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WEST SIDE STORY at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts

West Side Story (musical) by McCoy Rigby, April-May 2017

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

Are there any opening notes in musical theater more iconic and instantly recognizable than those of West Side Story? No matter the iteration, the story and music are classic enough to have endured the test of time, resulting in a rare musical where you can hear a ripple of excitement in the audience at the beginning of almost every song. Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

West Side Story — Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, and Arthur Laurents’ reimagining of Shakespeare’s Romeo And Juliet — is known for its deft staging that showcases energetic choreography as executed by a talented and youthful cast. While this latest production of the iconic show, presented by La Mirada Theatre, features two excellent performances, sloppy dancing and chaotic staging ultimately sabotage the powerful text. Read more…

Now running through May 14

INTO THE WOODS at the Ahmanson Theatre

Photo by Joan Marcus

Photo by Joan Marcus

Frances Baum Nicholson – The Daily News

Every once in a while there comes an opportunity to experience an extraordinarily rich theatrical performance. Such is the case with the Fiasco Theater production of James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods,” now at the Ahmanson.         Read more…

 Erin Conley – OnStage

The cow as white as milk, the cape as red as blood, the hair as yellow as corn, the slipper as pure as gold. These ingredients comprise the spell at the center of Into the Woods, the classic musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine that twists and combines popular fairy tales into a brutal exploration of the consequences of wish fulfillment.      Read more…

Now running through May 14

PUNK ROCK at the Odyssey Theatre

Photo Credit: Enci Box

Photo Credit: Enci Box

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

The set-up is a tale as old as time—seven gifted prep school seniors with the weight of the world on their shoulders spend a lot of time hanging out, stressing out, and making out in the library, their haunt of choice. Read more…

Now running through May 14

CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF at Antaeus Theatre Company

Steven C. Kemp

Steven C. Kemp

Paul Birchall  – Stage Raw

Antaeus Theatre Company inaugurates their lovely new Glendale performance space with this tremendously stylish production of Tennessee Williams’ family drama. The play tells the story of a desperate woman named Maggie (the “cat” of the title) her depressed alcoholic husband Brick, and the battle for the estate of Brick’s father, the intimidating Big Daddy. Read more…

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

“What is the victory of a cat on a hot tin roof?” While the cat’s case is less clear, there are many victories to be found in Antaeus Theatre Company’s take on the Pulitzer Prize-winning Tennessee Williams classic Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which marks the inaugural production at their beautiful new home….Read more…

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Tennessee Williams’ 1955 potboiler Cat on a Hot Tin Roof has more than one story to tell, and in the premiere performance I saw last week, directed by Cameron Watson at Antaeus Theatre Company’s new digs in Glendale, it was Big Daddy’s story that captivated my attention.   Read more…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Arthur Miller, Eugene O’Neill and Tennessee Williams are considered by most to be the three foremost American playwrights of the 20th Century. Of that trio, Mr. Williams has always been my particular favorite. Read more…

Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

Like an abandoned lover, the double bed at the center of Brick and Maggie’s bedroom seems to writhe and cry out in loneliness, in Antaeus Theatre Company’s production of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” Read more…

Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

The Antaeus Theatre Company production of Tennessee Williams’ Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a handsome production and extremely well acted (this review is of The Buttered Biscuits cast), but unfortunately the play itself feels extremely dated. The characters are often one-note in their misery and the dialogue is tediously repetitive. Read more…

 

 

Now running through May 7

 

RULES OF SECONDS at L.A.T.C.

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(© Grettel Cortes Photography)

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

The words “human,” “gentlemen,” and “rules” are peppered throughout John Pollono’s Rules of Seconds, an exploration of the brutality of duels in the 19th century. There may be many rules in dueling, but there’s nothing human or gentlemanly involved in shooting each other because of a tiff.  Read more…

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

In this new age of Hamilton, it seems duels are on the brain. Rules of Seconds, a world premiere play written by John Pollono and presented by the Latino Theater Company and The Temblors, transports us back to the 19th century, when people literally lived and died by the rules of duels, relying on this barbaric code to settle even the most minor of disputes. Read more…

Now running through April 15

AN AMERICAN IN PARIS at the Pantages Theatre

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Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

“When you think of Paris, what comes to mind?” This question, posed somewhat oddly to the audience, sets the tone for An American in Paris, the musical adaptation of the 1951 film of the same name now playing at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood.   Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  Arts In LA

Most musicals either grab the audience or do not. It’s a risk to leave the audience a bit unsettled by intermission since there’s the chance people may walk out. An American in Paris takes that gamble, never giving audiences the assurance that the dangling story lines will ever gel, but by Act Two, it’s clear that the adaptation of the Oscar-winning 1951 musical is in very assured hands and quite a marvel. Read more…

