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Archive for Rob Stevens

2:22 – A GHOST STORY at the Ahmanson Theatre

Anna Camp, Finn Wittrock, Adam Rothenberg and Constance Wu. Phtoo by Craig Schwartz

Anna Camp, Finn Wittrock, Adam Rothenberg and Constance Wu. Photo by Craig Schwartz

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Taking a break from their usual musical fare, Center Theatre Group-Ahmanson is offering 2:22-A Ghost Story by Danny Robins through December 4. The opening night was November 4, missing Halloween by a few days. Little costumed trick or treaters may have provided more scares than what transpired on stage. The reviewers were given a list of plot items to please not mention in their reviews, the better for future audiences to enjoy the supposed thrills. Stripped of those items, Robins’s script is basically two hours of marital discord, no matter how much director Matthew Dunster attempts to jolt the audience. He often succeeds, but it is more due to Lucy Carter’s lighting design and especially Ian Dickinson for Autograph’s sound design. Otherwise, the writing, directing and acting don’t really chill or thrill. Read more…

Harker Jones – BroadwayWorld

Arguments about the meaning of life, where we come from, where we’re headed after death, the afterlife, and the like have been debated for centuries by theologians, scientists, and philosophers alike, and we’re still not any closer to clarity. That said, it can make for gripping conversations deep into the night whether you’re stoned college students, wine-drinking soccer moms, or new parents. Read more…

Dana Martin – Stage Raw

The Ahmanson Theater is hosting poltergeist. 2:22- A Ghost Story, Danny Robins’ newest psychological thriller, is an unsettling romp through a proper haunted house. The show is making its U.S. premiere after a successful West End run last year. Read more…

Terry Morgan – ArtsBeat LA

I’m a horror film fan. I probably see 75-100 horror movies a year, and have done so for a long, long time. So I can state with certain knowledge that the cheapest of all scares is the jump scare. I have nothing against them – when a jump scare is well done, it can be a thing of beauty. But a lazy, unmotivated jump scare, just to get a visceral response  AAAAAAAAA!!!! (please imagine that this is someone suddenly screaming into your ear at top volume) can be irksome. I wanted to like the new Ahmanson production of Danny Robins’ 2:22 – A Ghost Story more than I did, but a surfeit of the same jump scare over and over and a goofy twist kept my enjoyment of the show mild. Read more…

Through December 4

EISENHOWER: THIS PIECE OF GROUND at Theatre West

John Rubinstein. Photo by Pierre Vuilleumier.

John Rubinstein. Photo by Pierre Vuilleumier.

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

“I Like Ike” appeared on a political campaign button in 1952 as the decorated general and political neophyte Dwight D. Eisenhower ran for the office of President of the United States as the Republican candidate. Fortunately for him and unfortunately for the Democratic nominee Adlai Stevenson, most of America really did like Ike. He won 39 of the then 48 states. Ike did even better in the 1956 rematch, taking 41 states while Stevenson only won 7, which were all in the deep South, then a Democratic stronghold. The box office attendant was wearing a facsimile button and they are being offered for sale at the Theatre West as the theatre, along with New LA Repertory Company, are presenting the World Premiere of Eisenhower: This Piece of Ground. Read more…

Through November 20

THE INHERITANCE at Geffen Playhouse

Adam Kantor and Juan Castano. Photo by Jeff Lorch.

Adam Kantor and Juan Castano. Photo by Jeff Lorch.

Jonas Schwartz-Owen – Theatermania

The final five minutes in Part 1 of Matthew Lopez’s epic Tony-winning The Inheritance, now running at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, are some of the most gut-wrenching moments in theater. At the performance I attended, the entire audience sat connected — some teary-eyed, some crying — but it seemed everyone was affected somehow by the play’s sadness and other-worldly camaraderie. The entire seven-plus-hour production, which is divided into two parts, spellbinds with precise dialogue, rich characters, and an analysis of the United States as a whole.
Read more…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Simply put, Matthew Lopez’s The Inheritance is a masterpiece of writing. This six-and-a-half-hour two-part play about a group of gay men in New York City circa 2015-2018 is a worthy successor and companion piece to Tony Kushner’s epic Angels in America from nearly 20 years earlier. Where Kushner dealt with the early years of the AIDS epidemic and blended in the politics of Roy Cohn and even Ethel Rosenberg, Lopez’s gay men enjoy the freedoms earlier generations fought hard for without their really realizing what it was like to live in those near yet distant decades. The current production at Westwood’s Geffen Playhouse should not be missed. It just might be the best work to ever grace their stage since the venue opened in 1975 as the Westwood Playhouse. Read more…

Terry Morgan – ArtsBeat LA

The epigraph of E. M. Forster’s 1910 novel, Howards End, is “Only connect…” This motto mainly referred to opening oneself up to the world and other people for greater understanding and potential happiness, but it is also about the importance of remembering the past and seeing how it affects the present. When playwright Matthew López took Forster’s book as the inspiration for his play The Inheritance, he retained this theme of connection and remembrance but created something new and powerful with it in his story of modern gay men grappling with a complicated present and the legacy of AIDS. The current production of this work at the Geffen Playhouse is magnificent, a tour de force on every level, and definitely one the best plays of the year. Read more…

