RSSAll Entries in the "LemonMeter" Category

KINKY BOOTS (PANTAGES THEATRE): 90% - SWEET

KINKY BOOTS (PANTAGES THEATRE): 90% – SWEET

SWEET Although I tend to be skeptical about the power of any garment to effect lasting spiritual change, all those stilettos evidently tenderized me to a pulp: I drove home beaming, filled with affection for the characters and all but convinced that wearing thigh-high red leather boots is the manliest thing a guy can do. […]

THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (LA JOLLA PLAYHOUSE): 66% - BITTERSWEET

THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (LA JOLLA PLAYHOUSE): 66% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER In spite of its focus on physical abnormalities, The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a very pretty show. It sounds nice, and it’s pleasing to look at, but that’s about it. It doesn’t offer anything new to the contemporary theatrical landscape, instead relying on borrowing bits and pieces from other, more successful musicals. But […]

I STAND BEFORE YOU NAKED (T.U. STUDIOS): 100% - SWEET

I STAND BEFORE YOU NAKED (T.U. STUDIOS): 100% – SWEET

SWEET Some of these stories – such as depictions of anorexia-bulimia, tumultuous pregnancies, abandonment and misogynistic violence – have been explored many times in television, movies and the media. Oates’ effort to get into the heads of these suffering women and allow the audience to feel what they feel is refreshing. It opens the door […]

COMPLETENESS (VS THEATRE): 100% - SWEET

COMPLETENESS (VS THEATRE): 100% – SWEET

SWEET Itamar Moses’s Completeness is chockfull of discourse about protein processes and algorithmic probabilities, and if, like myself, you’re not of a scientific bent, you could drift off amidst the disquisition and the theory. Chances are you won’t, however. As directed by Matt Pfeiffer, VS. Theatre’s current production is so smart and the ensemble so […]

HANDLE WITH CARE: 100% - SWEET

HANDLE WITH CARE: 100% – SWEET

SWEET In short: this piece is well performed and directed. Daniel Faigin – Observations Along the Road SWEET Through playwright Jason Odell Williams’ focus on comedy and director Karen Carpenter’s attention to high energy acting, “Handle With Care” is a wonderful piece of theater. Rachel Mathieu and Julia Stier – Neon Tommy SWEET Despite these […]

STOP KISS (PASADENA PLAYHOUSE): 100% - SWEET

STOP KISS (PASADENA PLAYHOUSE): 100% – SWEET

SWEET Don’t let the gay bashing that is the pivotal event of Diana Son’s Stop Kiss scare you away from its exciting Pasadena Playhouse debut. Under Seema Sueko’s nuanced direction and with a pair of star turns by Angela Lin and Sharon Leal, Son’s 1998 off-Broadway hit reveals itself at its heart to be the […]

SERIAL KILLER BARBIE (NOHO ARTS CENTER): 88% - SWEET

SERIAL KILLER BARBIE (NOHO ARTS CENTER): 88% – SWEET

SWEET In fact, this is a sweet and very funny coming-of-age tale, punctuated with sassy musical numbers and ferocious wit. And, yes, in the end there is a serial killing subplot, when a trio of vicious, villainous high school cheerleaders are dispatched with extreme prejudice. Paul Birchall – Stage Raw SWEET If you’re a fan […]

CANNIBAL! THE MUSICAL (COEURAGE THEATRE): 100% - SWEET

CANNIBAL! THE MUSICAL (COEURAGE THEATRE): 100% – SWEET

SWEET Rarely is one able to see a musical that can thrill an audience not in spite of a low budget… but because of it. There can be such an expectation for spectacle when seeing a musical that not all productions are up to the task of innovation—of keeping an audience engaged simply with the […]

UPLOADED: 100% - SWEET

UPLOADED: 100% – SWEET

SWEET Gordon’s skewering of these three earnest, dopey Gen Y-ers is sharp and often quite witty. (One of Anikka’s several businesses is making “kombucha cozies for orthodox Jewish women.”) They’re so satirically drawn that it’s impossible to believe in them (or maybe I just didn’t want to), but somehow they’re still entertaining; and the far-fetched […]

KING LEAR (BROAD STAGE): 60% - BITTERSWEET

KING LEAR (BROAD STAGE): 60% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET The scene in Act 4 between the mad Lear and the blinded Gloucester doesn’t register the heartbreak of two men at the end of their lives searching for meaning in their abominable suffering. Like the production as a whole, it’s just an illustrative sketch of the original, catharsis not included. Charles McNulty – LA […]

