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Archive for Pasadena Playhouse

AMERICAN HERO – IAMA Theater Company at the Pasadena Playhouse

Dean Cechvala

Dean Cechvala

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

Three “sandwich artists” with very different lives walk into a franchise. What happens? Unfortunately the answer is…not much. American Hero, a play by Bess Wohl currently being presented by the IAMA Theatre Company in a guest production at the Pasadena Playhouse, is a comedy about working class America, but focuses on a microcosm that ultimately fails to prove a point. Read more…

Frances Baum Nicholson –The Stage Struck Review

If one had to peg a single theme for the plays I have seen open in the past month, it would be two-fold: the heartlessness of corporate America combined with the innate sense of straight white privilege, and the plight of those the privileged see as underclasses, be they minority cultures, blue collar victims of the evisceration of union power, or simply those trying to get by in the morass of the service economy.
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Part of the American spirit entails taking a no-win situation and finding a road to success. The three employees of a mini-mall sandwich shop in American Hero find their situation direr by the day, but instead of giving up, they roll up their sleeves and keep making hero sandwiches, even after they run out of meat, cheese, and bread.
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Now running through October 21

NATIVE GARDENS at the Pasadena Playhouse

Jenny Graham

Jenny Graham

Frances Baum Nicholson –The Stage Struck Review

There is a fine line between humor which skewers privilege and prejudice by making its claims sound as ridiculous as they are, and writing which pronounces the same beliefs and then does a kind of wink to indicate that, really, it was said to be funny.
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

The pursuit of happiness and property is embedded in the American dream. Thomas Jefferson even added it to the Declaration of Independence as an inalienable right. Unfortunately, with property come neighbors and the frustration of sharing a fence with a stranger. Playwright Karen Zacarías’s comedy Native Gardens demonstrates what happens when you must battle your neighbor for your own land.    Read more…

Now running through September 30

 

BORDERTOWN at the Pasadena Playhouse

 Philicia Endelman

Philicia Endelman

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Twenty years ago, Culture Clash presented Bordertown Now, which took a look at the percolating tension between the US government and undocumented Mexican immigrants crossing the border. Read more…

Now running through June 24

BELLEVILLE at the Pasadena Playhouse

 

(Photo by Philicia Endelman

(Photo by Philicia Endelman

Terry Morgan  -  Talkin’ Broadway

Labeling a work of art as being one particular thing can often be problematic, creating expectations that the piece doesn’t fulfill. Amy Herzog’s play Belleville is being promoted as a Hitchcockian thriller, which it is not. It’s only a thriller in the sense that Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a thriller, in that it depicts the emotional combat between a married couple.
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Frances Baum Nicholson – The Daily Breeze

There is no doubt that Amy Herzog’s “Belleville,” now at the Pasadena Playhouse, has dramatic power, and some extraordinary characters which must be an actor’s dream to perform. In many ways, this is enough to recommend the show.
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Amy Herzog’s thriller Belleville benefits from solid direction by Jenna Worsham and stellar performances by its leads, Anna Camp and Thomas Sadoski.
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Now running through May 13

PIRATES OF PENZANCE at the Pasadena Playhouse

Jenny Graham

Jenny Graham

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

When W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan premiered their operetta Pirates of Penzance in 1879, they never could have imagined the Hypocrites’ winning production, now playing at the Pasadena Playhouse 138 years later.
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Ellen Dostal – Musicals in L.A.

Say what you will, The Hypocrites have found a way to transform traditional theatre into a form of entertainment that appeals to folks who’d rather go to a party than sit in a theater. And they’ve done it using Gilbert & Sullivan’s operetta THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE. No joke.
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Now running through February 25

 

 

