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THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST (QUEER CLASSICS/LOUNGE THEATRE): 86% - SWEET

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST (QUEER CLASSICS/LOUNGE THEATRE): 86% – SWEET

SWEET Queer Classics’ The Importance Of Being Earnest gives us a world that Oscar Wilde could scarcely have conceived of in his Wildest dreams, and in so doing, Casey Kringlen and company give Oscar the last laugh he so richly deserves. Steven Stanley – StageSceneLA (Lounge Review) BITTERSWEET On the other end of the spectrum […]

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, […]

BROADWAY BOUND (ODYSSEY THEATRE): 94% - SWEET

BROADWAY BOUND (ODYSSEY THEATRE): 94% – SWEET

SWEET Director Jason Alexander, who originated the role of Stanley in the Broadway premiere, imparts his command of the material into an attentively drilled cast. Despite limited rehearsal time, the actors have become comfortable enough to dredge shaded subtext from their roles, which is impressive especially under the close scrutiny of an audience shoved smack […]

HOLDING THE MAN: 89% - SWEET

HOLDING THE MAN: 89% – SWEET

SWEET There were a number of Australians in the audience opening night and they were obviously, warmly familiar with Holding the Man as evidenced by their hearty laughter and proud ovations. It is by no means a play only for gay theatergoers. Despite this production’s perceived shortcomings, anyone who has experienced love and loss will […]

INTO THE WOODS (3-D THEATRICALS): 67% - BITTERSWEET

INTO THE WOODS (3-D THEATRICALS): 67% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER But Sondheim’s tricky lyrics, many of them filled with significant exposition, do indeed fly by with the speed of a witch’s broom. So it’s a shame that outstanding conductor Julie Lamoureux and her Broadway-caliber orchestra consistently collided with Julie Ferrin’s atrociously botched sound design. This, combined with a few actors thinking that character voice […]

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 […]

RUTH DRAPER'S MONOLOGUES (GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE): 92% - SWEET

RUTH DRAPER’S MONOLOGUES (GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE): 92% – 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 […]

FOR THE RECORD: TARANTINO (DBA HOLLYWOOD): 100% - SWEET

FOR THE RECORD: TARANTINO (DBA HOLLYWOOD): 100% – SWEET

SWEET This is the show to see in Los Angeles, and the continuing success of its cast and creators is well-deserved. Bravo Kevin P. Taft – Frontiers SWEET For The Record: Tarantino brings the movies of Quentin Tarantino to life through the soundtracks he meticulously integrated into each of his films. Add the live band, […]

DOCTOR ANONYMOUS: 64% - BITTERSWEET

DOCTOR ANONYMOUS: 64% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET Based on the true story of Dr. John Fryer, the Philadelphia psychiatrist who bravely came out at the Association’s Philadelphia conference in 1972, Doctor Anonymous is a well-intentioned piece that suffers from a too-episodic structure whose scenes don’t always fit together smoothly. Kurt Gardner – Blog Critics SWEET This is a world-premiere production of […]

L.A. DELI: 93% - SWEET

L.A. DELI: 93% – SWEET

SWEET L.A. Deli is a therapeutic 12 Sketch Program for show business habitués trying to break the cycle of rejection and self-delusion. Industry predators and their preyed-upon square off across the tables of Jeffery P. Eisenmann’s detailed set. They include starry-eyed wannabes, jaded has-been, and every shade of shady character in between. Bobrick’s program note […]

CLASSIC COUPLES COUNSELING: 57% - BITTERSWEET

CLASSIC COUPLES COUNSELING: 57% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET So…what if Lady MacBeth had been diagnosed with OCD, manifest through excessive hand washing? What if The Taming of the Shrew’s Petruchio was discovered to have been bipolar in his treatment, entreaties and then mistreatment towards Kate? What if Ophelia’s prime complaint towards her mate, was that she just thought Hamlet was “wishy washy” […]

A NICE INDIAN BOY: 88% - SWEET

A NICE INDIAN BOY: 88% – SWEET

SWEET All in all, A Nice Indian Boy is a nice way to spend an evening.  G. Bruce Smith – Stage and Cinema SWEET Playwright Madhuri Shekar puts a fresh, multicultural, same-sex spin on the classic romantic comedy in her World Premiere dramedy A Nice Indian Boy, one of the best original plays I’ve seen […]

A STEADY RAIN: 100% - SWEET

A STEADY RAIN: 100% – SWEET

SWEET The Odyssey has done a terrific job with this production. Adam Flemming’s set, consisting simply of two chairs and three screens upon which evocative images are projected, places the focus on the intensity of the subject matter. It’s expertly directed by Steppenwolf Theatre Company co-founder Jeff Perry, and kudos must also go to the […]

BRIEF ENCOUNTER (THE WALLIS): 90% - SWEET

BRIEF ENCOUNTER (THE WALLIS): 90% – SWEET

SWEET It’s an absolutely beguiling production, psychologically simple but stylistically as rich as a tapestry. Steven Leigh Morris – LA Weekly SWEET If you love the movie (and what emotionally sentient human being doesn’t?), you’ll surely get a kick out of Kneehigh’s ingenious homage. Charles McNulty – LA Times SWEET While it’s all a bit […]

