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Archive for March 2016

DREAMGIRLS at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts

Photo by Michael Lamont

Photo by Michael Lamont

Bob Verini  -   Stage Raw

Let’s start by talking about the song, and if you’re reading about Dreamgirls you already know what song I mean. It’s the one that everyone’s always waiting for, the one that practically single-handedly justifies a revival of the Tom Eyen-Henry Krieger-Michael Bennett 60s pop musical in and of itself. It stands as America’s national anthem of the love that dare not say “get the f— out, you bastard.”    Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts pulled a 42nd Street and unleashed an understudy who roars as Effie White. Amma Osei is a dream as the volatile singer. Because she is an alternate, she may have been more polished had she performed more often with the cast, but her raw energy is fiery, and she is the diamond of an already accomplished production. Read more…

Now running through April 17

LA OLLA at Los Angeles Theatre Center

Photo by Grettel Cortes

Photo by Grettel Cortes

Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

This play with music by Evelina Fernández is a modern-day adaptation of The Pot of Gold by the ancient Roman playwright, Plautus. Read more…

Now running through April 24

CASA VALENTINA at the Pasadena Playhouse

Photo by Jim Cox Photography

Photo by Jim Cox Photography

Myron Meisel – Stage Raw

I remember, back when young and impecunious, sneaking into the house during first intermission to catch the last two acts of Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song Trilogy, only to be so smitten that I returned the following day to buy a ticket to see the first act and stay again for the rest. Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Fierstein’s play shines a light on hatred in unlikely places with Casa Valentina, given a sly interpretation David Lee, who adds extra bite to this 2014 dramedy. Read more…

Now running through April 17

DIRT at the Raven Playhouse

Photo by John Perrin Flynn

Photo by John Perrin Flynn

Myron Meisel – Stage Raw

While Alejandro G. Iñárritu customarily and pretentiously inflated the purported weight of the soul in his 2003 movie 27 Grams, Bryony Lavery more tangibly measures the palpable bulk of a dead human body in her insightfully written Dirt, a West Coast premiere presented by Rogue Machine Theatre with SRS Production Wing. Read more…

Now running through April 10

 

A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE & MURDER at the Ahmanson Theatre

Photo by Joan Marcus

Photo by Joan Marcus

Pauline Adamek  – ArtsBeatLA

There are numerous delights to be found in A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder — the raucously hilarious musical play that opened last night at the Ahmanson Theatre. The ingenious and lavish puppet theater-like set, designed by Alexander Dodge; the gorgeously detailed period costumes, designed by Linda Cho; the clever book and lyrics by Robert L. Freedman and lovely music and lyrics by Steven Lutvak, all beautifully played by a live orchestra and sung by a cast with astounding voices.    Read more…

Terry Morgan  -  Stage Raw

I’m often disappointed with the touring versions of shows that did well on Broadway or in London, so it was a very pleasant surprise to find that the current production of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder at the Ahmanson is excellent on every level. Based on the same source material as the classic film Kind Hearts and Coronets, this show is a dark delicacy of exquisite charm. Read more…

Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

How do they do it? As great artists, legendary sports coaches and our favorite schoolteachers will tell us, it’s all in the fundamentals.

“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder,” at the Ahmanson through May 1, is the lightest, brightest musical tour to swing through Los Angeles in a handful of theatrical ages. It demands nothing from its audiences except to enjoy every moment. Read more…

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder is a delectable concoction of a musical. True, it may not have you rolling in the aisles every single minute of its two hour and thirty minute length. But the show, directed by Darko Tresnjak (who also directed the 2013 Tony-winning Broadway original), has a lot to offer….Read more…

Now running through May 1

THE ANDERSONVILLE TRIAL at the Grove Theatre Center

Photo by Ed Krieger

Photo by Ed Krieger

Paul Birchall  – Stage Raw

When the assignment comes down the pike that you are going to be sent to review a production of Saul Levitt’s courtroom drama, The Andersonville Trial, it is hard not to give into the temptation to heave a large sigh. After all, this is the quintessential, super old-fashioned, pre-Aaron Sorkin trial drama….Read more…

Now running through April 10

 

MAN OF LA MANCHA – Kentwood Players at Westchester Playhouse

Photo by Shari Barrett

Photo by Shari Barrett

Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

Although the musical “Man of La Mancha” premiered in 1964, in the current production by Kentwood Players at Westchester Playhouse it feels timeless and yet a balm for today. Read more…

Now running through April 16

A SHRED OF EVIDENCE at Theatre 40

Photo by Ed Krieger

Photo by Ed Krieger

Not so much a ‘whodunit’ as a guilty cover-up, Sheriff’s stuffy old mystery A Shred of Evidence plays like a trip back in time to quaint 1950s England.

