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"A Midsummer Night's Dream" at the Broad Stage. Photo: Simon Annand.

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM (BROAD STAGE): 80% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET Still, the production, by War Horse director Tom Morris, is surprisingly uninvolving. The main quartet of lovers and their foibles feel too separate from the puppet business, a big reason that the puppets’ theatricality doesn’t translate into emotional heft. Zachary Pincus-Roth – LA Weekly SWEET Nonetheless, this inventive production will send you home with [...]

Joseph Fuqua and Rebekah Tripp in "A Moon for the Misbegotten" at the Rubicon Theatre. Photo:

A MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN (RUBICON): 92% – SWEET

SWEET Rubicon Theatre’s impassioned revival shows the mature O’Neill at the height of his powers — his arty experimental theater days behind him, masterfully employing classical fundamentals to wring hauntingly poetic truths about love and self-delusion from gritty everyday experience. Philip Brandes – LA Times SWEET A Moon for the Misbegotten was Eugene O’Neill’s grand [...]

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 [...]

The cast of "Passion Play" at the Odyssey Theatre. Photo: Enci.

PASSION PLAY (ODYSSEY/EVIDENCE ROOM): 79% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET If, like me, you’re a fan of the Evidence Room, go to enjoy the familiar faces. Otherwise enjoy the small stuff and forgive the production for not tying everything up. Anthony Byrnes – KCRW BITTERSWEET Despite their many strengths, I found parts one and two curiously uninvolving. It wasn’t until Ruhl came closer to [...]

Tim Settle and Neil Thomas in "Jason and the Argonauts" at the Wallis Annenberg Performing Arts Center. Photo: Company.

JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS (WALLIS ANNENBERG CENTER): 100% – SWEET

SWEET Visible Fictions obviously believes in trusting its youthful audience; it speaks up to kids, rather than down. Consequently, the sheer energy, intelligence and fun of Jason had all its onlookers responding with whoops of laughter and joy. Daniel Padden’s evocative musical score also helped set appropriate moods. Willard Manus – Total Theater SWEET Two [...]

"Aladdin and His Winter Wish" at the Pasadena Playhouse. Photo: Clarence Alford.

ALADDIN AND HIS WINTER WISH (PASADENA PLAYHOUSE): 90% – SWEET

BITTER As if to provide a counterpoint to the Troubies’ general excellence, Pasadena Playhouse is now hosting Aladdin and His Winter Wish, a shiny jukebox panto from the family that classed up our culture with television behemoths American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance. But with a hundred times the Troubadour budget, affording [...]

Brian Dennehy in "The Steward of Christendom" at the Mark Taper Forum. Photo: Craig Schwartz.

THE STEWARD OF CHRISTENDOM (MARK TAPER): 53% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET This devotion to verbal patterning is both his signal strength and conspicuous weakness as a dramatist. In “The Steward of Christendom,” Barry’s 1995 play now being revived at the Mark Taper Forum as a star vehicle for Brian Dennehy, retrospective prose substitutes for dramatic action. Charles McNulty – LA Times BITTERSWEET The playwright’s prose [...]

The cast of "Peter and the Starcatcher" at the Ahmanson Theatre. Photo: Terry Shapiro.

PETER AND THE STARCATCHER (AHMANSON): 77% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET If, in the first act, the wit varies so vertiginously that it flirts with the tiresome, then in a deliriously delicious opening musical number of the second act, the entire cast sings and dances in delectable drag as fish mutated by the pollution of the ocean with starstuff into cross-dressing mermaids. This sort of [...]

The cast of "Parfumerie" at the Wallis Annenberg theater in Beverly Hills. Photo: Jim Cox.

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 [...]

Danny Devito and Judd Hirsch in "The Sunshine Boys" at the Ahmanson Theatre. Photo: Craig Schwartz.

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 [...]

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, [...]

John Lavelle and Jay Whittaker in "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead" at The Old Globe in San Diego. Photo: Michael Lamont.

ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD (OLD GLOBE): 100% – SWEET

SWEET Stoppard’s fertile wit keeps this three-act drama pulsing along without too much strain. A subtle pathos, along with the playwright’s verbal sophistication, prevents the play from degenerating into a collegiate vaudeville. The situation of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern is at once a theatrical problem and an existential one. Left so often to their own devices [...]

