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Archive for Terry Morgan

THE BROTHERS PARANORMAL at East West Players

East West Players, Brothers Paranormal

David Huynh and Roy Vongtama, Photo by Jenny Graham.

Terry Morgan – Stage Raw

Everyone knows that a good ghost story needs to be scary, but to be a great ghost story, it needs to move its audience as well. Where would The Sixth Sense be without the Bruce Willis character slowly realizing his fate or The Haunting of Hill House be without poor, doomed Eleanor? There have to be emotional stakes for the viewers to walk out of the theater haunted. Playwright Prince Gomolvilas understands this, and his play The Brothers Paranormal is as affecting as it is spooky. The L.A. premiere of the show at East West Players is superb, and expertly delivers all the scares and surprises that the bigger budgeted and more advertised supernatural production currently at the Ahmanson, 2:22, attempts but can’t quite achieve. Read more…

Through December 11

CLYDE’S at Mark Taper Forum

Photo by Craig Schwartz Photography

Photo by Craig Schwartz Photography

Terry Morgan – ArtsBeat LA

According to a survey conducted by American Theater magazine, Lynn Nottage’s Clyde’s is currently the most produced play in the U.S. It’s not surprising that Nottage’s work is being done; she’s received the Pulitzer Prize twice during her illustrious career. But it’s a little disappointing that this show seems to be her most popular. I think she’s a talented playwright and have enjoyed several of her other creations, but I found this play to be meretricious and phony – I didn’t believe a minute of it. The new production of Clyde’s at the Taper is professionally done and features a capable cast, but the play itself feels more like a safe CBS TV sitcom than anything resembling reality. Read more…

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

A word to the wise: eat, preferably a sandwich, before seeing Clyde’s at the Mark Taper Forum. After the show ends, you’ll be hungry, not just for food like Montrellous (Kevin Kenerly), the executive chef of the titular diner, describes, but for an artistic experience that’s more substantial than what you you’ve just seen onstage. Read more…

Margaret Gray – Los Angeles Times

“If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen,” advises a favorite proverb of tough-love advocates. And in a universe with free will and infinite possibilities, it’s probably sound advice. Don’t sit around grousing about your situation; find one you like better.

But what if there’s nowhere else to go? What if that inferno of a kitchen is your whole world? Read more…

Tracey Paleo – BroadwayWorld

“Sometimes a hero is more than just a sandwich.”

Quite possibly, a perfect production. Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage’s Tony Award-nominated CLYDE’S at the Mark Taper Forum is heartfelt, funny, and seriously delicious.

From writing to performances, direction to delivery, costuming, scenic, sound, and lighting design, opening night saw 100% on the Richter scale of live theater. Read more…

Through December 18

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

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre

Photo by Julieta Cervantes.

Photo by Julieta Cervantes.

Terry Morgan – ArtsBeatLA

When Harper Lee wrote her novel To Kill a Mockingbird in 1960, she didn’t think it would be a big success. Sixty-two years later, the book has been taught to millions of students in schools, was the source of a classic 1962 film of the same name, and recently inspired a theatrical version written by Aaron Sorkin that was a Broadway hit. There are many reasons this material still speaks to modern audiences, but perhaps the most vital is that its depiction of racism feels topical again with the rise of far-right zealotry. The current production at the Pantages is effective and enjoyable, with a nice lead performance from Richard Thomas, but a few missteps keep the production from being as strong as it might be. Read more…

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960, while the movie — based on Harper’s novel and starring Gregory Peck as a white lawyer defending a black man accused of rape — came out in 1962. Both the book and the film depicted the racist South through the eyes of a child, its scenario predating the March on Washington in 1963 and the televised police assaults on the civil rights marchers that electrified the country that same year. Read more…

Katie Buenneke – Theatre Digest

I haven’t revisited this book since I read it in 7th grade, and I think, just based on watching this show, it’s a text about which I have complicated feelings. It’s an emotionally loaded story about Black trauma, told from the point of view of well-intentioned white people, and I think both Harper Lee’s autobiographical character and Aaron Sorkin, who adapted the novel into a three hour play, have similar instincts about how to tell this story, but it’s worth questioning why framing this story from a white girl’s perspective is the framing that white audiences have deemed a classic. Read more…

Tracey Paleo – Gia On The Move

I’ll be honest…watching the B-roll footage of the new play HARPER LEE’S TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD didn’t excite me too much at first. But sitting in the Hollywood Pantages theater in person for the Los Angeles premiere was a whole different experience. More…

Through November 27

UBU THE KING – at The Actors’ Gang

Chas Harvey in Ubu the King. Photo by Ashley Randall.