'NIGHT MOTHER (WHITMORE ECLECTIC): 86% - SWEET

‘NIGHT MOTHER (WHITMORE ECLECTIC): 86% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET Kelegian’s dead-eyed determination (“I’m just not having a very good time, and I don’t have any reason to think it’ll get anything but worse”) is the reason to see this revival of Norman’s play, which originally starred Kathy Bates and Anne Pitoniak and was later turned into a film with Sissy Spacek and Anne […]

REASONS TO LIVE: 80% - SWEET

REASONS TO LIVE: 80% – SWEET

SWEET Cohn has a talent for aphorism, Morgenstern excels at pacing, and the facile cast keeps the laughs coming — a tactic that not only richly entertains but also obscures the play’s occasional shortcomings. F. Kathleen Foley – LA Times SWEET Director Susan Morgenstern keeps the play moving and the script is laced with some […]

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST (QUEER CLASSICS/LOUNGE THEATRE): 86% - SWEET

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST (QUEER CLASSICS/LOUNGE THEATRE): 86% – SWEET

SWEET Queer Classics’ The Importance Of Being Earnest gives us a world that Oscar Wilde could scarcely have conceived of in his Wildest dreams, and in so doing, Casey Kringlen and company give Oscar the last laugh he so richly deserves. Steven Stanley – StageSceneLA (Lounge Review) BITTERSWEET On the other end of the spectrum […]

POPE! AN EPIC MUSICAL: 75% - BITTERSWEET

POPE! AN EPIC MUSICAL: 75% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER If exuberance and good intentions were enough, Pope! might come closer to the epic experience predicted in its title. As it is, for this audience member, this one just didn’t fly. Ellen Dostal – Musicals in LA SWEET The musical numbers by Christopher Papas are excellent, with ear catching vocalizations that often break into […]

BIG FISH (MUSICAL THEATRE WEST): 87% - SWEET

BIG FISH (MUSICAL THEATRE WEST): 87% – SWEET

SWEET By the end of the play, we learn that much of the stories are embellishments — but at the center of it all, Edward is still the hero he claims to be. In fact, he is more the hero than he was in the stories, for his actual heroism — his biggest act — […]

JULIUS CAESAR (ENCUENTRO 2014): 75% - BITTERSWEET

JULIUS CAESAR (ENCUENTRO 2014): 75% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET Robert Beltran’s staging is more clear than nuanced, approached with considerable competence and occasional flair. The cast wanders the stage in costume designer Abel Alvarado’s tunics, shoulder drapes and dark trousers and shoes. This lends an interpretation of something between an attempt at timelessness and garage sale chic. Most telling, however, is Beltran’s gender-bent […]

JEKYLL & HYDE: THE MUSICAL (CANDLELIGHT PAVILION): 75% - BITTERSWEET

JEKYLL & HYDE: THE MUSICAL (CANDLELIGHT PAVILION): 75% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET Some of the finest voices I’ve heard at Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theatre along with Jason James’ assured direction make for a first-rate Jekyll & Hyde out Claremont way, with Janet Renslow’s exciting recreation of the show’s original choreography adding to the pizzazz. Steven Stanley – StageSceneLA SWEET Combining talent with great lyricist / book […]

PAINTING IN RED: 75% - BITTERSWEET

PAINTING IN RED: 75% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER Director Jon Lawrence Rivera must bear some of the blame, as the staging emphasizes irrelevant and sometimes daffy gimmicks – images projected on upstage videoscreens, big gory rubber hearts, a mostly irrelevant appearance by an actress caparisoned like Olivia Newton John who warbles songs during the scene changes – over the work’s emotional points. […]

DR. FAUSTUS (INDEPENDENT SHAKESPEARE COMPANY): 92% - SWEET

DR. FAUSTUS (INDEPENDENT SHAKESPEARE COMPANY): 92% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET In a play about a man’s bargain with the devil, either the man or the devil – but ideally both – should fascinate or intrigue, certainly more than they do here. Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw SWEET An ISC Studio production always rides the edge. If you only know the company from its large […]

THIS IS BANNED: 72% - BITTERSWEET

THIS IS BANNED: 72% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET Though directors Price and JR Esposito prove far more self-assured with sci-fi than horror, their ungainly staging of the latter cannot fully obscure Macher’s thought-provoking meditation on the fragile denial that enables humankind’s most destructive of impulses. Bill Raden – LA Weekly SWEET Playwright Samantha Macher has a poetic command of language. Her use […]

