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"Turn of the Screw" at the Rosenthal Theater. Photo: Martha Benedict.

TURN OF THE SCREW (PACIFIC OPERA PROJECT): 100% – SWEET

SWEET This production makes a welcome contribution to our city’s celebration of the centenary of Britten’s birth. It also marks the fiftieth anniversary of the opera’s premiere at Venice’s La Fenice in 1954. James’ haunting tale is no less disturbing now than it was then. Perhaps it is even more so, since we are far [...]

Elizabeth Liang, left, and Elyse Dinh in "Christmas in Hanoi," an East West Players production at the David Henry Hwang Theater. Credit: Michael Lamont.

CHRISTMAS IN HANOI (EAST WEST PLAYERS): 84% – SWEET

SWEET With a Vietnamese mother and an Irish American father, Eddie Borey has firsthand experience of what it’s like to straddle two diverse cultures. In his world-premiere play “Christmas in Hanoi,” an East West Players production at the David Henry Hwang Theater, Borey exploits that intensely personal experience in an intriguing drama that may not [...]

The cast of "Veronica's Room" at the Underground Theatre. Credit:

VERONICA’S ROOM (VISCERAL COMPANY): 94% – SWEET

SWEET The director Dan Spurgeon utilized the close-knit area of the theater and the extremely talented cast to great effect. The menacing ambience literally crawled off of the stage. Forrest Wilson – LifeInLA SWEET But be warned–Veronica’s Room is genuinely disturbing, all the more since the cast members invest their roles with so much reality. [...]

"The Deep Throat Sex Scandal" at the Zephyr Theatre. Credit: Ed Krieger.

THE DEEP THROAT SEX SCANDAL: 75% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET There have been so many derivative works based on the same history, from the more thorough and reliable 2005 documentary Inside Deep Throat to the splendidly inventive and perceptive 2009 locally premiered rock musical, Lovelace, that this pleasant and sympathetic yet relatively pedestrian rendering lacks much justification save for those thoroughly uninitiated. Myron Meisel [...]

Amir Khalighi and Jennifer Kenyon in "Much Ado About Nothin" at Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre. Credit: Zombie Joe and Denise Devin.

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (ZOMBIE JOE’S UNDERGROUND): 100% – SWEET

SWEET An ambitious production, Zombie Joe’s proves that Shakespeare’s beloved comedy can be as successful in a black-box theatre as in a large, well-funded venue. Barnaby Hughes – Stage and Cinema SWEET The tone is clearly fun and games as the actors speed-thru all of the subsequent scenes in a wild comedy of charades before [...]

"Cymbeline" at A Noise Within. Credit: Craig Schwartz.

CYMBELINE (A NOISE WITHIN): 90% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET If you are a lover of Shakespeare and you have been dying to see “Cymbeline” onstage, see this production. The acting is engaging, the company is clearly working with a comfortable budget, and the production makes a decent effort with a troublesome script. But if you’ve never heard of “Cymbeline” and you don’t always [...]

Maxwell Caulfield and in "Euripides' Helen" at the Getty Villa. Credit:

EURIPIDES’ HELEN: 73% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET Rivera’s production swerves—not always smoothly—between consequences-of-war pathos and high comedy, usually defaulting to the latter. Evan Henerson – Backstage SWEET But Rivera’s staging, floating on music composed by musical director David O, has its scattershot charms. The production, enriched with Adam Flemming’s video design and Mylette Nora’s flamboyant costumes, is a jaunty visual stew. [...]

Courtney DeCosky, Phillip Wilburn, Constance Reese, and Derek Reid in “How Obama Got His Groove Back” at the Fremont Centre Theater. Credit: Nicholas Zill.

HOW OBAMA GOT HIS GROOVE BACK: 78% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET In short, “How Obama Got His Groove Back” is just good enough so that it should have been better. Frances Baum Nicholson – The Stage Struck Review SWEET How Obama Got His Groove Back is a romp of fitfully amusing political sketches. And when the jokes misfire, or knock you on the head for [...]

Independent Shakespeare Co. presents "The Comedy of Errors" at the Old Zoo in Griffith Park. Credit: Grettel Cortes.

THE COMEDY OF ERRORS (ISC): 100% – SWEET

SWEET The play’s humor makes it accessible to all audiences and a perfect choice for outdoor summer theater. Independent Shakespeare Co. has given the silly script a new setting and created an undeniably fun evening of free theater. Katherine Davis – Backstage SWEET The Independent Shakespeare Company’s production of The Comedy of Errors is fun [...]

Bo Foxworth, Fran Bennett, Elizabeth Swain, Susan Boyd Joyce in "Macbeth" at Antaeus Company Theatre. Credit: Daniel Blinkoff.

MACBETH (ANTAEUS): 95% – SWEET

SWEET From that heartbreaking opening funeral—director Kubzansky’s invention which informs the rest of the play—the couple’s intensity and depth of feeling for each other is riveting. Mr. Nagle gives the lord a humanity that is by turns appealing and appalling. Ms Auberjonois’ decent into madness is truly effective. Steve Peterson – Grigware Blogspot SWEET At [...]

