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Reaction to the Elimination of Los Angeles' 99 Seat Plan is Far, Wide & Extensive

Reaction to the Elimination of Los Angeles’ 99 Seat Plan is Far, Wide & Extensive

As expected, the reactions to Equity’s latest move are coming from all corners and at a rapid pace. This from the NY Times ArtsBeat section: “We’re very disappointed that Equity acted the way they did,” said Gary Grossman, the producing artistic director of Skylight Theater Company, and an actor who joined a lawsuit against Equity […]

NEWSIES (PANTAGES THEATRE): 88% - SWEET

NEWSIES (PANTAGES THEATRE): 88% – SWEET

SWEET In short, “Newsies” is a critic-proof, resolutely entertaining, slightly exhausting romp, with a strong company and no end of technical flash. If it’s more throwback than breakthrough, or if an air of the mechanical hovers around the entire enterprise, nothing this reviewer or anyone else says will matter an iota. Prepare to battle for […]

SWITZERLAND: 67% - BITTERSWEET

SWITZERLAND: 67% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER The delivery also seems off. One shouldn’t have to work hard to castigate “pansy publishers in Jew-town,” or deem young people “deluded, silly little fuckers”; surely such venom will deliver itself. Where Highsmith would wield a stiletto, helmer Mark Brokaw has Linney spitting out barbs with an energy smacking of desperation, way out of […]

THE TEMPTATION OF ST. ANTONY (FOUR LARKS): 100% - SWEET

THE TEMPTATION OF ST. ANTONY (FOUR LARKS): 100% – SWEET

SWEET Forgive them their voice-over. Give in to their Temptation and let the rest of text wash over you as you enjoy this immersive gem. And buy tickets now, this is one that’s sure to sell out. Anthony Byrnes – KCRW SWEET It is remarkable. Magnificent to watch. Abel Horwitz – Abel Horwitz SWEET A […]

THE NIGHT ALIVE (GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE): 79% - SWEET

THE NIGHT ALIVE (GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE): 79% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET When I saw the play, under McPherson’s direction, at London’s Donmar Warehouse, a quality of undefined menace was unmistakably part of the drama. That same edge isn’t quite there at the Geffen, and as a result the transitions between quotidian moments and harrowing ones can feel somewhat artificial. Charles McNulty – LA Times SWEET […]

INTO THE WOODS (OREGON SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL/THE WALLIS): 92% - SWEET

INTO THE WOODS (OREGON SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL/THE WALLIS): 92% – SWEET

SWEET This OSF production at the Wallis may not have the star power of the screen version coming out on Christmas Day, but it has the buoyancy and complexity of feeling that have turned Sondheim and Lapine’s work into a modern classic. I can’t think of a better holiday treat than seeing this dark fantasy […]

OEDIPUS (TE SAN PEDRO REP): 100% - SWEET

OEDIPUS (TE SAN PEDRO REP): 100% – SWEET

SWEET Now the company has opened its final show of the season, “Oedipus,” the classic Greek tragedy by Sophocles, and it is just as imaginative, just as outrageous, just as unusual as its predecessors, mixing the wailings of the classical Greek chorus and burning pots of incense with an indoor lounge act featuring Paris Langle […]

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 […]

KINKY BOOTS (PANTAGES THEATRE/SEGERSTROM CENTER): 86% - SWEET

KINKY BOOTS (PANTAGES THEATRE/SEGERSTROM CENTER): 86% – SWEET

SWEET Although I tend to be skeptical about the power of any garment to effect lasting spiritual change, all those stilettos evidently tenderized me to a pulp: I drove home beaming, filled with affection for the characters and all but convinced that wearing thigh-high red leather boots is the manliest thing a guy can do. […]

PIPPIN (PANTAGES/SEGERSTROM): 93% - SWEET

PIPPIN (PANTAGES/SEGERSTROM): 93% – SWEET

SWEET The promise of the show’s opening number “Magic to Do” was lived up to with Houdini-esque virtuosity. “Pippin” was a show that inspired teens from the 1970s to pursue the dream of singing and dancing on Broadway. This entrancing revival will no doubt inspire a new generation to do the same. Don’t miss it. […]

