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Archive for The Hollywood Reporter – Page 3

UNORGANIZED CRIME at the Lillian Theatre

UNORGANIZED CRIME - 1

Photo by Daniel Reichert

Bob Verini -  Variety

Stars are called stars because they shine brighter than anyone else. Every time Chazz Palminteri sashays into “Unorganized Crime” as Gotham mob scion Sal Sicuso, cool and sardonic, seething with banked menace, you can’t take your eyes off him. It’s a supporting role, but he’s more than enough reason to travel to Hollywood’s Lillian Theater for Kenny D’Aquila’s messy, indifferently wrought but generally enjoyable comedy-drama in a Tarantino vein. Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

There have been so many variations wrought on the dynamics of the criminal family (particularly that of the Italian persuasion), that squeezing new insights or even fresh thrills out of the genre can require a sacral formalism not so far in function from a Noh drama.

Unorganized Crime finds some originality and a great deal of tanginess from its fleet depiction of the surprise reunion of two brothers… Read more…

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

In the opening sequence of Kenny D’Aquila’s gangster comedy, directed by David Fofi, Gino (D’Aquila), a frustrated waiter, arrives home from work at his rumpled rundown apartment (an apt set by designer Joel Daavid). He dons an apron and proceeds to the dining room table. Read more…

Margaret Gray – LA Times

For anybody still suffering from “Sopranos” withdrawal after all these years, Kenny D’Aquila’s “Unorganized Crime” at the Elephant Theatre is a good place to turn to for a quick mob-family-melodrama fix. Read more…

Neal Weaver  – ArtsInLA

The murderous Sicuso crime family in this dark comedy by Kenny D’Aquila make the Corleone clan seem like pillars of domestic peace and tranquility: at least the Corleones kept their murderous activities outside the home. But with the Sicusos, it seems, home is where the hits happen.   Read more…
Now running through May 31.

THE GERSHWINS’ PORGY AND BESS at the Ahmanson Theatre

Kingsley Leggs (center) and the cast of ?The Gershwins? Porgy and Bess? by George Gershwin, DuBose and Dorothy Heyward, and Ira Gershwin, book adapted by Suzan-Lori Parks and musical score adapted by Diedre L. Murray. Directed by Diane Paulus, ?The Gershwins? Porgy and Bess? previews at the Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre April 22 and opens April 23. Performances continue through June 1, 2014. For tickets and information, please visit CenterTheatreGroup.org or call (213) 972-4400.  Contact: CTGMedia@CenterTheatreGroup.org/ (213) 972-7376 Photo by Michael J. Lutch

Photo by Michael J. Lutch

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Porgy and Bess (the lamentable and disingenuous branding title will not be employed again by this writer) is one of those incomparable works of art that necessarily is always somewhat imperfect in performance. It is too grand, too bold, and too low-down not to be. Read more…

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Neal Weaver  – ArtsInLA

George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (with libretto and lyrics by Dorothy and Dubose Heyward and Ira Gershwin) has an astonishingly long and varied production history, and it has repeatedly been sliced and diced according to the taste of its producers and directors. George Gershwin’s orchestrations have been adapted and tampered with, and the original recitatives have often been replaced with spoken dialogue, making hash of Gershwin’s leitmotifs.

Read more…

Bob Verini – Stage Raw

The lean though not especially mean, 40% fat free The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess came into being on a whim and a prayer.  As widely reported a year ago, the songwriters’ estate sought to purvey a version of the Catfish Row perennial that would minimize the vocal, logistical, and running-time demands traditionally only within the grasp of the opera house. Read more…

Now running through June 1.

MAN IN A CASE at the Broad Stage

Photo by T. Charles Erickson

Photo by T. Charles Erickson

Hoyt Hilsman  -  Huffington Post

Even in this subdued and somber rendering of a pair of Chekhov stories, Mikhail Baryshnikov and his creative partners from the Big Dance Theater display a magical grace and style that transcends the bleakness of Chekhov’s tales. Big Dance Theater directors Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar, who also adapted the Chekhov stories, fuse techniques from theater, dance, music and video into a mélange performance. Read more…

