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Archive for Rob Stevens

THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP – A PENNY DREADFUL at Actors Co-op

Matthew Gilmore

Matthew Gilmore

Terry Morgan  -  Stage Raw

In today’s parlous theatrical economy, more must be done with less, which explains the proliferation of one-person shows on some of our larger stages. This is understandable in a pecuniary sense, if regrettable in an aesthetic one — one misses the dramatic interplay between actors. A nice compromise is the “two-hander,” in which two performers make up the entire cast. Charles Ludlam’s The Mystery of Irma Vep — A Penny Dreadful is an excellent example of this theatrical form.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Charles Ludlam wrote nearly 30 plays during his career, mostly performing in them at his own Ridiculous Theatrical Company in New York’s Greenwich Village. A friend took me to see Conquest of the Universe or When Queens Collide during my first theatre trip to NYC in 1977.      Read more…

Now running through November 10

 

ANASTASIA at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre

Evan Zimmerman

Evan Zimmerman

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

If you, like me, grew up on the 1997 animated film version of Anastasia, you probably remember the creepy and scary Rasputin, and the titular heroine eventually defeating him by destroying a magical glass vial. While much of the plot, and all of the memorable songs, are the same in the musical version that opened last night at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre, Rasputin and all of the supernatural elements have been removed. But despite those differences, this charming production evokes strong feelings of nostalgia, telling a touching tale of a traumatized princess attempting to find her way back to herself.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

The fate of Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanoff of Russia was one of the greatest mysteries of the early 20th century as at least ten women came forward claiming to be her, even though she and her entire family of seven, led by Tsar Nicholas II, were said to have been murdered by their Bolshevik guards in July, 1918 after the Russian Revolution.
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Margaret Gray – LA Times

The most mysterious thing about the feisty, strawberry-blond protagonist of the musical “Anastasia,” whose national tour has landed at the Hollywood Pantages, is not her affliction by what doctors today might diagnose as retrograde amnesia or dissociative fugue. (Her story takes place in 1927, in the infancy of neuroscience, when doctors just called everyone crazy.)
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Now running through October 27

 

NEVER EVER LAND at Studio/Stage

Matt Kamimura

Matt Kamimura

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Singer Michael Jackson was probably the world’s biggest celebrity and music icon in 1993 when he was accused of sexually abusing a 13-year old boy during the boy’s visits to Jackson’s California Neverland ranch.
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Margaret Gray – LA Times

To find juicy plots, poor old Shakespeare had to slog through “Holinshed’s Chronicles” and “Plutarch’s Lives.” Today’s playwrights need only switch on the news for material — and then write like the wind, because something crazier is bound to happen in an hour.
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Now running through October 27

THE CHINESE LADY at Greenway Court Theatre

Michael C. Palma

Michael C. Palma

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Afong Moy was 14 years old when she was sold by her father and brought to New York City by traders Nathaniel and Frederick Carne and put on display in their museum. Admission was originally 25 cents (10 cents for children) but, because of the high volume of interest, the price was soon raised to 50 cents.
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Now running through September 29

DEADLY at Sacred Fools Theater Company

Jessica Sherman

Jessica Sherman

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Herman Webster Mudgett AKA Dr. Henry Howard Holmes AKA H.H. Holmes is a name little known today. Holmes was one of the first and most prolific serial killers in American history.
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Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Numerous books have been written about H. H. Holmes, a 19thcentury serial killer and con man who was ultimately executed for the murder of his accomplice,Benjamin Pitezel, in 1896. Interrogated by police, Holmes claimed to have killed 27 people, including three of Pitezel’s five children, whom he did away with so he could claim their insurance money.
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Now running through November 2

SKINTIGHT at Geffen Playhouse

Chris Whitaker

Chris Whitaker

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

Jodi Isaac (Idina Menzel) is feeling insecure. On paper, there’s no reason she should be—she is a successful lawyer at a top firm in Los Angeles, she has more or less successfully raised two young adult sons, and her father is a fashion retail mogul. But her husband recently left her for another woman—an affair she discovered when she caught them together, in her bed
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Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

It’s tempting to think that what playwright Joshua Harmon does is easy. His way with language seems effortless, easily conveying characters’ backstories without feeling obviously expository. This high quality and ease of storytelling can be seen in this and his other plays (including Bad Jews and Significant Other, both of which appeared at the Geffen in previous seasons).
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Beauty is skin deep. Families are difficult. Love is more difficult. Botox for everyone! Would you sleep on sheets made of human skin? What is the proper etiquette for sitting bare-assed on the sofa? Do Rolexes really cost nearly half a million dollars?
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Now running through October 12

THE SOLID LIFE OF SUGAR WATER at Deaf West Theatre

Brandon Simmoneau

Brandon Simmoneau

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

What does intimacy look like after two people have been forever changed by a devastating tragedy? The Solid Life of Sugar Water, a play by Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) currently in its US premiere at Deaf West Theatre in Los Angeles, follows a young couple as they attempt to connect sexually for the first time after the stillbirth of their child.
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Margaret Gray – LA Times

There’s a reason so many love stories end with the wedding. What happens later — the daily intimacy of marriage itself, with its late-night misunderstandings and morning breath — is often less picturesque.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

British playwright Jack Thorne’s two-hander The Solid Life of Sugar Water is about a couple learning to recover from a horrific experience.
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Now running through October 13

