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JAGGED LITTLE PILL at the Hollywood Pantages

Heidi Blickenstaff, Allison Shepard and Jena VanElslander. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Heidi Blickenstaff, Allison Shepard and Jena VanElslander. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Margaret Gray – Los Angeles Times

As a singer and songwriter, Alanis Morissette has one of the most distinctive voices in rock ’n’ roll. Her raw, quirky, brainy lyrics, idiosyncratic diction and powerfully expressive range mean that nobody in the universe sings quite like her. But if you subscribe to the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, there’s another universe somewhere in which everybody — whether teen, adult, male, female or nonbinary — sings just like Alanis Morissette. Read more…

Tracey Paleo – Gia On The Move

It’s the kind of play that…Florida Republicans would create legislation to ban. Mostly, though, JAGGED LITTLE PILL the musical is a re-imagined, “Mamma Mia-style”, kick-ass, modern teenage anthem as bold as the Alanis Morrissette lyrics it is set to. Read more…

Jonash Schwartz-Owen – Theatermania

Alanis Morissette has transformed her groundbreaking 1995 album Jagged Little Pill into a musical — one that promotes forgiveness, diversity, and affirmation. But by pounding it over the audience’s head with a loud, convoluted thud, the production at the Pantages is less a transformative experience and more a splitting headache. Read more…

Through October 2

L.A.’s Fountain Theatre responds to the fall of Roe with part obituary, part call to action

Aleisha Force and Kate Middleton. Photo by Jenny Graham

Aleisha Force and Kate Middleton. Photo by Jenny Graham

Margaret Gray – Los Angeles Times

On Friday, after the U.S. Supreme Court had overturned Roe vs. Wade, the cast and the audience at L.A.’s Fountain Theatre discussed the ruling across the footlights, right in the middle of a live show.

Performer Christina Hall reminded the crowd that all three of the justices appointed by former President Trump had promised at their confirmation hearings that they would not overturn precedents set by previous courts. “And then they did!” Hall shouted.

“Liars!” replied an audience member, prompting claps and grumbles of agreement.

But then we all settled down and watched as Hall delivered the rest of her lines. She wasn’t breaking character. She was playing Sarah Weddington, the lawyer who represented Jane Roe before the Supreme Court in 1973, in a staged reading of Lisa Loomer’s 2016  play “Roe.” Read more…

STILL at Pasadena Playhouse

Jeff Lorch

Jeff Lorch

Margaret Gray – LA Times

The historic Pasadena Playhouse is empty. No ticket holders gossiping and rubbing elbows in the Spanish Revival-style courtyard. No line at the bar.
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Closed

HUMAN INTEREST STORY at the Fountain Theatre

Jenny Graham

Jenny Graham

Terry Morgan  -  Stage Raw

Poverty and homelessness and what to do about them are hardly new matters of concern. King Lear berates his newly-found conscience thus: “Poor naked wretches…how shall your houseless heads and unfed sides…defend you from seasons such as these? O, I have ta’en too little care of this!”
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Margaret Gray – LA Times

The plot and themes of Frank Capra’s film “Meet John Doe,” released in 1941, feel startlingly pertinent to America in 2020. A craven plutocrat buys a city’s newspaper, lays off its seasoned journalists and repurposes it as propaganda for his political campaign — and the public eats it up.
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Now running through April 5

FROZEN at the Pantages Theatre

Deen van Meer

Deen van Meer

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

Between the holiday season, the recent release of Frozen 2 in movie theaters, and the arrival of the musical version of Frozen at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre, things are feeling quite festive.
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Margaret Gray – LA Times

Remember L.A. in 2013 at the peak of the mania for the Disney movie “Frozen”? When the clarion command to “Let It Go” rang through the air? When little girls wore blue satin and blond fishtail braids and conjured fearsome powers that they, like Princess Elsa, struggled to hold back?
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Now running through February 2

 

THE GREAT LEAP at the Pasadena Playhouse

Jenny Graham

Jenny Graham

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

Sometimes the most compelling drama in sports does not happen on the court or field, but behind the scenes. In The Great Leap, a play by Lauren Yee that opened in its Los Angeles premiere this weekend at the Pasadena Playhouse, in association with the East West Players, basketball serves as an entry point into an ambitious story about familial, cultural, and political conflict.
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Margaret Gray – LA Times

You may not know — I didn’t — that basketball is huge in China. Missionaries introduced the sport there in 1895, soon after it was invented, and when the Communists came into power in 1949, it was one of the few Western cultural contributions they didn’t criminalize. Apparently Chairman Mao was a fan.

Lauren Yee’s stunning play “The Great Leap,” now at the Pasadena Playhouse in a gorgeous co-production with East West Players….
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Now running through December 1

THE ABUELAS at Antaeus Theater Company at the Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center

Jenny Graham

Jenny Graham

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

The Abuelas is the second play by Stephanie Alison Walker to address the tragedy of Los Desaparecidos — Argentinian citizens who opposed the military junta that governed the country between 1976 and 1983 and who fell prey to the right-wing death squads that kidnapped, tortured and murdered thousands.
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Margaret Gray – LA Times

Stephanie Alison Walker’s “The Abuelas,” now at Antaeus Theatre Company in Glendale, is the kind of play that makes staff dramaturgs earn their keep: so much history to contextualize.
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Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

