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Archive for Center Theatre Group

ZOOT SUIT at the Mark Taper Forum

zoot

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Erin Conley – OnStage

It is not every day that a hat receives entrance applause at the theater. However, it is also not every day that Zoot Suit returns to Center Theatre Group’s Mark Taper Forum, the very theater that commissioned and hosted its world premiere in 1978. Read more…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Luis Valdez, founder of El Teatro Campesino and writer/director of the 1978 play with music Zoot Suit, says in his program notes for the current revival at the Mark Taper Forum, “On opening night, when the character of El Pachuco, memorably played by Edward James Olmos, swaggered onto the Taper stage, Chicano theatre became American theatre.” Read more…

Frances Baum Nicholson – The Daily Breeze

The return of Luis Valdez’s groundbreaking musical “Zoot Suit” to the Mark Taper Forum is less of a theatrical milestone than it is a major cultural event.   Read more…

Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

Swinging social commentary abounds with the lively, if overlong Zoot Suit, a mostly upbeat revival now playing at the Mark Taper Forum. With swagger and flair, Demian Bichir haunts the stage as ‘El Pachuco’ – the play’s Zoot-suited narrator – singing and growling in a (sometimes) unintelligible yet authentic Pachuco idiom. Ann Closs-Farley’s costume creations deserve special mention for their vibrancy, as does Maria Torres for her superb choreography. Read more…

Now running through March 26

REAL WOMEN OF EAST LA ARE IN THE PALISADES AND PASADENA – Don Shirley, L.A. Observed

real-women-curves-pasadena

Don Shirley – LA Observed

Center Theatre Group, which continues to call itself “L.A.’s Theatre Company,” also continues to demonstrate virtually no interest in LA stories.

When CTG recently announced the next Mark Taper Forum season, after previously revealing new seasons for the coming year at CTG’s Ahmanson and Kirk Douglas theaters, I began counting. So, how many of the 14 CTG productions at these three venues are set in or near LA?

None.

Read more…

THE BLACK SUITS at the Kirk Douglas Theatre

blacksuits

Photo by Craig Schwartz

This world premiere musical, now at Kirk Douglas Theatre, manages to get plenty of new wine into very old, if not downright dusty, bottles. The saga of the making of the eponymous garage band soars despite a paper-thin, clichéd plot; derivative character types; and QED themes of friendship and youthful dream-making.

Read more…

Now running through November 24.

Tribes, Center Theatre Group at the Mark Taper Forum

Photo by Craig Schwartz.

 

Tribes by Nina Raine.

 

Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

Intense and heartbreaking, Nina Raine’s drama Tribes is about a turbulent family and the one member who feels left out. A Bohemian British family consisting of a loud, domineering and profane writer father, a hippy mother, and three grown children — two sons and a daughter, who have all moved home — all interact in a raucous fashion, shouting each other down as they energetically exchange intellectual opinions. All but one… The youngest, Billy (Russell Harvard), is deaf. Having never learned to sign, Billy’s spent a lifetime being largely excluded from their vociferous debates.   Read more…

 

 

LADCC Annual Awards – Monday March 18th – Host and Presenters announced

French Stewart, TV star (“3rd Rock From the Sun”) and local theatre mainstay (“Stoneface”: “Voice Lessons”) will host the 44th Annual Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle (LADCC) Awards on Monday, March 18, 2013 at the Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring St. Downtown. Tickets for the show and opening reception, which will start at 6:30 pm, can be reserved by e-mailing crixawards2013@gmail.com. All seats are $30.00

Stewart will preside over this year’s theme “Theatre Everywhere,” focusing on the wide geographical range within which LADCC members travel in the course of a year to see and celebrate the best of live performance. Top representatives of local institutions – including Michael Ritchie of CTG; Sheldon Epps of The Pasadena Playhouse; Barbara Beckley of The Colony Theatre; and Zombie Joe of Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre – will assist Circle members in presenting awards in 17 competitive categories as well as a host of special award plaques.

