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Archive for The Daily News

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

OUR VERY OWN CARLIN MCCULLOUGH at the Geffen Playhouse

Chris Whitaker

Chris Whitaker

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Our Very Own Carlin McCullough is about a mother and a daughter and the tennis coach who comes into their lives and transforms them.
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Parenting is a daunting task, one that comes with no rule book. Even when a parent, particularly a single one, desires the absolute best for a child, it’s possible to steer a kid off course. Cyn (Mamie Gummer), the harried mom raising a tennis prodigy daughter, finds herself at a crossroads in Amanda Peet’s provocative play…..
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Dany Margolies – The Daily News

“Keep your heart open,” says Carlin McCullough’s tennis coach. “Be yourself.” That’s big advice for any coach to any student. But somehow this child internalizes those concepts, let alone plays like an adult.
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Now running through July 29

 

TURN ME LOOSE at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

(Photo by Lawrence K. Ho)

(Photo by Lawrence K. Ho)

Deborah Klugman – Capital & Main

In his powerhouse performance as Dick Gregory, the stand-up comic who rose to fame in the 1960s, Joe Morton tells the following story: He was civil rights organizing in the South with his good friend Medgar Evers, when he received a call informing him that his infant son had died.
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Dany Margolies – The Daily News

On the first page of her script titled “Turn Me Loose,” Gretchen Law introduces the piece as “a full-length play for stage, from the life and works of Mr. Dick Gregory.” The play retains this purposeful yet respectful tone throughout. Quietly, cerebrally, it packs a punch.
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Now running through November 19

SHOUT SISTER SHOUT! at the Pasadena Playhouse

Jim Cox Photography

Jim Cox Photography

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Born in 1915, Sister Rosetta Tharpe has been called the godmother of rock & roll for her profound influence on a legion of famous vocalists, including Elvis Presley, Tina Turner and Johnny Cash (who noted in his induction speech into the Hall of Fame that she was his favorite singer). Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Rosetta Tharpe was a pioneer rock artist who inspired many individuals and the future of rock and roll itself, but Randy Johnson and Cheryl L. West, the creators of Shout Sister Shout!, do not seem to trust the power of Tharpe’s story on its own merits. Instead, they structure a convoluted fantasy around this life story that feels as if it was directly cribbed from Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life.   Read more…

Frances Baum Nicholson – The Daily News

If you love classic rock ’n’ roll and have never heard of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, shame on you.
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Now running through August 20

LUCKY STIFF at Actors Co-op

Michael Lamont

Michael Lamont

Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

It’s hard to imagine a more far-fetched plot than the one that animates this zany musical by Lynn Ahren (book and lyrics) and Stephen Flaherty (music), based on The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo by Michael Butterworth.    Read more…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Lucky Stiff is a 1988 musical farce with book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and music by Stephen Flaherty. It was the team’s first collaboration…..Read more…

Frances Baum Nicholson – The Daily News

In 1988, the fledgling duo of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty produced their first musical: “Lucky Stiff.” The show is a silly send-up of the mystery/suspense genre, and based loosely on the 1983 book “The Man Who Broke Monte Carlo.” Read more…

Now running through June 18

THE BODYGUARD at the Pantages Theatre

The Bodyguard

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

Not many musicals literally start with a bang. In the case of The Bodyguard: the Musical, now playing at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles, an opening gunshot was both very startling and pretty effective at getting the stragglers to settle into their seats. Read more…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

The 1992 film The Bodyguard starred Kevin Costner in the title role and featured the film debut of singing superstar Whitney Houston. The film received seven Golden Raspberry Award nominations, including Worst Picture, and has a score of 32% on Rotten Tomatoes yet it was the second highest grossing film worldwide that year. Read more…

Dany Margolies – The Daily News

If in 1992 the films on your must-see list included “Reservoir Dogs,” “The Player,” “Howard’s End,” “Orlando” or even “Wayne’s World,” Lawrence Kasdan’s “The Bodyguard” probably didn’t make the cut. But that film has indeed been musicalized and brought to the stage, adapted by Alexander Dinelaris. Its national tour is basking at Hollywood’s Pantages Theatre, where the late Whitney Houston’s legion of fans can hear her megahits receive full power-ballad treatment. Read more…

Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

Now playing at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood and it’s the closest thing you’ll get to hearing the late, great pop star Whitney Houston sing live. All up, this is a fantastically entertaining show. The pace is snappy and the staging is fluid.   Read more…

 

Now running through May 21

INTO THE WOODS at the Ahmanson Theatre

Photo by Joan Marcus

Photo by Joan Marcus

Frances Baum Nicholson – The Daily News

Every once in a while there comes an opportunity to experience an extraordinarily rich theatrical performance. Such is the case with the Fiasco Theater production of James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods,” now at the Ahmanson.         Read more…

