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THE METROMANIACS at Theatre 40

Photo by Michèle Young

Photo by Michèle Young

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Way back in the mid 1970s, when I was just a few years into my theatre-going and theatre-reviewing career, I made the acquaintance of the lovely Viola Heigi-Swisher, who at the time was the Los Angeles theatre reviewer for the glossy, artsy New York-based monthly magazine After Dark. She was given about a column’s worth of space each month to report on all the shows she had seen. I have never forgotten her one-line pithy review of a poorly done new comedy we witnessed together at the long gone and still sorely missed Callboard Theatre. “There were five doors on stage—it must have been a farce.” Read more…

Now through August 21

XANADU at Laguna Playhouse

Photo by Matthew Saville

Photo by Matthew Saville

Dana Martin – Stage Raw

It is said that Xanadu is “a gift so grand that none of us truly knows what it is.” In that case, Xanadu (book by Douglas Carter Beane, music and lyrics by Jeff Lynne and John Farrar) is a gift that keeps on giving. Laguna Playhouse’s current production, the campy mashup of ‘80s pop rock shoved into a jukebox musical based on one of the worst movies ever made, is as lovable as it is vapid. Read more…

Now through August 21

MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET at South Coast Repertory

Chris Clark, Amrando Gutierrez, Rustin Cole Sailors, and Billy Rude. Photo by Jenny Graham/SCR.

Chris Clark, Amrando Gutierrez, Rustin Cole Sailors, and Billy Rude. Photo by Jenny Graham/SCR.

Jonas Schwartz-Owen – BroadwayWorld

South Coast Repertory presents the Broadway musical Million Dollar Quartet at the Mission San Juan Capistrano under the stars as part of its new Outside SCR program, and the quality production recalls the good, old days of Summer Stock. SCR has collected a talented cast and put on an enchanting evening. Read more…

Now through August 21

THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR at Theatricum Botanicum

Seth Weaver, A.M. Sannazzaro, and Melora Marshall. Photo by Ian Flanders

Seth Weaver, A.M. Sannazzaro, and Melora Marshall. Photo by Ian Flanders

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

Centuries before there was a Marvel Cinematic Universe, William Shakespeare introduced a Falstaff Theatrical Universe with The Merry Wives of Windsor, a comedy that follows the foibles of Falstaff, the much disparaged knight who appears in Henry IV parts 1 and 2 (L.A. audiences may have seen him last portrayed by Tom Hanks in an abridged version of both Henry IVs in the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles staged in summer 2018). Read more…

Now through Oct 2

MIKE BIRBIGLIA: THE OLD MAN AND THE POOL at The Taper

© 2022 Craig Schwartz Photography

Mike Birbiglia. © 2022 Craig Schwartz Photography

Jonas Schwartz-Owen – Theatermania

Mike Birbiglia makes a triumphant return to the stage at the Mark Taper Forum with another intimate discussion in his disarming, everyman fashion. Riffing on family, health, exercise, and grammar, Center Theatre Group’s production of Mike Birbiglia: The Old Man and the Pool has the audience in stitches, laughing hysterically at the frailty of humanity. Read more…

Now through August 28

Dream Weavers – Puck and The Sandman

Azeem Vecchio, Syanne Green, and Malik Bailey in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Photo by Frank Ishman

Azeem Vecchio, Syanne Green, and Malik Bailey in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Photo by Frank Ishman

Steven Leigh Morris – Stage Raw, Notes From Arden

At the northern edge of LA County, in Santa Clarita, The Sandman (played by adult actor Jackson Caruso) is the title character in Dane Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale, “Ole Lukøje,” (“The Sandman”), presented by Eclipse Theatre and the Santa Clarita Shakespeare Festival. Phil Lantis’s play for kids (and performed with kids), adapted from Andersen’s story and directed by Nancy Lantis, tells of this Sandman’s ability to send children to sleep (sprinkling their eyes with fairy dust) and deliver them dreams — or not. If they’ve been well-behaved, they receive pleasant dreams. If they’ve been less than well-behaved, their punishment is to receive no dreams at all. There are worse punishments, as the German Brothers Grimm had imagined, slightly before Andersen (severed limbs, baked in a witch’s oven, etc.), but perhaps that’s the difference between the Danish temperament and the Teutonic one.

