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Archive for The Hollywood Reporter – Page 5

WHITE at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

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Photo by Douglas McBride

Pauline Adamek  – ArtsBeatLA

Continuing their commitment to presenting high quality theater for children, the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts is staging another imported show. The award-winning Catherine Wheels Theatre Company from Scotland presents White, a magical and delightful production for the very young, in the Wallis’ smaller space, the intimate Lovelace Studio Theater. Read more…

Dany Margolies  -  Arts In LA

In Scottish children’s theater company Catherine Wheels’s charming 35-minute theater piece, Cotton and Wrinkle take nurturing care of an all-white world. The two are clad in white, head to toe. They live in a white tent. They tend white birdhouses, grooming and dusting them, and then they carefully put a white egg in each tidy little abode.
Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Theater of substance for children as young as three to five that can effectively captivate adults as well requires not merely simplicity but also grand ambition, both of which are abundantly on display in White, a 35-minute burnished gem from Scotland’s Catherine Wheels Theatre Company. Read more…
Now running through March 23.

THE RECOMMENDATION at the Asylum Theatre

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  Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

IAMA Theatre Company returns from its off-Broadway run of two recent productions without breaking stride, with yet another robustly contemporary offering, again characterized by distinctively fresh language. The aspiring son of an Ethiopian immigrant father, Iskinder (Brandon Scott), finds himself simultaneously charmed, fascinated and resentful of his freshman dorm roommate at Brown, Brentwood-raised Feldman (Adam Shapiro), who represents a privileged ease in a connected world characterized by the power of the “recommendation.”   Read more…

Now running through March 9.

Love, Noel: The Letters And Songs Of Noel Coward at the Lovelace Studio Theater, Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

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Photo by Ed Krieger

 Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

The new intimate room at the old Beverly Hills post office has been nostalgically configured as a vintage supper club with alcohol and food service for this sentimental yet substantial cabaret performance of Noel Coward‘s words and music by a pair of genuine theatrical stars, John Glover and Judy Kuhn. In a satisfyingly full 90 minutes (including the de rigeur intermission to refill cocktails), Glover assumes the role, if not the persona, of the incomparably talented Coward, while Kuhn reads from the letters of his eminent female intimates.   Read more…

Bob Verini -   ArtsInLA

While the depths of the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts are given over to a magical reinvention of Noël Coward’s bourgeois romantic melodrama Brief Encounter, a black-box studio space on the ground floor brings out his brittle, witty, demimonde side in Love, Noël.   Read more…

Now running through February 23.

VILLON at the Odyssey Theatre

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Photo by Miki Turner

Dany Margolies  -  Arts In LA

This play is more about storytelling than story. It is about the way we make theater and observe theater. It is about words and how they are enhanced by a theatrical production. And yet, as the title character tells us in a surprisingly emotion-stirring moment at the play’s end, our story remains behind when we are long gone. Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

As played by Kevin Weisman, Mednick’s Villon swashes a squat figure, a charismatically ugly man of whose sexual power derives from bile and rage, along with a lofty confidence in the power and pointlessness of his gifts. Beaten and abused by his impoverished mother, he is adopted as a young adolescent by a scholar-priest (Gray Palmer) whose name he assumes.  Read more…
Now running through March 23.

THE WHIPPING MAN at the Pico Playhouse

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Dany Margolies  -  Arts In LA

This Matthew Lopez play would have made a fascinating two-hander. But the playwright added a third character and ratcheted up the intrigue, conflict, and shaping, making it an even more fascinating play. Like a fine puppeteer, director Howard Teichman pulls strings to alter the balance among the characters, adding even more to the interplay. Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

In the backwash of 12 Years a Slave, a film most notable for how it reflects on the present day rather than solely as a window into the past, Matthew Lopez‘s play The Whipping Man stands out as a different sort of inquiry into the meaning of freedom, which it accurately depicts as much as a matter of the soul and spirit as the body.  Read more…

Now playing through April 13.

VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE at the Mark Taper Forum

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Photo by Craig Schwartz

Bob Verini -   ArtsInLA

So you’re a distinguished playwright in your early 60s: a very Chekhovian age; an age when the mind drifts toward dreams once grasped, then compromised, then lost, and fixates on memories of simpler, happier times. You look around your Bucks County farmhouse and think, “Gosh, this looks a lot like one of those summer homes to which Chekhov’s characters retire to brood and despair and make one last lunge toward life.” There are even a few cherry trees—why, almost an orchard!—out back. And you say to yourself, “What if some modern Chekhovian characters lived here?   Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

With its Tony Award for Best Play, Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike presents the strongest comedy Broadway has to offer in a distinguished, sleekly professional production that makes the most of his frolicsome mash-up of melancholy and regret. A crazy-like-a-fox quilt of character and plot strands from The Sea Gull, The Three Sisters, The Cherry Orchard and Uncle Vanya set in today’s Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where the playwright lives, the story unfolds over an action-packed 24 hours that punctuates the otherwise uninterrupted monotony of the lives of siblings Vanya (Mark Blum) and Sonia (Kristine Nielsen) when their movie star sister Masha (Christine Ebersole) arrives for a visit with her boy-toy, hunky aspiring actor Spike (David Hull).    Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Despite the title, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is not a revival of a lost Anton Chekhov play, but a refashioning of Chekhovian themes in a modern setting. Acclaimed parodist Christopher Durang has written a hysterical comedy of family most foul that has been seamlessly transferred to the Mark Taper Forum, with apt direction by David Hyde Pierce, who played Vanya in the Broadway production. Read more…

Terry Morgan  -  Talkin’ Broadway

I’ve found that at least once a year there is a show that is loved and lauded by public and critics alike, a play that garners awards and big box office, and yet bafflingly leaves me completely cold. This year, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is that show. I was looking forward to seeing it; I like Christopher Durang and Anton Chekhov. I wasn’t in a bad mood and I held no grudge against the theatre company. Read more…

Les Spindle –  Frontiers L.A.

In its West Coast premiere, Center Theatre Group’s uproariously funny and surprisingly heartrending production of Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike offers endless delights. With character names, themes, plot elements and seamless shifts between humor and heartbreak that all evoke the masterworks of the great Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, Vanya feels like an affectionate tribute to the legendary scribe’s oeuvre, infused with up-to-the-minute satirical relevance. Read more…

Don Shirley – LA Observed

If you’re aware that it won the Tony Award for best play last year, you might assume that it was, well, the best new play — at least among the shallow pool of new plays that appear on Broadway. Also, many theatergoers – include me in this group – might look forward to Durang’s latest because of fond memories of some of his earlier work and the plays of Chekhov, which Durang is gently spoofing here.  Read more…

Pauline Adamek  – ArtsBeatLA

Learning that Christopher Durang’s comedy Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike—now playing at the Mark Taper Forum until March 16—won the 2013 Tony Award and the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play fills me with some degree of sadness. Read more…

Now running through March 16.

ABOVE THE FOLD at the Pasadena Playhouse

photo by Jim Cox

photo by Jim Cox

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

The model for Bernard Weinraub’s play Above the Fold, premiering at the Pasadena Playhouse, is Tom Wolfe’s Pulitzer Prize winner Bonfire of the Vanities. Though parallels can be seen between both works, the indictment of politicians, the press, and Caucasian and African-American leaders for instigating and celebritizing the racial divide, Weinraub’s work also maintains a ripped-from-the-headlines feel. Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Once upon a time journalism, at least as depicted on stage and film, looked like fun: crusading underpaid reporters uncovered dark secrets while wisecracking one another in fierce, playful competition. The 24-hour news cycle has leached much of the joy, and romance, from the profession, replacing it with celebrity, vanity and rhetorical cat-calling. Read more…

Pauline Adamek  – ArtsBeatLA

A toothless drama, Bernard Weinraub’s Above the Fold takes an inflammatory crime ‘ripped-from-the-headlines’ (based on the 2006 Duke University Lacrosse team rape case) and fails to convert it into compelling theater. Ambitious newspaper reporter Jane (Taraji  P. Henson) flies from New York to a Southern university where three white fraternity boys have been accused of raping a young African-American woman.  Read more…

Now running through February 23.

