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Bad Apples, Circle X Theatre Co

Photo by Jeff Galfer.

 

Bad Apples by Jim Leonard.

 

Terry Morgan – LAist.com

Circle X Theatre Co. has been one of the best theatre companies in Los Angeles for fifteen years now. One thing the company has never lacked for is ambition, and this admirable quality is on display in their current world premiere, Bad Apples. It’s a musical concerning the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in 2003 and the people involved in it. Although a musical may not sound like the proper format to deal with this serious issue, playwright Jim Leonard and director John Langs use humor, irony and the directness of music to capture the emotional terrain and intellectual sweep of the history in a way that a straight drama might not encompass. It’s not a perfect show–it’s a bit long and has focus issues–but the vast majority of the play that does work is nervy, top-notch theatre.   Read more…

 

David C. Nichols – LA Times

Noteworthy intent permeates Bad Apples in its Circle X Theatre Company premiere. Jim Leonard, Rob Cairns and Beth Thornley’s surreal take on Baghdad’s infamous military prison is nothing if not original.  Read more…

 

 

Cymbeline, A Noise Within

Photo by Craig Schwartz.

 

Cymbeline by William Shakespeare.

 

Terry Morgan – LAist.com

There are two primary reasons Shakespeare lovers should go see the new production of Cymbeline at A Noise Within. The first is that the play is rarely produced, and here’s an opportunity to experience it as done by one of the best classics-based theatre companies in town. The second reason is that one will rarely see this play so well performed. Director Bart DeLorenzo and an outstanding cast take this obscurity by the Bard and bring it to witty and boisterous life.   Read more…

 

Dany Margolies – ArtsInLA.com

The pros make it look so easy. This production has the breezy feel of an itinerant theater troupe mounting an impromptu version of one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known plays. Most things that look easy, however, result from planning and practice. That, plus years of training contribute to making the dialogue sound improvised here. And of course we can’t see the probably madcap goings on backstage: the swift crossings, the costume and wig changes, the actors and crew waiting in the wings to execute the rapid, economical scene changes. Read more…

 

 

By the Way, Meet Vera Stark, Geffen Playhouse

Photo by Michael Lamont.

 

By the Way, Meet Vera Stark by Lynn Nottage.

 

Terry Morgan – LAist.com

Lynn Nottage’s play, By the Way, Meet Vera Stark, is more intriguing as a concept than a reality. It looks at the marginalization of African-American actors in the twentieth century, an undeniably interesting subject, but then stumbles in multiple ways. The fault, unfortunately, is in the writing, and the strong cast in the new production at the Geffen Playhouse isn’t able to overcome this problem.   Read more…

 

David C. Nichols – Backstage

In By the Way, Meet Vera Stark, playwright Lynn Nottage, a 2009 Pulitzer Prize winner for Ruined, again turns her incisive eye on the objectification of African-American women. The West Coast premiere of her 2011 satire of racial identity in the Hollywood studio system is an often enjoyable fusion of wry comedy and gritty comment, at least until polemic overtakes the proceedings.  Read more…

 

Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

Lynn Nottage’s play By The Way, Meet Vera Stark is light years apart from her recently staged play (also at the Geffen) entitled Ruined, which was a potent portrayal of unspeakable tragedy in war-torn Congo. Yet the main focus of this play is once again the plight of black women, to which Nottage gives thoughtful examination coupled with wry commentary.   Ostensibly a comedy, this time her primary setting is the Hollywood studio system during the 1930s. We gain an unusual insight into the close friendship between two actors. One – Gloria (Amanda Detmer) – is white, privileged and desperate for the lead role in an upcoming Southern saga. The other – Vera (Sanaa Lathan) – is black and also desperate for a good movie role – any role. Unfortunately for a ‘colored girl,’ the only screen roles available are menial ones such as maids and mammies.   Read more…

 

Melinda Schupmann – ArtsInLA.com

Early in Hollywood’s heyday, directors discovered that caricatured black actors played well in films, especially comedies, and the actors, desperate for work, acquiesced. Male stereotypes were born: wide-eyed, lazy, superstitious, subservient characters who kowtowed to their superiors (read that white). Among the actors were Willie Best, Mantan Moreland, and Stepin Fetchit, the most highly paid stock actors in the genre. Read more…

 

 

Silence! The Musical, Hayworth Theatre

Photo Source: Michael Lamont.

 

Silence! The Musical by Jon and Al Kaplan (music and lyrics) and Hunter Bell (book).

