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Archive for TheaterMania

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

 

OUR VERY OWN CARLIN MCCULLOUGH at the Geffen Playhouse

Chris Whitaker

Chris Whitaker

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Our Very Own Carlin McCullough is about a mother and a daughter and the tennis coach who comes into their lives and transforms them.
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Parenting is a daunting task, one that comes with no rule book. Even when a parent, particularly a single one, desires the absolute best for a child, it’s possible to steer a kid off course. Cyn (Mamie Gummer), the harried mom raising a tennis prodigy daughter, finds herself at a crossroads in Amanda Peet’s provocative play…..
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Dany Margolies – The Daily News

“Keep your heart open,” says Carlin McCullough’s tennis coach. “Be yourself.” That’s big advice for any coach to any student. But somehow this child internalizes those concepts, let alone plays like an adult.
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Now running through July 29

 

THE HUMANS at the Ahmanson Theatre

Lawrence K. Ho

Lawrence K. Ho

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

Despite an impressive pedigree, there is little that’s flashy about The Humans, the 2016 Tony Award winner for Best Play that opened this week at Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre. Written by Stephen Karam with the entire original Broadway cast reprising their roles, the one-act play unfolds over the course of Thanksgiving dinner with a multigenerational family……Read more…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

The Ahmanson Theatre in the Los Angeles Music Center is a big house, usually home to touring musicals like the upcoming Dear Evan Hansen and Come From Away.
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Frances Baum Nicholson –The Stage Struck Review

The neatest trick to accomplish, when writing an intimate play, is to find that spark which ties the issues and personalties of a few people to something inherently a part of everyone. That very concept centers Stephen Karam’s “The Humans,”……
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Something so small can feel so vast. A simple family dinner can stir up old haunts. Even if one listens closely to the mundane conversations, it’s what’s not said aloud or what’s unseen in the shadows that can sting the most. Read more…

Now running through July 29

SKELETON CREW at the Geffen Playhouse

Chris Whitaker

Chris Whitaker

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

The mockery of the American dream lies at the heart of Skeleton Crew, where trade workers invest their lives in a company that easily turns its back on them. Part of Dominique Morisseau’s Detroit Project trilogy, Skeleton Crew reflects a distant past……Read more…

Deborah Klugman – Capital & Main

Working-class men and women of color are rarely front and center in today’s media and, likewise, are presented all too occasionally on the American stage. So it’s buoying to see that trend bucked in playwright Dominique Morisseau’s percipient and well-crafted drama, Skeleton Crew. Read more…

Now running through July 8

HENRY IV at the Japanese Gardens on the West L.A. VA campus

Craig Schwartz

Craig Schwartz

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Tom Hanks as Falstaff, Joe Morton as King Henry IV and a solid supporting ensemble add up to half a dozen good reasons to see director Dan Sullivan’s staging of Henry IV,….Read more…

Ellen Dostal – Broadway World

Director Daniel Sullivan‘s adaptation of HENRY IV, Parts 1 & 2 may only be playing in the Japanese Garden on the VA campus for another three weeks but it is bound to rank as one of the summer’s most talked-about events. Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

William Shakespeare’s Henry IV focus on growth and having history thrust upon oneself whether wanted or not. For The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles, director Daniel Sullivan has culled and combined both plays into an evening of ribaldry, song, and pageantry. Read more…

Terry Morgan  -  Talkin’ Broadway

Shakespeare’s duo of Henry IV plays are mainly about two subjects: the relationship between fathers and sons and the conflict between duty and selfishness. That these topics are placed in one of his “history plays” means little—audiences haven’t cared primarily about the history on display here for centuries. The appeal of these plays has ever been in its characters and humor and beautiful language….
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Now running through June 24

BORDERTOWN at the Pasadena Playhouse

 Philicia Endelman

Philicia Endelman

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Twenty years ago, Culture Clash presented Bordertown Now, which took a look at the percolating tension between the US government and undocumented Mexican immigrants crossing the border. Read more…

Now running through June 24

SOFT POWER at the Ahmanson Theatre

Craig Schwartz Photography

Craig Schwartz Photography

Ellen Dostal – Musicals in L.A.

