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Archive for Pasadena Playhouse – Page 2

PYGMALION at the Pasadena Playhouse


Photo by Jim Cox


Jenny Lower – LA Weekly

The basis for the much beloved, happily-ever-after musical My Fair Lady, George Bernard Shaw’s 1913 play Pygmalion takes a much firmer tack on questions of class distinctions and female independence. Those themes, so dear to Shaw’s progressive heart, end up rather charmingly watered down in the 1964 Audrey Hepburn film version. Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  Arts In LA

Shaw’s seminal text that this show seems listless. In the right hands, the century-old play can still be engrossing. But here it lacks bite, even with a pitch-perfect performance by Paige Lindsey White as Eliza Doolittle. Read more…

Now playing through April 12.



CLOWN BAR at the Pasadena Playhouse

Photo courtesy of the Pasadena Playhouse

Pauline Adamek  – Stage Raw

Adam Szymkowicz’s noir comedy is set in a place of his invention — the clown underworld. Here the clowns are not those funny, entertaining party creatures but criminals with damaged psyches. Sure, there are red noses, silly wigs, painted faces and colorful costumes, but that’s almost as far as the actual clowning stretches.
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

If you love your clown tales to conclude with a stage filled with more dead bodies than Hamlet, then Clown Bar is the musical comedy film noir spoof for you. An oddity that melds sociopath clowns, satirical torch songs, and off-color humor, Clown Bar is a dining-entertainment happening that few will have experienced before.

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Now running through January 29.


Photo by Michael Rozman

Photo by Michael Rozman

Les Spindle –  Frontiers L.A.

Gifted New Zealand-based actress Lucy Lawless, known for her larger-than-life television roles, steps into yet another this December, courtesy of the Pasadena Playhouse. In the theater’s annual holiday season panto extravaganza, Sleeping Beauty and Her Winter Knight, the gay-favorite actress—who triumphed locally as ball-busting prison matron Mama Morton in the Hollywood Bowl’s Chicago last year—is playing the evil fairy Carabosse. Read more…

KISS ME KATE at the Pasadena Playhouse

Photo by Earl Gibson III

Photo by Earl Gibson III

Margaret Gray – LA Times

Let’s Make a Deal’s” Wayne Brady as the lead in a revival of “Kiss Me, Kate”: It almost sounds like an especially wacky draft in some fantasy stunt-casting league for theater directors.

Sheldon Epps of the Pasadena Playhouse has not only made it happen, he has used it as the inspiration for an ingenious adaptation of the beloved 1948 musical.Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Pasadena Playhouse‘s artistic director Sheldon Epps and music director Rahn Coleman have updated the musical comedy juggernaut Kiss Me, Kate by altering some of the orchestrations and featuring a mostly black cast to “showcase the trailblazing African-American actors and entertainers of the early 20th century.” This production has many dazzling moments, particularly because of the supporting cast, but it’s not without its faults in casting and concept. Read more…

Bob Verini  -   Stage Raw

Your typical Kiss Me, Kate features exactly one African-American. It’s Hattie the maid, who kicks off the proceedings with the lead vocals on “Another Op’nin’, Another Show”  and thereafter recedes into the background during the Baltimore tryout of a musical version of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew.   Read more…

Now running through Oct. 12.





STONEFACE at the Pasadena Playhouse


Photo by Jim Cox

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

If one cares about the movies, and about comedy (and what can life be without them?), the soul of Buster Keaton (played here by French Stewart) needs must be spliced into one’s DNA. One cannot help but feel proprietary about one’s personal relationship to the bottomlessly expressive, impassive Keaton, so one can readily anticipate trepidation at the temerity of representing his art and life onstage.  Read more…

David C. Nichols

More than one legend gets their due in “Stoneface,” which is only as it should be. In a felicitous transfer from the Sacred Fools Theater Company, Vanessa Claire Stewart’s surreal smash about the rise and fall and rise of Buster Keaton moves to the Pasadena Playhouse — and scores an absorbing coup. Read more…   stn

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

It takes chutzpah to play actual footage of the genius Buster Keaton for audiences entering thePasadena Playhouse before actors take the stage to perform those pratfalls and stunts. But this technique pays off when you have the stupendous, heartbreaking, and hysterical actor French Stewart starring as “the great stone face” himself.  Read more…

