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Archive for Bob Verini

THE REVISIONIST at the Wallis- Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

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Photo by Kevin Parry

Bob Verini  -   Stage Raw

One might have expected that accomplished actor but novice playwright Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network, Batman v Superman) would be more adept at creating characters for The Revisionist than knowing what to do with them. Read more…

Now running through April 17

DREAMGIRLS at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts

Photo by Michael Lamont

Photo by Michael Lamont

Bob Verini  -   Stage Raw

Let’s start by talking about the song, and if you’re reading about Dreamgirls you already know what song I mean. It’s the one that everyone’s always waiting for, the one that practically single-handedly justifies a revival of the Tom Eyen-Henry Krieger-Michael Bennett 60s pop musical in and of itself. It stands as America’s national anthem of the love that dare not say “get the f— out, you bastard.”    Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts pulled a 42nd Street and unleashed an understudy who roars as Effie White. Amma Osei is a dream as the volatile singer. Because she is an alternate, she may have been more polished had she performed more often with the cast, but her raw energy is fiery, and she is the diamond of an already accomplished production. Read more…

Now running through April 17

NO WAKE at VS. Theatre

Photo by Azul Delgrasso

Photo by Azul Delgrasso

Bob Verini  -   Stage Raw

The premise of William Donnelly’s No Wake is straightforward enough — the throwing together of a divorced couple after the suicide of their long-estranged daughter. With the addition of a third character, the wife’s new husband who has come along for moral support, the action could proceed in any number of ways, most of them likely to be pretty emotional if not downright fraught.

 Read more…

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

The pivotal event in William Donnelly’s digressive three-character one act No Wake is the suicide of an angry young woman named Suki, long alienated from her middle-aged parents for reasons they’ve never understood.

Read more…

Now running through March 19

BARCELONA at the Geffen Playhouse

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Photo by Michael Lamont

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

The clash of values in playwright Bess Wohl’s disputatious two-hander takes place between Irene (Betty Gilpin), a chattering blonde tourist from Denver, and Manuel (Carlos Leal), a handsome Spaniard who’s ferried her back to his loft in Barcelona for wild, mutually satisfying sex.  Read more…

Dany Margolies – The Daily News

What’s notable about “Barcelona” is not so much what it says. One hopes, when a play has made it all the way to the Geffen Playhouse, it reveals something about the human condition. But at the Geffen, it’s interesting to observe how difficult this one’s messages are to take in. Read more…

Bob Verini  -  Arts In LA

Ever find yourself walking in a park in the morning, or through a mall in the afternoon, or down a main drag like Pasadena’s Colorado Boulevard at night, enjoying the sights and sounds and people, and suddenly you say to yourself, “Holy crap, what if there should be an incident right now? What if somebody with a bomb or a gun is right around that corner?” Read more…

Pauline Adamek  -  ArtsBeatLA

Two opportunistic strangers hook up for a brief bout of sex. But what starts off as a drunken one-night stand turns into a soul-searching all-night discussion that goes until dawn.   Read more…

Now running through March 13

VIEUX CARRE at the Historic Noho Arts Center

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(Photo by Nardeep Khurmi)

Bob Verini  -   Stage Raw

In the vast scheme of Tennessee Williams’ long career, the 1978 Vieux Carré stands as one of his lesser plays, derivative and ill-shaped. Among the works of his final two decades, however, it’s one which can still credibly command a stage if given a vigorous and mature production.   Read more…

David C. Nichols – LA Times

The singular theatrical voice of Tennessee Williams pulsates through “Vieux Carré” at the Lankershim Arts Center in North Hollywood.

Although this resourceful Coeurage Theatre Company production of Williams’ kaleidoscopic memory play doesn’t resolve the property’s liabilities, it’s a noble and inventively executed effort. Read more…

Now running through March 12

AMERYKA – Shakespeare Festival of Los Angeles

 

Photo by Patti McGuire

Photo by Patti McGuire

Bob Verini  -   Stage Raw

Late in the second act (and third hour) of Ameryka, a world premiere presentation by Nancy Keystone’s Critical Mass Performing Group, a dapper gent played by Ray Ford steps up to bear witness to a gay bar encounter with Witold, a young native Pole.    Read more..    

Now running through March 6

THE DODGERS at the Hudson Mainstage Theatre

Photo by Marjorie LeWit

Photo by Marjorie LeWit

Bob Verini  -   Stage Raw

Diana Amsterdam’s The Dodgers, now playing at the Hudson Mainstage, deals with a December “Day of Infamy,” but it’s not the one that interrupted Americans’ Sunday morning breakfast with news about something called Pearl Harbor. Just short of 28 years later, on December 1, 1969, the government held a televised lottery to determine — fairly, it insisted — which members of the infuriatingly, disingenuously named “class of 1970” would be subject to the draft. No one was immune. Read more…

Now running through February 28

EMPIRE THE MUSICAL at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts

 

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Photo by Michael Lamont

Bob Verini  -   Variety

The stunningly appointed “Empire The Musical,” world premiering at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts (and no relation to the hit Fox series), gains strength from the entire company’s shared desire to erect the unprecedentedly tall Empire State Building, in stubborn defiance of the Great Depression. Alas, authors Caroline Sherman and Robert Hull willfully betray their storytelling judgment and taste…

