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Archive for Katie Buenneke

LATIN HISTORY FOR MORONS at the Ahmanson Theatre

Matthew Murphy

Matthew Murphy

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

In his sixth one-man show, Tony winner John Leguizamo is back on stage with Latin History for Morons, a timely and engaging piece that is part comedy special, part solo revue, and part poignant academic lesson.
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Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

John Leguizamo has a remarkable knack for drawing an audience in and making them feel comfortable immediately. Before you realize you’re even watching a one-man show, you’re well into it, you’ve unknowingly taken a leap of faith and you’re trusting this man to guide you through the next two hours.
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Now running through October 20

EARLY BIRDS at Moving Arts

Benjamin Simpson

Benjamin Simpson

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

When it comes to buffets, it seems the early bird does catch the worm — or at least, the early bird gets to eat her food before anyone else touches it. This is the conclusion that Nora (Jean Gilpin) and Ivy (Jayne Taini) reach in Dana Schwartz’s Early Birds. Moving Arts presents this world premiere at the Atwater Village Theatre.
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Now running through September 7

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG at the Ahmanson Theatre

Jeremy Daniel

Jeremy Daniel

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

The tone for the farce that is The Play That Goes Wrong is set long before the curtain rises. Frazzled cast members wander the audience, asking questions such as if anyone has a dog they can borrow for the second act, as others attempt to fix the constantly malfunctioning set.
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Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

The Play That Goes Wrong, a British production at the Ahmanson by way of Broadway and, as the title would indicate, nearly everything goes wrong, as planned. The show is quite funny at times, with moments so hilarious you’ll laugh until you cry, but it’s too long, and loses the comedic momentum it builds for itself.
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Jonas Schwartz – Theatermania

The Play That Goes Wrong stabs you in the funny bone over and over. A mastery of pratfalls and a love letter to bad acting (cowritten by Mischief Theatre company members Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields), the comedy is such an adrenalin rush, audiences at the Ahmanson Theatre will be panting heavier than the actors forced to contend with a collapsing set.
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Now running through August 11

GATHER: SURPRISING STORIES AND OTHER MISCHIEF at the Pasadeena Playhouse

Nick Agro

Nick Agro

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

Gather: Surprising Stories and Other Mischief is an unwieldy title for a theatrical piece. Then again, Gather is an unwieldy theatrical piece. It’s not immediately clear what the piece is, and the answer doesn’t come readily upon further reflection.
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Now running through June 22

MAMMA MIA at East West Players

Steven Lam

Steven Lam

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

There is something soothing about the music of ABBA, the 70s Swedish pop group that brought the world such songs as “Dancing Queen,” “Take a Chance on Me,” and, of course, “Mamma Mia!” No matter how out of control the world gets, there’s always ABBA music to ease the soul, and, for the past 20 or so years, there’s been this jukebox musical of their hits to placate the mind.
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Now running through June 16

 

RAGTIME at the Pasadena Playhouse

Nick Agro

Nick Agro

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

Ragtime has got to be up there with Oklahoma! as one of the most undeniably American musicals of all time, and it has finally come home to Southern California. Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty’s musical made its U.S. premiere at the now-demolished Shubert Theatre in Century City in 1997, before opening on Broadway the following year.
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Ellen Dostal – Broadway World

How do you scale down an epic musical like RAGTIME for a smaller stage and a different time? When it opened at the Shubert Theatre in Century City in 1997, the cast numbered nearly fifty, the same as it would for its Broadway debut later that year. The stage was enormous and the production filled every inch of it.

For the revival at Pasadena Playhouse, director David Lee has a different spin.
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Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

“Make them hear you” is one of the most well-known refrains in Ragtime, and the current production at the Pasadena Playhouse is in fact demanding to be heard—and it is well worth listening to.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

In 1975, E.L. Doctorow published Ragtime, his work of historical fiction set in and around New York City during the early years of the 20th Century. He intermingled the stories of three distinct groups of people–upper Middle Class white Americans in New Rochelle, African Americans in Harlem and Eastern European immigrants in the slums of the lower East Side.
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Now running through March 3

WINTER SOLSTICE at City Garage

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Margaret Gray – LA Times

There’s nothing scary, at first, about Rudolph, the elderly gentleman who shows up at Albert and Bettina’s house one Christmas Eve in “Winter Solstice,” a 2013 play by the German writer Roland Schimmelpfennig, translated by David Tushingham, which is having its West Coast premiere at City Garage.
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Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

It is abundantly clear that Roland Schimmelpfenig, the playwright of Winter Solstice, currently making its West Coast debut at City Garage in Santa Monica, wishes he were a novelist, or perhaps an experimental filmmaker like the characters in the play.
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Now running through November 25

DEAR EVAN HANSEN at the Ahmanson Theatre

Matthew Murphy

Matthew Murphy

Frances Baum Nicholson – Stage Struck Review

When news the Tony-winning “Dear Evan Hansen” was headed for L.A. on its first national tour, a dash for tickets seeming mildly reminiscent of the “Hamilton” frenzy began.
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Erin Conley -  On Stage and Screen

