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Archive for May 2018

THE TEMPEST at the Whitmore-Lindley Theatre Center

Ted Ringeison

Ted Ringeison

Ellen Dostal – Broadway World

A gaunt Leon Russom conjures up more pathos than normal as the aged Prospero in the Porters of Hellsgate’s production of THE TEMPEST. Whether it is due to the fact that the actor has been battling pneumonia, which took him out of the show opening weekend mid-performance, or that his interpretation of the role centers on the last actions of a dying man, this is a Prospero we haven’t seen before.
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Now running through June 3

 

 

SOFT POWER at the Ahmanson Theatre

Craig Schwartz Photography

Craig Schwartz Photography

Ellen Dostal – Musicals in L.A.

Playwright David Henry Hwang and composer Jeanine Tesori are pushing buttons and challenging conventions with their new work, Soft Power, now in its world premiere at Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

American musical theatre and politics would seem to make strange bedfellows. However, since Of Thee I Sing won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1932. there have been many other successful and not-so-successful musicals mingling politics with song and dance.
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Erin Conley – On Stage and Screen

Soft Power, currently in its world premiere at Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre, is billed as “a play with a musical.” This is a unique description fitting for a unique show, both in structure and in content. With play and lyrics by David Henry Hwang and music and additional lyrics by Jeanine Tesori, Soft Power taps into timely political subject matter—some may say too timely—and adds a refreshing twist, creating a show with a perspective rarely seen.
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Now running through June 10

 

In Memoriam: Shirle Gottlieb

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We are sad to report that longtime Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle member Shirle Gottlieb passed away on May 6th. Shirle had been a freelance art and theater writer, reviewer, and critic for over 25 years – ever since she completed her Interdisciplinary Masters Degree at California State University, Long Beach. What began quite by accident while researching her thesis topic, “Creativity/ Creative Process,” became a labor of love.

Obituary reprinted courtesy of the Long Beach Press-Telegram:

Shirle Gottlieb, a longtime theater and arts critic who helped develop the Long Beach arts scene, died Sunday. She was 87.

Gottlieb died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease, said her daughter, Amy.

Caryn Desai, artistic director/producer at International City Theatre, called Gottlieb ‘one of the biggest supporters of the arts in our community, an intelligent, caring reviewer, an educator and a positive force for good.’

Joanne Gordon, former chair of the Theatre Arts Department at Cal State Long Beach and artistic director of California Repertory Company, said Gottlieb’s hundreds of reviews were ‘always kind but honest. She adored Long Beach and did all in her power to foster and develop the local arts scene. She enriched all who knew her…’ ”

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RED SPEEDO at the Road Theatre Company

Brian M. Cole

Brian M. Cole

Lovell Estell III — Stage Raw

The legendary Vince Lombardi once declared that, “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.” (Actually the slogan was first voiced by UCLA Bruins football coach Henry Russell “Red” Sanders in 1950; Lombardi probably got it from him).
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Playwright Lucas Hnath made news in April, 2017 when his play A Doll’s House, Part II premiered locally at South Coast Repertory while also being staged on Broadway by a different director and with a different cast.
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Now running through July 1

 

SEX at the Hudson Mainstage

Rich Huthman

Rich Hutchman

Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

We don’t think of Mae West as a literary figure, but she wrote three plays — Sex, The Drag, and Pleasure Man. All were produced on Broadway, and all were closed by the police on grounds of obscenity.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Before she became one of Hollywood’s biggest movie stars of the 1930s, the iconic Mae West was a playwright and a Broadway star.
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Now running through June 17

FOREVER BOUND at Atwater Village Theatre

Kathy Flynn

Kathy Flynn

Terry Morgan – Stage Raw

Steve Apostolina’s Forever Bound is an uncommon play that begins in one genre and ends in another. It’s always difficult to market something that doesn’t fit neatly into one category, so writers are often encouraged not to create anything like that. However, the results of such experiments are usually intriguing artistically. Such is the case with Forever Bound….     Read more…

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Steve Apostolina’s dark and thoughtful dramedy, Forever Bound, starts out as two disparate narratives that come together in an intense, disquieting way. Commencing as a wry comedy about a nebbish whose life is on the downturn, it culminates as a riveting face-off between good and evil, and highlights just how hard it can be to sever the formidable bonds that bind us to our past.
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Now running through June 16

SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN at Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theater

