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Annette Bening in "Ruth Draper's Monologues" at the Geffen Playhouse. Photo: Michale Lamont.

RUTH DRAPER’S MONOLOGUES (GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE): 90% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET Perhaps the problem, aside from the material, is in Bening’s decision to direct herself. Aside from a vocal quality onstage that always seems a bit flat and somehow forced, Bening might have needed a second critical eye to help her better differentiate each of these four annoying women from one another. Directing oneself robs [...]

Ivanno Jeremiah, left, and Nonhlanhla Kheswa in "The Suit" at UCLA's Freud Playhouse. Photo: Pascal Victor, ArtComArt.

THE SUIT (FREUD PLAYHOUSE): 86% – SWEET

SWEET Three years ago, also with the help of Estienne and Krawczyk, Brook reduced Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” down to its ritualistic essences, removing the magic and retaining the humanity. In the “The Suit,” however, the horrors won’t go away. But by making theater, music and dance inseparably one, Brook’s art reaches that cleansing Bachian [...]

Taylor Gilbert (center front) with (back row from left to right) Hannah Mae Sturges, Jack Millard and Dani Stephens in "Sovereign Body" at the Road Theatre. Photo: John Lorenz.

SOVEREIGN BODY: 80% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET Beck’s decision to make Anna’s affliction an anthropomorphic one – a handsome devilish specter (Jack Millard), visible only to her, is responsible for her pain – adds an interesting dimension, helping to lift the overwritten and somewhat contrived script out of the movie-of-the-week waters into which it frequently lapses. Ultimately, the burden of a [...]

Mindy Sterling and Usman Ally in "The Last Act of Lilka Kadison" at the Falcon Theatre. Photo: Michael Lamont.

THE LAST ACT OF LILKA KADISON: 75% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET Indeed, this delicately potent West Coast premiere, a co-production between the Falcon and Chicago’s Tony-winning Lookingglass Theatre Company, often seems to be composing itself before our eyes in a blend of magic realism and transparent emotion. David C. Nichols – LA Times SWEET Productions like The Grönholm Method, Billy & Ray, and February’s Bunny [...]

Frank Gangarossa andJack Kutcher in "The Petrified Forest" at Theatre West. Photo:  Charlie Mount.

THE PETRIFIED FOREST (THEATRE WEST): 71% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET It is a solid example of the Modernist movement in literature, and of high-stakes drama that is surprisingly still relevant and as wildly entertaining today as it must have been in 1935 when it was written. Patrick Hurley – LifeInLA SWEET Is there a chance for Gabby’s and Alan’s romance? Will Duke and his [...]

Pippa Hinchley, Wendy Radford, David Hunt Stafford, Ron Bottita, and Chet Grissom in "God Only Knows" at Theatre 40. Photo by Ed Krieger.

GOD ONLY KNOWS (THEATRE 40): 63% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET If you enjoy a mystery, you will enjoy the United States Premiere of a mystery thriller at Theatre 40 in Beverly Hills. Whether you are a believer or not, you will enjoy God Only Knows, written by award-winning British playwright Hugh Whitemore. And you will definitely take pleasure in the work of the artists [...]

"Henry V" at Pacific Resident Theatre. Photo: Erika Boxler.

HENRY V (PACIFIC RESIDENT THEATRE): 88% – SWEET

SWEET I left the Pacific production in Venice with the feeling that I had just seen a rich and complex tale unfold before my eyes. Don Shirley – LA Observed BITTER In theory, it’s a fascinating concept. But among Henry V’s many virtues is the script’s tight construction. And the cost to the staging’s energy [...]

William Peterson and Rae in "Slowgirl" at the Geffen Playhouse. Photo: Michale Brasilow (courtesy of Steppenwolf Theatre).

SLOWGIRL (GEFFEN): 85% – SWEET

SWEET But Pierce has caught the rhythms of teenage girl-speak, and Gray, a credentialed actress and University of Chicago student (no relation to this reviewer) revels in them. Her wonderfully gravelly voice and quirky delivery make Becky thoroughly entertaining. And the characters’ developing bond despite their differences is touching and persuasive. Margaret Gray – LA [...]