Sheriff begins with a small action — the switching on of a radio — that completely alters the course of his central character’s life. A morning news report of a nearby fatal hit-and-run accident becomes more than just shocking as Richard Medway struggles to remember the events of the previous night. Read more…

Now running through April 11

THE UNDERSTUDY at Studio Stage

Photo  by Bryan Dechart

Photo by Bryan Dechart

Myron Meisel – Stage Raw

Coming a generation earlier than Sheila Callaghan, Theresa Rebeck (Mauritius, Seminar) mapped out a career course for many like her to model. Read more…

Now running through April 3

Winners announced for 47th Annual Awards

The evening's MC - Jake Broder - performing with  Musical Director Corey Hirsch; Kenny Elliot; Geoff Rakness.

The evening’s MC – Jake Broder – performing with Musical Director Corey Hirsch; Kenny Elliot; Geoff Rakness.

The Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle named the multi-nominated Hit the Wall and Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles as 2015’s Outstanding Productions at the organization’s 47th annual awards event, held on Monday evening, March 14 at the Moss Theatre of New Roads School in Santa Monica.

Hit the Wall, playwright Ike Holter’s immersive recreation of the 1969 Stonewall Inn riots produced by the LA LGBT Center and Sixth Avenue, won honors for Lead Performer Matthew Hancock and Featured Performer Charlotte Gulezian. The show’s entire cast shared in an Ensemble Performance award, and Ken Sawyer was cited for Direction.

Another directing honoree was Jessica Kubzansky for Mojada at The Getty Villa. Luis Alfaro took Outstanding Adaptation for his transposition of the Euripides tragedy to America’s southern border, and Sabina Zuniga Varela was cited in the pivotal part of the betrayed wife.

The next largest number of plaques was earned by the Odyssey Theatre’s Anna Christie. The Westside company’s reinterpretation of the 1920 Eugene O’Neill classic received the Tom McCulloh Award for Outstanding Revival, and also won for Kim Rubinstein’s direction and Zoe Perry’s performance in the title role.

L.A.’s largest producing organization, Center Theatre Group, saw double honors go to Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella (William Ivey Long’s costume design, and Josh Rhodes’ choreography) and Luna Gale (Lead Performance to Mary Beth Fisher, and Rebecca Gilman’s writing). Tim Minchin was cited for his Matilda score, Julie Wolf for musical direction for Girlfriend, and Mimi Lien for the set of Appropriate. CTG sponsored the Margaret Harford Award for sustained excellence, and artistic director Michael Ritchie spoke in praise of this year’s recipient, Deaf West Theatre.

Representing another major regional theater, South Coast Repertory, John Glore accepted the LADCC’s Ted Schmitt Award for an outstanding world premiere play on behalf of Qui Nguyen’s Vietgone.

But the evening was a triumph for intimate local stages first and foremost.

Veteran star Orson Bean sailed off with Solo Performance honors for his memoir Safe at Home at Pacific Resident Theatre. Among double winners were Circle X’s Trevor (lead performer Jimmi Simpson, and Nick Jones’ writing); Rogue Machine’s A Permanent Image (featured performer Tracie Lockwood, and Nicholas Santiago’s projections); Sacred Fools’ Astro Boy and the God of Comics (Aviva Pressman’s live art direction, and projections by Anthony Backman and Jim Pierce); and The Theatre @ Boston Court’s My Barking Dog (Tom Ontiveros’ lighting and John Zalewski’s sound design).

In 2015, international sensations from Spain, Kulunka Teatro, brought to the LA Theatre Center Andre & Dorine, a wordless mask-theater exploration of an elderly couple faced with Alzheimer’s. The troupe was honored for Garbine Insausti’s exquisite mask work, and was also named an Outstanding Ensemble.

