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1969: 75% - BITTERSWEET

1969: 75% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET The basics of a good story and good drama are here, but Morgan doesn’t provide adequate, convincing heft to these characters, or to the structure of her plot. Oddly, she saves her most effective, incisive writing for a final scene between Ajamu and Butler’s love-smitten wife Grace (Megan Weaver), at which point we learn […]

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 […]

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 […]

COCK: 95% - SWEET

COCK: 95% – SWEET

SWEET The ideal convergence of Mike Bartlett’s incredibly realistic script vividly emoted by the very talented four member cast, as tightly directed by Cameron Watson, make for a totally engrossing 90 minutes. Gil Kaan – BroadwayWorld SWEET Only a highly talented group of actors could deliver the play’s potent message, and the cast at the […]

EQUIVOCATION (THEATRICUM BOTANICUM): 89% - SWEET

EQUIVOCATION (THEATRICUM BOTANICUM): 89% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET And while Peebler and his muscular ensemble prove expert at seductively selling Cain’s quasi-historical premise, his audience-flattering allusions and lively turns of phrase, it does not take long for the troubling hollowness masked by such glibness to make itself felt. Perhaps the most problematic aspect of the entire enterprise is Cain’s primary suspense device […]

ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL (THEATRICUM BOTANICUM): 96% - SWEET

ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL (THEATRICUM BOTANICUM): 96% – SWEET

SWEET That we follow the largely unedited text through its dark moments and plot convolutions to an earned happy conclusion testifies to the curiosity factor and the clarity of storytelling at play. “All’s Well” may not be a flawless work, but it nonetheless ends well here. David C. Nichols – LA Times SWEET If you […]

WE WILL ROCK YOU (AHMANSON THEATRE): 45% - BITTER

WE WILL ROCK YOU (AHMANSON THEATRE): 45% – BITTER

BITTER But it’s not the lame plot that’s the problem here. (Nobody else knows what “Bohemian Rhapsody” is about either.) Rather, “We Will Rock You,” with a script by Ben Elton, feels like such an affront because it embodies so many of the qualities that Queen renounced. It’s shallow. It’s cynical. And it’s dumb, dumb, […]

LEAR (THEATRICUM BOTANICUM): 95% - SWEET

LEAR (THEATRICUM BOTANICUM): 95% – SWEET

SWEET Given that this take on the original’s rigidly patriarchal universe is fundamentally bonkers, it’s impressive how well co-adapter/directors Ellen Geer and Melora Marshall succeed in illuminating subtext and broadening the scope of Shakespeare’s darkest tragedy. Philip Brandes – LA Times SWEET We think it’s extraordinary and perfect for a cozy evening of high-brow stimulation. […]

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (THEATRICUM BOTANICUM): 100% - SWEET

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (THEATRICUM BOTANICUM): 100% – SWEET

SWEET An evening under the stars at the Theatricum Botanicum rarely disappoints. No exception to that general rule, “Much Ado About Nothing,” playing in repertory in the theater’s sylvan Topanga setting, is light of heart and deft of foot. Although they occasionally overdo the slapstick, co-directors Ellen Geer and Willow Geer have undoubtedly crafted a […]

THE TALLEST TREE IN THE FOREST (MARK TAPER FORUM): 64% - BITTERSWEET

THE TALLEST TREE IN THE FOREST (MARK TAPER FORUM): 64% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET Daniel Beaty brings this story to the Mark Taper Forum in his solo show “The Tallest Tree in the Forest,” a respectful and intelligent if dramatically disappointing recap of Robeson’s life. Charles McNulty – LA Times SWEET Whether or not you’ve heard of Paul Robeson, once you see the new play written by and […]

THE VORTEX (MATRIX RE-MOUNT): 69% - BITTERSWEET

THE VORTEX (MATRIX RE-MOUNT): 69% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER Judging by the pervasive silence during the performance, the rest of the audience apparently didn’t get what was being said, either. Whether it was the accents or the acoustics or the rushed, shrill delivery, the audience didn’t respond with much enthusiasm or amusement. But they gave the play a standing ovation at the end […]