Chas Harvey in Ubu the King. Photo by Ashley Randall.

Terry Morgan – Stage Raw

When the young artists of the newly formed company The Actors’ Gang did a midnight show of Alfred Jarry’s Ubu the King in 1982, informed by punk rock and an anger against the Reagan administration, I doubt that any of their number imagined that the troupe would be doing a fortieth anniversary production of it. And yet here we are — the Gang still exists and, if anything, the political situation has gotten even worse. The story of a power-mad, delusional tyrant running a country into the ground is unfortunately still relevant. The current production is energetic and full of rude fun, if a bit uneven in a few of its actors’ performances. Read more…

Through December 3

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

DESERT STORIES FOR LOST GIRLS by Native Voices at the Autry and Latino Theater Company

Katie Anvil Rich and Carolyn Dunn. Photo by Grettel Cortes Photography.

Katie Anvil Rich and Carolyn Dunn. Photo by Grettel Cortes Photography.

Terry Morgan – Stage Raw

When I was reading the press material for Lily Rushing’s Desert Stories for Lost Girls, I encountered the term genízaro for the first time. One definition of the word I discovered online defines it as: “…detribalized Native Americans, through war or payment of ransom, [who] were taken into Hispano and Puebloan villages as indentured servants in New Mexico, southern Colorado and other parts of the southwestern United States.” I was unaware of this history, and so was intrigued to see a play about the subject. Unfortunately, this world premiere production by Native Voices at the Autry and Latino Theater Company suffers from Rushing’s unclear writing, which works neither as education nor effective drama. Read more…

Tracey Paleo – BroadwayWorld

There is an essential account that needs to be told in DESERT STORIES FOR LOST GIRLS. That’s clear. What’s not quite working in this Native Voices/Latino Theater Company co-production and world premiere, however, is the narrative framework, staging, and direction. But the importance of this largely untold and untaught chronicle is nevertheless undiminished. Read more…

Through October 16

A GREAT WILDERNESS by Rogue Machine at The Matrix Theatre

John-Perrin-Flynn and Jeffrey-Delfin in A Great Wilderness. Photo by Alex Neher.

John-Perrin-Flynn and Jeffrey-Delfin in A Great Wilderness. Photo by Alex Neher.

Terry Morgan – ArtsBeat LA

In my experience, ninety percent of the time that there’s an issue with a theatrical production, the problem is the play itself. It’s surprisingly rare for the main trouble to be with the acting or direction or design. And so it is with Samuel D. Hunter’s A Great Wilderness. I’ve enjoyed other works by Hunter, such as Pocatello or The Whale, but Wilderness has major structural issues that derail whatever impact it might have had. Rogue Machine’s Los Angeles premiere benefits from a strong lead performance by producing artistic director John Perrin Flynn and a handsome set but ultimately can’t transcend the unfocused writing. Read more…

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

One of the marks of playwright Samuel D. Hunter’s work is how skillfully he portrays people who lead lives in desperate isolation. In A Great Wilderness, produced by Rogue Machine at the Matrix Theatre, that scenario might apply to Walt (John Perrin Flynn), an elderly man, arguably in the first stages of dementia, who’s dedicated his life to the egregious practice of conversion therapy. Read more…

Through October 31

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

IF I FORGET at The Fountain Theatre

Leo Marks, Sami Klein and Valerie Perri. Photo by Jenny Graham

Leo Marks, Sami Klein and Valerie Perri. Photo by Jenny Graham

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Plays about fractious families may be common but toss politics and the Holocaust into the mix and you’ll have an intriguing drama.

