RSSAll Entries in the "Top Rated" Category

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): 93% - SWEET

WHAT THE BUTLER SAW (MARK TAPER): 93% – 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 […]

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 […]

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): 93% - SWEET

SERIAL KILLER BARBIE (NOHO ARTS CENTER): 93% – 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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

WEDDING BAND: A LOVE/HATE STORY IN BLACK & WHITE (ANTAEUS): 92% - SWEET

WEDDING BAND: A LOVE/HATE STORY IN BLACK & WHITE (ANTAEUS): 92% – SWEET

SWEET This rarely produced revival delivers a blistering indictment of the South’s anti-miscegenation laws against the backdrop of a deeply moving portrait of urban black life in the early 20th century. Directed by Gregg T. Daniel, the double-cast production now playing at the Antaeus Company offers some of the finest ensemble acting currently onstage (the […]

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): 96% - SWEET

THE CALL OF CTHULHU (VISCERAL COMPANY): 96% – 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 […]