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Archive for TheatreMania

THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME at the La Jolla Playhouse

Photo by Kevin Berne

Photo by Kevin Berne

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

When Disney Theatricals launched an epic musical version of the 1996 animated film in Berlin in 1999, The Hunchback of Notre Dame was the first Disney production to open outside the United States. With additional songs by the original writers Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz and a book and direction by the acclaimed James Lapine, the show broke box-office records and ran for three years. Now the producers have mounted the first U.S. production at San Diego’s La Jolla Playhouse but with a new book by Peter Parnell and direction by Scott Schwartz. Read more…



JDT - 1

Photo by Michael Lamont

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Sporting a title so long that the average online reader might not even get through it, Discord reconfigures Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit through the filter of Steve Allen’s Emmy-winning 1977-1981 PBS series Meeting of the Minds. Trapped in a locked, baldly-lit white room, three deceased geniuses articulately thrash out their contending views of Scripture as much out of the entrenched stubbornness of their morally compromised egos as their passionate convictions  Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

olitical writer Scott Carter (executive producer of Real Time With Bill Maher) weaves the factual lives of three world icons — Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens, and Leo Tolstoy, all of whom composed a gospel of Jesus’ teachings — into a fantasy discussion about religion and the failure of our tutors to consistently practice what they preach. Read more…

Now running through November 23.

HIT at the Los Angeles Theatre Center

Photo by Ed Krieger

Photo by Ed Krieger

Margaret Gray – LA Times

Whenever I read about the artistic scandals of the past — the near-riot provoked by Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring,” for example — I glumly conclude that we have grown so jaded that art has lost its power to appall. Read more…

Steven Leigh Morris – Stage Raw

Playwright Alice Tuan’s description of her own play’s title, Hit, as explained in her program note, suggests a work so fragmented that one scene has little to do with the next: “I started by writing five scenes where each scene had some sort of hit in it; hit by a car, hit on by an older woman, hit of a joint, a hit in the eye. . . ” Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

The new play Hit by Alice Tuan, currently playing Los Angeles Theatre Center, unevenly shifts from hard-hitting drama to black comedy to avant-garde theater yet never makes clear its intentions. And though the actors are skilled professionals, they are not able to make the script’s unlikable characters relateable.  Read more…

Now running through June 8.

CATS at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts


Photo by Michael Lamont

Pauline Adamek – Stage Raw

In 1981, a musical adaptation by Andrew Lloyd Webber of British poet T. S. Eliot’s collection Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats took London’s West End by storm. Cats was immediately transferred Stateside, where the Tony Award-winning musical still holds the record for being the second longest-running show in Broadway history.   Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

The new production of Cats at the La Mirada Theatre of the Performing Arts has been helmed by Dana Solimando, (a former member of the Broadway production). Based on T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber overlays his brand of musical pastiche to Eliot’s poems. The story revolves around a posse of felines introducing one another to the audience while at a ball celebrating which of these cats their spiritual leader cat, Old Deuteronomy, will choose to ascend to the next realm.  Read more…

Bob Verini -   Arts In LA

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Trevor Nunn’s revue didn’t live up to its promise, or was it threat, to run “now and forever” at Broadway’s Winter Garden. However, as long as there are cat fanciers among theatergoers, and young dancers willing to challenge their limbs and joints to the limit, the musical setting of T.S. Eliot’s cat-celebration poems won’t soon come to the end of its nine lives.  Read more…

Now running through May 11.

A SONG AT TWILIGHT at the Pasadena Playouse

Photo by Michael Lamont

Photo by Michael Lamont

Bob Verini -   Arts In LA

Noël Coward’s A Song at Twilight first saw the light of day as the centerpiece of 1966’s Suite in Three Keys, a two-night triptych of works set in a single luxurious Swiss hotel suite. Eight years later, with one play jettisoned, Song reached Broadway as part of Noël Coward in Two Keys. Now it stands by itself at Pasadena Playhouse, though there’s nothing one-key, or one-note for that matter, about Art Manke’s incisively acted production. Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Last year, the Pasadena Playhouse presented the frothy concoction Fallen Angels, a light comedy about marriage and jealousy amidst lots of alcohol. The elements in A Song at Twilight remain similar to his earlier work, but the consequences carry more weight. Despite being written in 1966, when British law still prosecuted homosexuals, the play openly contemplates homosexual “outing” among celebrities, judging the character not for being gay, but for damaging others by remaining closeted. Read more…

Now running through April 13.





Photo by Craig Schwartz

Bob Verini -   ArtsInLA

So you’re a distinguished playwright in your early 60s: a very Chekhovian age; an age when the mind drifts toward dreams once grasped, then compromised, then lost, and fixates on memories of simpler, happier times. You look around your Bucks County farmhouse and think, “Gosh, this looks a lot like one of those summer homes to which Chekhov’s characters retire to brood and despair and make one last lunge toward life.” There are even a few cherry trees—why, almost an orchard!—out back. And you say to yourself, “What if some modern Chekhovian characters lived here?   Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

With its Tony Award for Best Play, Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike presents the strongest comedy Broadway has to offer in a distinguished, sleekly professional production that makes the most of his frolicsome mash-up of melancholy and regret. A crazy-like-a-fox quilt of character and plot strands from The Sea Gull, The Three Sisters, The Cherry Orchard and Uncle Vanya set in today’s Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where the playwright lives, the story unfolds over an action-packed 24 hours that punctuates the otherwise uninterrupted monotony of the lives of siblings Vanya (Mark Blum) and Sonia (Kristine Nielsen) when their movie star sister Masha (Christine Ebersole) arrives for a visit with her boy-toy, hunky aspiring actor Spike (David Hull).    Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Despite the title, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is not a revival of a lost Anton Chekhov play, but a refashioning of Chekhovian themes in a modern setting. Acclaimed parodist Christopher Durang has written a hysterical comedy of family most foul that has been seamlessly transferred to the Mark Taper Forum, with apt direction by David Hyde Pierce, who played Vanya in the Broadway production. Read more…

Terry Morgan  -  Talkin’ Broadway

I’ve found that at least once a year there is a show that is loved and lauded by public and critics alike, a play that garners awards and big box office, and yet bafflingly leaves me completely cold. This year, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is that show. I was looking forward to seeing it; I like Christopher Durang and Anton Chekhov. I wasn’t in a bad mood and I held no grudge against the theatre company. Read more…

Les Spindle –  Frontiers L.A.

In its West Coast premiere, Center Theatre Group’s uproariously funny and surprisingly heartrending production of Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike offers endless delights. With character names, themes, plot elements and seamless shifts between humor and heartbreak that all evoke the masterworks of the great Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, Vanya feels like an affectionate tribute to the legendary scribe’s oeuvre, infused with up-to-the-minute satirical relevance. Read more…

Don Shirley – LA Observed

If you’re aware that it won the Tony Award for best play last year, you might assume that it was, well, the best new play — at least among the shallow pool of new plays that appear on Broadway. Also, many theatergoers – include me in this group – might look forward to Durang’s latest because of fond memories of some of his earlier work and the plays of Chekhov, which Durang is gently spoofing here.  Read more…

Pauline Adamek  – ArtsBeatLA

Learning that Christopher Durang’s comedy Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike—now playing at the Mark Taper Forum until March 16—won the 2013 Tony Award and the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play fills me with some degree of sadness. Read more…

Now running through March 16.