Steven Levenson’s If I Forget takes place in an upper middle-class home in Washington DC, circa the year 2000. The central character, Michael Fischer (Leo Marks), is a professor of Jewish studies who’s written a book blasting prevailing Jewish attitudes towards the Holocaust. In the book, he suggests that historically enshrined memories of this monstrous event — perhaps best connoted by the ubiquitous slogan “Never Forget!” — are being exploited and abused by self-interested parties. It is Michael’s belief that Jews, both as individuals and collectively, would be better served if they recognized this exploitation and moved on. In his mind, this Holocaust obsession has clouded perspectives and pushed to the background other vital issues of concern, ranging from current genocide in Rwanda to glaring injustices here at home.
Read more…

Terry Morgan – ArtsBeat LA

Religion is ever with us, for good or ill. We humans seem to be hardwired with a need for the numinous. Steven Levenson’s play, If I Forget, begins with a psalm and ends with a vision, the psalm an exhortation for Jewish people not to forget their heritage, inviting misfortune if they forget. This stark prayer sets up a compelling and satisfyingly dramatic show about the tension between religious tradition and modern secularism. The new production at The Fountain Theatre in East Hollywood, directed by Jason Alexander, is a terrific showcase for its excellent cast and Levenson’s sharp writing, although it also features one major misstep. Read more…

Returns Oct 28 – Dec 18

MOULIN ROUGE! THE MUSICAL at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre

The ensemble of Moulin Rouge, The Musical!, North American Tour. Photo by Matthew Murphy for Murphy Made

Moulin Rouge, The Musical!, North American Tour. Photo by Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade

Terry Morgan – Stage Raw

The dumbing down of American musical theater continues apace with Moulin Rouge! The Musical, which throws the past 50 years of popular music into a moronic Mixmaster and performs the stitched-together “songs” with the regrettable aesthetic of a cut-rate Vegas revue or a taste-free ‘70s TV variety show. It’s doubly unfortunate, because the source material, Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 film, had originality, charm and visual panache to spare, but you would never guess that from this dreadful adaptation. The new production at the Pantages isn’t entirely without merit – a couple of the performers are clearly talented and the lighting design is impressive – but ultimately it’s three hours of your time that would be infinitely better spent elsewhere. Read more…

Jonas Schwartz-Owen – BroadwayWorld

There have been jukebox musicals for decades, but never has a jukebox been so overstuffed that the 45s came spiraling out of the cabinet, spinning off the stage to decapitate the audience. This Tony-winning musical extravaganza is completely ridiculous and utterly intoxicating. It pounds you into submission, and before you know it, you’re having a marvelous time. Read more…

Now through September 4

THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE, Rogue Machine at the Matrix Theatre

Photo by John Perrin Flynn

Photo by John Perrin Flynn

Tracey Paleo – Gia On The Move

It’s the late 90’s…and you’re hanging out in a boy’s basement bedroom, somewhere in suburban America with two teenagers as they stay up on a school night; chugging soda, watching MTV, and preparing for the future. As the morning approaches, their seemingly innocent sleepover reveals another purpose. Read more…

Terry Morgan – ArtsBeat LA

Mere days after the abomination of the Supreme Court overturning Roe vs. Wade, discussing a play about toxic masculinity seems almost too topical. Cisgender white men are running amok waging wars, attempting coups and reversing civil rights, so what better time to examine the root of all this madness? Except that none of this is new. There has never been a time where men acting badly wasn’t the prime source of evil in the world. This subject has been explored in countless books, films and plays. Unfortunately Tim Venable’s The Beautiful People has little original insight to offer, although the world premiere production by Rogue Machine is otherwise first-rate. Read more…

Tracey Paleo – Gia On The Move

It’s the late 90’s…and you’re hanging out in a boy’s basement bedroom, somewhere in suburban America with two teenagers as they stay up on a school night; chugging soda, watching MTV, and preparing for the future. As the morning approaches, their seemingly innocent sleepover reveals another purpose. Read more…

Now through July 25