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Archive for Katie Buenneke

A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM at The Garry Marshall Theatre

(Photo by Chelsea Sutton)

(Photo by Chelsea Sutton)

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

When thinking about prolific composer Stephen Sondheim’s canon, it’s easy to forget about A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. It’s one of his early works, overshadowed by later shows like Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd, and Company. But the easiest way to differentiate it is through its utter lack of cynicism. A Funny Thing is just that — a funny thing.
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Now running through December 31

 

KING CHARLES III at the Pasadena Playhouse

Photo by Jenny Graham

Photo by Jenny Graham

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

Mike Bartlett’s play King Charles III is, in many ways, a snapshot of an earlier era. Given that the whole thing is written in iambic pentameter, you might think it’s a throwback to Shakespeare’s time. Instead, it depicts an alternate history that diverged from our own in late 2015. This is a world where Queen Elizabeth II is dead, Brexit never happened, and American TV star Meghan Markle has yet to start dating Prince Harry.
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Mike Bartlett’s award-winning play King Charles III arrives at the Pasadena Playhousewith a reinterpretation by its director, Michael Michetti, putting his own touch on the production. A talented cast enlivens this “what if” that finds the new monarch, King Charles III (Jim Abele), clashing with a hostile parliament.
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Frances Baum Nicholson –The Stage Struck Review

In order to fully understand the tensions of the play now open at the Pasadena Playhouse, it would be helpful have some background in the last century of the British monarchy.
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Now running through December 3

MRS. WARREN’S PROFESSION at A Noise Within

(Photo by Craig Schwartz)

(Photo by Craig Schwartz)

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

Though it was written in 1893, George Bernard Shaw’s play Mrs. Warren’s Profession, now playing at A Noise Within in Pasadena, feels surprisingly contemporary. While Shaw scripted these conversations 124 years ago, the basic arguments the characters engage in have changed little in the intervening years.
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Frances Baum Nicholson –The Stage Struck Review

It would be tough, in the English-speaking theatrical canon, to find any playwright more unromantic than George Bernard Shaw. His view of the social arrangements of adult life in late Victorian and early 20th century Britain were quite clear in the arguments his plays made (and continue to make) about the entire subject.       Read more…

Now running through November 18

RESOLVING HEDDA at the Victory Theatre

(Photo by Tim Sullens)

(Photo by Tim Sullens)

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

Sometimes the best way to watch a movie or TV show is to kick back with a glass of wine and some friends and yell at the TV whenever the characters do something you don’t agree with. Resolving Hedda, the new play now at the Victory Theatre in Burbank, offers a similar experience — except the titular character in Hedda Gabler is your drunk friend, railing against all her own bad decisions.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler is recognized as a classic of realism, nineteenth century theatre and world drama. The title character is considered one of the great dramatic roles in theatre.
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Now running through November 12

BIG NIGHT at the Kirk Douglas Theatre

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Big Night is one of those sitcom-like stage comedies that tries super hard to tackle big themes but trips on the very glibness it purports to satirize. Read more…

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

Big Night is a play with aspirations bigger than it can deliver on. The new work by playwright Paul Rudnick wants to make grand statements and provoke gnarly debates about important social issues, but complex issues need to be explored carefully — they’re not best served by being glossed over to get to the next Big Idea, a trap Big Night falls into all too often.   Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

While it is clear that the recent tragedy at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and the regularity of mass shootings have weighed heavily on comedy writer Paul Rudnick’s mind, his distillation of these heady conversations about gun violence and mental health come wrapped in too shiny of a package in the form of his play, Big Night.
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Frances Baum Nicholson – The Daily Breeze

It’s not a new topic, but the superficiality of the film industry seems an easy and thus fairly constant pick as the foundation for an examination of modern ethics.
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 Now running through October 8

 

ONCE at South Coast Repertory

(Photo by Jordan Kubat)

(Photo by Jordan Kubat)

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

Mounting the first regional production of a show that recently played on Broadway puts the creative team between a rock and a hard place: Is it better to do a new take on the material, or is it better to emulate the original production?
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Now running through September 30

THE BALD SOPRANO AND THE LESSON at the Santa Monica Playhouse

(Photo by S. Dolinsky)

(Photo by S. Dolinsky)

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

In troubled times like these, there should be something rewarding in unwinding with absurdism. After all, when the world doesn’t make sense, a dose of topsy-turvy comedy should be just what the doctor ordered. French playwright Eugene Ionesco was one of the masters of absurdist comedy….
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Now running through August 26

TROUBLE IN MIND at Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum

 Photo by Ian Flanders

Photo by Ian Flanders

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

At times, it seems unbelievable that playwright Alice Childress wrote Trouble in Mind in 1955. The show, which features the tried and true dramatic structure of a play-within-a-play, examines racial politics with a razor-sharp wit.
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Now running through September 30

KING OF THE YEES at the Kirk Douglas Theatre

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

Fans of the fourth wall — that imaginary wall separating performers from their audience — should steer clear of Lauren Yee’s new play King of the Yees, now playing at the Kirk Douglas in Culver City. But for more adventurous folks, those willing to throw caution (and conventional theatrical tradition) to the wind, the show proves a fun ride, full of twists and turns. Read more…

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

The many pleasures of King of the Yees, directed by Joshua Kahan Brody at the Mark Taper Forum, emerge not from playwright Lauren Yee’s rambling unfocused script but from the abundant talents of its versatile ensemble and the production’s colorful staging. Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

There are intriguing themes considered in Lauren Yee’s comedy King of the Yees, currently running at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, particularly about the playwriting process and how artists begin with a preconceived notion only to broaden their scope as they discover the truth of these subjects.
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Frances Baum Nicholson – The Daily Breeze

There is a moment toward the end of a favorite documentary where people who grew up in the then-segregated African-American neighborhood around Central and Slauson in L.A. talked about the loss of that neighborhood with regret. Entrance into the mainstream was great, they say, but they lost those close-knit community ties. Read more…

Now running through August 6

CLAUDIO QUEST at Chance Theatre

thumbnail_Claudio Quest

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

I have never been much of a video game player. Truthfully I haven’t played one since the very early versions of Pong and PacMan started replacing pin ball machines in bars to give customers something to do while drinking. So I was a bit leery about seeing the new musical Claudio Quest…..Read more…

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

Beating a video game is no simple feat, and neither is writing a musical — especially a new musical about video games. Unfortunately, while the characters in Claudio Quest, now playing at the  in Anaheim, are able to save the day, the show itself can’t beat the final boss battle: being an unequivocally good piece of theater. Read more…

Now running through February 26

NICE IRANIAN GIRL at the Whitefire Theatre

Photo by Merik Tadros)

Photo by Merik Tadros

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

Nice Iranian Girl, Layla Rumi (a.k.a. Layla Kaleigh)’s one-woman show at the Whitefire Theatre, feels half-baked. The 50-minute monologue, which plays weekly in Sherman Oaks as part of Whitefire’s Solofest, follows Rumi from her early years growing up in Tehran to 2009, when her daughter was born in Los Angeles. Read more…

Now running through February  11

 

THE LAST VIG at the Zephyr Theatre

Photo by Ed Krieger

Photo by Ed Krieger

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

The Last Vig is billed as a show starring Burt Young, the Academy Award-nominated actor who played Paulie in the Rocky series. Unfortunately, Young’s performance is one of many big problems in the show, which plays through February 19 at the Zephyr Theatre. Read more…

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Mobsters, especially Italian ones, are as much a part of American folklore as cowboys. Writer/director David Varriale capitalizes on our fascination with them in this character-driven dramedy:    Read more…

Now running through February 19