 Erin Conley – OnStage

The cow as white as milk, the cape as red as blood, the hair as yellow as corn, the slipper as pure as gold. These ingredients comprise the spell at the center of Into the Woods, the classic musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine that twists and combines popular fairy tales into a brutal exploration of the consequences of wish fulfillment.      Read more…

Now running through May 14

TRANSITION at the Lounge Theatre

Photo by Ed Krieger

 

(Photo by Ed Krieger)

Dany Margolies – The Daily News

On Nov. 10, 2016, President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump met for nearly 90 minutes at the White House. To borrow from a previous administration, this much is known. Read more…

Now running through April 16

KING LEAR at A Noise Within

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Frances Baum Nicholson – The Daily News

It is an interesting new spin on Shakespeare’s “King Lear” to look at the downfall of this unwise ruler from the lens of Alzheimer’s disease. That is what director Julia Rodriguez-Elliott does in the production now in repertory at A Noise Within. Read more…

Now running through May 6

THE MYSTERY OF LOVE AND SEX at the Mark Taper Forum

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Lovell Estell III – Stage Raw

The sneaky, overworked phrase “friends with benefits” takes on new meaning in this watery comedy by Bathsheba Doran. Read more…

Dany Margolies – L.A. Daily News

Family has not changed since ancient times. Our perceptions of family have. Playwright Bathsheba Doran seems to celebrate this in her play “The Mystery of Love & Sex.” That’s the lovely part of this work. Read more…

 

Now running through March 10

 

BARCELONA at the Geffen Playhouse

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Photo by Michael Lamont

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

The clash of values in playwright Bess Wohl’s disputatious two-hander takes place between Irene (Betty Gilpin), a chattering blonde tourist from Denver, and Manuel (Carlos Leal), a handsome Spaniard who’s ferried her back to his loft in Barcelona for wild, mutually satisfying sex.  Read more…

Dany Margolies – The Daily News

What’s notable about “Barcelona” is not so much what it says. One hopes, when a play has made it all the way to the Geffen Playhouse, it reveals something about the human condition. But at the Geffen, it’s interesting to observe how difficult this one’s messages are to take in. Read more…

Bob Verini  -  Arts In LA

Ever find yourself walking in a park in the morning, or through a mall in the afternoon, or down a main drag like Pasadena’s Colorado Boulevard at night, enjoying the sights and sounds and people, and suddenly you say to yourself, “Holy crap, what if there should be an incident right now? What if somebody with a bomb or a gun is right around that corner?” Read more…

Pauline Adamek  -  ArtsBeatLA

Two opportunistic strangers hook up for a brief bout of sex. But what starts off as a drunken one-night stand turns into a soul-searching all-night discussion that goes until dawn.   Read more…

Now running through March 13

BULLETS OVER BROADWAY at the Pantages Theatre

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Les Spindle –  Edge on the Net

Writer-director Woody Allen’s memorable 1994 film comedy“Bullets Over Broadway” served up a touch of vintage Billy Wilder (a la “Some Like It Hot” and “One, Two, Three”) driven by Allen’s trademark genius for mixing a farcical story with darker elements and trenchant humor. Read more…

Margaret Gray – LA Times

How seriously do you take your art? Would you kill for it? Literally?

Those are the questions that animate “Bullets Over Broadway,” Woody Allen‘s delicious cinematic parable about the struggle between creative greatness and human goodness. The backstage thriller, released in 1994, seems tailor-made for Broadway. You’d think the title would have caught producers’ eyes long ago as they trolled Netflix for material. Read more…

Bob Verini  -   Stage Raw

My Depression-era dad and his brothers were proud possessors of BB guns, but targets were few and far between in the Bronx at that time, neighborhood cats being off limits and tin cans in particularly high demand.

So they chose to conduct target practice on a whole slew of vintage 78 RPM pop recordings: Bing Crosby, Russ Columbo, Sophie Tucker and other luminaries of the vaudeville and legit stages. (“They suited the purpose,” my father reported dryly, and he confessed to a particular frisson of pleasure when a Rudy Vallee number was tossed in the air.) Read more…

Dany Margolies – The Daily News

Instead of heading to the Pantages over the next few weeks for the national tour of the musical “Bullets Over Broadway,” you could stay home and Netflix Woody Allen’s 1994 film. But you’d miss a handful of lively performances, William Ivey Long’s magnificent costumes, and nearly two dozen American standards played by a superb pit band and sung with verve. Read more…

Now running through January 24.