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Archive for Harker Jones

ANNIE at the Dolby Theatre

Ellie Pulsifer and Christopher Swan. Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

Ellie Pulsifer and Christopher Swan. Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

Harker Jones – BroadwayWorld

Little Orphan Annie has been a part of our collective consciousness for going on a hundred years, first in comic-strip form then on radio then films and finally on Broadway, where the intrepid moppet really defined her place in pop culture. The show ran for six years, won seven Tony Awards (including Best Musical), spawned four film adaptations (both big- and small-screen), and gifted us with classic numbers like “Tomorrow” and “It’s the Hard Knock Life.”

It, and she, is an American icon. Read more…

Through December 18

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

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

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

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

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

CLOWNFISH at Theatre of NOTE

Sean Michael Boozer, Susan Louise O’Connor, Mara Shuster-Lefkowitz and Omari Williams. Photo by Brad C. Light

Sean Michael Boozer, Susan Louise O’Connor, Mara Shuster-Lefkowitz and Omari Williams. Photo by Brad C. Light

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

In comedy, silly plots are easily forgiven if the writing is witty or insightful, or if one or more performers is so engaging that other shortcomings can be overlooked. With Clownfish, Theatre of NOTE’s premiere production following the hiatus of the pandemic, none of this is so

Written by Amy Dellagiarino, the play takes place in an isolated cabin on the top of a mountain near Denver in the middle of winter. A wedding party has gathered to prepare for the wedding of Katie (Mara Shuster-Lefkowitz), a woman with a “wild” past, and Jake (Omari Williams), a conventional guy who has planned the event and who’s chosen this inauspicious locale because, well, it’s cheap. Outside the air is bitter cold, with snow drifts piling up, so you suspect from the start that Jake may come to regret his choice. Read more…

Harker Jones – BroadwayWorld

Theatre of NOTE returns after an enforced Covid break with a world premiere of a raucous ghost story. Six friends descend upon a Colorado mountain cabin in the middle of winter for a DIY wedding as a storm descends. Chaos and insanity ensue in addition to the eternal question: What is normal? Read more…

Now through August 6

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM at Open Fist Theatre Company

Monazia Smith. Photo by Frank Ishman

Monazia Smith. Photo by Frank Ishman

Harker Jones – BroadwayWorld

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, originating in the 1500s and one of William Shakespeare’s most beloved and produced plays, has been adapted in countless ways over the past few centuries, including as films, musicals, ballets, operas, an animated Disney short, and even a disco-oriented off-Broadway takeoff called The Donkey Show, while having an impact felt in everything from The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, Dead Poets Society, and Woody Allen (A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy). Following all that, it is given a fresh spin by the Open Fist Theatre Company, changing the setting from Athens, Greece, to Athens, Georgia, in the antebellum South to mixed results. Leaving the original text intact, the comedy takes place on a plantation and focuses on both the wealthy family living there as well as their slaves, who are tasked with putting on a show for the gentry’s amusement. Hilarity ensues with magic, fairies, and shapeshifting. Read more…

Now through August 13

PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL at the Dolby Theatre

Photo by Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade

Photo by Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade

Harker Jones – BroadwayWorld

Rebooting a classic is always dicey. If it’s an exact blueprint, what’s the point? But deviating from that blueprint can alienate its fans. And how to make it fresh yet still retain the magic that made it work in the first place?

The producers of PRETTY WOMAN the musical learned the hard way just how difficult it is to replicate the alchemy of the 1990 rom-com that established Julia Roberts as the leading female movie star of the last decade of the 20th century. The film oozed PG-13 charm and, having been sanitized from its original, gritty concept, the Disney-owned Touchstone picture was a smash, grossing $178 million (almost $400 million in today’s dollars) and even garnering an Oscar nom for Roberts. It was a sensation. It’s iconic. And it’s a hard act to follow. Read more…

Now through July 3

COME FROM AWAY at the Ahmanson Theatre

Photo by Matthew Murphy

Photo by Matthew Murphy

Harker Jones – BroadwayWorld

Based on a true story of compassion in the face of horror, COME FROM AWAY dazzles with sheer exuberance, leading to a surprisingly moving conclusion. When terrorists took control of airplanes, using them as weapons and crashing them near the Pentagon and in New York City on September 11, 2001, the world came to a crashing halt. And that included the small town of Gander on the island of Newfoundland on the eastern end of Canada. Read more…

Now through June 12