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Archive for January 2015 – Page 2

SOME OF MY BEST FRIENDS WERE SCIENTOLOGISTS

Photo by Scott Krieger

Photo by Scott Krieger

Pauline Adamek  – Stage Raw

Writer-director (and classical pianist) Allen Barton gained critical acclaim last year with his play Years To The Day, presented by Skylight Theatre Company. It was a futuristic satire of our self-important discussions of movies and tech gadgets via the reunion of two long-time friends at a coffee shop. During their meeting, they psychically and spiritually disemboweled each other. Barton’s latest play, Disconnection, tackles cult-like religions and organizations. 

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PROOF at the Moth Theatre

Photo by Korbis Sarafyan

Photo by Korbis Sarafyan

Paul Birchall  – Stage Raw

Playwright David Auburn’s Pulitzer Prize winning drama about love, grief, and higher mathematics gets a solid, if not prime (in the Gaussian sense) staging in director John Markland’s elegiac production.  Markland’s production emphasizes subtext and psychology over blocking, with the result that the show seems more conversational than composed – a decision that gives the show a sort of truthfulness that nevertheless negates some of the theatricality needed to connect with the viewer.

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Now running through February 15.

TIME STANDS STILL at the Secret Rose Theatre

Photo by Dan Warner

Photo by Dan Warner

Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

Photo-journalist Sarah (Prescilliana Esparolini) and foreign correspondent James (Aidan Bristow) are a cracker-jack team, who have travelled the world, covering its wars and hot-spots, and they are also lovers, who have been together for eight years. But a tour of duty in Afghanistan has shattered their world. Read more…

Now running through February 8.

 

 

BILLY ELLIOT at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts

Photo by Michael Lamont

Photo by Michael Lamont

Myron Meisel – Stage Raw

During the notoriously doomed 1984 coal miners’ strike against Maggie Thatcher’s determination to destroy the union and its jobs, motherless 11-year old Billy Elliot (Mitchell Tobin) ditches his 50-pence afterschool boxing classes for ballet lessons, unbeknownst to his picketing father (David Atkinson) and firebrand older brother Tony (Stephen Weston). Read more…

Steven Leigh Morris  – LA Weekly

In one of many striking images in Brian Kite’s staging of Billy Elliot — The Musical, an army of northeast England miners, having had their strike busted by Mrs. Thatcher, descends en masse into a pit, the lamps on their helmets blazing forward, as they sing the rousing “Once We Were Kings”: “The ground is empty and cold as hell, but we all go together when we go.” Read more…

David C. Nichols – LA Times

The sheer joy of musical performance dances through “Billy Elliot the Musical” at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts. Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

The musical adaptation of 2000′s sleeper hit film Billy Elliot must survive on the actor hired for the title role. As well as leading nine songs, it’s a heavy dancing part, requiring one to shine in tap, ballet, and interpretive dance. To make it more daunting, the lead actor must be an adolescent. That’s a heavy burden, and youngster Mitchell Tobin makes a winning Billy. Read more…

Melinda Schupmann – Arts In LA

After the success of the 2000 film Billy Elliot, it wasn’t a stretch to imagine making the story into a musical. Lee Hall, who wrote the screenplay, created the musical’s book and lyrics, and with the help of Elton John’s music and Stephen Daldry’s direction, turned out a production that is still currently playing in England today. em>Read more…

 

Now running through February 8.

 

SERRANO THE MUSICAL at the Matrix Theatre

SERRANO - 5

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

In Serrano The Musical, book and lyrics writer Madeleine Sunshine plucks elements of Edmond Rostand’s iconic romance Cyrano de Bergerac and transposes them into a story set in New York City’s mob-infested Little Italy. Read more…

Margaret Gray – LA Times

Serrano the Musical,” in its world premiere at the Matrix Theatre, relocates “Cyrano de Bergerac,” originally set in 1640 France, to New York’s Little Italy, around now.

Edmond Rostand’s classic tale, in which literary gifts prove more seductive than good looks, serves up pure wish-fulfillment to us nerds. As its long history of adaptations (including Steve Martin’s 1987 film, “Roxanne”) suggests, it resonates pretty much anywhere. Read more…

Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

If you thought Serrano sounded remarkably like Cyrano, you were on the right track. This musical, with book and lyrics by Madeline Sunshine and score by Robert Tepper, sets out to transpose Cyrano de Bergerac to NYC’s Little Italy, and combine it with The Sopranos. Read more…

Now running through March 29.

