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Archive for LA Times

THE GREAT LEAP at the Pasadena Playhouse

Jenny Graham

Jenny Graham

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

Sometimes the most compelling drama in sports does not happen on the court or field, but behind the scenes. In The Great Leap, a play by Lauren Yee that opened in its Los Angeles premiere this weekend at the Pasadena Playhouse, in association with the East West Players, basketball serves as an entry point into an ambitious story about familial, cultural, and political conflict.
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Margaret Gray – LA Times

You may not know — I didn’t — that basketball is huge in China. Missionaries introduced the sport there in 1895, soon after it was invented, and when the Communists came into power in 1949, it was one of the few Western cultural contributions they didn’t criminalize. Apparently Chairman Mao was a fan.

Lauren Yee’s stunning play “The Great Leap,” now at the Pasadena Playhouse in a gorgeous co-production with East West Players….
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Now running through December 1

THE ABUELAS at Antaeus Theater Company at the Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center

Jenny Graham

Jenny Graham

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

The Abuelas is the second play by Stephanie Alison Walker to address the tragedy of Los Desaparecidos — Argentinian citizens who opposed the military junta that governed the country between 1976 and 1983 and who fell prey to the right-wing death squads that kidnapped, tortured and murdered thousands.
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Margaret Gray – LA Times

Stephanie Alison Walker’s “The Abuelas,” now at Antaeus Theatre Company in Glendale, is the kind of play that makes staff dramaturgs earn their keep: so much history to contextualize.
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Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

In March 1976, a military junta took control of Argentina, ready to dispose of anyone who opposed them. In the years that followed, it is estimated that as many as 30,000 people disappeared as a result of the “Dirty War.” The “disappeareds” included many young pregnant women who gave birth in captivity before being murdered. Their babies were taken from them and illegally adopted out to families with connections to the military.
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Now running through November 25

ANASTASIA at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre

Evan Zimmerman

Evan Zimmerman

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

If you, like me, grew up on the 1997 animated film version of Anastasia, you probably remember the creepy and scary Rasputin, and the titular heroine eventually defeating him by destroying a magical glass vial. While much of the plot, and all of the memorable songs, are the same in the musical version that opened last night at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre, Rasputin and all of the supernatural elements have been removed. But despite those differences, this charming production evokes strong feelings of nostalgia, telling a touching tale of a traumatized princess attempting to find her way back to herself.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

The fate of Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanoff of Russia was one of the greatest mysteries of the early 20th century as at least ten women came forward claiming to be her, even though she and her entire family of seven, led by Tsar Nicholas II, were said to have been murdered by their Bolshevik guards in July, 1918 after the Russian Revolution.
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Margaret Gray – LA Times

The most mysterious thing about the feisty, strawberry-blond protagonist of the musical “Anastasia,” whose national tour has landed at the Hollywood Pantages, is not her affliction by what doctors today might diagnose as retrograde amnesia or dissociative fugue. (Her story takes place in 1927, in the infancy of neuroscience, when doctors just called everyone crazy.)
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Now running through October 27

 

NEVER EVER LAND at Studio/Stage

Matt Kamimura

Matt Kamimura

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Singer Michael Jackson was probably the world’s biggest celebrity and music icon in 1993 when he was accused of sexually abusing a 13-year old boy during the boy’s visits to Jackson’s California Neverland ranch.
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Margaret Gray – LA Times

To find juicy plots, poor old Shakespeare had to slog through “Holinshed’s Chronicles” and “Plutarch’s Lives.” Today’s playwrights need only switch on the news for material — and then write like the wind, because something crazier is bound to happen in an hour.
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Now running through October 27

THE SOLID LIFE OF SUGAR WATER at Deaf West Theatre

Brandon Simmoneau

Brandon Simmoneau

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

What does intimacy look like after two people have been forever changed by a devastating tragedy? The Solid Life of Sugar Water, a play by Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) currently in its US premiere at Deaf West Theatre in Los Angeles, follows a young couple as they attempt to connect sexually for the first time after the stillbirth of their child.
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Margaret Gray – LA Times

There’s a reason so many love stories end with the wedding. What happens later — the daily intimacy of marriage itself, with its late-night misunderstandings and morning breath — is often less picturesque.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

British playwright Jack Thorne’s two-hander The Solid Life of Sugar Water is about a couple learning to recover from a horrific experience.
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Now running through October 13

WITCH at Geffen Playhouse

Jeff Lorch

Jeff Lorch

Terry Morgan  -  Talkin’ Broadway

When The Witch of Edmonton (written by William Rowley, Thomas Dekker and John Ford) premiered in 1621, its tale of a woman selling her soul to the devil to gain revenge on her neighbors was played as a tragic drama. Jen Silverman’s new version of the story, simply titled Witch, is very much a comedy, although tragedy is still present.
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Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

At the beginning of Witch, a funny and insightful play by Jen Silverman now in its west coast premiere at the Geffen Playhouse, the titular character (Maura Tierney) addresses the audience, posing a bit of a warning.
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Margaret Gray – LA Times

In “Witch,” Jen Silverman’s delightful recasting of the obscure 1621 tragicomedy “The Witch of Edmonton,” characters find themselves in Jacobean dress and Jacobean circumstances, but they speak like Americans today. Nary a “prithee” or “forsooth” to be heard.
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Jonas Schwartz – Theatermania

