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BLOOD SUPPLY: A Zombie Apocalypse Love Story at Theatre 68 Arts Complex – The Emerson

Photo by Rachel Gray

Photo by Rachel Gray

Socks Whitmore – Stage Raw

It’s not often the words “love” and “zombie” are paired together—and it’s even rarer to see them alongside the words “new musical.” Set one year after the onset of the dreaded zombie virus, Blood Supply: A Zombie Apocalypse Love Story is a folk rock saga that has populated the Emerson Theatre stage with its world premiere shamble. The two-act show follows Sadie, a blind woman who is left for dead by her fellow survivors after her father is turned, and the relationship she forms with Harold, a zombie microbiologist who uses his remarkable sentience to pass as a (sickly-looking) human. Meanwhile, a plot stirs at the junkyard where Sadie’s ex-gang ends up under the dictatorship of Alec Baldwin gone rogue. Blood Supply marks multi-hyphenate Holly Anne Mitchell’s playwriting debut, adding ever more unconventionalism to the production if you look at her background as a leadership coach, hypnotist, and former dentist. Mitchell notes that this production is dedicated to her late partner Evan and has deep connections to the personal and collective apocalypses from her own life experience. For her, this show is part of a healing process focused on themes of love and the urgency of life; “You never know what’s going to happen… you figure out what’s important, and love is important.” Read more…

DO YOU FEEL ANGER? by Circle X Theatre Company

Napoleon Tavale, Paula Rebelo, and Rich Liccardo, Photo by Jeff Lorch.

Napoleon Tavale, Paula Rebelo, and Rich Liccardo, Photo by Jeff Lorch.

Patrick Chavis – LA Theatre Bites

Circle X Theatre Company’s West Coast premiere production of Do You Feel Anger? @ Atwater Village Theatre – 10 out of 10 – Masterpiece! LA THEATRE BITES RECOMMENDED. More…

Terry Morgan – Stage Raw

There’s a Cowboy Junkies song from 1993 called “Hunted,” which is about the ever-present threat of male violence in women’s lives, the refrain of which is: “Do you know what it’s like to be hunted?” It’s a terrifying song, and unfortunately is no less resonant today than it was 30 years ago. Mara Nelson-Greenberg’s play, Do You Feel Anger?, explores the dark side of the war between the sexes with great humor and a bit of surrealism but clearly gets across outrage that women still have to deal with this situation. The new production by Circle X at the Atwater Village Theatre is superb, bolstered greatly by vivid performances. Read more…

 

‘Mean Girls’. Mean men. Mean times.

Jasmine Rogers, Nadina Hassan, Morgan Ashley Bryant and English Bernhardt. Photo by Jenny Anderson.

Jasmine Rogers, Nadina Hassan, Morgan Ashley Bryant and English Bernhardt. Photo by Jenny Anderson.

Don Shirley – Angeles Stage

The ‘Mean’ musical. Mean men in ‘Angry’ and ‘Brothers’. The missing mean in ‘Home Front’. Theater community rallies ’round CA arts funding and massacre survivors.

The word “mean” means so many different things.

It’s a verb, as in the above sentence, but it also can be an adjective and a noun. “Mean streets” aren’t inviting, but being “lean, mean” sounds enviable. The noun “mean,” expanded beyond its literal mathematical significance, refers to something in the middle, between two extremes.

The title “Mean Girls” — whether it’s attached to the 2004 movie or the 2017 stage musical adaptation — takes advantage of several meanings of the word.

If you’ve seen either version, the title guides you to think first of the Plastics. They’re the girls at the center of the social scene at North Shore High in the Chicago area, led by the fearsome “Regina George” — as in “Queen George,” who is played by Nadina Hassan in the terrific touring cast at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, in the show’s LA debut. Read more…

HOME FRONT at Victory Theatre

C.J. Lindsey and Austin Highsmith Garces. Photo by Tim Sullens.

C.J. Lindsey and Austin Highsmith Garces. Photo by Tim Sullens.