In March 1976, a military junta took control of Argentina, ready to dispose of anyone who opposed them. In the years that followed, it is estimated that as many as 30,000 people disappeared as a result of the “Dirty War.” The “disappeareds” included many young pregnant women who gave birth in captivity before being murdered. Their babies were taken from them and illegally adopted out to families with connections to the military.
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Now running through November 25

ANASTASIA at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre

Evan Zimmerman

Evan Zimmerman

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

If you, like me, grew up on the 1997 animated film version of Anastasia, you probably remember the creepy and scary Rasputin, and the titular heroine eventually defeating him by destroying a magical glass vial. While much of the plot, and all of the memorable songs, are the same in the musical version that opened last night at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre, Rasputin and all of the supernatural elements have been removed. But despite those differences, this charming production evokes strong feelings of nostalgia, telling a touching tale of a traumatized princess attempting to find her way back to herself.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

The fate of Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanoff of Russia was one of the greatest mysteries of the early 20th century as at least ten women came forward claiming to be her, even though she and her entire family of seven, led by Tsar Nicholas II, were said to have been murdered by their Bolshevik guards in July, 1918 after the Russian Revolution.
Read more…

Margaret Gray – LA Times

The most mysterious thing about the feisty, strawberry-blond protagonist of the musical “Anastasia,” whose national tour has landed at the Hollywood Pantages, is not her affliction by what doctors today might diagnose as retrograde amnesia or dissociative fugue. (Her story takes place in 1927, in the infancy of neuroscience, when doctors just called everyone crazy.)
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Now running through October 27

 

NEVER EVER LAND at Studio/Stage

Matt Kamimura

Matt Kamimura

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Singer Michael Jackson was probably the world’s biggest celebrity and music icon in 1993 when he was accused of sexually abusing a 13-year old boy during the boy’s visits to Jackson’s California Neverland ranch.
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Margaret Gray – LA Times

To find juicy plots, poor old Shakespeare had to slog through “Holinshed’s Chronicles” and “Plutarch’s Lives.” Today’s playwrights need only switch on the news for material — and then write like the wind, because something crazier is bound to happen in an hour.
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Now running through October 27

THE SOLID LIFE OF SUGAR WATER at Deaf West Theatre

Brandon Simmoneau

Brandon Simmoneau

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

What does intimacy look like after two people have been forever changed by a devastating tragedy? The Solid Life of Sugar Water, a play by Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) currently in its US premiere at Deaf West Theatre in Los Angeles, follows a young couple as they attempt to connect sexually for the first time after the stillbirth of their child.
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Margaret Gray – LA Times

There’s a reason so many love stories end with the wedding. What happens later — the daily intimacy of marriage itself, with its late-night misunderstandings and morning breath — is often less picturesque.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

British playwright Jack Thorne’s two-hander The Solid Life of Sugar Water is about a couple learning to recover from a horrific experience.
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Now running through October 13

WITCH at Geffen Playhouse

Jeff Lorch

Jeff Lorch

Terry Morgan  -  Talkin’ Broadway

When The Witch of Edmonton (written by William Rowley, Thomas Dekker and John Ford) premiered in 1621, its tale of a woman selling her soul to the devil to gain revenge on her neighbors was played as a tragic drama. Jen Silverman’s new version of the story, simply titled Witch, is very much a comedy, although tragedy is still present.
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Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

At the beginning of Witch, a funny and insightful play by Jen Silverman now in its west coast premiere at the Geffen Playhouse, the titular character (Maura Tierney) addresses the audience, posing a bit of a warning.
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Margaret Gray – LA Times

In “Witch,” Jen Silverman’s delightful recasting of the obscure 1621 tragicomedy “The Witch of Edmonton,” characters find themselves in Jacobean dress and Jacobean circumstances, but they speak like Americans today. Nary a “prithee” or “forsooth” to be heard.
Read more…

Jonas Schwartz – Theatermania

Witch, receiving its West Coast premiere at the Geffen Playhouse, explores sexual politics and humanity’s bloodlust for power. Loosely based on William Rowley, Thomas Dekker, and John Ford’s 1621 play The Witch of Edmonton, this one-act battle of the sexes proves that little in human nature has changed since the 1600s.
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Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

From Dante’s Inferno and Milton’s Paradise Lost to Disney’s Fantasia and Broadway’s Damn Yankees, The Devil has been a popular character in books, music, film and stage works.
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Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Witch, Jen Silverman’s incisive illuminating play directed by Marti Lyons at Geffen Playhouse, draws inspiration from The Witch of Edmonton, a Jacobean melodrama conceived around the real-life tragedy of an elderly woman named Elizabeth Sawyer, burned as a witch in the British community of Edmonton in 1621.
Read more…

Now running through September 29

 

MISS SAIGON at the Pantages Theatre

Matthew Murphy

Matthew Murphy

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

Miss Saigon, the musical by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil with lyrics by Boublil and Richard Maltby Jr., opened this week at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood following a successful Broadway revival in 2017 and 2018. Based on Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly, it takes place in 1970s Saigon during the Vietnam War and tells the story of a South Vietnamese woman and a United States Marine who fall in love.    Read more…

Margaret Gray – LA Times

“I’m an American. How can I fail to do good?”

That’s the rhetorical question sung by the ex-G.I. Chris in the musical “Miss Saigon,” which opened last week at the Hollywood Pantages — one that resonates differently now than it would have in 1978, when the scene is set, and in 1991, when the musical premiered on Broadway.     Read more…

Now running through August 11