Actor, playwright and raconteur Jake Broder served as an elegant host for the evening, which included an award to him for his musical score for Miravel at Sacred Fools Theatre Company.

Long Beach’s International City Theatre won the Polly Warfield Award for the best season by a small-to-midsize theater, and previously announced special awards to longtime local director Michael Matthews, director-choreographer Janet Miller and projection designer Jason H. Thompson were presented in the beautiful Moss theater space, part of the Capshaw-Spielberg Center for Arts and Educational Justice on the campus of the Herb Alpert Educational Village. A complete list of honorees follows.

 

Members of the "Hit the Wall" ensemble.

Members of the “Hit the Wall” ensemble.

Production:

Hit the Wall, The Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center and Sixth Avenue at The Los Angeles LGBT Center.

Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum and The Theatre @ Boston Court at Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater at the Getty Villa.

 

McCulloh Award for Revival (plays written between 1920 and 1980):

Anna Christie, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble at Odyssey Theatre. (previously announced)

 

Lead Performance:

Mary Beth Fisher in Luna Gale, Goodman Theatre’s World Premiere Production, Center Theatre Group at Kirk Douglas Theatre.

Matthew Hancock in Hit the Wall, The Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center and Sixth Avenue at The Los Angeles LGBT Center.

Emily Lopez in Carrie the Musical, Bruce Robert Harris and Jack W. Batman, The Transfer Group, Michael T. Cohen/Robin Reinach, Kraige Block and Joe Everett Michaels, in association with La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts and The Los Angeles Theatre.

Zoe Perry in Anna Christie, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble at Odyssey Theatre.

Jimmi Simpson in Trevor, Circle X Theatre Co. at Atwater Village Theatre.

Sabina Zuniga Varela in Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum and The Theatre @ Boston Court at Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater at the Getty Villa.                                                 

 

Featured Performance:

Richard Fancy in Awake and Sing!, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble at Odyssey Theatre.

Charlotte Gulezian in Hit the Wall, The Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center and Sixth Avenue at The Los Angeles LGBT Center.

Charlie Hofheimer in Bent, Center Theatre Group at Mark Taper Forum.

Tracie Lockwood in A Permanent Image, & Dorine.

 

Ensemble Performance:            

André & Dorine, Kulunka Teatro at Los Angeles Theatre Center.

Hit the Wall, The Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center and Sixth Avenue at The Los Angeles LGBT Center.

 

Solo Performance:

Orson Bean in Safe at Home: An Evening With Orson Bean, Pacific Resident Theatre.

 

Direction:

Jessica Kubzansky, Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum and The Theatre @ Boston Court at Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater at the Getty Villa.

Kim Rubinstein, Anna Christie, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble at Odyssey Theatre.

Ken Sawyer, Hit the Wall, The Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center and Sixth Avenue at The Los Angeles LGBT Center.

 

Writing:

Rebecca Gilman, Luna Gale, Goodman Theatre’s World Premiere Production, Center Theatre Group at Kirk Douglas Theatre.

Nick Jones, Trevor, Circle X Theatre Co. at Atwater Village Theatre.

 

Writing (Adaptation):

Luis Alfaro, Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum and The Theatre @ Boston Court at Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater at the Getty Villa. (previously announced)

 

Musical Score:

Jake Broder, Miravel, Sacred Fools Theater Company at Sacred Fools Theater.

Tim Minchin, Matilda the Musical, Royal Shakespeare Company and the Dodgers, Center Theatre Group at Ahmanson Theatre.

 

Music Direction:

Abdul Hamid Royal, The Gospel at Colonus, Ebony Repertory Theatre at Nate Holden Performing Arts Center.

Julie Wolf, Girlfriend, The Actors Theatre of Louisville Production, Center Theatre Group at Kirk Douglas Theatre.

 

Choreography:

Josh Rhodes, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Robyn Goodman, Jill Furman, Stephen Koos, Edward Walson, Venetian Glass Productions, The Araca Group, Carola Productions, Roy Furman, Peter May/Sanford Robertson, James Spry, Eric Schmidt, and Blanket Fort Productions, Center Theatre Group at Ahmanson Theatre.

Angela Todaro, American Idiot, DOMA Theatre Company at The MET Theatre.

 

Set Design:

Tom Buderwitz, The Whipping Man, South Coast Repertory and The Pasadena Playhouse.