Jason Karasev, Anna Khaja, and Joel Polis in "My Name is Asher Lev" at the Fountain Theatre. Photo by Ed Krieger.

MY NAME IS ASHER LEV: 94% – SWEET

SWEET The play isn’t an undiluted screed on behalf of unfettered art; it depicts the pain Asher’s parents undergo when they become the unwitting subjects of his masterpiece – and the conflicts this causes within the still-mostly-observant Asher. Don Shirley – LA Observed SWEET The story is not so surprising, but given the immediacy and [...]

Kevin Brief, Meredith Thomas and Nick Stabile in "The Trip Back Down" at the Whitefire Theatre. Photo: Ed Krieger.

THE TRIP BACK DOWN (WHITEFIRE THEATRE): 62% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET A full-throttle Whitefire Theatre revival revs “The Trip Back Down” up for a new spin, but unfortunately doesn’t restore John Bishop’s dated 1975 NASCAR-themed drama to street-legal status. Philip Brandes – LA Times SWEET Taking us into the world of competitive racecar drivers in 1975 … from the bawdy “rough ‘n tumble” lifestyle, to [...]

INHERIT THE WIND (GROVE THEATRE CENTER): 89% – SWEET

INHERIT THE WIND (GROVE THEATRE CENTER): 89% – SWEET

SWEET An outstanding production of Inherit the Wind is being presented by Wasatch Theatre Ventures, under the judicious direction of Kiff Scholl with an absolutely marvelous cast that gives realism to this magnetic showpiece. Carol Kaufman Segal – Reviewplays SWEET This production, presented by Wasatch Theatrical Ventures and Theatre Planners, is solidly mounted, with many [...]

Jennifer Laks, Lary Ohlson, and Christine Joelle in "Night Watch" at Theatre 40. Photo by Ed Krieger.

NIGHT WATCH (THEATRE 40): 88% – SWEET

SWEET Fletcher’s plot takes a bit too long to unravel, and she relies too heavily on offstage action. But she had a real knack for planting red herrings, ginning up suspense, and making us suspect every character. Director Bruce Gray fine-tunes the action to keep us guessing until the very end. Neal Weaver – ArtsInLA [...]

"Different Shades of Gray" at the Road Theatre. Photo: Road Theatre Company.

THE DIFFERENT SHADES OF HUGH: 76% – SWEET

SWEET This generic premise becomes far more intriguing after the artist stops taking his medication. Suddenly, phantoms of Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh (Tom Musgrave and Zachary Mooren, doing a lovely vaudeville duo) crash into the garret to help our artist create memorable portraits and landscapes, born of self-destructive hallucinations. With good reason, his [...]

Armin Shimerman, David Melville and Larry Cedar in "The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson..." at NoHo Arts Center. Photo: Michael Lamont.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, CHARLES DICKENS AND COUNT LEO TOLSTOY: DISCORD: 94% – SWEET

SWEET Carefully compiled references and biographical details whiz by in Matt August’s finely tuned staging, with superb performances illuminating the clashing personalities that drive three discordant takes on Christianity. Philip Brandes – LA Times SWEET Strong acting, design, and writing enliven NoHo Arts’ Center’s entertaining, thought-provoking world premiere production of The Gospel According to Thomas [...]

David Hunt Stafford, Bryan Bertone, Stephanie Erb, Flora Plumb and Meredith Thomas in "Light Up the Sky" at Theatre 40. Photo: Ed Krieger.

LIGHT UP THE SKY (THEATRE 40): 100% – SWEET

SWEET Laugh out loud funny, this fast paced comedy lights up the Los Angeles theatre scene this winter. Sandro Monetti – Thespian Thoughts SWEET Light Up the Sky by Moss Hart, directed by David McClendon, and produced by David Hunt Stafford at Theatre 40 in Beverly Hills has a very predictable story and is a [...]