Pauline Adamek  – ArtsBeatLA

Stoneface is a truly brilliant play about Buster Keaton, renowned star of the silent movie screen, and this production is not to be missed! Vanessa Claire Stewart’s marvelous comedy/drama has been handsomely adapted for the spacious Pasadena Playhouse stage, and newly remounted with almost its entire original cast as well as the addition of several gorgeous new sets. Read more…

Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

This homage to silent comedian Buster Keaton began as a birthday present from actress-playwright Vanessa Claire Stewart to her husband French Stewart, who is a long-time Keaton fan and she thought, the perfect actor to play him. They took the script to director Jaime Robledo over at Sacred Fools Theatre Company, which mounted a modest 99-seat theatre production, with French Stewart as its star. Read more…

Photo by Jim Cox

Photo by Jim Cox


Now running through June 29.

SHAKESPEARE UNSCRIPTED at the Carrie Hamilton Theatre at the Pasadena Playhouse


Photo by Blake Gardner

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Come late to a performance of Impro Theatre’s Shakespeare Unscripted and you’ll likely be greeted with an ironic round of applause from the audience members who have been waiting for you to arrive. Latecomers react with good-natured grins, red-faced embarrassment or something in between. It helps set the stage for the amiable satiric entertainment that follows.  Read more…

Now running through May 4.

A SONG AT TWILIGHT at the Pasadena Playouse

Photo by Michael Lamont

Photo by Michael Lamont

Bob Verini -   Arts In LA

Noël Coward’s A Song at Twilight first saw the light of day as the centerpiece of 1966’s Suite in Three Keys, a two-night triptych of works set in a single luxurious Swiss hotel suite. Eight years later, with one play jettisoned, Song reached Broadway as part of Noël Coward in Two Keys. Now it stands by itself at Pasadena Playhouse, though there’s nothing one-key, or one-note for that matter, about Art Manke’s incisively acted production. Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Last year, the Pasadena Playhouse presented the frothy concoction Fallen Angels, a light comedy about marriage and jealousy amidst lots of alcohol. The elements in A Song at Twilight remain similar to his earlier work, but the consequences carry more weight. Despite being written in 1966, when British law still prosecuted homosexuals, the play openly contemplates homosexual “outing” among celebrities, judging the character not for being gay, but for damaging others by remaining closeted. Read more…

Now running through April 13.



ABOVE THE FOLD at the Pasadena Playhouse

photo by Jim Cox

photo by Jim Cox

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

The model for Bernard Weinraub’s play Above the Fold, premiering at the Pasadena Playhouse, is Tom Wolfe’s Pulitzer Prize winner Bonfire of the Vanities. Though parallels can be seen between both works, the indictment of politicians, the press, and Caucasian and African-American leaders for instigating and celebritizing the racial divide, Weinraub’s work also maintains a ripped-from-the-headlines feel. Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Once upon a time journalism, at least as depicted on stage and film, looked like fun: crusading underpaid reporters uncovered dark secrets while wisecracking one another in fierce, playful competition. The 24-hour news cycle has leached much of the joy, and romance, from the profession, replacing it with celebrity, vanity and rhetorical cat-calling. Read more…

Pauline Adamek  – ArtsBeatLA

A toothless drama, Bernard Weinraub’s Above the Fold takes an inflammatory crime ‘ripped-from-the-headlines’ (based on the 2006 Duke University Lacrosse team rape case) and fails to convert it into compelling theater. Ambitious newspaper reporter Jane (Taraji  P. Henson) flies from New York to a Southern university where three white fraternity boys have been accused of raping a young African-American woman.  Read more…

Now running through February 23.