PASSION PLAY at the Odyssey Theatre

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Photo by Michael Gend

Steven Leigh Morris – LA Weekly

A quartet of Big Idea plays has opened over the past two weeks, exploring the intersections of art, psychology and history. Sarah Ruhl’s Passion Play, co-presented by the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble and Evidence Room, has been around since at least 2005, with productions at Arena Stage in Washington, Chicago’s Goodman Theatre and Yale Rep. No worries that it took so long to get here: A theological fantasia about a medieval passion play performed in a 1575 English village, then in 1934 Germany, and finally in South Dakota of the late 1960s isn’t going to age quickly. Read more…

Don Shirley – LA Stage Times

…. At the other end of the spectrum, Bart DeLorenzo and Evidence Room are introducing Ruhl’s intricate Passion Play to LA at the 99-seat Odyssey, which is co-producing it.

I recently wrote that Ruhl’s In the Next Room, or the vibrator play was her masterpiece of her plays that I had seen, although I noted that I hadn’t yet seen Passion Play.  Read more…

Terry Morgan  -  Talkin’ Broadway

Evidence Room has long been one of Los Angeles’ best and most ambitious theatre companies. The group has never been afraid to take on artistic challenges, from huge shows such as Pentecost or Berlin Circle to more intimate pieces such as Annapurna, not to mention a stylistic tour de force such as Margo Veil. It then makes perfect sense that the company would choose to do a play by Sarah Ruhl, one of the most adventurous modern American playwrights. Her work Passion Play examines how three groups of people in three different time periods (from 1575 to current day) are affected by performing the “passion play” detailing the arrest, crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

With its three acts set in 1575 Lancashire, 1934 Oberammergau in Nazi Germany, and from 1969-1984 in Spearpoint, South Dakota, the epically ambitious Passion Play presents the millennium-long tradition of local amateur stagings of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus as a kaleidoscopic metaphor for the aspirations of the individual and the community of faith in tension with the power of the State. Its amplitude marks an interestingly dogged departure from the more familiar allusive lyricism and incisive comedy of Sarah Ruhl’s other work (The Clean House, Dead Man’s Cell Phone, Eurydice). Read more…

Dany Margolies  -  Arts In LA

Doesn’t it gently smack of hubris when people play Christ and the Virgin Mary, whether onstage in the safety of a theater, or in communally staged Passion plays, or in the re-enactments the fervently religious attempt? Because, as Sarah Ruhl repeatedly shows in her Passion Play, most of us are deeply flawed. Read more…

Now running through March 16.

A WORD OR TWO at the Ahmanson Theatre

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Pauline Adamek  – ArtsBeatLA

An exuberant celebration of language is the most apt description for actor Christopher Plummer’s self-created one-man show. A Word or Two is playing through February 9, 2014 at the Ahmanson Theatre, downtown LA. Early on in the show, Plummer selects a book from a heap and begins to read from a lectern. But this is no ordinary stack of books—the stage is dominated by a massive and elegant sculpture made from a twisting pile of books, piled on top of each other in a stack that curves upwards to resemble a spiral staircase and magically suspended in mid air. The whimsical and slightly surreal scenic design is beautifully realized by Robert Brill. Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Few enticements can feel as comforting as an invitation into the inner life of the protean Christopher Plummer. Through the blandishments of his seductive voice, he shares a lifetime of escape into the world of literature. As a solitary and painfully shy boy, books provided a world in which he could safely seek adventure and find guidance for living.   Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

As a child in Canada, the legendary actor Christopher Plummer spent his childhood devouring the fictional worlds created by books. He imbibed on the adventures of Lewis Carroll’s Alice. As he got older, the works of Shakespeare shaped his talent as an actor. Now that he has reached his later years, he traces his past and accepts his future through the teachings of his favorite authors. He shares the joy of how the written world formed his life by celebrating the books and poems that enriched it in his solo show A Word or Two. .
Read more…

Steven Leigh Morris  – LA Weekly

The demise of language is the big idea at the Ahmanson, where Christopher Plummer performs A Word or Two, a one-man rumination on the books that shaped him. As directed by Des McAnuff, this is a genial, candid, amusing and bemusing soliloquy of recollections and recitations by an elderly gent who fears that our culture is discarding the sanctity of words. Read more…
Now running through February 9.