Witch, receiving its West Coast premiere at the Geffen Playhouse, explores sexual politics and humanity’s bloodlust for power. Loosely based on William Rowley, Thomas Dekker, and John Ford’s 1621 play The Witch of Edmonton, this one-act battle of the sexes proves that little in human nature has changed since the 1600s.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

From Dante’s Inferno and Milton’s Paradise Lost to Disney’s Fantasia and Broadway’s Damn Yankees, The Devil has been a popular character in books, music, film and stage works.
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Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Witch, Jen Silverman’s incisive illuminating play directed by Marti Lyons at Geffen Playhouse, draws inspiration from The Witch of Edmonton, a Jacobean melodrama conceived around the real-life tragedy of an elderly woman named Elizabeth Sawyer, burned as a witch in the British community of Edmonton in 1621.
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Now running through September 29

 

MISS SAIGON at the Pantages Theatre

Matthew Murphy

Matthew Murphy

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

Miss Saigon, the musical by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil with lyrics by Boublil and Richard Maltby Jr., opened this week at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood following a successful Broadway revival in 2017 and 2018. Based on Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly, it takes place in 1970s Saigon during the Vietnam War and tells the story of a South Vietnamese woman and a United States Marine who fall in love.    Read more…

Margaret Gray – LA Times

“I’m an American. How can I fail to do good?”

That’s the rhetorical question sung by the ex-G.I. Chris in the musical “Miss Saigon,” which opened last week at the Hollywood Pantages — one that resonates differently now than it would have in 1978, when the scene is set, and in 1991, when the musical premiered on Broadway.     Read more…

Now running through August 11

 

MYSTERIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES at Geffen Playhouse

Jeff Lorch

Jeff Lorch

Terry Morgan  – Talkin’ Broadway

The old maxim states that truth is stranger than fiction, but sometimes truth isn’t quite that bold and merely approaches the outlandishness of prose. Such is the case of Richard Lancelyn Green, the subject of a New Yorker article, a Sherlock Holmes expert who was found dead in his apartment in 2004….
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Margaret Gray – LA Times

Sherlock Holmes is a fictional private detective dreamed up by the turn-of-the-century British doctor and writer Arthur Conan Doyle — or so history would have it. Certain scholars, collectors and fans prefer to believe that Holmes was an actual person. Holmes himself would probably agree with them….
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

The leading expert on Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective Sherlock Holmes becomes the key element in a real-life mystery when he is found dead alone in his apartment. It appears to be murder, but could it be suicide?
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Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

In December 2004, The New Yorker magazine published an article by journalist David Grann titled: “Mysterious Circumstances: The Strange Death of a Sherlock Holmes Fanatic.”
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Now running through July 14

READY, STEADY, YETI, GO at Rogue Machine at the Electric Lodge

John Perrin Flynn

John Perrin Flynn

Margaret Gray – LA Times

No folkloric Himalayan ape-men appear in David Jacobi’s play “Ready, Steady, Yeti, Go.” That may sound like a spoiler, but it’s a PSA: The friend who went with me to see Rogue Machine’s production was too disappointed by the lack of yetis to focus on what was happening onstage……
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Now running through July 29

STEEL MAGNOLIAS at Actors’ Coop

Matthew Gilmore

Matthew Gilmore

Terry Morgan  -  Stage Raw

Watching this excellent current revival of Robert Harling’s Steel Magnolias at Actors Co-op, I was reminded yet again of the power of a strong ensemble. Solo shows and two-handers certainly have their place, but there is something about the interaction among a group of talented actors, where many things combine to become one greater thing, that seems to me to be the very heart of whatever magic theater creates.
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Margaret Gray – LA Times

In the first scene of the play “Steel Magnolias,” Robert Harling’s 1987 love letter to small-town Southern women, two Louisiana friends share favorites from their recipe boxes. Cuppa Cuppa Cuppa Cake is so straightforward, it doesn’t even require an index card:
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Robert Harling’s comedy/drama play Steel Magnolias premiered off-Broadway in 1987 and ran for over 1,100 performances. Read more…

 

Now running through May

FIDDLER ON THE ROOF at the Pantages Theatre

Joan Marcus

Joan Marcus

Margaret Gray – LA Times
Reviving a beloved musical can be a daunting proposition. Do you keep faith with tradition, or do you try something new? If you opt for a little of both, how much of each? It’s hard to find the balance — a bit like trying to play a fiddle on the roof.
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Now running through May 5

THE MOTHER OF HENRY at the Los Angeles Theatre Center

Andrew Vasquez

Andrew Vasquez

Deborah Klugman – Capital & Main

Evelina Fernández’s world premiere play, The Mother of Henry, is set within Los Angeles’ Eastside barrio, Boyle Heights, in 1968. It was a watershed year. Although change was in the wind — the anti-war protests, civil rights marches, the farmworkers’ strikes — the murders of MLK and Bobby Kennedy, just two months apart, were deeply and painfully disheartening for many Americans. Dark forces, it seemed, were ascendant.

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Margaret Gray – LA Times

La Virgen de Guadalupe — an apparition of the Virgin Mary — is an icon of the Catholic faith, the patron saint of Mexico and a symbol of Mexican independence venerated throughout the Americas, although not principally for her comic timing.
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Now running through April 20