Playwright David Henry Hwang and composer Jeanine Tesori are pushing buttons and challenging conventions with their new work, Soft Power, now in its world premiere at Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

American musical theatre and politics would seem to make strange bedfellows. However, since Of Thee I Sing won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1932. there have been many other successful and not-so-successful musicals mingling politics with song and dance.
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Erin Conley – On Stage and Screen

Soft Power, currently in its world premiere at Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre, is billed as “a play with a musical.” This is a unique description fitting for a unique show, both in structure and in content. With play and lyrics by David Henry Hwang and music and additional lyrics by Jeanine Tesori, Soft Power taps into timely political subject matter—some may say too timely—and adds a refreshing twist, creating a show with a perspective rarely seen.
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

What was the last musical to feature Hillary Clinton twerking at a McDonald’s or White House cabinet members bloodthirstily carrying tommy guns? Soft Power, the new political-satire musical by two Tony winners, composer Jeanine Tesori and writer David Henry Hwang, ambushes the 2016 US election through the eyes of a foreigner.
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Frances Baum Nicholson – The Daily Breeze

There is a moment in “Soft Power,” the new “play with a musical” at the Ahmanson, when the disquiet hits you. The show has a lovely time acknowledging musical theater tropes, discussing the power of the musical to slowly convince people of an idea (this is what “soft power” is — gradual bending of minds), and expressing the outrage and increasing xenophobia which accompanied the 2016 election. Read more…

Now running through June 10

 

NOISES OFF at A Noise Within

Craig Schwartz

Craig Schwartz

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Farce is a science, a series of actions and reactions. People slam and swing open doors, they race up and down stairs, they misplace their clothing. If farce is a science, Noises Off deserves a Nobel Prize for physics.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

What has eight doors and revolves? Answer: Fred Kinney’s double-sided set for A Noise Within’s revival of Noises Off. This marks the company’s third revival of Michael Frayn’s farce in the past decade or so.
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Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Arguably one of the funniest farces in the contemporary British canon, Michael Frayn’s 1982 play revolves around a touring company of actors attempting to stage a frolicsome sex comedy called “Nothing On.”
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Now running through May 26

SOUTH PACIFIC at La Mirada Theatre

Michael Lamont

Michael Lamont

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

The overture fades in with the woodwinds as the strings wistfully play the motif of “Bali Ha’i,” the lush music that transports audiences to the magical islands of South Pacific. Just beyond the breeze and the luster of the sand, the entire world has clashed violently, and fascism has drawn most of mankind into the Second World War.
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Ellen Dostal – Musicals in L.A.

Glenn Casale directs this Rodgers & Hammerstein gem dealing with romance and racism in the South Pacific during World War II.
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Now running through May 13

BELLEVILLE at the Pasadena Playhouse

 

(Photo by Philicia Endelman

(Photo by Philicia Endelman

Terry Morgan  -  Talkin’ Broadway

Labeling a work of art as being one particular thing can often be problematic, creating expectations that the piece doesn’t fulfill. Amy Herzog’s play Belleville is being promoted as a Hitchcockian thriller, which it is not. It’s only a thriller in the sense that Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a thriller, in that it depicts the emotional combat between a married couple.
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Frances Baum Nicholson – The Daily Breeze

There is no doubt that Amy Herzog’s “Belleville,” now at the Pasadena Playhouse, has dramatic power, and some extraordinary characters which must be an actor’s dream to perform. In many ways, this is enough to recommend the show.
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Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Amy Herzog’s thriller Belleville benefits from solid direction by Jenna Worsham and stellar performances by its leads, Anna Camp and Thomas Sadoski.
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Now running through May 13