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Archive for TheaterMania

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG at the Ahmanson Theatre

Jeremy Daniel

Jeremy Daniel

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

The tone for the farce that is The Play That Goes Wrong is set long before the curtain rises. Frazzled cast members wander the audience, asking questions such as if anyone has a dog they can borrow for the second act, as others attempt to fix the constantly malfunctioning set.
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Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

The Play That Goes Wrong, a British production at the Ahmanson by way of Broadway and, as the title would indicate, nearly everything goes wrong, as planned. The show is quite funny at times, with moments so hilarious you’ll laugh until you cry, but it’s too long, and loses the comedic momentum it builds for itself.
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Jonas Schwartz – Theatermania

The Play That Goes Wrong stabs you in the funny bone over and over. A mastery of pratfalls and a love letter to bad acting (cowritten by Mischief Theatre company members Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields), the comedy is such an adrenalin rush, audiences at the Ahmanson Theatre will be panting heavier than the actors forced to contend with a collapsing set.
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Now running through August 11

MYSTERIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES at Geffen Playhouse

Jeff Lorch

Jeff Lorch

Terry Morgan  – Talkin’ Broadway

The old maxim states that truth is stranger than fiction, but sometimes truth isn’t quite that bold and merely approaches the outlandishness of prose. Such is the case of Richard Lancelyn Green, the subject of a New Yorker article, a Sherlock Holmes expert who was found dead in his apartment in 2004….
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Margaret Gray – LA Times

Sherlock Holmes is a fictional private detective dreamed up by the turn-of-the-century British doctor and writer Arthur Conan Doyle — or so history would have it. Certain scholars, collectors and fans prefer to believe that Holmes was an actual person. Holmes himself would probably agree with them….
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

The leading expert on Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective Sherlock Holmes becomes the key element in a real-life mystery when he is found dead alone in his apartment. It appears to be murder, but could it be suicide?
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Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

In December 2004, The New Yorker magazine published an article by journalist David Grann titled: “Mysterious Circumstances: The Strange Death of a Sherlock Holmes Fanatic.”
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Now running through July 14

HUGHIE and KRAPP’S LAST TAPE at the Geffen Playhouse

Jeff Lorch

Jeff Lorch

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Brian Dennehy, who won one of his two Tony Awards as iconic Eugene O’Neill protagonist James Tyrone in a 2003 production of Long Day’s Journey Into Night, returns to the author’s milieu with the one-act Hughie, another tale of addiction and emotional ghosts.
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Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

In Hughie & Krapp’s Last Tape, by Eugene O’Neill and Samuel Beckett respectively, Brian Dennehy portrays solitary men struggling to come to terms with the desolation in their lives. Both plays are directed by Steven Robman at the Geffen Playhouse.
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Now running through December 16

CHARLES DICKENS’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL at the Geffen Playhouse

Chris Whitaker

Chris Whitaker

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

The world premiere of this new adaptation of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol draws out the chills and thrills of this ghostly tale while still conveying the joy inherent in the famous parable about goodwill toward all men.
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Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Suppose you’re a veteran theater goer, one without children to entertain on the holidays. Why might you attend yet another staged production of A Christmas Carol, that inveterate seasonal favorite playing at countless venues throughout the country year in and year out. Adapted from Charles Dickens’ 1843 novella, it’s stuffy and bathetic and you’ve doubtless seen it one too many times already. Bah, humbug, take a pass.
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Now running through December 16

VALLEY OF THE HEART at the Mark Taper Forum

Craig Schwartz

Craig Schwartz

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

Two immigrant families, one Mexican and one Japanese-American, have lived peacefully as neighbors on a ranch in the Santa Clara Valley for years, working together in the fields. The oldest children from each family have even fallen in love with each other—and then Pearl Harbor happens, and soon World War II, and their lives will never be the same.
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Dany Margolies – The Daily News

Sweet, timely and picturesque, “Valley of the Heart” tells of an earlier chapter in in American history when our nation behaved badly. From writer-director Luis Valdez comes this tale of two immigrant families — one Japanese and one Mexican — living in the then-agricultural town of Cupertino during World War II.
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Frances Baum Nicholson –The Stage Struck Review

As someone who has taught history for a few decades, there is no doubt that the ugliness of the Japanese Internment is one of the several inexcusable black marks on our American story.
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

The image of innocents trapped behind the barbed-wire fences of American internment camps still burns in the minds of anyone absorbed in current affairs. Luis Valdez’s Valley of the Heart reminds audiences that the latest drama taking place at our Mexican borders reflects a shameful period during World War II…….
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Now running through December 16

THE WOMAN IN BLACK at the Pasadena Playhouse

Roger Mastroianni

Roger Mastroianni

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

An evening of chills, giggles, and parlor tricks are on offer in Stephen Mallatratt’s The Woman in Black, which serves up the perfect treat for the Halloween season.
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Ellen Dostal – Broadway World

