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Archive for May 2014 – Page 2

HOLDING THE MAN at the Matrix Theatre

Photo by Suzanne Strong

Photo by Suzanne Strong

Neal Weaver  – ArtsInLA

The newly formed Australian Theatre Company was launched April 23 (Shakespeare’s birthday) by producers Nick Hardcastle and Nate Jones, with the intention of creating opportunities for Australian actors, directors, and writers living in LA, and introducing the work of Australian writers to American audiences. (The company is quick to add that non-Australians will also be welcome.)

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 Les Spindle –  Edge on the Net

Aussies have descended upon Hollywood in a big way. At the Matrix Theatre, producers Nick Hardcastle, Nate Jones and Mike Abramson have launched the ambitious new Australian Theatre Company with the Los Angeles premiere of playwright Tommy Murphy’s Holding the Man, a simultaneously funny and heartbreaking 2006 stage adaptation of Timothy Conigrave’s award-winning 1995 autobiographical novel of the same name. The beloved book has been an international hit, and the play has garnered success in Australian and British productions. Meanwhile, Murphy’s film adaptation is in the works. Read more…

Now running through June 29.

 

 

 

 

 

110 IN THE SHADE at the Actors Co-op

Photo by Lindsay Schnebly

Photo by Lindsay Schnebly

Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

It was probably historically inevitable that N. Richard Nash’s Broadway comedy The Rainmaker would have been turned into a musical by Nash, working with the creators of The Fantasticks, Harvey Schmidt (music) and Tom Jones (lyrics). Read more…

Now running through June 15.

DIFFERENT WORDS FOR THE SAME THING at the Kirk Douglas Theatre

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Bob Verini -   Arts In LA

Kimber Lee’s different words for the same thing, directed by Neel Keller, seems intended as an Our Town for our time. Like the Thornton Wilder classic, it takes a cross-section of a little burg to investigate themes of love, death, and community, though Lee’s strategy is more tightly focused on a single catastrophic event, and she brings in issues of race, ethnicity, and class on which Wilder was mute.  Read more…

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Stage dramas are sometimes weighed down with exposition, but in Kimber Lee’s different words for the same thing, a moody piece with lyric qualities, the opposite is true. A work about love, loss and the road to healing, it’s nearly half over before the links between its characters clearly emerge and its story begins to cohere.   Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Part of the frenzy of reaction to the demographic and social changes in the United States has been the panicky realization that the impending threat of diversity has been irreversibly underway for such a considerable time that a more heterogeneous culture has already progressed in many ways toward acceptance as a norm. The arts have properly been in the vanguard of advocating for this new reality….. Read more…

 
Now running through June 1.

INTO THE WOODS at Plummer Auditorium

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Photo by Issac James Creative

Bob Verini -   Arts In LA

3D Theatricals has been pulling off ambitious offerings in its spacious Plummer Auditorium digs in Fullerton. I wasn’t able to catch 2013’s acclaimed Parade, though early this year I thoroughly enjoyed a fresh and clever The Producers. The Dawsons—the family who are the 3 D’s—seem to be smart, well-funded, and committed to revisiting musicals with integrity, taste, and talent, characteristics amply present in their current offering of James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods. Read more…

Now running through May 18.

A DELICATE BALANCE at the Odyssey Theatre

Photo by Enci Box

Photo by Enci Box

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

A Delicate Balance (1967) won the Pulitzer Prize shamefully denied Edward Albee for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. Spiky, stilted and maybe maddening to many, it was probably the most abstruse honoree at that point in the award’s history. Albee managed the difficult feat of being muskily dated and vanguardishly visionary at the same time. Read more…

Terry Morgan  -  Talkin’ Broadway

It’s interesting how differently one perceives things at different points in one’s life. When I first read Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balancein my twenties, I liked it but mostly fixated on the oddness and darkness. Seeing it done now, in my late forties, it seems like a much broader canvas, a play about what specifically holds society together. The Odyssey Theatre Ensemble production is superb, with an amazing cast that demonstrates how extraordinary this work really is. Read more…

Pauline Adamek  – Stage Raw

In Edward Albee’s first (of three) Pulitzer-prize winning plays (also including Seascape (1975) and Three Tall Women (1994), booze ever present and consumed, even at dawn. Naturally, the alcohol lubricates the conversation and so we watch the social exchange of this domestic drama grow increasingly feral as the story progresses.   Read more…

Now running through June 15.

UNORGANIZED CRIME at the Lillian Theatre

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Photo by Daniel Reichert

Bob Verini -  Variety

Stars are called stars because they shine brighter than anyone else. Every time Chazz Palminteri sashays into “Unorganized Crime” as Gotham mob scion Sal Sicuso, cool and sardonic, seething with banked menace, you can’t take your eyes off him. It’s a supporting role, but he’s more than enough reason to travel to Hollywood’s Lillian Theater for Kenny D’Aquila’s messy, indifferently wrought but generally enjoyable comedy-drama in a Tarantino vein. Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

There have been so many variations wrought on the dynamics of the criminal family (particularly that of the Italian persuasion), that squeezing new insights or even fresh thrills out of the genre can require a sacral formalism not so far in function from a Noh drama.