BIRD LIVES! (CHROMOLUME THEATRE): 81% - SWEET

BIRD LIVES! (CHROMOLUME THEATRE): 81% – SWEET

SWEET I saw one of the most powerful, raw, awesome and tragically-moving performances in memory. Oh, my, it really shook me up. Jay Weston – Huffington Post SWEET The effect is an emotionally exhausting but humanizing depiction of the bebop jazz pioneer. Even though Parker passed away much too soon, at age 34, for 70 […]

BACKYARD: 86% - SWEET

BACKYARD: 86% – SWEET

SWEET With the imaginative and skillful directorial hand of Larry Biederman and a marvelous ensemble cast, Birnbaum’s play represents one of the best theater events to grace Los Angeles stages in recent years. Hoyt Hilsman – Huffington Post SWEET Still, the ending Birnbaum gives us is a satisfying one, a just-right finale to one thrilling […]

MAN IN A CASE (BROAD STAGE): 56% - BITTERSWEET

MAN IN A CASE (BROAD STAGE): 56% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER Instead, Lazar and his cohorts have kicked Chekhov aside and substituted their own sensibilities for his. Subtle realism has been replaced by vaudeville shtick. In other words, the director has declared himself superior to the lonely Greek teacher in a small Russian town. Clad in a black suit and porkpie hat, Baryshnikov channels Buster […]

FATHERS AT A GAME (MOVING ARTS): 60% - BITTERSWEET

FATHERS AT A GAME (MOVING ARTS): 60% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER For a while, the piece is intriguing, and one struggles to discern some idea or purpose that would pull together the disparate elements and bring some sort of unity. But after a time, it begins to seem like deliberate mystification or obfuscation. Is Nichols unable to make his intentions clear, or is he willfully […]

B. FRANKLIN: 100% - SWEET

B. FRANKLIN: 100% – SWEET

SWEET Ultimately, this is a literate and entertaining examination of a vital period in our history, told with wit, humor, and perspicacity, and acted with skill. And director Bjorn Johnson keeps things moving briskly and efficiently. Stephanie Kerley Schwartz’s handsome set adds considerable detail to remind us of Franklin’s time, and of his broad-ranging interests. […]

RECALL (VISCERAL COMPANY): 85% - SWEET

RECALL (VISCERAL COMPANY): 85% – SWEET

SWEET Clark is smart to envision a near-future, fear-based world that’s taken its cue from the chilling rash of school shootings that have occurred over the past decade or so—even if Quinn, the loner who befriends Lucy, is a little predictable in his black trench coat and military boots. The current-topicality of it engages. And […]

ORPHEUS (FOUR LARKS): 93% - SWEET

ORPHEUS (FOUR LARKS): 93% – SWEET

SWEET Throughout, the beige-clad and slight grubby (!) performers move, sway, declaim, sing and either perform percussion or play musical instruments—all in a deftly choreographed and pleasingly natural fashion, like the ebb and flow of a gentle tide. Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA BITTERSWEET Orpheus is lovely in so many ways, but makes a couple of […]

THE MEMORANDUM (SANTA MONICA REP): 81% - SWEET

THE MEMORANDUM (SANTA MONICA REP): 81% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET Staging this play was no easy task for Santa Monica Rep’s Director Jan Bloom, who has chosen to present it with the audience seated on either side, like at a tennis match (set by T. Cavelti). This presents multiple problems of visibility and audibility, when the actors’ faces are not in full view and […]

REUNION (SOUTH COAST REP): 83% - SWEET

REUNION (SOUTH COAST REP): 83% – SWEET

SWEET However, with South Coast Repertory’s Reunion, audiences will witness a powerful work which shows an incredible range of emotional complexity about revisiting one’s past, thanks to a trio of talented actors, the deft direction of Adrienne Campbell-Holt, and a script whose sharp dialogue and three dimensional characters seem to jump out beyond the page […]

MY NAME IS ASHER LEV: 94% - SWEET

MY NAME IS ASHER LEV: 94% – SWEET

SWEET The play isn’t an undiluted screed on behalf of unfettered art; it depicts the pain Asher’s parents undergo when they become the unwitting subjects of his masterpiece – and the conflicts this causes within the still-mostly-observant Asher. Don Shirley – LA Observed SWEET The story is not so surprising, but given the immediacy and […]

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 […]

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, CHARLES DICKENS AND COUNT LEO TOLSTOY: DISCORD (GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE RE-MOUNT): 88% - SWEET

