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BROKEN STORY at The Sherry Theater

Photo courtesy of Matt Kamimura

Photo courtesy of Matt Kamimura

Harker Jones – BroadwayWorld

In the West Coast premiere of Cyndy A. Marion’s BROKEN STORY, Jess (Lindsay Danielle Gitter), a Manhattan journalist, relates her childhood obsession with a mobster’s daughter whose parents died under mysterious circumstances. Years later, that daughter, Jane Hartman (Lynn Adrianna Freedman), has moved to Los Angeles and become a successful author. When she’s found dead on Christmas Eve, Jess, still obsessed, makes her way to the City of Angels on her own dime and inserts herself into both the investigation into what is being viewed as a murder (Was it a mob hit? A crime of passion? A friend? A lover?) and into Jane’s life prior to her death, leading to revelations she could never foresee. Read more…

Through November 27

CLYDE’S at Mark Taper Forum

Photo by Craig Schwartz Photography

Photo by Craig Schwartz Photography

Terry Morgan – ArtsBeat LA

According to a survey conducted by American Theater magazine, Lynn Nottage’s Clyde’s is currently the most produced play in the U.S. It’s not surprising that Nottage’s work is being done; she’s received the Pulitzer Prize twice during her illustrious career. But it’s a little disappointing that this show seems to be her most popular. I think she’s a talented playwright and have enjoyed several of her other creations, but I found this play to be meretricious and phony – I didn’t believe a minute of it. The new production of Clyde’s at the Taper is professionally done and features a capable cast, but the play itself feels more like a safe CBS TV sitcom than anything resembling reality. Read more…

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

A word to the wise: eat, preferably a sandwich, before seeing Clyde’s at the Mark Taper Forum. After the show ends, you’ll be hungry, not just for food like Montrellous (Kevin Kenerly), the executive chef of the titular diner, describes, but for an artistic experience that’s more substantial than what you you’ve just seen onstage. Read more…

Margaret Gray – Los Angeles Times

“If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen,” advises a favorite proverb of tough-love advocates. And in a universe with free will and infinite possibilities, it’s probably sound advice. Don’t sit around grousing about your situation; find one you like better.

But what if there’s nowhere else to go? What if that inferno of a kitchen is your whole world? Read more…

Tracey Paleo – BroadwayWorld

“Sometimes a hero is more than just a sandwich.”

Quite possibly, a perfect production. Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage’s Tony Award-nominated CLYDE’S at the Mark Taper Forum is heartfelt, funny, and seriously delicious.

From writing to performances, direction to delivery, costuming, scenic, sound, and lighting design, opening night saw 100% on the Richter scale of live theater. Read more…

Through December 18

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

RADIO GOLF at A Noise Within

Christian Telesmar. Photo by Craig Schwartz.

Christian Telesmar. Photo by Craig Schwartz.

Tracey Paleo – BroadwayWorld

There is a reason why August Wilson is one of the more prolifically produced playwrights in modern American theater. He just gets it. Life. Language. History. Struggle. Desire. People. This can be similarly said for Gregg T. Daniel, one of greater Los Angeles’ well-loved actors/directors. And it shows in his latest directorial effort, RADIO GOLF, currently at, A Noise Within. Read more…

Through November 13

ACCORDING TO THE CHORUS at The Road Theatre

Photo by Peggy McCartha

Photo by Peggy McCartha

Harker Jones – BroadwayWorld

The world premiere of Arlene Hutton’s ACCORDING TO THE CHORUS is a lively slice-of-life look at the backstage antics of an unnamed Broadway show (that’s been running longer than CATS) in 1984. Set in a quick-change room devoted to six chorus girls and their three dressers, the makeshift family squabbles, complains, and supports each other over the course of 15 tumultuous months-tumultuous in the women’s personal and professional lives as well as in the world swirling around them-touching on domestic abuse, AIDS, social stratification, and eating disorders. Read more…

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Arlene Hutton’s new dramedy, According to the Chorus, promises much. Set in 1984 and billed as a fly-on-the-wall peep at the rivalry between a group of Broadway chorus dancers and the women who dress them, the play also touches on the loss and grief of the AIDS epidemic, as well as the heartache of its central character, KJ (Samantha Tan) a woman grieving her broken marriage to a man she still loves. Read more…

Through December 11

FARRAGUT NORTH by Foursome Productions at Theatre 68 Arts Complex

Paul Rubenstone and Chris King Wong. Photo by Peter Allas.

