RSSAll Entries in the "LemonMeter" Category

INTO THE WOODS (OREGON SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL/THE WALLIS): 92% - SWEET

INTO THE WOODS (OREGON SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL/THE WALLIS): 92% – SWEET

SWEET This OSF production at the Wallis may not have the star power of the screen version coming out on Christmas Day, but it has the buoyancy and complexity of feeling that have turned Sondheim and Lapine’s work into a modern classic. I can’t think of a better holiday treat than seeing this dark fantasy […]

LUNA GALE (KIRK DOUGLAS THEATRE): 100% - SWEET

LUNA GALE (KIRK DOUGLAS THEATRE): 100% – SWEET

SWEET But just as the critic Eric Bentley cautioned us when approaching Henrik Ibsen’s plays to “look for the ideas behind the ideas,” it’s important with Gilman to examine the deeper investigation lurking behind the more topical concerns of her dramas. This is especially the case with her latest work “Luna Gale,” which is currently […]

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (ZOMBIE JOE'S UNDERGROUND): 100% - SWEET

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (ZOMBIE JOE’S UNDERGROUND): 100% – SWEET

SWEET In a swift hour, a dozen merry pranksters whirl and spin us through the classic tale of ghosts scaring the miser out of Ebenezer Scrooge. Singing and dancing to Denise Devin’s baton, the troupe so deftly juggles our emotions that we find ourselves weeping at this old chestnut, and laughing through our tears. Mark […]

OEDIPUS (TE SAN PEDRO REP): 100% - SWEET

OEDIPUS (TE SAN PEDRO REP): 100% – SWEET

SWEET Now the company has opened its final show of the season, “Oedipus,” the classic Greek tragedy by Sophocles, and it is just as imaginative, just as outrageous, just as unusual as its predecessors, mixing the wailings of the classical Greek chorus and burning pots of incense with an indoor lounge act featuring Paris Langle […]

THE MAGNIFICENT DUNBAR HOTEL: 93% - SWEET

THE MAGNIFICENT DUNBAR HOTEL: 93% – SWEET

SWEET Informative and engaging, this underappreciated chapter of our local history is portrayed with panache and grace. Philip Brandes – LA Times SWEET Under producer Ben Guillory’s imaginative direction we visit with Dwain A. Perry as the creative hotel owner, Lucius Lomax. Melvin Ishmael Johnson is his delightfully peevish hotel manager; Petal d’Avril Walker is […]

FLARE PATH (THEATRE 40): 100% - SWEET

FLARE PATH (THEATRE 40): 100% – SWEET

SWEET A heartening reminder of the human capacity for valor, this beautifully underplayed production is all the more moving for its very ordinariness. F. Kathleen Foley – LA Times SWEET This well-wrought, finely scripted, play under the brilliant direction of Bruce Gray is a gem. Audrey Linden – LA Examiner SWEET Rattigan’s script deftly examines […]

HERSHEY FELDER AS IRVING BERLIN (GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE): 84% - SWEET

HERSHEY FELDER AS IRVING BERLIN (GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE): 84% – SWEET

SWEET Indeed, the empathy, showmanship and craft on tap may just be the best match of historical figure and performing artist yet in this franchise, wholly attuned to a gratefully participating audience. Those who resist Felder or Berlin are advised to skip this one — it’ll just leave more tickets for the rest of us. […]

TRAIN TO ZAKOPANE: 78% - SWEET

TRAIN TO ZAKOPANE: 78% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET The script could stand a vigorous pruning, several performances are still wobbly and the set changes are noticeably time-consuming — yet this production, directed by Gary Imhoff, has promise. Margaret Gray – LA Times BITTERSWEET The most challenging performance is Frederick’s, whose abrupt shifts between Katia’s ugly outbursts of anti-Semitic bigotry and the more […]

