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Author Archive for LADCC critics – Page 2

DIANA OF DOBSON’S AT Antaeus Theatre Company’s Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center

Geoffrey Wade Photography

Geoffrey Wade Photography

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

It is rare to see a play written in 1908 that can be described as feminist, but Diana of Dobson’s, currently playing at Los Angeles’s Antaeus Theatre Company in a rare production, is a delightful surprise.
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Now running through June 2

THE END OF SEX at the Victory Theatre Center

Tim Sullens

Tim Sullens

Terry Morgan  -  Stage Raw

There are at least two pitfalls for “a play of ideas” — that is, the kind of piece that George Bernard Shaw made his name on and that is specifically created to discuss and debate a particular issue. The first pitfall is that this sort of play can be talky and dry, all intellect and no plot, something Shaw was accused of more than once.
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Now running through June 2

A Conversation with Matt Walker and Beth Kennedy, the King and Queen of Troubie Land

weezer david 3x750

Ellen Dostal – Broadway World

When it comes to developing a loyal fan base, Troubadour Theater Company has found the secret: do outstanding work, stay true to your aesthetic, and give the people what they want – a great time at the theater. Artistic Director Matt Walker started the troupe and, with the help of longtime friend and foil, Beth Kennedy, continues to lead his merry band into the great theatrical unknown. Next up for the company is JULIUS WEEZER, which combines Shakespeare’s JULIUS CAESAR and the music of Weezer to tell its tale of political intrigue Troubie style. Today, they talk about what it’s like putting together a new show and why they keep on coming back for more.

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REVOLUCIONES at the Los Angeles Theatre Center

Andrew Vasquez

Andrew Vasquez

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Too often idealists who lead revolts against fascist regimes end up assuming the same dictatorial and bloodthirsty predilections as their enemies.
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Now running through May 12

 

 

BOXING LESSONS at The New American Theatre

Jeannine Wisnosky Stehlin

Jeannine Wisnosky Stehlin

Lovell Estell III — Stage Raw

The terminally damaged clan on display in John Bunzel’s dark comedy convincingly affirms that oft quoted adage of Tolstoy’s that “every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”.
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Now running through June 2

 

FALSETTOS at the Ahmanson Theatre

Joan Marcus

Joan Marcus

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

Most people hear the term “falsetto” and think of the vocal technique used by male singers to sing notes above their natural range, often resulting in a sound that is strikingly high and, in a sense, untraditional. It is not very obvious why the musical Falsettos, which opened last night at Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre as part of a national tour, has the title it does, but it is about an untraditional family.
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Jonas Schwartz – Arts In LA

Falsettos is a master class in acting modulation. The characters are self-involved, sometimes violent, energy vampires. An actor must be true to author William Finn’s vision of Marvin and his clan, revealing warts and all, but compel the audience to accept and forgive those who need eons of therapy.
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Now running through May 19

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT at the Edgemar Center for the Arts

Ed Krieger

Ed Krieger

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

If you find the page count or the dense subject matter of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment too intimidating, Marilyn Campbell and Curt Columbus’s award-winning stage adaptation might be more palatable. Clocking in at a cool 90 minutes and featuring only three actors, this version boils the classic tale down to the essentials, while still preserving the cat-and-mouse dynamic the source material is so known for.
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Now running through May 26

 

Award Show Speech From LADCC Founding Member Win Blevins

Win

A few words about my grand experience as a theater reviewer—as a way to suggest something about all our futures.

My years of reviewing theater were glorious. They came from joining three great loves—writing, music, and theater, especially musical theater and opera. I learned first that theater was out. I didn’t have Richard Burton’s voice or Maggie Smith’s melody within the line. Music lasted longer for me but was a no-go. Writing? That’s the story here.

In 1967 I got an internship at the Times as back-up guy to the drama critic and the music critic. Next I was offered the job as entertainment editor at the Herald-Examiner. Grabbed that, happily, because it offered me a chance to cherry-pick the best of theater, music, and movies.

WHAT A FABULOUS TIME in local theater. The Mark Taper Forum and Ahmanson were growing up. The New York City Opera was establishing an annual monthly season. New kinds of musical theater were emerging—Man of La Mancha, Hair, Cabaret, the Andrew Lloyd Weber musicals. My favorite new development? The National Theatre of Great Britain performed in residence for two months each year. Amazing! That excitement was why we put together the collegial lunches that were the first baby breaths of what has become the LADCC.

Now add in some other benefits for a writer who loves the theater. These rewards were everywhere in those years, and I hope they still are:

Flights to San Francisco to watch William Ball’s American Conservatory Theater. An annual trip to New York to catch up with Broadway and Off-Broadway. An annual trip also to check out the London scene. And best of all, the theater people I got to spend time with. Playwrights like Robert Bolt and Dale Wasserman. Actors like James Earl Jones, Dustin Hoffman, Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Julie Andrews, Lee Grant, and the marvelous Brits Maggie Smith and Laurence Olivier. Enough names—I won’t mention the directors.