Meanwhile, in the center of LA County, in Atwater Village, Puck (Monazia Smith, sly, impish and, at times, pissed off) sprinkles fairy dust into the eyes of any number of White Athenians (as in Athens, Georgia) in Open Fist Theatre Company’s adaptation (by director James Fowler) of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which Fowler sets in the American antebellum South, circa 1855. Without giving away the plantation, Fowler’s strikingly cogent concept is to endow slaves with cosmic powers (which become comic powers) over their mortal Athenian overseers — not unlike the way in which the slaves outwit their masters in their quest for freedom, in the ancient Roman comedies of Plautus and Terence. Read more…

The Sandman – through July 30

A Midsummer Night’s Dream – through Aug 13

Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Announces 2020-2021 Award Recipients

LADCC LogoThe Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle is proud to announce the award recipients for 2020 and 2021. Poor Clare (The Echo Theater Company) and The Father (Pasadena Playhouse) received the prestigious Production award, with additional honorees named in 18 other categories.

In total, 13 different productions were honored, celebrating a wide range of Los Angeles theater. Pasadena Playhouse’s The Father received the most awards for a single production and the most awards overall, with nine.

This year, out of an abundance of caution, the LADCC will once again forgo its annual event ceremony and will instead send the plaques to the honorees. Congratulations to all of the award recipients!

The complete list of award recipients for 2020 and 2021 is as follows:

Production:

  • Poor Clare, The Echo Theater Company
  • The Father, Pasadena Playhouse

McCulloh Award for Revival

  • My Fair Lady, Dolby Theatre

Lead Performance

  • Jordan Hull, Poor Clare, The Echo Theater Company
  • Alfred Molina, The Father, Pasadena Playhouse

Featured Performance

  • Sue Cremin, The Father, Pasadena Playhouse
  • Ann Noble, Poor Clare, The Echo Theater Company
  • Michael Sturgis, Poor Clare, The Echo Theater Company

Ensemble Performance

  • Poor Clare, The Echo Theater Company
  • The Father, Pasadena Playhouse

Solo Performance

  • Jim Ortlieb, Stand Up If You’re Here Tonight, VS. Theatre Company & Circle X Theatre Co.

Writing

  • Chiara Atik, Poor Clare, The Echo Theater Company
  • Florian Zeller (translation by Christopher Hampton), The Father, Pasadena Playhouse

Writing Adaptation

  • Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, An Octoroon, The Fountain Theatre

Musical Score

  • Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, Frozen, Hollywood Pantages Theatre
  • David Yazbek, The Band’s Visit, Dolby Theatre

Music Direction

  • John Bell, My Fair Lady, Dolby Theatre
  • Andre Cerullo, Hamilton, Hollywood Pantages Theatre
  • Adrian Ries, The Band’s Visit, Dolby Theatre
  • Ryan Whyman, Lizastrata, Troubadour Theater Company

Choreography

  • Jess Coffman, Suzanne Jolie, L.T. Martinez, Matt Walker, Lizastrata, Troubadour Theater Company
  • Christopher Gatelli, My Fair Lady, Dolby Theatre

Direction

  • Alana Dietze, Poor Clare, The Echo Theater Company
  • Jessica Kubzansky, The Father, Pasadena Playhouse

Set Design

  • David Meyer, The Father, Pasadena Playhouse
  • Frederica Nascimento, An Octoroon, The Fountain Theatre

Lighting Design

  • Elizabeth Harper, The Father, Pasadena Playhouse
  • Natasha Katz, Frozen, Hollywood Pantages Theatre
  • Azra King-Abadi, Poor Clare, The Echo Theater Company

