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Archive for The Hollywood Reporter – Page 4

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM at the Broad Stage

Photo by Simon Annand

Photo by Simon Annand

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Like many of the best things in life, overindulgence, even with the classics, can lead to irritability. One could well be sated for life with A Midsummer Night’s Dream (probably the most frequently mounted of all Shakespeare comedies) after landmark productions by Max Reinhardt, Peter Brook and Peter Hall, the Benjamin Britten opera, the George Balanchine ballet, not to mention a classic Czech animated feature or a recent starry Hollywood version. That is to say, there had better be a compelling reason to tour any new version internationally.  Read more…

Dany Margolies  -  Arts In LA

Something is unusual about a production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in which Hippolyta is the most interesting character on the stage. While the audience enters the theater in this Bristol Old Vic touring production directed by Tom Morris (one of the original directors of War Horse), Saskia Portway, who plays Hippolyta, is onstage, laboring in what appears to be a weather-beaten atelier. Portway is engrossed in sculpting or fixing something. Read more…

Now running through April 19.

TOP GIRLS at the Antaeus Company

latopgirlsTopGirlsDaniel-G-300x200 (1)Pauline Adamek  – Stage Raw

During the ‘greed is good’ ‘80s and the tumultuous era of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, London-born playwright Caryl Churchill informed her scathing political satires with an examination of feminist themes — challenging and charting the evolving notions of gender and sexuality in the workplace. Her plays were bold, different, and felt thrillingly immediate. They were of their time, yet they still scorch.  Read more…

Terry Morgan  -  Talkin’ Broadway

Top Girls, by Caryl Churchill, is a play considered a modern classic, but for some unknown reason it doesn’t seem to get produced very often. One would think there would be quite a lot of theatre companies looking for a play with plenty of interesting roles for women, but I’ve been reviewing theatre in L.A. since 1997, and this is the first time I’ve seen it done. Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

The 1982 Top Girls starts with a loopily sustained tour de force: a dinner party to celebrate the elevation of Marlene (Rebecca Mozo) to a top management post at her London job placement firm at which the guests are all legendary prototypical women of centuries past. From the mythical 9th-century Pope Joan (Elizabeth Swain) to Lady Nijo (Kimiko Gelman), the 13th century concubine to the Japanese Emperor (and later itinerant Buddhist nun), to Griselda (Shannon Lee Clair), the prototypical obedient wife from Boccaccio, Petrarch, Chaucer and numerous operas, to Dull Gret (aka Mad Meg) (Abigail Marks), a folkloric Flemish peasant immortalized in the painting by Bruegel the Elder in 1562, and finally celebrity Victorian naturalist and explorer Isabella Bird (Karianne Flaathen), they comprise one helluva guest list. Read more.

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

In the famous first scene of Top Girls, Caryl Churchill’s 1982 play about gender and class, a group of celebrated women from history and literature gather at a restaurant for food, drink and convivial conversation. They arrive at the behest of Marlene (Sally Hughes and Rebecca Mozo, alternating in this double-cast production at Antaeus Company), the steely up-and-coming manager of a top-notch London employment agency and an enthusiastic supporter of Thatcherism, with its twin notions of free market and personal responsibility. Read more…

Now running through May 4.

SLOWGIRL at the Geffen Playhouse

"Slowgirl"

Photo by Katie Falkenberg

Margaret Gray – LA Times

In Greg Pierce’s “Slowgirl” at the Geffen Playhouse, 17-year-old Becky (Rae Gray) comes to visit her Uncle Sterling (William Petersen), who left the U.S. years earlier for Costa Rica.

She’s freaked out by his primitive jungle lifestyle, which is charmingly evoked by Richard Woodbury’s sound design and the tropical leaves that hang above Takeshi Kata’s delicate, bare-bones set, configured tennis-court style with the audience on either side (an approach that heightens naturalism but also impedes sightlines). Read more…

Dany Margolies  -  Arts In LA

Two very human, rather intriguing characters reveal their wounds and their coping mechanisms in this Greg Pierce play. Under Randall Arney’s direction, their story plays out with universality and specificity. But the crux of the work is in the seconds when nothing is said, building to an electrifying moment of crushing silence.  Read more...

