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Archive for LA Weekly – Page 2

ELLIOT: A SOLDIER’S FUGUE at the Kirk Douglas Theatre

Craig Schwartz

Craig Schwartz

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

The first play in a three-part trilogy, Elliot: A Soldier’s Fugue delves into the experience of war for three generations of soldiers in a Puerto Rican–American family. Written by Quiara Alegría Hudes (who wrote the book for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights), it’s a lyrical exploration of the fear, bravado and bewilderment of lonely soldiers struggling to survive the dubious battles our country has waged over the last seven decades.
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Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

“Fugue” is a musical term, defined as a piece in which a melody is introduced by one voice, mimicked by others, and continues on by interweaving those parts. Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue, nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2007 and written by Quiara Alegría Hudes as the first installment in her Elliot Trilogy, opened this weekend at Center Theatre Group’s Kirk Douglas Theatre.
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Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

For so long, stories about war have belonged to men. Traditionally, military tales have been about men and told by men. Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue, now playing at the Kirk Douglas in Culver City, shifts these paradigms slightly.
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Frances Baum Nicholson –The Stage Struck Review

What happens when a young man joins the service as his father and grandfather before him did? Over the course of our national narrative, particularly over the last century, this has been a recognized, even celebrated legacy.
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Now running through February 25

FREUD’S LAST SESSION at the Odyssey Theatre

(Photo by Enci Box)

(Photo by Enci Box)

Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

George Bernard Shaw once observed that it is useless to argue with a clergyman because his livelihood depends on his not changing his mind. But the remark could equally well be applied to anyone whose career depends on defending and maintaining a particular point of view —and that could be said of both the protagonists in Mark St. Germain’s play.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Dr. Sigmund Freud was born to Jewish parents in the Austrian Empire in the mid-19th Century. He came to regard the monotheistic God as an illusion based on the infantile emotional need for a powerful, supernatural pater familias. He believed that in modern times (early 20th Century) religion could be set aside in favor of reason and science.
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Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Philosophers, theologians, believers and nonbelievers from a broad spectrum of cultures and faiths have been arguing about God’s existence for centuries. In Freud’s Last Session, playwright Mark St. Germain crystallizes the essence of the debate, creating a fictional encounter between Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis and a famous skeptic, and Irish-born C.S.
Lewis, a scholar, novelist and devout Christian…
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Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

Freud! Lewis! Rumble in the library!

More or less.

Mark St. Germain’s two-character play, “Freud’s Last Session,” at the Odyssey through March 4, doesn’t rise to fisticuffs. But his imagined debate between the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, and author and newly converted Anglican, C.S. Lewis, is as contentious as a heavyweight fight.
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Now running through March 4

I AM NOT A COMEDIAN…I’M LENNY BRUCE at Theatre 68

 Doren Sorell Photography


Doren Sorell Photography

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

When Lenny Bruce was found dead in his Hollywood Boulevard apartment in August 1966, the headline in the New York Times obituary diplomatically described him as an “uninhibited” comic. It was a tame adjective for this incendiary performer, despised in many quarters as an obscene and immoral clown, while regaled in other (perhaps worldlier) circles as a fearless and trenchant satirist.
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Now running through April 1

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

THE HEART OF ROBIN HOOD at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

Kevin Parry for the Wallis

Kevin Parry for the Wallis

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Marketed as family fare, The Heart of Robin Hood, David Farr’s feminist twist on the classic legend, is perhaps more suitable for kids than for grown-ups. Co-directed by Icelandic artists Gisli Örn Gardarsson and Selma Björnsdóttir, it’s a pleasant two-hour interlude that serves up an attractive spectacle…
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

The Wallis in Beverly Hills has a tradition of bringing International Theatre companies to local audiences. Currently they are presenting Vesturport’s The Heart of Robin Hood direct from Iceland. There is no ice on stage but there is a lot of green in Borkur Jonsson’s scenic design…
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Margaret Gray – LA Times

Deep in “The Heart of Robin Hood,” a production by the Icelandic company Vesturport, Maid Marion confesses to her sidekick/BFF Pierre that she has fallen in love with the outlaw Robin Hood.

