RSSAll Entries Tagged With: "james hebert"

THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA (SOUTH COAST REP): 96% - SWEET

THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA (SOUTH COAST REP): 96% – SWEET

SWEET But no carping should deter fans of musicals from experiencing this Piazza anew. Bob Verini – ArtsInLA BITTERSWEET Yet there’s no getting around the unusualness of this particular case. And though Nicholson has clarified character elements and plot points with great respect for the nuances of Lucas’ book, the production’s lack of star power […]

THE LAST GOODBYE (OLD GLOBE): 87% - SWEET

THE LAST GOODBYE (OLD GLOBE): 87% – SWEET

SWEET But in Kimmel’s adaptation, Romeo drinks the poison, Juliet wakes up, and the two have a final scene together before he dies and she kills herself. It was so shocking and unexpected I could heard gasps from the audience when she sat up. It’s a bold departure from the story and I’d say that […]

THE FEW (OLD GLOBE): 66% - BITTERSWEET

THE FEW (OLD GLOBE): 66% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET Still, “The Few” is a play that makes me grateful to be tracking the American drama at this period of history. Hunter has that quality that separates true playwrights from the pretenders: His characters lend the impression of living beyond their plays while being firmly rooted within them. McCallum’s finely acted production intensified my […]

ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD (OLD GLOBE): 100% - SWEET

ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD (OLD GLOBE): 100% – SWEET

SWEET Stoppard’s fertile wit keeps this three-act drama pulsing along without too much strain. A subtle pathos, along with the playwright’s verbal sophistication, prevents the play from degenerating into a collegiate vaudeville. The situation of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern is at once a theatrical problem and an existential one. Left so often to their own devices […]

BE A GOOD LITTLE WIDOW (OLD GLOBE): 78% - SWEET

BE A GOOD LITTLE WIDOW (OLD GLOBE): 78% – SWEET

SWEET A wonderfully austere Christine Estabrook had the Old Globe audience gasping and laughing at Hope’s audacity. As we will find in this comedy that tailspins into a drama, there’s more to Hope than disapproval of the marriage and the tasteless decor. John Todd – Stage and Cinema SWEET The dialogue sometimes comes off as […]

 A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER (OLD GLOBE): 100% - SWEET

A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER (OLD GLOBE): 100% – SWEET

SWEET Of course, Mays is as brilliantly adept in this department as he is in creating an entire card deck of overbred fops and fools. His level of comedy may set an unreachably high bar for the rest of Tresnjak’s game ensemble, but it’s his prolific originality that gives “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and […]

GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS (LA JOLLA PLAYHOUSE): 100% - SWEET

GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS (LA JOLLA PLAYHOUSE): 100% – SWEET

SWEET On the whole, the Playhouse’s “Glengarry Glen Ross” is an interesting, often amusing take on chronic disappointment. A little spotty, but worthwhile. Josh Baxt – Culture Vulture SWEET Above all, “Glengarry Glen Ross” is a gift to actors. The play has long been a magnet for big-name stars, but as Maloney and Narayan demonstrate […]

ALLEGIANCE: 82% - SWEET

ALLEGIANCE: 82% – SWEET

SWEET With more editing this show could work out its minor flaws, but even as it is, it successfully brings an often-overlooked part of American history to light in a way that is creative and affecting. And for its world premiere, the creators of this show could not have asked for a better group of […]

THE BOOK OF MORMON (PANTAGES): 100% - SWEET

THE BOOK OF MORMON (PANTAGES): 100% – SWEET

SWEET This national tour production gets the job done, matching the stampeding verve, if not the granulated sharpness, of the original Broadway production. Charles McNulty – LA Times SWEET The joyous West Coast premiere of Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone’s Tony-winning gusher doesn’t just meet expectations; it tramples them. Neither Broadway musicals nor […]

AN ILLIAD (LA JOLLA PLAYHOUSE): 96% - SWEET

AN ILLIAD (LA JOLLA PLAYHOUSE): 96% – SWEET

SWEET The plaintive question “Do you see?,” repeated in the course of “An Iliad,” raises this sleek distillation of Homer’s epic from a mere platform reading to a transformative act of theatrical magic. Bob Verini – Variety SWEET The Trojan War has never been more enthralling or thought provoking than in this La Jolla Playhouse […]