One of the things theatre does extremely well is create something out of nothing. That’s pretty much the key to Stephen Mallatratt‘s adaptation of Susan Hill‘s gothic ghost story THE WOMAN IN BLACK, which ushers in the Halloween season at Pasadena Playhouse.
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Now running through November 11

DEAR EVAN HANSEN at the Ahmanson Theatre

Matthew Murphy

Matthew Murphy

Frances Baum Nicholson – Stage Struck Review

When news the Tony-winning “Dear Evan Hansen” was headed for L.A. on its first national tour, a dash for tickets seeming mildly reminiscent of the “Hamilton” frenzy began.
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Erin Conley -  On Stage and Screen

There have been plenty of musicals about complicated, grieving families over the years, but until now, there has not been one tailor-made for the social media era. Enter Dear Evan Hansen, the 2017 Tony winner for Best Musical that opened last night at Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

If you have seen the musical Dear Evan Hansen and are a fan, you might not want to read any further because I will be challenging most things that you hold dear about the show.
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Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

First things first: if you didn’t get the chance to see Dear Evan Hansen in New York, don’t worry. The first national tour of the show, currently playing at the Ahmanson, is nearly identical to the New York incarnation.
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Young Evan Hansen has broken his arm. Before the Tony winning musical Dear Evan Hansen ends, the titular character will also have broken many hearts in this poignant, topical drama about isolation in high school and how social media takes an already stressful situation and heightens it by exposing and recording all of life’s foibles small and large.
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Dany Margolies – The Daily News

Evan Hansen struggles with social interaction, prefers to isolate himself and fears being judged by others. To varying degrees, so do we all, whether for a moment, a day or constantly.
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Now running through November 25

THE CAKE at the Geffen Playhouse

Chris Whitaker

Chris Whitaker

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

In this political climate, it is very easy to demonize those who think differently, particularly when their beliefs infringe on others’ rights. The right to refuse service to members of the LGBTQ community has become explosive, going all the way to the Supreme Court, where the issue has still not been resolved.
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Now running through October 21

AMERICAN HERO – IAMA Theater Company at the Pasadena Playhouse

Dean Cechvala

Dean Cechvala

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

Three “sandwich artists” with very different lives walk into a franchise. What happens? Unfortunately the answer is…not much. American Hero, a play by Bess Wohl currently being presented by the IAMA Theatre Company in a guest production at the Pasadena Playhouse, is a comedy about working class America, but focuses on a microcosm that ultimately fails to prove a point. Read more…

Frances Baum Nicholson –The Stage Struck Review

If one had to peg a single theme for the plays I have seen open in the past month, it would be two-fold: the heartlessness of corporate America combined with the innate sense of straight white privilege, and the plight of those the privileged see as underclasses, be they minority cultures, blue collar victims of the evisceration of union power, or simply those trying to get by in the morass of the service economy.
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Part of the American spirit entails taking a no-win situation and finding a road to success. The three employees of a mini-mall sandwich shop in American Hero find their situation direr by the day, but instead of giving up, they roll up their sleeves and keep making hero sandwiches, even after they run out of meat, cheese, and bread.
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Now running through October 21

THE UNTRANSLATABLE SECRETS OF NIKKI CORONA at the Geffen Playhouse

Darrett Sanders

Darrett Sanders

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Life and death have always been intertwined. People spend much of their life worrying when they will pass away, how their beliefs will protect them in the next realm, and if they’ll be able to share experiences with those who have already died.
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Now running through October 7

NATIVE GARDENS at the Pasadena Playhouse

Jenny Graham

Jenny Graham

Frances Baum Nicholson –The Stage Struck Review

There is a fine line between humor which skewers privilege and prejudice by making its claims sound as ridiculous as they are, and writing which pronounces the same beliefs and then does a kind of wink to indicate that, really, it was said to be funny.
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

The pursuit of happiness and property is embedded in the American dream. Thomas Jefferson even added it to the Declaration of Independence as an inalienable right. Unfortunately, with property come neighbors and the frustration of sharing a fence with a stranger. Playwright Karen Zacarías’s comedy Native Gardens demonstrates what happens when you must battle your neighbor for your own land.    Read more…

Now running through September 30

 

SWEAT at the Mark Taper Forum

Craig Schwartz

Craig Schwartz

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Sweat, now playing at the Mark Taper Forum, exposes the collapse of the American working class in the new millennium. When backed up against the wall and left with neither income nor hope, people sink into racism almost by reflex. The ramifications of humanity’s anger hangs over the play, yet Nottage hints at the power of forgiveness and redemption. Read more…

Frances Baum Nicholson –The Stage Struck Review

The Pulitzer Prize for drama is given, when it is given, for a piece of theater which reflects something elemental to understanding an aspect of American culture. Rarely has that seemed a more apt designation than the 2017 prize handed to playwright Lynn Nottage for “Sweat.” Read more…

Now running through October 7