But those glories put me in a pickle: Like almost every American journalist, I wanted to write books. But I was scared to start. Surrounded by marvelous people who spent their days in the great current of creativity, I was just . . . observing.

That question got huge for me in the middle of 1970. I gave myself a time limit: I’ve had three years to learn this craft. I’ll take next year to say whatever I really want to say about today’s theater. Then one year to repeat it and maybe get my thoughts across. Then?

QUIT THE JOB AND WRITE A BOOK. Freelance, no salary, no expense account, no benefits, etc. Naked.

LOOK AGAIN, WIN. You’re sitting on the bank of a great river of creative energy. Your friends and heroes are out there playing in the water. WHO’S HAVING THE FUN HERE? So the middle of ’72 will be the end. I will quit.

Maybe the universe does have its ways. One month short of my quote-unquote deadline a stranger overheard me trading stories with Dale Wasserman at a party. I didn’t know the stranger was a publisher. The next day he offered me a modest advance to turn my stories into a book, without further guarantees.

Immediately I RESIGNED.

My family and friends went ape. Why throw your security away? Why launch across the Pacific Ocean in a rubber raft? My colleagues wondered if I was nuts. You’ve got a catbird seat on the world of theater (and movies). Why the hell throw it away? Want to be Mr. Nobody

No, I want to jump in the river and play games with my kind of people.

More than five decades and about fifty books (plus some screenplays) later, this fool stands in front of you grinning. I’VE HAD A LOT OF FUN. I’ve been up, I’ve been down, left, right, and all around the town. Been on the Times list and off all lists, been recognized and been wrecked. Every kick and kiss life offers. And I’ll sail off the planet thinking, I didn’t waste my life wishing and hiding—I did what I really wanted to do.

So: Are you one of the journalists who keeps thinking he has a book or a screenplay somewhere in that whirligig mind? Are you an actor who longs for juicier roles? A director who wants to take bigger chances? Then GO FOR IT. Step out of your comfort zone. Stretch your skin. As dozens of wise people have said, the only things you’ll regret in life are the risks you did not take.

In signing off here, I’ll anticipate what you’re probably asking yourselves: Does he have a wonderful wife who supports this decision? Answer: Wonderful, yes. She writes books for a living too.

Oh, financial chaos and creative freedom. Sing it!

STEEL MAGNOLIAS at Actors’ Coop

Matthew Gilmore

Matthew Gilmore

Terry Morgan  -  Stage Raw

Watching this excellent current revival of Robert Harling’s Steel Magnolias at Actors Co-op, I was reminded yet again of the power of a strong ensemble. Solo shows and two-handers certainly have their place, but there is something about the interaction among a group of talented actors, where many things combine to become one greater thing, that seems to me to be the very heart of whatever magic theater creates.
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Margaret Gray – LA Times

In the first scene of the play “Steel Magnolias,” Robert Harling’s 1987 love letter to small-town Southern women, two Louisiana friends share favorites from their recipe boxes. Cuppa Cuppa Cuppa Cake is so straightforward, it doesn’t even require an index card:
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Robert Harling’s comedy/drama play Steel Magnolias premiered off-Broadway in 1987 and ran for over 1,100 performances. Read more…

 

Now running through May

THE NICETIES at Geffen Playhouse

T. Charles Erickson

T. Charles Erickson

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

Most people who went to college likely remember office hours as a phenomenon that you were glad existed, but rarely utilized. But in The Niceties, a play by Eleanor Burgess currently in its west coast premiere at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, office hours become a battleground between a professor and a student who see the world very differently.
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Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

In The Niceties, playwright Eleanor Burgess constructs a dialectic between a white liberal professor of history who believes in the ideal of America despite its failings, and an angry African-American student who bitterly challenges the bedrock of her teacher’s beliefs.
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Now running through May 12

FIDDLER ON THE ROOF at the Pantages Theatre

Joan Marcus

Joan Marcus

Margaret Gray – LA Times
Reviving a beloved musical can be a daunting proposition. Do you keep faith with tradition, or do you try something new? If you opt for a little of both, how much of each? It’s hard to find the balance — a bit like trying to play a fiddle on the roof.
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Now running through May 5

ARGONAUTIKA at A Noise Within

Craig Schwartz

Craig Schwartz

Ellen Dostal – Broadway World

The best way to characterize Mary Zimmerman’s adaptation of the mythical tale of Jason and the Argonauts is as a playground for adults in which theatre artists use every storytelling trick in the book to bring gods, monsters, mortals, and kings to life.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

The poet Ovid wrote his classic Metamorphoses during the reign of Augustus, the first Roman Emperor. In 1996 playwright/director Mary Zimmerman brought ten of the myths to life in a pool of water on stage in Chicago and later Los Angeles and New York.
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Now running through May 5