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Archive for TheaterMania

SPAMILTON at the Kirk Douglas Theatre

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig SchwartzJonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

No one parodies the Great White Way like Gerard Alessandrini. For 35 years, he’s made audiences sidesplittingly laugh with his Forbidden Broadway series where, through song, he’s shattered the idols of Broadway like Ethel Merman, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Mary Martin. In Spamilton, Alessandrini tightens his target to assassinate the biggest musical sensation of the 21st century, Hamilton.
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Now running through January 7

BRIGHT STAR at the Ahmanson theatre

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

“Bright Star” is a fairly new musical by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell. It had a life on Broadway last year and has arrived at L.A.’s Ahmanson Theatre.
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Bright Star has so many winning attributes that one can easily forget its shortcomings and simply enjoy the experience. The music by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell employs a lilting bluegrass sound, Walter Bobbie’s direction is stellar, and Carmen Cusack gives a performance you will remember for years to come.
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Erin Conley – On Stage and Screen

Trouble and happiness often go hand in hand, and there is plenty of both to be found in Bright Star, the charming bluegrass musical that just launched its national tour at Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles after a Broadway run last year.

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

The opening lyrics of the opening song of Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s bluegrass/country western infused musical Bright Star, currently starting its National Tour at the Ahmanson Theatre, tell you what to expect.
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Now running through November 19

UNDERNEATH THE LINTEL at the Geffen Playhouse

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Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

It seems Arye Gross hasn’t aged well. As the actor emerges onstage at the Geffen’s Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater, he puffs and sweats and walks creakily.
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

The biggest mystery of Underneath the Lintel is how the unspectacular quest for the late fees of a 113-year-old past due library book could make for such a riveting evening. Playwright Glen Berger turns this minuscule task into a reflection of the human experience and the desperation to find meaning in an unfulfilled life.
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Now running through November 19

 

OUR TOWN at the Pasadena Playhouse

Photo by Jenny Graham

Photo by Jenny Graham

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

In Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, the Stage Manager guides audiences through the fictional New Hampshire town of Grover’s Corners. She confides in the audience, shares secrets, and points out revelations. Which is why the casting of Jane Kaczmarek in Pasadena Playhouse‘s production makes sense.
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Frances Baum Nicholson –The Stage Struck Review

When Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” first appeared in 1938, its production was a radical departure from what theater had been up until that time. This intimate portrait of small town New Hampshire at the start of the 20th Century would prove to modern audiences what theater could do that film (and later television) could not…..
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Hoyt Hilsman  -  Huffington Post

The Pasadena Playhouse opened its season – the first under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Danny Feldman – with a truly memorable staging of Thornton Wilder’s iconic play. Considered by many to be the greatest American play, Our Town presents a daunting challenge for theaters and theater artists.
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Now running through October 22

 

HEAD OF PASSES at the Mark Taper Forum

Photo by Craig Schwartz.

Photo by Craig Schwartz.

Frances Baum Nicholson –The Stage Struck Review

Every once in a while one comes across a performance which may outweigh the play it takes place in. In this case, a good play becomes greater because of one person who takes a playwright’s words and their own and their director’s understandings and makes of them something much more than the sum of those parts. This is Phylicia Rashad in “Head of Passes,” now open at the Mark Taper Forum.
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Throughout Act 1 of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Head of Passes, now at the Mark Taper Forum, Phylicia Rashad plays a religious woman on her last legs who chooses her birthday to unravel family secrets. Nothing in that act prepares audiences for the awe-striking flow of passion that emits from the famous actor in Act 2 as she spews fury at God……..
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Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

In Head of Passes, playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney strives to create a narrative of epic proportion, but with only moderate success. Directed by Tina Landau at the Mark Taper Forum, the play nonetheless is worth seeing for the questions it poses, the production’s finely-tuned ensemble, and the lead performance by Phylicia Rashad as a devout woman sorely tested by her God.
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Now running through October 22

 

THE MADWOMAN OF CHAILLOT at A Noise Within

Photo by Craig Schwartz)

Photo by Craig Schwartz)

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Jean Giraudoux’s The Madwoman of Chaillot (translated by Maurice Valency) has always been one of my favorite plays. Written in 1943 and premiering after the playwright’s death in 1945, it’s a witty whimsical takedown of perfidious capitalism and a paean to the artists and free spirits who oppose them.
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The Stage Struck Review

Jean Giraudoux’s classic play “The Madwoman of Chaillot” is one of those plays everyone should see at some point in life. Though written in 1943, during the Nazi occupation of France, and only performed after the playwright’s death, it is often associated with a celebration of the end of tyranny. Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

French author Jean Giraudoux’s classic comedy The Madwoman of Chaillot was written in 1943, while Germany occupied France, only for it to be first produced in December 1945 when the war had come to a halt. Yet in today’s world, when fracking, contaminated water, and plutocracy flood the national headlines, the play seems ripped from our daily headlines.
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Now running through November 11