KING CHARLES III at the Pasadena Playhouse

Photo by Jenny Graham

Photo by Jenny Graham

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

Mike Bartlett’s play King Charles III is, in many ways, a snapshot of an earlier era. Given that the whole thing is written in iambic pentameter, you might think it’s a throwback to Shakespeare’s time. Instead, it depicts an alternate history that diverged from our own in late 2015. This is a world where Queen Elizabeth II is dead, Brexit never happened, and American TV star Meghan Markle has yet to start dating Prince Harry.
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Mike Bartlett’s award-winning play King Charles III arrives at the Pasadena Playhousewith a reinterpretation by its director, Michael Michetti, putting his own touch on the production. A talented cast enlivens this “what if” that finds the new monarch, King Charles III (Jim Abele), clashing with a hostile parliament.
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Frances Baum Nicholson –The Stage Struck Review

In order to fully understand the tensions of the play now open at the Pasadena Playhouse, it would be helpful have some background in the last century of the British monarchy.
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Now running through December 3

OUR TOWN at the Pasadena Playhouse

Photo by Jenny Graham

Photo by Jenny Graham

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

In Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, the Stage Manager guides audiences through the fictional New Hampshire town of Grover’s Corners. She confides in the audience, shares secrets, and points out revelations. Which is why the casting of Jane Kaczmarek in Pasadena Playhouse‘s production makes sense.
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Frances Baum Nicholson –The Stage Struck Review

When Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” first appeared in 1938, its production was a radical departure from what theater had been up until that time. This intimate portrait of small town New Hampshire at the start of the 20th Century would prove to modern audiences what theater could do that film (and later television) could not…..
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Hoyt Hilsman  -  Huffington Post

The Pasadena Playhouse opened its season – the first under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Danny Feldman – with a truly memorable staging of Thornton Wilder’s iconic play. Considered by many to be the greatest American play, Our Town presents a daunting challenge for theaters and theater artists.
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Now running through October 22

 

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.
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Now running through August 20

THE ORIGINALIST at the Pasadena Playhouse

orig 1

(Photo by Jim Cox Photography)

Deborah Klugman – Capital & Main

In John Strand’s play, The Originalist, the late Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia (Edward Gero) is presented as a lovable curmudgeon — rather like the tough, gruff but charismatic professor you might have had back in your university days. To appreciate the character, and the play, you need to be willing to suspend your knowledge of the sum damage of Scalia’s opinions on civil rights and the democratic process...Read more…

Frances Baum Nicholson – The Daily Breeze

In the opening moments of John Strand’s “The Originalist,” the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is addressing a large group at The Federalist Society. For those who care to look, this is an elegant shorthand about his background. (If you need to know more, check out Jeffrey Toobin’s article, which discusses that organization’s agenda and its foundational drive to train and raise up originalist conservative judges, in The New Yorker on April 17.)

Margaret Gray – LA Times

In John Strand’s snappy, timely, contrived drama “The Originalist,” now at the Pasadena Playhouse, it’s 2012, and a liberal law-school graduate named Cat has applied for a clerkship with conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Read more…

Now running through May 7

A CINDERELLA CHRISTMAS at the Pasadena Playhouse

Photo by Philicia Endelman

Photo by Philicia Endelman

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

A Cinderella Christmas, the latest pantomime show at the Pasadena Playhouse, has an age limit. The children at the theater delighted in the sophomoric jokes, sing-alongs, and fourth-wall-breaking conversations with the audience. Read more…

Now running through January 8

THE FANTASTICKS at the Pasadena Playhouse

© Jim Cox Photography)

© Jim Cox Photography)

 Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

The title says it all. The Fantasticks is always is a delight. This production at the Pasadena Playhouse is no exception. Led by Philip Anthony-Rodriguez as the mysterious El Gallo, the musical comedy features a talented cast, including Tony winner Hal Linden, all of whom add to the enchantment of the text. Read more…

Now running through October 2

THE MADWOMAN IN THE VOLVO at the Pasadena Playhouse

 

(© Jim Cox Photography)

(© Jim Cox Photography)

Jonas Schwartz – TheaterMania

Sandra Tsing Loh has a lot to say about menopause and the suffering and confusion it causes for women. The award-winning essayist’s first play, The Madwoman in the Volvo, reveals very personal travails, but does it in a superficial way, so that the audience cannot always identify with her or understand the motives for the major upheavals she makes in her life.   more…