Judy Gold in her one-woman show "The Judy Show: My LIfe as a Sitcom" at the Geffen Playhouse's Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater. Photo: Michael Lamont.

THE JUDY SHOW: MY LIFE AS A SITCOM: 67% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET Gold, 50, is an enormously likable performer — except for her flawless comic timing, she could be a mom straight from the carpool line. She plays piano and sings real and made-up sitcom theme songs in an unpretentious bray. She’s sarcastic but not bitter. She doesn’t want to subvert either sitcoms or families — [...]

Keith David and Glynn Turman in "Joe Turner's Come and Gone" at the Mark Taper Forum. Credit: Craig Schwartz.

JOE TURNER’S COME AND GONE (MARK TAPER): 93% – SWEET

SWEET This powerfully acted production of “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone,” which opened Wednesday at the Mark Taper Forum under the direction of Phylicia Rashad, is a gift for audiences hungering for theatrical nourishment after being fed a steady diet of snacks. Charles McNulty – LA Times SWEET Thesps Keith David, Glynn Turman and John [...]

Jeff LeBeau and Michael Yavnieli in "Years to the Day" at the Beverly Hills Playhouse. Credit: Ed Krieger.

YEARS TO THE DAY: 82% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET Rants and strategically timed revelations are not, however, ideal substitutes for strong writing. Barton’s play is a laborious 80 minutes, 15 minutes into which angry, mortality-obsessed Dan (Yavnieli) and his sensitive, secrets-stuffed buddy Jeff (LeBeau) are inducing audience weariness. This largely obnoxious and maudlin duo may be in an empty café because, after overhearing [...]

"The Beaux' Stratagem" at A Noise Within. Credit: Craig Schwartz.

THE BEAUX’ STRATAGEM (A NOISE WITHIN): 84% – SWEET

SWEET For educational value alone, it’s wonderful to see the play produced professionally, but under Julia Rodriguez-Elliot’s direction, A Noise Within’s production makes it clear why the play was so popular back in its day. “The Beaux’ Stratagem” is immensely funny, and it’s quite entertaining to watch such a well-crafted play. Katie Buenneke – Neon [...]

Ron Eldard, Freddie Rodriguez, andBill Smitrovich in "America Buffalo" at the Geffen Playhouse. Credit:

AMERICAN BUFFALO (GEFFEN): 80% – SWEET

SWEET David Mamet’s “American Buffalo” is set in a junk shop, but there are jewels to be found in the play and they are thrillingly laid out for us in the Geffen Playhouse’s dynamically acted production directed by Randall Arney. Charles McNulty – LA Times SWEET Nevertheless, Mamet’s world, despite its grounding in acute social [...]

"Lunch Lady Courage" presented by Cornerstone Theatre. Credit: Kevin Michael Campbell.

LUNCH LADY COURAGE: 67% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET The cast of local teenagers, community members, and professional actors revives old material to tackle modern social issues and creates something that is relevant, memorable, and moving. Katherine Davis – Backstage BITTERSWEET The experience of watching Lunch Lady Courage is estranging and ultimately feels like an extraordinarily well-produced amateur talent show rather than Theater [...]

Tracie Bennett in "End of Rainbow" at the Ahmanson Theatre. Credit: Craig Schwartz.

END OF THE RAINBOW: 79% – SWEET

SWEET No real-life tragic heroine has ever gone into that good night quite as ungently as Garland does in “End of the Rainbow,” which manages to send you out wondering whether you’ve just seen a cautionary bummer or a high-on-life theatrical thrill-aganza. Better that we don’t have to decide and can just agree to mark [...]

in "On the Spectrum" at the Fountain Theatre. Credit: Ed Krieger.

ON THE SPECTRUM: 82% – SWEET

SWEET Watching the beautiful work of Virginia Newcomb and Dan Shaked Iris and Mac, two challenged young people trying to negotiate something resembling first love, is witnessing a flag being planted for hope, sensitivity, and artistic progress. The production that director Jacqueline Schultz surrounds them with ain’t shabby either. Evan Henerson – Backstage SWEET On [...]

Stephen Anthony and chorus in "Catch Me If You Can" at the Pantages Theatre. Credit: Carol Rosegg.

