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Archive for MARK TAPER FORUM

VALLEY OF THE HEART at the Mark Taper Forum

Craig Schwartz

Craig Schwartz

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

Two immigrant families, one Mexican and one Japanese-American, have lived peacefully as neighbors on a ranch in the Santa Clara Valley for years, working together in the fields. The oldest children from each family have even fallen in love with each other—and then Pearl Harbor happens, and soon World War II, and their lives will never be the same.
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Dany Margolies – The Daily News

Sweet, timely and picturesque, “Valley of the Heart” tells of an earlier chapter in in American history when our nation behaved badly. From writer-director Luis Valdez comes this tale of two immigrant families — one Japanese and one Mexican — living in the then-agricultural town of Cupertino during World War II.
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Frances Baum Nicholson –The Stage Struck Review

As someone who has taught history for a few decades, there is no doubt that the ugliness of the Japanese Internment is one of the several inexcusable black marks on our American story.
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

The image of innocents trapped behind the barbed-wire fences of American internment camps still burns in the minds of anyone absorbed in current affairs. Luis Valdez’s Valley of the Heart reminds audiences that the latest drama taking place at our Mexican borders reflects a shameful period during World War II…….
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Now running through December 16

SWEAT at the Mark Taper Forum

Craig Schwartz

Craig Schwartz

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Sweat, now playing at the Mark Taper Forum, exposes the collapse of the American working class in the new millennium. When backed up against the wall and left with neither income nor hope, people sink into racism almost by reflex. The ramifications of humanity’s anger hangs over the play, yet Nottage hints at the power of forgiveness and redemption. Read more…

Frances Baum Nicholson –The Stage Struck Review

The Pulitzer Prize for drama is given, when it is given, for a piece of theater which reflects something elemental to understanding an aspect of American culture. Rarely has that seemed a more apt designation than the 2017 prize handed to playwright Lynn Nottage for “Sweat.” Read more…

Now running through October 7

 

WATER BY THE SPOONFUL at the Mark Taper Forum

Craig Schwartz

Craig Schwartz

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

Though Quiara Alegría Hudes’ trio of plays is called the “Elliot trilogy,” Water by the Spoonful, isn’t really about Elliot.

The middle work in the triad, it’s a stark change from its predecessor, Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue, currently playing at the Kirk Douglas in Culver City. Here, Elliot (Sean Caravajal) is no longer pivotal; instead, he’s a supporting character who takes a backseat to the members of a Narcotics Anonymous online support group.
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Deborah Klugman – Capital & Main

A 2012 Pulitzer Prize winner, Water by the Spoonful is the second in Quiara Alegría Hudes’ trilogy revolving around Elliot, a young war veteran from a Puerto Rican family living in Philadelphia.
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Frances Baum Nicholson – The Daily Breeze

Quiara Alegria Hudes’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Water by the Spoonful,” which just opened at the Mark Taper Forum, continues the legacy of her “Elliott: A Soldier’s Fugue,” now at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City.
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Quiara Alegría Hudes’s Elliot Trilogy, which focuses on a Puerto Rican family in Philadelphia and one son’s post-military trauma, has been mounted at three theaters concurrently in Los Angeles.
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Now running through March 11

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

 

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

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

 

ZOOT SUIT at the Mark Taper Forum

zoot

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Erin Conley – OnStage

It is not every day that a hat receives entrance applause at the theater. However, it is also not every day that Zoot Suit returns to Center Theatre Group’s Mark Taper Forum, the very theater that commissioned and hosted its world premiere in 1978. Read more…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Luis Valdez, founder of El Teatro Campesino and writer/director of the 1978 play with music Zoot Suit, says in his program notes for the current revival at the Mark Taper Forum, “On opening night, when the character of El Pachuco, memorably played by Edward James Olmos, swaggered onto the Taper stage, Chicano theatre became American theatre.” Read more…

Frances Baum Nicholson – The Daily Breeze

The return of Luis Valdez’s groundbreaking musical “Zoot Suit” to the Mark Taper Forum is less of a theatrical milestone than it is a major cultural event.   Read more…

Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

Swinging social commentary abounds with the lively, if overlong Zoot Suit, a mostly upbeat revival now playing at the Mark Taper Forum. With swagger and flair, Demian Bichir haunts the stage as ‘El Pachuco’ – the play’s Zoot-suited narrator – singing and growling in a (sometimes) unintelligible yet authentic Pachuco idiom. Ann Closs-Farley’s costume creations deserve special mention for their vibrancy, as does Maria Torres for her superb choreography. Read more…

Now running through March 26

THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE at the Mark Taper Forum

(© Stephen Cummiskey)

(© Stephen Cummiskey)

