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Archive for The Huffington Post – Page 2

BACKYARD at Atwater Village Theatre

Photo by Jeff Galter Photography

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Backyard wrestling – the emulation of the aggressive antics of professional wrestlers by ordinary folk – serves as the point of departure for Mickey Birnbaum’s funny, frenzied, probing play, Backyard.   Read more…

Hoyt Hilsman  -  Huffington Post

Mickey Birnbaum, one of LA’s most gifted playwrights, returns with the stunningly brilliant and hilarious tale of teenage backyard wrestling in the wasteland of San Diego’s border suburbs. Birnbaum’s gift for dialogue and unsentimental character portrayal is on full display here, as he dissects with great humor and insight the lives of a family of lost souls. Read more…

Now running through July 13.



Photo by Michelle Day

Over the past couple of decades, Australia has produced a bumper crop of movie icons, from Mel Gibson and Nicole Kidman to Hugh Jackman and Cate Blanchett. But what most fans don’t realize is that many of these movie stars – and lots of other budding Aussie talent in Hollywood – cut their teeth in a booming theater scene in the land of Oz.

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A COFFIN IN EGYPT at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts


Photo by Lynn Lane

Hoyt Hilsman  -  Huffington Post

A Coffin in Egypt, a rarely produced 1980 play by Horton Foote would seem an unlikely subject for an opera, but in the hands of the marvelous Frederica von Stade and the talented composer and librettist team of Ricky Ian Gordon and Leonard Foglia, it becomes a tour de force. Set in rural Texas, the opera is essentially a 90-minute operatic monologue that tells the story of the star-crossed life and unhappy marriage of Myrtle Bledsoe , elegantly portrayed by von Stade.   Read more…

Bob Verini -   Arts In LA

The legendary (it says so on the lobby cards) mezzo Frederica von Stade reasserts her claim to being the greatest actor among contemporary opera stars in Ricky Ian Gordon’s chamber piece A Coffin in Egypt, in town for a too-limited run. Horton Foote’s 1998 virtual monodrama for grande dame is as fertile a source for dramatization as was Jean Cocteau’s The Human Voice, musicalized by Francis Poulenc, and has much the same impact.  Read more…

MAN IN A CASE at the Broad Stage

Photo by T. Charles Erickson

Photo by T. Charles Erickson

Hoyt Hilsman  -  Huffington Post

Even in this subdued and somber rendering of a pair of Chekhov stories, Mikhail Baryshnikov and his creative partners from the Big Dance Theater display a magical grace and style that transcends the bleakness of Chekhov’s tales. Big Dance Theater directors Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar, who also adapted the Chekhov stories, fuse techniques from theater, dance, music and video into a mélange performance. Read more…

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Man in a Case, a Big Dance Theatre production conceived and directed by Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar and featuring former Russian dance super-star Mikhail Baryshnikov, dramatizes two of Anton Chekhov’s short stories, layering his narratives with videography, music and dance. The aim, presumably, is to deepen and expand the Chekhovian experience. But while the multimedia effects may be imaginative, in the end their chaotic sturm und drang creates distance and disinterest rather than the empathy the writer sought to create.  Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Experimental art of all kinds requires the will to fail, necessarily more often than not. Nevertheless, there is a lot of interesting and innovative experimental theater afoot, but the avant-garde is not immune to trends, nor even to its own alternative brands of conformity.  Read more…

Melinda Schupmann – Arts In LA

The works of Anton Chekhov, arguably one of the greatest writers of short fiction, have been twisted and bent into countless play productions, attempting either to capture the soul of the work or to find an inventive approach that speaks to theatrical craft. Baryshnikov Productions’ conception of the stories at Broad Stage appears to be trying to do both and have moderate success in the main. Read more…

Now running through May 10.

FIREMEN at Atwater Village Theatre


Photo by Jeff Galfer Photography

Bob Verini -   ArtsInLA

The Echo Theater Company has gone to some lengths to sidestep, in its pre-opening publicity, the subject matter of Tommy Smith’s remarkable new play titled Firemen. The world premiere drama is described as “a different kind of love story” that “explores an unthinkable love relationship,” though what proves unthinkable is discussing the work without giving away what’s at its heart: namely, the extended sexual intimacy between a 14-year-old middle schooler and his school’s main-office secretary.    Read more…

Margaret Gray – LA Times

Pyromaniacs, at ease: No firefighters actually appear in Tommy Smith’s new play “Firemen,” in a world premiere by the formerly nomadic Echo Theater Company in its new home, Atwater Village Theatre. There are a few references to an offstage character said to be a fireman, but otherwise the flames in this black comedy are all metaphorical. Read more…

Deborah Klugman – ArtsBeatLA

Firemen is one of those intense discomfiting plays that can have you squirming in your seat, wishing you’d opted to see something less painfully and graphically real. It’s also, despite the spot-on dialogue, drawn out: the individual scenes could be briefer and the story could be told more concisely.  Read more..