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Sterling (William Petersen), a former lawyer turned recluse in the Costa Rican jungle is surprised by the arrival of the 17-year-old niece he barely knows, Becky (Rae Gray), a loquacious high-schooler apparently hot-footing it out of town for a week’s obscurity in the wilderness. Unaccustomed to being communicative, Sterling slowly acquires a sense of Becky’s travail, disconcertingly analogous to his own retreat from the hurly burly of the censorious opinions of others, and their individual remorse over each’s moral negligences.  Read more…

Pauline Adamek  – ArtsBeatLA

“OMIGOD! Like, whatEVER!” A taciturn man in exile shares the stage with a gratingly garrulous teen in Greg Pierce’s one act two-hander Slowgirl, now playing at the Geffen until April 27.

Slowgirl is about a guy who, we learn, ran away from some scandal in the US seven years previously and retired to Costa Rica. William Petersen plays ‘Uncle Sterling.’ He has built a labyrinth on his property that he walks in a meditative way daily.  Read more…
Now playing through April 27.

HARMONY at the Ahmanson Theatre

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Les Spindle –  Edge on the Net

Beloved pop songwriter-singer Barry Manilow (“Copacabana,” “Mandy”) and his longtime collaborator, lyricist-librettist Barry Sussman, are fulfilling a longtime dream with “Harmony,” their seriocomic musical. The show was introduced in an appealing production in 1997 at La Jolla Playhouse in Southern California. This project had always aimed for Broadway, though additional work on the piece was clearly called for in that initial rendition. Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

In the new musical with music by Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman, Jews and gentiles find Harmony together, celebrating their differences in a fascistic world that stomps on individuality. The play may still need a little fine-tuning, but as a whole, Harmony is an enriching experience with several memorable numbers. Many flaws can be overlooked due to this production’s excellent cast and insightful staging by Tony Speciale. Read more…

Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

This potent new musical, with music by Barry Manilow and book and lyrics by Bruce Sussman, focuses on a fascinating, little-known footnote to history. It tells the largely factual tale of the Comedian Harmonists, the six-man singing group who were the first boy-band to become, in the 1930s, an international success. (Composer Manilow calls them the Beatles of their day.)  Read more..

Don Shirley – LA Observed

Center Theatre Group has been obsessed with young guys’ bands in recent years. Just since 2013 began, CTG offered the forgettable new musicals “Backbeat” (about the early Beatles) and “The Black Suits” (about a Long Island garage band.) The 2011-12 season at CTG’s Ahmanson Theatre included post-Broadway runs of the dramatically threadbare “American Idiot” (with a Green Day score) and “Fela!” (about the Afro-pop star.) Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

 A long-gestating dream project by composer Barry Manilow and his collaborating wordsmith Bruce Sussman (Copacabana: The Musical, the neglected Disney animated feature Oliver and Company), Harmony is an ambitious musical doggedly committed to mimicking its betters: near beer Sondheim, watered down Kander & Ebb, tempered Rodgers & Hammerstein. Read more…

Now running through April 13.

CLOSELY RELATED KEYS at the Lounge Theatre

Photo by Ed Krieger

Photo by Ed Krieger

Deborah Klugman – ArtsBeatLA

Sporting a message of sisterhood and tolerance, Wendy Graf’s well-intentioned but clumsy drama builds around two half-sisters: Julia (Diarra Kilpatrick), an ambitious attorney living and working in Manhattan, and Neyla (Yvonne Huff), her newly discovered sibling, whom Julia’s father had sired when he was a soldier in Iraq.   Read more…

Dany Margolies  -  Arts In LA

Two strong women come to grips with their shared family history in this world premiere by Wendy Graf. But in comparing and contrasting their reactions to the play’s events, Graf packs in so many ideas that each idea starts to feel superficially presented. In addition, Graf makes one of the women so in need of an arc, the audience can predict where their story is going. Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

An interesting story told with intelligence and sensitivity, if not quite command and control, Closely Related Keys is poised precariously on the cusp of the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, a moment in time when residual paranoia remained as raw as the vulnerability suppressed by its protagonist…Read more…

Now running through March 30.

