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Archive for Don Shirley

‘HAMILTON’ IN LA IN THE TIME OF TRUMP

Photo by Joan Marcus

Photo by Joan Marcus

Don Shirley – LA Observed

“Hamilton” was one of the great cultural achievements of the Obama years. The president nurtured its growth by hosting a 2009 performance of the show’s titular song in the White House, before the rest of the musical was even written. Then, after “Hamilton” had opened to widespread acclaim in New York, where its story is set, Michelle Obama called it “the best piece of art that I have ever seen” at yet another White House event in 2016.

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ALL THE STREET’S A STAGE AND SACK LUNCH ‘FELLOWSHIP’ by Don Shirley

Photo by Brian Biery

Photo by Brian Biery

Don Shirley – LA Observed

January 21 was a great day for immersive theater in Los Angeles. I’m referring to one event you probably know about, the Women’s March. But I’m also writing about “fellowship” – which you probably don’t know about. The former attracted the masses; the latter has a maximum capacity of 42 for any single performance.

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‘MERRILY’ IS A MASTERPIECE, MELTED ‘ICEBERGS’ by Don Shirley

Photo: Kevin Parry for The Wallis

Photo: Kevin Parry for The Wallis  

Don Shirley – LA Observed

Two major productions in LA right now more or less begin with scenes set in LA – which is so unusual on our larger stages that I’m happy to salute any effort to examine our own community, no matter how tentative.

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DESTINY OF DESIRE at South Coast Repertory (and other plays)

 

Photo by ​Debora Robinson/SCR.

Photo by ​Debora Robinson/SCR.

Don Shirley – LA Observed

The telenovela genre, that hotbed of steamy romance, becomes embroiled in a fervent embrace with the theater in “Destiny of Desire,” Karen Zacarias’ wildly funny play at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa. Read more…

Now running through November 20

HOT TOWN, SUMMER IN THE THEATER

Photo by Miriam Geer

Photo by Miriam Geer

Don Shirley – LA Observed

The end of summer approaches. Have you seen any alfresco theater this year?

Fortunately, the 299-seat Theatricum Botanicum keeps its expansive stage busy from the first week of June through the first weekend of October, in Topanga Canyon. That’s twice as long as the Old Globe’s outdoor season in San Diego.     Read more…

 

PASTA IN POCATELLO, ANYONE? by Don Shirley

Photo by John Perrin Flynn

Photo by John Perrin Flynn

Don Shirley – L.A. Observed

Two plays named after cities: “Barcelona” at the Geffen Playhouse and Rogue Machine’s production of “Pocatello” (in case that doesn’t ring a bell, its namesake is the fifth largest city in Idaho.)

Which theatrical destination sounds more inviting?

Well, “Barcelona” isn’t bad. But “Pocatello” pops.   Read more…

 

OVATIONS AND UPWARD MOBILITY FOR LA THEATER – DON SHIRLEY, LA OBSERVED

2015 LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards Ceremony

Don Shirley – LA Observed

LA theater has been embroiled in behind-the-scenes controversy for the past year. Many actors angrily challenged their own union over its decision to end the 99-Seat Theater Plan, which allows Equity members to work for only token fees in small LA theaters, at much less than the minimum wage. Read more…

LURING MILLENIALS TO ‘CARRIE AND ‘VIETGONE’ by Don Shirley, LA Observed

Photo by Jason Niedle

Photo by Jason Niedle

Don Shirley – LA Observed

How to attract young-adult audiences to LA’s professional theaters? Plenty of pondering about this subject occurs at theater conferences and in theater journals. I won’t address the logistics of marketing to millennials here. But I’m welcoming two new productions that seemingly target them yet also offer lively experiences to those of us who are definitely not active members of that demographic group.   Read more…

Photo  by Jason Niedle

Photo by Jason Niedle

THE ‘FENCES’ THAT LED TO “RIOT/REBELLION” IN WATTS

riot-rebellion-1

 

Don Shirley – LA Observed

Watts Village Theater Company is observing the 50th anniversary of its community’s most famous historical moment with “Riot/Rebellion,” an ensemble-driven documentary-style production.em>Read more…

Outside in Topanga and Griffith Park, inside in ‘Luka’s Room’

Mockingbird-theatricum

Don Shirley – LA Observed

Alfresco theater is one of the best features of an LA summer, yet the big LA media usually ignore it. Charles McNulty, the LA Times theater critic for nearly a decade, wrote an essay last week about ensemble acting in three of LA’s tiny indoor stages, but he has never written a word (according to a search of the LA Times database) about the ensemble acting or anything else at the two companies – Theatricum Botanicum and Independent Shakespeare — that consistently produce on Actors’ Equity contracts in LA’s considerably larger outdoor venues, for much larger audiences. em>Read more…

DISCONNECTION at the Beverly Hills Playhouse

Photo by Ed Krieger

Photo by Ed Krieger

Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

The church referred to by playwright Allen Barton in his play is never identified, but the details of his story evoke the horror stories told by disillusioned former Scientologists: accounts of demands for total conformity, hefty financial contributions, total commitment, and a willingness to declare all-out war on any member who wants to leave the fold. Read more…

Steven Leigh Morris  – LA Weekly

Allen Barton’s absorbing new drama, Disconnection, spun from his experiences with Scientology, looks at the fallout from a regime change at a self-improvement church, when that church, under a new administration, devolves into an abusive cult. Read more…

Don Shirley – LA Observed

I saw one locally-oriented production over the last week that’s much more clearly focused than “Chavez Ravine” or “California Tempest” — even though its title is “Disconnection.” Allen Barton’s script is focused on Scientology, although it doesn’t mention the word. In fact, Scientology is the show’s indirect target.

 

Now running through March 1.

 

25 HIGHLIGHTS OF LA THEATER IN 2014

Don Shirley – LA Observed

Photo by Debora Robinson/SCR.

Photo by Debora Robinson/SCR.

I don’t believe in year-end Top 10 lists, especially if the components are listed in order of best to, say, tenth best. Why is it necessary to draw such distinctions between creations with very different goals and styles? Are apples really better than oranges — or is it vice versa?

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