Hoyt Hilsman  -  The Huffington Post

Beginning with the trial and conviction of schoolteacher Mary Kay Letourneau for having an affair with an underage student, the national media have taken a predictably salacious view of affairs between female teachers and male students. But in his world premiere play, Firemen at the Echo Theater in Los Angeles, playwright Tommy Smith paints a more nuanced and penetrating portrait of the tragic dynamics of this illicit and illegal liaison. Read more…

Now running through March 16.

I’LL GO ON at the Kirk Douglas Theatre

Steven Leigh Morris – LA Weekly


Photo by Craig Schwartz

“That’s the story!” repeated with droll unctuousness becomes a motif in actor Barry McGovern’s solo performance of stories by Samuel Beckett, presented by the Gate Theatre of Dublin at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. The texts — “Molloy,” “Malone Dies” and “The Unnamable” — were selected by McGovern and Gerry Dukes, and the show was directed by Colm O’Briain.
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Bob Verini -   ArtsInLA

An interesting irony about Samuel Beckett is that while he wrote brilliantly about everybody’s anguish, that writing is hardly to everybody’s taste. This is especially true of his seminal trio of novels from the 1950s, variously dealing with man’s relationship to death and the infinite. Malloy; Malone Dies; and The Unnamable are long, dense, and largely unparagraphed, tough for even the most fanatical of English majors to work their way through.  Read more…

Hoyt Hilsman  -  Huffington Post

Prominent Irish actor Barry McGovern, who is considered one of the leading interpreters of the work of Samuel Beckett, performs texts selected from three of Beckett’s novels, Molloy, Malone Dies and The Unnamable. While Beckett is best known for his stage works, the novels reflect the bleakness of Beckett’s world view and his obsession with language. Read more…

Jonas Schwartz – TheaterMania

After dazzling audiences as Vladimir in Waiting For Godot in 2012 at The Mark Taper Forum, Barry McGovern has returned to Center Theatre Group with I’ll Go On, a two-act monologue pulling excerpts from Beckett’s three novels, Molloy, Malone Dies, and The Unnamable, now playing the Kirk Douglas. McGovern is triumphant as three displaced title characters who luridly mull about death and sex. Read more…

Now running through February 9.

Sleepless in Seattle at the Pasadena Playhouse

Sleepless in Seattle

SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE – Music by Ben Toth, lyrics by Sam Forman.

Hoyt Hilsman – Huffington Post

After a long journey from the screen to the musical stage – which included numerous comings-and-goings of composer/lyricist teams – the Sleepless in Seattle musical has arrived at the Pasadena Playhouse. It is a huge challenge to adapt an iconic film that was so closely identified with its two stars – Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. But this version has largely succeeded by dint of the talented musical team of composer Ben Toth and lyricist Sam Forman, as well as a gifted trio of lead actors – Tim Martin Gleason, Chandra Lee Schwartz and Joe West.
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Dany Margolies – ArtsInLA

If you’ve ever had nothing else to think about and thus spent a second or two wondering if the 1993 film Sleepless in Seattle depended on Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan for its charm, this world premiere musicalized version of it provides your answer. Yes, it needed them for its success. Even that pair, however, couldn’t save this stage rendition.
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THE CRUCIBLE at the Antaeus Company


Photo by Karianne Flaathen



THE CRUCIBLE by Arthur Miller.


Neal Weaver – LA Weekly

Arthur Miller’s play, first produced on Broadway in 1953, was Miller’s impassioned response to McCarthyism and the witch-hunts launched by the House Un-American Activities Committee. But the fact that it has become an oft-produced American classic and the basis for two films (including a French version with screenplay by Jean-Paul Sartre) reminds us that it’s not just a political screed.
Read more…

Hoyt Hilsman – Huffington Post

The distinguished Antaeus Company, L.A.’s classic theater ensemble of extraordinarily talented actors, presents Arthur Miller’s tale of the Salem witch trials, his parable of mass hysteria and the dangers of theocracy, or any blind ideology, for that matter. Co-directors Armin Shimerman and Geoffrey Wade guide two casts, who perform the play on various dates with skill and imagination. Read more

Terry Morgan – LAIST

Much has been made over the years about how Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible was paralleling the Salem witch trials to the McCarthy hearings of the 1950s, and while that is certainly true, it does the play a disservice to think that’s all it is.
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Master Class, International City Theatre

Photo by Suzanne Mapes.