HENRY V at Pacific Resident Theatre

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Photo by Erika Boxler

Margaret Gray – LA Times

The Pacific Resident Theatre’s new production of Shakespeare’s “Henry V,” directed by Guillermo Cienfuegos, is about as spare and unvarnished as the theater gets. The set consists of a few folding chairs in the blackest, boxiest of conceivable black-box stages.

There’s one prop: a tinny-looking crown. Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Forget the spectacle of the movie versions of Henry V by Laurence Olivier or Kenneth Branagh (each making their film directing debuts). This is a Shakespeare of the imagination, consistent with a text originally conceived for a less than lavish playhouse, the Bard of resourceful invention and indefatigable conceit. Eleven actors, seven in multiple roles, commence with a paperback and loose sides at a reading table that is quickly cast aside as the Chorus (Alex Fernandez) exuberantly conjures up in our fancy the scale of great nations inexorably impelled to conflict upon a sanguinary battlefield. Read more…

Neal Weaver  – ArtsInLA

Shakespeare spread the story of King Henry V over four plays. We first hear of him, but don’t see him, in Richard II, as Prince Hal, the wastrel prodigal son of King Henry IV. In Henry IV, Part 1, we see Prince Hal’s adventures among the London lowlife and his friendship with the fat rogue Sir John Falstaff. Hal saves the life of King Henry in the war against the rebel lords, kills the warrior Hotspur in single combat, and begins to earn the respect of the king and restore his tainted reputation.
Read more…
Now running through May 11.

MY NAME IS ASHER LEV at the Fountain Theatre

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Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Chaim Potok’s 1972 bestseller My Name is Asher Lev has been deftly adapted by Aaron Posner and receives a peerless realization by a splendid cast. Posner reduces the novel to its essential conflicts, yet rather than diluting the impact he effectively intensifies the immediacy of the emotional payoffs. Read more…

Don Shirley – LA Observed

…….at the Fountain Theatre in east Hollywood, “My Name Is Asher Lev” explores another form of Jewish liberation — only here the escape isn’t from slave masters but from the family-enforced strictures of a Chasidic brand of orthodox Judaism itself. Read more…

Neal Weaver  – ArtsInLA

The novel My Name Is Asher Lev, by the late Chaim Potok, is a bildungsroman about the youth and coming of age of a young artist, whose vocation as a painter puts him at odds with his religious faith, his family, and his community. The novel offers an interior drama, as well as an expansive view covering a period of 20 years with a multitude of characters. Read more…

Now running through April 13.

50 SHADES; THE MUSICAL at the Kirk Douglas Theatre

 

Photo by Ed Krieger

Photo by Ed Krieger

 

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Word is out: the three 50 Shades of Grey books have reached 100 million in sales, taking only a few years to equal the entire James Bond ouevre over decades, making it every bit as ripe for spoofery. While this musical parody may never reach the hilarious heights of the gold standard for this sort of japery, The Book of Mormon, confined as it is to a rather pedestrian target, this gleeful cataloguing of flavors of sex beyond plain vanilla hits the giggly bulls-eye with unerring consistency. Read more…

Now running through March 30.

CRY TROJANS (TROILUS AND CRESSIDA) at REDCAT

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Photo by James Allister Sprang

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Although The Wooster Group has been a frequent visitor to Los Angeles (most recently a year ago with Eugene O’Neill’s early seafaring plays), this new mounting of its glum fantasia on a text by William Shakespeare represents the company’s first world premiere production to debut outside New York (not counting a dozen warm-up previews at its Performing Garage home). The piece originated in a collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company in which the Woosters played the Trojans and the RSC the Greeks.  Read more…

Neal Weaver  – ArtsInLA

NYC’s The Wooster Group, which created this production, has always tended toward the highbrow and intellectual. In trying to describe the company, two words come to mind: brilliant and wayward. Brilliant because whatever the company does is done with great skill and polish, and wayward because its approach to the material is often freewheeling and eccentric—and sometimes just plain off-the-wall. Read more…

Now running through March 9.