“But he’s brutish and emotionally unavailable,” Pierre replies.
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Now running through December 17

SOMETHING ROTTEN at the Ahmanson Theatre

Photo by Jeremy Daniel

Photo by Jeremy Daniel

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

Just in time for the holidays, the rambunctious, crowd-pleasing national tour of Something Rotten! has opened at Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre. This original musical, which ran for nearly two years on Broadway and was nominated for 9 Tony Awards, is a rare show that is equally enjoyable for theatre aficionados and more casual patrons alike.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

There is nothing rotten to be found in Something Rotten!, a joyously over-the-top musical at the Ahmanson Theatre that spoofs and celebrates anything and everything about musical theatre. How can you not love a musical that celebrates The Black Death in song?
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Paul Birchall  – Stage Raw

I’m of two minds about this upbeat musical (the bus and truck production of the 2014 Broadway hit) which is about theater during Shakespeare’s time. Credited to Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell, it’s cheerful, peppy, energetic, and at times quite cute.
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Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Something Rotten! is a ditzy satire that takes a wry poke at wannabe-ism and artistic celebrity; while it may not be the deepest or drollest of musicals, the choreography is great, the lyrics are clever, and the comic performances  are entertainingly on the mark.
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Now running through December 31

YOHEN at East West Players

(Photo courtesy East West Players)

(Photo courtesy East West Players)

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Set in 1986, Philip Kan Gotanda’s Yohen depicts the unraveling of a 37-year marriage. Although it tumbles off-track in its final third, the play to that point is an astute portrayal of the dynamics of a failed intimacy.
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Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

The title of Philip Kan Gotanda’s play, Yohen, refers to the unpredictable changes that take place when pottery is placed in the kiln. The result may be disastrous, or it may create an unexpected treasure. His play refers to the disruptive changes which occur in a human relationship over the course of years.
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Frances Baum Nicholson –The Stage Struck Review

Eighteen years ago, Danny Glover and the late Nobu McCarthy shared the stage of East West Players in Philip Kan Gotanda’s “Yohen,” about the struggles of an couple coming to terms with the husband’s retirement after 37 years in the military.
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Now running through November 19

WITH LOVE AND A MAJOR ORGAN at Boston Court Performing Arts Center

2017_With_Love_0021

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

Some people go through life with their heart on their sleeve, while others are much more guarded, desperate to protect their hearts from being broken. In With Love and a Major Organ, a whimsical, poignant play by Julia Lederer currently in its west coast premiere at Boston Court Performing Arts Center, this concept is taken a step further. Read more…

Paul Birchall – Stage and Cinema

Midway through playwright Julia Lederer’s feather-light, yet rather droning romantic comedy, a character literally reaches into her own chest and pulls out her heart, which thumps and pumps and leaks blood into the padded envelope she shoves it into. The lovesick woman then leaves it in a New York City subway station for the man she hopes to catch. Read more…

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

In playwright Julia Lederer’s With Love and A Major Organ, a West Coast premiere directed by Jessica Kubzansky at Boston Court, a warm spontaneous woman falls ardently in love with a stranger she meets on the subway.  The main idea — a quest for love requited —may be as old as the hills, but Lederer’s wit and poetical language, along with Kubzansky’s directorial finesse and state-of the-art staging, makes for a beguiling evening of theater. Read more…

Frances Baum Nicholson –The Stage Struck Review

Recently, as part of an assignment at a nearby public high school, students experimented at a local mall to see what people their age would do if a stranger (also their age) came up to try to engage them in conversation. Over and over, the subjects of their experiment would look down at their phones – use their electronic social network to avoid talking to a real person. Interestingly, that was the expected result, according to the teens.
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Now running through November 5

HEAD OF PASSES at the Mark Taper Forum

Photo by Craig Schwartz.

Photo by Craig Schwartz.

Frances Baum Nicholson –The Stage Struck Review

Every once in a while one comes across a performance which may outweigh the play it takes place in. In this case, a good play becomes greater because of one person who takes a playwright’s words and their own and their director’s understandings and makes of them something much more than the sum of those parts. This is Phylicia Rashad in “Head of Passes,” now open at the Mark Taper Forum.
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Throughout Act 1 of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Head of Passes, now at the Mark Taper Forum, Phylicia Rashad plays a religious woman on her last legs who chooses her birthday to unravel family secrets. Nothing in that act prepares audiences for the awe-striking flow of passion that emits from the famous actor in Act 2 as she spews fury at God……..
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Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

In Head of Passes, playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney strives to create a narrative of epic proportion, but with only moderate success. Directed by Tina Landau at the Mark Taper Forum, the play nonetheless is worth seeing for the questions it poses, the production’s finely-tuned ensemble, and the lead performance by Phylicia Rashad as a devout woman sorely tested by her God.
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Now running through October 22

 

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

 

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