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, CHARLES DICKENS AND COUNT LEO TOLSTOY: DISCORD (GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE RE-MOUNT): 88% – SWEET

SWEET Carefully compiled references and biographical details whiz by in Matt August’s finely tuned staging, with superb performances illuminating the clashing personalities that drive three discordant takes on Christianity. Philip Brandes – LA Times SWEET Strong acting, design, and writing enliven NoHo Arts’ Center’s entertaining, thought-provoking world premiere production of The Gospel According to Thomas […]

HuffPost's Brad Schreiber's Top Ten Los Angeles Theater Productions of 2013

HuffPost’s Brad Schreiber’s Top Ten Los Angeles Theater Productions of 2013

I don’t see as much of Brad Schreiber’s criticism these days since Backstage folded, and frankly, HuffPost, for me, is almost as awful to circum-navigate as LA Examiner, just without the terrorizing pop-ups. Brad, if you have a regular link I can hang onto to stay in your loop then hook a brother up! Nevertheless, Brad […]

THE QUEEN FAMILY'S VERY SPECIAL HOLIDAY SPECIAL (ACTORS' GANG): 72% - BITTERSWEET

THE QUEEN FAMILY’S VERY SPECIAL HOLIDAY SPECIAL (ACTORS’ GANG): 72% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER This production is so busy trying to be clever and to get laughs that in the end a better time is had by those involved than by those watching. Sometimes stepping back and simplifying is one of the best things that can be done for a show. This is one of those instances. Kat […]

GHOSTS (CHRYSALIS STAGE): 100% - SWEET

GHOSTS (CHRYSALIS STAGE): 100% – SWEET

SWEET Because the acting and direction are so keenly calibrated to the story, you don’t need to see the ghost of Captain Alving to appreciate the lengths to which his family deals with the consequences of his actions. It’s more horrific than a horror production because, paranormal activity and special effects aside, it’s true, because […]

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM (ACTOR'S GANG): 87% - SWEET

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM (ACTOR’S GANG): 87% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET The holiday humor of the play wears thin in the final stages of Robbins’ production, which could use a stronger shaping hand. The pacing stalls, and the scenes get a bit smudgy as the logistical challenges mount in a shoestring staging that requires many of its actors to take on multiple roles. Charles McNulty […]

KITCHEN WITCHES (LITTLE FISH THEATRE): 67% - BITTERSWEET

KITCHEN WITCHES (LITTLE FISH THEATRE): 67% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET The Kitchen Witches provides a nifty gender balance to Richard Dresser’s (male) odd-couple comedy Rounding Third, running concurrently on the Little Fish stage, adding up to a pair of mid-summer crowd pleasers for San Pedro’s intimate theater gem. Steven Stanley – StageSceneLA BITTERSWEET Though “Kitchen Witches” is a minor comedy, Little Fish Theatre makes […]

SUNSET BOULEVARD (MUSICAL THEATRE WEST): 82% - SWEET

SUNSET BOULEVARD (MUSICAL THEATRE WEST): 82% – SWEET

BITTER Directed by Larry Raben, Musical Theatre West’s production, crowning their 60th Anniversary season, features artists of unquestionable talent and experience, but Raben and his team do not succeed in creating a nuanced, believable environment, ultimately failing to avoid the pitfalls of this dangerously caricature-driven show. Elle Martin – Stage and Cinema SWEET Overall, MTW’s […]

ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI...: 100% - SWEET

ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI…: 100% – SWEET

SWEET Nonetheless, the vivid humor, ironic reversals and the larger implications hold us, right through to the bittersweet fade-out. Director Carl Cofield keeps things tautly entertaining on designer Stephanie Kerley Schwartz’s excellent set, and his actors (with alternates), who express rather than mimic their real-life counterparts, are first-rate. David C. Nichols – LA Times SWEET […]

SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE (PASADENA PLAYHOUSE): 62% - BITTERSWEET

SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE (PASADENA PLAYHOUSE): 62% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER The 1993 romantic comedy “Sleepless in Seattle” has been turned into a stage musical that can best be described as pointless in Pasadena. Robert Hofler – Variety SWEET Artistic director of the Playhouse, Sheldon Epps, directs his cast adroitly around John Iacovelli’s multilevel set populated with projections and moving wagons. It’s a Broadway musical, […]