Mimi Lien, Appropriate, Center Theatre Group at Mark Taper Forum.

 

Lighting Design:

Tom Ontiveros, My Barking Dog, The Theatre @ Boston Court.

Matt Richter, Hit the Wall, The Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center and Sixth Avenue at The Los Angeles LGBT Center.

 

Costume Design:

Jessica Ford, These Paper Bullets!, Geffen Playhouse in association with Atlantic Theater Company presents the Yale Repertory Theatre Production at Geffen Playhouse.

William Ivey Long, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Robyn Goodman, Jill Furman, Stephen Koos, Edward Walson, Venetian Glass Productions, The Araca Group, Carola Productions, Roy Furman, Peter May/Sanford Robertson, James Spry, Eric Schmidt, and Blanket Fort Productions, Center Theatre Group at Ahmanson Theatre.

 

Sound Design:

John Zalewski, My Barking Dog, The Theatre @ Boston Court.

 

CGI/Video Design:

Anthony Backman and Jim Pierce, Astro Boy and the God of Comics, Sacred Fools Theatre Company at Sacred Fools Theatre.

Nicholas Santiago, A Permanent Image, Rogue Machine Theatre at Theatre/Theater.

 

Specialty: 

Garbiñe Insausti, André & Dorine, Kulunka Teatro at The Los Angeles Theatre Center. (Masks)

Aviva Pressman, Astro Boy and the God of Comics, Sacred Fools Theatre Company at Sacred Fools Theatre. (Live art direction)

 

The Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle was founded in 1969.  It is dedicated to excellence in theatrical criticism, and to the encouragement and improvement of theatre in Greater Los Angeles. The 2015 membership consisted of:

 

Pauline Adamek, ArtsBeatLA.com, Stage Raw

Paul Birchall, Stage Raw, Stage and Cinema

Shirle Gottlieb, Gazette Newspapers, StageHappenings.com

Margaret Gray, Los Angeles Times

Hoyt Hilsman, The Huffington Post

Deborah Klugman, LA Weekly, ArtsBeatLA.com, Stage Raw

Jenny Lower, Stage Raw, LA Weekly

Jon Magaril, CurtainUp.com

Dany Margolies, ArtsInLA.com, LANG (Los Angeles News Group)

Myron Meisel, Stage Raw

Terry Morgan, TalkinBroadway.com, Stage Raw

Steven Leigh Morris, LA Weekly, Stage Raw

David C. Nichols, Los Angeles Times

Sharon Perlmutter, TalkinBroadway.com

Melinda Schupmann, ShowMag.com, ArtsinLA.com

Jonas Schwartz-Owen, Theatermania.com, ArtsinLA.com

Madeleine Shaner, Park La Brea News & Beverly Press

Don Shirley, LA Observed

Les Spindle, Frontiers, EDGE LA

Bob Verini, Variety, ArtsinLA.com, Stage Raw

Neal Weaver, Stage Raw, ArtsinLA.com

 

 

 

THE 39 STEPS at the Torrance Theatre Company

Photo courtesy Torrance Theatre Company)

Photo courtesy Torrance Theatre Company)

Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

Richard Hannay is world-weary. At 37 years old, returning to prewar London after traveling, he fears there’s nothing left of life. Suddenly remembering the one place that could brighten his outlook, he dashes out — and heads to the theater. Read more…

Now running through April 17

SUMMER AND SMOKE at the Actors Co-op

Photo by Lindsay Schnebly

Photo by Lindsay Schnebly

David C. Nichols – LA Times

Summer and Smoke” may stand a little higher in the Tennessee Williams canon after you see an exceptional Actors Co-op revival of the 1947 drama, one of the best offerings in the company’s storied history.   Read more…

Les Spindle –  Frontiers L.A.

Tennessee Williams’ sultry and thought-provoking 1947 drama, strongly associated with Geraldine Page’s unforgettable lead performances on stage and screen, is also known as Eccentricities of a Nightingale, the author’s 1964 revision.

Read more..

Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

Playwright Tennessee Williams was always an intensely personal writer, verging on the obsessive in his preoccupation with certain themes, locales, and character types. But earlier in his career, his obsessions were kept in control, and he had a real desire to make his work accessible to the larger audience. Read more…

Now running through April 17