 

David C. Nichols — Backstage

The impending Book of Mormon notwithstanding, it’s unlikely that Angelenos will see anything more scabrous or ham’s-holiday funny than Silence! The Musical at the Hayworth Theatre. This “unauthorized parody” of the Oscar-winning thriller is receiving a take-no-prisoners L.A. premiere and in the process decimates its source and the audience. Read more…

 

Terry Morgan – LAist

When Thomas Harris wrote his classic thriller The Silence of The Lambs, I don’t imagine he ever pictured a troupe of tap-dancing lambs. As Jonathan Demme and Anthony Hopkins collected their Oscars for the film version, it’s doubtful they thought about the story’s main characters doing a tango, complete with the glass partition between them held up as they dance. And yet here we are, decades later, presented with Silence! The Musical. And it’s a good thing, too, because it’s bloody hilarious. Read more…

 

Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

Fans of Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, serial killers and musicals – look no further for a rollicking night of entertainment with Silence! The Musical, an over-the-top and ultra-broad spoof of the Oscar-winning high-brow horror movie Silence of the Lambs, all set to music.   Read more…

 

Bob Verini – ArtsInLA.com

Watching Silence! The Musical can bring on a full-fledged case of déjà vu, flashbacks to the first time you saw Airplane! (1980) or, before that, Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein in the ’70s. In each case, a recognizable property or genre was raked over the coals, its tropes and self-seriousness lampooned, its integrity interrupted by modern non sequiturs and general nonsense.  Read more…

 

 

 

 

The Government Inspector, Theatre@Boston Court & Furious Theatre Company

Production photo by Ed Krieger.

 

The Government Inspector by Nikolai Gogol.

Dany Margolies – ArtsInLA

It’s petty to complain that the clever lines are so plentiful that we don’t have a moment to reflect on them, that the sight gags are too numerous to take in fully, and that the actors are so adept and in sync with [Stefan] Novinski’s vision that we sometimes miss the main action because we’re watching a sideshow.  Read more…

 

Terry Morgan – LAist

Nikolai Gogol’s 1836 play The Government Inspector has been much adapted, from film versions such as The Inspector General with Danny Kaye and an episode of Fawlty Towers to recent theatrical adaptations by Jeffrey Hatcher, David Harrower and Roddy Doyle. Now playwright Oded Gross has presented his version, and happily, it shimmers with brilliant wit. The new co-production of the show by Furious Theatre Company and Theatre@Boston Court adds to the riches with a truly amazing ensemble that provides some of the finest comedic acting one might see all year.  Read more…

 

Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

Russian dramatist Nikolai Gogol’s satire about political corruption and mistaken identities, The Government Inspector, is a timeless comedy classic. Re-envisioned as a biting, tragic farce, this world premiere adaptation with original ‘Disney-style’ songs is written by Oded Gross and now playing at The Theatre @ Boston Court in a co-production with Furious Theatre Company. The screwball play benefits from some updating and contemporary references, but fails to soar as high as expected.  Read more…

 

 

 

Macbeth, The Antaeus Company

 

Macbeth by Shakespeare.

 

Dany Margolies – ArtsinLA

Are we, as an educated audience, expected to know exactly when Macbeth “turns”— when the pathologically evil ambition overtakes his soul? Or must the change in him be left open to interpretation? The answer may determine which cast to see in this double-cast production of Shakespeare’s “Scottish play,” illuminatingly directed by Jessica Kubzansky.  Read more…

 

Terry Morgan – LAist

Macbeth has never been my favorite Shakespeare play. I don’t have anything against it, but it’s never spoken to me in the way King Lear or Hamlet has, doesn’t have quite the flights of poetical brilliance. That being said, when the combined talents of the Antaeus Company take on a particular work, it’s always worthy of one’s time. The new production of Macbeth is expertly done, highlighted by Jessica Kubzansky’s deft direction and superb performances from its two lead actors.  Read more…

 

Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

In Shakespeare’s macabre and unsettling tragedy, a ruthlessly ambitious Scottish general seizes the throne with the help of his scheming wife and guidance from a trio of witches. He then commits further murders to maintain a tenuous grip on his newly won power.  Adopting an unusual approach, director Jessica Kubzansky opens her production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, now running at the Antaeus classical theater Company, with a scene not scripted by The Bard.  Read more…

 

David C. Nichols – Back Stage

The dagger strokes of Macbeth at the Antaeus Company convey vaulting ambition but variable horror. Director Jessica Kubzansky’s intelligent, evocative take on Shakespeare’s daunting tragedy of treason and the supernatural is sensible to feeling as well as to sight, up to a point.  Read more…