INHERIT THE WIND (OLD GLOBE): 83% - SWEET

INHERIT THE WIND (OLD GLOBE): 83% – SWEET

SWEET Neither the trial nor the 1955 theatricalization was as straightforward as it appeared, but for today’s audiences, solid revivals like Adrian Noble’s Old Globe Festival staging (through September 25) still draw currency from the ongoing science-religion stalemate. Cristofer Gross – TheaterTimes SWEET At the Old Globe this fact doesn’t stop Adrian Noble’s spirited cast […]

DIVINE RIVALRY (OLD GLOBE): 73% - BITTERSWEET

DIVINE RIVALRY (OLD GLOBE): 73% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET On the whole, “Divine Rivalry” provides an interesting look at an exciting moment in history and sheds light on well-loved artists. As it is now, though, it is no great masterpiece. Katherine Davis – Backstage SWEET But helmer Michael Wilson’s staging is handsomely sparked by digital visual legerdemain and, within its narrow limits, it’s […]

HANDS ON A HARDBODY (LA JOLLA PLAYHOUSE): 85% - SWEET

HANDS ON A HARDBODY (LA JOLLA PLAYHOUSE): 85% – SWEET

SWEET The direction by Neil Pepe and the musical staging by Benjamin Millepied create an easy fluidity to the show, and Christine Jones’ spare set gives the impression of the big open Texas landscape, especially as simply lit by Kevin Adams. All of it makes this Harbdody easy to watch. Rob Stevens – TheaterMania SWEET […]

THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS (OLD GLOBE): 92% - SWEET

THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS (OLD GLOBE): 92% – SWEET

SWEET Musicals are supposed to raise your spirits and warm your heart, right? Not necessarily. And certainly not in the case of “The Scottsboro Boys,” the fearlessly inventive show about one of the most notorious episodes of racial injustice in America. It disturbs audiences as much as it entertains them. Charles McNulty – LA Times […]

ANNA CHRISTIE (OLD GLOBE): 67% - BITTERSWEET

ANNA CHRISTIE (OLD GLOBE): 67% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET The enduring dramatic power of Eugene O’Neill steers “Anna Christie” at the Old Globe into waters both risky and impressive. O’Neill’s 1921 Pulitzer Prize winner about a life-battered tart receives an intimate, audacious rethink, stewarded by director Daniel Goldstein. David C. Nichols – LA Times SWEET There is enough fully-realized acting and truly breathtaking […]

A ROOM WITH A VIEW (OLD GLOBE): 62% - BITTERSWEET

A ROOM WITH A VIEW (OLD GLOBE): 62% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER “A Room With a View” is beautiful, but this first production does itself in by its refusal to raise the stakes and treat traditional authority’s power as something to be taken, and confronted, for real. Bob Verini – Variety SWEET Room with a View is a beautifully written and executed musical by Marc Acito […]

THE CAR PLAYS (LA JOLLA PLAYHOUSE): 100% - SWEET

THE CAR PLAYS (LA JOLLA PLAYHOUSE): 100% – SWEET

SWEET These stories are provocative, to say the least. Paul Hodgins – OC Register (Segerstrom Review) SWEET And it’s a great way to evoke all the drama that can take place inside parked cars. Don Shirley – LA Stage Watch (Segerstrom Review) SWEET That’s just one of the situations you’ll find yourself in during Paul […]

THE RECOMMENDATION (OLD GLOBE): 66% - BITTERSWEET

THE RECOMMENDATION (OLD GLOBE): 66% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET An otherwise handsome, absorbing production ends up meriting only a qualified recommendation. Bob Verini – Variety BITTER Let’s consider “The Recommendation” a promise of future talent. The groundwork, however, is just being laid. Charles McNulty – LA Times SWEET What starts out as an Odd Couple-like comedy about a pair of mismatched Brown University […]

