Layout Image

Archive for The Mark Taper Forum

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…

CLYDE’S at Mark Taper Forum

Photo by Craig Schwartz Photography

Photo by Craig Schwartz Photography

Terry Morgan – ArtsBeat LA

According to a survey conducted by American Theater magazine, Lynn Nottage’s Clyde’s is currently the most produced play in the U.S. It’s not surprising that Nottage’s work is being done; she’s received the Pulitzer Prize twice during her illustrious career. But it’s a little disappointing that this show seems to be her most popular. I think she’s a talented playwright and have enjoyed several of her other creations, but I found this play to be meretricious and phony – I didn’t believe a minute of it. The new production of Clyde’s at the Taper is professionally done and features a capable cast, but the play itself feels more like a safe CBS TV sitcom than anything resembling reality. Read more…

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

A word to the wise: eat, preferably a sandwich, before seeing Clyde’s at the Mark Taper Forum. After the show ends, you’ll be hungry, not just for food like Montrellous (Kevin Kenerly), the executive chef of the titular diner, describes, but for an artistic experience that’s more substantial than what you you’ve just seen onstage. Read more…

Margaret Gray – Los Angeles Times

“If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen,” advises a favorite proverb of tough-love advocates. And in a universe with free will and infinite possibilities, it’s probably sound advice. Don’t sit around grousing about your situation; find one you like better.

But what if there’s nowhere else to go? What if that inferno of a kitchen is your whole world? Read more…

Tracey Paleo – BroadwayWorld

“Sometimes a hero is more than just a sandwich.”

Quite possibly, a perfect production. Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage’s Tony Award-nominated CLYDE’S at the Mark Taper Forum is heartfelt, funny, and seriously delicious.

From writing to performances, direction to delivery, costuming, scenic, sound, and lighting design, opening night saw 100% on the Richter scale of live theater. Read more…

Through December 18

Remembering humbug hunter Dan Sullivan. ‘Search’ slackens. ‘Simone’ simmers.

Dan Sullivan at his desk. Photo provided by Ben Sullivan.

Dan Sullivan at his desk. Photo provided by Ben Sullivan.

Don Shirley – Angeles Stage

Plus ‘Desert Stories for Lost Girls” at LATC, ‘Babe’ and ‘To the Bone’ in Atwater.

Dan Sullivan, the former LA Times theater critic who ushered LA readers into the modern theatrical world, died last week at the age of 86. It’s time to remember him, before moving on to current fare such as “The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe” at the Mark Taper Forum and “Nina Simone: Four Women’ at South Coast Repertory.

During the ‘70s and ‘80s — two decades when theater in Greater LA was rapidly proliferating — Sullivan was its most important chronicler. And he helped expand public awareness of the region’s theater not only by bearing witness but by bringing a winning wit to that task. The often playful quality of his prose probably drew readers who weren’t all that interested in theater, as well as the fervent fans. Read more…


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

Barding in the park, after dark

Kalean Ung and Sam Breen in Macbeth. Photo by Grettel Cortes.

Kalean Ung and Sam Breen in Macbeth. Photo by Grettel Cortes.

Don Shirley – Angeles Stage

‘Macbeth’ in Griffith Park, ‘Comedy’ in Irvine. CTG’s month of emulating Netflix. ‘Beach People,’ ‘Lavender Men,’ ‘Valley Song.’ Jason Alexander charts his Abby road.

Have you savored Shakespeare in the park this summer? This coming week might be the best possible moment for this annual ritual, as well as one of the last such opportunities. A daytime heat wave is expected this week, so you might not even need that extra wrap that you take, for example, to Topanga in June.

I’m recommending two productions far from Topanga — suiting different moods and, perhaps, with different ticket availability. If you want something wicked and wild, go to a dell in Griffith Park for Independent Shakespeare Company’s “Macbeth.” If you want something whimsical and witty, try the errrantly spelled “Comedy of Errrorrs” at New Swan Shakespeare Festival in Irvine. Read more…


© 2022 Craig Schwartz Photography

Mike Birbiglia. © 2022 Craig Schwartz Photography

Jonas Schwartz-Owen – Theatermania

Mike Birbiglia makes a triumphant return to the stage at the Mark Taper Forum with another intimate discussion in his disarming, everyman fashion. Riffing on family, health, exercise, and grammar, Center Theatre Group’s production of Mike Birbiglia: The Old Man and the Pool has the audience in stitches, laughing hysterically at the frailty of humanity. Read more…

Peter Debruge

If you’ve ever seen Mike Birbiglia before, whether on stage or screen (or a couple months back, filling in for Jimmy Kimmel), then “The Old Man and the Pool” feels like catching up with an old friend — albeit one with a lot more health problems than you. Read more…

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

Mike Birbiglia is not dead. But you would be forgiven for thinking otherwise while watching his show that’s currently playing at the Taper. Yes, he’s standing in front of you, performing a comedy set, but the way he talks about his health, you might be tempted to think this is a posthumous monologue. Thankfully, though, Mike Birbiglia is alive and well, and here to perform his latest comedy set. Read more…

Now through August 28

How did Angeles Stage mark its first birthday? Via UNCLE VANYA, DRIVE MY CAR

The cast of Uncle Vanya. Photo by Jeff Lorch

The cast of Uncle Vanya. Photo by Jeff Lorch

Plus a merry but muddled ‘Windsor’ at the Theatricum, ‘King James’ and two new musicals on opposite poles of the gender discussion.

Don Shirley – Angeles Stage

Angeles Stage first appeared a year ago, as masked audiences were beginning to return to LA stages in person, after more than a year of mostly virtual-only activity. I urged “LA theater,” which meant audiences as well as creators, to “rise and shine.” A lot of productions arose within greater LA during the past year.

Pasadena Playhouse’s “Uncle Vanya” shines more brightly than any other currently-running production I’ve seen…If you don’t know Anton Chekhov’s “Vanya,” or the acclaimed Japanese film “Drive My Car” that was deeply inspired by “Vanya,” now is a great opportunity to combine them into a powerful one-two exploration of the all-too-human emotions that adults frequently face, at least during the last couple of centuries. Read more…


Joan Marcus

Joan Marcus

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

When playwright Heidi Schreck was in high school, she traveled the country participating in Constitutional debate competitions. It was primarily a scheme cooked up by her mother to pay for college tuition with prize money (it worked), and she became an expert at defending or opposing various amendments to panels of judges that almost always consisted of exclusively old, white men.
Read more…

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

In attendance last Friday at What the Constitution Means to Me, Heidi Schreck’s droll insightful play directed by Oliver Butler at the Mark Taper Forum, I had the rare experience of  bonding with the rest of my fellow audience members.
Read more…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Heidi Schreck’s What the Constitution Means to Me arrives as the Mark Taper Forum with a lot of advance hype—Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize nominations, etc. It certainly is relevant given the current political climate in the United States……
Read more…

Now running through February 28

A PLAY IS A POEM at The Mark Taper Forum

Craig  Schwartz

Craig Schwartz

Terry Morgan  -  Stage Raw

Ethan Coen is one of the greatest screenwriters of the past 50 years, with some of his works — Miller’s CrossingFargo and The Big Lebowski — standing as masterworks of the form. He’s also an accomplished short story author and poet, as attested to by Gates of Eden and The Drunken Driver Has the Right of Way, respectively. So, it’s disappointing to report that his new show at the Taper, A Play Is a Poem, is at best a mildly amusing collection of four short plays, with an implacably bad, tough-to-endure one-act positioned right at the center.

Now running through October 13