Master Class by Terrence McNally.


David C. Nichols – L.A. Times

It’s a softer-grained “Master Class” than usual in Long Beach, but just try to look away. Although more muted than some past editions, this adroit International City Theatre revival of Terrence McNally’s Tony-winning fantasia on Maria Callas’ life and art carries real immediacy and thematic point.   Read more…



Hoyt Hilsman – The Huffington Post

Gigi Bermingham, one of the leading lights of Los Angeles theater, gives a masterful performance in Terrence McNally’s challenging portrait of opera diva Maria Callas. With a strong supporting cast under the skilled direction of Todd Nielsen, Bermingham brings Callas to life – make that larger than life – fascinating flaws and all.  Read more…



Shirle Gottlieb – Gazette Newspapers

Leonard Bernstein referred to legendary soprano Maria Callas as “The Bible of opera.” Opera News still called her a “diva” and “La Divina” three decades after her death. And Terrence McNally received his fourth Tony Award for “Master Class,” a brilliant work about the last tortuous phase of Callas’ life.   Read more…



The Miser, Parson’s Nose Productions

Photo by Sasha.


The Miser by Moliere, adaptation by Lance Davis.


Hoyt Hilsman – The Huffington Post

Los Angeles has a star shining brightly in its theatrical firmament. Parson’s Nose Productions, a small ensemble troupe in Pasadena, has the unique mission of presenting classic stories in shorter, entertaining and more contemporary formats to appeal to the broadest possible audiences, young and old. Their dynamic and wickedly talented artistic director, Lance Davis, who adapts and stars in most of the productions, believes that the classics endure because they speak illuminating truths to each generation.  Read more…



The Snake Can, Odyssey Theatre

Photo by Ed Krieger.


The Snake Can by Kathryn Graf.


Hoyt Hilsman – The Huffington Post

Kathryn Graf’s paen to the perils of middle-aged dating has a solid premiere under the skillful direction of Steven Robman and a very talented ensemble of actors. Set in the romantic jungle of New York City, Graf’s play focuses on the lives and loves of Harriet (Jane Kaczmarek), widowed with children, Meg (Sharon Sharth) single and cynical but still looking, and Nina (Diane Cary), married but seeking a new path. Read more…


Pauline Adamek –

Writer Kathryn Graf (author of late 2011’s hit play Hermetically Sealed) perfectly captures the easy and sparkling conversation between three longtime female friends, the kind that always resumes mid-sentence. Nina (Diane Cary), Harriet (Jane Kaczmarek) and Meg (Sharon Sharth), now middle aged, are all successful in their careers but unlucky in love for different reasons. The trio frequently gets together to drink wine and share war stories and encouragement as widowed Harriet nervously dips her toe into the online dating pool.  Read more…


David C. Nichols – L.A. Times

“Being newly single in middle age…. It’s like opening one of those child’s toys where the snake pops out of the can.” So goes The Snake Can at the Odyssey Theatre. Kathryn Graf’s wry, insightful dramedy about three longtime girlfriends and their internecine midlife crises surmounts some post-larval structural blips with pertinence, humor and heart.  Read more…


Shirle Gottlieb – Stage Happenings

As our population gets older, playwrights reach out to explore dramatic situations that extend beyond the graven milestone of “the big 4-0″ (our ominous fortieth birthday). Not many years ago, that number denoted entrance into (groan) “middle-age”– which, in turn, was the portal to “senior citizenship.” Read more…



You Can’t Take It With You, Antaeus Company at Deaf West Theatre

Photo by Geoffrey Wade.


You Can’t Take It With You by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart.


Dany Margolies –
The family at the heart of this George S. Kaufman–Moss Hart play is so cheerful, non-critical, and forgiving, it’s obviously sheer fantasy. It’s certainly unusual on stages so often filled with alcoholism, abuse, manipulation, and self-loathing. The Vanderhofs and Sycamores and their hangers-on live for free speech and the pursuit of happiness.   Read more…


Hoyt Hilsman – The Huffington Post

Kaufman and Hart’s comedy about the eccentric Sycamore family opened in 1936 during the depths of the Depression and won the Pulitzer Prize for that year. While it has long been regarded as an old chestnut in the theater world, there is a refreshing contemporary resonance in the revival at the Antaeus Company under the thoughtful direction of Gigi Bermingham.   Read more…