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Archive for Jonas Schwartz

NOISES OFF at A Noise Within

Craig Schwartz

Craig Schwartz

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Farce is a science, a series of actions and reactions. People slam and swing open doors, they race up and down stairs, they misplace their clothing. If farce is a science, Noises Off deserves a Nobel Prize for physics.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

What has eight doors and revolves? Answer: Fred Kinney’s double-sided set for A Noise Within’s revival of Noises Off. This marks the company’s third revival of Michael Frayn’s farce in the past decade or so.
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Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Arguably one of the funniest farces in the contemporary British canon, Michael Frayn’s 1982 play revolves around a touring company of actors attempting to stage a frolicsome sex comedy called “Nothing On.”
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Now running through May 26

SOUTH PACIFIC at La Mirada Theatre

Michael Lamont

Michael Lamont

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

The overture fades in with the woodwinds as the strings wistfully play the motif of “Bali Ha’i,” the lush music that transports audiences to the magical islands of South Pacific. Just beyond the breeze and the luster of the sand, the entire world has clashed violently, and fascism has drawn most of mankind into the Second World War.
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Ellen Dostal – Musicals in L.A.

Glenn Casale directs this Rodgers & Hammerstein gem dealing with romance and racism in the South Pacific during World War II.
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Now running through May 13

BELLEVILLE at the Pasadena Playhouse

 

(Photo by Philicia Endelman

(Photo by Philicia Endelman

Terry Morgan  -  Talkin’ Broadway

Labeling a work of art as being one particular thing can often be problematic, creating expectations that the piece doesn’t fulfill. Amy Herzog’s play Belleville is being promoted as a Hitchcockian thriller, which it is not. It’s only a thriller in the sense that Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a thriller, in that it depicts the emotional combat between a married couple.
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Frances Baum Nicholson – The Daily Breeze

There is no doubt that Amy Herzog’s “Belleville,” now at the Pasadena Playhouse, has dramatic power, and some extraordinary characters which must be an actor’s dream to perform. In many ways, this is enough to recommend the show.
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Amy Herzog’s thriller Belleville benefits from solid direction by Jenna Worsham and stellar performances by its leads, Anna Camp and Thomas Sadoski.
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Now running through May 13

SIGNIFICANT OTHER at the Geffen Playhouse

Chris Whitaker

Chris Whitaker

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Joshua Harmon’s Significant Other, now playing at the Geffen Playhouse, explores friendship as a buffer, a support system, and a crutch when navigating the precarious world of love. Often funny, the comedy will remind audiences of their own singlehood, past or present. Unfortunately….
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Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

What a lovely protagonist Jordan Berman is. Sure, he’s a little too chatty and perhaps a touch too insecure, but he’s honest, caring, bright and perceptive. And he has a delightful sense of humor.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

“Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.” That seems to be the fate of nebbish-y Jordan Berman (Will Von Vogt) in Joshua Harmon’s very funny and intuitive play, Significant Other, being given a first-rate production at the Geffen Playhouse. Read more…

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

Watching Significant Other is something of a sadomasochistic experience for single people. I mean that in the best possible way. Joshua Harmon’s play achieves a singular sense of catharsis, which is no small feat.
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Now running through May 6

A RAISIN IN THE SUN at A Noise Within

Craig Schwartz

Craig Schwartz

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Progress treads so slowly it almost feels backwards. Lorraine Hansberry’s award-winning play A Raisin in the Sun premiered almost six decades ago, but American culture still grapples heavily with racism and other prejudices. The Younger family of the play grabs at the American dream, but society keeps moving the brass ring just out of reach.
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Now running through April 8

SELL/BUY/DATE at the Geffen Playhouse

a sell buy

Chris Whitaker

Margaret Gray – LA Times

The writer and actress Sarah Jones is gorgeous, about 8 feet tall (at least it seems that way) and rail thin, with a wide mane of hair. When she walks onstage at the Geffen Playhouse, where she is performing her one-woman show “Sell/Buy/Date” through April 15, it’s impossible to imagine her hiding in plain sight.
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

In her solo play, Sell/Buy/Date, Sarah Jones exposes the exploitation of women with 20/20 vision. By setting the play in the far future, where a professor looks back at the dystopian reality that our modern planet could be journeying toward, she allows the audience to see every perspective.
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Now running through April 15

WATER BY THE SPOONFUL at the Mark Taper Forum

Craig Schwartz

Craig Schwartz

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

Though Quiara Alegría Hudes’ trio of plays is called the “Elliot trilogy,” Water by the Spoonful, isn’t really about Elliot.

