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Archive for April 2014

CATS at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts


Photo by Michael Lamont

Pauline Adamek – Stage Raw

In 1981, a musical adaptation by Andrew Lloyd Webber of British poet T. S. Eliot’s collection Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats took London’s West End by storm. Cats was immediately transferred Stateside, where the Tony Award-winning musical still holds the record for being the second longest-running show in Broadway history.   Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

The new production of Cats at the La Mirada Theatre of the Performing Arts has been helmed by Dana Solimando, (a former member of the Broadway production). Based on T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber overlays his brand of musical pastiche to Eliot’s poems. The story revolves around a posse of felines introducing one another to the audience while at a ball celebrating which of these cats their spiritual leader cat, Old Deuteronomy, will choose to ascend to the next realm.  Read more…

Bob Verini -   Arts In LA

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Trevor Nunn’s revue didn’t live up to its promise, or was it threat, to run “now and forever” at Broadway’s Winter Garden. However, as long as there are cat fanciers among theatergoers, and young dancers willing to challenge their limbs and joints to the limit, the musical setting of T.S. Eliot’s cat-celebration poems won’t soon come to the end of its nine lives.  Read more…

Now running through May 11.

SJALUSI at Inside the Ford

Photo by Caroline Roka

Sharon Perlmutter  -  Talkin’ Broadway

I confess that a quick look at Esther Vilar’s Wikipedia page gave me a bit of insight into the production of Sjalusi (or Jealousy, or, perhaps Celos), having its U.S. premiere in a very brief run at [Inside] the Ford. Vilar is best known for a book entitled “The Manipulated Man,” in which she argued that, contrary to feminist theory, women in industrialized countries are not oppressed but, instead, manipulate men. Read more…

FAT PIG at the Hudson Mainstage Theatre


Photo by Ed Krieger

In the 1974 Broadway comedy My Fat Friend, Lynn Redgrave played a zaftig young woman thrilled that a man has shown an interest in her. When he’s called away for a time, she resolves, with the help her friends, to lose weight, and heighten his interest in her by becoming thin and svelte by the time he returns. But the plan backfires: He doesn’t like skinny women.  Read more…

Now running through June 1.

SHAKESPEARE UNSCRIPTED at the Carrie Hamilton Theatre at the Pasadena Playhouse


Photo by Blake Gardner

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Come late to a performance of Impro Theatre’s Shakespeare Unscripted and you’ll likely be greeted with an ironic round of applause from the audience members who have been waiting for you to arrive. Latecomers react with good-natured grins, red-faced embarrassment or something in between. It helps set the stage for the amiable satiric entertainment that follows.  Read more…

Now running through May 4.

THE GERSHWINS’ PORGY AND BESS at the Ahmanson Theatre

Kingsley Leggs (center) and the cast of ?The Gershwins? Porgy and Bess? by George Gershwin, DuBose and Dorothy Heyward, and Ira Gershwin, book adapted by Suzan-Lori Parks and musical score adapted by Diedre L. Murray. Directed by Diane Paulus, ?The Gershwins? Porgy and Bess? previews at the Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre April 22 and opens April 23. Performances continue through June 1, 2014. For tickets and information, please visit or call (213) 972-4400.  Contact: (213) 972-7376 Photo by Michael J. Lutch

Photo by Michael J. Lutch

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Porgy and Bess (the lamentable and disingenuous branding title will not be employed again by this writer) is one of those incomparable works of art that necessarily is always somewhat imperfect in performance. It is too grand, too bold, and too low-down not to be. Read more…


Neal Weaver  – ArtsInLA

George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (with libretto and lyrics by Dorothy and Dubose Heyward and Ira Gershwin) has an astonishingly long and varied production history, and it has repeatedly been sliced and diced according to the taste of its producers and directors. George Gershwin’s orchestrations have been adapted and tampered with, and the original recitatives have often been replaced with spoken dialogue, making hash of Gershwin’s leitmotifs.

Read more…

Bob Verini – Stage Raw

The lean though not especially mean, 40% fat free The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess came into being on a whim and a prayer.  As widely reported a year ago, the songwriters’ estate sought to purvey a version of the Catfish Row perennial that would minimize the vocal, logistical, and running-time demands traditionally only within the grasp of the opera house. Read more…

Now running through June 1.



Photo by Michelle Day

Over the past couple of decades, Australia has produced a bumper crop of movie icons, from Mel Gibson and Nicole Kidman to Hugh Jackman and Cate Blanchett. But what most fans don’t realize is that many of these movie stars – and lots of other budding Aussie talent in Hollywood – cut their teeth in a booming theater scene in the land of Oz.

Read more…

A COFFIN IN EGYPT at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts


Photo by Lynn Lane

Hoyt Hilsman  -  Huffington Post

A Coffin in Egypt, a rarely produced 1980 play by Horton Foote would seem an unlikely subject for an opera, but in the hands of the marvelous Frederica von Stade and the talented composer and librettist team of Ricky Ian Gordon and Leonard Foglia, it becomes a tour de force. Set in rural Texas, the opera is essentially a 90-minute operatic monologue that tells the story of the star-crossed life and unhappy marriage of Myrtle Bledsoe , elegantly portrayed by von Stade.   Read more…

Bob Verini -   Arts In LA

The legendary (it says so on the lobby cards) mezzo Frederica von Stade reasserts her claim to being the greatest actor among contemporary opera stars in Ricky Ian Gordon’s chamber piece A Coffin in Egypt, in town for a too-limited run. Horton Foote’s 1998 virtual monodrama for grande dame is as fertile a source for dramatization as was Jean Cocteau’s The Human Voice, musicalized by Francis Poulenc, and has much the same impact.  Read more…

THE VORTEX at the Malibu Playhouse


Photo by Brian McCarthy

Terry Morgan  -  Stage Raw

“We swirl about in a vortex of beastliness,” wrote Noël Coward in his 1924 drama The Vortex. True enough. While this story of selfish socialites being forced to acknowledge the effects of their actions hasn’t retained its scandalous reputation, the enjoyable new production at the Malibu Playhouse demonstrates that it still has emotional resonance.

