RSSAll Entries in the "Top Rated" Category

A OR B?: 90% - SWEET

A OR B?: 90% – 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): 93% - SWEET

PIPPIN (PANTAGES): 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. […]

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 […]

BROOMSTICK: 92% - SWEET

BROOMSTICK: 92% – SWEET

SWEET Perfect for Halloween or for anyone who enjoys taking a journey into the deep dark woods, “Broomstick” offers a frightfully fun time at the theater that might be especially fun at night! Candyce Columbus – LA Examiner SWEET Playwright John Biguenet’s delightful Halloween Season monologue is a flat out delight. It’s like a children’s […]

THE DANCE OF DEATH (A NOISE WITHIN): 93% - SWEET

THE DANCE OF DEATH (A NOISE WITHIN): 93% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET The problem with his acting — and this pertains also to Angelo’s — is that it strives for a relaxed naturalness that often seems artificial. Instead of rising to meet Strindberg’s tragi-comic style, he opts to make his character appealingly relatable for contemporary theatergoers. Johnson is more successful at locating the playwright’s bracingly mercurial […]

RAGTIME (3D THEATRICALS): 100% - SWEET

RAGTIME (3D THEATRICALS): 100% – SWEET

SWEET The production is somewhat hampered by acoustical imbalances, a problem that has surfaced in past 3-D productions at Plummer Auditorium. This is generally not the case with the company’s subsequent run dates at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center. This is not a ruinous flaw, though it is sometimes disappointing when the sublime lyrics […]

AFTER IT HAPPENED (INVERTIGO): 100% - SWEET

AFTER IT HAPPENED (INVERTIGO): 100% – SWEET

SWEET With wild abandon, slick partnering, and sensitive storytelling, Invertigo Dance Theatre presents After It Happened, a multidisciplinary theatre work of dance, acting, live music and song. The multidimensional work reveals the tragedy, comedy, transformation, and hope of a community that survives a disaster and must rebuild. Teresa Heiland – BachTrack SWEET After It Happened […]

VENUS IN FUR (SOUTH COAST REP): 95% - SWEET

VENUS IN FUR (SOUTH COAST REP): 95% – SWEET

SWEET The erotic gamesmanship is fascinating to track. But by far the most delicious pleasure of “Venus in Fur” comes from watching two actors dazzle us in a psychosexual pas de deux expertly choreographed for the dramatic stage. Charles McNulty – LA Times BITTERSWEET Judging from Page’s femme fatale, it’s clear the script can play […]

CABARET (CROWN CITY THEATER): 100% - SWEET

CABARET (CROWN CITY THEATER): 100% – SWEET

SWEET It takes a combination of inspiration and chutzpah to reinvent a 58-year-old musical theater classic that’s been reinvented time and time again—but director Gary Lamb has done just that with Kander & Ebb’s Cabaret, his creative touches adding up to the best of the five intimate Cabarets I’ve seen and one of the top […]

DON'T HUG ME, WE'RE MARRIED (GROUP REP): 94% - SWEET

DON’T HUG ME, WE’RE MARRIED (GROUP REP): 94% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET The production’s silliness (in high-octane overdrive) really starts to wear thin by Act 2, though the music and dance routines are a kick, courtesy of Paul Olson’s score, Phil Olson’s off-the-wall lyrics, and Stan Mazin’s snappy choreography. Doug Engalla directs. Lovell Estell III – Stage Raw SWEET DON’T HUG ME, WE’RE MARRIED is the […]

WICKED LIT 2014: 100% - SWEET

WICKED LIT 2014: 100% – SWEET

SWEET It’s not an easy place to mount a production. As the last resting place of thousands, the space must be treated with respect. The productions themselves use many of the same corridors, so each scene must be well timed to avoid creeping up on a scene from a different play and to avoid sound […]

4000 MILES (SIERRA MADRE PLAYHOUSE): 90% - SWEET

4000 MILES (SIERRA MADRE PLAYHOUSE): 90% – SWEET

SWEET Amy Herzog’s contemporary exploration of kinship, adulthood and self-discovery receives a warm, capable production in its Los Angeles debut at the Sierra Madre Playhouse. Directed by Christian Lebano, the show offers much to appreciate, from the well-appointed set to the spot-on costume design. But the actors, like their characters, are still finding their footing: […]

MAPLE AND VINE (CHANCE THEATER): 92% - SWEET

MAPLE AND VINE (CHANCE THEATER): 92% – SWEET

SWEET The play ends with the most in-the-head character, Katha, still questioning the reality of her newfound faux world. And, in another masterful stroke by Harrison, backed by director Mark Ramont’s gentle hand at the helm, there is no easy answer provided. Is this world of close-knit neighbors and pigs in a blanket any different, […]

GOOD PEOPLE (LA MIRADA THEATRE): 100% - SWEET

GOOD PEOPLE (LA MIRADA THEATRE): 100% – SWEET

SWEET The dilemmas facing the life-battered protagonist of “Good People” are perhaps strategically manipulated, but that doesn’t make them any less relevant, humorous or dramatically engrossing. In fact, David Lindsay-Abaire’s 2011 comedy-drama of socioeconomic dynamics in South Boston is in some ways his finest construct to date, as its rock-solid rendering at La Mirada Theatre […]

AFFLUENCE: 94% - SWEET

AFFLUENCE: 94% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET The cast — Pedersen, Lord, Kulinska, Huff, Uhebe and Tepper — are all experienced actors and performed appropriately. I found Eisenberg’s direction to be slow, as if the audience might miss some significant step along the way. It also grew tiresome for the Kulinska and Huff characters to object, loudly and repeatedly, to their […]

