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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 […]

AN IDEAL HUSBAND (SIERRA MADRE PLAYHOUSE): 83% - SWEET

AN IDEAL HUSBAND (SIERRA MADRE PLAYHOUSE): 83% – SWEET

SWEET It’s always a pleasant surprise to discover a gem in a most unlikely setting, and that’s what I experienced last Saturday night when I attended a performance of Oscar Wilde’s comedy An Ideal Husband at the Sierra Madre Playhouse. It was my first time at the venue, and I was delighted to discover an […]

A WORD OR TWO: 96% - SWEET

A WORD OR TWO: 96% – SWEET

SWEET McAnuff’s production has the polish we’ve come to expect from this Tony-winning director, but the show’s gleam is all Plummer, who having held this stage almost single-handedly in “Barrymore” has no trouble filling it up now completely on his own. Charles McNulty – LA Times SWEET “A Word or Two,” seduces us with words. […]

FOXFINDER: 85% - SWEET

FOXFINDER: 85% – SWEET

SWEET Picture the witch-hunting of “The Crucible” at the hands of a modern Orwellian state and you have the broad contours of Dawn King’s “Foxfinder,” which receives an atmospheric, take-no-prisoners co-production from Furious Theatre Company in association with Oregon-based Artists Repertory Theatre. Philip Brandes – LA Times BITTERSWEET Under Dámaso Rodriguez’s direction, when the inspector […]

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

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 […]

A PERFECT LIKENESS: 95% - SWEET

A PERFECT LIKENESS: 95% – SWEET

SWEET Charles Dickens meets Lewis Carroll, literally, in “A Perfect Likeness” at Fremont Centre Theatre in South Pasadena. This beautifully appointed two-hander about the authors of “Great Expectations” and “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” isn’t exactly deep-dish, but it should appeal to those seeking a pleasantly literate 90 minutes in the theater. David C. Nichols – […]

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

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 […]

GIDION'S KNOT: 100% - SWEET

GIDION’S KNOT: 100% – SWEET

SWEET Nothing would work in this perilously tricky play without the utter commitment and attentive shading brought to the roles by these two contrastingly arresting performers. Cale Lisbe (five seasons as Joanie Hansen on Providence) and Martin (a founding member of The Furious) are riveting, supplying utmost conviction even when the character development may be […]

Critique of the Week

Critique of the Week

And then, finally, we get a thoughtful, almost whimsical response to the same play for our final and penultimate COW for this week. Frances seems practically Yoda-esque in her response to ANW’s production. Then again, with “Endgame” it should be nothing but. ENDGAME Frances Baum Nicholson – The Stage Struck Review In the trio of […]

ENDGAME (A NOISE WITHIN): 78% - SWEET

ENDGAME (A NOISE WITHIN): 78% – SWEET

SWEET Both Rabb and Elliott do a great job of balancing the absurdist nature of Beckett’s dialogue with the fact that it is being presented in a real place on a real stage, going overboard when needed in their acting but still bringing the play back to the forefront of the audience’s mind. Angie Fiedler […]

THE GUARDSMAN (A NOISE WITHIN): 85% - SWEET

THE GUARDSMAN (A NOISE WITHIN): 85% – SWEET

SWEET Toss in a seamless supporting ensemble and first-rate production values, and you couldn’t ask for a finer example of how captivating and downright fun live theater can be. Philip Brandes – LA Times BITTERSWEET Unfortunately, director Michael Michetti’s otherwise handsome revival (on Tom Buderwitz’s elegant set and under Adam Frank’s bravura lighting) can’t quite […]

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 […]

HUMOR ABUSE: 98% - SWEET

HUMOR ABUSE: 98% – SWEET

SWEET By keeping its knee-slapping, gasp-inducing and heart-tugging elements in quietly accelerating balance, this Obie-winning solo piece about growing up with the Pickle Family Circus lands an uproarious, astounding and affecting tour de force. David C. Nichols – LA Times SWEET Pisoni’s movements are fluid and effortlessly precise and his prodigious skills are a joy […]

R II (BOSTON COURT): 95% - SWEET

R II (BOSTON COURT): 95% – SWEET

SWEET Sometimes this casting gambit can devolve, almost of necessity, into vestiges of a stunt. Yet while this great, less-heralded work can become, even in the most accomplished staging, a tad enervating (particularly at full-length), RII maintains its energy and daring throughout and reclaims the poetry and insight of the original with unstinting immediacy and […]

AUTO PARTS: 67% - BITTERSWEET

AUTO PARTS: 67% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET Auto Parts utilizes audience-appointed structural randomness to remind theater-goers that they are an integral part of any given production. Art is never just for art’s sake. Lydia Kapp – LifeInLA SWEET In sum, four conversations in and around a car create a drama which proves both intriguing and compelling. And you should go see […]