Read more…

Now running through May 18.

MAN IN A CASE at the Broad Stage

Photo by T. Charles Erickson

Photo by T. Charles Erickson

Hoyt Hilsman  -  Huffington Post

Even in this subdued and somber rendering of a pair of Chekhov stories, Mikhail Baryshnikov and his creative partners from the Big Dance Theater display a magical grace and style that transcends the bleakness of Chekhov’s tales. Big Dance Theater directors Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar, who also adapted the Chekhov stories, fuse techniques from theater, dance, music and video into a mélange performance. Read more…

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Man in a Case, a Big Dance Theatre production conceived and directed by Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar and featuring former Russian dance super-star Mikhail Baryshnikov, dramatizes two of Anton Chekhov’s short stories, layering his narratives with videography, music and dance. The aim, presumably, is to deepen and expand the Chekhovian experience. But while the multimedia effects may be imaginative, in the end their chaotic sturm und drang creates distance and disinterest rather than the empathy the writer sought to create.  Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Experimental art of all kinds requires the will to fail, necessarily more often than not. Nevertheless, there is a lot of interesting and innovative experimental theater afoot, but the avant-garde is not immune to trends, nor even to its own alternative brands of conformity.  Read more…

Melinda Schupmann – Arts In LA

The works of Anton Chekhov, arguably one of the greatest writers of short fiction, have been twisted and bent into countless play productions, attempting either to capture the soul of the work or to find an inventive approach that speaks to theatrical craft. Baryshnikov Productions’ conception of the stories at Broad Stage appears to be trying to do both and have moderate success in the main. Read more…

Now running through May 10.

THE LION IN WINTER at the Colony Theatre


Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

“I guess all families have their ups and downs,” says Eleanor of Aquitaine in James Goldman’s perennially popular comedy drama about 12thcentury royals. But in most families, the ups and downs don’t come as fast and furiously as in this play, and certainly they’re never expressed quite so articulately, with so much wit and elegance.  Read more…

David C. Nichols – LA Times

It’s Christmas in Chinon, France, circa AD 1183, and yuletide is anything but harmonious at the Plantagenet homestead.

Dad is in a blustering royal frenzy over his legacy. His three sons are backstabbing each other to inherit the English crown. The French princess intended for whoever does so is Pop’s enervated mistress.  Read more

Jonas Schwartz – Arts in LA

Strong performances benefit Colony Theater’s production of The Lion in Winter. Having to walk in shoes most famously worn by Katharine Hepburn (who won a 1968 Oscar for her performance in the film version) must have been a daunting task for Mariette Hartley, but Hartley’s self-assured assessment of Eleanor of Aquitaine is sharp and memorable. She leads a strong ensemble, including Ian Buchanan as the cocky King Henry II and her real-life daughter, Justine Hartley, as Henry’s aggravated mistress. Read more…

Now running through May 18.

FIVE MILE LAKE at South Coast Repertory Theatre

Photo by Debora Robinson

Photo by Debora Robinson

Bob Verini -   Arts In LA

It can’t be easy to pen a remarkable play about unremarkable people whose main concern is how unremarkable their lives are. (Ask Chekhov.) Yet, Rachel Bonds has pulled it off handily with Five Mile Lake, whose central figures have solid reasons for doubting their own choices and equally solid reasons for coveting the lives of all the others. Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Maybe you can’t go home again, though onstage that’s invariably what everyone does. Rufus (Corey Brill) left his forsaken hometown outside Scranton, Pa., to pursue his PhD in classics, while brother Jamie (Nate Mooney) remained behind to manage a donut shop and renovate their inherited old house by the titular lake.

Margaret Gray – LA Times

Among the revivals and West Coast premieres that dominate our theatrical offerings, the startling phrase “world premiere” implies an exhilarating, possibly risky novelty: You can’t help expecting pyrotechnics.

But Rachel Bonds’ “Five Mile Lake,” receiving its world premiere at South Coast Repertory, is a small, quiet play in which nothing particularly momentous happens. Read more…

Now running through May 4.


Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Bob Verini -   Arts In LA

Noted monodrama writer and performer Daniel Beaty has clearly invested considerable emotion in researching his two-hour portrait of the great Paul Robeson (1898–1976), whose race, progressive politics, and insistence on doing and saying anything and consequences be damned literally demolished his career and reputation. Beaty’s labors are backed up at the Mark Taper Forum by a ton of stagecraft marshaled by director Moisés Kaufman… Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Paul Robeson, his father born in slavery, achieved international celebrity as an athlete and scholar, singer and actor, activist and role model. Still, even observed with the healing distance of time, he remains a polarizing figure, a spokesman for humankind yet resolutely his own man. He was widely reviled as a traitor during the Cold War even by his erstwhile allies, his passport revoked and his career destroyed. In our house, when the children were growing up, no Thanksgiving could be celebrated without hearing him sing the patriotic “Ballad for Americans,” which he first recorded in 1939.  Read more…
Now running through May 25.