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Man in a Case, a Big Dance Theatre production conceived and directed by Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar and featuring former Russian dance super-star Mikhail Baryshnikov, dramatizes two of Anton Chekhov’s short stories, layering his narratives with videography, music and dance. The aim, presumably, is to deepen and expand the Chekhovian experience. But while the multimedia effects may be imaginative, in the end their chaotic sturm und drang creates distance and disinterest rather than the empathy the writer sought to create.  Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Experimental art of all kinds requires the will to fail, necessarily more often than not. Nevertheless, there is a lot of interesting and innovative experimental theater afoot, but the avant-garde is not immune to trends, nor even to its own alternative brands of conformity.  Read more…

Melinda Schupmann – Arts In LA

The works of Anton Chekhov, arguably one of the greatest writers of short fiction, have been twisted and bent into countless play productions, attempting either to capture the soul of the work or to find an inventive approach that speaks to theatrical craft. Baryshnikov Productions’ conception of the stories at Broad Stage appears to be trying to do both and have moderate success in the main. Read more…

Now running through May 10.

FIVE MILE LAKE at South Coast Repertory Theatre

Photo by Debora Robinson

Photo by Debora Robinson

Bob Verini -   Arts In LA

It can’t be easy to pen a remarkable play about unremarkable people whose main concern is how unremarkable their lives are. (Ask Chekhov.) Yet, Rachel Bonds has pulled it off handily with Five Mile Lake, whose central figures have solid reasons for doubting their own choices and equally solid reasons for coveting the lives of all the others. Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Maybe you can’t go home again, though onstage that’s invariably what everyone does. Rufus (Corey Brill) left his forsaken hometown outside Scranton, Pa., to pursue his PhD in classics, while brother Jamie (Nate Mooney) remained behind to manage a donut shop and renovate their inherited old house by the titular lake.

Margaret Gray – LA Times

Among the revivals and West Coast premieres that dominate our theatrical offerings, the startling phrase “world premiere” implies an exhilarating, possibly risky novelty: You can’t help expecting pyrotechnics.

But Rachel Bonds’ “Five Mile Lake,” receiving its world premiere at South Coast Repertory, is a small, quiet play in which nothing particularly momentous happens. Read more…

Now running through May 4.

RUTH DRAPER’S MONOLOGUES at the Geffen Playhouse

Photo by Allen J. Schaben

Photo by Allen J. Schaben

Pauline Adamek – ArtsbeatLA

Four monologues written by diseuse Ruth Draper are brilliantly performed by Annette Bening as a 90-minute one act evening of entertainment. This new show at the Geffen begins nicely enough, with a couple of odd character pieces. The first is a slightly bizarre speech and movement class and lesson “in Greek poise” led by a woman who congenially barks instructions and gambols and rolls around the stage. She demands that her unseen students (presumably middle-aged, middle class women) “be an earthworm! stretch and limber yourselves!” as she teaches them how to express themselves through movement. Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

 Ruth Draper(1884-1956) became the most influential of solo dramatic performers in the first half of the last century. Her carefully crafted characterizations of high society types set the template for the plethora of single performer shows ever since. Draper presented new shows of her works on Broadway some 10 times in 35 years, and toured extensively in the U.K. as well as internationally, sometimes in conjunction with her equally talented nephew, the dancer Paul Draper. Read more…

Neal Weaver  – ArtsInLA

There aren’t very many truly unique figures in the whole history of the theater. There are the noble Greeks: Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. There are Shakespeare, Molière, Ibsen, Chekhov, and Bernard Shaw. And possibly we might include Strindberg and Tennessee Williams. But there was only one woman in the crew: Ruth Draper, celebrated as a distinguished writer, performer, and monologist. Read more…

Les Spindle –  Frontiers L.A.

Ruth Draper (1884-1956) was a renowned actress-writer best known for her brilliantly witty monologues satirizing colorful female characters whose eccentricities were revealed in articulate and revelatory comedic vignettes.  Read more...

Now running through May 18.

BULGAKOV/MOLIERE at City Garage, Bergamot Station

Photo by Paul M. Rubenstein

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

In the real world, does integrity merely consist of managing to compromise just enough to get what you desire, while permitting yourself not to feel compromised? So the Devil rather persuasively argues in this often pointed, intricately conceived set of nested Matryoshka dolls depicting three different epochs, each worthy of political ridicule, each considering the role of the artist as provocateur, repressed both by forces from without and within.  

Read more…

Now running through June 1.

