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Archive for Ahmanson Theatre

Confrontations with classics: THE INHERITANCE and PENELOPIAD

Adam Kantor, Bill Brochtrup, August Gray Gall and Juan Castano in The Inheritance Part 1. Photo by Jeff Lorch

Adam Kantor, Bill Brochtrup, August Gray Gall and Juan Castano in The Inheritance Part 1. Photo by Jeff Lorch

Don Shirley – Angeles Stage

Also: ’2:22,’ ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ ‘Rent,’ ‘Eisenhower’

When a narrative work of art attains “classic” stature, it often settles comfortably into collegiate required-reading lists — but loses its share of the current limelight.

So if E.M. Forster or Homer were alive today and sampling theater on the west side of Los Angeles County, would they be delighted that their creations are again being mentioned outside the classroom?Or would they be disturbed that their works are reference materials for playwrights with distinctively 21st-century perspectives — and that these writers are adapting the originals to reflect previously unrepresented points of view?

I’m talking about the West Coast premiere of Matthew López’s “The Inheritance” at Geffen Playhouse in Westwood and the professional LA premiere of Margaret Atwood’s “The Penelopiad” at City Garage in Santa Monica. Read more…

2:22 – A GHOST STORY at the Ahmanson Theatre

Anna Camp, Finn Wittrock, Adam Rothenberg and Constance Wu. Phtoo by Craig Schwartz

Anna Camp, Finn Wittrock, Adam Rothenberg and Constance Wu. Photo by Craig Schwartz

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Taking a break from their usual musical fare, Center Theatre Group-Ahmanson is offering 2:22-A Ghost Story by Danny Robins through December 4. The opening night was November 4, missing Halloween by a few days. Little costumed trick or treaters may have provided more scares than what transpired on stage. The reviewers were given a list of plot items to please not mention in their reviews, the better for future audiences to enjoy the supposed thrills. Stripped of those items, Robins’s script is basically two hours of marital discord, no matter how much director Matthew Dunster attempts to jolt the audience. He often succeeds, but it is more due to Lucy Carter’s lighting design and especially Ian Dickinson for Autograph’s sound design. Otherwise, the writing, directing and acting don’t really chill or thrill. Read more…

Harker Jones – BroadwayWorld

Arguments about the meaning of life, where we come from, where we’re headed after death, the afterlife, and the like have been debated for centuries by theologians, scientists, and philosophers alike, and we’re still not any closer to clarity. That said, it can make for gripping conversations deep into the night whether you’re stoned college students, wine-drinking soccer moms, or new parents. Read more…

Dana Martin – Stage Raw

The Ahmanson Theater is hosting poltergeist. 2:22- A Ghost Story, Danny Robins’ newest psychological thriller, is an unsettling romp through a proper haunted house. The show is making its U.S. premiere after a successful West End run last year. Read more…

Terry Morgan – ArtsBeat LA

I’m a horror film fan. I probably see 75-100 horror movies a year, and have done so for a long, long time. So I can state with certain knowledge that the cheapest of all scares is the jump scare. I have nothing against them – when a jump scare is well done, it can be a thing of beauty. But a lazy, unmotivated jump scare, just to get a visceral response  AAAAAAAAA!!!! (please imagine that this is someone suddenly screaming into your ear at top volume) can be irksome. I wanted to like the new Ahmanson production of Danny Robins’ 2:22 – A Ghost Story more than I did, but a surfeit of the same jump scare over and over and a goofy twist kept my enjoyment of the show mild. Read more…

Through December 4

Pig power plays at ‘Animal Farm.’ ‘Everybody’ is talkin’. Alanis and Hammerstein, but no Natives.

Geoff Elliott, top, with L-R Stanley Andrew Jackson III, Rafael Goldstein, Trisha Miller. Photo by Craig Schwartz.

Geoff Elliott, top, with L-R Stanley Andrew Jackson III, Rafael Goldstein, and Trisha Miller. Photo by Craig Schwartz.

Don Shirley – Angeles Stage

‘Animal Farm’. ‘Sanctuary City’. ‘Everybody.’ ‘Oedipus.’ ‘Jagged Little Pill.’ ‘Oklahoma!’