DIVIDING THE ESTATE (OLD GLOBE): 75% - BITTERSWEET

DIVIDING THE ESTATE (OLD GLOBE): 75% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET The Old Globe’s production, however, is all surface. And can’t settle on a consistent tone. Jeff Smith – San Diego Reader SWEET “Dividing the Estate” has dire news to tell about the country and its citizens, but because it’s bursting with never-changing human nature, the bleakness is transformed into delight. Charles McNulty – LA […]

SOME LOVERS: 55% - BITTERSWEET

SOME LOVERS: 55% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET The production, directed by Will Frears, maintains its likability through the casual intimacy of its four-person singing cast. Jason Danieley and Michelle Duffy play Ben and Molly, with Andrew Mueller and Jenni Barber portraying the couple at an earlier point. Charles McNulty – LA Times BITTER Helmer Will Frears and musical stager Denis Jones […]

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR (LA JOLLA PLAYHOUSE): 100% - SWEET

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR (LA JOLLA PLAYHOUSE): 100% – SWEET

SWEET The usefulness of the carpenter from Nazareth to serve everyone’s select purposes is the theme here, surely the most thoughtful and scintillating reading of the Webber/Rice rock opera since its 1969 recording. Bob Verini – Variety SWEET O ye of little faith. To all those who made snarky comments when it was announced that […]

SOMEWHERE (OLD GLOBE): 76% - SWEET

SOMEWHERE (OLD GLOBE): 76% – SWEET

BITTER There’s a good play somewhere within “Somewhere,” though not yet. A Puerto Rican family’s embrace of Broadway tuners as an escape from harsh reality circa 1959 is an excellent premise, albeit one depending on harsh reality’s actually being depicted. This doesn’t happen much in Giovanna Sardelli’s world premiere Old Globe production. As always, the […]

MILK LIKE SUGAR: 88% - SWEET

MILK LIKE SUGAR: 88% – SWEET

SWEET Under Rebecca Taichman’s direction, the dialogue crackles like improvised jazz. Cherise Boothe (Talisha), Nikiya Mathis (Margie), and especially Angela Lewis (Annie) interact as if they’ve known each other from birth. The play opens with two striking scenes: the pact; and, a surprise, Annie’s target refuses to wear a bull’s eye. What follows feels like […]

AMADEUS (OLD GLOBE): 94% - SWEET

AMADEUS (OLD GLOBE): 94% – SWEET

SWEET By casting Miles Anderson as Salieri, director Adrian Noble helps kick any potential rust off this Peter Shaffer play. Adding in Jay Whittaker as a sneerful and no less passionate Mozart, Shaffer’s man-versus-God opus crackles blisteringly and musically along. Evan Henerson – Backstage SWEET Despite its three-hour length, the play hums along, thanks to […]

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (OLD GLOBE): 74% - BITTERSWEET

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (OLD GLOBE): 74% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET The Old Globe 2011 Shakespeare Festival production of Much Ado About Nothing can now be added to the above list, director Ron Daniels and an extraordinarily talented cast having come together to create a truly magical evening of romance and laughter under the San Diego stars. Steven Stanley – StageSceneLA SWEET In the Old […]

THE TEMPEST (OLD GLOBE): 95% - SWEET

THE TEMPEST (OLD GLOBE): 95% – SWEET

SWEET In realizing the play’s lush, poetic imagery and its roaring bestiary of ideas, this production honors sensuality as well as clarity. Reed Johnson – LA Times SWEET Given the exoticism, excitement, and just plain coolness Ben Diskant brings to Ariel, fans of Adrian Noble’s first-rate production will want this studly sprite around for as […]

THE MADNESS OF GEORGE III: 100% – Sweet

THE MADNESS OF GEORGE III: 100% – Sweet

BITTERSWEET The play is less about George III specifically as it is about the boundaries between order and chaos, sanity and madness, good government and bad, and about the general human inability to control ourselves. How can we control millions if we can’t control ourselves? It’s also a thought-provoking companion piece to another of the […]

BOEING-BOEING: 67% Sweet – UPDATED

BOEING-BOEING: 67% Sweet – UPDATED

SWEET When you put it all together, this is one of those “I know the destination but I’m having fun getting there” shows. It is not the smoothest theatrical flight of the year, but it takes off and lands safely. And according to many pilots that’s all that counts. Steve Heyl – EdgeLosAngeles BITTER Warchus’ […]