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Archive for August 2014 – Page 2

THE CHERRY ORCHARD at Pacific Resident Theatre Ensemble

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Photo by Vitor Martins

Terry Morgan  -  Stage Raw

There have always been political takes of Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard. Some have described it as a condemnation of the idle aristocracy, a precursor to the Russian Revolution. Others saw it as a kind farewell to a vanishing class that is being supplanted by rapacious businessmen who only find beauty in money. The play isn’t quite so simple, because Chekhov wasn’t just interested in a message, of course, as much as he was intrigued by the complexities of people. Read more…

Bob Verini -   Arts In LA

The Cherry Orchard has been eluding directors for more than a century. Noting surface hints, the work’s proximity to the Czar’s fall (albeit 13 years later), and knowing that this was Chekhov’s final, dying gift to the stage, productions have persisted in seeing it as nostalgic and elegiac in character. Read more…

Now running through November 2.

6 RMS RIV VU at the Sierra Madre Playhouse

Photo by Gina Long

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Written by Bob Randall (nee Stanley B. Goldstein), 6 Rms Riv Vu opened on Broadway in 1972, with Jerry Orbach and Jane Alexander as strangers who meet in an empty apartment and cannot decide whether or not to have an affair. The production ran for 247 performances and earned Randall a Drama Desk Award for most promising new playwright – which is rather startling, given how creaky this play is (and goes to show just how much – or little – professional critics really know). Read more…

Now running through September 6.

WITHOUT ANNETTE at the Whitefire Theatre

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Photo by Michael Lamont

Pauline Adamek  – Stage Raw

​In Hope Juber and Jeff Doucette’s tepid comedy, a motley crew of wanna-be actors, writers and comedians gather weekly at Sam’s Improv Workshop to develop their performance skills. The class is populated by the usual stereotypes and we soon get to know a bit of each of their backstories.  Read more…

Now running through October 2.

ONE IN THE CHAMBER at the Lounge Theatre

Photo by Chelsea Coleman Photography

Bob Verini -   Arts In LA

For committed theatergoers, there’s no happier occasion than stumbling upon a mature, polished work of dramatic art where you never expected to find one. In the little hole-in-the-wall Lounge on Santa Monica Boulevard, 6140 Productions is putting up the world premiere of Marja-Lewis Ryan’s One in the Chamber, and you will not encounter a more stimulating evening of theater this year, nor one harder to shake off. Read more…

Les Spindle –  Edge on the Net

Marja-Lewis Ryan made a notable debut as a playwright in 2011, with “Dysnomia,” at the Lounge Theatre in Hollywood. The seriocomic play, about a matriarch in an ostensibly idyllic suburban household who suddenly announces to her husband and children that she is coming out of the closet, was trenchantly amusing and extraordinarily moving.  Read more…

Now running through September 7.

THE ECHO ONE ACTS at Atwater Village Theater

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Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Each of these brief one acts takes place around a bed. Otherwise, they vary in quality and style.

In Brian Tanen ‘s The Optimist, directed by Amanda Saunders, a young British bobby (Parker Phillips) and a veteran female Chief Inspector (Tara Karsian) meet at a crime scene. Read more…

Now running through August 24.

FREDERICK DOUGLAS NOW at the Bootleg Theater

la-et-cm-frederick-douglass-now-20140805-001David C. Nichols – LA Times

The space where historical perspective and current-day attitudes crosshatch benefits “Frederick Douglass Now” at Bootleg Theater. Writer-performer Roger Guenveur Smith has done incisive, socially trenchant work before, but this is something else again. Read more…

Now playing through August 24.

REASONS TO BE PRETTY at the Geffen Playhouse

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Photo by Michael Lamont

Neal Weaver  – Arts In LA

Playwright Neil LaBute is so prolific, and has created in so many different and varied media, that it’s virtually impossible to generalize about his work. (His program bio is downright intimidating.) But in many of the scripts for which he is best known—Fat Pig, In the Company of Men, The Shape of Things, and Your Friends and Neighbors—he seems to be convicting his characters of succumbing to other people’s values, cruelty, callousness, indifference, and moral cowardice. Read more…

Margaret Gray – LA Times

New York is only three hours ahead of L.A., but in theatrical time, the distance often seems greater. Broadway events, like starlight from distant galaxies, can take years to reach us.

