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Archive for November 2012 – Page 2

Nora, Pacific Resident Theatre

Photo Source: Vitor Martins.


Nora by Ingmar Bergman.


David C. Nichols – Backstage

It’s seldom that a revision of a classic carries the riveting punch of Nora, now getting its overdue Los Angeles debut at Pacific Resident Theatre. This stark black-box take on Ingmar Bergman’s searing 1981 reduction of Henrik Ibsen’s immortal A Doll’s House grabs its viewers from the outset and never lets go. Read more…



The Muesli Belt, Theatre Banshee at The Banshee

Byron Turk, ©2012 Theatre Banshee


The Muesli Belt by Jimmy Murphy.


Dany Margolies –

This U.S. premiere of an Irish import is a gentle little script that probably would speak to Dubliners of the late 1990s. But playwright Jimmy Murphy offers not much to Angelenos of the new millennium, who would be thrilled with increasingly large offers to purchase any property we might be lucky enough to own. In addition, the play’s structure feels anticlimactic before we even notice a climax. But it provides an armature on which to hang human behavior, and director Sean Branney makes certain the five characters spark and sparkle. Read more…



Finding Barb, Working Stage Theater

Photo by J. R. Dziengel.


Finding Barb by Barbara Heller.


Pauline Adamek – LA Weekly

Barbara Heller has taken her personal quest for her spiritual path and turned it into an earnest and sweet musical. The show’s pretty songs – beautifully sung – are composed by Avi Avliav who performs live on electric piano, conveying a sensitivity and flair. (Two songs are credited to co-composer Katie Thompson.) Heller, who wrote the book, lyrics and also stars, dominates the stage with her confessional, acting out episodes from her life alongside co-star David Scales. Read more…



Theatre in the Dark, Odyssey Theatre


Theatre in the Dark by various playwrights.


Dany Margolies –

Some ideas don’t even sound good on paper. This one, however, turns out to be a thoroughly entertaining and relatively informative one. Ron Sossi’s brainchild lets audiences sit in absolute pitch darkness, experiencing theater without benefit of our sight. These 90-minute performances (of alternating evenings titled Dark, reviewed here, and More Dark) comprise stories told in the dark, sketches about the dark, conversations as if not in the dark, and bits of the dark side.   Read more…



How to Write a New Book for the Bible, South Coast Repertory

Photo by Henry DiRocco/SCR.


How to Write a New Book for the Bible by Bill Cain.


Melinda Schupmann –

Narrator Bill (Tyler Pierce) enters with a notebook in hand and announces: “First rule of writing? Write what you know. If writers stuck to it, there would be no books.” On that note, over time, we learn that Bill is a writer, a priest, and, ultimately, a caregiver for his dying mother. Family, we find out, is where we learn what we know. Read more…



Death of a Salesgirl, Bootleg Theater

Photo by Justin Zsebe.


Death of a Salesgirl by Patricia Scanlon.


Dany Margolies –

First to strike the attentive audience member upon entering the theater here is John Zalewski’s sound design. It seems to consist of effervescent electronic dots and anchoring bass-note dashes. A haunting, initially disquieting, ultimately soothing presence, his sound will continue to envelop the production. Meanwhile, next of note to the observer is François-Pierre Couture’s set. Apparently a hotel room—though its ceiling is a gape rimmed by earth and dead leaves—it is confining, a little menacing, and very tidy if shabby.   Read more…



42nd Street, Musical Theatre West

Photo by Alyssa Brennan.


42nd Street by Mark Bramble, Michael Stewart, Harry Warren and Al Dubin.


David C. Nicols – L.A. Times

Audiences craving unbridled pizazz should race to 42nd Street at the Carpenter Center in Long Beach. Musical Theatre West opens its 60th season with the indestructible backstager, and scores a toe-tapping triumph.  Read more…


Shirle Gottlieb – Gazette Newspapers

If you’re a musical theater buff, you’re undoubtedly acquainted with 42nd Street. Based on one of Busby Berkeley’s inimitable movies, it tells the story of Peggy Sawyer –a starry-eyed, gifted, wanna’ be performer who goes to New York during the Depression to audition for a new musical. Read more…


Melinda Schupmann –

Ever since 1934 when Ruby Keeler sweetly but awkwardly tapped her way into America’s collective heart, this show has been a feel-good offering, and Musical Theatre West has mounted it with flash and dazzle. With more than a little nod to Busby Berkeley, director-choreographer Jon Engstrom channels those extravagant floor patterns and over-the-top production numbers to give an audience a lot to smile at.    Read more…




KONG: A Goddamn Thirty-Foot Gorilla, SkyPilot Theatre

Photo by Robin Polk.


KONG: A Goddamn Thirty-Foot Gorilla by Adam Hahn.


Pauline Adamek – LA Weekly

Adam Hahn’s spoofy homage to King Kong, the 1933 creature feature about a colossal gorilla that is captured and runs amok in New York City, is an ambitious undertaking. Just how do you depict a giant ape on stage without stop-motion animation trickery and cinema magic? Director Jaime Robledo’s brand of creative staging and low-tech gimmickry include trompe l’oeil shifts in perspective and scale. Hence when platinum blonde bewigged scream queen Anne (Sara Kubida) is in the grip of Kong’s giant paw, the actor playing Kong (all snuffles and primal bellowing from Germaine De Leon) can also be seen clutching a Barbie doll.  Read more…