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Archive for Edge on the Net – Page 3

DORIS AND ME at the El Portal Theatre

Photo by Ed Krieger

Photo by Ed Krieger

Les Spindle –  Edge on the Net

Thanks to fans of iconic movie star Doris Day, this past April felt like a month-long Day-fest in cyberspace, as postings about the reclusive performer’s unexpected appearance at her 90th birthday celebration flooded social media for several weeks.  Read more…

Now running through August 3.

BUYER AND CELLAR at the Mark Taper Forum

Photo by Joan MarcuLes Spindle – Edge on the Net

Les Spindle – Edge on the Net

Michael Urie proves to be a virtuoso clown, a consummate actor, and a force of nature, all rolled into one, in his tour de force solo turn in Jonathan Tolins ‘ irresistible showbiz comedy, “Buyer & Cellar.” Read more…

Pauline Adamek  – Stage Raw

Sweet and snarky, with a few cheap shots and a lot of belly laughs, Buyer & Cellar is a hilarious one-person show about a struggling actor’s brief period of working for a major celebrity. Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Fresh off an acclaimed New York run where it won multiple awards for best solo show and performance, Jonathan Tolins’ snarky yet sneakily sentimental Buyer & Cellar, starring Emmy nominee Michael Urie (Marc St. James in the long-running series Ugly Betty), represents some kind of ne plus ultra of a mainstream gay one-hander. Read more…
Now running through August 17.

NOBODY DOES IT LIKE ME – THE SONGS OF DOROTHY FIELDS at Sterling’s Upstairs

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Source:Courtesy of Michael Sterling

 

Les Spindle –  Edge on the Net

June was busting out all over on the first of the month at the popular Sterling’s Upstairs supper club at the Federal bar and restaurant in North Hollywood. In fact, the “busting out” included some earthquake tremors right in the middle the show, but the devoted performers carried on without a hitch. Read more…

BE A GOOD LITTLE WIDOW at the Noho Arts Center

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Photo by Andrew Pagana

Les Spindle –  Edge on the Net

Gracefully segueing from what initially seems like a breezy romantic comedy to a thoughtful and heart-wrenching portrait of grief, family dynamics, and life’s unpredictable twists and turns, Bekah Brunstetter’s 2011 Off-Off-Broadway play “Be a Good Little Widow” shines in its L.A. debut. Read more…

Pauline Adamek  – Stage Raw

It’s hard to tell if Bekah Brunstetter’s play is a tired string of clichés or if any dramatization of dealing with the loss of a spouse, as in Be a Good Little Widow, inevitably hits the same familiar notes. Read more…
Now running through May 25.

HARMONY at the Ahmanson Theatre

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Les Spindle –  Edge on the Net

Beloved pop songwriter-singer Barry Manilow (“Copacabana,” “Mandy”) and his longtime collaborator, lyricist-librettist Barry Sussman, are fulfilling a longtime dream with “Harmony,” their seriocomic musical. The show was introduced in an appealing production in 1997 at La Jolla Playhouse in Southern California. This project had always aimed for Broadway, though additional work on the piece was clearly called for in that initial rendition. Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

In the new musical with music by Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman, Jews and gentiles find Harmony together, celebrating their differences in a fascistic world that stomps on individuality. The play may still need a little fine-tuning, but as a whole, Harmony is an enriching experience with several memorable numbers. Many flaws can be overlooked due to this production’s excellent cast and insightful staging by Tony Speciale. Read more…

Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

This potent new musical, with music by Barry Manilow and book and lyrics by Bruce Sussman, focuses on a fascinating, little-known footnote to history. It tells the largely factual tale of the Comedian Harmonists, the six-man singing group who were the first boy-band to become, in the 1930s, an international success. (Composer Manilow calls them the Beatles of their day.)  Read more..

Don Shirley – LA Observed

Center Theatre Group has been obsessed with young guys’ bands in recent years. Just since 2013 began, CTG offered the forgettable new musicals “Backbeat” (about the early Beatles) and “The Black Suits” (about a Long Island garage band.) The 2011-12 season at CTG’s Ahmanson Theatre included post-Broadway runs of the dramatically threadbare “American Idiot” (with a Green Day score) and “Fela!” (about the Afro-pop star.) Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

 A long-gestating dream project by composer Barry Manilow and his collaborating wordsmith Bruce Sussman (Copacabana: The Musical, the neglected Disney animated feature Oliver and Company), Harmony is an ambitious musical doggedly committed to mimicking its betters: near beer Sondheim, watered down Kander & Ebb, tempered Rodgers & Hammerstein. Read more…

Now running through April 13.

