RSSAll Entries in the "Top Rated" Category

DISCONNECTION: 100% - SWEET

DISCONNECTION: 100% – SWEET

SWEET In a riveting two-hour performance, the devastating effects of cult and thought-control groups is brought to life in Allen Barton’s production, “Disconnection.” Based on true events, and performed by a cast of six remarkable, convincing actors, the production is a powerful indictment of the dark side of dedication to a Church, its doctrines and […]

COMPANY (CABRILLO MUSIC THEATRE): 100% - SWEET

COMPANY (CABRILLO MUSIC THEATRE): 100% – SWEET

SWEET Driven by a typically sublime Sondheim score, the production’s other strong assets are Cate Caplin’s vibrant and sassy choreography, Tom Buderwitz’ smart and functional urban-landscape set, some performances, and crackerjack music direction by Cassie Nickols. Les Spindle – EdgeLosAngeles SWEET This newest Company ranks among the very best. Director DeGruccio has gotten his cast […]

50 HOUR DRIVE-BY THEATRE FESTIVAL 2015 (ZOMBIE JOE'S UNDERGROUND): 100% - SWEET

50 HOUR DRIVE-BY THEATRE FESTIVAL 2015 (ZOMBIE JOE’S UNDERGROUND): 100% – SWEET

SWEET Overall, truly admired the creativity — this is a different type of theatre than what one sees when one goes for the known authors and known works, or even the new authors when their product is of the traditional style (90 minute-120 minutes, 1-2 acts). This is much more theatre on the edge, and […]

THE MEMORY OF WATER: 90% - SWEET

THE MEMORY OF WATER: 90% – SWEET

SWEET Winner of the “Laurence Olivier Award for Best Comedy,” this absorbingly entertaining play is full of dark humor and heart featuring three sisters – paranoid Mary, uptight Teresa, and strung out and bratty Catherine – who have returned home on the eve of their mother’s funeral after her battle with Alzheimer’s. Shari Barrett – […]

TIME STANDS STILL (SECRET ROSE THEATRE): 92% - SWEET

TIME STANDS STILL (SECRET ROSE THEATRE): 92% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET Produced by lead performer Presciliana Esparolini and Christopher Amitrano in association with the Aquila Morong acting studio, the staging by Vicky Jenson successfully captures the script’s broad contours. Unfortunately, it underserves Margulies’ subtly interwoven personal and universal explorations of violence and its aftermath. Philip Brandes – LA Times SWEET Donald Margulies’ script is both […]

PROOF (MOTH THEATRE): 90% - SWEET

PROOF (MOTH THEATRE): 90% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET Playwright David Auburn’s Pulitzer Prize winning drama about love, grief, and higher mathematics gets a solid, if not prime (in the Gaussian sense) staging in director John Markland’s elegiac production. Markland’s production emphasizes subtext and psychology over blocking, with the result that the show seems more conversational than composed – a decision that gives […]

BILLY ELLIOT - THE MUSICAL (LA MIRADA THEATRE): 95% - SWEET

BILLY ELLIOT – THE MUSICAL (LA MIRADA THEATRE): 95% – SWEET

SWEET I couldn’t stand the cloying 2012 touring production at the Pantages, yet I was at times quite moved by Kite’s staging of a very strong ensemble at La Mirada, and by Dana Solimando’s original choreography — not to mention the superb pit orchestra (musical direction by John Glaudini). This is a new staging, contrasted […]

SILENT WITNESSES: 100% - SWEET

SILENT WITNESSES: 100% – SWEET

SWEET Satie, differentiating her characters by their various European accents and slightly exaggerated demeanors, doesn’t bring these women to life much beyond their childhood tales. But the respectful way she communicates what they lived through is perfectly measured. Sentimental flourishes are banished in Anita Khanzadian’s simple and direct staging. These witnesses are witnessed with quiet […]

VIRAL: 92% - SWEET

VIRAL: 92% – SWEET

SWEET What’s more shocking than the setup is that Viral largely pulls it off. Playwright Mac Rogers has an ear for the worlds he’s trafficking in and as bizarre as the premise seems you’re willing to go along for the ride. The world we find ourselves in isn’t that distant – especially in LA. The […]

BLONDE POISON: 95% - SWEET

BLONDE POISON: 95% – SWEET

SWEET Playwright Gail Louw’s masterpiece drama “Blonde Poison” has its American premiere at Beverly Hills Theatre 40. I was held captive for the entire ninety minutes. The story, based on the true story of Stella Goldschlag during the Holocaust, stars Salome Jens, who gives a brilliant performance under the superb direction of renowned director, Jules […]

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): 94% - SWEET

SLEEPING BEAUTY AND HER WINTER KNIGHT (PASADENA PLAYHOUSE): 94% – 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 […]

HELLCAB (ELEPHANT STAGES): 90% - SWEET

HELLCAB (ELEPHANT STAGES): 90% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET Fofi’s production would be much better if Lopes’s predominately muted, one-dimensional interaction with his colorful amalgam of riders was instilled with more emotion and greater subtlety. Lovell Estell III – Stage Raw SWEET The last scene is one the most poignant and fitting for a closure and the whole show whizzes by in a […]

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 […]