Paul Rubenstone and Chris King Wong. Photo by Peter Allas.

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Before becoming a playwright and screenwriter, Beau Willimon worked as a political operative, toiling behind the scenes on the campaigns of Chuck Schumer, Hilary Clinton, Bill Bradley and Howard Dean. Willimon left politics in 2004, subsequently translating his experiences as a ringside player in Washington into plays, film and TV, most notably the long-running and enormously popular Netflix series House of Cards. An offshoot of writer Andrew Davies’ British original, the series was brilliantly illustrative of the ruthless quest for power that drives so many politicians and the aides who surround them. Read more…

Harker Jones – BroadwayWorld

Beau Willimon, creator of the American version of “House of Cards,” knows politics. And the machinations that go on behind the scenes. His first play, FARRAGUT NORTH, which debuted off-Broadway in 2008, is in the vein of that Kevin Spacey-Robin Wright thriller series and is loosely based on Howard Dean’s 2004 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. Press secretary Steve (Chris King Wong) is a swaggering twentysomething idealist who thinks he’s on top of the world. And he is, to a degree, but given info and an opportunity, will he sell his soul? He takes one fateful phone call that sets his life and career spiraling out of control and suddenly the player is getting played. Read more…

Through November 5

DESERT STORIES FOR LOST GIRLS by Native Voices at the Autry and Latino Theater Company

Katie Anvil Rich and Carolyn Dunn. Photo by Grettel Cortes Photography.

Katie Anvil Rich and Carolyn Dunn. Photo by Grettel Cortes Photography.

Terry Morgan – Stage Raw

When I was reading the press material for Lily Rushing’s Desert Stories for Lost Girls, I encountered the term genízaro for the first time. One definition of the word I discovered online defines it as: “…detribalized Native Americans, through war or payment of ransom, [who] were taken into Hispano and Puebloan villages as indentured servants in New Mexico, southern Colorado and other parts of the southwestern United States.” I was unaware of this history, and so was intrigued to see a play about the subject. Unfortunately, this world premiere production by Native Voices at the Autry and Latino Theater Company suffers from Rushing’s unclear writing, which works neither as education nor effective drama. Read more…

Tracey Paleo – BroadwayWorld

There is an essential account that needs to be told in DESERT STORIES FOR LOST GIRLS. That’s clear. What’s not quite working in this Native Voices/Latino Theater Company co-production and world premiere, however, is the narrative framework, staging, and direction. But the importance of this largely untold and untaught chronicle is nevertheless undiminished. Read more…

Through October 16

I NEVER SANG FOR MY FATHER at Two Roads Theater

Photo by David List

Photo by David List

Harker Jones – BroadwayWorld

I NEVER SANG FOR MY FATHER is a moving meditation on aging, elder care, and the responsibility a grown child feels to both his parents and his own life. The hushed show set in 1965 Westchester, New York, aches with loneliness, regret, and melancholy as widower Gene (Shayne Anderson) struggles to marry his affection for his mother, Margaret (a congenial and relatable Becky Bonar), and his exasperated resentment toward his self-involved, prickly father, Tom (Dana Kelly Jr.). His sister, Alice (Mary Carrig), was banished years before for marrying a Jew, so Gene is essentially on his own as he works to come to peace with his past, his present, and his future. Read more…

Through October 23

THE SEARCH FOR SIGNS OF INTELLIGENT LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE at the Mark Taper Forum

Cecily Strong. Photo by Craig Schwartz.