HANDJOB – Echo Theater Company at Atwater Village Theatre

Darrett Sanders

Darrett Sanders

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

When the lights rise on Handjob, a play by Erik Patterson currently in its world premiere at the Echo Theater Company in Los Angeles, we meet Keith (Steven Culp). Keith is a gay, white writer, and he has hired Eddie (Michael Rishawn), a younger black man, to provide a service that at first glance seems sexual in nature. But it turns out Keith has simply hired Eddie to clean his apartment—while shirtless.
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Terry Morgan  -  Stage Raw

Erik Patterson’s new play, Handjob, aims to be provocative, and it succeeds in its goal. While the show features the explicit depiction of a sexual act (I bet you can guess which one), the playwright is going after bigger themes than sex alone.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

A gay writer hires a “shirtless cleaner” and thereby begins Eric Patterson’s World Premiere comedy Handjob at Echo Theater Company at the Atwater Village Theatre.
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Now running through October 21

DRIVING WILDE at Theatre of NOTE

Darrett Sanders

Darrett Sanders

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

In The Picture of Dorian Grey, Oscar Wilde’s title character makes a Faustian pact to preserve his beauty at the price of his soul, transitioning, in the course of the narrative, from a naïve, guilt-free youth to a cruel and vicious narcissist. The book speaks to the vanity of vanity itself, the folly of prizing superficial appearances over stolid virtues like honesty and kindness.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

There have been many film and stage adaptations of Oscar Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray since its publication in 1890. Theatre of NOTE is currently presenting the World Premiere of Jacqueline Wright’s Driving Wilde. The playwright explains the work in her Program Note as thus -
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Now running through September 21

WITCH at Geffen Playhouse

Jeff Lorch

Jeff Lorch

Terry Morgan  -  Talkin’ Broadway

When The Witch of Edmonton (written by William Rowley, Thomas Dekker and John Ford) premiered in 1621, its tale of a woman selling her soul to the devil to gain revenge on her neighbors was played as a tragic drama. Jen Silverman’s new version of the story, simply titled Witch, is very much a comedy, although tragedy is still present.
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Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

At the beginning of Witch, a funny and insightful play by Jen Silverman now in its west coast premiere at the Geffen Playhouse, the titular character (Maura Tierney) addresses the audience, posing a bit of a warning.
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Margaret Gray – LA Times

In “Witch,” Jen Silverman’s delightful recasting of the obscure 1621 tragicomedy “The Witch of Edmonton,” characters find themselves in Jacobean dress and Jacobean circumstances, but they speak like Americans today. Nary a “prithee” or “forsooth” to be heard.
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Jonas Schwartz – Theatermania

Witch, receiving its West Coast premiere at the Geffen Playhouse, explores sexual politics and humanity’s bloodlust for power. Loosely based on William Rowley, Thomas Dekker, and John Ford’s 1621 play The Witch of Edmonton, this one-act battle of the sexes proves that little in human nature has changed since the 1600s.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

From Dante’s Inferno and Milton’s Paradise Lost to Disney’s Fantasia and Broadway’s Damn Yankees, The Devil has been a popular character in books, music, film and stage works.
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Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Witch, Jen Silverman’s incisive illuminating play directed by Marti Lyons at Geffen Playhouse, draws inspiration from The Witch of Edmonton, a Jacobean melodrama conceived around the real-life tragedy of an elderly woman named Elizabeth Sawyer, burned as a witch in the British community of Edmonton in 1621.
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Now running through September 29

 

LADIES at Boston Court Pasadena

Jenny Graham

Jenny Graham

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Four young women in their underwear take the stage at Boston Court. While bopping along to a lively mixtape/Itunes playlist, they don the corsets and panniers of the 18th century women they will be portraying in the World Premiere of Kit Steinkellner’s Ladies.
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Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Even in the darkest, most unenlightened era, there have been women prepared, often driven, to buck the strictures placed upon their gender. Ladies, Kit Steinkellner’s illuminating world premiere play directed by Jessica Kubzansky at Boston Court Pasadena, imagines what it must be like to be this kind of person, ready to risk pariahdom for the sake of personal freedom.
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Margaret Gray – LA Times

Kit Steinkellner’s new play “Ladies” presents itself initially as a stylized period piece about women’s empowerment.

At Boston Court Pasadena, four actresses walk onstage in beige bras and panties, then proceed to dress themselves in elaborate 18th century undergarments: black stockings, white corsets and hoop skirts. High-heeled lace-up white booties complete the look, which could be described as Laura Ashley bondage.
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Now running through June 30

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STEEL MAGNOLIAS at Actors’ Coop

Matthew Gilmore

Matthew Gilmore

Terry Morgan  -  Stage Raw

Watching this excellent current revival of Robert Harling’s Steel Magnolias at Actors Co-op, I was reminded yet again of the power of a strong ensemble. Solo shows and two-handers certainly have their place, but there is something about the interaction among a group of talented actors, where many things combine to become one greater thing, that seems to me to be the very heart of whatever magic theater creates.
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Margaret Gray – LA Times

In the first scene of the play “Steel Magnolias,” Robert Harling’s 1987 love letter to small-town Southern women, two Louisiana friends share favorites from their recipe boxes. Cuppa Cuppa Cuppa Cake is so straightforward, it doesn’t even require an index card:
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Robert Harling’s comedy/drama play Steel Magnolias premiered off-Broadway in 1987 and ran for over 1,100 performances. Read more…

 

Now running through May