Patrick Quinlan, Shaun O'Hagan, Austin Hebert, Joe Pacheco, and Scott Conte in 'The Irish Curse,' now at the Odyssey Theatre. Credit: Ron Sossi.

THE IRISH CURSE: 85% – SWEET

SWEET “Curse” may be a play about insecurity, but director Andrew Barnicle’s staging has real confidence; tonally, it’s near faultless. The interplay among the men is fast and funny, with Pacheco quietly anchoring the outsized performances of his secular mates. Charlotte Stoudt – LA Times BITTERSWEET Casella’s an assured writer, and the piece gets a [...]

Kenyatta DeEtt (l), Jesus Rodriguez, Theodore Huber, Dex Matthews in "Take me Out" at the Sky Lounge. Credit: Daniel G. Lam.

TAKE ME OUT (RATMO): 67% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET Great production mixed with America’s favorite past time makes this a wonderful show and a definite must see. Mary E. Montoro – LifeInLA BITTERSWEET Either because the material itself is now somewhat dated or the cast is too green to pull it off, Take Me Out ultimately lacks the impact that its playwright surely [...]

Cloe Kromwell, John Colella, Jonathan Bray and Julia McIlvaine in "Sideways: The Play" at the Ruskin Group Theatre. Credit: Agnes Magyari.

SIDEWAYS: THE PLAY: 92% – SWEET

SWEET Adapted by Rex Pickett from his novel (which also spawned the 2004 hit movie), their oenophilial odyssey makes an enjoyable if at times leisurely debut in its stage incarnation at Ruskin Group Theatre. Philip Brandes – LA Times BITTERSWEET In this intimate world premiere, we have a fun time swilling with the errant boys [...]

ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD (CAL REP): 100% – SWEET

ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD (CAL REP): 100% – SWEET

SWEET Cal Rep has remained faithful to Stoppard’s vision even while giving it their own interpretation, one that is both creative and original. Barnaby Hughes – Stage and Cinema SWEET Such a masterful script should be a can’t-miss production when paired with a high-caliber theatre company like Cal Rep. And that’s just what we get. [...]

Harold Surratt, from left, Warner Joseph Miller, LeRoy McClain, Pascale Armand and Cheryl Lynn Bruce in Danai Gurira's "The Convert."  Credit: T. Charles Erickson /

THE CONVERT: 89% – SWEET

SWEET The devastating clash between Western culture and religion and African tradition and spirituality is at the heart of this masterful new work. Director Emily Mann has mounted a production that’s as compelling as it is gorgeous. Jennie Webb – Backstage SWEET Brought to life by Emily Mann’s subtle direction, a splendid set by Daniel [...]

Barry Del Sherman and Brittany Slattery in Chekhov's "Ivanov" at the Odyssey Theatre. Credit: Enci.

IVANOV (ODYSSEY THEATRE): 85% – SWEET

SWEET “Ivanov,” the play in which Anton Chekhov was still testing the formula for his dramatic breakthrough, is usually revived in somberly autumnal shades. So the opportunity to see the play thrillingly brought to life in brazen color, courtesy of director Bart DeLorenzo, is one that no serious aficionado of modern classics should pass up. [...]

NAKED BEFORE GOD: 83% – SWEET

NAKED BEFORE GOD: 83% – SWEET

SWEET We all like to say “support the theatre.” We should be more specific: Support GOOD theatre. Go see this show. Go because it is balls-deep funny. Go because Circle X wants to entertain YOU, not just themselves. And in the end, it’s all about mutual pleasure, isn’t it? Andrew Moore – MadTheatrics (scroll down) [...]

Tracey A. Leigh, Philip Casnoff (standing), Theo Perkins in "The Many Mistresses of Martin Luther King" at the Atwater Village Theatre. (Credit: Maia Rosenfeld)

THE MANY MISTRESSES OF MARTIN LUTHER KING: 78% – SWEET

SWEET In spite of these drawbacks, there is much to like about the production, particularly as I’ve mentioned the layered performances, the beautifully written, often funny and striking dialogue and the atmospheric and balanced direction. Phillip Kelly – MadTheatrics SWEET Though the challenging script could use some smoothing out, director Rod Menzies’ consummately acted production [...]

A FEW GOOD MEN (RATMO): 90% – SWEET

A FEW GOOD MEN (RATMO): 90% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET He has assembled a fine cast, but the awkward scene changes undermine the rhythm and pace of the piece, one important speech is virtually obliterated by the sound of moving furniture, and another is drowned out by over-loud sound effects. Neal Weaver – Backstage SWEET Staying true to founder Kenne Guillory’s unofficial motto “Go [...]

"Antony and Cleopatra" at A Noise Within. Credit: Craig Schwartz.

ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA (A NOISE WITHIN): 72% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET Fast-paced and chaotic, A Noise Within’s production plays up the comedy and passions of its star-crossed lovers at the expense of its dramatic civil war plotline, in which Antony’s loyalties are split between his Egyptian mistress and his country. Pauline Adamek – LA Weekly SWEET Directors Geoff Elliott and Julia Rodriguez-Elliott have achieved a [...]

