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Archive for Stage Struck Review

VALLEY OF THE HEART at the Mark Taper Forum

Craig Schwartz

Craig Schwartz

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

Two immigrant families, one Mexican and one Japanese-American, have lived peacefully as neighbors on a ranch in the Santa Clara Valley for years, working together in the fields. The oldest children from each family have even fallen in love with each other—and then Pearl Harbor happens, and soon World War II, and their lives will never be the same.
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Dany Margolies – The Daily News

Sweet, timely and picturesque, “Valley of the Heart” tells of an earlier chapter in in American history when our nation behaved badly. From writer-director Luis Valdez comes this tale of two immigrant families — one Japanese and one Mexican — living in the then-agricultural town of Cupertino during World War II.
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Frances Baum Nicholson –The Stage Struck Review

As someone who has taught history for a few decades, there is no doubt that the ugliness of the Japanese Internment is one of the several inexcusable black marks on our American story.
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

The image of innocents trapped behind the barbed-wire fences of American internment camps still burns in the minds of anyone absorbed in current affairs. Luis Valdez’s Valley of the Heart reminds audiences that the latest drama taking place at our Mexican borders reflects a shameful period during World War II…….
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Now running through December 16

ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD at A Noise Within

Craig Schwartz

Craig Schwartz

Frances Baum Nicholson – Stage Struck Review

There is a certain fascination in the fact that two theaters in Pasadena are featuring plays based on looking sideways at a Shakespearean works. At Boston Court, a new play looks at “The Merchant of Venice” from the Jewish perspective. At A Noise Within it’s the now-classic “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead,” in which two seemingly superfluous characters in “Hamlet” become the center of a debate about existence.
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Now running through November 18

DEAR EVAN HANSEN at the Ahmanson Theatre

Matthew Murphy

Matthew Murphy

Frances Baum Nicholson – Stage Struck Review

When news the Tony-winning “Dear Evan Hansen” was headed for L.A. on its first national tour, a dash for tickets seeming mildly reminiscent of the “Hamilton” frenzy began.
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Erin Conley -  On Stage and Screen

There have been plenty of musicals about complicated, grieving families over the years, but until now, there has not been one tailor-made for the social media era. Enter Dear Evan Hansen, the 2017 Tony winner for Best Musical that opened last night at Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

If you have seen the musical Dear Evan Hansen and are a fan, you might not want to read any further because I will be challenging most things that you hold dear about the show.
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Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

First things first: if you didn’t get the chance to see Dear Evan Hansen in New York, don’t worry. The first national tour of the show, currently playing at the Ahmanson, is nearly identical to the New York incarnation.
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Young Evan Hansen has broken his arm. Before the Tony winning musical Dear Evan Hansen ends, the titular character will also have broken many hearts in this poignant, topical drama about isolation in high school and how social media takes an already stressful situation and heightens it by exposing and recording all of life’s foibles small and large.
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Dany Margolies – The Daily News

Evan Hansen struggles with social interaction, prefers to isolate himself and fears being judged by others. To varying degrees, so do we all, whether for a moment, a day or constantly.
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Now running through November 25

EVERYTHING THAT NEVER HAPPENED at Boston Court Pasadena

Jenny Graham

Jenny Graham

Frances Baum Nicholson –The Stage Struck Review

Boston Court Pasadena’s Co-Artistic Director Jessica Kubzansky loves Shakespeare. That I know. She has directed insightful productions of the Bard’s work at several venues, and in her “RII” at BC she  pared one play down to great effect, allowing more focus on essential and timeless themes in a comparatively obscure history play. Read more…

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Sarah B. Mantell’s poignant play begins with a young couple capering playfully across the spare, unembellished set. Their first words are tentative; they’re the sort uttered, pretty much ubiquitously, between would-be lovers who do not know each other well. For a couple of minutes, you wonder if you’re in for a fancified rom-com about the rocky shoals coursed over by true love.
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Now running through November 4

A PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY at A Noise Within

Caig Schwartz

Craig Schwartz

Frances Baum Nicholson –The Stage Struck Review

Of all of Oscar Wilde’s creations, the overall theme of “A Picture of Dorian Gray” has most become a part of the English language. Read more…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

In his program notes for the current A Noise Within’s production of his adaptation of A Picture of Dorian Gray, director Michael Michetti states “Oscar Wilde was perhaps the nineteenth century’s most infamous homosexual”. Read more…