Michael Marinaccio, left, Kip Gilman and Todd Cattell in "Aspirin & Elephants" at the Santa Monica Playhouse. Photo: Cydne Moore.

ASPIRIN & ELEPHANTS (SANTA MONICA PLAYHOUSE): 83% – SWEET

SWEET Despite some formulaic aspects, playwright Jerry Mayer’s boulevard comedy about intergenerational marital issues on a cruise ship is a surefire date show, a high-end sitcom with flashes of emotional heft. David C. Nichols – LA Times SWEET There is misunderstanding between the daughters and parents, but through amusing dialogue, humor, warmth, and understanding, all [...]

(Ellen Crawford and Brian Ibsen in "The Miracle on South Division Street" at the Colony Theatre. Photo: Michael Lamont.

MIRACLE ON SOUTH DIVISION STREET: 100% – SWEET

SWEET At first glance, Miracle On South Division Street might not seem edgy enough to attract audiences outside the Colony’s subscriber demographic, but stick around for those revelations and the family’s reactions to them and younger, hipper theatergoers may find themselves pleasantly surprised. And you don’t have to like holiday plays to enjoy this zesty [...]

Scott Lowell, left, Adam J. Smith, Gregory North, Robert Picardo, Clinton Derricks-Carroll, Barry Pearl, Bradford Tatum, Ellis E. Williams, Jason George and Adolphus Ward in "12 Angry Men" at the Pasadena Playhouse. Photo: Jim Cox Photography.

TWELVE ANGRY MEN (PASADENA PLAYHOUSE): 81% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET Artistically speaking, “12 Angry Men” is a relatively safe choice, guaranteed to appeal to theatergoers who appreciate comfortable familiarity and an edifying moral tone. Epps injects some risk by making his production about racial bias, but I wish he and his theater were more ambitious. The play is too blunt an instrument for a [...]

Caroline Bowman and Sean MacLaughlin in "Evita" at the Pantages Theatre. Photo: Richard Termine.

EVITA (PANTAGES): 85% – SWEET

SWEET True, the show’s liabilities — protractedly archetypal characters, recounted rather than dramatized events, undistinguished lyrics, incessant reprises of main tunes — have not vanished. Yet what Grandage and Ashford achieve, along with an imposing design scheme and a formidable triple-threat ensemble, largely minimizes those flaws. David C. Nichols – LA Times SWEET You might [...]

Matthew Floyd Miller and Jamie Torcellini in ‘The Mystery of Irma Vep’ at the Falcon Theatre. Photo by Chelsea Sutton.

THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP (FALCON THEATRE): 93% – SWEET

SWEET The Falcon Theatre wows with its current hour-and-45 of non-stop, sidesplitting hilarity: Charles Ludlam’s 1984 “The Mystery of Irma Vep.” Two very talented and versatile actors, Matthew Floyd Miller and Jamie Torcellini, inhabit multiple roles using the utmost of their physical comedy expertise and impeccable comedic timing to delight the audience with the high [...]

Ganbusters Theatre and Combined Artform present Darrett Sanders and Andy Hirsch in "Sunny Afternoon" at Theatre Asylum. Photo: James Storm

SUNNY AFTERNOON: 88% – SWEET

SWEET This is one of the best ensemble casts I’ve seen in long time. Patricia Foster Rye – Pat Rye Reviews SWEET If ever there were a play tailored to fit gangbusters’ goal of “staging the imagined truth with speed and violence,” Sunny Afternoon is that play (though any violence taking place is entirely offstage). [...]

Karesa McElheny, Scott Kradolfer and Irene-Roseen in "The Light Bulb" at the NoHo Arts Center. Photo: Company.

THE LIGHT BULB: 60% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET The NoHo Arts Center Ensemble scores another hit with the world premiere of “The Light Bulb.” The talented cast gives full life to the smart, witty and cohesive dialogue written by Joshua Ravetch (previously seen last year at the NoHo Arts with his other hit and world premiere “One November Yankee”). Artistic Director James [...]

