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Archive for TheaterMania

DANCIN’ at the Old Globe in San Diego

Photo by Julieta Cervantes

Photo by Julieta Cervantes

Jonas Schwartz-Owen – Theatermania

In 1978, Bob Fosse created an evening spotlighting the artistry of dance called Dancin‘, utilizing songs from the ’70s, previous decades, and classical music. Currently at the Old Globe in San Diego, the revival of Bob Fosse’s Dancin’ is having its pre-Broadway run, under the direction of Wayne Cilento, one of the original cast members. Though many Fosse routines have been re-created for this production, the flavor and the meticulousness of his genius is missing. Read more…

Now running through May 29

WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF at Geffen Playhouse

Photo by Jeff Lorch

Photo by Jeff Lorch

Terry Morgan  -  Artsbeat LA

Bitchiness, thy name is Albee. Has there ever been a play that reveled in so much in mean-spirited badinage as Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Sour wit courses through the blackened veins of this show like acidic blood, or more specifically like the booze the characters actively embalm themselves with.  Read more…

Jonas Schwartz-Owen – Theatermania

Edward Albee’s classic Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? exposes the crud hidden behind the closed doors of American households between Eisenhower’s cheery post-war tranquility and John F. Kennedy’s focus-on-the-future optimism. No couple performs an S&M act, even without whips and chains, as depraved as George and Martha. Reveling in the play’s bitterness and booze, Zachary Quinto and Calista Flockhart make a cruel twosome in this harrowing and darkly hilarious production at the Geffen Playhouse. Read more…

Peter Debruge – Variety

The trick of stage acting comes in playing the same thing every night as if it were happening for the first time, right there in front of the audience’s eyes. But once-controversial American classic “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” calls for something different. Edward Albee wrote a play in which we get to observe the latest round in a cruel and competitive game of escalating insults between career-stalled history professor George and Martha, the wife who makes vicious sport of her disappointment. Read more…

Harker Jones – BroadwayWorld

Edward Albee’s Tony Award-winning play about discontent and despair in 1960s academia is brought to blazing, blistering life by director Gordon Greenberg at The Geffen Playhouse, its themes and anxieties as relevant as ever on its 60th anniversary. Read more…

Now running through May 29

TRAYF at Geffen Playhouse

34_ben_hirschhorn-_ilan_eskenazi-_photo_by_jeff_lorch

Jonas Schwartz-Owen – Theatermania

Lindsay Joelle’s dramedy Trayf transports audiences to the structured world of the Hasidim, whose strict laws and customs may be outside the understanding of even some Jewish audience members. Director Maggie Burrows, with deft stage direction and sets, visually conveys the danger, heartbreak, and wonderment found in exploring the secular world outside. Read more…

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

The grass is always greener, they say.

In Trayf, Lindsay Joelle’s tender winning play about friendship, an 18-year-old Hasidic Jew longs to experience something of the outside world, while a non-Jewish acquaintance who works in a mid-Manhattan record store is drawn to a more rigid and circumscribed way of life. Read more…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

The Oxford Dictionary defines trayf as “food not satisfying the requirements of Jewish law”. Lindsay Joelle’s play Trayf, currently receiving its West Coast Premiere at The Geffen Playhouse, deals with a lot more than food, but provides plenty of food for thought. Read more…

Now running through April 10

ASSASSINS at East West Players

Photo by Steven Lam

Photo by Steven Lam

Jonas Schwartz-Owen – Theatermania

The East West Players production of Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s brilliant, jagged pill of a musical Assassins is thought-provoking and harrowing. Read more…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

The Stephen Sondheim one-act musical Assassins has gotten mixed reviews and heated pro and con reactions since it debuted in 1990. What else would you expect for a musical about a group of misfits who took their political gripes and desire for attention to the pinnacle of anarchy by choosing to assassinate (or at least attempt to) a president of the United States. Read more…

Now running through March 20

 

POWER OF SAIL at Geffen Playhouse

Photo by Jeff Lorch

Photo by Jeff Lorch

Terry Morgan  -  Artsbeat LA

One of the core American principles is the right to free speech. However, this glorious principle runs into trouble when truly evil groups such as the Ku Klux Klan or Nazis wish to spread their poisonous propaganda. Read more…

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

In a society that celebrates diversity and free speech, how tolerant should open-minded people be when the voice being given a platform is one of hate? Playwright Paul Grellong lays out the arguments on both sides in this somewhat wordy but ultimately trenchant drama featuring Bryan Cranston in a superbly crafted pivotal performance. Read more…

Jonas Schwartz-Owen – TheaterMania

A timely tragedy plays out in Paul Grellong’s Power of Sail, indicting educators for placing discussion of hate — and the First Amendment — above safety and decency. Though the script loses focus, the cast assembled at the Geffen Playhouse by director Weyni Mengesha, led by Emmy- and- Tony-winner Bryan Cranston, invests in their characters to make a stirring, if chaotic, theatrical experience. Read more…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

In Power of Sail, his play currently receiving a stellar production in its West Coast Premiere at the Geffen Theatre in Westwood, playwright Paul Grellong examines the constitutional right to free speech in America, the growing threat of White Supremacy and the masks people wear to cover their true feelings and actions even in the hallowed halls of Academia. Read more…

Now running through March 20

 

EVERYBODY’S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE at the Ahmanson Theatre

 

Photo by Johan Persson

Photo by Johan Persson

Tracey Paleo – Broadway World

It was just what we needed!”