FIREMEN: 93% - SWEET

FIREMEN: 93% – SWEET

SWEET Director Chris Fields’ stylishly sleight-of-hand staging (eloquently accented by Matt Richter’s dynamic lights) and a disarmingly appealing ensemble (including Amanda Saunders and Zach Callison) strike just the right balance between uneasy laughter and unpalatable titillation to drive home Smith’s unsettling portrait of a society whose most endangered species may be the moral and emotional […]

VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE: 84% - SWEET

VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE: 84% – SWEET

SWEET The show, directed by David Hyde Pierce following Nicholas Martin’s Broadway staging, opened at the Mark Taper Forum on Sunday in tiptop shape. Indeed, you can mark this down as a shimmering example of an out-of-town production improving the touted original. Charles McNulty – LA Times SWEET An actor must deliver in the here […]

ON THE MONEY (VICTORY THEATRE): 95% - SWEET

ON THE MONEY (VICTORY THEATRE): 95% – SWEET

SWEET It’s a barnburner. Don Shirley – LA Stage Watch SWEET It is a brilliant revelation of human emotion exquisitely executed by a truly stellar cast. This is live theatre at its very best. Ron Irwin – LA Examiner SWEET The Victory Theatre Center has done a remarkable job with this production. The set is […]

THE DEAD (GREENWAY COURT): 100% - SWEET

THE DEAD (GREENWAY COURT): 100% – SWEET

SWEET A talented cast, accompanied by a very abled quartet of musicians (led by Musical Director Dean Mora), takes you back in time to an annual Christmas gathering hosted by two aunts and their niece, lovingly nicknamed “The Three Graces,” where everyone takes their turn singing for their supper. Gil Kaan – Culture Spot LA […]

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. […]

I'LL GO ON (KIRK DOUGLAS THEATRE): 100% - SWEET

I’LL GO ON (KIRK DOUGLAS THEATRE): 100% – SWEET

SWEET This performance is as fine as any performance can be. Steven Leigh Morris – LA Weekly SWEET McGovern has all the qualities of a superb Beckett interpreter. He relishes the comic brio even at its most scatological and possesses a voice that can draw out all the various hues of the verbal brilliance. Vehemence […]

THE TWILIGHT OF SCHLOMO: 94% - SWEET

THE TWILIGHT OF SCHLOMO: 94% – SWEET

SWEET The climactic turn of Richard and Lydia could be slightly better foreshadowed in the direction and the writing, and this story screams for a synoptic stand-up epilogue. These are quibbles, because “The Twilight of Schlomo” is decidedly remarkable. Industry scouts and adventurous audiences should book tickets immediately. David C. Nichols – LA Times SWEET […]

Frontiers' Top Ten Standouts in Los Angeles Theater 2013

Frontiers’ Top Ten Standouts in Los Angeles Theater 2013

And yet another list of LA Theater’s Best. This one is from Frontiers. Many thanks to Christopher Cappiello for sending this over. I’m happy to see people being creative with their “Best of” lists this year and Frontiers is no different. I’m going to briefly list the categories and the main culprits, but people should head […]

WALKIN' IN A WINTER ONE-HIT WONDERLAND (FALCON THEATRE): 86% - SWEET

WALKIN’ IN A WINTER ONE-HIT WONDERLAND (FALCON THEATRE): 86% – SWEET

SWEET Unlike their previous year-end offerings, based either on popular children’s TV specials (The Little Drummer Bowie, A Charlie James Brown Christmas) or on beloved movie hits (It’s A Stevie Wonderful Life, A Christmas Westside Story), Walking In A Winter One-Hit-Wonderland dispenses with storyline, big-cast production numbers, and even its usual second act to simply […]

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 […]

I'LL EAT YOU LAST: A CHAT WITH SUE MENGERS (GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE): 92% - SWEET

I’LL EAT YOU LAST: A CHAT WITH SUE MENGERS (GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE): 92% – SWEET

SWEET No one does it better and, increasingly, no one does it at all. As Mengers herself might have said, “The Belle of Amherst” it’s not, but as directed by Joe Mantello, the 85-minute “I’ll Eat You Last” is a helluva lot of fun to watch. Mary McNamara – LA Times SWEET Based on what […]

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 […]

GOD'S GYPSY: 49% - BITTER

GOD’S GYPSY: 49% – BITTER

BITTER Daavid, in addition to designing the set, directed the play. But it wasn’t his direction that was at fault. It was the script. If it were cut to 90 minutes, the play might be worth seeing. Mostly, though, the “worth seeing” part is confined to Lili Haydn, a spectacular violinist and composer whose introductory […]

PLAY DEAD: 97% - SWEET

PLAY DEAD: 97% – SWEET

SWEET The illusions themselves vary in impressiveness. Maybe not all will blow your mind. It won’t matter. The dark, the gore, the morbid anecdotes — and that eye-twinkle — will put you into a state of nervous excitement like nothing since pre-teen slumber parties. Margaret Gray – LA Times SWEET In “Play Dead,” there is […]

SIDE SHOW (LA JOLLA PLAYHOUSE): 78% - SWEET

SIDE SHOW (LA JOLLA PLAYHOUSE): 78% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET In the theater, however, a theme needs to be dramatized. Where’s the threat to the girls’ selfhood? Given Condon’s contortionist’s efforts to stay respectful, their allegedly awful past is reduced to limp Dickensian flashbacks. The present-day bigotry they encounter barely skims the surface, and in neither timeframe can actor Robert Joy do anything with […]

EVITA (PANTAGES): 85% - SWEET

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 […]