THE CALL OF CTHULHU (VISCERAL COMPANY): 95% - SWEET

THE CALL OF CTHULHU (VISCERAL COMPANY): 95% – SWEET

SWEET Sick of this accursed heatwave? Longing for the thrills and chills of the Halloween season to commence? No need to pray to the Great Old Ones, just slither on down to the little theater on the corner of Lexington and McCadden and be indoctrinated into H.P. Lovecraft’s weird and terrifying universe. I don’t usually […]

THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL (AHMANSON THEATRE): 97% - SWEET

THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL (AHMANSON THEATRE): 97% – SWEET

SWEET Ultimately, what makes this harrowing “Trip” endurable, even uplifting, is Carrie’s hard-won humor and wisdom, and the peace she is able to make with her own unhappiness before she is caught and marched back to Houston. “There are worse things,” she dryly retorts when the sheriff reflects on her childhood friend’s “lonely death alone […]

SCARY MUSICAL, THE MUSICAL: 94% - SWEET

SCARY MUSICAL, THE MUSICAL: 94% – SWEET

SWEET Hochberg’s musical is, strictly speaking, slighter than it needs to be, and the book’s choppy structure and internal contradictions come across as being sloppy and inadequately thought through. That said, it’s certainly a mistake to expect this show to be anything other than frothy, ghoulish fun – and director James J. Mellon’s staging is […]

YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (DOMA THEATRE): 97% - SWEET

YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (DOMA THEATRE): 97% – SWEET

SWEET Through a magical, musical tour, with memorable song and dance numbers, sure to wow the audience, such as ‘Puttin’ On the Ritz,”and “Roll in the Hay,” the audience is sure to burst their seams and roll with laughter. Bonnie Priever – LA Examiner SWEET This is an EYE-POPPINGLY riotous, beautifully produced, directed, and performed […]

BRONIES! THE MUSICAL: 100% - SWEET

BRONIES! THE MUSICAL: 100% – SWEET

SWEET The charming musical-in-the-rough that was Bronies: The Musical at this past summer’s Hollywood Fringe Festival has since been polished into the sparklingly rainbow-hued gem now getting its official World Premiere Production at the Third Street Theatre. Simply put, Bronies: The Musical is the feel-best show in town. Steven Stanley – StageSceneLA SWEET Under the […]

TOSCA (PACIFIC OPERA PROJECT): 100% - SWEET

TOSCA (PACIFIC OPERA PROJECT): 100% – SWEET

SWEET Opera newbies will find this production effective and thought-provoking, while veterans who think they’ve sat through one too many Toscas should come to see and hear Blackwell and Cheney from a few rows away. Christian Hertzog – LA Weekly SWEET Music Director Stephen Karr ably conducts a crack orchestra of about 15 players, and […]

THE GOAT OR, WHO IS SYLVIA? (L.A. GAY AND LESBIAN CENTER): 95% - SWEET

THE GOAT OR, WHO IS SYLVIA? (L.A. GAY AND LESBIAN CENTER): 95% – SWEET

SWEET Every Los Angeles theatergoer should be so lucky as to see a show this ecstatic. Because all this work is in service of literature that evaluates the sexual morality, the emotional fidelity, the personal integrity we all would like to claim; and it asks of these things what they say about our natures. You […]

THE BEHAVIOR OF BROADUS: 100% - SWEET

THE BEHAVIOR OF BROADUS: 100% – SWEET

SWEET As delightfully self-assured as it is comically self-referential, made up of equal parts whimsy, wacky, profane and profound, this cracked experiment in satirical musical development is a wickedly entertaining watershed for Sacred Fools Theater Company, the Burglars of Hamm, Center Theatre Group and the general theatrical landscape. David C. Nichols – LA Times SWEET […]

HAPPY DAYS (BOSTON COURT): 100% - SWEET

HAPPY DAYS (BOSTON COURT): 100% – SWEET

SWEET This production, which features Broadway veteran and multiple Emmy winner Tony Shalhoub, Adams’ real-life husband, in the role of Willie, Winnie’s there-but-not-there life partner, preserves the universality of Beckett’s vivid stage metaphor while making it seem right at home in Southern California. Charles McNulty – LA Times SWEET No other dramatist has ever been […]

SPRING AWAKENING (DEAF WEST): 100% - SWEET

SPRING AWAKENING (DEAF WEST): 100% – SWEET

SWEET The ensemble numbers are precisely choreographed by Director Michael Arden and Choreographer Spencer Liff; the signing never gets in the way, and each cast member is vitally utilized like in a giant, coordinated human body, each part giving life to the whole. The second act unfolds into the ultimate tragedy the piece becomes as […]

COCK: 95% - SWEET

COCK: 95% – SWEET

SWEET The ideal convergence of Mike Bartlett’s incredibly realistic script vividly emoted by the very talented four member cast, as tightly directed by Cameron Watson, make for a totally engrossing 90 minutes. Gil Kaan – BroadwayWorld SWEET Only a highly talented group of actors could deliver the play’s potent message, and the cast at the […]

THE TEMPEST (SOUTH COAST REP): 93% - SWEET

THE TEMPEST (SOUTH COAST REP): 93% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET I wish I could report that the acting was equal to the scenic imagination. This still strikes me as a production that doesn’t have all that much faith in Shakespeare’s ability to captivate a modern audience. Charles McNulty – LA Times SWEET To avoid being the one person in your circle not to have […]