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Archive for Rob Stevens

WAITRESS at the Pantages Theatre

Joan Marcus

Joan Marcus

Erin Conley – On Stage and Screen

You cannot walk five feet in the Pantages Theatre without encountering a bunch of mini pies for sale, perfectly setting the scene for Waitress, the hit Broadway musical that opened in Los Angeles for the first time last night.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

In 2007 writer/director/actress Adrienne Shelly created a little gem of an independent film entitled Waitress. Unfortunately Shelly was murdered before the film’s debut. In 2015 playwright Jesse Nelson and songwriter Sara Bareilles turned the story of three waitresses and their love lives in a small Southern town into a Broadway musical.
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Ellen Dostal – Broadway World

Can eating a pie be a religious experience? It can if it was made by Jenna, the diner waitress in the Broadway musical WAITRESS, who turns ordinary ingredients like butter, sugar, and flour into mouthwatering slices of life in a pie tin.
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Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

Easy as it is to bemoan the current trend of turning movies into Broadway musicals, Waitress, now playing at the Pantages in Hollywood, is proof that Broadway shows can still tell beautiful stories, even when they’re based on movies that came out over a decade ago.
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Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

Though a few of its ingredients are so right, so much is so wrong with “Waitress,” the musical now at the Pantages.
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Now running through August 26

 

 

SCREWBALL COMEDY at Theatre 40

 

(Photo by Ed Krieger)

(Photo by Ed Krieger)

Frances Baum Nicholson –The Stage Struck Review

The classic screwball comedy films of the 1930s and 40s have remained popular from that time on because of four basic elements: the ridiculousness of the essential storyline, the crisp and evocative dialogue, the quality of and apt casting of the performers, and timing – always the fast-paced, pinpoint timing of the lines and scenes which makes the whole thing memorably funny.

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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

The screwball comedy genre of films was popular during the Great Depression. It Happened One Night is considered to be the first followed by My Man Godfrey, Bringing Up Baby, His Girl Friday,The Philadelphia Story and a host of others.

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Now running through August 19

MUTT HOUSE at the Kirk Douglas Theatre

mutt-house_115

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you could talk to dogs? For Eddie (Ryan McCartan), the main character in Mutt House, a new musical now in its world premiere at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, this is his reality.   Read more…

Ellen Dostal – Musicals in LA

Singing strays and the humans who love them are the focus of the world premiere musical Mutt House, currently on stage in a guest production at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. The cute, sweet story about learning to believe in yourself isn’t a musical for deep introspection, but it does offer a good time with its charming songs, lovable mutts, and a fun production design.   Read more…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

If you are not now and forever a Cats person and you never saw the short-lived Sherman Brothers musical Dawgs! then Mutt House, a guest production at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, may be the canine centric musical you have been panting for.
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Now running through August 5

THREE DAYS IN THE COUNTRY at the Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center

Geoffrey Wade Photography

Geoffrey Wade Photography

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

Love has a tendency to make fools out of people, and that is certainly the case in Three Days in the Country, Patrick Marber’s condensed adaptation of Ivan Turgenev’s A Month in the Country, now in its west coast premiere at Antaeus Theatre Company in Los Angeles.
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Jonas Schwartz -  Arts In LA

Three Days in the Country, Patrick Marber’s adaptation of Turgenev’s A Month in the Country, makes its West Coast premiere at Antaeus Theatre Company in Glendale. A comedy of sexual compulsion, the play should explode. The gunpowder has been poured, but due to miscasting of a vital character, the director forgot to light the fuse.
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Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Ivan Turgenev published A Month in the Country in 1855 under the title Two Women, a reference to two of his main characters — a disgruntled married woman and her teenage ward, who both fall passionately in love with a young student living in their home.  Read more…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

According to the Director’s Note in the program for the current Antaeus Theatre Company’s production of Patrick Marber’s Three Days in the Country, his version of Turgenev’s A Month in the Country, Turgenev’s play inspired Anton Chekov to write for the theatre.
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Now running through August 26