Unorganized Crime finds some originality and a great deal of tanginess from its fleet depiction of the surprise reunion of two brothers… Read more…

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

In the opening sequence of Kenny D’Aquila’s gangster comedy, directed by David Fofi, Gino (D’Aquila), a frustrated waiter, arrives home from work at his rumpled rundown apartment (an apt set by designer Joel Daavid). He dons an apron and proceeds to the dining room table. Read more…

Margaret Gray – LA Times

For anybody still suffering from “Sopranos” withdrawal after all these years, Kenny D’Aquila’s “Unorganized Crime” at the Elephant Theatre is a good place to turn to for a quick mob-family-melodrama fix. Read more…

Neal Weaver  – ArtsInLA

The murderous Sicuso crime family in this dark comedy by Kenny D’Aquila make the Corleone clan seem like pillars of domestic peace and tranquility: at least the Corleones kept their murderous activities outside the home. But with the Sicusos, it seems, home is where the hits happen.   Read more…
Now running through May 31.

SIX DANCE LESSONS IN SIX WEEKS at the Laguna Playhouse

Photo by Ed Krieger

Photo by Ed Krieger

Melinda Schupmann – Arts In LA

A special sort of magic occurs when a celebrated and much-loved star takes on a role in live theater. Such is the atmosphere at Laguna Playhouse’s current offering, starring Leslie Caron and the multi-talented David Engel. The two-person vehicle sets up a sure-fire storyline. Lily, a former teacher and the widowed wife of a Southern Baptist preacher, hires a young dance instructor to provide the lessons the title.  Read more…

David C. Nichols – LA Times

An inordinate degree of audience-savvy skill and no small amount of personal charm distinguishes “Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks” at the Laguna Playhouse.

By embracing rather than avoiding the conventional contours of Richard Alfieri’s international hit two-hander about an imposing Florida retiree and a salty-tongued dance instructor, this elegant revival pulls the crowd-pleasing combination of sass and sentiment into surprisingly affecting bas-relief. Read more…

 

Now running through June 8.

VIVIEN at the Acting Artists Theatre

Photo by James Storm

Photo by James Storm

Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

Percy Grainger’s long one-act tells the neo-Chekhovian tale of an unusual father and son relationship. Theatre director Paul (Ilia Volok) last saw his father Vivien (Craig Braun) when he was only 10 years old.  His only real memory of his Dad seems to be of the day the old man was committed to a mental institution. For 40 years, Paul’s mother has refused to tell him where his father is. Now he has learned that Vivien is in a psychiatric hospital 50 miles from Seattle.    Read more…

FALSE SOLUTION at the Santa Monica Playhouse

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Photo by Cal Dixon

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

If you’re not much on abstract theory when it comes to interpreting architecture as art, chances are you’ll find Oren Safdie’s False Solution slow-going stuff.   Read more…

WOMAN PARTS at Son of Semele Ensemble

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Photo by Matthew McCray

Margaret Gray – LA Times

Son of Semele Ensemble has selected two startlingly different short plays for “Woman Parts,” a double bill planned, according to the program, as a corrective to the underrepresentation of women in the theater.

The first offering, “Sex & God,” by the Scottish playwright Linda McLean, weaves together melancholy monologues by four women from different periods of the 20th century: in 1905 (Betsy Moore), 1935 (Melina Bielefelt), 1965 (Sarah Rosenberg) and 1995 (Hilletje Bashew). These women tell their stories in alternating, impressionistic fragments (in dialects coached by Ruth Connell) that evoke four instruments in counterpoint.

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

It’s hard to imagine two more dissimilar plays than Linda McLean’s Sex and God and Sibyl O’Malley’s Lamentations of the Pelvis, which together make up a feminist themed double-header at Son of Semele Ensemble. Written and directed by women, they share a female focus but are otherwise as stylistically different as any two works can be.

Now running through May 19.

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THE DROWSY CHAPERONE at the Norris Center for the Performing Arts

Photo by Ed Krieger

Photo by Ed Krieger

Dany Margolies  -  Arts In LA

If you have never seen a musical and hoped you never would, perhaps it’s time to venture into the world of The Drowsy Chaperone, a charmer of nonstop pep. If, however, you are mad for musicals and not only spot the tropes but also relish them, this luscious spoof is for you, too.    Read more…

Now running through May 11.

PRAY TO BALL at the Skylight Theatre

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Photo by Ed Krieger

David C. Nichols – LA Times

Highly promising talent bounces through “Pray to Ball” at the Skylight Theatre. Amir Abdullah’s tersely entertaining examination of Islam, college basketball and friendship has some new-play issues, but it’s undeniably heartfelt and thought-provoking.

Played out on the wood-paneled span of designer Jeff McLaughlin’s marvelous set, “Ball” follows two lifelong pals from the projects, whose star-athlete abilities seem destined for professional contracts before their Miami Florida University term has ended.

Read more…

Now running through May 25.