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Archive for LA Weekly

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.
Read more…

Now running through October 8

 

HAMILTON at the Pantages Theatre

Photo by Joan Marcus

Photo by Joan Marcus

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

So much has been written about Hamilton since its debut two and a half years ago. This musical, which has won just about every award it was eligible for including the Best Musical Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, has embedded itself in the pop culture zeitgeist more than any musical ever has. Read more…

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

When Hamilton was performed for the Obamas in 2016, Michelle Obama is said to have called it “the best piece of art in any form that I have ever seen in my life.” Did she overstate things? Now that I’ve seen the show (for the first time), I don’t think she did. Read more…

Jonas Schwartz - TheaterMania

So often, expectations can overwhelm an actual experience, but the gripping Hamilton at the Pantages lives up to the hype.   Read more…

Dany Margolies  -  Arts In LA

How.” That’s the first word of Hamilton. The word, as a question, repeats throughout.    Pretty much everyone who has seen or heard this musical agrees it is genius. The question remains, how did Lin-Manuel Miranda come up with this miracle? Read more…

Pauline Adamek  -  ArtsBeatLA

When a touring Broadway show finally comes to town, coasting on a tidal wave of hype and critical acclaim, it’s difficult to make a clear-headed assessment of its value. Following its fêted move from the East Village to Broadway, composer and performer Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton has taken up residence at the glamorous Pantages Theater in Hollywood. There will performances through December 30, 2017.  Read more…

Now running through December 30

TILDA SWINTON ANSWERS AN AD ON CRAIGSLIST at the Celebration Theatre

Photo courtesy of Celebration Theatre

Photo courtesy of Celebration Theatre

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

In Byron Lane’s shtick-drenched comedy at the Celebration Theatre, a flamboyant figure claiming to be actress Tilda Swinton (Tom Lenk) shows up on the doorstep of a suicidal man named Walt (Lane) and inspires him to accept himself and get on with his life. Read more…

Terry Morgan  -  Stage Raw

There’s a special subset of shows that parody or examine a particular celebrity, such as Mindy Kaling and Brenda Withers’ Matt & Ben (about the titular Good Will Hunting creators), or Jonathan Tolins’ examination of life in Streisand’s home mall in Buyer and Cellar. Read more…

Now running through August 31

 

SHOUT SISTER SHOUT! at the Pasadena Playhouse

Jim Cox Photography

Jim Cox Photography

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Born in 1915, Sister Rosetta Tharpe has been called the godmother of rock & roll for her profound influence on a legion of famous vocalists, including Elvis Presley, Tina Turner and Johnny Cash (who noted in his induction speech into the Hall of Fame that she was his favorite singer). Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Rosetta Tharpe was a pioneer rock artist who inspired many individuals and the future of rock and roll itself, but Randy Johnson and Cheryl L. West, the creators of Shout Sister Shout!, do not seem to trust the power of Tharpe’s story on its own merits. Instead, they structure a convoluted fantasy around this life story that feels as if it was directly cribbed from Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life.   Read more…

Frances Baum Nicholson – The Daily News

If you love classic rock ’n’ roll and have never heard of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, shame on you.
Read more…

Now running through August 20

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

HEISENBERG at the Mark Taper Forum

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Hoyt Hilsman  -  Huffington Post

In the finest tradition of the theatrical two-hander, British playwright Simon Stephens (adapter of the Tony-award winning Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night) has imagined a random encounter between a forty-something eccentric woman and a very ordinary seventy-five year old butcher. Read more…

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

British playwright Simon Stephens’ Heisenberg tracks the ups and downs in the relationship of an American woman in her 40s and an Irishman in his 70s. First produced at the Manhattan Theatre Club in 2015 and later remounted on Broadway, the play shares its appellation with physicist and 1932 Nobel Prize winner Werner Heisenberg.

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Frances Baum Nicholson –The Stage Struck Review

The uncertainty principle of German scientist Werner Heisenberg states that the position and velocity of any object cannot both be measured exactly at the same time. In Simon Stephens’ much-celebrated play, “Heisenberg,” that theory is applied to people – two impressively dissimilar adults who meet awkwardly in a London train station…
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Terry Morgan  -  Stage Raw

I think it’s fair to say that we’ve all seen plenty of “manic pixie dreamgirl” romantic comedies, and even enough of the subset of May/December relationship dramas — but these are sturdy tropes that will always be with us. The latest theatrical iteration of this genre is Simon Stephens’ Heisenberg……   Read more…

Dany Margolies  -  Arts In LA

Playwright Simon Stephens puts two characters onstage, captures them in conversation, and leaves us knowing no more about themselves our ourselves than we knew at the start of this 80-minute work.

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Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

Annoying, pointless and utterly dated — Simon Stephens’ play Heisenberg perpetuates not only the myth of the ‘manic pixie dream girl’ but fails to question the normalcy and acceptability of May/December romances. Neither are desirable nor relevant outlooks for the 21st century stage.

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Now running through August 6

LOVE IS A DIRTY WORD at the VS Theatre

(Photo by Aaron Epstein)

(Photo by Aaron Epstein)

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

There are many fine elements in Giovanni Adams’ autobiographical solo show, and it’s hard to decide which to mention first: the cadenced flow of his beautifully detailed 80-minute spoken word poem, the open and disarming manner of his delivery, or the production’s flawless pacing under Becca Wolff’s accomplished direction.   Read more…

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

In the home where Giovanni Adams grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, sex was never a dirty word.