UBU THE SH*T (FOUR CLOWNS/CSULB): 100% - SWEET

UBU THE SH*T (FOUR CLOWNS/CSULB): 100% – SWEET

SWEET This play is a must see though, especially if you’re in the mood for performing arts that breaks the stuffy dramatic mold. “Ubu the Sh*t” creates a casual atmosphere of laughs for a laid back audience. Amy Patton – The 49er SWEET This production is for mature audiences, and may not appeal to all […]

PUTTING IT TOGETHER (CHROMOLUME THEATRE): 100% - SWEET

PUTTING IT TOGETHER (CHROMOLUME THEATRE): 100% – SWEET

SWEET Based on a concept by Sondheim and Julia McKenzie, the result is a clever celebration of the Master-Composer’s most enigmatic works, taking its name from a tune featured in his 1984 hit, “Sunday In The Park With George”. With a score comprised of nearly thirty melodies culled from some of Broadway’s best-loved musicals–including, “Company”, […]

WHAT THE BUTLER SAW (MARK TAPER): 82% - SWEET

WHAT THE BUTLER SAW (MARK TAPER): 82% – SWEET

SWEET “What the Butler Saw” represents Orton at his most sophisticatedly silly. It’s a play bursting with references to other plays, including even one of the greatest tragedies ever written, Euripides’ “The Bacchae.” Sad as it is to reflect on what this author might have gone on to accomplish had he not been cut down […]

A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE (SACRED FOOLS): 75% - BITTERSWEET

A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE (SACRED FOOLS): 75% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET Overall, the show has its plusses and minuses, which can always be the case when any theater company takes on a challenging and very detailed period piece. It comes across in a very traditional way. It is still a good bit of fun, and anytime you get to spend an evening with the words […]

TAKARAZUKA!!!: 88% - SWEET

TAKARAZUKA!!!: 88% – SWEET

SWEET A high degree of skill and individuality accompanies “Takarazuka!!!” at East West Players. In its elegant West Coast premiere, Susan Soon He Stanton’s very promising albeit still-forming play with music uses the famed all-female troupe in the titular Japanese city as a backdrop to an intriguing study of gender roles, intergenerational schisms and the […]

A SILVER LINING: 80% - SWEET

A SILVER LINING: 80% – SWEET

SWEET Writers Matt Soson and Vika Stubblebine’s witty, 90-minute intellectual thrill ride takes its 12-member audiences down a harrowing narrative rabbit hole. The show satirizes the conventional tropes of immersive theater even as it expertly uses the immersion experience, along with a purposefully hackneyed, Dr. Who–like sci-fi plot to dramatically embody the coercive aspects of […]

DIRTY: 61% - BITTERSWEET

DIRTY: 61% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET The cast includes Zuleyka Silver as a pulchritudinous porn star wannabe, Sumiko Braun as her younger sister, and Rob Belushi as the porn producer whose dirty dealing triggers a crisis. Director Shannon Cochran plays up the comical opportunities in Hinderaker’s prolix narrative but can’t avert the play’s ultimate slide into preachiness. F. Kathleen Foley […]

THE OLD WOMAN (ROYCE HALL): 80% - SWEET

THE OLD WOMAN (ROYCE HALL): 80% – SWEET

SWEET “The Old Woman” is, in the large scheme of the ever-escalating Wilson World, a road-show roundelay, theater as hit and run. It comes into town and is gone before you know it, leaving you not quite believing your eyes or your senses. Mark Swed – LA Times SWEET Still, the famously measured Wilson can […]

KINKY BOOTS (PANTAGES THEATRE/SEGERSTROM CENTER): 86% - SWEET

KINKY BOOTS (PANTAGES THEATRE/SEGERSTROM CENTER): 86% – 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): 90% - SWEET

COMPLETENESS (VS THEATRE): 90% – 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): 94% - SWEET

SERIAL KILLER BARBIE (NOHO ARTS CENTER): 94% – 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: 90% - SWEET

UPLOADED: 90% – 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: 75% - BITTERSWEET

REASONS TO LIVE: 75% – BITTERSWEET

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 […]