SEX AND EDUCATION at the Colony Theatre

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Les Spindle –  Edge on the Net

The best news about the Colony Theatre’s production of Lissa Levin’s comedy “Sex and Education” is the star performance of Stephanie Zimbalist, the accomplished veteran of stage, film and television, who is perhaps most widely known for her role as a sexy detective in the hit 1980s television series “Remington Steele.” Read more…

Don Shirley – L.A. Observed

Sex, basketball and cheerleaders. Two productions that opened over the weekend at two of Greater LA’s midsize theaters share these popular topics. Let no one say that the stage focuses only on the more esoteric concerns of the elite.

At Burbank’s Colony Theatre, the title is “Sex and Education.” But basketball, cheerleaders and selling houses are also on the agenda in Lissa Levin’s probing comedy set in a high school classroom. The school’s hoops star Joe (William Reinbold) and his English teacher Miss Edwards (Stephanie Zimbalist) are both on the verge of graduation – he to college and then (he hopes) the NBA, and she to a new career in real estate. Read more…

Margaret Gray – LA Times

It’s hard to think of a clearer instance of preaching to the converted than a play in which a grammarian gets the best of an athlete. Read more…

Now running through March 16.

THE MUSIC MAN at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center

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Les Spindle –  Edge on the Net

Celebrated composer-lyricist Meredith Willson (1902-1984) had a colorful but surprisingly limited Broadway career, which included “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” (1960), “Here’s Love” (1963), and his most indelible musical, “The Music Man” (1957). Read more…

Shirle Gottlieb

Yeah, you’re right, “The Music Man” is an old war-horse over fifty years old; but it still has legs!  In fact, Meredith Wilson’s tribute to his home state (Iowa) has been in such demand, Musical Theatre West has produced it five times during its sixty-year history.  The latest version just opened last weekend under the direction of Jeff Maynard, with musical direction by Corey Hirsch and choreography by John Todd. Read more…

 Dany Margolies  -  Arts In LA

How prescient was Meredith Willson to recognize the valuable gift we give our children when we expose them to the arts? In his 1957 musical The Music Man, the kids—and their parents—focus on forming a band, and the gangs and gossips find common ground and a better way to spend their days. Or, is there just one small problem? In the words of the infuriated town mayor, “Where’s the band?” Read more…

Now running through March 9.

THE STEWARD OF CHRISTENDOM at the Mark Taper Forum

Bob Verini – ArtsInLA

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Photo by Craig Schwartz

Having well and truly conquered James Tyrone (Long Day’s Journey Into Night), Hickey (The Iceman Cometh), Krapp (Krapp’s Last Tape), and Willy Loman (Death of a Salesman), Brian Dennehy sets up base camp at the Mark Taper Forum to take on his most daunting personal Everest yet. With its dozen or more lengthy, allusive monologues, and action encompassing seven decades of life in tumultuous Dublin, ending up in a filthy madhouse, Sebastian Barry’s The Steward of Christendom could very be the most demanding role in—well, in all Christendom.
Read more…

Les Spindle – Edge on the Net

Master actor Brian Dennehey tackles one of his most challenging roles in Sebastian Barry’s 1995 drama, “The Steward of Christendom,” an ambitious mix of history and dramaturgic speculation. The hard-hitting play explores the emotional and psychological journey of Thomas Dunne, the institutionalized former chief superintendent of the Dublin Metropolitan Police Department.
Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Thomas Dunne (Brian Dennehy), based upon the great-grandfather of playwright Sebastian Barry, had been commissioner of the Dublin Metropolitan Police in the years before Irish independence in 1922, responsible for enforcing order on behalf of British rule. His fellows derisively dismissed him as a “Castle Catholic.” In The Steward of Christendom, set 10 years later, Dunne now resides in a small room of his own atop a rural madhouse, stripped not only of authority and status but down to his dirty drawers and shoeless, a ranting King Lear of the civil service.
Read more…

Now running through January 5.

