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Archive for BroadwayWorld

THE SEARCH FOR SIGNS OF INTELLIGENT LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE at the Mark Taper Forum

Cecily Strong. Photo by Craig Schwartz.

Cecily Strong. Photo by Craig Schwartz.

Katie Buenneke – Theatre Digest

Your opinion of this solo performance will likely be determined by your opinion of Cecily Strong. Personally, prior to seeing this show, I found her skilled, but not thrilling, and spending 96 minutes with her here reinforces that assessment. Read more…

Harker Jones – BroadwayWorld

When THE SEARCH FOR SIGNS OF INTELLIGENT LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE originally launched on Broadway in 1985, it was an immediate sensation. The one-woman show won star Lily Tomlin Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics’ Circle awards, and brought author Jane Wagner a Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience. In 1991, it was turned into a successful film, and now it has been relaunched and updated by Wagner, to mixed effect. Read more…

Through October 23

OKLAHOMA! at the Ahmanson Theatre

Sasha Hutchings and Sean Grandillo. Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade.

Sasha Hutchings and Sean Grandillo. Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade.

Steven Leigh Morris – Stage Raw

Composer-lyricists Rodgers and Hammerstein were Jewish immigrants to New York and understood very well both the American pressures of assimilation and the spurning of outsiders that culminates in the sacrifice of those who don’t belong. (The stream of victims is endless and ever-changing.) Their musical Oklahoma! opened on Broadway in 1943; central to it is the sacrifice, under dubious circumstances, of an outsider to the local community named Jud (Christopher Bannow) — a tragic thread in a musical that otherwise traffics in optimism. (“Oh, what a beautiful morning; oh, what a beautiful day. I’ve got a beautiful feeling, everything’s going my way.”) This was being sung on Broadway at the very moment the United States and its allies had prevailed in a war against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Read more…

Tracey Paleo – BroadwayWorld

It seems everybody is having one of two reactions to Director Daniel Fish’s revival of OKLAHOMA! currently playing at the Ahmanson Theatre. Love it or hate it, if you can make it to the second act, something extraordinary does happen. A gorgeous dream ballet that was formerly located at the end of the first act, is now performed exquisitely by Jordan Wynn. And it expresses the emotional life and soul of the entire story. Read more…

Through October 16

LAVENDER MEN at Skylight Theatre

Pete Ploszek, Alex Esola, and Roger Q. Mason, Photo by Jenny Graham

Pete Ploszek, Alex Esola, and Roger Q. Mason, Photo by Jenny Graham

Jonas Schwartz-Owen – Theatermania

Roger Q. Mason burns the history books with Lavender Men, a world premiere fantasia that re-envisions the passions of our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. The play, produced by Playwrights’ Arena & Skylight Theatre Company at the Skylight, is a revolutionary response to a country focused on keeping its constituents disenfranchised and invisible. As actor and writer, Mason is a force of nature, ready to bring all pillars of repressive society crashing down. Read more…

Tracey Paleo – BroadwayWorld

After years of development at SKYLAB*, readings in Los Angeles and at New York’s Circle in the Square, and a two-year setback by the coronavirus, LAVENDER MEN written by Roger Q. Mason (they/them), directed by Lovell Holder, has finally made its world premiere. As a high bar for gender non-conforming people, it is a shining star of storytelling. As a commentary on the life of an American icon, it is slightly hyperbolic although not entirely unsubstantiated according to whichever modern essays you might be reading about the subject matter. The term “lavender men”, in fact, is not an original concept. Read more...

Now through September 4

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

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

CLOWNFISH at Theatre of NOTE

Sean Michael Boozer, Susan Louise O’Connor, Mara Shuster-Lefkowitz and Omari Williams. Photo by Brad C. Light

Sean Michael Boozer, Susan Louise O’Connor, Mara Shuster-Lefkowitz and Omari Williams. Photo by Brad C. Light

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

In comedy, silly plots are easily forgiven if the writing is witty or insightful, or if one or more performers is so engaging that other shortcomings can be overlooked. With Clownfish, Theatre of NOTE’s premiere production following the hiatus of the pandemic, none of this is so

Written by Amy Dellagiarino, the play takes place in an isolated cabin on the top of a mountain near Denver in the middle of winter. A wedding party has gathered to prepare for the wedding of Katie (Mara Shuster-Lefkowitz), a woman with a “wild” past, and Jake (Omari Williams), a conventional guy who has planned the event and who’s chosen this inauspicious locale because, well, it’s cheap. Outside the air is bitter cold, with snow drifts piling up, so you suspect from the start that Jake may come to regret his choice. Read more…

Harker Jones – BroadwayWorld

Theatre of NOTE returns after an enforced Covid break with a world premiere of a raucous ghost story. Six friends descend upon a Colorado mountain cabin in the middle of winter for a DIY wedding as a storm descends. Chaos and insanity ensue in addition to the eternal question: What is normal? Read more…

Now through August 6

MOULIN ROUGE! THE MUSICAL at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre

The ensemble of Moulin Rouge, The Musical!, North American Tour. Photo by Matthew Murphy for Murphy Made

Moulin Rouge, The Musical!, North American Tour. Photo by Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade

Terry Morgan – Stage Raw

The dumbing down of American musical theater continues apace with Moulin Rouge! The Musical, which throws the past 50 years of popular music into a moronic Mixmaster and performs the stitched-together “songs” with the regrettable aesthetic of a cut-rate Vegas revue or a taste-free ‘70s TV variety show. It’s doubly unfortunate, because the source material, Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 film, had originality, charm and visual panache to spare, but you would never guess that from this dreadful adaptation. The new production at the Pantages isn’t entirely without merit – a couple of the performers are clearly talented and the lighting design is impressive – but ultimately it’s three hours of your time that would be infinitely better spent elsewhere. Read more…

Jonas Schwartz-Owen – BroadwayWorld

There have been jukebox musicals for decades, but never has a jukebox been so overstuffed that the 45s came spiraling out of the cabinet, spinning off the stage to decapitate the audience. This Tony-winning musical extravaganza is completely ridiculous and utterly intoxicating. It pounds you into submission, and before you know it, you’re having a marvelous time. Read more…

Now through September 4

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM at Open Fist Theatre Company

Monazia Smith. Photo by Frank Ishman

Monazia Smith. Photo by Frank Ishman

Harker Jones – BroadwayWorld

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, originating in the 1500s and one of William Shakespeare’s most beloved and produced plays, has been adapted in countless ways over the past few centuries, including as films, musicals, ballets, operas, an animated Disney short, and even a disco-oriented off-Broadway takeoff called The Donkey Show, while having an impact felt in everything from The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, Dead Poets Society, and Woody Allen (A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy). Following all that, it is given a fresh spin by the Open Fist Theatre Company, changing the setting from Athens, Greece, to Athens, Georgia, in the antebellum South to mixed results. Leaving the original text intact, the comedy takes place on a plantation and focuses on both the wealthy family living there as well as their slaves, who are tasked with putting on a show for the gentry’s amusement. Hilarity ensues with magic, fairies, and shapeshifting. Read more…

Now through August 13

PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL at the Dolby Theatre

Photo by Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade

Photo by Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade

Harker Jones – BroadwayWorld

Rebooting a classic is always dicey. If it’s an exact blueprint, what’s the point? But deviating from that blueprint can alienate its fans. And how to make it fresh yet still retain the magic that made it work in the first place?

The producers of PRETTY WOMAN the musical learned the hard way just how difficult it is to replicate the alchemy of the 1990 rom-com that established Julia Roberts as the leading female movie star of the last decade of the 20th century. The film oozed PG-13 charm and, having been sanitized from its original, gritty concept, the Disney-owned Touchstone picture was a smash, grossing $178 million (almost $400 million in today’s dollars) and even garnering an Oscar nom for Roberts. It was a sensation. It’s iconic. And it’s a hard act to follow. Read more…

Now through July 3

COME FROM AWAY at the Ahmanson Theatre

Photo by Matthew Murphy

Photo by Matthew Murphy

Harker Jones – BroadwayWorld

Based on a true story of compassion in the face of horror, COME FROM AWAY dazzles with sheer exuberance, leading to a surprisingly moving conclusion. When terrorists took control of airplanes, using them as weapons and crashing them near the Pentagon and in New York City on September 11, 2001, the world came to a crashing halt. And that included the small town of Gander on the island of Newfoundland on the eastern end of Canada. Read more…

Now through June 12

MAN OF GOD at Geffen Playhouse

Photo by Jeff Lorch

Photo by Jeff Lorch

Peter Debruge – Variety

The lights come up on four Korean American teens crowded around a hotel bed. They’re members of a So Cal church group on a mission to Bangkok, Thailand — though the location only matters is the abstract. Audiences never leave the hotel room in “Man of God,” although director Maggie Burrows’ creative staging of this punchy feminist one-act from Anna Ouyang Moench has our imaginations working overtime. Read more…

Tracey Paleo – BroadwayWorld

In, MAN OF GOD, playwright Anna Ouyang Moench quite deftly gets right to the point in the setup for this extremely comic drama about four Asian-American high school girls on a mission trip to Thailand with their Pastor. And it’s definitely not what anyone expects. Read more…

Now through June 19

AFTERGLOW at the Hudson Theatre

Photo by Mati Gelman

Photo by Mati Gelman

Harker Jones – BroadwayWorld

Relationships are complicated. And whether it’s marriage, friendship, or with your cat, they become exponentially more complicated when there are more than two people involved, which is what gay married thirtysomethings Josh (Noah Bridgestock) and Alex (James Hayden Rodriguez) discover through their open relationship when Josh breaks the cardinal sin of polyamory… Read more…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Have you ever been in a threesome? Or attempted a triad relationship? That is the gist of S. Asher Gelman’s three-hander one-act Afterglow, at Hollywood’s Hudson Mainstage thru July 24. Josh (Noah Bridgestock) is a New York theatre actor married to Alex (James Hayden Rodriguez) a chemist. After nine years together, they are successful enough to afford a kick-ass apartment and are contemplating having a child through surrogacy. As the action opens, Josh and Alex are amid some hot sex play with their latest pickup, Darius (Nathan Mohebbi). Read more…

Extended through October 9