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"For the Record: Tarantino" at DBA. Photo by Rony Alwin.

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, [...]

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” [...]

Anjul Nigam, Keshav Christian Durso and Naveen Andy Gala in "A Nice Indian Boy" at East West Players. Photo: Michael Lamont.

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 [...]

Thomas Vincent Kelly and Sal Viscuso in "A Steady Rain" at the Odyssey Theatre. Photo by Enci.

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 [...]

Hannah Yelland and Jim Sturgeon in "Brief Encounter" at The Wallis. Photo: Jim Cox.

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" at the Atwater Village Theatre. Photo:

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 [...]

Maria Tomas, Vincent Guastaferro, David Fraioli and Jonathan Kells Phillips in “On The Money” at the Victory Theatre. Photo by Tim Sullens.

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 [...]

Open Fist Theater Company presents Rob Nagle, left, Martha Demson and the cast of "The Dead" at the Greenway Court Theatre. Photo: Eric Neil Guttierez.

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 [...]

Christopher Plummer in "A Word or Two" at the Ahmanson Theatre. Photo: Craig Schwartz.

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. [...]

Barry McGovern in “I’ll Go On” at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. Photo: Craig Schwartz.

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 [...]

Jonathan Goldstein and Nikki McCauley in "The Twilight of Schlomo" at the Elephant Space. Photo: Company.

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 [...]

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 [...]

Bette Midler in "I'll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers" at the Geffen Playhouse. Photo: Richard Termine.

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

Todd Robbins in "Play Dead" at the Geffen Playhouse. Photo: Michael Lamont.

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 [...]

Emily Padgett, left, Erin Davie and Manoel Felciano in "Side Show" at La Jolla Playhouse. Photo: Kevin Berne.

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 [...]

Caroline Bowman and Sean MacLaughlin in "Evita" at the Pantages Theatre. Photo: Richard Termine.

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 [...]

Geoff Elliott and Jeremy Rabb in “Endgame” at A Noise Within. Photo: Craig Schwartz.

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 [...]

Melissa Fahn and Kade Pait in "When You Wish: The Story of Walt Disney" at UCLA's Freud Playhouse. Photo: Ed Krieger

WHEN YOU WISH: 61% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET The score is packed with brisk, pleasant numbers, the leads deliver strong performances, the ensemble is lithe, and Norman Large twinkles in an array of quirky bit parts. Everyone will enjoy the in-jokes, as when Roy, worried about money, remarks of some merchandise samples, “Hey, maybe this stuff could help us.” So maybe we [...]

Adam Stein and Allison Pill in "Wait Until Dark" at the Geffen Playhouse. Photo: Michael Lamont.

WAIT UNTIL DARK (GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE): 92% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET The dramatic premise, of a vulnerable woman discovering unexpected resources that allow her to turn the tables on her assailants, is still the main draw. The road to the goosepimply climax, even with Hatcher’s streamlining, is cumbersome, the dramaturgy as outdated as when the work was first written. But what a gripping finish. If [...]

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 [...]

Lorenzo Pisoni in "Humor Abuse" at the Mark Taper Forum. Photo: Craig Schwartz.

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 [...]

Tim Cummings, left, and Bill Brochtrup in "The Normal Heart" at Fountain Theatre. Photo: Ed Krieger.

THE NORMAL HEART (FOUNTAIN THEATRE): 81% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET The production at the Fountain is middle-of-the-road due to Levy’s casting inconsistencies and his unfocused direction of the actors. Let’s classify it as “normal” for L.A. theater. I just wish it had more heart. Tony Frankel – Stage and Cinema BITTERSWEET Tim Cummings turns in a fearlessly outsize portrayal of Ned Weeks. He’s a [...]

Che Landon and Paul Haitkin in "The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later" at the LA Gay and Lesbian Center. Photo courtesy of Win Win Imaging.

THE LARAMIE PROJECT: TEN YEARS LATER (LA GAY AND LESBIAN CENTER): 100% – SWEET

SWEET “The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later” receives a stunning Los Angeles premiere at the LA Gay & Lesbian Center’s Davidson/Valentini Theatre. Gil Kaan – Culture Spot LA SWEET Sawyer respects the original Tectonic intent in evoking real but never overdone emotions. His ingenious production concept—placing the cast in the midst of the theater-in-the-round audience—wisely [...]

Lauren Patten, Daniel David Stewart and Adam Dingeman in "The Burnt Part Boys" at the Third Street Theatre. Credit: Elizabeth Mercer.

THE BURNT PART BOYS (THIRD STREET THEATRE): 69% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET Within the heavy-handed framework, the cast acquits itself sincerely and honorably, though Patten seems to have been glued to Annie Get Your Gun while Pete was over at The Alamo. In her relish at waving her rifle around and singing about the joys of roasting squirrels and gophers, she can make one nostalgic for [...]

Nicole Parker, center, in "Funny Girl," with Jean Kauffman, Carol Kline, Jill Van Velzer and Helen Geller at Plummer Auditorium. Phot: Isaac Jacobs.

FUNNY GIRL (3D THEATRICALS): 94% – SWEET

SWEET Well, Nicole Parker is living proof that a contemporary actress does indeed have the chops to play Fanny Brice. What a lovely treat this performance doles out from a gal that can really sing and who is unbelievably, seemingly spontaneously funny, in all aspects of the word. Don Grigware – BroadwayWorld SWEET A star [...]