How ya gonna keep ‘em down on the ‘Farm’, after they’ve seen…Pasadena?

Yes, I’m paraphrasing the lyrics of an ancient pop song to make the point that Pasadena and nearby neighborhoods constitute the hottest cluster of locally-produced theater right now.

The creatures who liberate themselves from servitude in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” at east Pasadena’s A Noise Within, as well as the human audiences there, might also want to check out “Sanctuary City” at Pasadena Playhouse and “Everybody” at Antaeus in nearby Glendale. Read more…

OKLAHOMA! at the Ahmanson Theatre

Sasha Hutchings and Sean Grandillo. Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade.

Sasha Hutchings and Sean Grandillo. Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade.

Steven Leigh Morris – Stage Raw

Composer-lyricists Rodgers and Hammerstein were Jewish immigrants to New York and understood very well both the American pressures of assimilation and the spurning of outsiders that culminates in the sacrifice of those who don’t belong. (The stream of victims is endless and ever-changing.) Their musical Oklahoma! opened on Broadway in 1943; central to it is the sacrifice, under dubious circumstances, of an outsider to the local community named Jud (Christopher Bannow) — a tragic thread in a musical that otherwise traffics in optimism. (“Oh, what a beautiful morning; oh, what a beautiful day. I’ve got a beautiful feeling, everything’s going my way.”) This was being sung on Broadway at the very moment the United States and its allies had prevailed in a war against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Read more…

Tracey Paleo – BroadwayWorld

It seems everybody is having one of two reactions to Director Daniel Fish’s revival of OKLAHOMA! currently playing at the Ahmanson Theatre. Love it or hate it, if you can make it to the second act, something extraordinary does happen. A gorgeous dream ballet that was formerly located at the end of the first act, is now performed exquisitely by Jordan Wynn. And it expresses the emotional life and soul of the entire story. Read more…

Through October 16

Barding in the park, after dark

Kalean Ung and Sam Breen in Macbeth. Photo by Grettel Cortes.

Kalean Ung and Sam Breen in Macbeth. Photo by Grettel Cortes.

Don Shirley – Angeles Stage

‘Macbeth’ in Griffith Park, ‘Comedy’ in Irvine. CTG’s month of emulating Netflix. ‘Beach People,’ ‘Lavender Men,’ ‘Valley Song.’ Jason Alexander charts his Abby road.

Have you savored Shakespeare in the park this summer? This coming week might be the best possible moment for this annual ritual, as well as one of the last such opportunities. A daytime heat wave is expected this week, so you might not even need that extra wrap that you take, for example, to Topanga in June.

I’m recommending two productions far from Topanga — suiting different moods and, perhaps, with different ticket availability. If you want something wicked and wild, go to a dell in Griffith Park for Independent Shakespeare Company’s “Macbeth.” If you want something whimsical and witty, try the errrantly spelled “Comedy of Errrorrs” at New Swan Shakespeare Festival in Irvine. Read more…

THE PROM at the Ahmanson Theatre

National Touring Company of The Prom. Photo by Deen van Meer

National Touring Company of The Prom. Photo by Deen van Meer

Dana Martin – Stage Raw

Prom night is a big theme at the Ahmanson this season, what with the January’s production of Everybody’s Talking about Jamie, and now The Prom (book by Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin, music by Matthew Sklar and lyrics by Chad Beguelin), which is the very model of a clichéd musical. The show aims to appeal to a younger generation by celebrating the acceptance and inclusion of queer youth in our communities while simultaneously relying on old-school musical theater tropes.
Read more...

Katie Buenneke – Theatre Digest

This is a show that I just don’t connect with. I think it’s a mostly fine show, though the latter two thirds of the first act really drag. While the movie was fine (Andrew Rannells was terrific casting), I think it works better as a stage show; I’m more inclined to believe Emily Borromeo as a forgotten, longtime Broadway performer than the objectively very famous Nicole Kidman. Read more…

Now through September 11

When memories meet the present moment

Valerie Perri, Leo Marks, Samantha Klein. Photo by Jenny Graham

Valerie Perri, Leo Marks, Samantha Klein. Photo by Jenny Graham

Don Shirley – Angeles Stage

Don’t forget ‘If I Forget’ at the Fountain. Plus ‘Dear Evan Hansen,’ ‘A Wicked Soul in Cherry Hill,’ ‘King Liz,’ ‘Trouble the Water,’ ‘Freestyle Love Supreme,’ ‘Cookin’ with Gas’

The present moment is the essence of live performance. Everyone in the audience — or on the stage, for that matter — experiences an event that will never again be exactly replicated. More than filmed or “live” electronically recorded productions, live theater happens right now.