ON YOUR FEET at the Pantages Theatre

Matthew Murphy

Matthew Murphy

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

On Your Feet, the jukebox musical based on the lives and tunes of Gloria and Emilio Estefan, opened at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre last night in colorful, vibrant fashion—but it was not one of Ms. Estefan’s hit songs that drew the loudest applause of the evening.
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Ellen Dostal – Musicals in LA

Those of us who lived in Miami in the 1980s know firsthand the phenomenal rise of Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine. They were already hometown favorites prior to the release of “Conga” but, when that song hit, it changed everything. Read more…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

George M in 1968 may have been the first biographical jukebox musical to play Broadway and another bio/jukebox combo Yankee Doodle Dandy, using many of the same songs to basically tell the same story of the life of George M. Cohan recently played in Long Beach.
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Now running through July 29

THE HUMANS at the Ahmanson Theatre

Lawrence K. Ho

Lawrence K. Ho

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

Despite an impressive pedigree, there is little that’s flashy about The Humans, the 2016 Tony Award winner for Best Play that opened this week at Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre. Written by Stephen Karam with the entire original Broadway cast reprising their roles, the one-act play unfolds over the course of Thanksgiving dinner with a multigenerational family……Read more…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

The Ahmanson Theatre in the Los Angeles Music Center is a big house, usually home to touring musicals like the upcoming Dear Evan Hansen and Come From Away.
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Frances Baum Nicholson –The Stage Struck Review

The neatest trick to accomplish, when writing an intimate play, is to find that spark which ties the issues and personalties of a few people to something inherently a part of everyone. That very concept centers Stephen Karam’s “The Humans,”……
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Something so small can feel so vast. A simple family dinner can stir up old haunts. Even if one listens closely to the mundane conversations, it’s what’s not said aloud or what’s unseen in the shadows that can sting the most. Read more…

Now running through July 29

LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

 Hugo Glendinning

Hugo Glendinning

Ellen Dostal – Broadway World

Halfway through Act I of Eugene O’Neill’s LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT at the Wallis, I was looking at Rob Howell’s see-through set design when it dawned on me. People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. If only the Tyrones had gotten the memo.
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Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

In Long Day’s Journey into Night, Eugene O’Neill wrote what is probably the most searing family portrait ever penned. It owes its extraordinary power to the fact that it is mercilessly autobiographical. Read more…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Eugene O’Neill won a posthumous Pulitzer Prize in 1957 for his masterwork, Long Day’s Journey Into Night. O’Neill wrote the semi-autobiographical play about his family in 1941-42 but it was never produced until after his death. I’m sure it caused his parents to spin in their graves anyway. Read more…

Now running through July 1

 

CABARET at the Celebration Theatre

Matthew Brian Denman

Matthew Brian Denman

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

By now, Kander and Ebb’s 1966 musical Cabaret is as much a part of the American musical theater canon as Oklahoma. While it’s much darker than most of its Rodgers and Hammerstein counterparts (save, perhaps, for Carousel), it now feels like an old standby, performed by regional theaters and colleges nationwide. Read more…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Christopher Isherwood’s 1945 novel Berlin Stories was turned into a Broadway play called I Am A Camera in 1951 and later filmed, both starring a young Julie Harris as the desperate to be decadent cabaret performer Sally Bowles in 1930s Berlin. Read more…

Ellen Dostal – Musicals in L.A.

Kander & Ebb’s political musical Cabaret captures a horrific period in history. Set in 1929-1930 as the Nazis were coming into power, it is an unsparingly direct window into the deterioration of a country systematically brainwashed by the lunacy of a madman. It could never happen here, right? Read more…

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

“There was a cabaret, and there was a master of ceremonies, and there was a city called Berlin, in a country called Germany, and it was the end of the world.” Read more…

Harker Jones – Arts In LA

Based on the play I Am a Camera by John Van Druten (itself based on Christopher Isherwood’s novel The Berlin Stories/Goodbye to Berlin), Cabaret is a legendary musical: both the eight-time Tony-winning 1966 Broadway production and the eight-time Oscar-winning 1972 film adaptation.
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Now running through August 17

