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Operation LemonHeadMeter: Year Three

Operation LemonHeadMeter: Year Three

In 2010, our third year of existence, we finally got serious. Well, as serious as we could for a site called Bitter Lemons. In 2010 we published a total of 1187 posts, up from 382 in 2009. In 2010 we published a total of 382 LemonMeter Ratings, up from 156 in 2009. Our audience doubled in […]

WAR HORSE (AHMANSON THEATRE): 88% - SWEET

WAR HORSE (AHMANSON THEATRE): 88% – SWEET

SWEET If you can only see one play this year, make it “War Horse.” Jean Lowerison – SDGLN SWEET Yes, it’s sentimental. Yes, there are scenes that might have given even as inveterate a melodramatist as Charles Dickens pause. But this 2011 best play Tony winner, which launched its national tour at the Ahmanson Theatre […]

JITNEY (SOUTH COAST REP/PASADENA PLAYHOUSE): 78% - SWEET

JITNEY (SOUTH COAST REP/PASADENA PLAYHOUSE): 78% – SWEET

SWEET Director Ron OJ Parson’s near-optimum current staging at South Coast Repertory unearths the rich humor, mingled with nearly unbearable poignance, that is also typical of Wilson’s work. F. Kathleen Foley – LA Times SWEET At South Coast Repertory, director Ron OJ Parson’s “Jitney” is more somber and less flamboyant than McClinton’s was, but it […]

FOLLIES (AHMANSON THEATRE): 91% - SWEET

FOLLIES (AHMANSON THEATRE): 91% – SWEET

SWEET There’s so much to praise in the blissful Broadway revival of “Follies,” which opened Wednesday at the Ahmanson Theatre on the heels of its numerous Tony nominations, but let’s pay homage first to the sheer sophistication of the show itself. After experiencing “Follies” again — an adult entertainment if ever there was one — […]

Harvey Perr and the Actors Studio West: A Final Addendum

Harvey Perr and the Actors Studio West: A Final Addendum

Some of you may recall (probably not many) a story that caused a bit of a stir a couple years ago, first reported by Steven Leigh Morris at LA Weekly and then gratuitously enhanced by me about Harvey Perr being booted from the Actors Studio for being, well, overly critical of Lyle Kessler’s Producer/Director Unit. […]

The Saturday Saying

The Saturday Saying

“Hugh Armstrong is the production’s major revelation. A mute, woebegone old man, his mind destroyed, his body no longer able to follow its own course, he is finally asked to dance and think. His dance is impossible, his “thoughts” horribly disarranged and deranged. But the aria in which he sputters forth all these fragmented ideas […]

WAITING FOR GODOT (MARK TAPER): 100% - SWEET

WAITING FOR GODOT (MARK TAPER): 100% – SWEET

SWEET Any chance the Taper could produce more revivals of this caliber? Beckett is no doubt right about the confounding ache of existence, but this “Waiting for Godot” provides theatrical hope. Charles McNulty – LA Times SWEET Michael Arabian’s stunning revival of Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” at the Mark Taper Forum never wears the […]

AMERICAN IDIOT (AHMANSON): 68% - BITTERSWEET

AMERICAN IDIOT (AHMANSON): 68% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET From the poetic “Are We the Waiting” and “Wake Me Up When September Ends” to the defiant “Know Your Enemy” to the anthem-like “21 Guns,” the expertly performed songs cast a spell that had young, old and middle-aged audience members head-banging together at the Ahmanson. Now that alone is one incredible feat even if […]

THE SEAGULL (ANTAEUS): 82% - SWEET

THE SEAGULL (ANTAEUS): 82% – SWEET

SWEET I’ll admit it. When I hear the name Chekhov, the first words that pop into my head are dull, somber, and talky. That’s why it’s such a pleasure to report that the Antaeus Company’s revival of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull not only held my attention virtually throughout, it actually had me laughing more times […]

THE YELLOW HOUSE & SPECIAL DELIVERY: 80% - SWEET

THE YELLOW HOUSE & SPECIAL DELIVERY: 80% – SWEET

SWEET Various personalities energetically delight and entertain, but at times frantically melt into each other indistinctively. Gil Kaan – Culture Spot LA SWEET Byrnes is so relaxed and laid-back that he hardly seems to be acting at all, but his natural wit and sense of humor find comedy as well as pathos in the grim […]