CATCH ME IF YOU CAN (PANTAGES/SEGERSTROM CENTER): 67% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER Unfortunately, there’s nothing about “Catch Me If You Can” that inspires a repeat visit. While the cast is working hard, the material they’re working with is too flawed to make the show an enjoyable experience. Katie Buenneke – Neon Tommy BITTERSWEET These tireless touring actors nearly con us into thinking we’re seeing a show [...]

"Tribes" at the Mark Taper Forum. Credit: Craig Schwartz.

TRIBES: 89% – SWEET

SWEET With actors this emotionally connected, words are secondary. More to the point of Raine’s play, hearing is shown to depend more on an open heart than fully functioning ears. Charles McNulty – LA Times SWEET The conversation Tribes inspires about communication and community in the deaf world more than justifies this production. It’s unfortunate [...]

"The Gift" at the Geffen Playhouse. Credit: Michael Lamont.

THE GIFT: 55% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER An appealing and capable cast keeps the flicker of hope alive that Joanna Murray-Smith’s play “The Gift” will be worth our time despite the mounting evidence to the contrary. But by the end of this 90-minute comedy even the actors seem done in by the effort of sustaining the illusion that there’s something important [...]

"Backbeat" at the Ahmanson Theatre. Credit: Craig Schwartz.

BACKBEAT: 65% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER The design team turns the Ahmanson stage into a virtual black-and-white movie. It’s nice to look at, but Leveaux never finds a way to piece together the two stories, especially in act two. The Beatles glide upstage and down on a platform, Sutcliffe and Kirchherr move across stage on a series of sofas and [...]

"Cassiopeia" at the Theatre @ Boston Court. Credit: Ed Krieger.

CASSIOPEIA: 71% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET If you’re in a mood to give yourself over to rich imagery richly (sometimes too richly) conveyed, you’ll encounter something rare and beautiful. Bob Verini – Variety SWEET Part dream drama, part choreo-poem, the 75-minute three-character work, directed by Emilie Beck, charms both the brain and the senses. Evan Henerson – Backstage SWEET Still, [...]

Diane Cary, left, Sharon Sharth and Jane Kaczmarek in "The Snake Can" at the Odyssey Theatre. Credit: Ed Krieger.

THE SNAKE CAN: 80% – SWEET

SWEET Yet Graf’s core instincts are sound, the quips and faceoffs suggesting actual human discourse, and Kaczmarek and Harrison form the tonal poles of a wonderful ensemble. See it with someone you love in spite of yourself. David C. Nichols – LA Times BITTERSWEET Director Steven Robman does the heavy lifting of keeping his talented [...]

FREUD’S LAST SESSION (BROAD STAGE): 76% – SWEET

FREUD’S LAST SESSION (BROAD STAGE): 76% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET For “Freud’s Last Session” to be a deeper play it would have to take a freer hand with the characters, exploring the textures of their inner lives rather than simply surveying their intellectual positions. St. Germain playfully illuminates some of the contradictions in their characters, but the piece sticks mostly to the surface, satisfying [...]

Jessie Austrian, left, Noah Brody and Emily Young in Fiasco Theater's production of "Cymbeline" at The Broad Stage Credit: Ben Gibbs / The Broad Stage.

CYMBELINE (BROAD STAGE): 94% – SWEET

SWEET “Cymbeline” has no business being on anyone’s top 10 Shakespeare list, but it has its glories — most of them outlandish, though a few that are breathtakingly refined. Fiasco’s revival gives us a fair glimpse of both. Charles McNulty – LA Times BITTERSWEET What the company lacks in skill, they make up for in [...]

RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDOORS (TROUBADORS): 100% – SWEET

RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDOORS (TROUBADORS): 100% – SWEET

SWEET No offense to the original cartoon’s sound track, but it’s the Doors songs that provide the theatrical oomph that allows this mild-mannered TV show to explode all over a stage, especially when performed by Eric Heinly’s hot live band. Don Shirley – LA Stage Times SWEET Well, my guests were certainly stuffed after this [...]

"Other Desert Cities" at the Mark Taper Forum. Credit: Craig Schwartz.

OTHER DESERT CITIES (MARK TAPER): 76% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET What should be a perfect storm, alas, isn’t. Working with watchable and often affecting material, Egan and his cast of five feel like they’re trying to wrestle two or three disparate plays into a shapable entity. Despite a career-stretching performance by JoBeth Williams and strong work by the consistently reliable Robert Foxworth, “Other Desert [...]