Tracey Paleo – Gia On The Move

As a 6-hour theatrical journey of life, death, pain, loss, suffering, discovery, ecstasy, and triumph…
…THE INHERITANCE is thoroughly astounding! More…

Dana Martin – Stage Raw

Matthew López’s sprawling saga, The Inheritance Part 1 and Part 2, is an artistically refined and emotionally raw examination of modern gay life in the aftermath of the AIDS epidemic. The Geffen’s season opener has seismic power that won’t be soon forgotten. Read more…

Don Shirley – Angeles Stage

When a narrative work of art attains “classic” stature, it often settles comfortably into collegiate required-reading lists — but loses its share of the current limelight. So if E.M. Forster or Homer were alive today and sampling theater on the west side of Los Angeles County, would they be delighted that their creations are again being mentioned outside the classroom?Or would they be disturbed that their works are reference materials for playwrights with distinctively 21st-century perspectives — and that these writers are adapting the originals to reflect previously unrepresented points of view?

I’m talking about the West Coast premiere of Matthew López’s “The Inheritance” at Geffen Playhouse in Westwood and the professional LA premiere of Margaret Atwood’s “The Penelopiad” at City Garage in Santa Monica. Read more…

Through November 27

THE WILD PARTY at Morgan-Wixson Theatre

Serenity Ariel Robb and Deonte Allen

Serenity Ariel Robb and Deonte Allen in The Wild Party

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Before gaining real star power with her roles as Elphaba in Wicked and the voice of Elsa in Disney’s animated Frozen, Idina Menzel and her Rent co-star Taye Diggs led the cast of Andrew Lippa’s off-Broadway The Wild Party. Also, earlier in 2005 in Glendale and Long Beach, Musical Theatre Guild did an amazing job with a staged concert version of this standout score that featured the powerful voices of and full-out performances by Eric Anderson, Misty Cotton, David Engel, Beth Malone, Tami Tappan among others. Lippa focused on the love triangle and turned the heat up high. Now the Morgan-Wixson Theatre in Santa Monica has departed from their usual family-friendly fare to present a truly raunchy, decadent and stunning production. Read more…

Through October 9

EVERYBODY at Antaeus Theatre Company

Harry Groener and Nicole Erb in Everybody. Photo by Jenny Graham.

Harry Groener and Nicole Erb in Everybody. Photo by Jenny Graham.

Terry Morgan – Stage Raw

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins has been one of the most promising new playwrights of the past decade. His plays are widely produced and he’s been a Pulitzer finalist twice. I’ve loved about half (Neighbors and Gloria) of the five shows of his I’ve seen, was mildly entertained by another (Appropriate) and underwhelmed by the other half, one of which was An Octoroon and the other of which unfortunately is Everybody. This rewriting of the 15th-century morality play Everyman feels more like an academic exercise than actual drama. The talented cast of Antaeus Theatre Company’s new production of the show can’t quite give it the desired emotional resonance that isn’t present in Jacobs-Jenkins’ prose. Read more…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Everyman is a late 15th century morality play that uses allegorical characters to examine the question of Christian salvation and what Man must do to attain it. That text might be a bit too dry and pedantic for today’s audiences. In 2017, playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins gave it a more modern spin and retitled it Everybody. Antaeus Theatre Company in Glendale is currently presenting the 90-minute dramedy. If morality plays are your thing, you should check it out. The cast of nine features some stand out performers. Read more…

Katie Buenneke – Theatre Digest

This production is the definition of a mixed bag. When it’s great, it soars, but when it fumbles, it’s tough. Much of this, I suspect, comes from the text, an adaptation of a centuries-old play of unknown origin, which, in playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ retelling, obliterates the fourth wall. Read more…

Harker Jones – BroadwayWorld

EVERYBODY, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ contemporary riff on a 15th-century morality play, is a creative and chaotic allegory about Christian salvation which is, in the end, an uneven production for the usually consistent Antaeus Theatre Company.
Read more…

Through October 17

BEACH PEOPLE at City Garage

City Garage, Beach People

Henry Thompson and Angela Beyer. Photo by Paul M. Rubenstein.