Patrick Chavis – LA Theatre Bites

West Coast Premiere: Home Front @ Victory Theatre in Burbank 7.9 out of 10 – Above Average! More…

 

BROTHERS PLAY by Break With Traditions Productions at Legacy LA

Jeffrey Nordling, Rob Nagle and Jamie Wollrab. Photo by Jeff Lorch Photography

Jeffrey Nordling, Rob Nagle and Jamie Wollrab. Photo by Jeff Lorch Photography

Martίn Hernández – Stage Raw

It is Christmas in Chicago, and for Irish American brothers Jude (Jeffrey Nordling), Francis (Rob Nagle), and Thomas (Jamie Wollrab) that means some unseemly celebrations, despite their saintly names. Jude, the oldest, is committed to visiting the local gambling boats; middle child Francis is savoring the wares at his favorite strip club; and Thomas, the youngest, tries to burn down their parish church. Their actions speak louder than words — words they have suppressed for decades concerning the childhood trauma that has left them psychologically scarred well into their disjointed adulthood. Refusing to acknowledge the matter and directing their rage at each other instead of the true source has worked so far, but when Thomas tries to finally confront them with their horrific past, his siblings revolt in their standard delusional fashion. Read more…

Patrick Chavis – LA Theatre Bites

World Premiere: BROTHERS PLAY @ LA Legacy – 7.5 out of 10 – Above Average! More…

 

MEAN GIRLS at the Pantages Theatre

Photo by Jenny Anderson

Photo by Jenny Anderson

Harker Jones – BroadwayWorld

Directed and choreographed by Tony winner Casey Nicholaw, the musical is colorful and energetic and snarky and heartfelt all at once. He gets fantastic performances from his actors and the flow from rocking to reflective in the musical sequences is smoothly done. His choreography is jaw dropping at times, especially when employing the ensemble. The music by three-time Emmy Award winner Jeff Richmond and lyrics by two-time Tony nominee Nell Benjamin is varied to gorgeous effect, giving depth and insight to each of the major ensemble characters. Read more…

 

CHRISTMASTIME ORIGINS at Group Repertory Theatre

Lareen Faye. Photo by Doug Engalla.

Lareen Faye. Photo by Doug Engalla.

Martίn Hernández – Stage Raw

Welcome to the studios of K-GRT 73, North Hollywood’s home of radio theatre, otherwise known as the upstairs space of the Group Repertory Theatre. Artistic Director Doug Haverty has adapted four works from veteran Los Angeles theater journalist and playwright Julio Martinez’s The Eight Plays of Christmas: A Series of Radio Dramas. While this reviewer falls into the “bah, humbug” camp when it comes to Christmas, the nostalgic production under Kathleen Delaney’s sturdy direction presents some touching backstories of classic holiday songs and stories. We are also treated to a mixed bag of other holiday ditties, which the large and lively ensemble delivers with gusto. Read more…

Through January 15

SUSTAINED RELEASE at The Larking House

Photo by Matthew M. Hayashi and Gennie Kauper.

Photo by Matthew M. Hayashi and Gennie Kauper.

Patrick Chavis – The Orange Curtain Review

I watched the World premiere of Sustained Release yesterday, written by local Orange County Playwright Matthew M. Hayashi, in a 3-car garage. Don’t be fooled by this humble location. The Larking house isn’t fixing cars in here. They’ve created art.
Read more…

Through December 17

Troubies, Tanner, and a Top Tenth list

Matt Walker and Rick Batalla. Photo by Douglas Leadwell.

Matt Walker and Rick Batalla. Photo by Douglas Leadwell.

Don Shirley – Angeles Stage

Plus ‘Annie,’ ‘Clyde’s,’ ‘Invincible,’ Sheldon Epps’ memoir.

Tis the season for Troubadour Theater’s annual holiday hoot. As usual, it’s a refreshing antidote to too many competing “Christmas Carol”s.

This year Troubies director Matt Walker takes aim at the 1988 shoot-’em-up film “Die Hard.” Its setting — a corporate holiday party in a Century City high-rise — is the excuse for the timing in December. The Troubie title is “Die Heart,” because the show includes melodies and riffs, if not the precise lyrics, of some of the songs from the rock group Heart. Read more…

INVINCIBLE at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

Kay Sibal and Khamary Rose. Photo by Sean Daniels/DVR Productions.

Kay Sibal and Khamary Rose. Photo by Sean Daniels/DVR Productions.