Costume Design

  • Christopher Oram, Frozen, Hollywood Pantages Theatre
  • Halei Parker, Lizastrata, Troubadour Theater Company
  • Catherine Zuber, My Fair Lady, Dolby Theatre

Sound Design

  • John Zalewski, The Father, Pasadena Playhouse

CGI/Video

  • Kaitlyn Pietras, Jason H. Thompson, Revenge Song, Geffen Playhouse
  • Finn Ross, Frozen, Hollywood Pantages Theatre

Streaming Design

  • Corwin Evans, Bree Pavey, UnRavelled, Global Brain Health Institute, based at the University of California, San Francisco; and Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin, Ireland
  • Andrew Schmedake, The Ballad of Emmett Till, The Fountain Theatre

Specialty

  • Lily Bartenstein, Prop Design, Lizastrata, Troubadour Theater Company
  • Jeremy Chernick, Visual Effects, Frozen, Hollywood Pantages Theatre
  • Joe Seely, Puppet Design, The ODDyssey, Troubadour Theater Company

Every effort has been made to ascertain proper credits for our award recipients. We regret any errors or omissions. Any that come to our attention will be corrected on our LADCC website and (when applicable) on a recipient’s award plaque.

The Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle was founded in 1969. It is dedicated to excellence in theatrical criticism, and to the encouragement and improvement of theatre in Greater Los Angeles.

The 2020-2021 membership consisted of:
Lara J. Altunian, Stage Raw, L.A. Dance Chronicle
Katie Buenneke, Stage Raw, Theater Digest
Erin Conley, On Stage & Screen
Peter DeBruge, Variety
Ellen Dostal, BroadwayWorld, Musicals in LA
Lovell Estell III, Stage Raw, ArtsInLA.com
Margaret Gray, Los Angeles Times
Hoyt Hilsman, Cultural Daily, Pasadena Now, Riot Material
Harker Jones, BroadwayWorld, ArtsInLA.com
Deborah Klugman, Stage Raw, Capital and Main, Gia On The Move
Dany Margolies, ArtsInLA.com, Southern California News Group
Dana Martin, Stage Raw
Myron Meisel, Stage Raw
Terry Morgan, ArtsBeatLA.com, Stage Raw
Steven Leigh Morris, Stage Raw
Melinda Schupmann, Showmag.com, ArtsInLA.com
Jonas Schwartz-Owen, Theatermania.com, BroadwayWorld, ArtsInLA.com
Don Shirley, Angeles Stage
Rob Stevens, haineshisway.com

KING LIZ at Geffen Playhouse

Sabrina Sloan and Michelle Ortiz. Photo by Jeff Lorch

Sabrina Sloan and Michelle Ortiz. Photo by Jeff Lorch

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Liz Rico (Sabrina Sloan) the central character in playwright Fernanda Coppel’s sports-themed drama, is one tough cookie. A woman-of-color, she’s hauled herself up by her bootstraps, transitioning through hard work from an impoverished childhood (her mom died of cancer because her dad couldn’t afford treatment) to Yale on a full scholarship to a pinnacled place as a sports agent with one of the most prestigious companies in the business. In her 40s and blazing hot in her 4-inch stilettos, Liz now owns a luxury condo on the Upper West Side in proximity to people like Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey. She’s been recognized several times in Forbes and Time magazines, and is viewed by her peers as one of the most formidable and relentless players in her game, which is still mostly dominated by men. Read more…

Now through August 14

When memories meet the present moment

Valerie Perri, Leo Marks, Samantha Klein. Photo by Jenny Graham

Valerie Perri, Leo Marks, Samantha Klein. Photo by Jenny Graham

Don Shirley – Angeles Stage

Don’t forget ‘If I Forget’ at the Fountain. Plus ‘Dear Evan Hansen,’ ‘A Wicked Soul in Cherry Hill,’ ‘King Liz,’ ‘Trouble the Water,’ ‘Freestyle Love Supreme,’ ‘Cookin’ with Gas’

The present moment is the essence of live performance. Everyone in the audience — or on the stage, for that matter — experiences an event that will never again be exactly replicated. More than filmed or “live” electronically recorded productions, live theater happens right now.