Cecily Strong. Photo by Craig Schwartz.

Katie Buenneke – Theatre Digest

Your opinion of this solo performance will likely be determined by your opinion of Cecily Strong. Personally, prior to seeing this show, I found her skilled, but not thrilling, and spending 96 minutes with her here reinforces that assessment. Read more…

Harker Jones – BroadwayWorld

When THE SEARCH FOR SIGNS OF INTELLIGENT LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE originally launched on Broadway in 1985, it was an immediate sensation. The one-woman show won star Lily Tomlin Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics’ Circle awards, and brought author Jane Wagner a Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience. In 1991, it was turned into a successful film, and now it has been relaunched and updated by Wagner, to mixed effect. Read more…

Through October 23

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

EVERYBODY at Antaeus Theatre Company

Harry Groener and Nicole Erb in Everybody. Photo by Jenny Graham.

Harry Groener and Nicole Erb in Everybody. Photo by Jenny Graham.

Terry Morgan – Stage Raw

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins has been one of the most promising new playwrights of the past decade. His plays are widely produced and he’s been a Pulitzer finalist twice. I’ve loved about half (Neighbors and Gloria) of the five shows of his I’ve seen, was mildly entertained by another (Appropriate) and underwhelmed by the other half, one of which was An Octoroon and the other of which unfortunately is Everybody. This rewriting of the 15th-century morality play Everyman feels more like an academic exercise than actual drama. The talented cast of Antaeus Theatre Company’s new production of the show can’t quite give it the desired emotional resonance that isn’t present in Jacobs-Jenkins’ prose. Read more…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Everyman is a late 15th century morality play that uses allegorical characters to examine the question of Christian salvation and what Man must do to attain it. That text might be a bit too dry and pedantic for today’s audiences. In 2017, playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins gave it a more modern spin and retitled it Everybody. Antaeus Theatre Company in Glendale is currently presenting the 90-minute dramedy. If morality plays are your thing, you should check it out. The cast of nine features some stand out performers. Read more…

Katie Buenneke – Theatre Digest

This production is the definition of a mixed bag. When it’s great, it soars, but when it fumbles, it’s tough. Much of this, I suspect, comes from the text, an adaptation of a centuries-old play of unknown origin, which, in playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ retelling, obliterates the fourth wall. Read more…

Harker Jones – BroadwayWorld

EVERYBODY, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ contemporary riff on a 15th-century morality play, is a creative and chaotic allegory about Christian salvation which is, in the end, an uneven production for the usually consistent Antaeus Theatre Company.
Read more…

Through October 17

LAVENDER MEN at Skylight Theatre

Pete Ploszek, Alex Esola, and Roger Q. Mason, Photo by Jenny Graham

Pete Ploszek, Alex Esola, and Roger Q. Mason, Photo by Jenny Graham

Jonas Schwartz-Owen – Theatermania

Roger Q. Mason burns the history books with Lavender Men, a world premiere fantasia that re-envisions the passions of our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. The play, produced by Playwrights’ Arena & Skylight Theatre Company at the Skylight, is a revolutionary response to a country focused on keeping its constituents disenfranchised and invisible. As actor and writer, Mason is a force of nature, ready to bring all pillars of repressive society crashing down. Read more…

Tracey Paleo – BroadwayWorld

After years of development at SKYLAB*, readings in Los Angeles and at New York’s Circle in the Square, and a two-year setback by the coronavirus, LAVENDER MEN written by Roger Q. Mason (they/them), directed by Lovell Holder, has finally made its world premiere. As a high bar for gender non-conforming people, it is a shining star of storytelling. As a commentary on the life of an American icon, it is slightly hyperbolic although not entirely unsubstantiated according to whichever modern essays you might be reading about the subject matter. The term “lavender men”, in fact, is not an original concept. Read more...

Now through September 4