EVERYTHING YOU TOUCH at Boston Court Performing Arts Center

Photo by Ed Krieger

Photo by Ed Krieger

Margaret Gray – LA Times

You may have seen your share of makeovers, but nothing like the one Sheila Callaghan inflicts on her heroine in “Everything You Touch,” her lushly written dark comedy world-premiering at Boston Court Performing Arts Center.    Read more…

Pauline Adamek  – Stage Raw

Sheila Callaghan’s compelling play examines the dysfunctional dynamic between narcissistic mothers and their daughters, as well as the grim misogyny that pervades the world of high fashion. In so doing, and in a markedly un-naturalistic style, it studies the corrosive effect of residual anger. Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

One of the epiphanies in my four decades of theatre-going in Los Angeles was the 2003 mounting of Sheila Callaghan’s Shakespearean pastorale Kate Crackernuts by Jessica Kubzansky. It was so fiercely original and so abandoned to its own sometimes obscure inner voice that it encouraged me to connect more intensely to the uniqueness of our local scene, and I started immediately to forage far and wide for further such stimulation. Read more…

Now running through May 18.

THE SUIT at Freud Playhouse at Macgowan Hall

the_suit_nonhlanhla_kheswa_a_pMyron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

As long as I have attended the theater, I have been an adherent of Peter Brook and for nearly 50 years have never missed any available opportunity to experience his work. Since he split his over 70-year career between London and Paris, that has meant for me only those productions that have been exported to the U.S. (around a dozen, most prominently Marat/Sade, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Mahabharata) and the nine feature films distributed here (including Lord of the Flies, Marat/Sade, King Lear and Moderato Cantabile). He has long mastered the technique of penetrating flamboyance, yet his progress has inexorably trended toward that of a patient, exacting teacher of the most profound relationship of art to the spirit.

Now running through April 19.

TASTE at Sacred Fools Theatre Company

taste

Photo by Jessica Sherman Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bob Verini -   Arts In LA

The premise of Benjamin Brand’s Taste, as the management of Sacred Fools Theater Company has been unabashedly eager to trumpet in preopening publicity, is a compact made between two men to meet for dinner, at which the guest is to be killed, butchered, cooked, and eaten by the host in what must qualify as the most unusual, and surely the most potentially savory, assisted suicide of all time. Read more…

Pauline Adamek  – Stage Raw

Two men meet on the Internet and forge an unholy pact.

Screen and television writer Benjamin Brand’s first play, Taste, is based on a bizarre, true-crime episode from 2001, for which a German man named Armin Meiwes was convicted and eventually sentenced to life imprisonment.

Every grisly detail of the actual event was videotaped, so Taste is a factual play that reenacts the meeting between the two men and powerfully unfolds in real time.

It’s chilling stuff, yet it’s also inexplicably hilarious.  Read more

Terry Morgan  -  Talkin’ Broadway

When one reads about a new play concerning cannibalism, directed by Stuart Gordon, the man who brought the world Re-Animator, one has certain preconceptions. Or at least I did. I presumed it would be gory and darkly humorous, and I was correct in those assumptions. What I didn’t expect was that it would be an essentially serious and weirdly touching character study, and I was pleasantly surprised by the brilliant performances.   Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

The fastidious Terry (Donal Thoms-Cappello), well-schooled from television chefs such as Jacques Pepin, caramelizes some onions in his carefully arranged apartment, the set of which consists primarily of a kitchen. Director Stuart Gordon, a gorefest connoisseur, invokes sensory recollections of cinematic Smell-O-Vision with the cepaceous aroma, when the awaited visitor comes to the door. Read more…

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

It’s hard to conceive of a more bizarre and revolting tale than the one re-imagined in Taste, Benjamin Brand’s reality-based play about a pact between a man with cannibalistic desires and the willing victim he solicits on the internet.  Read more…

Hoyt Hilsman  -  Huffington Post

Benjamin Brand’s play, based on the 2001 incident in Germany in which a man agreed to be killed and eaten by another man (dubbed the Rotenberg Cannibal) has been justifiably praised for impeccable performances by Donal Thoms-Cappello and Chris L. McKenna, as well as for the audacious tackling of the subject matter by Brand.  Read more…

Now running through May 31.