Of course improv-based stage productions, such as the current “Freestyle Love Supreme” at Pasadena Playhouse or the Groundlings’ “Cookin’ With Gas”, emphasize this quality. They rely on suggestions from the spectators, so the actual words and topics can change dramatically at each new performance (more about them later).

On the other hand, many scripted plays grapple so much with memories of the past that they sometimes ignore the relevance of the past to the present moment. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as the memories don’t feel musty. Read more…

COME FROM AWAY at the Ahmanson Theatre

Photo by Matthew Murphy

Photo by Matthew Murphy

Harker Jones – BroadwayWorld

Based on a true story of compassion in the face of horror, COME FROM AWAY dazzles with sheer exuberance, leading to a surprisingly moving conclusion. When terrorists took control of airplanes, using them as weapons and crashing them near the Pentagon and in New York City on September 11, 2001, the world came to a crashing halt. And that included the small town of Gander on the island of Newfoundland on the eastern end of Canada. Read more…

Now through June 12

HADESTOWN at the Ahmanson Theatre

Photo by T Charles Erickson

Photo by T Charles Erickson

Jonas Schwartz-Owen – Theatermania

There’s a gargantuan myth surrounding the opening of Hadestown at the Ahmanson Theatre. Not the Greek tragedy of Orpheus and Eurydice, which this musical does borrow, but the legend of the juggernaut Broadway production that opened in April 2019. Arriving with 14 Tony nominations and eight awards in tow, the production almost dares the audience to not be absorbed by the fandom and hype. Read more…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Even though Hadestown is mostly set in hell, it’s a lively and jazzy version of the fearsome place. Anais Mitchell has created an amazing piece of theatre with her book, music and lyrics and director Rachel Chavkin has put a special spin on the characters and action. It’s like two classic Greek love stories rolled into the biggest, rowdiest New Orleans Mardi Gras party ever. If hell is like this, I want to book my ticket now! The National Tour played the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles recently and will play the Orange County Performing Arts Center soon. Read more…

Now running through May 29

To hell (and back?) in TOOTSIE and HADESTOWN: Plus, A Heated Discussion, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, A Doll’s House Part 2, Masao and the Bronze Nightingale, Jane Austen Unscripted

Photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

Photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

Don Shirley – Angeles Stage

Just over a month ago, millions of us witnessed a dramatic descent into chaos onstage at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. At the Oscar ceremony, the usual back-patting was upstaged by the unscripted cheek-slapping of Chris Rock by Will Smith.

Now fresh drama has returned to the Dolby. Last Tuesday, the stage musical adaptation of “Tootsie” made its first LA appearance there, under the auspices of Broadway in Hollywood, depicting a very different fall from grace. It’s a contemporary take on the beloved 1982 film comedy about a man who enjoys steady employment — and even fame — while posing as a woman, before his ruse is exposed. Read more…

 

THE LEHMAN TRILOGY at the Ahmanson Theatre

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Jonas Schwartz-Owen – Broadway World

Three men stand on a stage for over three hours, trekking through 150 years of history in The Lehman Trilogy and it’s the most invigorating evening imaginable. Read more…

Now running through April 6

EVERYBODY’S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE at the Ahmanson Theatre

 

Photo by Johan Persson

Photo by Johan Persson

Tracey Paleo – Broadway World

It was just what we needed!”

The audience response was joyous. Indeed, that was the very vocal sentiment of so many in the crowd after a triumphant opening night at the Ahmanson Theatre downtown Los Angeles….
Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Of course, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, since its star, Layton Williams, is an unbridled force of nature. Read more…

Now running through February 2o