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

During this long, seemingly endless Heat Wave that has been plaguing Los Angeles for nearly a month, if you did not have central air or a heavy-duty air conditioner, you might have considered a day at the beach. The sun would still be unbearable, but you could cool off in the ocean waves. If you did not mind the sand and sand flies getting into various orifices. Or you could have spent at least 90 minutes in the air-conditioned comfort of City Garage at its beautiful, comfy, intimate space at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica watching a quartet of actors in their swimsuits pretending to be enjoying the beach. Read more…

Closed

ANIMAL FARM at A Noise Within

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

George Orwell began writing Animal Farm in the waning months of 1943. The book was conceived in response to the evils of Stalinist Russia and the disturbing tendency of many left-leaning British intellectuals to excuse the regime’s murderous excesses and cruelties. Never an officially declared socialist or communist, Orwell had been a member of Britain’s Independent Labour Party, which strove to represent the interests of the working class; in the 1930s, he also enlisted in the Popular Front in its fight against Franco. From the beginning his writings reflected empathy with the downtrodden and oppressed and, as time went on, with identifying and calling out totalitarian entities that utilized propaganda to eviscerate human rights. Read more…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

British writer George Orwell is best known for his dystopian novel 1984, first published in 1949. Big Brother made Orwell famous. Four years earlier he published the allegorical novella Animal Farm in which animals rebel against their mean farmer and set up their own society. According to Orwell, his story reflected events leading up to the Russian Revolution and then on into the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union. Read more…

Katie Buenneke – Theatre Digest

This show is difficult to categorize, because everything about the production is top-notch, but while I respected it, I had a strong negative reaction. The cast is good, Julia Rodriguez-Elliot’s direction is strong, the songs by Adrian Mitchell and Richard Peaslee work, but I just did not like the show. Read more…

Through October 2

VALLEY SONG at International City Theatre

Michael A. Shepperd and Belle Guillory. Photo by Kayte Deioma.

Michael A. Shepperd and Belle Guillory. Photo by Kayte Deioma.

Dana Martin – Stage Raw

International City Theatre’s latest production of South African playwright Athol Fugard’s Valley Song is a welcomed beacon of light. First produced in 1995, Valley Song is Fugard’s first work post-apartheid. He searches for hope through the messiness and confusion of a rapidly shifting world and finds it in a younger generation ready to step into a new and unknown future. Read more…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

South African playwright Athol Fugard has written over 30 plays in his long and storied career. Most of his work dealt with the effects of Apartheid, the separation of the races as practiced in South Africa until 1994. His plays were not epics about the struggle for equality. Instead, they were intimate works about how the policy and politics affected both whites and blacks and their inter-tangled relationships in the large nation. His plays mostly consisted of small casts and he often directed and sometimes acted in them, both in South Africa and in the United States. The first play he wrote after the abolishment of Apartheid, 1995’s Valley Song, is being given a stellar revival at International City Theatre in Long Beach Read more…

Now through September 11

THE METROMANIACS at Theatre 40

Photo by Michèle Young

Photo by Michèle Young

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Way back in the mid 1970s, when I was just a few years into my theatre-going and theatre-reviewing career, I made the acquaintance of the lovely Viola Heigi-Swisher, who at the time was the Los Angeles theatre reviewer for the glossy, artsy New York-based monthly magazine After Dark. She was given about a column’s worth of space each month to report on all the shows she had seen. I have never forgotten her one-line pithy review of a poorly done new comedy we witnessed together at the long gone and still sorely missed Callboard Theatre. “There were five doors on stage—it must have been a farce.” Read more…

Now through August 21

NOT THAT ILLEGAL at the Broadwater – Hollywood Fringe Festival

Photo courtesy of the artists

Photo courtesy of the production

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Yusuf Yildiz’s Not That Illegal started life as a 15-minute work at the 2019 Strawberry One-Act Festival in New York City where it received a Best Play nomination. Now he has expanded it to a 90-minute one-act at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. It’s about 60 minutes too long in its present form. His story is of Ali Can (Yildiz), a Turkish immigrant whose company legally fired him shortly before he was eligible for his Green Card, and his efforts to remain in the USA. Deportation is 30 days away. Read more…

Through June 26

HOUSEWIFE ’52 at The Broadwater – Hollywood Fringe Festival

Housewife 52

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Writer/director/choreographer/percussionist John Wuchte and had a big success at the 2019 Hollywood Fringe Festival with Scarlett Fever, a physical movement piece that looked behind the scenes at the search for an actress to play Scarlett O’Hara in the classic film Gone With the Wind. They are back this year with a look at the lives of wives in suburbia, Housewife ‘52. The time is “a day in 1952”, the place is “a train ride away from NYC”. It sounds so simple as life was in that last year of the Truman administration, yet Wuchte has layered so much subtext into the simplest of ideas. Read more..,

Extended through July 29

THE LEGEND OF D.C. COLORADO at The Broadwater – Hollywood Fringe Festival

The Legend of D.C. Colorado2

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

If you are seeing a new musical at the Hollywood Fringe Festival that starts off with a character known as Cockman who wakes up the sleepy town every morning singing about choking his chicken, you would think you were in for a wild and fun time. Unfortunately, those first few minutes of The Legend of D.C. Colorado are the highpoint of its 90-minute run time. It’s strictly downhill from there. There are a few laughs garnered about a mother who feeds her two idiot bastard sons slop every meal and makes them shuck corn every day. Read more…

Now through June 22