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Archive for August 2014

THE FACE IN THE REEDS at the Ruskin Group Theatre

Photo by Ed Krieger

Photo by Ed Krieger

Pauline Adamek  – Stage Raw

In Robin Uriel Russin’s new dramedy, family members from three generations quarrel during a Passover Seder – this Seder being especially significant for the protagonist Christina (Stacey Moseley) because it’s her first since she converted from the Catholic faith to Judaism.  Read more…

Now running through October 11.

BULRUSHER at the Skylight Theatre

Photo by Ed Krieger

Photo by Ed Krieger

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Eisa Davis’s drama about an 18-year-old motherless clairvoyant exhibits an element of magic that manifests most richly in this production’s opening moments. Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

1955 was the summer of tortured teen James Dean in East of Eden and the real-life tortured and murdered youth Emmett Till in Money, Mississippi. Back then, the eponymous heroine of Eisa Davis‘ Bulrusher (played by a remarkable Bianca Lemaire) leads a hardscrabble yet idyllic rural existence around the village of Boonville, California, a little more than 100 miles north of San Francisco. Read more…

Now running through Sept. 28.

THE THREE PENNY OPERA at the Garage Theater

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Bob Verini -   Arts In LA

Productions of this difficult but essential classic are rare enough that any chance to see it performed is a reason for celebration, even a version that’s as spotty and problematic as the one currently at the Garage Theater “in collision with” Alive Theater.’

Two things they get very right. The scale of the piece, as marshaled by director Eric Hamme, is everything Brecht could have wished for. Read more…

Now running through Sept. 30.

TRYING at International City Theatre

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Photo by Suzanne Mapes

Melinda Schupmann – Arts In LA

A theatrical reminiscence by Joanna McClelland Glass about a time when she served as secretary to Judge Francis Biddle gets a standout production at International City Theatre. Its casting choices—Tony Abatemarco playing Biddle, Paige Lindsey White as his assistant Sarah “with an h”—make the very literate and demanding script a thoughtful and intimate view of two people whose lives are changing. Read more…

Margaret Gray – LA Times

In “Trying,” now in a beautifully acted revival at Long Beach’s International City Theatre, the playwright Joanna McClelland Glass dramatizes the year she spent as secretary to Judge Francis Biddle in 1967-68. Read more…

Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

In 1967, when she was just 24 years old, playwright Joanna McClelland Glass took a job as secretary to Judge Francis Biddle, who was nearing the end of a long and illustrious career. He was one of “the Philadelphia Biddles,” whose ancestors arrived in America in 1681. Read more…

Now running through Sept 14.

THE SEAGULL at the Pico House

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Pauline Adamek  – Stage Raw

Downtown Rep company has selected an historic building in which to stage Anton Chekhov’s 1895 bourgeois family drama, his first major play. The central courtyard of Pico House serves admirably for the company’s semi-modern production set in Hollywood, as well as providing a sheltered and cozy outdoor theater experience for audience members. The large yet still intimate space is nicely illuminated and festooned with strings of pea-lights. Read more…

Now running through August 30.

BIRD LIVES! at the Attic Theatre

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David C. Nichols – LA Times

The tragically brief life and career of Charlie “Bird” Parker consumes “Bird Lives!” at the Attic. Willard Manus’ examination of the saxophone virtuoso receives an ambitious, idiosyncratic Chromolume Theatre reading.  Read more…

Now running through September 21.

OUT THERE ON FRIED MEAT RIDGE ROAD and THE UNFRYABLE MEATNESS OF BEING at Pacific Resident Theatre

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Photo by Ashley Boxler

Steven Leigh Morris  – LA Weekly

Actor-playwright  is one lucky fellow, having a top-flight ensemble to write comedies for; and having a director, Guillermo Cienfuegos, with such a sympathetic comprehension of the strands threaded through his humor; and, to top it all, being able to act in a pivotal role in his own plays. Stevenson is Pacific Resident Theatre’s answer to Rogue Machine’s actor-playwright John Pollono, whose Small Engine Repair transferred to New York earlier this year. Read more…

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Fried Meat Ridge Rd. is a pretty wacky name for a street, but actually it’s a real thoroughfare that runs just outside Keyser, West Virginia, where playwright Keith Stevenson is from. (The place comes up on Trulia with photographs of a manicured landscape, and a listing of over a million bucks.) Read more…

Now running through September 7.

MEET AND GREET at the Theatre Asylum-Elephant Space

Meet & Greet #1

Photo by Maia Rosenfeld

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Meet and Greet — co-written by longtime TV veterans Stan Zimmerman (Roseanne) and Christian McLaughlin (Married with Children) and directed by Zimmerman — is set in a casting office in the San Fernando Valley.

The play revolves around the competition among four middle-aged actresses for a plum role on a new TV sitcom. It’s a storyline that offers opportunity not just for laughs but for a trenchant critique of a frequently malodorous industry. (There have been plenty of these already, but there’s always room for one more good one.)  Read more…

Now running through Sept. 21.

ECLECT-A-FEST PROGRAM A at the Electric Theatre Company

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Photo by Thomas Allsworth

Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

Elect-a-Fest is a two-evening festival of new one-act plays, presented by the Eclectic Theatre Company. Program A includes 7 assorted short works. The plays range from the mildly interesting to the actively annoying, and the direction seldom does much to remedy the literary shortcomings. But the actors can’t be blamed for the weakness of their material, and in most cases they acquit themselves honorably. Read more…

Now running through September 1.

I WANNA HOLD YOUR HAND at Theatre of Note

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Photo by Ido Bernstein

David C. Nichols – LA Times

Coincidences are the universe’s way of being lazy” is one recurring motif in “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” at Theatre of NOTE, though it’s hardly the only metaphor. Erik Patterson’s promising dramedy pulls multiple similes toward coping with the aftereffects of a ruptured brain aneurysm. Read more…

Now running through August 20.

VISIONARY MAN at the Hudson Mainstage

Photo by Ed Krieger

Photo by Ed Krieger

Margaret Gray – LA Times

J.B. Murray, the outsider artist and subject of the musical hagiography “Visionary Man” at the Hudson Mainstage, was an illiterate Georgia farmer who at age 70, after receiving a message from the Holy Spirit, began painting pictures of unbelievers in hell, was taken up by the art world and died a celebrity

Murray’s story caught the attention of art historian Mary Padgelek, who wrote a book about him and then felt a call to stage it as a musical. Read more…

Now running through August 31.

OKLAHOMA! at the James Armstrong Theatre

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Photo by Alex Madrid

Oh, what a beautiful show. From curtain rise to curtain call, this production looks and sounds like a national tour. First produced on Broadway in 1943—with music by Richard Rodgers, and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II—Oklahoma! ushered in the Golden Age of American musicals. Its lush melodies and somewhat serious psychological study make this musical a timeless classic. Read more…

Now running through August 23.