REST at South Coast Repertory Theatre

Hal Landon Jr. and Lynn Milgrim in South Coast Repertory's 2014

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

At an expiring retirement home on the outskirts of a small town in northern Idaho, the staff prepares to relocate its few remaining residents, when a dementia-impaired nonagenarian music professor, Ken (Richard Doyle), goes missing off the premises as a fierce blizzard completely isolates them from any outside assistance. Ken’s healthy, sardonic spouse Etta (Lynn Milgrim), beside herself with worry, has to speak up tartly to shield herself from the onslaught of patronizing reassurances and bumbling responses. Read more…

Bob Verini -   Arts In LA

A skeleton staff and a few hanger-on residents are the last occupants of the dilapidated Northern Idaho rest home in Samuel D. Hunter’s Rest. This hardy little band must cope with two impending catastrophes—the facility’s closing and a monstrous blizzard—and a dozen or more personal bumps. The South Coast Rep design department does well by the former in the play’s world premiere, but helmer Martin Benson and his fine cast have problems with the intimate travails. The playwright hasn’t done much to help out. Read more…

Now running through April 27.

SOVEREIGN BODY at the Road Theatre

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Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

What happens when an illness of tsunami-like proportions lays waste to your life?

In Emilie Beck’s family drama Sovereign Body, Anna (Taylor Gilbert), a chef and restaurateur, lives happily with her husband (Kevin McCorkle), mom (Bryna Weiss) and two daughters: 20-year-old Callie (Dani Stephens), bursting to be out on her own, and Evie (Hannah Mae Sturges), a brainy opinionated teenager.  Read more..

Steven Leigh Morris – Stage Raw

Don’t let Emilie Beck’s new play fool you. It looks and sounds like it’s about a Pasadena family who happen to be atheists, but its poetical tentacles reach so much further beyond the tropes of the play’s squabbling upper-middle-class tribe. After all, the play isn’t just set in Pasadena, it’s set in Pasadena during “a time of drought.” That’s the first hint that this play has theology in its heart. Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Susan Sontag, in perhaps her most consequential work, argued with terminal persuasiveness that our drive to characterize illness as a symptom of moral culpability disables our ability to grapple with its reality, which is incontrovertibly oblivious to whether or not we comprehend it. Emilie Beck in her world premiere play, Sovereign Body, manages with some success both to invoke our need to confront fears of debilitation with symbolic fancies and to drive home the inexorable facts of mortality. Read more…

WHITE MARRIAGE at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble

Photo by Enci Box

Photo by Ron Sossi

Pauline Adamek  – Stage Raw

That director Ron Sossi decided to remount White Marriage might be an attempt to recapture the hit production for the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble that Sossi almost 40 years ago. In the here and now, however, the urgency of the play’s point is muted largely by Sossi’s own re-staging. Read more…

Neal Weaver  – ArtsInLA

Why would Bianca, a seemingly normal young woman, want to contract a “white”—i.e., unconsummated—marriage? That’s the question raised by Polish poet-playwright Tadeusz Różewicz’s surreal 1974 play. (The translation is by Adam Czerniawaki.) It’s set in an insular Polish town around the turn of the 19th century. On the surface it looks like a Chekhov play, with its family gatherings, picnics, and intimate conversations. But it blows the lid off Chekhov by examining the sexual underpinnings in a way no 19th century-writer could have done. Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

The Odyssey Theatre Ensemble had one of its early successes with its 1979 production of this 1974 surrealist play set in early 20th century Poland. Tadeusz Rozewicz, scarred but unbowed by the traumas of war during which he served in the Resistance, and today still a survivor at 92, boasts that acrid national sardonicism that grounds absurdism upon a diamond-hard psychosexual dissection of a patriarchal society.  Read more…

 Margaret Gray – LA Times

Apparently the Odyssey Theatre had a hit 35 years ago with Ron Sossi’s staging of “White Marriage,” a madcap, expressionistic 1975 sex romp by the avant-garde Polish writer Tadeusz Rózewicz.

The Odyssey’s current revival of this play, while directed — again by Sossi — and acted with admirable frisky gusto, nonetheless gives off a whiff of the time capsule. Some plays are for the ages, transcending culture and context, but “White Marriage,” which serves up the preserved sociopolitical preoccupations and heavy symbolism of 1970s Eastern European theater like meats in aspic, may not be among them.

Read more…

Now running through May 25.