An ILIAD at the Broad Stage

Review: A poet embedded among troops lives to tell ‘An Iliad’

Photo by Lawrence K. Ho

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

If war and conflict must be begrudgingly considered the natural condition of Mankind, then The Iliad of Homer, voiced and written some 2,800 years ago, remains the most profound exploration of these primal drives to domination and destruction. The act of combat has never been more piercingly described (not even by Tolstoy or Mailer, let alone Lone Survivor), nor its qualities of rage, savagery and comradeship more intensely conveyed.
Read more…

Bob Verini -   ArtsInLA

An Iliad, at Santa Monica’s Broad Stage, is a staggering theatrical event, and if you’re reading this you doubtless have an interest in such things and should purchase a ticket without delay. Actor Denis O’Hare (American Horror Story; True Blood; Broadway’s Take Me Out) and director Lisa Peterson (The Geffen’s The Escort and CTG’s Water & Power) have distilled a crackerjack 100-minute narrative out of Homer’s epic, one which yields potent commentary on war and the men who fight wars, even as it just plain enthralls.   Read more...
Now running through February 2.

FOXFINDER at the Pasadena Playhouse

Dany Margolies – Arts In LA

Photo by Owen Carey

Photo by Owen Carey

Dawn King’s play is set in Britain, in the near future. As with all good literature, it’s meant to represent the here and now. So when an inspector arrives at a struggling farm, interrogating the farmers too inappropriately and searching the home too thoroughly, a certain Notorious Safety Administration may come to American minds. Never fear, though: The word government appears only once in King’s script.
Read more…

Myron Meisel – Hollywood Reporter

Set on a distant, hardscrabble farm in a future designated by playwright Dawn King as “Soon,” Foxfinder posits a paranoid government supervising the food supply by intrusively scrutinizing family plots for contamination by feared foxes, wily conspirators responsible for all social ills and who provide a pretext for authoritarian witch-hunts.  Read more…

Steven Leigh Morris – LA Weekly

The story in Dawn King’s Foxfinder — being presented by Furious Theater Company at the Pasadena Playhouse’s Carrie Hamilton Theatre — attempts to offer a window onto the soul of our body politic. It’s a futuristic fable set in the countryside, somewhere in the north of England, that’s a bit like a blend of Tartuffe and The Crucible.
Read more…

Pauline Adamek  – ArtsBeatLA

Somewhere on a farm, in rainy rural England, a farming couple nervously awaits a government inspector. When the tall young man shows up at their door, drenched and firing questions at them before he even enters the premises, the tension of Dawn King’s disturbing play begins to build. Directed by Damaso Rodriguez, British playwright Dawn King’s play imagines a world in the not-too-distant future where a totalitarian regime grills and monitors its citizens in a bizarre fashion, subjecting them to intrusive interrogation and unrealistic accountability. Read more

Sharon Perlmutter  -  Talkin’ Broadway

Foxfinder is one of those plays in which the rules of the universe in which it takes place slowly unfold. The action takes place at an English farmhouse; the program helpfully tells us the time is “Soon.” It is, actually, a useful piece of information, as you would think from our farmers’ appearance (and use of a pocket watch) that we might be in the past, rather than the future. Read more…
Now running through February 2.

PETER AND THE STARCATCHER at the Ahmanson Theatre

Pauline Adamek – LA Weekly

Much like the dastardly pirates terrorizing the high seas in his fun Peter and the Starcatcher, playwright Rick Elice has ransacked the best of British kids lit, giving us plucky, pint-sized sleuths fresh from the Boy’s Own adventures and larger-than-life characters straight out of rowdy pantomimes. Based on the 2006 novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, the tale is an imagined prequel to one of England’s most beloved plays, Peter Pan, Or, The Boy Who Never Grew Up.
Read more…

Peter

Photo by Jenny Anderson

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

The steely durability of J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan mythology gets mightily flexed in this willfully imaginative fantasia of Victorian music hall tropes, modern mash-up gestures, Story Theater techniques and period nancy humor. Shameless puns, alliteration, spoonerisms and daft nonsequiturs abound.
Read more…

 

Now running through January 12.