Ellen Dostal – Broadway World

They say a picture paints a thousand words. In director Michael Michetti’s compelling stage adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s A PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY, it does more than that. It captures a lifetime.
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Now running through November 15

 

 

AMERICAN HERO – IAMA Theater Company at the Pasadena Playhouse

Dean Cechvala

Dean Cechvala

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

Three “sandwich artists” with very different lives walk into a franchise. What happens? Unfortunately the answer is…not much. American Hero, a play by Bess Wohl currently being presented by the IAMA Theatre Company in a guest production at the Pasadena Playhouse, is a comedy about working class America, but focuses on a microcosm that ultimately fails to prove a point. Read more…

Frances Baum Nicholson –The Stage Struck Review

If one had to peg a single theme for the plays I have seen open in the past month, it would be two-fold: the heartlessness of corporate America combined with the innate sense of straight white privilege, and the plight of those the privileged see as underclasses, be they minority cultures, blue collar victims of the evisceration of union power, or simply those trying to get by in the morass of the service economy.
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Part of the American spirit entails taking a no-win situation and finding a road to success. The three employees of a mini-mall sandwich shop in American Hero find their situation direr by the day, but instead of giving up, they roll up their sleeves and keep making hero sandwiches, even after they run out of meat, cheese, and bread.
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Now running through October 21

THE GIN GAME at the Sierra Madre Playhouse

Gina Long

Gina Long

Frances Baum Nicholson –The Stage Struck Review

When a play being produced locally has a long history of excellence, that can be both a blessing and a curse for a theater company, especially a comparatively small one.
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Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

We don’t usually think of friendly card games as battles to the death, or near it, except perhaps in the Wild West. But as playwright D.L. Coburn suggests in his Pulitzer Prize play, when it comes to super competitive men like Weller Martin (Alan Blumenfeld), anything can happen.
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Now running through October 7

THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME at Whittier Community Theatre at The Center Theater

hunch

Frances Baum Nicholson –The Stage Struck Review

It is quite remarkable how many times the Victor Hugo novel, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” has been dramatized, in film, on television, and on the stage.
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Now running through September 22

NATIVE GARDENS at the Pasadena Playhouse

Jenny Graham

Jenny Graham

Frances Baum Nicholson –The Stage Struck Review

There is a fine line between humor which skewers privilege and prejudice by making its claims sound as ridiculous as they are, and writing which pronounces the same beliefs and then does a kind of wink to indicate that, really, it was said to be funny.
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

The pursuit of happiness and property is embedded in the American dream. Thomas Jefferson even added it to the Declaration of Independence as an inalienable right. Unfortunately, with property come neighbors and the frustration of sharing a fence with a stranger. Playwright Karen Zacarías’s comedy Native Gardens demonstrates what happens when you must battle your neighbor for your own land.    Read more…

Now running through September 30

 

SWEAT at the Mark Taper Forum

Craig Schwartz

Craig Schwartz

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Sweat, now playing at the Mark Taper Forum, exposes the collapse of the American working class in the new millennium. When backed up against the wall and left with neither income nor hope, people sink into racism almost by reflex. The ramifications of humanity’s anger hangs over the play, yet Nottage hints at the power of forgiveness and redemption. Read more…

Frances Baum Nicholson –The Stage Struck Review

The Pulitzer Prize for drama is given, when it is given, for a piece of theater which reflects something elemental to understanding an aspect of American culture. Rarely has that seemed a more apt designation than the 2017 prize handed to playwright Lynn Nottage for “Sweat.” Read more…

Now running through October 7

 

CRY IT OUT at Atwater Village Theatre

 

Darrett Sanders

Darrett Sanders

Terry Morgan  -  Stage Raw

Caring for an infant is an important part of life, yet its difficulties are rarely depicted in the arts. While there is no lack of stories about pregnancy and birth, once the child is born, the drama seems to be considered less interesting. Playwright Molly Smith Metzler begs to differ…….Read more…

Frances Baum Nicholson –The Stage Struck Review

There is nothing quite so visceral, quite so individualistic in response, or quite so romanticized as becoming a new mother. Read more…

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

What exactly does it mean to be the “perfect mother?” This is a question many non-mothers think they know the answer to that also haunts new mothers, terrified of making the wrong decision in terms of what is best for their child.
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Now running through August 19

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