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SLEEPING BEAUTY AND HER WINTER KNIGHT (PASADENA PLAYHOUSE): 100% - SWEET

SLEEPING BEAUTY AND HER WINTER KNIGHT (PASADENA PLAYHOUSE): 100% – 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 […]

WHAT THE BUTLER SAW (MARK TAPER): 82% - SWEET

WHAT THE BUTLER SAW (MARK TAPER): 82% – SWEET

SWEET “What the Butler Saw” represents Orton at his most sophisticatedly silly. It’s a play bursting with references to other plays, including even one of the greatest tragedies ever written, Euripides’ “The Bacchae.” Sad as it is to reflect on what this author might have gone on to accomplish had he not been cut down […]

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 […]

POPE! AN EPIC MUSICAL: 75% - BITTERSWEET

POPE! AN EPIC MUSICAL: 75% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER If exuberance and good intentions were enough, Pope! might come closer to the epic experience predicted in its title. As it is, for this audience member, this one just didn’t fly. Ellen Dostal – Musicals in LA SWEET The musical numbers by Christopher Papas are excellent, with ear catching vocalizations that often break into […]

JEKYLL & HYDE: THE MUSICAL (CANDLELIGHT PAVILION): 75% - BITTERSWEET

JEKYLL & HYDE: THE MUSICAL (CANDLELIGHT PAVILION): 75% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET Some of the finest voices I’ve heard at Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theatre along with Jason James’ assured direction make for a first-rate Jekyll & Hyde out Claremont way, with Janet Renslow’s exciting recreation of the show’s original choreography adding to the pizzazz. Steven Stanley – StageSceneLA SWEET Combining talent with great lyricist / book […]

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 IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST (A NOISE WITHIN): 85% - SWEET

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST (A NOISE WITHIN): 85% – SWEET

SWEET Overall, “The Importance of Being Earnest” was an absolute delight. The actors suited their respective characters, the scenery was quite beautiful in a simplistic way, and there were plenty of laughs. As over the top and extravagant Oscar Wilde wants you to believe his characters to be, you can still find a humble side […]

4000 MILES (SIERRA MADRE PLAYHOUSE): 90% - SWEET

4000 MILES (SIERRA MADRE PLAYHOUSE): 90% – SWEET

SWEET Amy Herzog’s contemporary exploration of kinship, adulthood and self-discovery receives a warm, capable production in its Los Angeles debut at the Sierra Madre Playhouse. Directed by Christian Lebano, the show offers much to appreciate, from the well-appointed set to the spot-on costume design. But the actors, like their characters, are still finding their footing: […]

GOOD PEOPLE (LA MIRADA THEATRE): 100% - SWEET

GOOD PEOPLE (LA MIRADA THEATRE): 100% – SWEET

SWEET The dilemmas facing the life-battered protagonist of “Good People” are perhaps strategically manipulated, but that doesn’t make them any less relevant, humorous or dramatically engrossing. In fact, David Lindsay-Abaire’s 2011 comedy-drama of socioeconomic dynamics in South Boston is in some ways his finest construct to date, as its rock-solid rendering at La Mirada Theatre […]

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 […]

MARJORIE PRIME: 67% - BITTERSWEET

MARJORIE PRIME: 67% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER A terrible play, and depressing as well, playwright Jordan Harrison’s Marjorie Prime is set in a not-too-distant future and imagines a world where sophisticated robots have been fashioned as human companions. Harrison’s one-act drama doesn’t really have a plot — it’s more of a character study. We see a series of scenes within which […]

KISS ME, KATE (PASADENA PLAYHOUSE): 89% - SWEET

KISS ME, KATE (PASADENA PLAYHOUSE): 89% – SWEET

SWEET “Let’s Make a Deal’s” Wayne Brady as the lead in a revival of “Kiss Me, Kate”: It almost sounds like an especially wacky draft in some fantasy stunt-casting league for theater directors. Sheldon Epps of the Pasadena Playhouse has not only made it happen, he has used it as the inspiration for an ingenious […]

Correction: The Los Angeles Newspaper Group is NOT Going to Take All Theater Reviews Online [UPDATED)

Correction: The Los Angeles Newspaper Group is NOT Going to Take All Theater Reviews Online [UPDATED)

Editor’s Note: Please see comments from executive editor of the Los Angeles Newspaper Group, Michael Anastasi, below in the comments section. We apologize for the misinformation but are going to leave this post up with the corrections added. Again, apologies and we’ll try to do better next time. CM This from Frances Baum Nicholson, longtime Los […]

HAPPY DAYS (BOSTON COURT): 100% - SWEET

HAPPY DAYS (BOSTON COURT): 100% – SWEET

SWEET This production, which features Broadway veteran and multiple Emmy winner Tony Shalhoub, Adams’ real-life husband, in the role of Willie, Winnie’s there-but-not-there life partner, preserves the universality of Beckett’s vivid stage metaphor while making it seem right at home in Southern California. Charles McNulty – LA Times SWEET No other dramatist has ever been […]

6 RMS RIV VU (SIERRA MADRE PLAYHOUSE): 76% - SWEET

6 RMS RIV VU (SIERRA MADRE PLAYHOUSE): 76% – SWEET

BITTER The problem is that while “to cheat or not to cheat” may be a theme that transcends time and place, these particular characters and the dialogue they employ do not. Their small-talk pretty much replicates the chitchat of a particular class of urbanites at a particular time in the 20th century. In short, this […]

