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Author Archive for LADCC critics

BANDSTAND at Broadway In Thousand Oaks

Bandstand-ProductionPhotos-1920-6

Jonas Schwartz – Broadway World

The musical Bandstand, which is now part of the American Theater Guild tour across the country, thrives when Andy Blankenbuehler’s Tony-winning choreography is front and center. Restaged for this production by Marc Heitzman, who was Dance Captain in the Broadway production, the dances display vitality that makes audiences want to stand up and join in.
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DEFENDERS at the Broadwater Black Box

Darrett Sanders

Darrett Sander

Lovell Estell III — Stage Raw

On May 10, 1940, Iceland was invaded by the Royal Navy and Royal Marines because the British government feared the possible Nazi takeover of the country. A little over a year later, defense of the country was transferred to the United States. Against this backdrop, Cailin Maureen Harrison tells a story about three U.S. soldiers on a classified mission who are confronted by the powers of nature and myth.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Cailin Maureen Harrison’s Defenders is receiving its World Premiere at The Broadwater Black Box in Hollywood courtesy of Pandelia’s Canary Yellow Company. Harrison attempts to blur the lines between myth and reality in her tale of three shipwrecked U.S. soldiers on the tiny island of Hrisey off the northern coast of Iceland.
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Now running through December 8

ELIJAH at The Victory Theatre Center

Tim Sullens

Tim Sullens

Terry Morgan  -  Stage Raw

Placing a disparate group of characters in a location they can’t leave and forcing them to deal with each other has been a tried and true source of dramatic conflict since Sartre’s No Exit. The claustrophobia and stress of interacting with new people ratchets up the tension swiftly. So it is with Judith Leora’s new play, Elijah, which is receiving its West Coast premiere at The Victory Theatre.
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Now running through December 15

KEY LARGO at Geffen Playhouse

Jeff Lorch

Jeff Lorch

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

Key Largo was first a 1939 Broadway play, then a 1948 film starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, and finally, it is now at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles in a new world premiere adaptation. Adapted by Andy Garcia and Jeffrey Hatcher, this play shifts some of the focus to the character of Johnny Rocco (played by Garcia), a notorious gangster who takes the inhabitants of a Florida Keys hotel hostage during a hurricane.
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Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

In Key Largo, a 1948 film classic, Humphrey Bogart played a disillusioned anti-hero, an ex-army officer in World War II who, despite his cynicism, musters up enough moral conviction to stand up to Edward G. Robinson’s sneering gangster, Johnny Rocco.
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Jonas Schwartz – Theatermania

Batten down the hatches— a hurricane has come to the Geffen. Key Largo, the new adaptation of the 1948 John Huston film, creates thunder and lightning with visual effects that turn the theater into ground zero of a devastating storm. The technical team brilliantly crafts a mood of claustrophobia and despair.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Key Largo is one of the classic Warner Bros. gangster movies. The film was the fourth and final pairing of legendary screen couple Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. It also featured the fifth screen pairing of tough guys Bogart and Edward G. Robinson.
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Now running through December 15

THE GREAT LEAP at the Pasadena Playhouse

Jenny Graham

Jenny Graham

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

Sometimes the most compelling drama in sports does not happen on the court or field, but behind the scenes. In The Great Leap, a play by Lauren Yee that opened in its Los Angeles premiere this weekend at the Pasadena Playhouse, in association with the East West Players, basketball serves as an entry point into an ambitious story about familial, cultural, and political conflict.
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Margaret Gray – LA Times

You may not know — I didn’t — that basketball is huge in China. Missionaries introduced the sport there in 1895, soon after it was invented, and when the Communists came into power in 1949, it was one of the few Western cultural contributions they didn’t criminalize. Apparently Chairman Mao was a fan.