The "Clybourne" Supremacy

The “Clybourne” Supremacy

Was lucky enough to catch Bruce Norris’ Clybourne Park at the Taper this week, this after seeing A Raisin in the Sun  a couple of weeks ago at the Kirk Douglas. Thanks to the press folk over there for making it happen! The production of “Clybourne” is simply breathtaking. A Pulitzer well earned. The writing is so […]

Harvey Perr's Best of Los Angeles Theatre 2011

Harvey Perr’s Best of Los Angeles Theatre 2011

Some good stuff here, LemonHeads, from one of my favorite writers in Los Angeles, a man I once killed – Harvey Perr, theatre critic for Stage and Cinema. Just check out this tidbit and then go read the rest of it. You will not regret it. Agree or disagree with the man, he is an […]

CLYBOURNE PARK (MARK TAPER): 92% - SWEET

CLYBOURNE PARK (MARK TAPER): 92% – SWEET

SWEET Can a drama be memorable if all its characters are disagreeable? Bruce Norris proves that it’s possible in “Clybourne Park,” his smart, abrasively funny and fiendishly provocative play that opened Wednesday at the Mark Taper Forum. Charles McNulty – LA Times SWEET Director Pam McKinnon adeptly guides a strong ensemble through Norris’ steady stream […]

Critique of the Week - Runner Up

Critique of the Week – Runner Up

RED HOT PATRIOT: THE KICK-ASS WIT OF MOLLY IVINS Harvey Perr – Stage and Cinema WILL THE REAL MOLLY IVINS PLEASE STAND UP? Molly Ivins was a ballsy Texas-based reporter who became a legend in her own time by calling a spade a spade (or, more succinctly, calling George W. Bush a moron – even […]

FELA! (AHMANSON RE-MOUNT): 90% - SWEET

FELA! (AHMANSON RE-MOUNT): 90% – SWEET

SWEET But “Fela!” offers something that only the theater can provide — an immersion in Fela’s music, an encounter with his charismatically frenetic concert presence and a confrontation with his political style. The trade-off, trust me, is worth it. Charles McNulty – LA Times SWEET It’s part biography, part spiritual revival, and part defiant political […]

Bloggers are not Journalists

Bloggers are not Journalists

So says a federal judge in Oregon as noted in this AP story. Thank God we finally got that sorted out. Now you people can stop trying to hold me to all those silly journalistic standards, like not killing people who are still alive and knowing what the word “concreted” means or actually checking with […]

Critique of the Week

Critique of the Week

THE NIGHT WATCHER Harvey Perr – Stage and Cinema TELL US A STORY, AUNTIE CHARLAYNE If I were a child, I would want Auntie Charlayne to tuck me in and tell me a story. Why? Because Auntie Charlayne – that’s Charlayne Woodard – just happens to be a great storyteller. She can get right in […]

Critique of the Week - Runner Up

Critique of the Week – Runner Up

DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS Harvey Perr – Stage and Cinema TWISTED LITTLE PASSIONS IN THE SUBURBS Now that A Noise Within – the Southern California repertory theater company dedicated to the classics – has gotten a snazzy new suburban theater in Pasadena, guess what? They are doing the same fair-to-middling work on their new stage […]

DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS (A NOISE WITHIN): 85% - SWEET

DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS (A NOISE WITHIN): 85% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET Certainly, in fine A Noise Within tradition, the production is handsomely well-realized, although director Dámaso Rodriguez and his cast stumble over a few pebbles along the way. F. Kathleen Foley – LA Times BITTERSWEET Ultimately the play feels too stolid, a living diorama instead of a flesh-and-blood drama. Don Shirley – LA Stage Watch […]

THE NIGHT WATCHER (KIRK DOUGLAS THEATRE): 93% - SWEET

THE NIGHT WATCHER (KIRK DOUGLAS THEATRE): 93% – SWEET

SWEET “The Night Watcher” can be seen as one woman’s defense of remaining childless. But it’s really about the many ways in which maternal love can be shown in a world badly in need of more guiding hands. Given a tastefully simple production by veteran director Daniel Sullivan on a stage with a simple chair […]