Read more…

Margaret Gray – LA Times

New evidence suggests it’s easier to build the world’s tallest skyscraper than to create an original American musical. Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

The new musical Empire pays homage to the musicals of the ’20s and ’30s. The original score by Caroline Sherman and Robert Hull contains snappy songs and captures the bubbly effervescence of the classic age. Read more…

Melinda Schupmann – Arts In LA

On May 1, 1931, the Empire State Building was completed as the world’s tallest skyscraper, at 102 stories. That it was successfully done during the difficult days of the Depression was a testament to the vision of its creators and, more important, the hardworking builders who erected it. Read more…

 

Now running through February 14

BULLETS OVER BROADWAY at the Pantages Theatre

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Les Spindle –  Edge on the Net

Writer-director Woody Allen’s memorable 1994 film comedy“Bullets Over Broadway” served up a touch of vintage Billy Wilder (a la “Some Like It Hot” and “One, Two, Three”) driven by Allen’s trademark genius for mixing a farcical story with darker elements and trenchant humor. Read more…

Margaret Gray – LA Times

How seriously do you take your art? Would you kill for it? Literally?

Those are the questions that animate “Bullets Over Broadway,” Woody Allen‘s delicious cinematic parable about the struggle between creative greatness and human goodness. The backstage thriller, released in 1994, seems tailor-made for Broadway. You’d think the title would have caught producers’ eyes long ago as they trolled Netflix for material. Read more…

Bob Verini  -   Stage Raw

My Depression-era dad and his brothers were proud possessors of BB guns, but targets were few and far between in the Bronx at that time, neighborhood cats being off limits and tin cans in particularly high demand.

So they chose to conduct target practice on a whole slew of vintage 78 RPM pop recordings: Bing Crosby, Russ Columbo, Sophie Tucker and other luminaries of the vaudeville and legit stages. (“They suited the purpose,” my father reported dryly, and he confessed to a particular frisson of pleasure when a Rudy Vallee number was tossed in the air.) Read more…

Dany Margolies – The Daily News

Instead of heading to the Pantages over the next few weeks for the national tour of the musical “Bullets Over Broadway,” you could stay home and Netflix Woody Allen’s 1994 film. But you’d miss a handful of lively performances, William Ivey Long’s magnificent costumes, and nearly two dozen American standards played by a superb pit band and sung with verve. Read more…

Now running through January 24.

IF/THEN at the Pantages Theatre

Idina Menzel and James Snyder in If Then photo by Joan Marcus  40r

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Since it premiered on Broadway in March 2014, a number of theater writers have commented on how the range and power of lead diva Idina Menzel transforms Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey’s so-so musical into a show well worth seeing. Read more…

Bob Verini  -   Stage Raw

The Pantages is playing happy host to Idina Menzel in the national tour of If/Then, the latest crest in a really remarkable career to date.

She first came to prominence in 1996 by creating the role of Maureen in Rent, and copping a Tony nomination for her work. A few years later she brought home the Tony as the very first Elphaba in Wicked, then tore up the soundtrack of Disney’s Frozen as Elsa the Ice Queen, and scored another Tony nomination and a year’s run for If/Then on Broadway. Read more…

Dany Margolies – The Daily News

“If/Then” posits the astounding revelation that if each of us had taken a different path, our lives would be different. Running for a month at Pantages Theatre, the musical’s national tour also brings along its Broadway stars, for better or worse. Read more…

Now running through January 3.

OUTSIDE MULLIGAR at the Geffen Playhouse

Photo by Michael Lamont

Photo by Michael Lamont

Bob Verini  -   Stage Raw

The committed theatergoer, confronted with the prospect of a play set in Ireland, may well inquire, “First of all, is it one of the light ones or one of the dark ones?” Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Outside Mullingar feels like a memory play of the distant past that is set in modern times. The farming territory of Killucan, Ireland, has a timeless aura. Into this delicate setting, Shanley beautifully tells a quiet tale of unrequited love, where the characters are not so much repressed, but gloomy about what they think they can’t have. Read more…

Myron Meisel – Stage Raw

Bob Verini’s Stage Raw review of John Patrick Shanley’s Outside Mullingar places the show squarely within its proper context, and though much of his take is unassailable, I regard the play with more susceptible affection — though in the Irish manner, all such sentiment and despair are to be doubted in equal measure.    Read more…

Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

Exit Reviews are a series of ‘vlogs’ or brief video reviews, giving first impressions of the show.   Read more…

Now running through December 20

 

HOMEFREE at the Road on Magnolia

Courtesy Road Theatre Company

Courtesy Road Theatre Company

Bob Verini  -   Stage Raw

Lisa Loomer writes Issue Plays. She may not set out to do so quite so baldly, but there it is. Her works tend to be identifiable, and tend to last in the memory, as copiously researched treatments of specific ongoing problems in contemporary American life. And, by the way, she tends to be the only dramatist taking up those issues, which is to her everlasting credit.Read more…

Now running through November 7.