Lauren Yee’s stunning play “The Great Leap,” now at the Pasadena Playhouse in a gorgeous co-production with East West Players….
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Now running through December 1

THE THANKSGIVING PLAY at Geffen Playhouse

Jeff Lorch

Jeff Lorch

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

The version of Thanksgiving most of us were taught in school is certainly problematic. From outdated, disrespectful views of Native Americans and erasure of their role to the generous portrayals of the first white settlers on this continent, the narrative around the whole holiday is due for reexamination. This discussion sets the stage for The Thanksgiving Play, a satirical comedy by Larissa FastHorse currently playing at the Geffen Playhouse.
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Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Thanksgiving, that most American of holidays (not counting The Fourth of July), has long been shrouded in myth, perpetuated for decades by classroom images of earnest Pilgrims, helpful “Indians” and cheerful squawking turkeys. No longer, however, does it serve as an unsullied symbol of a generous, sharing national spirit.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

In today’s world of seemingly absolute, complete, no excuses accepted political correctness, even the most holy of venerated saints would have a hard time saying, doing perhaps thinking anything the least bit outre without being shouted down by some fractional segment of the PC community. For example—how do you celebrate Thanksgiving and Native American Heritage Month while creating an elementary school pageant?
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Jonas Schwartz – Theatermania

Native American playwright Larissa FastHorse has written a rambunctious and edgy satire of wokeness, The Thanksgiving Play, now running at the Geffen, in which she satirizes America’s precarious relationship to racial issues and gives a Native American writer’s perspective on the so-called white man’s burden.
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Now running through December 6

THE BEST MAN at the Lounge theatre

Ed Krieger

Ed Krieger

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

When Gore Vidal’s play The Best Man premiered in March, 1960, it seemed to presage the upcoming Democratic Presidential Convention. The two main characters–Governor William Russell, an intellectual, was modeled on persistent Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson while the brash, young contender Senator Joe Cantwell was an amalgam of John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon.
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SUMMER – THE DONNA SUMMER MUSICAL at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre

Matthew Murphy

Matthew Murphy

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

Jukebox bio-musicals are seemingly a dime a dozen these days—The Temptations, Gloria Estefan, Carole King, Tina Turner, and Cher have all recently inspired Broadway musicals. The latest to make its way to the Hollywood Pantages Theatre after a run on Broadway last year is Summer: The Donna Summer Musical. 
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Donna Summer, as much as she detested it, was the acknowledged Queen of Disco in the late 1970s. She finally got to display her real vocal prowess with her recording of Jimmy Webb’s “MacArthur Park” which was also her first No. 1 hit on the Billboard charts.
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Now running through November 24

 

THE 7 STAGES OF GRIEVING at the Skylight Theatre

Justin Harrison

Justin Harrison

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

In the 24 years since it premiered in Brisbane, Australia, The 7 Stages of Grieving has evolved into a modern Australian classic. Written by Wesley Enoch and Deborah Mailman, both of Aboriginal extraction, it’s an hour-long one-woman show that speaks to the history and culture of Australia’s indigenous people — who, like Native Americans, African-Americans and Latinos in this country, historically have been disrespected, oppressed and the victims of genocide, both real and cultural.
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Now running through November 24

 

1984 at The Actors’ Gang

Ashley Randall

Ashley Randall

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

When George Orwell wrote 1984, he was responding to the totalitarian movements that swept Germany and Russia under Hitler and Stalin respectively. Published in 1949, the book was intended as a caution to those who mistakenly kept faith in the promise of Soviet communism.
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Now running through December 7

THE DOUBLE V at the Matrix Theatre

Ed Krieger

Ed Krieger

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

So entrenched was systemic racism in the U.S. in the early 1940s that patriotic African-Americans were turned away when they sought to fight for their country at the onset of World War II.

Directed by Michael Arabian at the Matrix Theater, Carole Eglash-Kosoff’s play dramatizes the historical effort to allow black men and women to serve in the U.S. military in time of war.
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Now running through November 24

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR at the Pantages Theatre

Matthew Murphy

Matthew Murphy

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

At a certain age, when looking back at the events of 1970 they seemed to have happened just the day before yesterday. Then something like the 50th Anniversary Tour of Jesus Christ Superstar arrives for a quick one-week engagement at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre and you realize 1970 was nearly 50 years ago.
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Now running through November 3