Entertainment, too, will come from all over the region. Almost two dozen performers from Orange County will reunite to perform “The Rumble” from the Chance Theatre’s acclaimed and nominated revival of “West Side Story.” The cast of “Justin Love,” the smash musical that originated at Celebration Theatre – winner of this year’s Margaret Harford Award for distinguished achievement – will appear, alongside performers from “The Color Purple” (Cesili Williams); “The New Electric Ballroom” (Tim Cummings); and “Bad Apples” (Kate Morgan Chadwick, accompanied by the show’s composer/lyricists Beth Thornley and Rob Cairns.)

Ryan Johnson, nominated for his score for “Stoneface” which starred Stewart as the legendary Buster Keaton, serves as musical director for the evening, which will be produced by Daily Variety and ArtsinLA.com critic Bob Verini. Production stage manager is Heatherlynn Gonzalez. Award-winning sound designer Cricket S. Myers lends her skills to the event, whose associate producer is Peter Finlayson of Footlights Publishing.

A cash bar with great food and a silent auction (cash and checks only, please) will occupy the 6:30-7:30 hour, until doors open and the annual celebration of great L.A. area theatre begins.

ALL INFORMATION:

The Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle (LADCC) has announced its nominations and special awards for excellence in Los Angeles and Orange County theatre in 2012.

All tickets have been reduced to $30.00. Tickets can be arranged through crixawards2013@gmail.com, and PayPal will be accepted prior to March 18. Credit cards will be accepted at the door.

Nominees are entitled to a single complimentary ticket. Nominees please click here for important information regarding ticketing etc.

Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. on March 18 for drinks, music, hors d’oeuvres (no full dinner) and conversation, while at a Silent Auction attendees can bid on theater and film-related items. Only cash or checks will be accepted at the auction, please. The show will commence at 7:30 p.m.

Scheduled host French Stewart is a 25-year mainstay of the Los Angeles theatre scene and a notable star of TV and film. Best known for his six seasons co-starring on NBC’s 3rd Rock From the Sun, he is a member of Sacred Fools and played the title role in that company’s 2012 production of Stoneface, The Rise and Fall and Rise of Buster Keaton, which has received two LADCC nominations.

In recognition of this year’s theme, “Theatre Everywhere,” representatives of theatre companies based within the geographic beat covered by members of the Circle will join Stewart and Circle members to present awards in 17 competitive categories.

# # # # #

NOMINEES:

The 2012 nominees are…

SPECIAL AWARDS:

Six special awards will be presented under the sponsorship of organizations and individuals to whom the LADCC is most grateful. Honors have been announced for local institutions Celebration Theatre (for sustained excellence); and The Fountain Theatre and Center Theatre Group (for their excellent seasons). The Circle also recognizes prominent individuals: David O; Elina de Santos; Stephen Gifford; as well as Evelina Fernandez for her A Mexican Trilogy, an outstanding L.A. world premiere play.

The 2012 special awards winners are…

ALREADY-VOTED AWARDS:

Three already-voted awards will be presented on awards night.

Plaques will be presented on March 18 to the following recipients:

Adrian Kohler with Basil Jones for Handspring Puppet Theatre, in recognition of the design, fabrication, and direction of the puppets of War Horse at the Ahmanson Theatre

David McCormick and Kelly Todd for their fight direction of West Side Story at the Chance Theatre in Anaheim.

In addition, a special plaque will be awarded to Center Theatre Group for an excellent season.

# # # # #

MEMBERSHIP:

The Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle was founded in 1969. It is dedicated to excellence in theatrical criticism, and to the encouragement and improvement of theatre in Greater Los Angeles.