Now running through April

AT HOME AT THE ZOO at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

Zoo Story

Photo by Kevin Parry

Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

As the story goes, someone — a friend, a roommate or a lover — said to Mr. Albee, “Edward, you will be thirty years old tomorrow, and you don’t have a damn thing to show for it.” Stung by this comment, Albee sat down and, overnight, wrote a long one-act about a volatile encounter between two men — a complacent middle class guy named Peter, and an impoverished eccentric named Jerry, on a bench in Central Park. Read more…

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

“Do you want to know what happened at the zoo?” If you do, make your way to the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, home to the new Deaf West production of Edward Albee’s At Home at the Zoo—although be warned, the actual answer to that question is far from the point of the piece. Read more…

Now running through April 2

DISINHERIT THE WIND at The Complex

Photo by Ed Krieger

Photo by Ed Krieger

Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

When I was in college, I decided I should take some psychology courses to better understand myself and my fellow man. I signed up for Psych A, and discovered to my dismay that it was entirely concerned with statistics and testing methods, with nary a useful insight to be found. Read more…

Erin Conley – On Stage and Screen

In the middle of act one of Disinherit the Wind, now playing at The Complex in Hollywood, something rather unusual is asked of the audience. The main character, Bertram Cates (portrayed by the playwright, Matt Chait) leads everyone in the room, actors and patrons alike, in a brief meditation. Read more…

Now running through April 9

GOOD GRIEF at the Kirk Douglas Theatre

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Margaret Gray – LA Times

Ngozi Anyanwu stars in the first play she wrote herself, “Good Grief,” in its world premiere at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. She plays Nkechi, a medical-school dropout who has returned to her childhood home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, after the accidental death of a friend plunges her into intense mourning that, family and friends suggest, is becoming self-indulgent. Read more…

Erin Conley – OnStage

“Tell me a story. Something that’s true, something that’s false, something that seems familiar. Something that sounds like it could be true.” This line really encapsulates the simultaneously realistic and dreamlike feeling of Good Grief, a world premiere play written by and starring Ngozi Anyanwu, now playing at Center Theatre Group’s Kirk Douglas Theatre.Read more…

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

In the preface to her extraordinarily eloquent play Good Grief, Ngozi Anyanwu tells us that it takes place between 1992 and 2005 in Bensalem, Pennsylvania — and also “at the beginning of time … and the future.”  Read more…

Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

Our pasts cannot be changed. We can try to relive them, but in reality all we store in our memories is our reactions to them. These ideas thread through “Good Grief,” …… Read more…

Now running through March 26

 

FUN HOME at the Ahmanson Theatre

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Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Erin Conley – OnStage

Don’t be misled by the sight of three adorable children bouncing around and singing “come to the fun home.” In this case, ‘fun’ is short for ‘funeral,’ and while little about the tragic tale could actually be described as fun, it can certainly be described as some of the very best storytelling modern musical theater has to offer. Read more…

Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

Just when we thought theater had nowhere else to go, had no further means to crawl into our jaded hearts, “Fun Home” wandered onto the scene. It encapsulates the best of musical theater, the best of dramatic literature, and the best examples of how we are our own worst enemies. Read more…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

A childhood spent in a family run funeral home would be daunting under the best of circumstances. One spent in a funeral home with a closeted gay father who was a perfectionist and a bitter mother who regretted the choices she made and the life she was living must have been a living hell. Read more…

Hoyt Hilsman  -  Huffington Post

The musical based on Alison Bechdel’s bestselling graphic novel covers familiar and mostly predictably territory, but is wrapped up in a pleasing score and solid performances. While the show was highly praised when it opened in 2014, it already feels oddly dated. Read more…

Now running through April 1

FINDING NEVERLAND at the Pantages Theatre

Photo by

Photo by Jeremy Daniel

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Finding Neverland was a charming, heart-warming 2004 film about British playwright J.M. Barrie and the family that inspired him to write his immortal classic Peter Pan. Read more…

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

Second star to the right and straight on ’til morning… Peter Pan is an iconic story, and the musical adaptation of Finding Neverland, currently playing at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles, tells but one iteration. Read more…

Margaret Gray – LA Times

The touring production of “Finding Neverland,” about how J.M. Barrie came to write “Peter Pan” in the early 1900s, may well inspire a new generation of young playwrights.Read more…

Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

Despite being a musical about a soaring imagination, “Finding Neverland” somehow feels coldly leaden. It tells of the Scottish playwright and novelist J.M. Barrie, who created Peter Pan, and the writer’s relationship with an English mother’s four very young sons, whom he met in a park. Red flags going up? You’re not alone. Read more…

Now running through March 12

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