Melissa Collins, left, and Elizabeth Lande appear in "Kin" at Theatre 40. Photo: Ed Krieger.

KIN: 76% – SWEET

BITTER Unfortunately the characters in this production seem to be a hodgepodge of stereotypes not fully realized by the author and the jumping around within the last seven years in both America and Ireland was oftentimes confusing. Shari Barrett – BroadwayWorld SWEET The outcome doesn’t really take us anywhere we haven’t been, yet it certainly [...]

Alex Smith and Laurie O'Brien star in "Lake Anne," at the Road Theatre on Magnolia. Photo: Deverill Weeks.

LAKE ANNE: 60% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER Awash with clumsy, filler-laden scripting and uneven performances, Marthe Rachel Gold’s play revolves around Anne (Laurie O’Brien), a former star dancer bitterly mourning a career shipwrecked by the birth of her son Will (Alex Smith), now 23 but mentally stuck in pre-adolescence. Philip Brandes – LA Times SWEET They are known for doing world [...]

AWAKE AND SING (GROUP REP): 100% – SWEET

AWAKE AND SING (GROUP REP): 100% – SWEET

SWEET Now in a rare revival, under the clear and solid direction of Larry Eisenberg, Group rep presents one of its finest productions of the topical Awake and Sing! with a stellar cast and creative team. Don Grigware – BroadwayWorld SWEET Larry Eisenberg directs a remarkable cast who do justice to Odet’s characters. Michelle Bernath [...]

THE WIZARD OF OZ (PANTAGES): 69% – BITTERSWEET

THE WIZARD OF OZ (PANTAGES): 69% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER Webber revamp creates a ‘Wizard’ of flaws. Paul Hodgins – OC Register BITTERSWEET If one can look past the cruel and unusual punishment that is what producer Andrew Lloyd Webber has done to the classic fantasy film The Wizard Of Oz, this specific mounting, at L.A.’s Pantages Theatre, is not bad with a cast [...]

Lauren Patten, Daniel David Stewart and Adam Dingeman in "The Burnt Part Boys" at the Third Street Theatre. Credit: Elizabeth Mercer.

THE BURNT PART BOYS (THIRD STREET THEATRE): 69% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET Within the heavy-handed framework, the cast acquits itself sincerely and honorably, though Patten seems to have been glued to Annie Get Your Gun while Pete was over at The Alamo. In her relish at waving her rifle around and singing about the joys of roasting squirrels and gophers, she can make one nostalgic for [...]

Ruby Hinds and Jolie Oliver in "The Old Settler" at the Pico Playhouse. Photo: Ed Krieger

THE OLD SETTLER (PICO PLAYHOUSE): 100% – SWEET

SWEET What elevates this revival is the riveting interplay between Oliver and Hinds as the estranged siblings facing deep-seated conflicts with naked emotional honesty — there’s no plot safety net to coast on here. As icing on the cake, the songs threaded through the play showcase Hinds’ background as an opera singer — by the [...]

Don Huston and Lee Meriwether in "A Short Stay at Carranor" at Theatre West. Photo: Thomas Mikulcz.

A SHORT STAY AT CARRANOR: 56% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER In a love story, the overly used device of having a character dying of a fatal disease has been done to death (no pun intended), and in order for any story to overcome such a barrier, it should include fresh, innovative, or at least satirical set of subplots to surround it. This play, however, [...]

Amy Brenneman and Lee Tergessen in "Rapture, Blister, Burn" at the Geffen Playhouse. Photo:

RAPTURE, BLISTER, BURN: 84% – SWEET

SWEET The chorus of female voices, from the pre-feminist Alice to the post-post-feminist Avery, allows for a multigenerational examination of a subject that is too important to treat in a doctrinaire manner. And it is this freedom of expression, comically maximized by Kull (who steals every scene that she’s in) and crackingly delivered by Dixon, [...]