The 2012 membership consisted of:

Pauline Adamek, LA Weekly; ArtsBeatLA.com

F. Kathleen Foley, Los Angeles Times

Shirle Gottlieb, Gazette Newspapers; stagehappenings.com

Hoyt Hilsman, Back Stage, The Huffington Post

Mayank Keshaviah, LA Weekly

Amy Lyons, Back Stage, LA Weekly

Dany Margolies, ArtsinLA.com

Terry Morgan, LAist.com; Daily Variety

Steven Leigh Morris. LA Weekly

David C. Nichols, Los Angeles Times, Back Stage

Sharon Perlmutter, TalkinBroadway.com

Melinda Schupmann, Back Stage; ShowMag.com; ArtsinLA.com

Madeleine Shaner, Park La Brea News/Beverly Press; Back Stage

Les Spindle, Frontiers; Theatremania; EDGE LA

Bob Verini, Daily Variety; ArtsinLA.com

Neal Weaver, LA Weekly; Back Stage

 

The LADCC is pleased to welcome FootLights Publishing, Inc. as consultants on this year’s awards events. The mission of FootLights is to illuminate the theatre community, providing greater access to a more diverse public while at the same time offering insight into the production and process of theatre.

The LADCC expresses its gratitude to Los Angeles Theatre Center and Latino Theatre Company for their warm welcome and many courtesies.

 

 

Seminar, Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre

Photo by: Craig Schwartz

 

Seminar by Theresa Rebeck.

 

Hoyt Hilsman – The Huffington Post

Plays about writers and writing present major challenges for both audiences and playwrights. Because writing is such an internal process, full of grinding frustration and occasional exhilaration, it is a tough subject to portray on stage. Playwright and film/TV writer Theresa Rebeck makes a valiant but flawed assault on the subject in her play Seminar, which ran last year for six months on Broadway and recently opened at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles.   Read more…

 

Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

Playwright and screenwriter for film and TV Theresa Rebeck has a brilliant ear for realistic and witty dialogue and – more importantly – an eagle eye for observing the dynamics of modern relationships. Her insight, combined with her satirical edge, makes for some highly entertaining comedies and dramedies. She’s not always successful; a recent production of Our House had issues with a wavering tone. But when you settle into your seat to experience one of her plays, there’s no doubt you will be entertained, provoked and hopefully amused. This newest production, Seminar, does all that and more. Read more…

 

Steven Leigh Morris – LA Weekly

I’m not sure what happened to Theresa Rebeck’s Seminar at the Ahmanson. In New York, on Broadway, with Alan Rickman as the sadistic guru of a high-end workshop for aspiring scribes, there emerged the portrait of a world-weary, sexually precocious, washed-up, literary “leader” of waiting-to-be-abused acolytes. It was a view of a demonic world fueled by jealousy and bitterness containing a single moment of generosity, redemption and purpose — what Ian would have called “divine.”   Read more…

 

 

Krapp’s Last Tape, CTG at the Kirk Douglas Theatre

Photo by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging

 

Krapp’s Last Tape by Samuel Beckett.

 

Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

Samuel Beckett’s melancholy one man, one act play is being performed superbly by John Hurt in his first appearance on a Los Angeles stage, at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, in a production imported from the Gate Theatre in Dublin, Ireland. Much like Clint Eastwood waited until he was sufficiently old and grizzled enough to play the aging gunslinger in Unforgiven, Hurt seems to have arrived at the perfect point in his illustrious career to portray the decrepit Krapp. At 72, the Oscar-nominated British actor is actually a fraction older than the character (69). Hurt’s hair is short, spiky and powdered grey, his teeth appear rotten with a front one missing, his face is sagging and lined with the deep creases of a long life and Hurt even limps and leans on a walking stick throughout, at times grunting with the effort; the cane was still in use during opening night’s enthusiastic curtain call.   Read more…

 

 

Bob Verini – Variety

If there’s a bleak truth to be unearthed about the human condition, you can be sure Samuel Beckett peerlessly expressed it. His 1958 tiny masterpiece Krapp’s Last Tape is about the impermanence of memory — about how our recollections desert us just when they’re most needed to soften the blow of reviewing life’s disappointments. The emphasis on humor in Michael Colgan’s visiting Gate Theater Dublin production, executed by the brilliantly talented John Hurt, makes it easier to swallow Beckett’s bitter pill. Read more…

 

The Elephant Room, Center Theatre Group

Photo by Scott Suchman / Arena Stage

 

The Elephant Room created by Trey Lyford, Geoff Sobelle and Steve Cuiffo.