FOXFINDER at the Pasadena Playhouse

Dany Margolies – Arts In LA

Photo by Owen Carey

Photo by Owen Carey

Dawn King’s play is set in Britain, in the near future. As with all good literature, it’s meant to represent the here and now. So when an inspector arrives at a struggling farm, interrogating the farmers too inappropriately and searching the home too thoroughly, a certain Notorious Safety Administration may come to American minds. Never fear, though: The word government appears only once in King’s script.
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Myron Meisel – Hollywood Reporter

Set on a distant, hardscrabble farm in a future designated by playwright Dawn King as “Soon,” Foxfinder posits a paranoid government supervising the food supply by intrusively scrutinizing family plots for contamination by feared foxes, wily conspirators responsible for all social ills and who provide a pretext for authoritarian witch-hunts.  Read more…

Steven Leigh Morris – LA Weekly

The story in Dawn King’s Foxfinder — being presented by Furious Theater Company at the Pasadena Playhouse’s Carrie Hamilton Theatre — attempts to offer a window onto the soul of our body politic. It’s a futuristic fable set in the countryside, somewhere in the north of England, that’s a bit like a blend of Tartuffe and The Crucible.
Read more…

Pauline Adamek  – ArtsBeatLA

Somewhere on a farm, in rainy rural England, a farming couple nervously awaits a government inspector. When the tall young man shows up at their door, drenched and firing questions at them before he even enters the premises, the tension of Dawn King’s disturbing play begins to build. Directed by Damaso Rodriguez, British playwright Dawn King’s play imagines a world in the not-too-distant future where a totalitarian regime grills and monitors its citizens in a bizarre fashion, subjecting them to intrusive interrogation and unrealistic accountability. Read more

Sharon Perlmutter  -  Talkin’ Broadway

Foxfinder is one of those plays in which the rules of the universe in which it takes place slowly unfold. The action takes place at an English farmhouse; the program helpfully tells us the time is “Soon.” It is, actually, a useful piece of information, as you would think from our farmers’ appearance (and use of a pocket watch) that we might be in the past, rather than the future. Read more…
Now running through February 2.

ALADDIN AND HIS WINTER WISH at the Pasadena Playhouse

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly


Wit and the magic of a well-designed spectacle combine in the beguiling, interactive adaptation Aladdin and His Winter Wish, embellished with comic characters, polished performances and colorful tech and costumes. Directed by Bonnie Lythgoe, Kris Lythgoe’s engaging script preserves the basic story of a penniless youth (Jordan Fisher) who garners wealth and the hand of a beautiful princess (Ashley Argota) via a dusty old lamp and a genie (Ben Vereen).
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David C. Nichols – LA Times

Snowflakes hit the Sahara in “Aladdin and His Winter Wish,” now turning the Pasadena Playhouse into a surefire seasonal oasis. Although this second annual holiday romp from Lythgoe Family Productions (“A Snow White Christmas”) is again a broadly drawn merger of English panto, theme-park show and Nickelodeon special, its critic-proof formula is polished scimitar-sharp.
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Now running through December 29.

TWELVE ANGRY MEN at the Pasadena Playhouse

Melinda Schupmann – Arts In LA


Photo by Jim Cox Photography

From 1954 to the present, Reginald Rose’s Emmy-nominated teleplay on CBS’s Studio One has been rewritten as a theatrical piece, was made into an Academy Award–winning film with some of the finest actors in the business, and has been reworked by theater companies over the years, even as 12 Angry Women. In this Pasadena Playhouse production, director Sheldon Epps has gathered an accomplished group of actors who have the heft and charisma to tackle this nearly archetypal work.
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Now running through December 1.

Sleepless in Seattle at the Pasadena Playhouse

Sleepless in Seattle

SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE – Music by Ben Toth, lyrics by Sam Forman.

Hoyt Hilsman – Huffington Post

After a long journey from the screen to the musical stage – which included numerous comings-and-goings of composer/lyricist teams – the Sleepless in Seattle musical has arrived at the Pasadena Playhouse. It is a huge challenge to adapt an iconic film that was so closely identified with its two stars – Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. But this version has largely succeeded by dint of the talented musical team of composer Ben Toth and lyricist Sam Forman, as well as a gifted trio of lead actors – Tim Martin Gleason, Chandra Lee Schwartz and Joe West.
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Dany Margolies – ArtsInLA

If you’ve ever had nothing else to think about and thus spent a second or two wondering if the 1993 film Sleepless in Seattle depended on Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan for its charm, this world premiere musicalized version of it provides your answer. Yes, it needed them for its success. Even that pair, however, couldn’t save this stage rendition.
Read more…