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Archive for The Daily Breeze

YELLOW FACE at the Beverly Hills Playhouse

yellowface

Frances Baum Nicholson – The Daily Breeze

When Rachel Dolezal was forced to step down from the presidency of the local branch of the NAACP in Spokane, Wash., in 2015 because she was not (as she had claimed) African-American, it spurred a debate on the nature of race and cultural appropriation which was long past due.

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Now running through September 26

SIDE BY SIDE BY SONDHEIM at the Odyssey Theatre

Enci Box

Enci Box

Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

Apparently the songs of composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim are not failsafe.

He’s the genius behind some of the last century’s and some of this one’s best musicals. Some of his early songs are showcased in the revue titled “Side by Side by Sondheim,” currently at the Odyssey in West Los Angeles.

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Now running through September 2

PARADE at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts

Caught in the Moment Photography

Caught in the Moment Photography

Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

People apparently must hate another group they barely know, no matter the race, religion or financial bracket.

The Judeo-Christian Bible reflects back to us myriad examples of this untethered hatred. Eastern and Western history serializes it. And it fills today’s media.
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Now running through June 10

 

PROVENANCE at the Little Fish Theatre

Mickey Elliot

Mickey Elliot

Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

On the surface, Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder’s “Provenance” will seem an unlikely story, even by theatrical standards — it’s too convenient, too cute. In its production at Little Fish in San Pedro through May 24, it could seem overacted. Give it awhile.    Read more…

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THE LOVE POTION, Long Beach Opera at the Warner Grand Theatre

Keith Ian Polakoff

Keith Ian Polakoff

Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

If so far you’ve enjoyed about a dozen versions of “The Marriage of Figaro,” or decided you’ve sat through your last “Ring” cycle, or even seen a production or two of Richard Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde,” then the West Coast premiere of “ (Le Vin Herbé)” may pique your opera-going interest.
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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

 

THE THEATRE IS A BLANK PAGE at UCLA’s Royce Hall

 

Photo by Reed Hutchinson/CAP UCLA )

Photo by Reed Hutchinson/CAP UCLA )

Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

Memorable? Yes. Thought-provoking? Yes. Worthy of a production on the treasured stage of UCLA’s Royce Hall, which has over the decades housed world-class performing arts? Yes.
Groundbreaking? Not so much. Read more…

Now running through May 12

 

SCHOOL OF ROCK at the Pantages Theatre

Matthew Murphy

Matthew Murphy

Margaret Gray – LA Times

In one of the most entertaining numbers in the musical “School of Rock,” which opened Thursday at the Hollywood Pantages theater, a substitute teacher rallies his 10-year-old students to “stick it to the man” by ignoring their stuffy prep-school curriculum and forming a rock band.    Read more…

Ellen Dostal –Broadway World

As kid musicals go, SCHOOL OF ROCK isn’t half bad. It falls somewhere between ANNIE and MATILDA on the Richter scale of stories about downtrodden kids overcoming obstacles to win in the end.
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Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

School of Rock, directed by Laurence Connor at the Pantages Theatre, doesn’t bowl you over with its mostly forgettable music. What it does do is deliver well-staged and well-executed family entertainment, showcasing an impressive ensemble of preteen actors who sing, dance and act up a storm.     Read more…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote the music for one of musical theatre’s first rock operas, Jesus Christ Superstar, in 1970. Nearly 50 years later the show is still popular…Read more…

Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

It doesn’t have the cerebral and emotional heft of Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods.” It doesn’t have the freshness and electricity of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton.” It certainly doesn’t showcase a lush score on par with those of Rodgers and Hammerstein. Yet “School of Rock” engenders every bit of the theatergoing joy these theatrical pillars provide….Read more…

Now running through May 27

ICE at 24th Street Theatre

Cooper Bates

Cooper Bates

Deborah Klugman – Capital & Main

ICE, Leon Martell’s family friendly play, takes place in 1988 and follows the misadventures of two undocumented immigrants: Chepe (Jesús Castaños-Chima), an avid baseball fan who dreams of making a fortune selling gourmet tacos; and his cousin Nacho (Tony Dúran), whom the beleaguered Chepe summons from Mexico to assist him in setting up his business.

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Ellen Dostal – Broadway World

Seduced by the notion that, in America, winning is everything, an immigrant loses sight of what is really important in Leon Martell’s world premiere play, ICE. Commissioned by 24th STreet Theatre to commemorate its 20th anniversary, the 65-minute one act highlights the plight of every hopeful soul diligently trying to attain the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness promised by our founding fathers.
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Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

The simple but extraordinarily effective stage designs for 24th Street Theatre’s latest offering, “ICE,” immediately inform us of time and place.

A dilapidated truck, a cathedral’s stained-glass window, a quintessentially local street lamp — all these say Los Angeles. A Dodgers announcer excitedly narrating Fernando Valenzuela’s every move via two large television sets with display dials proclaims the 1980s.
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Now running through June 10

AMERYKA at the Kirk Douglas Theatre

Lawrence K. Ho

Lawrence K. Ho

Deborah Klugman – Capital & Main

 In 2009, Ameryka’s writer/director Nancy Keystone was perusing a catalogue,Western Amerykański: Polish Poster Art and the Western, when she spotted a 1989 poster that celebrated the first democratic elections in Poland since World War II.

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Frances Baum Nicholson – The Daily Breeze

One of the more fascinating events at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City is the annual Block Party — a series of productions bringing the work of other Los Angeles theater companies to this Center Theatre Group space.
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Now running through April 29

 

BELLEVILLE at the Pasadena Playhouse

 

(Photo by Philicia Endelman

(Photo by Philicia Endelman

Terry Morgan  -  Talkin’ Broadway

Labeling a work of art as being one particular thing can often be problematic, creating expectations that the piece doesn’t fulfill. Amy Herzog’s play Belleville is being promoted as a Hitchcockian thriller, which it is not. It’s only a thriller in the sense that Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a thriller, in that it depicts the emotional combat between a married couple.
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Frances Baum Nicholson – The Daily Breeze

There is no doubt that Amy Herzog’s “Belleville,” now at the Pasadena Playhouse, has dramatic power, and some extraordinary characters which must be an actor’s dream to perform. In many ways, this is enough to recommend the show.
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Amy Herzog’s thriller Belleville benefits from solid direction by Jenna Worsham and stellar performances by its leads, Anna Camp and Thomas Sadoski.
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Now running through May 13