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Archive for April 2014 – Page 2

BE A GOOD LITTLE WIDOW at the Noho Arts Center

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Photo by Andrew Pagana

Les Spindle –  Edge on the Net

Gracefully segueing from what initially seems like a breezy romantic comedy to a thoughtful and heart-wrenching portrait of grief, family dynamics, and life’s unpredictable twists and turns, Bekah Brunstetter’s 2011 Off-Off-Broadway play “Be a Good Little Widow” shines in its L.A. debut. Read more…

Pauline Adamek  – Stage Raw

It’s hard to tell if Bekah Brunstetter’s play is a tired string of clichés or if any dramatization of dealing with the loss of a spouse, as in Be a Good Little Widow, inevitably hits the same familiar notes. Read more…
Now running through May 25.

ROMEO AND JULIET at the Independent Shakespeare Company Studio


Phto by Grettel Cortes

Sharon Perlmutter  -  Talkin’ Broadway

I’ll be honest: what initially appealed to me about Independent Shakespeare Co.’s Romeo & Juliet was that it condensed the play. The play is performed with only eight actors. Some of the actors double up on roles; sometimes the lines of one character have been given to another. Thus, for example, Benvolio also covers some key lines normally given to Balthasar. And, the actress performing Benvolio also doubles as Lady Capulet. In addition to paring down the company, the script is also shortened. Read more…

Now running through May 25.

RUTH DRAPER’S MONOLOGUES at the Geffen Playhouse

Photo by Allen J. Schaben

Photo by Allen J. Schaben

Pauline Adamek – ArtsbeatLA

Four monologues written by diseuse Ruth Draper are brilliantly performed by Annette Bening as a 90-minute one act evening of entertainment. This new show at the Geffen begins nicely enough, with a couple of odd character pieces. The first is a slightly bizarre speech and movement class and lesson “in Greek poise” led by a woman who congenially barks instructions and gambols and rolls around the stage. She demands that her unseen students (presumably middle-aged, middle class women) “be an earthworm! stretch and limber yourselves!” as she teaches them how to express themselves through movement. Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

 Ruth Draper(1884-1956) became the most influential of solo dramatic performers in the first half of the last century. Her carefully crafted characterizations of high society types set the template for the plethora of single performer shows ever since. Draper presented new shows of her works on Broadway some 10 times in 35 years, and toured extensively in the U.K. as well as internationally, sometimes in conjunction with her equally talented nephew, the dancer Paul Draper. Read more…

Neal Weaver  – ArtsInLA

There aren’t very many truly unique figures in the whole history of the theater. There are the noble Greeks: Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. There are Shakespeare, Molière, Ibsen, Chekhov, and Bernard Shaw. And possibly we might include Strindberg and Tennessee Williams. But there was only one woman in the crew: Ruth Draper, celebrated as a distinguished writer, performer, and monologist. Read more…

Les Spindle –  Frontiers L.A.

Ruth Draper (1884-1956) was a renowned actress-writer best known for her brilliantly witty monologues satirizing colorful female characters whose eccentricities were revealed in articulate and revelatory comedic vignettes.  Read more...

Now running through May 18.

THE OPTIMIST at Elephant Stages

opBob Verini -   Arts In LA

Jason Chimonides’s three-hander The Optimist developed something of a reputation back east in 2008 and has gotten quite a few stagings around the country since, probably not least because it is an affordable piece that offers meaty roles for three attractive 20-somethings. The West Coast premiere at Elephant Stages has corralled just such a trio. Would that the play were better.

Read more…

Now running through April 20.

FATHERS AT A GAME at Moving Arts Hyperion Station

Photo by Rich Clark

Photo by Rich Clark

Neal Weaver  – ArtsInLA

Trey Nichols’ long one-act begins reasonably enough with two men, Eddie (Luke Baybak) and Moe (Tony Williams), arriving in the bleachers for a high-school football game in which their sons are playing. They talk about the beautiful fall weather, and reminisce about how long they’ve been coming to these games: six years, or since their boys were in junior high. They talk about their wives, and Moe keeps getting Eddie’s wife’s name wrong—till we begin to think this might be significant.
Read more…

Now running through April 27.

BULGAKOV/MOLIERE at City Garage, Bergamot Station

Photo by Paul M. Rubenstein

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

In the real world, does integrity merely consist of managing to compromise just enough to get what you desire, while permitting yourself not to feel compromised? So the Devil rather persuasively argues in this often pointed, intricately conceived set of nested Matryoshka dolls depicting three different epochs, each worthy of political ridicule, each considering the role of the artist as provocateur, repressed both by forces from without and within.  

Read more…

Now running through June 1.

EVERYTHING YOU TOUCH at Boston Court Performing Arts Center

Photo by Ed Krieger

Photo by Ed Krieger

Margaret Gray – LA Times

You may have seen your share of makeovers, but nothing like the one Sheila Callaghan inflicts on her heroine in “Everything You Touch,” her lushly written dark comedy world-premiering at Boston Court Performing Arts Center.    Read more…

Pauline Adamek  – Stage Raw

Sheila Callaghan’s compelling play examines the dysfunctional dynamic between narcissistic mothers and their daughters, as well as the grim misogyny that pervades the world of high fashion. In so doing, and in a markedly un-naturalistic style, it studies the corrosive effect of residual anger. Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

One of the epiphanies in my four decades of theatre-going in Los Angeles was the 2003 mounting of Sheila Callaghan’s Shakespearean pastorale Kate Crackernuts by Jessica Kubzansky. It was so fiercely original and so abandoned to its own sometimes obscure inner voice that it encouraged me to connect more intensely to the uniqueness of our local scene, and I started immediately to forage far and wide for further such stimulation. Read more…

Now running through May 18.