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, […]

BUYER AND CELLAR: 98% - SWEET

BUYER AND CELLAR: 98% – SWEET

SWEET Wicked without being unnecessarily cruel, Buyer and Cellar takes jabs at the cult of celebrity while reminding us why we’re so fascinated by it in the first place. Streisand’s eccentric behavior is counterbalanced by nice moments of humanity — awkwardly comforting a distraught Alex or revealing a painful childhood secret. But then Barry makes […]

STUPID FUCKING BIRD: 96% - SWEET

STUPID FUCKING BIRD: 96% – SWEET

SWEET The reason you need to stop and buy tickets now – is it closes July 27th and the rest of this ensemble cast is remarkable. Throw in the fact that it’s beautifully designed and crisply directed – really please don’t miss this one – it’s worth the trip to Pasadena. Anthony Byrnes – KCRW […]

WAKE: 100% - SWEET

WAKE: 100% – SWEET

SWEET A curiously fascinating examination of how we should live as opposed to the way we often do. Now onstage at the Fremont Centre Theatre in Pasadena, SeaGlass Theatre presents Wake through May 25 with meticulous direction from Matt Kirkwood and a truly loving cast. Don Grigware – BroadwayWorld SWEET The funniest and most tender […]

THE GERSHWINS' PORGY AND BESS (AHMANSON THEATRE): 89% - SWEET

THE GERSHWINS’ PORGY AND BESS (AHMANSON THEATRE): 89% – SWEET

SWEET Diane Paulus’ direction of “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess” is mesmerizing. It features a cast of strong actors, abundant laughs amidst serious moments, and some of the most beautiful vocals this side of Broadway. Get a chance to see this show while it’s in town. Molly Quinlan – Neon Tommy SWEET Paulus’ creation, as […]

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 […]

EVERYTHING YOU TOUCH: 82% - SWEET

EVERYTHING YOU TOUCH: 82% – SWEET

SWEET The performances, particularly of the two leads, are confident, nuanced and memorable. And the rich sensory feast Kubzansky and her team have served up — which also includes lighting by Jeremy Pivnick, sound by John Zalewski and witty props by John Burton — is a powerful reminder of why beauty, heartless though it may […]

COME BACK, LITTLE SHEBA (A NOISE WITHIN): 100% - SWEET

COME BACK, LITTLE SHEBA (A NOISE WITHIN): 100% – SWEET

SWEET The ANW cast members inhabit their 1950 characters with stunning authenticity. G. Bruce Smith – Stage and Cinema SWEET Fortunately, the current revival of Inge’s 1950 drama “Come Back, Little Sheba” at A Noise Within largely steers clear of blatancy, thanks to the skillful co-direction of Julia Rodriguez-Elliott and Geoff Elliott. When the characters […]

CRAZY FOR YOU (CANDLELIGHT PAVILION): 100% - SWEET

CRAZY FOR YOU (CANDLELIGHT PAVILION): 100% – SWEET

SWEET So hurry on down to Candlelight Pavilion for a true treat and enjoy a good meal and great show. Robert Machray – Stagehappenings SWEET The songs are all Gershwin, the dancing is virtually non-stop, and the entertainment value is sky-high in the Tony-winning Best Musical of 1992 Crazy For You, which Candlelight Pavilion Dinner […]

A SONG AT TWILIGHT (PASADENA PLAYHOUSE): 90% - SWEET

A SONG AT TWILIGHT (PASADENA PLAYHOUSE): 90% – SWEET

SWEET This production of “A Song at Twilight” is a reminder that there’s more to Coward than Champagne bubbles and intoxicating quips. What could very easily have turned into a vintage case study of a closeted homosexual writer becomes a probing exposé of the concealments and deceptions that keep our most intimate relationships — with […]

MACBETH (A NOISE WITHIN): 78% - BITTERSWEET

MACBETH (A NOISE WITHIN): 78% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET Elijah Alexander as Macbeth and Willcox do suggest a lot of sexual passion in their early scenes, but at least at the performance I saw, Alexander’s vocal delivery sounded lighter than expected, almost as if he were undecided about how far to pursue Macbeth’s indecision. Carpenter visually emphasizes that the Macbeths apparently lost their […]

BATTLEDRUM: 75% - BITTERSWEET

BATTLEDRUM: 75% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET But the book and lyrics (by Doug Cooney) and the music (Lee Ahlin) lacked sophistication. The 75-minutes or so of the show had to cover too much terrain (emotional as well as physical) to remain intriguing and the use of women in the show (a mother of one of the boys, D.J. Harner, who […]

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, […]

TARTUFFE (A NOISE WITHIN): 76% - SWEET

TARTUFFE (A NOISE WITHIN): 76% – SWEET

SWEET Overall it’s a delightful revival. If the darker nuances at times threaten the cascading hilarity, that won’t prohibit the enjoyment of so swankly appointed, proficiently acted a classical bauble as this representative company melee. David C. Nichols – LA Times SWEET Molière’s “Tartuffe,” which dates back to 1664, is not only a sire of […]

ABOVE THE FOLD: 67% - BITTERSWEET

ABOVE THE FOLD: 67% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER Henson wins us over with her likability. She provides glimpses of a conscience that Weinraub runs roughshod over, but unfortunately it’s not enough to keep us emotionally invested in this schematic play. In scoring points, the playwright forgets that in the theater the most compelling battles are the internal ones. Charles McNulty – LA […]