 

Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

A creepy trio of lounge lizard magicians, sporting pedophile moustaches, cheesy outfits, hideous wigs and (in one case) false buck teeth, are the “protagonists” of a spoofy “play” called The Elephant Room, now playing at the Kirk Douglas Theater in Culver City. But it’s not really a play at all. Instead it’s an ill-focused, poorly developed and chaotic assemblage of mildly amusing nonsense featuring a handful of extraordinary magic tricks outweighed by far too many gags, pratfalls and lame conjuring stunts that fail to impress. Think Spinal Tap for magicians… Yes, it’s clearly a send-up of the more tacky elements of the world of magic, but when you can actually SEE one of the magicians (Louie Magic) diving in and out of the voluminous pockets and secret compartments of his coat, that is what is known as prestidigitation FAIL.   Read more…

 

Bob Verini - Variety

What hath “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” wrought? The creators of “Elephant Room” may not have been directly inspired by Paul Reubens’ campy childhood takeoff, but the magic show now at the Kirk Douglas is cut from the same lightly smarmy, semi-surrealist, so-clunky-we’re-cool cloth. What Pee-wee pulls off, the Elephants muff: The framework of “Room” is incoherent and distasteful (beneath a wholesome veneer), and the performers spectacularly overestimate their personal appeal.  Read more…

 

 

Red, Donmar Warehouse at Mark Taper Forum

Photo by Craig Schwartz.

 

Red by John Logan.

 

Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

It’s refreshing to experience a play about ideas, and not simply character or story. John Logan’s incendiary play Red is a two-character bio-drama about abstract expressionist fine artist Mark Rothko in conversation with his young assistant.  Read more…

 

Dany Margolies – ArtsinLA

No question, Alfred Molina is otherworldly brilliant here, playing mid-century American painter Mark Rothko as potently leonine….  And for that reason, this production should be seen. John Logan’s script is not as clearly mandatory viewing.  Read more…

 

 

 

Mary Poppins, CTG

Production photo by Deen Van Meer.

 

Mary Poppins — Music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, book by Julian Fellowes.

 

Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

The beloved tale of the efficient Victorian nanny Mary Poppins is back at the Ahmanson Theatre for a four-week run. With its magnificent staging, gorgeous costumes and sets and complicated song and dance numbers, the Tony-award nominated musical is pure magic and a show every child should experience.  Read more…

 

 

War Horse, Center Theatre Group

Production photo by Brinkhoff/Mögenburg

War Horse by Nick Stafford.

 

Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

War Horse, the spectacular stage show that captivated Steven Spielberg, is now playing at the Ahmanson Theater in Downtown LA until July 29, 2012.  A unique theatrical experience that combines intense drama with elaborate staging and dazzling puppetry, War Horse is essentially a love story between a boy and his horse. At the heart of the show are full-sized puppets that thrillingly bring breathing, galloping and charging horses to life on stage.  Read more…

 

DanyMargolies – ArtInLA

“Where have you been?” asks soldier Albert of his beloved horse Joey near the conclusion of this epic tale. Yes, we’ve spoiled the ending, as you now can be certain man and steed make it through World War I. But the answer to the question is the artistic—dare it be called unique—recounting of a straightforward but unfortunately historic tale, based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo, adapted by Nick Stafford, and directed by Bijan Sheibani based on the original direction of Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris.  Read more…

 

Bob Verini – Variety

A total theater experience sure to dazzle, as they used to say, children from 8 to 80. Read more…

 

Melinda Schupmann – Showmag

For its range of powerful emotion and dazzling theatricality, this production raises the bar for what theater companies can produce when all the right elements are aligned. A searing indictment of war and its dehumanizing anguish is at the core of the story, and looking at it through the eyes of a boy and a horse is wrenching and poignant. Nearly a million horses were forced into cavalry combat against war weapons and most perished in the “war to end all wars.”  Read more…