There have been plenty of musicals about complicated, grieving families over the years, but until now, there has not been one tailor-made for the social media era. Enter Dear Evan Hansen, the 2017 Tony winner for Best Musical that opened last night at Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

If you have seen the musical Dear Evan Hansen and are a fan, you might not want to read any further because I will be challenging most things that you hold dear about the show.
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Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

First things first: if you didn’t get the chance to see Dear Evan Hansen in New York, don’t worry. The first national tour of the show, currently playing at the Ahmanson, is nearly identical to the New York incarnation.
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Young Evan Hansen has broken his arm. Before the Tony winning musical Dear Evan Hansen ends, the titular character will also have broken many hearts in this poignant, topical drama about isolation in high school and how social media takes an already stressful situation and heightens it by exposing and recording all of life’s foibles small and large.
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Dany Margolies – The Daily News

Evan Hansen struggles with social interaction, prefers to isolate himself and fears being judged by others. To varying degrees, so do we all, whether for a moment, a day or constantly.
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Now running through November 25

SCHOOL GIRLS; OR, THE AFRICAN MEAN GIRLS PLAY at the Kirk Douglas Theatre

Craig Schwartz

Craig Schwartz

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

Colorism is a topic that may be unfamiliar to many white audiences, but it’s an issue Jocelyn Bioh examines beautifully in her new work School Girls; or, the African Mean Girls Play, now making its Los Angeles debut at the Kirk Douglas Theatre.
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Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

Teenage girls worldwide struggle with a number of the same issues—body image, fitting in at school, planning for the future, dealing with societal and familial pressures. But while many of these issues are universal, there are also major differences depending on where in the world girls grow up.
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Now running through September 30

 

AIN’T TOO PROUD – THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE TEMPTATIONS at the Ahmanson Theatre

Matthew Murphy

Matthew Murphy

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

Look out, baby, cause here they come. Ain’t Too Proud—The Life and Times of The Temptations opened in Los Angeles at Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre last night, just hours after it was announced the show will transfer to Broadway in spring 2019. Read more…

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

The two trickiest types of musical, to this critic’s mind at least, are the bio-musical and the jukebox musical. The former ties musicals, often a fanciful form, to rote biographical facts, while the latter often requires the show’s cast and creative team to impart significance to songs that might not be able to carry the meaning they’re meant to support.
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Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

For sheer entertainment, “Ain’t Too Proud” is the show to see in Los Angeles during the next five weeks.
As a jukebox musical featuring the songs of The Temptations plus a generous handful of others, the score is unsurpassable. The quintet that many consider the greatest group ever in R&B music gave us such 1960s and ’70s classics as “My Girl,” “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” and of course “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.”
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Now running through September 30

 

WAITRESS at the Pantages Theatre

Joan Marcus

Joan Marcus

Erin Conley – On Stage and Screen

You cannot walk five feet in the Pantages Theatre without encountering a bunch of mini pies for sale, perfectly setting the scene for Waitress, the hit Broadway musical that opened in Los Angeles for the first time last night.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

In 2007 writer/director/actress Adrienne Shelly created a little gem of an independent film entitled Waitress. Unfortunately Shelly was murdered before the film’s debut. In 2015 playwright Jesse Nelson and songwriter Sara Bareilles turned the story of three waitresses and their love lives in a small Southern town into a Broadway musical.
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Ellen Dostal – Broadway World

Can eating a pie be a religious experience? It can if it was made by Jenna, the diner waitress in the Broadway musical WAITRESS, who turns ordinary ingredients like butter, sugar, and flour into mouthwatering slices of life in a pie tin.
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Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

Easy as it is to bemoan the current trend of turning movies into Broadway musicals, Waitress, now playing at the Pantages in Hollywood, is proof that Broadway shows can still tell beautiful stories, even when they’re based on movies that came out over a decade ago.
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Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

Though a few of its ingredients are so right, so much is so wrong with “Waitress,” the musical now at the Pantages.
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Now running through August 26

 

 

SWEET CHARITY at the Freud Playhouse

Michael Lamont

Michael Lamont

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

At one point in the musical Sweet Charity, the main female characters sing “there’s gotta be something better than this.” While they are singing about their disappointing lives, this line also speaks directly to the extremely problematic messages this dated show perpetuates regarding sexual and gender politics.   Read more…

Ellen Dostal – Musicals in L.A.

When Reprise! Broadway’s Best closed its doors in 2012, musical theatre lovers heaved a collective sigh. The resident company at UCLA’s Freud Playhouse had gained a reputation for producing outstanding performances of classic musicals featuring stars from the worlds of live theatre and television, similar to those done by Encores! in New York. Everyone felt the loss. Read more

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

If you didn’t know any better, it would be easy to forget that Sweet Charity, now playing at UCLA, is a musical from the 1960s.
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Now running through July 1