"Baby Doll" at the Lillian Theatre, presented by Double A Productions and the Elephant Theatre Company. Credit: Joel Daavid.

BABY DOLL (ELEPHANT THEATRE COMPANY): 70% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER Unfortunately, despite the efforts of Brud, Gatto and Marmo, Baby Doll, Archie Lee and Silva remain highly unsympathetic two-dimensional characters, a trio that I can’t imagine anyone wanting to spend even a minute with, let alone one hundred. Only Colton manages to give real, human dimensions to dithering Aunt Rose. Steven Stanley – StageSceneLA [...]

"Bring It On: The Musical" at the Ahmanson Theatre. Credit: Center Theatre Group.

BRING IT ON: THE MUSICAL: 68% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER Never have I been so aware of calories burned onstage before. But who goes to a musical to vicariously sweat? “Bring It On” has interminable pep but leaves more discerning theatergoers with little to cheer about. Charles McNulty – LA Times BITTERSWEET Attractive cast, songs and production values will fuel the post-Ahmanson tour, though [...]

Elizabeth Rainery, Giovanni Ortega and JonJon Briones in "The Romance of Magnio Rubio" at the (Inside) The Ford. (Credit: Hydee Abrahan/Studio1003)

THE ROMANCE OF MAGNO RUBIO ([INSIDE] THE FORD): 100% – SWEET

SWEET With pure honesty, I must admit and declare myself a true lover of “The Romance of Magno Rubio.” This play is an unforgettable tale of romance, love, survival and pursuit of the so-called American Dream. A production filled with articulate thrills, distinct laughs, and prolific musical segments that rhyme, “The Romance of Magno Rubio” [...]

Tom Groenwald, left, and Byron Field in "Five Beauties" at the McCadden Place Theatre. Credit: Daniel G. Lam.

FIVE BEAUTIES: 100% – SWEET

SWEET There’s a faintly showcase aspect to the budget-constrained designs, but they’re handled with resourceful élan. Such assurance typifies this compelling compendium. David C. Nichols – LA Times SWEET The acting and direction of all these pieces is outstanding, and the staging efficiently executed. It’s always grande to see Tennessee Williams mounted, especially in this [...]

The Saturday Saying

The Saturday Saying

“Despite a multi-racial cast that, if read literally, transforms Arthur Miller’s play into an anachronistic parody, The Matrix Theatre Company’s new production of All My Sons, although powerful, thought-provoking, and moving, still fails in its stated intention of examining race in America. Like so much of our nation’s present approach to race, gender, culture, and sexual [...]

The cast of "All My Sons" at the Matrix Theatre. Credit: Karen Bellone.

ALL MY SONS (MATRIX THEATRE): 96% – SWEET

SWEET Miller’s words deserve a stunning showcase with a firm-handed director, excellent actors, and good all-around production values. Miller’s “All My Sons” gets exactly that in The Matrix Theatre’s current production directed by Cameron Watson with an invitingly detailed backyard set designed by Emmy Award-winning Jon Iacovelli. Gil Kaan – Culture Spot LA SWEET Producer [...]

The "Epps Cocoa" cast of Noel Coward's “Peace In Our Time” at the Deaf West Theatre.  Credit: Geoffrey Wade

PEACE IN OUR TIME (THE ANTAEUS COMPANY): 90% – SWEET

SWEET This handsome production will get an audience – with this many cast members, how could it not – but it especially ought to be seen by young people, and most specifically by those who don’t think they like theater. Disguised as imagined history, like all great art it’s about the future. It’s a very [...]

James Lynch in "CarnEvil" at Sacred Fools Theater. Credit: Sacred Fools Theater Company.

CARNEVIL: 75% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET CarnEvil is slow to start in order to set up for what will be an entertaining payoff. The production hits full gear about ten minutes before intermission, making it almost vexing to have to stop. The second half of the show is nothing but action from start to finish with a whirlwind pace that [...]

"Iris" by Cirque du Soleil at the Kodak Theatre. Credit: Matt Beard 2011 Cirque du Soleil.

“IRIS” BY CIRQUE DU SOLEIL (KODAK THEATRE): 92% – SWEET

SWEET While I’m no connoisseur of Cirque du Soleil, which made its U.S. debut downtown in Little Tokyo in 1987 and has enjoyed, in the pre-show words of founder Guy Laliberté, “an amazing love affair with Los Angeles,” I prefer the company’s stupendous athletic prowess to its artiste pretensions. (Give me “Kà” over “Zumanity” any [...]

Timoth Lee Buckley in "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot" at studio/stage. Credit: Heather Holt.

THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT (RATMO): 100% – SWEET

SWEET Full of memorable characters, compelling drama and imaginative writing, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot may be long and difficult, but it is definitely worth the effort. Barnaby Hughes – Socal.com SWEET This must be said: Rise Above Theatre Movement’s (RATMO) production of “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot” has a running time of [...]