Jonas Schwartz – TheaterMania

Marie Mullen won the best actress Tony for the original Broadway production of  The Beauty Queen of Leenane as a tortured daughter. Now she has returned almost 20 years later to play the tormentor — her cruel, selfish mother.Read more…

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

In 1998, The Druid Theatre Company’s production of Martin McDonagh’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane won four Tonys, including the award for Best Direction to Garry Hynes (a first for a woman) and one for Best Featured Actress to Marie Mullen. As co-founders of Druid, Hynes and Mullen were the first to secure the rights to the play, premiering it in 1996 in County Galway, West Ireland, where the company is based, and where the story takes place. Read more…

Pauline Adamek  – ArtsBeatLA

The Beauty Queen of Leenane launched British-born (of Irish descent) playwright Martin McDonagh onto the theater scene in 1996. His first play is a black comedy is about a tempestuous mother-daughter relationship and is set in rural Ireland during the early 90s…….Read more…

Now running through December 18

MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM at the Mark Taper Forum

L-R: Jason Dirden, Glynn Turman, Damon Gupton, Keith David and Lillias White in August Wilson?s ?Ma Rainey?s Black Bottom,? directed by Phylicia Rashad, playing through October 16, 2016, at Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum at the Los Angeles Music Center. For tickets and information, please visit CenterTheatreGroup.org or call (213) 628-2772. Contact: CTGMedia@ctgla.org/ (213) 972-7376. Photo by Craig Schwartz.

Photo by Craig Schwartz.

Paul Birchall  – Stage Raw

At the Opening Night performance of director Phylicia Rashad’s powerful staging of playwright August Wilson’s modern classic Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, I found myself seated next to a gentleman who claimed to be one of the agents for one of the performers in the show. He promptly loosened his tie and shrugged off his blazer. “Better make myself comfortable,” he noted. “It’s kind of warm in here and Wilson doesn’t write short.” Read more…

Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

The late, greatly missed August Wilson wrote 10 plays for the 10 decades of the last century. Some of them come through Los Angeles often enough that we can compare productions, particularly because Mark Taper Forum and Fountain Theatre have a penchant for, and a talent for, Wilson’s works. Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Center Theatre Group’s vibrant production of August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom fills the Mark Taper Forum stage with powerhouse performances. Lillias White brings down the house with her rendition of the title song, but it is the four band members, played by Keith David, Glynn Turman, Damon Gupton, and Jason Dirden, who take center stage with electricity and chemistry. Read more…

Now running through October 16

THE MYSTERY OF LOVE AND SEX at the Mark Taper Forum

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Lovell Estell III – Stage Raw

The sneaky, overworked phrase “friends with benefits” takes on new meaning in this watery comedy by Bathsheba Doran. Read more…

Dany Margolies – L.A. Daily News

Family has not changed since ancient times. Our perceptions of family have. Playwright Bathsheba Doran seems to celebrate this in her play “The Mystery of Love & Sex.” That’s the lovely part of this work. Read more…

 

Now running through March 10

 

THE CHRISTIANS at the Mark Taper Forum

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Jenny Lower – Stage Raw

“I have a powerful urge to communicate with you, but I find the distance between us insurmountable.”

That refrain, repeated at various points throughout Lucas Hnath’s powerful, richly textured The Christians, could be the motto for any number of American ideological divides. Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Religion can be a great separator. Though it can bind people together, it can also create an us-vs.-them mentality. In The Christians playwright Lucas Hnath lights a charge in his audience by confronting head-on the dangers of absolute faith, particularly when that belief excludes others viewpoints. Read more…

Now running through January 10.

APPROPRIATE at the Mark Taper Forum

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Photo by Craig Schwartz

Les Spindle –  Edge on the Net

In “Appropriate,” the initial conventionality in introducing the characters and basic storyline elicits raucous and sardonic laughs, as the depth of resentments among the siblings and their family members gradually come to light. Yet, there’s far more than garden-variety family baggage afoot here, Read more…

Pauline Adamek  – ArtsBeatLA

In Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ domestic drama Appropriate, three siblings squabble over an inheritance, piling on the recriminations. It’s well-trodden terrain for many playwrights and screenwriters; smoldering dysfunction tends to explode when there’s money at stake. So, some of the bickering and accusations feel all too familiar, a key plot point’s progression all too predictable… But Jacobs-Jenkins adds a layer of tension ….. Read more…

Terry Morgan  -  Stage Raw

Playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins made an impressive L.A. debut a few years back with the Matrix production of his play Neighbors. It was intense, funny, confrontational and it sought to make its audience uncomfortable in interesting ways. His latest L.A. production, the west coast premiere of Appropriate at the Mark Taper Forum, is a different sort of play. It still has moments intended to be shocking, but overall this is a tamer beast. em>Read more…

Now running through November 1.