Katie Buenneke – Theatre Digest

If you’re a long-time subscriber to this newsletter, you know that I love to check out a new musical that mashes up pop songs with a classic story. Sometimes, those shows are good and fun (e.g. Six, & Juliet). Sometimes they are not (Once Upon a One More Time). Sometimes they’re in between (Head Over Heels). This show, which grafts Pat Benatar songs onto something approximating the plot of Romeo and Juliet, is, unfortunately, terrible. Read more…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Invincible The Musical is currently receiving its World Premiere production at The Wallis in Beverly Hills. The tagline is “Romeo & Juliet reimagined through the music of Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo”. If it is true that “Love is a Battlefield,” then this reimagining of R&J is a bombed-out wasteland. Sort of like the three-story graffiti and bullet-riddled structure that Scenic Designer Arnel Sancianco has created as the backdrop for the mindless action Director Tiffany Nichole Greene has staged.
Read more…

Through December 18

 

DIE HEART, Troubadour Theater Company at the Colony Theatre

Matt Walker and Rick Batalla. Photo by Douglas Leadwell.

Matt Walker and Rick Batalla. Photo by Douglas Leadwell.

Terry Morgan – Stage Raw

There has been much discussion in recent years on social media concerning whether or not the 1998 film Die Hard qualifies as “a Christmas movie.” On the surface, the Bruce Willis actioner may not seem to be a good candidate for “holiday classic,” what with its brutal murders, hangings and cocaine abuse. Indeed, the “classics” are rather a motley bunch, including mutant reindeer, a near suicide off a bridge, a child’s malnourished Christmas tree and the vanishingly unlikely spectacle of a rich miser suddenly becoming empathetic. Here to answer this controversial question with a definitive yes, the Troubadour Theater Company’s Die Heart (Die Hard featuring the music of the band, Heart) is a hilarious adaptation of its source material that will make the holidays much brighter. Read more…

Through December 18

LITTLE THEATRE at Rogue Machine

Zachary Grant, Jenny O’Hara, Ryan Brophy. Photo by Jeff Lorch.

Zachary Grant, Jenny O’Hara, Ryan Brophy. Photo by Jeff Lorch.

Martίn Hernández – Stage Raw

In the 1990s, playwright Justin Tanner was the wunderkind of small venue L.A. theatre. Tanner churned out hit after hit, like Pot Mom, Zombie Attack, and Teen Girl, for the now defunct Cast Theatre, where he was resident playwright. The Cast was also where artistic director Diana Gibson reigned supreme, raking in the bucks from Tanner’s prolific output while raking him over the coals over, in her esteemed opinion, his paltry writing skills. Read more…

Terry Morgan – ArtsBeat LA

Memory plays are a tricky proposition. Hew strictly to the truth and the story may not be dramatic enough; indulge in creative license and literal-minded people might object. The Glass Menagerie stands as a successful example of the form, whereas the unfinished novel Answered Prayers by Truman Capote so outraged its real-life subjects that it essentially ended his writing career. I’d like to say that Justin Tanner’s new play about his decade of working at the Cast Theatre during the 90s with artistic director Diana Gibson is as successful at capturing the past as Menagerie. Although I enjoyed the show’s humor and performances, it unfortunately feels more like the Capote work and comes off more as a venting of old grievances than a balanced play. Read more…

Patrick Chavis – LA Theatre Bites

Old People say the Darndest Things: World Premiere: Little Theatre @ Rogue Machine Theatre – Review. More…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Playwright Justin Tanner was a mainstay of the Los Angeles 99-seat theatre scene in the 1990s. He was the resident playwright at The Cast theatre where productions of his plays—Bitter Women, Teen Girl, Coyote Woman, Pot Mom-all premiered. His play Zombie Attack, written with Andy Daley, played there for ten years. Thanks to founder Ted Schmitt, The Cast had a reputation for nurturing playwrights and presenting World Premiere productions. After his death, Diana Gibson took over the theatre and the mentoring. Tanner was her prize protégé although an LA Weekly cover story on Tanner labeled him “The Prisoner of El Centro Avenue”. Tanner’s association with Gibson and Gibson’s with The Cast ended in 1999. Read more…

Through January 8