Demetrios Katsantonis

Demetrios Katsantonis

Frances Baum Nicholson –The Stage Struck Review

Is there any more iconic movie musical than “Singin’ in the Rain”? The move to bring it to the stage has been, from the start, a risky one, simply because it must compete with something so familiar. When it works, though, it is a sheer delight of old-school musical fun: catchy songs, clever comic characterizations, and lots of tap dancing.
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Now running through June 2

 

THE THEATRE IS A BLANK PAGE at UCLA’s Royce Hall

 

Photo by Reed Hutchinson/CAP UCLA )

Photo by Reed Hutchinson/CAP UCLA )

Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

Memorable? Yes. Thought-provoking? Yes. Worthy of a production on the treasured stage of UCLA’s Royce Hall, which has over the decades housed world-class performing arts? Yes.
Groundbreaking? Not so much. Read more…

Now running through May 12

 

SCHOOL OF ROCK at the Pantages Theatre

Matthew Murphy

Matthew Murphy

Margaret Gray – LA Times

In one of the most entertaining numbers in the musical “School of Rock,” which opened Thursday at the Hollywood Pantages theater, a substitute teacher rallies his 10-year-old students to “stick it to the man” by ignoring their stuffy prep-school curriculum and forming a rock band.    Read more…

Ellen Dostal –Broadway World

As kid musicals go, SCHOOL OF ROCK isn’t half bad. It falls somewhere between ANNIE and MATILDA on the Richter scale of stories about downtrodden kids overcoming obstacles to win in the end.
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Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

School of Rock, directed by Laurence Connor at the Pantages Theatre, doesn’t bowl you over with its mostly forgettable music. What it does do is deliver well-staged and well-executed family entertainment, showcasing an impressive ensemble of preteen actors who sing, dance and act up a storm.     Read more…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote the music for one of musical theatre’s first rock operas, Jesus Christ Superstar, in 1970. Nearly 50 years later the show is still popular…Read more…

Now running through May 27

ICE at 24th Street Theatre

Cooper Bates

Cooper Bates

Deborah Klugman – Capital & Main

ICE, Leon Martell’s family friendly play, takes place in 1988 and follows the misadventures of two undocumented immigrants: Chepe (Jesús Castaños-Chima), an avid baseball fan who dreams of making a fortune selling gourmet tacos; and his cousin Nacho (Tony Dúran), whom the beleaguered Chepe summons from Mexico to assist him in setting up his business.

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Ellen Dostal – Broadway World

Seduced by the notion that, in America, winning is everything, an immigrant loses sight of what is really important in Leon Martell’s world premiere play, ICE. Commissioned by 24th STreet Theatre to commemorate its 20th anniversary, the 65-minute one act highlights the plight of every hopeful soul diligently trying to attain the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness promised by our founding fathers.
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Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

The simple but extraordinarily effective stage designs for 24th Street Theatre’s latest offering, “ICE,” immediately inform us of time and place.

A dilapidated truck, a cathedral’s stained-glass window, a quintessentially local street lamp — all these say Los Angeles. A Dodgers announcer excitedly narrating Fernando Valenzuela’s every move via two large television sets with display dials proclaims the 1980s.
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Now running through June 10

BLUES IN THE NIGHT at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

Lawrence K. Ho

Lawrence K. Ho

Ellen Dostal – Broadway World

Somewhere in a cheap hotel in Chicago, circa late 1930s, three women are singing the blues. Two have been around the block and seen it all. One is woefully wise beyond her years. All have been burned by the flames of desire and lovers who have done them wrong.
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Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Blues in the Night was first produced in 1982 and has since been staged several times in New York and Southern California. Initially conceived and directed by Sheldon Epps, who also directs here, this latest production in the Lovelace Studio Theater at the Wallis Annenberg Center is a lush and lovely show.
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Now running through May 27

NOISES OFF at A Noise Within

Craig Schwartz

Craig Schwartz

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Farce is a science, a series of actions and reactions. People slam and swing open doors, they race up and down stairs, they misplace their clothing. If farce is a science, Noises Off deserves a Nobel Prize for physics.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

What has eight doors and revolves? Answer: Fred Kinney’s double-sided set for A Noise Within’s revival of Noises Off. This marks the company’s third revival of Michael Frayn’s farce in the past decade or so.
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Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Arguably one of the funniest farces in the contemporary British canon, Michael Frayn’s 1982 play revolves around a touring company of actors attempting to stage a frolicsome sex comedy called “Nothing On.”
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Now running through May 26