The middle work in the triad, it’s a stark change from its predecessor, Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue, currently playing at the Kirk Douglas in Culver City. Here, Elliot (Sean Caravajal) is no longer pivotal; instead, he’s a supporting character who takes a backseat to the members of a Narcotics Anonymous online support group.
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Deborah Klugman – Capital & Main

A 2012 Pulitzer Prize winner, Water by the Spoonful is the second in Quiara Alegría Hudes’ trilogy revolving around Elliot, a young war veteran from a Puerto Rican family living in Philadelphia.
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Frances Baum Nicholson – The Daily Breeze

Quiara Alegria Hudes’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Water by the Spoonful,” which just opened at the Mark Taper Forum, continues the legacy of her “Elliott: A Soldier’s Fugue,” now at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City.
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Quiara Alegría Hudes’s Elliot Trilogy, which focuses on a Puerto Rican family in Philadelphia and one son’s post-military trauma, has been mounted at three theaters concurrently in Los Angeles.
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Now running through March 11

IRONBOUND at the Geffen Playhouse

Christ Whitaker

Chris Whitaker

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

At what point in life must you be willing to sacrifice happiness for survival? Ironbound, a play by Martyna Majok currently in its west coast premiere at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, tells the story of Darja (Marin Ireland), a Polish immigrant struggling to build a life for herself in New Jersey.
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Terry Morgan  -  Stage Raw

In my experience, when a production is of mixed or bad quality, the acting is rarely to blame. Occasionally an ill-judged performance will mar a fine piece of writing, but it is much more common to watch a talented ensemble struggle with an undercooked play. So it is with Martyna Majok’s Ironbound….
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Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

We should empathize with Darja. She’s an immigrant struggling to wrap her mouth around English, both its syntax and pronunciation. She works two jobs, when they’re available. She constantly worries about her son, who needs a stay in rehab that she can’t afford, even if she could find him these days. Indeed, she can’t find any good man who will stay around and treasure her.
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Deborah Klugman – Capital & Main

In American theater, as in life, not all voices receive equal airtime — one reason why Martyna Majok’s pitch-black dramedy about a Polish-born factory worker-slash-cleaning lady is so poignant and arresting.
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Darja, the lonely, unfulfilled antihero of Ironbound, at the Geffen Playhouse, grants actor Marin Ireland a showcase for her vast talents. In lesser hands, Darja, a woman who seems to live only to survive, is a character that could turn off audiences, but Ireland finds Darja’s unsinkable core and hooks us along with it.
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Now running through March 4

CABARET at La Mirada Theatre

Photo by Jason Niedle

Photo by Jason Niedle

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Cabaret has undergone much alteration from Harold Prince’s original 1966 Broadway production. In 1972, wunderkind Bob Fosse revamped the story line for the film version, commissioning the composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb to write new songs, such as “Mein Herr,” “Money,” and the pair’s trunk song “Maybe This Time.”

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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

John Kander/Fred Ebb/Joe Masteroff’s Cabaret premiered in 1966 at the height of America’s civil rights struggle and producer/director Hal Prince shaped the musical “to show how racism can happen here” even though the action of the script was set in early 1930s as the Nazi Party rose to power in Germany and began the racial cleansing of its Jewish population.
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Ellen Dostal – Musicals in L.A.

Even if all they do is take the expected route, most productions of Kander & Ebb’s Cabaret are effective. Emphasize the sex and decadence rampant in Berlin during the end of the Weimar era as Hitler was coming into power and the show predictably succeeds in driving home its point – that distractions like the Kit Kat Klub helped people ignore what was happening politically until it was too late.
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Now running through February 11

ALADDIN at the Pantages Theatre

Photo by Deen Van Meer

Photo by Deen Van Meer

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

There is an inescapable nostalgia factor attached to Disney Theatrical Productions, and it was on full display at the Pantages in Los Angeles last night as the national tour of Aladdin opened to a very receptive crowd.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

After the success of their animated musicals The Little Mermaid and Beauty and The Beast, with award winning scores by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, Disney released the Arabian Nights tale of Aladdin in 1992.
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Jonas Schwartz -  Arts In LA

The stage production of Disney’s Aladdin, now playing at the Pantages, is charismatic family programming that highlights the 1992 film’s score by Alan Menken, Tim Rice, and the late Howard Ashman, with additional lyrics by Chad Beguelin.
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Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

If a glittery, sumptuous spectacle is enough to satisfy you, you’ll probably enjoy this touring company production of Disney’s Aladdin, directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw, at the Pantages Theatre through March 31. If, however, you’re one of those picky theatergoers who craves substance with your spectacle, you’ll probably be disappointed.
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Ellen Dostal – Musicals in L.A.

As Disney stage musicals go, the North American tour of Aladdin that just opened at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre is the big, splashy colorful delight kids and musical theatre lovers want to see.
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Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

Disney, that behemoth that only grows larger as each day passes, earned itself some goodwill in the theatrical landscape with its last outing, Peter and the Starcatcher — a charming, innovative take on the Peter Pan legend. Disney’s latest stage offering, Aladdin, has some charm and innovation, but feels as bland and shiny as the cast’s mile-wide smiles.
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Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

Had there been one more wish left in Genie’s lamp, some of us in the opening-night audience of Disney’s “Aladdin” at the Pantages might have wished that all the lead performances had been as brilliant as the show’s technical elements are.
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Now running through March 31

A CHRISTMAS CAROL at A Noise Within

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

A Christmas Carol is perfect fare for the holidays. It captures the importance of giving, sharing with loved ones, and reevaluating past choices. A Noise Within‘s co-producing artistic director Geoff Elliott has created his own adaptation, which has been performed at the theater for the last six years.
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THE LATINA CHRISTMAS SPECIAL at L.A.T.C.

Photo by Xavi Moreno

Photo by Xavi Moreno

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Both a gentle parody of the celebrity Christmas specials that ran on network television in the ’60s and ’70s, and a poignant memory play, is a goofy, spirited, lark running at the Los Angeles Theatre Center.
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Now running through December