Case in point: We’re still gathering evidence of a great emotional shift in the work of Neil LaBute, whose “Reasons to Be Pretty,” nominated for the Tony Award for best play in 2009, has at last arrived at the Geffen Playhouse, where it proves to be a humane, tenderhearted coming-of-age story. Read more… 

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

More in sorrow than in anger, and more in annoyance than rancor, it must be said that the talented, thoughtful and tirelessly prolific Neil LaBute finally made his bones on Broadway in 2009, scoring a Tony nomination for best play with probably his least bold and uncharacteristically pandering effort, Reasons to Be Pretty. At least that’s the view based on this conscientiously mounted local premiere. Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Reasons to Be Pretty, Neil LaBute’s only play to be mounted on Broadway, asks very few questions about its characters, leaving the audience to fill in the blanks — and not always in the characters’ favors. The play leaves you longing for more depth from the script, but luckily the talented actors at the Geffen Playhouse shed light on their roles despite the murkiness of the text. Read more…

Now playing through August 31.

MOON OVER BUFFALO at Grove Theatre Center

Photo by Ed Krieger

Photo by Ed Krieger

Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

When the TV sitcom took over much of the space formerly occupied by traditional farce, there were fewer and fewer practitioners of this notoriously difficult genre. Michael Frayn’s Noises Off and Peter Shaffer’s Black Comedy scored notable successes. Read more…

BROADWAY BOUND at the Odyssey Theatre

 

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Photo by Enci

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

The last of Neil Simon’s trilogy of quasi-autobiographical accounts of his coming-of-age years in the Brighton Beach neighborhood of Brooklyn, Broadway Bound stands among his plays as perhaps the most free from easy nostalgia, and therefore the most honest. In this sturdy 1986 drama, the requisite comedy arrives more or less organically, out of family humor or professional drive and ambition, and even seemingly harmless jokes can have unforeseen consequences for the wisecrackers and those they love. Looking toward posterity, this may be Simon’s best. Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  Arts In LA

Jason Alexander, co-star of the original Broadway cast of Broadway Bound, directs this nostalgic piece with enough pathos and humor to stir audiences’ hearts. Led by the sensitive actor Gina Hecht, the top-caliber cast mines Neil Simon’s jokes for all their potency, while remaining grounded in this touching memoir of a family collapsing. Read more…

Bob Verini -   Stage Raw

Broadway Bound, the 1986 final installment in Neil Simon’s avowedly autobiographical trilogy that began with Brighton Beach Memoirs, receives a warm and affectionate revival at the Odyssey. Maybe too warm, though not too warm for comfort.
Read more…

Now playing through September 21.

THE MAX FACTOR FACTOR at the Noho Arts Center

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Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Hollywood has a long history of hypocrisy when it comes to gay celebrities, so a musical that sheds light on their closeting is a production one wants to praise – if only one could. Read more…

Now playing through August 31.

DAMN YANKEES at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center

Photo by Isaac James Creative

Photo by Isaac James Creative

 Bob Verini -   Arts In LA

The pleasures of solid musical comedy craftsmanship are amply on display in 3D Theatricals’s fine production of Damn Yankees. Alan Souza’s staging has its excesses and blind spots, but they result from good intentions rather than bad taste. Everything that matters, this show gets right. Read more…

Now playing through August 10.

I MARRIED A NEANDERTHAL AND OTHER MODERN PROBLEMS at the Hermosa Beach Playhouse

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Dany Margolies  -  Daily Breeze

Let’s be clear from the outset: The one-woman show “I Married a Neanderthal and Other Modern Problems” does not bash men. It gently ribs them, but, hey, who can’t take a little ribbing? And Honey Buczkowski, the life coach who hosts this show, er, coaching session, did not marry a Neanderthal. Indeed, as she describes him, Walter Buczkowski is an all-right guy. Read more…

Now playing through August 10.