TIME AND THE CONWAYS at the Old Globe Theatre

Photo by Jim Cox

Photo by Jim Cox

David C. Nichols – LA Times

Social commentary, familial relationships and quantum theory collide in “Time and the Conways” at the Old Globe, and the results are as formidable as they are engrossing.

If any doubts remained that J.B. Priestley was one of the most insightful British dramatists of the 20th century, this translucent revival of his multilayered 1937 look at one well-heeled Yorkshire family between the wars should set them to rest.  Read more…


THE SUIT at Freud Playhouse at Macgowan Hall

the_suit_nonhlanhla_kheswa_a_pMyron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

As long as I have attended the theater, I have been an adherent of Peter Brook and for nearly 50 years have never missed any available opportunity to experience his work. Since he split his over 70-year career between London and Paris, that has meant for me only those productions that have been exported to the U.S. (around a dozen, most prominently Marat/Sade, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Mahabharata) and the nine feature films distributed here (including Lord of the Flies, Marat/Sade, King Lear and Moderato Cantabile). He has long mastered the technique of penetrating flamboyance, yet his progress has inexorably trended toward that of a patient, exacting teacher of the most profound relationship of art to the spirit.

Now running through April 19.

TASTE at Sacred Fools Theatre Company


Photo by Jessica Sherman Photography










Bob Verini -   Arts In LA

The premise of Benjamin Brand’s Taste, as the management of Sacred Fools Theater Company has been unabashedly eager to trumpet in preopening publicity, is a compact made between two men to meet for dinner, at which the guest is to be killed, butchered, cooked, and eaten by the host in what must qualify as the most unusual, and surely the most potentially savory, assisted suicide of all time. Read more…

Pauline Adamek  – Stage Raw

Two men meet on the Internet and forge an unholy pact.

Screen and television writer Benjamin Brand’s first play, Taste, is based on a bizarre, true-crime episode from 2001, for which a German man named Armin Meiwes was convicted and eventually sentenced to life imprisonment.

Every grisly detail of the actual event was videotaped, so Taste is a factual play that reenacts the meeting between the two men and powerfully unfolds in real time.

It’s chilling stuff, yet it’s also inexplicably hilarious.  Read more

Terry Morgan  -  Talkin’ Broadway

When one reads about a new play concerning cannibalism, directed by Stuart Gordon, the man who brought the world Re-Animator, one has certain preconceptions. Or at least I did. I presumed it would be gory and darkly humorous, and I was correct in those assumptions. What I didn’t expect was that it would be an essentially serious and weirdly touching character study, and I was pleasantly surprised by the brilliant performances.   Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

The fastidious Terry (Donal Thoms-Cappello), well-schooled from television chefs such as Jacques Pepin, caramelizes some onions in his carefully arranged apartment, the set of which consists primarily of a kitchen. Director Stuart Gordon, a gorefest connoisseur, invokes sensory recollections of cinematic Smell-O-Vision with the cepaceous aroma, when the awaited visitor comes to the door. Read more…

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

It’s hard to conceive of a more bizarre and revolting tale than the one re-imagined in Taste, Benjamin Brand’s reality-based play about a pact between a man with cannibalistic desires and the willing victim he solicits on the internet.  Read more…

Hoyt Hilsman  -  Huffington Post

Benjamin Brand’s play, based on the 2001 incident in Germany in which a man agreed to be killed and eaten by another man (dubbed the Rotenberg Cannibal) has been justifiably praised for impeccable performances by Donal Thoms-Cappello and Chris L. McKenna, as well as for the audacious tackling of the subject matter by Brand.  Read more…

Now running through May 31.

S’WONDERFUL at Carpenter Center for the Performing Arts


Photo by Caught in the Moment

Shirle Gottlieb – Gazette Papers

As you take your seat in the Carpenter Center, the first thing you notice is the curtain has been raised.

The bare stage is dark and there is no scenery — only a grand piano, plus empty chairs and music stands silhouetted against a royal blue backlight. Then the musicians take their places, with musical director Bret Simmons seated at the piano; and suddenly, the theater is filled with the haunting rhythm of “Rhapsody in Blue.” Read more…

Melinda Schupmann – Arts In LA

It would seem that producing a musical featuring the melodies of George Gershwin with the lyrics of his elder brother, Ira, would be simplicity itself, as their work has been acknowledged as among the greatest collaborations in musical theater history. The work has been recognized universally as remarkable for its breadth of style and sophisticated musicality. It was said that the music had “one foot in Tin Pan Alley and the other in Carnegie Hall.”  Read more…

Now running through April 20.

Photo Essay — 45th Annual Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards evening


A marvelous time was had by all who attended the 45th Annual Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards event. A group of professional theater critics, the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle (LADCC), annually gives awards for excellence in theater.

The 45th Annual Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards ceremony took place on Monday, March 17, 2014 at the Colony Theatre in Burbank, and was hosted by Nicole Parker.

Go here to read the full list of the winners and special awards for excellence in Los Angeles and Orange County theater for the year 2013.

Photos by Jayne Calucag.  The full gallery of photos can be found on Jayne’s site on this page.  Use the password:  colonyawards2014.  Low-res photos are free for use; hi-res photos are available for purchase.

Here follows a photo essay of some of the awards presenters, winners and performers:

Lori Thimsen & Kemp Powers - 1



Sharon, PAA, Deborah & Mayank



PAA & Kemp Powers






Lori Thimsen & PAA - speech



















































































































Kevin Daniels - ensemble award