Critique of the Week - Runner Runner Runner Up

Critique of the Week – Runner Runner Runner Up

PEACE IN OUR TIME Harvey Perr – Stage and Cinema COWARDICE: There is much to admire and respect and even enjoy in the Antaeus Company production of Noël Coward’s Peace in Our Time (Epps Cast*), but a serious question nags at me: Why do it at all? Since forty pages and twelve characters have been […]

AS IS (NEW AMERICAN THEATRE): 91% - SWEET

AS IS (NEW AMERICAN THEATRE): 91% – SWEET

SWEET The six-member ensemble—Abramsohn, Mark Cecil, Francesca Ferrara, Montgomery, Stafford, and Vanessa Waters—demonstrates versatility, each actor playing multiple roles with style and skill. Neal Weaver – Backstage SWEET The New American Theatre revival profits from the snap of John Farmanesh-Bocca’s directorial choices and by the fact that its two central characters – a former gay […]

RADIANCE: THE PASSION OF MARIE CURIE: 77% - SWEET

RADIANCE: THE PASSION OF MARIE CURIE: 77% – SWEET

BITTER The Geffen Playhouse production has assembled a top-notch cast and secured a fine director, but the show’s mundane recitation of facts and misplaced focus on Curie’s love life fails to become a fitting tribute or quality drama. Terry Morgan – LAist BITTERSWEET The work is exquisitely mounted by veteran director Daniel Sullivan and features […]

Critique of the Week - Runner Up

Critique of the Week – Runner Up

BHUTAN Harvey Perr – Stage and Cinema THE TROUBLE WITH BHUTAN I am not advocating that bad directors should face a firing squad in the town square in full view of the entire community. But I have seen three plays now that were directed by Elina de Santos and, in baseball parlance, three strikes and […]

FIVE BEAUTIES: 100% - SWEET

FIVE BEAUTIES: 100% – SWEET

SWEET There’s a faintly showcase aspect to the budget-constrained designs, but they’re handled with resourceful élan. Such assurance typifies this compelling compendium. David C. Nichols – LA Times SWEET The acting and direction of all these pieces is outstanding, and the staging efficiently executed. It’s always grande to see Tennessee Williams mounted, especially in this […]

THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO (ZOMBIE JOE'S UNDERGROUND): 100% - SWEET

THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO (ZOMBIE JOE’S UNDERGROUND): 100% – SWEET

SWEET This is art in its purest form; Zombie Joe is no fake, and the imagery he has created is endlessly inventive. There would seem to be no restrictions on the imagination that has literally exploded here, scored to a propulsive tempo that is in perfect synch with its images, and played live by the […]

BHUTAN: 90% - SWEET

BHUTAN: 90% – SWEET

SWEET Director Elina de Santos has assembled a top-notch cast and deploys the actors with a keen awareness of the play’s nuances. Neal Weaver – Backstage SWEET Bhutan is well directed by Elina de Santos and features an excellent ensemble (which also includes Tracie Lockwood as Sara, Mary’s lecherous sister). Willard Manus – Total Theatre […]

HERMETICALLY SEALED: 94% - SWEET

HERMETICALLY SEALED: 94% – SWEET

SWEET Despite some rough edges on opening night, director Joel Polis marshals a vital and accomplished ensemble, adding breadth to dialogue spilling over with chatter about lemon bars and mango tarts. Bermingham’s harassed but devoted matriarch is the soul of the play while Podany, most impressive given his youth — he’s a local high school […]

COME FLY AWAY (PANTAGES THEATRE & SEGERSTROM CENTER FOR THE ARTS): 88% - SWEET

COME FLY AWAY (PANTAGES THEATRE & SEGERSTROM CENTER FOR THE ARTS): 88% – SWEET

SWEET If Beyoncé isn’t already at the Pantages taking notes, she should be. No choreographer alive knows more about getting pop songs on their feet than Twyla Tharp — and just about everything she knows is on view in “Come Fly Away,” the full-evening salute to the vocals of Frank Sinatra that opened Tuesday for […]

PEACE IN OUR TIME (THE ANTAEUS COMPANY): 90% - SWEET

PEACE IN OUR TIME (THE ANTAEUS COMPANY): 90% – SWEET

SWEET This handsome production will get an audience – with this many cast members, how could it not – but it especially ought to be seen by young people, and most specifically by those who don’t think they like theater. Disguised as imagined history, like all great art it’s about the future. It’s a very […]