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THE SNOW QUEEN (TROUBADORS/FALCON THEATRE): 100% - SWEET

THE SNOW QUEEN (TROUBADORS/FALCON THEATRE): 100% – SWEET

SWEET It wouldn’t be December at the Falcon Theater without the Troubadour Theater Company’s latest holiday treat, and this year’s The Snow QUEEN is not only one of their most entertaining extravaganzas to date, it’s one of the most musical Troubies musicals in years. Steven Stanley – StageSceneLA SWEET Put all the pieces through the […]

SLEEPING BEAUTY AND HER WINTER KNIGHT (PASADENA PLAYHOUSE): 100% - SWEET

SLEEPING BEAUTY AND HER WINTER KNIGHT (PASADENA PLAYHOUSE): 100% – SWEET

SWEET Directed by Bonnie Lythgoe, best known for her choreography and involvement in “So You Think You Can Dance,” she creates magic on the stage with actors of all ages who are all engulfed in their roles and having so much fun doing so. Musical director Michael Orland (“American Idol”) provides the music and his […]

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

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

SWEET And if Morrison Christmas sets out to recapitulate the death-rebirth cycle in its theatrical arc, its more profound achievement is to progressively remove the ironic quotation marks from its source material in what emerges as a rather touching and surprisingly sincere reaffirmation by the company of its venerable artistic roots. Bill Raden – Stage […]

ALMOST, MAINE (HUDSON MAINSTAGE): 100% - SWEET

ALMOST, MAINE (HUDSON MAINSTAGE): 100% – SWEET

SWEET Director Papazian serves up a slick and delectable series of comic turns, and he has assembled a cast of 18 accomplished actors for the occasion. All of them acquit themselves with charm and style. Neal Weaver – Stage Raw SWEET Play don’t get any more magical, nor any more unabashedly romantic (with just enough […]

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 […]

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”, […]

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 […]

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: 94% - SWEET

BROOMSTICK: 94% – 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 […]