A STEADY RAIN at the Odyssey Theatre

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Photo by Enci

Dany Margolies  -  Arts In LA

A steady rain falls on the lives of two Chicago cops, but it can’t wash away the pain and hatred and guilt that live in them. Though one seems to be the “good cop” and the other “bad,” nothing is clear-cut in this Keith Huff play. Read more…

Pauline Adamek  – ArtsBeatLA

In Keith Huff’s casually profane police procedural A Steady Rain, two hard-boiled men converse with each other and with us, breaking the fourth wall to relate a familiar workplace saga. The men, Joey (Thomas Vincent Kelly) and Denny (Sal Viscuso), are grizzled Chicago cops and partners–salt of the earth working stiffs–worn down and somewhat cynical from years of pounding the beat as a desirable promotion to detective status continues to elude them both. We gain an insight into their murky friendship, their private lives and how they intersect.   Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Most renown for its sold-out 100-performance run on Broadway in 2009 with the outsized marquee power of stars Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman, A Steady Rain finds perhaps a more congenial home in the basic-black intimacy of the Odyssey under the guidance of Chicago’s Steppenwolf co-founder Jeff Perry (who plays White House Chief of Staff Cyrus Beene on Scandal).   Read more…

Les Spindle –  Frontiers L.A.

Previously presented on Broadway in 2009, starring Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig, Keith Huff’s hard-hitting drama A Steady Rain packs the testosterone-charged punch of a David Mamet play, coupled with a surprisingly tender portrait of a complex male friendship.   Read more…

Now running through April 20.

BRIEF ENCOUNTER at the Bram Goldsmith Theater at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

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 Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Possibly his most recognized work, Noel Coward’s screenplay for David Lean’s 1945 British film Brief Encounter, with its proper and decent married lovers resolutely resisting adultery, was indubitably the adult romance of its time, with the swells of Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto counterpointing the personal sacrifice of ardor for order and honor. What could be more archaic or ripe for ridicule in an era characterized by hookups on the one hand, and the puritanical concept of an “emotional affair” on the other, making a hash of moral distinctions based on actual behavior? Read more…

Pauline Adamek  – ArtsBeatLA

Noël Coward’s 1936 one-act play Still Life was expanded into a feature-length film, directed in 1945 by David Lean and scripted by Coward.

Now UK’s Kneehigh Theatre has brought their version to the Wallis, adapted and beautifully directed by Emma Rice. In this lively staging (which essentially is a mixture of the film and the short stage play) the basic plot line remains yet it is spun into a frothy confection of bittersweet romance enhanced by lush cinematic projected visuals, puppetry, live music, song and dance interludes and mild comedic flourishes. Read more…

Sharon Perlmutter  -  Talkin’ Broadway

I often think it’s a shame that most of our medium-to-large stages in town are generally only used to bring in out-of-town shows, instead of highlighting some of our best local companies. I’d love to see what Evidence Room or Antaeus could do with a bigger stage and a decent budget, for example. Read more...

Now running through March 23.

DISASSEMBLY at Theatre of Note

DISASSEMBLY - 3

Photo by Eric Neil Gutierriez

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

While the overarching message in playwright Steve Yockey’s fractured farce Disassembly isn’t quite clear, its clever irony is nonetheless unmistakable.  Read more...

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

The often cutting-edge company Theatre of NOTE opts for undiluted black comedy in Disassembly, in which multiple stab wounds and murderous mayhem are a source of shudderingly persistent laughs. L.A. Weekly Theater Award winning playwright Steve Yockey (Very Still & Hard to See) finds contemporary twists on venerable templates like Arsenic and Old Lace or You Can’t Take It With You by honoring their farcical conventions while shattering their more circumspect norms with an up-to-date uninhibited aggression. Read more…

Now running through March 22.