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Archive for Paul Birchall

A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE at Boston Court Performing Arts Center

Jeff Lorch

Jeff Lorch

Terry Morgan  -  Talkin’ Broadway

Often, when classic plays are “updated” or “reimagined,” the implication is that the work needed such treatment to remain relevant to a modern audience. In my experience, this rarely is the case, and such reinventions are generally more of a way for a director to stamp his or her stylistic ideas on the show.
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Paul Birchall  – Stage Raw

Blanche may have always depended on the kindness of strangers, but there’s very little strange about director Michael Michetti’s masterful production of Tennessee Williams’ ferocious perennial.
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Frances Baum Nicholson –The Stage Struck Review

When I was in high school and college, casting of the shows produced there was founded primarily in giving the best performers a chance at the best roles. This often meant that traditionally white characters were played by persons of color (though, it should be noted, rarely the other way around for understandable sensitivity reasons –….
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Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Sometimes, a play may be outdated in its particulars, but what it says of human relationships is so truthful that the work remains moving and relevant.
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Now running through March 25

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST at Casa 0101

(Photo by Ed Krieger)

(Photo by Ed Krieger)

Paul Birchall  – Stage Raw

If you want tangible proof of the benefits of diversity casting, go see this homespun, upbeat production of that perennial tuner by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, Beauty and the Beast, now up at Casa 0101 in Boyle Heights.
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Now running through January 21

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

BLED FOR THE HOUSEHOLD TRUTH at Rogue Machine Theatre

Photo ny John Perrin Flynn

Photo by John Perrin Flynn

Terry Morgan  -  Stage Raw

Rogue Machine, one of the theatre companies in town I most admire, has been promoting its new show, Ruth Fowler’s bled for the household truth, as something important and shocking, and warning that easily offended people may walk out at intermission. In my experience, having specific expectations for a play or any work of art ahead of time often proves detrimental, and sadly that is the case here.
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Margaret Gray – LA Times

A New York financier with a great apartment has advertised in the paper for a roommate — specifically a woman. Her rent and board will be free, but she has to be willing to walk around sometimes in her underwear, and she can’t entertain gentlemen friends there.
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Paul Birchall – Stage and Cinema

Ambiguity and nuance are qualities in a play to be greatly desired and lauded – and yet, if you do not go “ick” at least four times while watching playwright Ruth Folwer’s increasingly disturbing drama, I’m not sure what can be done with you.
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Now running through December 18

 

THE SECRET OF THE WINGS – Coeurage Theatre Company at the Historic Lankershim Arts Center

(Photo by John Klopping)

(Photo by John Klopping)

Paul Birchall  – Stage Raw

If your concept of a fairy tale is based on Disney’s saccharine stories in which the Little Mermaid easily finds love or Belle blissfully enjoys the company of the oddly photogenic beast, playwright Mary Zimmerman’s gorgeously rendered adaptation of a number of fantastic stories will frankly blow your mind.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

When the Brothers Grimm first published their first two volumes of Children’s and Household Tales in 1812 and 1815 they were criticized because the stories were considered not suitable for children because of the subject matter.
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Now running through December 16

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

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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

DAYTONA at Rogue Machine Theatre at the MET

(Photo by John Perrin Flynn)

(Photo by John Perrin Flynn)

Paul Birchall  – Stage Raw

Playwright Oliver Cotton’s elegiac and unexpectedly thrilling drama carries the weight of the world on its shoulders — not just the pain and sadness of growing older, or of lost or squandered love, but the legacy of the Holocaust itself.

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Now running through October 30

SEQUENCE at Theatre 40

Photo by Ed Krieger

Photo by Ed Krieger

Paul Birchall  – Stage Raw

In playwright Arun Lakra’s quick-witted, if perhaps overly cerebral piece, it isn’t a rabbit’s foot or a four-leaf clover that makes someone lucky — it’s genetic predisposition.  Or perhaps it’s an evolutionary adaptation that allows people to peer into the future, quantum physics-style, and somehow bring about their future happiness.
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Frances Baum Nicholson – The Daily Breeze

Imagine writing a play in the hopes of creating as complex a double helix as a strand of DNA. That appears to be the intent of Arun Lakra, whose “Sequence” is at Theatre 40 in Beverly Hills. Complex it is, at least in volume though not necessarily in nuance. Still, the play proves artfully directed enough that the script’s overt nature is, to some extent, overcome.
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Now running through August 20

 

 

THE MARRIAGE ZONE at the Secret Rose Theatre

Photo by Ed Krieger

Photo by Ed Krieger

Frances Baum Nicholson – The Daily Breeze

Perhaps the two greatest dangers in producing an original work of theater is either directing your own performance or directing your own play. In either case, the absolutely necessary second opinion — the critique needed to make sure the thing is the best it can be — is lacking. Read more…

Paul Birchall  – Stage Raw

My favorite episodes of Doctor Who, that amazing TV series about a time traveling alien that’s run for about 40 years, are the ones in which the Doctor meets earlier versions of himself.  When the older character meets the younger character, there are always jokes about how the younger version hates how he turned out — while the older version always criticizes the younger version’s taste or intelligence or what have you. Read more…

Now running through August 27

 

NICKY – Coeurage Theatre Company at Greenway Court Theatre

(Photo by John Klepping)

(Photo by John Klepping)

Paul Birchall  – Stage Raw

Playwright Boni B. Alvarez cunningly adapts Anton Chekhov’s 19th century drama “Ivanov,” shifting the setting from the Russian provinces to California’s own land of internal exile  (that is, if you’re a gay man of a certain age), Palm Springs.   Read more…

Now running through July 1

≈ [ALMOST EQUAL TO] at City Garage Theatre

Photo by Paul M. Rubenstein

Photo by Paul M. Rubenstein

Paul Birchall  – Stage Raw

In addition to challenging the Stage Raw copy editing department with a title that uses one of those squiggly math signals, playwright Jonas Hassen Khemeri’s powerful drama embraces such a multitude of themes that it’s hard to adequately sum them up. One thing’s for sure, though: Donald Trump would hate the work’s incredibly scathing invective against capitalism.Read more…

Now running through July 2

DON’T YOU EVER CALL ME ANYTHING BUT MOTHER at Atwater Village Theatre

(Photo by Jen-Ann Kichmeier

(Photo by Jen-Ann Kichmeier

Paul Birchall  – Stage Raw

The second in a set of two one-person plays, John O’Keefe’s Don’t Ever Call Me Anything But Mother may be that unique monologue that is literally unlike anything you’ve witnessed before — though whether it will beguile or appall you really depends on your mood and ability to deal with creepy darkness. Read more…

Now running through May 30