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Archive for November 2017

CHASING MEM’RIES at the Geffen Playhouse

Photo by Chris Whitaker

Photo by Chris Whitaker

Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

The individual elements may be among the best, but that’s not always sufficient to construct a worthy piece of theater.

Take, for example, “Chasing Mem’ries,” subtitled “A Different Kind of Musical,” in its world premiere at the Geffen Playhouse through Dec. 17. It boasts lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, whose astonishingly prodigious work, if you’re of a certain age, may have formed a soundtrack of your life.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Josh Ravetch’s Chasing Mem’ries, receiving its World Premiere at The Geffen Playhouse, is subtitled “A different kind of musical”. It definitely is different in that none of the three cast members actually sings a song—instead they talk sing their way through like Rex Harrison did in My Fair Lady.
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Now running through December 17

THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER at Actors Co-op

(Photo by John Dlugolecki)

(Photo by John Dlugolecki)

Lovell Estell III — Stage Raw

Director Linda Kerns and a spirited cast do an excellent job with this old “chestnut” by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman. It’s rarely produced and tricky to stage successfully because of its dizzying carousel of characters and dated strain of humor. This production is a welcome addition to the usual L.A. theater offerings that make the rounds during the holiday season.

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

The noted playwriting team of Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman wrote their comedy The Man Who Came to Dinner in 1939 and the Broadway production starring Monty Wooley ran for 739 performances.
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Now running through December 17

YERMA IN THE DESERT at Greenway Court Theatre

Photo by Luis Kelly-Duarte

Photo by Luis Kelly-Duarte

Deborah Klugman – Capital & Main

In Yerma in the Desert, the desert is less an external place than the state of mind of the title character. Written by Oliver Mayer, the play is inspired by Federico Garcia Lorca’s 1934 classic Yerma, whose central character, the wife of a shepherd, is childless and unhappy.
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Now running through December 16

THE NIGHT BEFORE THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS at the Little Fish Theatre

Photo by Mickey Elliott

Photo by Mickey Elliott

Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

It’s Dec. 16 in the New Jersey home of Lou and Carol. Their daughter Pia has grown into a foul-mouthed, somewhat Goth adult, his younger sister Mona gets on his nerves, and Carol is just too amenable.
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Now running through December 11

A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM at The Garry Marshall Theatre

(Photo by Chelsea Sutton)

(Photo by Chelsea Sutton)

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

When thinking about prolific composer Stephen Sondheim’s canon, it’s easy to forget about A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. It’s one of his early works, overshadowed by later shows like Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd, and Company. But the easiest way to differentiate it is through its utter lack of cynicism. A Funny Thing is just that — a funny thing.
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Now running through December 31

 

SPAMILTON at the Kirk Douglas Theatre

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig SchwartzJonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

No one parodies the Great White Way like Gerard Alessandrini. For 35 years, he’s made audiences sidesplittingly laugh with his Forbidden Broadway series where, through song, he’s shattered the idols of Broadway like Ethel Merman, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Mary Martin. In Spamilton, Alessandrini tightens his target to assassinate the biggest musical sensation of the 21st century, Hamilton.
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Now running through January 7

KING CHARLES III at the Pasadena Playhouse

Photo by Jenny Graham

Photo by Jenny Graham

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

Mike Bartlett’s play King Charles III is, in many ways, a snapshot of an earlier era. Given that the whole thing is written in iambic pentameter, you might think it’s a throwback to Shakespeare’s time. Instead, it depicts an alternate history that diverged from our own in late 2015. This is a world where Queen Elizabeth II is dead, Brexit never happened, and American TV star Meghan Markle has yet to start dating Prince Harry.
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Mike Bartlett’s award-winning play King Charles III arrives at the Pasadena Playhousewith a reinterpretation by its director, Michael Michetti, putting his own touch on the production. A talented cast enlivens this “what if” that finds the new monarch, King Charles III (Jim Abele), clashing with a hostile parliament.
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Frances Baum Nicholson –The Stage Struck Review

In order to fully understand the tensions of the play now open at the Pasadena Playhouse, it would be helpful have some background in the last century of the British monarchy.
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Now running through December 3

BLED FOR THE HOUSEHOLD TRUTH at Rogue Machine Theatre

Photo ny John Perrin Flynn

Photo by John Perrin Flynn

Terry Morgan  -  Stage Raw

Rogue Machine, one of the theatre companies in town I most admire, has been promoting its new show, Ruth Fowler’s bled for the household truth, as something important and shocking, and warning that easily offended people may walk out at intermission. In my experience, having specific expectations for a play or any work of art ahead of time often proves detrimental, and sadly that is the case here.
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Margaret Gray – LA Times

A New York financier with a great apartment has advertised in the paper for a roommate — specifically a woman. Her rent and board will be free, but she has to be willing to walk around sometimes in her underwear, and she can’t entertain gentlemen friends there.
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Paul Birchall – Stage and Cinema

Ambiguity and nuance are qualities in a play to be greatly desired and lauded – and yet, if you do not go “ick” at least four times while watching playwright Ruth Folwer’s increasingly disturbing drama, I’m not sure what can be done with you.
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Now running through December 18

 

MAGIC FRUIT- Cornerstone Theatre Company at The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles

(Photo by Jenny Graham)

(Photo by Jenny Graham)

Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

This Cornerstone Production of Magic Fruit, written by Michael John Garces and directed by Shishir Kurup, is a dystopian fantasy, loosely based (oddly enough) on Mozart’s The Magic Flute. It asks the question, along with several others: Can we produce enough food to feed Earth’s ever-growing population without destroying the planet?
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Now running through December 11

 

WAKE at City Garage Theatre

Photo by Paul Rubenstein

Photo by Paul Rubenstein

Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

City Garage Theatre has been one of the more interesting companies in L.A., and their work has always been polished and professional. Director Frederique Michel and producer Charles Duncombe are good people. But over the years they have seemed to become more aggressively stylized in their work.
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Now running through December 17

THE SECRET OF THE WINGS – Coeurage Theatre Company at the Historic Lankershim Arts Center

(Photo by John Klopping)

(Photo by John Klopping)

Paul Birchall  – Stage Raw

If your concept of a fairy tale is based on Disney’s saccharine stories in which the Little Mermaid easily finds love or Belle blissfully enjoys the company of the oddly photogenic beast, playwright Mary Zimmerman’s gorgeously rendered adaptation of a number of fantastic stories will frankly blow your mind.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

When the Brothers Grimm first published their first two volumes of Children’s and Household Tales in 1812 and 1815 they were criticized because the stories were considered not suitable for children because of the subject matter.
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Now running through December 16

A MAP OF VIRTUE at Atwater Village Theatre

(Barker Room Rep)

(Barker Room Rep)

Margaret Gray – LA Times

At first, Erin Courtney’s play “A Map of Virtue” presents itself as a quirky love story: Sarah (Megan Branch) and Mark (Sam T. West) stand side by side onstage and deliver alternating accounts of the first time they saw each other, as if answering an unseen interviewer’s questions.
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Now running through November 19