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Archive for The Daily Breeze

CATS at the Pantages Theatre

Matthew Murphy

Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

Do you invent a new cuss word every time your phone insists you install a slight update? Do you glare at products in the grocery store whose labels boast “improved” when you know they’re not.

Chances are, then, you’ll feel the same about this “new Broadway production” of “Cats,” in its national tour, currently stalking across the stage and up the aisles of Hollywood’s Pantages Theatre.
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Ellen Dostal – Broadway World

Without a doubt, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit musical CATS is of an era. Based on one of Lloyd Webber’s favorite books as a child, T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, it was a perfect vehicle for the tastes of theatre lovers in the eighties, the decade of excess.
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Now running through April 14

LIGHTS OUT: NAT “KING” COLE at the Geffen Playhouse

Jeff Lorch

Jeff Lorch

Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

Is anything more fascinating than the mind of man?

From the 1930s through the ’60s, entertainer Nat “King” Cole seemed the epitome of gentlemanliness, clad and coiffed to perfection, his quiet croon a soothing voice in turbulent times.

But in “Lights Out: Nat ‘King’ Cole,” a West Coast–premiering play with music, at the Geffen through March 17, playwrights Colman Domingo and Patricia McGregor imagine the intense, fractured, bleak, violent, self-abasing thoughts clashing in Cole’s mind moments before the final broadcast of his groundbreaking variety show. Read more…

Margaret Gray – LA Times

YouTube clips from Nat King Cole’s short-lived TV variety show, which premiered in 1956, convey the singer’s legendary charm. Handsome, elegant, impeccably dressed and graceful, Cole looked at ease on camera. More than at ease: happy.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Nat “King” Cole once considered himself the “Jackie Robinson of Television” because he was the first African-American to host a television variety show. The show began as a 15-minute outing in November, 1956 on NBC. It began without a national sponsor because a fear by Madison Avenue of a backlash in the Deep South.
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Now running through March 24

 

 

WITNESS UGANDA at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

Kevin Parry

Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

Presumably expelled by his New York City church for being gay, Griffin Matthews gathered his earnings from his then-unfruitful acting career and headed to Uganda for a six-week stay to help build a school.

He changed lives there. The Ugandans he met changed his. And from this real-life journey comes “Witness Uganda: A Documentary Musical,” though more musical than documentary, at the Wallis in Beverly Hills through March 3.
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Margaret Gray – LA Times

I was not expecting the new show “Witness Uganda: A Documentary Musical” to win me over.

First, there’s that subtitle — its sheer rhetorical daring evoking all my favorite oxymorons, including “jumbo shrimp,” “new classic” and “unbiased opinion.”
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Ellen Dostal – BroadwayWorld

The need for human connection runs deep in WITNESS UGANDA, a musical by Griffin Matthews and Matt Gould based on Matthews’ real-life experiences in Uganda. At its center is the idea that we are all part of a global family – one world, one heart – connected by an invisible thread that never lets go.  Read more…

Now running through March 3

 

MATTHEW BOURNE’S CINDERELLA at the Ahmanson Theatre

Johan Persson

Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

“Admit passersby!” urged Britain’s wartime instructions. In Matthew Bourne’s dance-theater production of “Cinderella,” we find a reminder to open up our hearts and let the sunshine in.

But the story Bourne tells, at the Ahmanson through March 10, is far from the sunny fairytale we might expect. Using Sergei Prokofiev’s brooding, elegantly dissonant, subtly disturbing score, and setting the story in 1940 during the Blitz, Bourne makes his version fully accessible yet requires the audience to put puzzle pieces together.
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Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

There are no carriages turning into pumpkins to be seen in Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella, an enchanting, contemporary ballet currently being presented by New Adventures at Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. Instead, this interpretation of the classic fairy tale takes place over a backdrop of a city in turmoil at the height of World War II, crafting a new story of lovers torn apart until they are reunited, thanks, of course, to a very special shoe. Read more…

Now running through March 10

1776 at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts

Jason Niedle

Jason Niedle

Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

The musical “1776” is quite a piece of writing. Indeed, the story is the indisputable star in this La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts’ production, even while the performances engage and the staging enchants.
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Jonas Schwartz -  Arts In LA