A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE GYNECOLOGIC ONCOLOGY UNIT AT MEMORIAL SLOAN KETTERING CANCER CENTER OF NEW YORK CITY at the Geffen Playhouse

 

(© Chris Whitaker)

(© Chris Whitaker)

Jonas Schwartz –  TheaterMania

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center of New York City tosses around the word “funny” often. Besides landing in the title itself, the characters constantly tell others they are funny, declare that they themselves are funny, and attempt funny jokes….Read more…

Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

The title of the latest show at Westwood’s Geffen Playhouse is unwieldy and less than truthful. It sets the audience up for as much disappointment as its prime character, Karla, seems to have faced for much of her life. Read more…

Now running through September 30

BIG NIGHT at the Kirk Douglas Theatre

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Big Night is one of those sitcom-like stage comedies that tries super hard to tackle big themes but trips on the very glibness it purports to satirize. Read more…

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

Big Night is a play with aspirations bigger than it can deliver on. The new work by playwright Paul Rudnick wants to make grand statements and provoke gnarly debates about important social issues, but complex issues need to be explored carefully — they’re not best served by being glossed over to get to the next Big Idea, a trap Big Night falls into all too often.   Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

While it is clear that the recent tragedy at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and the regularity of mass shootings have weighed heavily on comedy writer Paul Rudnick’s mind, his distillation of these heady conversations about gun violence and mental health come wrapped in too shiny of a package in the form of his play, Big Night.
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Frances Baum Nicholson – The Daily Breeze

It’s not a new topic, but the superficiality of the film industry seems an easy and thus fairly constant pick as the foundation for an examination of modern ethics.
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 Now running through October 8

 

A TALE OF TWO CITIES at A Noise Within

Craig Schwartz

Craig Schwartz

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens has been a staple of western literature since its publication in 1859, and has been adapted many times over—as movies, television mini-series, radio shows, a short-lived Broadway musical, and plays.
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

A solid cast enlivens Charles Dickens’s epic A Tale of Two Cities at A Noise Within, which is tautly directed by Geoff Elliott and Julia Rodriguez-Elliott, who drive home comparisons between the bedlam in 18th-century Europe and the current political climate.

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Now running through November 19

HAMILTON at the Pantages Theatre

Photo by Joan Marcus

Photo by Joan Marcus

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

So much has been written about Hamilton since its debut two and a half years ago. This musical, which has won just about every award it was eligible for including the Best Musical Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, has embedded itself in the pop culture zeitgeist more than any musical ever has. Read more…

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

When Hamilton was performed for the Obamas in 2016, Michelle Obama is said to have called it “the best piece of art in any form that I have ever seen in my life.” Did she overstate things? Now that I’ve seen the show (for the first time), I don’t think she did. Read more…

Jonas Schwartz - TheaterMania

So often, expectations can overwhelm an actual experience, but the gripping Hamilton at the Pantages lives up to the hype.   Read more…

Dany Margolies  -  Arts In LA

How.” That’s the first word of Hamilton. The word, as a question, repeats throughout.    Pretty much everyone who has seen or heard this musical agrees it is genius. The question remains, how did Lin-Manuel Miranda come up with this miracle? Read more…

Pauline Adamek  -  ArtsBeatLA

When a touring Broadway show finally comes to town, coasting on a tidal wave of hype and critical acclaim, it’s difficult to make a clear-headed assessment of its value. Following its fêted move from the East Village to Broadway, composer and performer Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton has taken up residence at the glamorous Pantages Theater in Hollywood. There will performances through December 30, 2017.  Read more…

Now running through December 30

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

KING OF THE YEES at the Kirk Douglas Theatre

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

Fans of the fourth wall — that imaginary wall separating performers from their audience — should steer clear of Lauren Yee’s new play King of the Yees, now playing at the Kirk Douglas in Culver City. But for more adventurous folks, those willing to throw caution (and conventional theatrical tradition) to the wind, the show proves a fun ride, full of twists and turns. Read more…

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

The many pleasures of King of the Yees, directed by Joshua Kahan Brody at the Mark Taper Forum, emerge not from playwright Lauren Yee’s rambling unfocused script but from the abundant talents of its versatile ensemble and the production’s colorful staging. Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

There are intriguing themes considered in Lauren Yee’s comedy King of the Yees, currently running at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, particularly about the playwriting process and how artists begin with a preconceived notion only to broaden their scope as they discover the truth of these subjects.
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Frances Baum Nicholson – The Daily Breeze

There is a moment toward the end of a favorite documentary where people who grew up in the then-segregated African-American neighborhood around Central and Slauson in L.A. talked about the loss of that neighborhood with regret. Entrance into the mainstream was great, they say, but they lost those close-knit community ties. Read more…

Now running through August 6