SCREAM! (ROCKWELL TABLE & STAGE): 88% - SWEET

SCREAM! (ROCKWELL TABLE & STAGE): 88% – SWEET

SWEET The world premiere of the unauthorized parody musical “Scream!” at the Rockwell Table and Stage in Los Feliz includes a star studded cast and hilarious satirical humor, all to the background of the ultimate sing-a-long 90s playlist sung by a cast full of powerhouse vocalists. Sidne Phillips – Neon Tommy SWEET It’s all very […]

ZEALOT (SOUTH COAST REP): 62% - BITTERSWEET

ZEALOT (SOUTH COAST REP): 62% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER “Zealot,” which has been directed by SCR artistic director Marc Masterson on a handsome office set designed by Ralph Funicello, has come off the Rebeck assembly line with its screws loose and its wires sticking out. Masterson has a long-standing relationship with the playwright, but producing her latest in this premature state has done […]

ENRIQUE'S JOURNEY (ENCUENTRO 2014): 83% - SWEET

ENRIQUE’S JOURNEY (ENCUENTRO 2014): 83% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET The script could be further trimmed: the opening takes up more time than it needs to and Enrique’s repeated hardships start to run together. For a story so grounded in grim realism, it has been given an unpersuasively upbeat ending. But Guerrero’s Enrique is a compelling, complex protagonist and his painful journey is worth […]

A OR B?: 85% - SWEET

A OR B?: 85% – SWEET

SWEET With Troubies shows, revivals, and West Coast stagings of East Coast hits making up the bulk of its seasons, a Falcon Theatre World Premiere comedy achieves event status in our L.A. theater scene. As with last year’s Billy & Ray, 2010’s The Psychic, and 2009’s Everybody Say Cheese, the Falcon has come up with […]

PIPPIN (PANTAGES/SEGERSTROM): 93% - SWEET

PIPPIN (PANTAGES/SEGERSTROM): 93% – SWEET

SWEET The promise of the show’s opening number “Magic to Do” was lived up to with Houdini-esque virtuosity. “Pippin” was a show that inspired teens from the 1970s to pursue the dream of singing and dancing on Broadway. This entrancing revival will no doubt inspire a new generation to do the same. Don’t miss it. […]

1969: 75% - BITTERSWEET

1969: 75% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET The basics of a good story and good drama are here, but Morgan doesn’t provide adequate, convincing heft to these characters, or to the structure of her plot. Oddly, she saves her most effective, incisive writing for a final scene between Ajamu and Butler’s love-smitten wife Grace (Megan Weaver), at which point we learn […]

YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN (CHROMOLUME): 90% - SWEET

YOU’RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN (CHROMOLUME): 90% – SWEET

SWEET Cate Caplin directs with flair and imagination, with lively assist from Samantha Whidby’s choreography. Buoyant musical accompaniment by Jeff Bonhiver on keyboard and Tyler Smith on drums. Morna Murphy Martell – Theatre Spoken Here SWEET This production is a scaled down version of the show, in a very small intimate theatre, and one that […]

PREMEDITATION (ENCUENTRO 2014): 100% - SWEET

PREMEDITATION (ENCUENTRO 2014): 100% – SWEET

SWEET The play is brilliantly staged. Directed by LATC artistic director Jose Luis Valenzuela, it’s 1940s noir mixed with Sirk-esque melodrama that plays out like some strange mix of Double Indemnity meets Written on the Wind. The combination of style allows for the characters to walk the fine line of fully realized and caricature. Luckily, […]

THE DIVINERS (ACTORS CO-OP): 90% - SWEET

THE DIVINERS (ACTORS CO-OP): 90% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET Set in rural Indiana in the early 1930s, Jim Leonard Jr.’s 1980 play, “The Diviners,” drips with a period regionalism that is almost folkloric in tone. The play requires careful handling, or its characters can lapse into stereotype. In his current staging at Actors Co-op, director Mark Henderson does not always avoid that pitfall. […]

THE SHADOW BOX (RAVEN PLAYHOUSE): 100% - SWEET

THE SHADOW BOX (RAVEN PLAYHOUSE): 100% – SWEET

SWEET The direction under Catherine Michaels was light and pure. The staging was that of a seasoned ballet choreographer, beautifully seamless. Cheers are to be given to Catherine for allowing a piece, that could be complicated and heavy, to be something relatable and compassionate. Dianne Williams – NoHoArtsDistrict SWEET The crux of this story is […]