Of course improv-based stage productions, such as the current “Freestyle Love Supreme” at Pasadena Playhouse or the Groundlings’ “Cookin’ With Gas”, emphasize this quality. They rely on suggestions from the spectators, so the actual words and topics can change dramatically at each new performance (more about them later).

On the other hand, many scripted plays grapple so much with memories of the past that they sometimes ignore the relevance of the past to the present moment. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as the memories don’t feel musty. Read more…

IF I FORGET at The Fountain Theatre

Leo Marks, Sami Klein and Valerie Perri. Photo by Jenny Graham

Leo Marks, Sami Klein and Valerie Perri. Photo by Jenny Graham

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Plays about fractious families may be common but toss politics and the Holocaust into the mix and you’ll have an intriguing drama.

Steven Levenson’s If I Forget takes place in an upper middle-class home in Washington DC, circa the year 2000. The central character, Michael Fischer (Leo Marks), is a professor of Jewish studies who’s written a book blasting prevailing Jewish attitudes towards the Holocaust. In the book, he suggests that historically enshrined memories of this monstrous event — perhaps best connoted by the ubiquitous slogan “Never Forget!” — are being exploited and abused by self-interested parties. It is Michael’s belief that Jews, both as individuals and collectively, would be better served if they recognized this exploitation and moved on. In his mind, this Holocaust obsession has clouded perspectives and pushed to the background other vital issues of concern, ranging from current genocide in Rwanda to glaring injustices here at home.
Read more…

Terry Morgan – ArtsBeat LA

Religion is ever with us, for good or ill. We humans seem to be hardwired with a need for the numinous. Steven Levenson’s play, If I Forget, begins with a psalm and ends with a vision, the psalm an exhortation for Jewish people not to forget their heritage, inviting misfortune if they forget. This stark prayer sets up a compelling and satisfyingly dramatic show about the tension between religious tradition and modern secularism. The new production at The Fountain Theatre in East Hollywood, directed by Jason Alexander, is a terrific showcase for its excellent cast and Levenson’s sharp writing, although it also features one major misstep. Read more…

Now through September 10

GREEN DAY’S AMERICAN IDIOT at Chance Theater

Sophia Barajas, Angie Chavez, Eric Dobson, Wyatt Hatfield, and Kristin O’Connell. Photo by Camryn Long

Sophia Barajas, Angie Chavez, Eric Dobson, Wyatt Hatfield, and Kristin O’Connell. Photo by Camryn Long

Dana Martin – Stage Raw

This is calling out to Idiot America: Chance Theater would like to offer a healthy, full-throated Fuck You to the American Establishment with their latest production, Green Day’s American Idiot (music by Green Day, lyrics by Billie Joe Armstrong, book by Armstrong and Michael Mayer) — an angsty pop-punk-protest rock opera about a generation of scapegoats who’ve been collectively traumatized, unfairly blamed for society’s shortcomings, and burdened with a dismal future. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Read more…

Extended through August 21

AIR PLAY by Acrobuffos at The Broad Stage

Seth Bloom and Christina Gelsone. Photo courtesy of the artistis

Seth Bloom and Christina Gelsone. Photo by Nicola Milatovic

Tracey Paleo – BroadwayWorld

Silly and tender, this might be one of the most beautiful performances you will ever see.

Who could ever imagine that mere swaths of fabrics and plastics, a few balloons, and fluttering paper could hold attention as the emotional centerpiece of any single theatrical performance? And yet, here is the proof that the visual poetry of ACROBUFFOS’ AIR PLAY, without words, has the ability to transcend the mind, touch the heart, elevate the spirit and bring to life the very air we breathe. Read more…

Now through July 31