The audience response was joyous. Indeed, that was the very vocal sentiment of so many in the crowd after a triumphant opening night at the Ahmanson Theatre downtown Los Angeles….
Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Of course, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, since its star, Layton Williams, is an unbridled force of nature. Read more…

Now running through February 2o

A CHRISTMAS CAROL at the Ahmanson Theatre

Photo by Joan Marcus

Photo by Joan Marcus

Jonas Schwartz-Owen – Theatermania

The holiday season has come to the Ahmanson Theatre, where London’s Old Vic Theatre has installed its annual A Christmas Carol, with Bradley Whitford playing Scrooge.
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Now running through January 1, 2022

THE BAND’S VISIT at the Dolby Theatre

Photo by Evan Zimmerman

Photo by Evan Zimmerman

Jonas Schwartz-Owen – Theatermania

…The enchanting musical The Band’s Visit, now at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, perfectly embodies the simplicity with which music draws even the most disparate group of people into a gentle harmony.
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Now running through December 19

 

KEY LARGO at Geffen Playhouse

Jeff Lorch

Jeff Lorch

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

Key Largo was first a 1939 Broadway play, then a 1948 film starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, and finally, it is now at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles in a new world premiere adaptation. Adapted by Andy Garcia and Jeffrey Hatcher, this play shifts some of the focus to the character of Johnny Rocco (played by Garcia), a notorious gangster who takes the inhabitants of a Florida Keys hotel hostage during a hurricane.
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Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

In Key Largo, a 1948 film classic, Humphrey Bogart played a disillusioned anti-hero, an ex-army officer in World War II who, despite his cynicism, musters up enough moral conviction to stand up to Edward G. Robinson’s sneering gangster, Johnny Rocco.
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Jonas Schwartz – Theatermania

Batten down the hatches— a hurricane has come to the Geffen. Key Largo, the new adaptation of the 1948 John Huston film, creates thunder and lightning with visual effects that turn the theater into ground zero of a devastating storm. The technical team brilliantly crafts a mood of claustrophobia and despair.
Read more…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Key Largo is one of the classic Warner Bros. gangster movies. The film was the fourth and final pairing of legendary screen couple Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. It also featured the fifth screen pairing of tough guys Bogart and Edward G. Robinson.
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Now running through December 15

THE THANKSGIVING PLAY at Geffen Playhouse

Jeff Lorch

Jeff Lorch

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

The version of Thanksgiving most of us were taught in school is certainly problematic. From outdated, disrespectful views of Native Americans and erasure of their role to the generous portrayals of the first white settlers on this continent, the narrative around the whole holiday is due for reexamination. This discussion sets the stage for The Thanksgiving Play, a satirical comedy by Larissa FastHorse currently playing at the Geffen Playhouse.
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Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Thanksgiving, that most American of holidays (not counting The Fourth of July), has long been shrouded in myth, perpetuated for decades by classroom images of earnest Pilgrims, helpful “Indians” and cheerful squawking turkeys. No longer, however, does it serve as an unsullied symbol of a generous, sharing national spirit.
Read more…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

In today’s world of seemingly absolute, complete, no excuses accepted political correctness, even the most holy of venerated saints would have a hard time saying, doing perhaps thinking anything the least bit outre without being shouted down by some fractional segment of the PC community. For example—how do you celebrate Thanksgiving and Native American Heritage Month while creating an elementary school pageant?
Read more…

Jonas Schwartz – Theatermania

Native American playwright Larissa FastHorse has written a rambunctious and edgy satire of wokeness, The Thanksgiving Play, now running at the Geffen, in which she satirizes America’s precarious relationship to racial issues and gives a Native American writer’s perspective on the so-called white man’s burden.
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Now running through December 6

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS at the Pasadena Playhouse

Jenny Graham

Jenny Graham

Jonas Schwartz – Theatermania

Pasadena Playhouse has produced a reimagined Little Shop of Horrors, the hit musical about a man-eating plant and the schlub who feeds him human flesh. Alan Menken’s memorable music and Howard Ashman’s lyrics, with their loving detail for puns and storytelling, still makes this musical special. This revival, however, may leave audiences hungering for more than it can offer.
Read more…

Now running through October 20

WITCH at Geffen Playhouse

Jeff Lorch

Jeff Lorch

Terry Morgan  -  Talkin’ Broadway

When The Witch of Edmonton (written by William Rowley, Thomas Dekker and John Ford) premiered in 1621, its tale of a woman selling her soul to the devil to gain revenge on her neighbors was played as a tragic drama. Jen Silverman’s new version of the story, simply titled Witch, is very much a comedy, although tragedy is still present.
Read more…

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

At the beginning of Witch, a funny and insightful play by Jen Silverman now in its west coast premiere at the Geffen Playhouse, the titular character (Maura Tierney) addresses the audience, posing a bit of a warning.
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Margaret Gray – LA Times

In “Witch,” Jen Silverman’s delightful recasting of the obscure 1621 tragicomedy “The Witch of Edmonton,” characters find themselves in Jacobean dress and Jacobean circumstances, but they speak like Americans today. Nary a “prithee” or “forsooth” to be heard.
Read more…

Jonas Schwartz – Theatermania

Witch, receiving its West Coast premiere at the Geffen Playhouse, explores sexual politics and humanity’s bloodlust for power. Loosely based on William Rowley, Thomas Dekker, and John Ford’s 1621 play The Witch of Edmonton, this one-act battle of the sexes proves that little in human nature has changed since the 1600s.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

From Dante’s Inferno and Milton’s Paradise Lost to Disney’s Fantasia and Broadway’s Damn Yankees, The Devil has been a popular character in books, music, film and stage works.
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Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Witch, Jen Silverman’s incisive illuminating play directed by Marti Lyons at Geffen Playhouse, draws inspiration from The Witch of Edmonton, a Jacobean melodrama conceived around the real-life tragedy of an elderly woman named Elizabeth Sawyer, burned as a witch in the British community of Edmonton in 1621.
Read more…

Now running through September 29