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SAMSARA at the MET Theatre

John Klopping

John Klopping

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

In 2008, the New York Times published an article about a burgeoning new enterprise in India: the establishment of surrogacy clinics catering to couples in need of a woman to bear their child.
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Now running through June 1

 

JULIUS WEEZER at the El Portal Theatre

Ed Krieger

Ed Krieger

Terry Morgan  -  Talkin’ Broadway

To quote an obscure Elizabethan playwright, “we lucky few” have been privileged to enjoy the work of the Troubadour Theater Company for 25 years now. Its trademark — combining a play (often Shakespeare) with the music of a famous artist, then adding its own blend of anarchy and witty topical references (Hello, Game of Thrones Starbucks cup!) — remains a reliable delight.
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Ellen Dostal – Broadway World

In JULIUS WEEZER, Troubadour Theater Company uses its signature wit to turn a Shakespeare classic into a blissfully-alive rocker version of its ancient self, and the result is divine madness. You don’t need to be a Bard lover to have a great time but, if you are, you’ll be impressed by the level of classical talent on stage and the company’s ability to “speak the speech” while tickling your funny bone.
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Now running through May 19

THE SECRET GARDEN – 3-D Theatricals at Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts

Caught in the Moment Photography

Caught in the Moment Photography

Ellen Dostal – Broadway World

When 3-D Theatricals artistic director T.J. Dawson tells you during the curtain speech to read his program note before THE SECRET GARDEN begins, take him at his word.
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Now running through May 19

DANIEL’S HUSBAND at the Fountain Theatre

Ed Krieger

Ed Krieger

Terry Morgan  -  Talkin’ Broadway

It’s always a nice moment when a work of art surprises me in a positive way. It reminds me of one of the reasons I love theater in the first place: the primal pull of story. It’s the delight of seeing something new when one was expecting something else.
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Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Daniel’s Husband, written by Michael McKeever and directed by Simon Levy at the Fountain Theatre, starts out decked with light comedy and glib dialogue  but midway takes a sharp turn to become relevant and affecting.
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Now running through June 23

 

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!