HARMONY (AHMANSON): 78% - SWEET

HARMONY (AHMANSON): 78% – SWEET

SWEET Manilow’s’ ‘Harmony’ pleases despite a few sour notes. Paul Hodgins – OC Register SWEET Its leitmotif is nothing less than the true nature of harmony, which this disparate, diverse sextet found in the commingling of their voices and in their offstage unity — even as an antithetical ideology of divisiveness and conquest swept Germany, […]

OBAMA SPY DRAMA: 90% - SWEET

OBAMA SPY DRAMA: 90% – SWEET

SWEET With quick-witted writing and a high-octane cast, OSD is the perfect nighttime outing for Angelenos in need of a comic escape. P.P. – LATF SWEET With the Winter Olympics upon us, and recent attempts to reign in NSA spying, the time is ripe for a musical comedy with a Russian accent. And that’s what […]

LET'S MISBEHAVE (ICT): 98% - SWEET

LET’S MISBEHAVE (ICT): 98% – SWEET

SWEET We never learn why these three are so tight to begin with, but who cares if they express their current thoughts and feelings through more than 30 of Porter’s songs? Which they do, with admirable precision and grace. Todd Nielsen directed and choreorgraphed, with musical arrangements by co-conceiver Patrick Young and music supervision by […]

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, CHARLES DICKENS AND COUNT LEO TOLSTOY: DISCORD (GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE RE-MOUNT): 88% - SWEET

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, CHARLES DICKENS AND COUNT LEO TOLSTOY: DISCORD (GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE RE-MOUNT): 88% – 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 […]

DAY TRADER: 71% - BITTERSWEET

DAY TRADER: 71% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET In addition to being exceedingly well-written, Day Trader is skillfully directed and superbly acted. Ed Rampell – Hollywood Progressive SWEET Directed with shrewd subtlety by Steven Williford, Day Trader draws the audience in while winding its way through plot twists and seemingly random moments that won’t come together until the revelatory closing beats…though if […]

PARFUMERIE (WALLIS ANNENBERG CENTER): 80% - SWEET

PARFUMERIE (WALLIS ANNENBERG CENTER): 80% – SWEET

SWEET That said, the crisply assured performances, and Brokaw’s clockwork pacing, give the text its best possible production, though we sometimes sense we’re seeing a show that doesn’t have much faith in the possibility of multi-dimensional psychology. Tony Frankel – Stage and Cinema SWEET Don’t get me wrong: “Parfumerie” is entertaining and a great choice […]

TOTEM (CIRQUE DU SOLEIL): 100% - SWEET

TOTEM (CIRQUE DU SOLEIL): 100% – SWEET

SWEET Carl Fillion’s versatile set and Pedro Pires’ projections integrate beautifully, evoking landscapes both terrestrial and celestial. Occasionally we take a break from the action to observe a Darwinian doppelganger pondering earth’s mysteries. Creationists might grumble but this production bursts with wonder at mankind’s feats. Jenny Lower – LA Weekly SWEET The magnificent event may […]

THE LION IN WINTER (SIERRA MADRE PLAYHOUSE): 88% - SWEET

THE LION IN WINTER (SIERRA MADRE PLAYHOUSE): 88% – SWEET

SWEET In the new production at the Sierra Madre Playhouse, the smaller stage emphasizes this sense of captivity, enhanced as it is by Gary Wissman’s versatile, representational set. There, director Michael Cooper has gathered a cast ranging from good to very good indeed, all of whom live the characters they wear. Frances Baum Nicholson – […]

THE SUNSHINE BOYS (AHMANSON): 64% - BITTERSWEET

THE SUNSHINE BOYS (AHMANSON): 64% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET The jokes land with clockwork regularity, but “The Sunshine Boys” is only intermittently successful as a dramatic comedy. The play, in revival at the Ahmanson Theatre, has the dated feel of a vintage sitcom — one that predates even “Taxi,” the series in which the production’s stars, Danny DeVito and Judd Hirsch, last performed […]

FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON (DEAF WEST): 80% - SWEET

FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON (DEAF WEST): 80% – SWEET

SWEET Good theatre is rare to find, and exceptional theatre is even rarer. While the show’s darker moments are emotionally difficult to watch, it is theatre at it’s finest. It was stunning and heart-wrenching and beautiful. Like a maze, “Flowers for Algernon” is full of challenges and struggles. Deaf West Theatre’s production is worth the […]

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 […]

LOST GIRLS: 87% - SWEET

LOST GIRLS: 87% – SWEET

SWEET But it was Anna Theoni DiGiovanni and Jonathan Lipnicki (yes, the child star of “Jerry Maguire” fame has grown into a gifted actor) who broke my heart as young adults on the lam. Seeing the two bravely reach beyond their wounds toward an indelible moment of genuine intimacy more than makes up for the […]

RED (INTERNATIONAL CITY THEATRE): 100% - SWEET

RED (INTERNATIONAL CITY THEATRE): 100% – SWEET

SWEET In a season that has already included memorable stagings of Around The World In 80 Days, Master Class, and Dead Man’s Cell Phone, this very first made-for-L.A. production of John Logan’s Red once again places International City Theatre in the top tier of Los Angeles-area regional theaters. It is a production you will not […]

The Saturday Saying

The Saturday Saying

“But this is a mere quibble. Nickel and Dimed powerfully, poignantly demonstrates why the millions of unrepresented workers need to be unionized, and how this is arguably the cause of our time. (During the last Depression the unionization rate grew by 300%, and Ehrenreich founded and has been the president of United Professionals, a membership organization for […]

NICKEL AND DIMED (HUDSON MAINSTAGE): 78% - SWEET

NICKEL AND DIMED (HUDSON MAINSTAGE): 78% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET As social criticism, therefore, “Nickel and Dimed” has lost none of its importance or urgency. That being said, when considered on its theatrical merits there’s very little about the stage adaptation that can’t be found in the more complete and better written book. Philip Brandes – LA Times BITTERSWEET Joan Holden’s stage adaptation dramatizes […]

NINE (DOMA): 79% - SWEET

NINE (DOMA): 79% – SWEET

SWEET Known for some pretty terrific singing, DOMA accepts the challenges of Nine and with director Marco Gomez pulling out the stops and letting his skilled cast reach for the stars, this production works on many levels, will entertain you, and even make you muse from time to time. Don Grigware – Grigware Reviews SWEET […]

ALCESTIS (BOSTON COURT): 89% - SWEET

ALCESTIS (BOSTON COURT): 89% – SWEET

SWEET However, their festival-ready work doesn’t always mesh the piece’s narrative and thematic aims. The copious references, self-comment and abstractions hinder emotional connection as often as support it. Nonetheless, as theatrical exercises go, “Alcestis” is certainly impressive. David C. Nichols – LA Times BITTERSWEET The writing is frequently fascinating, and Ms. Keystone’s stage pictures are […]

ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI...: 100% - SWEET

ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI…: 100% – SWEET

SWEET Nonetheless, the vivid humor, ironic reversals and the larger implications hold us, right through to the bittersweet fade-out. Director Carl Cofield keeps things tautly entertaining on designer Stephanie Kerley Schwartz’s excellent set, and his actors (with alternates), who express rather than mimic their real-life counterparts, are first-rate. David C. Nichols – LA Times SWEET […]

THE TAMING OF THE SHREW (THEATRICUM BOTANICUM): 100% - SWEET

THE TAMING OF THE SHREW (THEATRICUM BOTANICUM): 100% – SWEET

SWEET This rip-roaring take on William Shakespeare’s ever-popular romantic comedy opens the 40th anniversary season at this incomparable outdoor venue with marvelous forward momentum. David C. Nichols – LA Times SWEET While this particular venue may be difficult to get to, it’s more than worth it. The location is beautiful, the people are friendly and […]