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Now running through July 15

LES BLANCS – Rogue Machine Theatre at the Met

Photo by John Perrin Flynn

Photo by John Perrin Flynn

Terry Morgan  -  Stage Raw

It’s kind of amazing that a major play by Lorraine Hansberry is just having its Los Angeles premiere now. Perhaps the tide of criticism that caused the play to close after one month on Broadway in 1970 tainted its reputation in some way, or its need for a 24-member cast scared producers off. Thankfully, Rogue Machine decided to rectify this situation, and its current production is a smart, exciting theatrical event. Read more…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Lorraine Hansberry was the first black woman to write a play that was produced on Broadway when her classic A Raisin in the Sun opened in 1959. At the age of 29, she won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award becoming the youngest playwright to do so.   Read more…

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Lorraine Hansberry’s Les Blancs is set in colonial Africa sometime in the mid–20th century, and while much has changed since then, the play’s moral dilemmas and the racism and hypocrisy that give rise to them remain with us. Read more…

Margaret Gray – LA Times

The playwright Lorraine Hansberry died of cancer in 1965 when she was only 34, leaving behind incomplete drafts of “Les Blancs” (“The Whites”), a play she had begun writing in 1960, soon after “A Raisin in the Sun” made her famous.Read more…

les-blancs-2

Now running through July 3

ACTUALLY at the Geffen Playhouse

Christ Whitaker

Photo by Chris Whitaker

Margaret Gray – LA Times

He said, she said. Then he said more, and then she said more. They both kept saying things. But no matter how much they said, it was impossible to determine what had actually happened between the two freshmen in the Princeton University dorm room when they were very drunk. Was it consensual sex or rape? Read more…

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

“Um, actually.” These seemingly innocuous words are critical to the events of the aptly named Actually, a new play by Anna Ziegler currently playing at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles in a co-world premiere with the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Read more…

Dany Margolies  -  Arts In LA

We see the kiss twice: once at the play’s beginning and once at its end. Her hands express her uncertainty. They don’t push him away, but they don’t embrace him. Her left hand hovers near his shoulder, a question mark over the moment and certainly over the play. Read more…

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

In Anna Ziegler’s smart and penetrating play Actually, now premiering at the Geffen Playhouse, Tom (Jerry MacKinnon), a freshman at Princeton, recounts an incident in which his best buddy Sunil leans in and kisses him on the mouth. Read more…

Now running through June 11

ARCHDUKE at the Mark Taper Forum

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Erin Conley – OnStage

Most people know about the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, the event historically seen as the inciting incident of World War I. But what do we really know about the assassins? In Archduke, a new play by Rajiv Joseph currently making its world premiere at Center Theatre Group’s Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, we look at the weeks leading up to the 1914 assassination and the unlikely path of a few young men who are recruited into terrorism at a particularly vulnerable time in their lives. Read more…

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

What drives a young person to commit an act of terror? Is he propelled by his own volition or are there other, more sinister individuals or forces pulling the strings?

Now running through June 4

 

KISS at the Odyssey Theatre

Kiss_8

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

I have always been a proponent of good political theatre, not agitprop theatre such as written by Italian playwright Dario Fo. I prefer political writing that is more balanced like the great teleplays that David E. Kelley wrote for L.A. Law…Read more…

Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

Chilean playwright Guillermo Calderón sets his play in the apartment of a young woman named Hadeel (Kristin Couture), who is hosting a soap-opera watching party for her friends. Read more…

Photo by  Enci Box

Photo by Enci Box

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

In Kiss, directed by Bart DeLorenzo at the Odyssey Theatre, Chilean playwright Guillermo Calderón explores the gap (one might say chasm) in perspective between people who live in a war-free society (ourselves, at least for now), and those trapped in the horrors of war who are subject to atrocities committed by vile men, like Syria’s Assad. Read more…

Dany Margolies  -  Arts In LA

Critics have been asked to not give away the plot of this play. Out of respect to the theater, the work’s playwright, and its director, most of us won’t. But good luck to anyone who tries to describe the work and the potent sensations it induces. Read more…

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

Both in theater and in life, things are often not what they seem to be. The power of perspective is a strong influence in Kiss, a play by Guillermo Calderón currently in its west coast premiere at the Odyssey Theatre. Read more…

Now running through June 18

THE LEGEND OF GEORGIA MCBRIDE at the Geffen Playhouse

Photo  by Jeff Lorch

Photo by Jeff Lorch

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

It is one of the age-old theater questions: Can a performance rise the level of a so-so script, adding depth missing from the dialogue and characterizations? Broadway actor Matt McGrath proves the answer can be yes in The Legend of Georgia McBride, a comedy, now playing at the Geffen, about drag queens in a run-down bar in the Florida Panhandle. Read more…

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

The Legend of Georgia McBride is one of those rare charmers, a sweet story about nice people that manages to be neither syrupy nor cloying. Directed by Mike Donahue at the Geffen Playhouse, the production features a strong ensemble that brings heft and heart to a very amiable comedy. Read more…

 Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

They say clothes make the man. In “The Legend of Georgia McBride,” women’s clothes certainly turn a childlike lad into a maturing gentleman. Still, Matthew Lopez’s play, enjoying its West Coast premiere at Geffen Playhouse, reminds us that our true selves are who we are at heart, having nothing to do with our outer adornments. Read more…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Can an Elvis Impersonator reinvent himself as a drag queen? Better yet, can an impoverished married straight man with a child on the way become a successful star drag act? Upon this thin premise hangs Matthew Lopez’s hilariously outrageous The Legend of Georgia McBride at The Geffen Playhouse. Read more…

Now running through May 31