THE NORMAL HEART at the Fountain Theatre

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Photo by Ed Krieger

 

Les Spindle – Edge on the Net

In chronicling the beginning of a momentous chapter in the history of gay culture, namely the initial outbreak of the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s, Larry Kramer’s watershed play “The Normal Heart” offers a deeply moving snapshot of an era, while imparting timeless truths.
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Bob Verini – ArtsInLA

Almost 30 years after its premiere, Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart still packs a wallop, though it’s a different kind of wallop from that which first stunned audiences in the record-breaking long run at New York’s Public Theater. Back then, the fury over governmental, institutional, and (to a large extent) public indifference to the “gay plague” …..
Read more…

Neal Weaver – LA Weekly

When the AIDS plague emerged in 1981, writer-activist Larry Kramer was devastated to learn that the larger society wasn’t remotely concerned that gay men were dying by the thousands, and the gay community was refusing to admit its own responsibility. He set out to call the world to account, and tell unpopular truths to power. Driven by his own passionate concern, he launched ham-fisted attacks in all directions, making himself hated and resented.
Read more…

Terry Morgan  -  LAist

When Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart premiered in 1985, its urgent message about the AIDS crisis somewhat (and understandably) overshadowed its success as a brilliant piece of theatre. While that message of caution is still timely as people have mistakenly begun to believe that AIDS is a thing of the past, the primary joy of the Fountain Theatre’s current revival of the show is the demonstration of what a strong, smart, character-driven play it is. The production is excellent on all levels, from Simon Levy’s dynamic direction to the outstanding ensemble, with Tim Cummings delivering an electrifying, career-best lead performance. Read more…

Now running through November 3.

HUMOR ABUSE at the Mark Taper Forum

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Photo by Mark Gavin

 

Les Spindle – Edge on the net

In a world so enamored with the modern-day equivalent of Barnum and Bailey-namely the dazzling extravaganzas offered by Cirque de Soleil-Lorenzo Pisoni might be referred to as the little clown who could.
Read more…

Pauline Adamek – LA Weekly

As the title indicates, Humor Abuse is no lighthearted evening of sidesplitting laughs. Demonstrating elaborate pratfalls, juggling and elegant comedy bits, Lorenzo Pisoni’s solo clown show charts his upbringing as a fourth-generation vaudevillian and performer, focusing mainly on a relationship with his father that was more work than play. Lorenzo took to the stage in his parents’ company, the Pickle Family Circus, when he was only 2 years old…..
Read more…

David C. Nichols – LA Times

This is a show about clowning, and I’m the straight man,” says actor Lorenzo Pisoni early on in “Humor Abuse,” currently sending Mark Taper Forum audiences skyward with the velocity of a helium balloon. He pauses, then adds, “Seriously.  Read more…

 

Now running through November 3.

THE LARAMIE PROJECT: TEN YEARS LATER at the Davidson/Valenti Theatre

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Photo by Win Win Imaging

Bob Verini -   ArtsInLA

Time heals everything, so the song goes, and a quick overview of history reveals there’s no calamity so atrocious that the passage of time won’t soften its impact. Shed any tears over the massacre of the Huguenots lately? How about the victims of the Children’s Crusade? Fortunately, art often comes forward to try to ensure that an event’s power will not be blunted for future generations.

Read more…

Les Spindle –  Edge on the Net

Though “The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later” has previously been presented in Los Angeles as a staged reading, and a full production was presented this past spring at Orange County’s Chance Theater, this sequel is currently making its L.A. bow in a fully staged rendition.

Read more…

Neal Weaver  – LA Weekly

The original production of The Laramie Project rode on the wave of passion and grief spawned by the murder of Matthew Shepard. The current work, which looks at Laramie and the related issues as they appear 10 years after the fact, is necessarily more contemplative and thoughtful, but it builds up its own brand of steam. Read more…

Sharon Perlmutter  -  Talkin’ Broadway

I admit to a certain reluctance to see The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later. The original play was so extraordinary, I feared this would be one of those sequels which is not only weaker than the original, but which somehow spoils the memory of its predecessor. Beyond that, the subject matter alone was somewhat lesser. The original Laramie Project asked what kind of town could give birth to a crime as vile as the murder of Matthew Shepard; the follow-up asks what, if anything, has changed…..Read more…

David C. Nichols – LA Times

History forgotten is history repeated, which underscores “The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later” in its Los Angeles premiere at the Gay & Lesbian Center’s Davidson/Valentini Theatre.

This potent follow-up to the landmark Tectonic Theater Project docudrama about community reactions to Matthew Shepard’s 1998 murder reminds anew of how theater provides context in ways no other form can match.   Read more…

Now running through November 16.

CARRIE THAT TUNE at the Avery Schreiber Playhouse

carrieLes Spindle –  Edge on the Net

A favorite pastime of Broadway musical fanatics is sharing stories of infamous musical flops. Of course, the perception of a “flop” can reflect a box-office calamity or an artistic failure, or a combination of the two. The measure of artistic worth is subjective.
Read more…

Now running through September 15.