We hold these truths to be self-evident about the musical 1776. Truth one: Even an American audience member with a D- grade point average knows how this play will end. Truth two: Due to Peter Stone’s glorious libretto, what conclusions may be inevitable to everyone will still seem for most of play to be impossible…….Read more…

Now running through February 3

HAITI at Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum

Ian Flanders

Ian Flanders

Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

Romance! Swordplay! History! All this plus a play that probably none of us has ever seen before.Reportedly giving this play its first-ever revival since its premiere in 1938, Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum presents “Haiti,” written by William DuBois (just to be clear, not W.E.B. Du Bois).
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

The Federal Theatre Project was created by the government during the Great Depression of the 1930s, not as a cultural activity, but as a relief measure to employ artists, writers, directors and theatre workers.
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Now running through September 29

 

AIN’T TOO PROUD – THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE TEMPTATIONS at the Ahmanson Theatre

Matthew Murphy

Matthew Murphy

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

Look out, baby, cause here they come. Ain’t Too Proud—The Life and Times of The Temptations opened in Los Angeles at Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre last night, just hours after it was announced the show will transfer to Broadway in spring 2019. Read more…

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

The two trickiest types of musical, to this critic’s mind at least, are the bio-musical and the jukebox musical. The former ties musicals, often a fanciful form, to rote biographical facts, while the latter often requires the show’s cast and creative team to impart significance to songs that might not be able to carry the meaning they’re meant to support.
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Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

For sheer entertainment, “Ain’t Too Proud” is the show to see in Los Angeles during the next five weeks.
As a jukebox musical featuring the songs of The Temptations plus a generous handful of others, the score is unsurpassable. The quintet that many consider the greatest group ever in R&B music gave us such 1960s and ’70s classics as “My Girl,” “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” and of course “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.”
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Now running through September 30

 

I AM SOPHIE at The Pico

Marlow Everly

Marlow Everly

Frances Baum Nicholson – The Daily Breeze

The entire idea of identity is one which has come increasingly to the forefront of modern conversation. What makes someone who they are? What if the person they see in the mirror isn’t who they feel they are inside? What if being genuine to themselves means not being the person others have always known them to be? What may be lost in the process?
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Now running through September 2

 

 

HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING at the James Armstrong Theatre

 Miguel  Elliot

Miguel Elliot

Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

Picture an organization of white men, led by those who don’t exactly function on the highest ethical standards. They hire based on similarities to themselves. They’re served by a platoon of women, yet the men need to be taught how to speak to and behave with the women. The gals, however, are not without their own sets of machinations. Read more…

Now running through August 25

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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Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

In 1989, Caucasian actor Jonathan Pryce, sporting eye prosthetics and bronzer, appeared as a Eurasian pimp in a West End production of playwright David Henry Hwang’s Miss Saigon. Pryce won the Olivier award that year for best actor in a musical, and was slated to appear in the Broadway production as well.
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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

WAITRESS at the Pantages Theatre

Joan Marcus

Joan Marcus

Erin Conley – On Stage and Screen

You cannot walk five feet in the Pantages Theatre without encountering a bunch of mini pies for sale, perfectly setting the scene for Waitress, the hit Broadway musical that opened in Los Angeles for the first time last night.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

In 2007 writer/director/actress Adrienne Shelly created a little gem of an independent film entitled Waitress. Unfortunately Shelly was murdered before the film’s debut. In 2015 playwright Jesse Nelson and songwriter Sara Bareilles turned the story of three waitresses and their love lives in a small Southern town into a Broadway musical.
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Ellen Dostal – Broadway World

Can eating a pie be a religious experience? It can if it was made by Jenna, the diner waitress in the Broadway musical WAITRESS, who turns ordinary ingredients like butter, sugar, and flour into mouthwatering slices of life in a pie tin.
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Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

Easy as it is to bemoan the current trend of turning movies into Broadway musicals, Waitress, now playing at the Pantages in Hollywood, is proof that Broadway shows can still tell beautiful stories, even when they’re based on movies that came out over a decade ago.
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Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

Though a few of its ingredients are so right, so much is so wrong with “Waitress,” the musical now at the Pantages.
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Now running through August 26