VIRAL at the Bootleg Theatre

Photo by Justin Zsebe

Photo by Justin Zsebe

Neal Weaver  – Arts In LA

Playwright Mac Rogers has written an oddball comedy about suicide. But his thinking is so muddled, it’s sometimes hard to tell if he’s for it or against it.

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Steven Leigh Morris  – LA Weekly

….Rogers’ new comic drama, presented by Moving Arts at the Bootleg Theatre, is entirely about a death wish — specifically, a trio of Portland slacker-scammers trying to cash in on Oregon’s liberal assisted-suicide laws.

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 Now running through January 31.

 

THE QUEEN OF COLORS at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

Photo by J Bohn

Photo by J Bohn

Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

On a small arched screen at center stage is played out the tale of the imperious, fickle and slightly goofy Little Queen, represented by a stylized shadow puppet. At stage left is painter Eva Noelle, standing beside a small table with her paints, which she uses to depict all the settings and props which are projected on the screen. She provides the narration, while the engaging composer-accordionist Patrice Langlois sits at stage right providing comic musical punctuation. Read more…

Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

Only a few performances remain for The Queen of Colors, a delightful, hour-long play for small children now playing at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. This ingenious and unique show combines shadow puppets, music and live painted projections to fashion a sweet story about a little Queen (a small child) who roams about her kingdom. Read more…

Now running through January 18.

SILENT WITNESSES at the Odyssey Theatre

Photo by Rick Friesen

Photo by Rick Friesen

Paul Birchall  – Stage Raw

Playwright-actor Stephanie Satie’s solo show uses the format of a group therapy session to depict the oral histories told by survivors of the Holocaust survivors who were children when the German Nazi concentration camps were functioning. These are women who survived either because they were hidden by parents and friends, or by using wiles to make it through the death camps unscathed.
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Now running through  February 1.

CLOWN BAR at the Pasadena Playhouse

Photo courtesy of the Pasadena Playhouse

Pauline Adamek  – Stage Raw

Adam Szymkowicz’s noir comedy is set in a place of his invention — the clown underworld. Here the clowns are not those funny, entertaining party creatures but criminals with damaged psyches. Sure, there are red noses, silly wigs, painted faces and colorful costumes, but that’s almost as far as the actual clowning stretches.
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

If you love your clown tales to conclude with a stage filled with more dead bodies than Hamlet, then Clown Bar is the musical comedy film noir spoof for you. An oddity that melds sociopath clowns, satirical torch songs, and off-color humor, Clown Bar is a dining-entertainment happening that few will have experienced before.

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Now running through January 29.

BLONDE POISON at Theatre 40

Photo by Ron Vignone

Photo by Ron Vignone

Myron Meisel – Stage Raw

While it probably isn’t quite accurate to say that performer Salome Jens saved my life, I prefer to believe that it’s true. After an evening and morning of obliterative obsession, attending her one-woman show about Anne Sexton didn’t seem like the most propitious choice under the circumstances, but I already had purchased my ticket.

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Neal Weaver  – Arts In LA 

Stella Goldschlag (1922–1994) seems a wildly unlikely protagonist for Jewish playwright Gail Louw. Goldschlag was a notorious “Jew catcher” for Hitler’s Gestapo, and it has been estimated that her activities sent 600 to 3,000 Jews to their deaths. She was so efficient at her job that the Gestapo called her “Blonde Poison.” 

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Now running through January 26.

WIT at the Lounge Theatre

WIT-135

Photo courtesy: Stage Against the Machine

Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

English Professor Vivian Bearing, Ph.D. (Kelly Carlton), the central figure in Margaret Edson’s clever and provocative play, has won distinction in the academic world for her masterly critical edition of John Donne’s Religious Sonnets, but scholarship and fame can’t protect her from the ravages of terminal ovarian cancer.

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Running indefinitely

JACK LEMMON RETURNS at the Edye at the Broad Stage

Photo courtesy of CHris Lemmon

Photo provided by Chris Lemmon

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

It’s easy to understand why solo performer Chris Lemmon wants to pay homage to his famous father Jack. Celebrity aside, the parent-child bond is a powerful one. Watching and listening to Jack Lemmon Returns at the Broad Stage, I could almost feel the presence of my own irreplaceable dad, who passed from this material world half my lifetime ago.

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Jonas Schwartz -  Arts In LA

Two-time Oscar winner Jack Lemmon has always been at the top echelon of acting talent. A gifted comedian (he represented Billy Wilder’s personification of the everyman in The Apartment and Irma La Douce) and modern tragedian (his alcoholic characters in Days of Wine and Roses and Save the Tiger are Shakespearean in scope) demonstrate a tremendous range.

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Now running through February 1.