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Archive for Reviews

THE ABUELAS at Antaeus Theater Company at the Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center

Jenny Graham

Jenny Graham

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

The Abuelas is the second play by Stephanie Alison Walker to address the tragedy of Los Desaparecidos — Argentinian citizens who opposed the military junta that governed the country between 1976 and 1983 and who fell prey to the right-wing death squads that kidnapped, tortured and murdered thousands.
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Margaret Gray – LA Times

Stephanie Alison Walker’s “The Abuelas,” now at Antaeus Theatre Company in Glendale, is the kind of play that makes staff dramaturgs earn their keep: so much history to contextualize.
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Now running through November 25

THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP – A PENNY DREADFUL at Actors Co-op

Matthew Gilmore

Matthew Gilmore

Terry Morgan  -  Stage Raw

In today’s parlous theatrical economy, more must be done with less, which explains the proliferation of one-person shows on some of our larger stages. This is understandable in a pecuniary sense, if regrettable in an aesthetic one — one misses the dramatic interplay between actors. A nice compromise is the “two-hander,” in which two performers make up the entire cast. Charles Ludlam’s The Mystery of Irma Vep — A Penny Dreadful is an excellent example of this theatrical form.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Charles Ludlam wrote nearly 30 plays during his career, mostly performing in them at his own Ridiculous Theatrical Company in New York’s Greenwich Village. A friend took me to see Conquest of the Universe or When Queens Collide during my first theatre trip to NYC in 1977.      Read more…

Now running through November 10

 

GEM OF THE OCEAN at A Noise Within

Craig Schwartz

Craig Schwartz

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Gem of the Ocean, August Wilson’s play about sin, salvation and the power of the supernatural, takes place in 1904, a mere four decades following the end of the Civil War. Written near the close of his career (it was his next-to-the-last play, preceding his final work, Radio Golf), it serves as both framework and foundation for The Pittsburg Cycle, the playwright’s nine-part master chronicle of the African-American experience, in all its profound grief and joy.
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Now running through November 16

 

ANASTASIA at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre

Evan Zimmerman

Evan Zimmerman

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

If you, like me, grew up on the 1997 animated film version of Anastasia, you probably remember the creepy and scary Rasputin, and the titular heroine eventually defeating him by destroying a magical glass vial. While much of the plot, and all of the memorable songs, are the same in the musical version that opened last night at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre, Rasputin and all of the supernatural elements have been removed. But despite those differences, this charming production evokes strong feelings of nostalgia, telling a touching tale of a traumatized princess attempting to find her way back to herself.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

The fate of Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanoff of Russia was one of the greatest mysteries of the early 20th century as at least ten women came forward claiming to be her, even though she and her entire family of seven, led by Tsar Nicholas II, were said to have been murdered by their Bolshevik guards in July, 1918 after the Russian Revolution.
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Margaret Gray – LA Times

The most mysterious thing about the feisty, strawberry-blond protagonist of the musical “Anastasia,” whose national tour has landed at the Hollywood Pantages, is not her affliction by what doctors today might diagnose as retrograde amnesia or dissociative fugue. (Her story takes place in 1927, in the infancy of neuroscience, when doctors just called everyone crazy.)
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Now running through October 27

 

A KID LIKE JAKE at IAMA Theatre Company

Dean Cechvala

Dean Cechvala

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

In A Kid Like Jake, which opened this weekend in its west coast premiere at IAMA Theatre Company in Los Angeles, we never actually meet the titular character. Instead, playwright Daniel Pearle has written a smart and thoughtful exploration of parenthood in the modern age, and how to navigate raising a child who is struggling with their gender identity.
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Now running through November 3

NEVER EVER LAND at Studio/Stage

Matt Kamimura

Matt Kamimura

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Singer Michael Jackson was probably the world’s biggest celebrity and music icon in 1993 when he was accused of sexually abusing a 13-year old boy during the boy’s visits to Jackson’s California Neverland ranch.
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Margaret Gray – LA Times

To find juicy plots, poor old Shakespeare had to slog through “Holinshed’s Chronicles” and “Plutarch’s Lives.” Today’s playwrights need only switch on the news for material — and then write like the wind, because something crazier is bound to happen in an hour.
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Now running through October 27

HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN at Boston Court Pasadena

Craig Schwartz

Craig Schwartz

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Americans live in a culture which values the new, the shiny, the unimpaired. If a plate or cup chips, most of us throw it away.

In Japan, it’s a different story. A Japanese philosophy, wabi-sab, teaches that worn or imperfect objects may have great value.Kintsugi, the repairing of broken pottery, is a kindred art form that views imperfections in an object as part of their history and integral to their worth. Rather than discard the object, kintsugi instructs that it be cared for and treasured.
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Now running through October 27

 

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS at the Pasadena Playhouse

Jenny Graham

Jenny Graham

Jonas Schwartz – Theatermania

Pasadena Playhouse has produced a reimagined Little Shop of Horrors, the hit musical about a man-eating plant and the schlub who feeds him human flesh. Alan Menken’s memorable music and Howard Ashman’s lyrics, with their loving detail for puns and storytelling, still makes this musical special. This revival, however, may leave audiences hungering for more than it can offer.
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Now running through October 20

LAS MUJERES DEL MAR – Playwrights Arena at Atwater Village Theatre

Kelly Stuart

Kelly Stuart

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Part memory play, part social drama, Janine Salinas Schoenberg’s Las Mujeres Del Mar (Women of the Sea) tells the story of three generations of Mexican-American women who strive to love and support each other despite their past wounds and resentments.
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Now running through October 14

 

A PLAY IS A POEM at The Mark Taper Forum

Craig  Schwartz

Craig Schwartz

Terry Morgan  -  Stage Raw

Ethan Coen is one of the greatest screenwriters of the past 50 years, with some of his works — Miller’s CrossingFargo and The Big Lebowski — standing as masterworks of the form. He’s also an accomplished short story author and poet, as attested to by Gates of Eden and The Drunken Driver Has the Right of Way, respectively. So, it’s disappointing to report that his new show at the Taper, A Play Is a Poem, is at best a mildly amusing collection of four short plays, with an implacably bad, tough-to-endure one-act positioned right at the center.
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Now running through October 13

 

THE CHINESE LADY at Greenway Court Theatre

Michael C. Palma

Michael C. Palma

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Afong Moy was 14 years old when she was sold by her father and brought to New York City by traders Nathaniel and Frederick Carne and put on display in their museum. Admission was originally 25 cents (10 cents for children) but, because of the high volume of interest, the price was soon raised to 50 cents.
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Now running through September 29

IN CIRCLES at the Odyssey Theatre

Michael C. Palma

Michael C. Palma

Lovell Estell III — Stage Raw

Gertrude Stein was a poet, novelist, essayist and playwright who is generally regarded as one of the more influential female writers of the 20th century. Her style was anything but conventional, and we have her to thank for such pithy expressions as “a rose is a rose is a rose” and “there is no there there.”
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Now running through November 10