 

THE COLOR PURPLE at the Pantages Theatre

Matthew Murphy

Matthew Murphy

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

How is it possible that a musical based on a book written nearly 40 years ago feels more timely than ever today? The tour of the Tony-winning Broadway revival of The Color Purplejust opened at the Pantages Theatre, and its messages of female empowerment in the face of rape, sexual assault, and domestic abuse resonate so strongly with the Time’s Up movement that its presence in Hollywood feels prescient. Read more…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

The Color Purple began as a Pulitzer Prize winning 1983 novel by Alice Walker. The 1985 Steven Spielberg film adaptation received critical and audience acclaim although this viewer found it overly saccharine (too much patty-cake in the cornfields, too many shots of shadows on the walls). Read more…

Ellen Dostal – Broadway World

That joyful noise you hear coming from the Hollywood Pantages Theatre this month is the thrilling sound of female empowerment, and it is reverberating like thunder from the heavens in the dynamically robust national tour of THE COLOR PURPLE. Read more…

Now running through June 17

 

SOFT POWER at the Ahmanson Theatre

Craig Schwartz Photography

Craig Schwartz Photography

Ellen Dostal – Musicals in L.A.

Playwright David Henry Hwang and composer Jeanine Tesori are pushing buttons and challenging conventions with their new work, Soft Power, now in its world premiere at Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

American musical theatre and politics would seem to make strange bedfellows. However, since Of Thee I Sing won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1932. there have been many other successful and not-so-successful musicals mingling politics with song and dance.
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Erin Conley – On Stage and Screen

Soft Power, currently in its world premiere at Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre, is billed as “a play with a musical.” This is a unique description fitting for a unique show, both in structure and in content. With play and lyrics by David Henry Hwang and music and additional lyrics by Jeanine Tesori, Soft Power taps into timely political subject matter—some may say too timely—and adds a refreshing twist, creating a show with a perspective rarely seen.
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

What was the last musical to feature Hillary Clinton twerking at a McDonald’s or White House cabinet members bloodthirstily carrying tommy guns? Soft Power, the new political-satire musical by two Tony winners, composer Jeanine Tesori and writer David Henry Hwang, ambushes the 2016 US election through the eyes of a foreigner.
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Frances Baum Nicholson – The Daily Breeze

There is a moment in “Soft Power,” the new “play with a musical” at the Ahmanson, when the disquiet hits you. The show has a lovely time acknowledging musical theater tropes, discussing the power of the musical to slowly convince people of an idea (this is what “soft power” is — gradual bending of minds), and expressing the outrage and increasing xenophobia which accompanied the 2016 election. Read more…

Now running through June 10

 

RED SPEEDO at the Road Theatre Company

Brian M. Cole

Brian M. Cole

Lovell Estell III — Stage Raw

The legendary Vince Lombardi once declared that, “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.” (Actually the slogan was first voiced by UCLA Bruins football coach Henry Russell “Red” Sanders in 1950; Lombardi probably got it from him).
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Playwright Lucas Hnath made news in April, 2017 when his play A Doll’s House, Part II premiered locally at South Coast Repertory while also being staged on Broadway by a different director and with a different cast.
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Frances Baum Nicholson – The Daily Breeze 

Playwright Lucas Hnath has built some of his considerable reputation on positing ethical puzzles — tracing a single choice or event to the ramifications for others who must then also make choices, done while never signaling a single “rightness.”    Read more…

Now running through July 1

 

SEX at the Hudson Mainstage

Rich Huthman

Rich Hutchman

Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

We don’t think of Mae West as a literary figure, but she wrote three plays — Sex, The Drag, and Pleasure Man. All were produced on Broadway, and all were closed by the police on grounds of obscenity.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Before she became one of Hollywood’s biggest movie stars of the 1930s, the iconic Mae West was a playwright and a Broadway star.
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Now running through June 17