unknown reason it doesn’t seem to get produced very often. One would think there would be quite a lot of theatre companies looking for a play with plenty of interesting roles for women, but I’ve been reviewing theatre in L.A. since 1997, and this is the first time I’ve seen it done. Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

The 1982 Top Girls starts with a loopily sustained tour de force: a dinner party to celebrate the elevation of Marlene (Rebecca Mozo) to a top management post at her London job placement firm at which the guests are all legendary prototypical women of centuries past. From the mythical 9th-century Pope Joan (Elizabeth Swain) to Lady Nijo (Kimiko Gelman), the 13th century concubine to the Japanese Emperor (and later itinerant Buddhist nun), to Griselda (Shannon Lee Clair), the prototypical obedient wife from Boccaccio, Petrarch, Chaucer and numerous operas, to Dull Gret (aka Mad Meg) (Abigail Marks), a folkloric Flemish peasant immortalized in the painting by Bruegel the Elder in 1562, and finally celebrity Victorian naturalist and explorer Isabella Bird (Karianne Flaathen), they comprise one helluva guest list. Read more.

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

In the famous first scene of Top Girls, Caryl Churchill’s 1982 play about gender and class, a group of celebrated women from history and literature gather at a restaurant for food, drink and convivial conversation. They arrive at the behest of Marlene (Sally Hughes and Rebecca Mozo, alternating in this double-cast production at Antaeus Company), the steely up-and-coming manager of a top-notch London employment agency and an enthusiastic supporter of Thatcherism, with its twin notions of free market and personal responsibility. Read more…

Now running through May 4.

A MAN OF NO IMPORTANCE at the Torrance Theatre Company

aman

Photo by Brad La Verne

 

Dany Margolies  -  Arts In LA

“A movie is cold comfort for a man who loves the theater,” says Alfie Byrne, this musical’s hero. That pretty much sets the tone for the character and for this show. Its major themes will be the making of art and admitting who we are. And the art here will be made by actors who, from star to supporting player, could be working in Hollywood but chose to be onstage in Torrance. Read more…

MACBETH at A Noise Within

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

David C. Nichols – LA Times

Fair is foul and foul is fair in “Macbeth” at A Noise Within. William Shakespeare’s Scottish tragedy of lethal ambition receives an emphatically respectable albeit uneven production.   Read more…

Now running through May 11.

REUNION at South Coast Repertory Theatre

Tim Cummings and Michael Gladis in the South Coast Repertory wor

Bob Verini -   Arts In LA

Gregory S Moss’s Reunion at South Coast Rep is a capable production of a mostly derivative, predictable text, one most likely to be enjoyed by those with a real appetite for late ’80s nostalgia and a high tolerance for characters’ wild mood swings into and out of melodrama. A lot of theatergoers possess both, of course.   Read more…

Now running through March 30.