RSSAll Entries Tagged With: "katie buenneke"

KISS ME, KATE (PASADENA PLAYHOUSE): 89% - SWEET

KISS ME, KATE (PASADENA PLAYHOUSE): 89% – SWEET

SWEET “Let’s Make a Deal’s” Wayne Brady as the lead in a revival of “Kiss Me, Kate”: It almost sounds like an especially wacky draft in some fantasy stunt-casting league for theater directors. Sheldon Epps of the Pasadena Playhouse has not only made it happen, he has used it as the inspiration for an ingenious […]

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, […]

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 […]

EVERYTHING YOU TOUCH: 82% - SWEET

EVERYTHING YOU TOUCH: 82% – SWEET

SWEET The performances, particularly of the two leads, are confident, nuanced and memorable. And the rich sensory feast Kubzansky and her team have served up — which also includes lighting by Jeremy Pivnick, sound by John Zalewski and witty props by John Burton — is a powerful reminder of why beauty, heartless though it may […]

“Shipshod” Journalism Is Killing Los Angeles Theater Criticism - By Katie Buenneke

“Shipshod” Journalism Is Killing Los Angeles Theater Criticism – By Katie Buenneke

Neon Tommy theater editor and critic, Katie Buenneke, had a rather bizarre tussle with a miffed reader who didn’t see the show that Katie reviewed but felt personally offended by the quality of the review anyway. She thought the story had some resonance for the community at large. We agreed. Gonna have to sign this […]

IN THE HEIGHTS (CABRILLO MUSIC THEATRE): 94% - SWEET

IN THE HEIGHTS (CABRILLO MUSIC THEATRE): 94% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET The production now playing at Cabrillo Music Theatre in Thousand Oaks, which is, for all intents and purposes, a regional replica of the Broadway show (the director and a large chunk of the cast were on the second national tour), doesn’t make “In the Heights” bad, but it doesn’t do its source material justice. […]

TARTUFFE (A NOISE WITHIN): 76% - SWEET

TARTUFFE (A NOISE WITHIN): 76% – SWEET

SWEET Overall it’s a delightful revival. If the darker nuances at times threaten the cascading hilarity, that won’t prohibit the enjoyment of so swankly appointed, proficiently acted a classical bauble as this representative company melee. David C. Nichols – LA Times SWEET Molière’s “Tartuffe,” which dates back to 1664, is not only a sire of […]

OBAMA SPY DRAMA: 90% - SWEET

OBAMA SPY DRAMA: 90% – SWEET

SWEET With quick-witted writing and a high-octane cast, OSD is the perfect nighttime outing for Angelenos in need of a comic escape. P.P. – LATF SWEET With the Winter Olympics upon us, and recent attempts to reign in NSA spying, the time is ripe for a musical comedy with a Russian accent. And that’s what […]

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 […]

PASSION PLAY (ODYSSEY/EVIDENCE ROOM): 79% - SWEET

PASSION PLAY (ODYSSEY/EVIDENCE ROOM): 79% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET If, like me, you’re a fan of the Evidence Room, go to enjoy the familiar faces. Otherwise enjoy the small stuff and forgive the production for not tying everything up. Anthony Byrnes – KCRW BITTERSWEET Despite their many strengths, I found parts one and two curiously uninvolving. It wasn’t until Ruhl came closer to […]

AN ILIAD (BROAD STAGE): 100% - SWEET

AN ILIAD (BROAD STAGE): 100% – SWEET

SWEET If you’re not already convinced that this is a show you miss at your own peril — Mr. O’Hare’s performance is an hour and 40 minute tour de force. Without giving away too much — he even makes sense out of Homer’s litanies — delivering the poignant reminder that what we’d like to think […]

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 […]

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 […]

THE SUNSHINE BOYS (AHMANSON): 64% - BITTERSWEET

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 […]

HUMOR ABUSE: 98% - SWEET

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 […]

BARE: A ROCK MUSICAL (HAYWORTH THEATRE): 74% - BITTERSWEET

BARE: A ROCK MUSICAL (HAYWORTH THEATRE): 74% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET It’s very possible that glory|struck productions and director Calvin Remsberg have staged a faithful, heartfelt version of ‘bare.’ Unfortunately, due to incredibly poor sound quality, it is impossible to discern what is going on half the time. Any song that features more than one vocalist and more than one instrumentalist (i.e. most of the […]

YES, PRIME MINISTER (GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE): 81% - SWEET

YES, PRIME MINISTER (GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE): 81% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET As a species of farce, this one is unusually wordy, with mouthfuls of exposition laboriously setting up each and every joke. The cast, which includes Michael McKean as the prime minister and Dakin Matthews, Jefferson Mays and Tara Summers as key advisors, is top notch. But the acting takes place almost entirely from the […]

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, […]

THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS (AHMANSON): 90% - SWEET

THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS (AHMANSON): 90% – SWEET

BITTER With “Scottsboro,” it doesn’t help that Stroman has pushed her actors, as she did on Broadway, to perform minstrel as if they were in a high-school production, as if egregiously over-the-top bad acting would indicate the genre’s inherent awfulness. It’s curious how a director could make us laugh at the soulless gay characters in […]

SLIPPING: 100% - SWEET

SLIPPING: 100% – SWEET

SWEET The deconstructed text is challenging – hopping back and forth in place and time utilizing a plethora of short scenes packed into eighty-five minutes – but the experience is compelling and occasionally shocking (there is also male nudity in this production). Ultimately, the play’s strength lies in its honest depiction of abuse and loneliness. […]

THE BEAUX' STRATAGEM (A NOISE WITHIN): 84% - SWEET

THE BEAUX’ STRATAGEM (A NOISE WITHIN): 84% – SWEET

SWEET For educational value alone, it’s wonderful to see the play produced professionally, but under Julia Rodriguez-Elliot’s direction, A Noise Within’s production makes it clear why the play was so popular back in its day. “The Beaux’ Stratagem” is immensely funny, and it’s quite entertaining to watch such a well-crafted play. Katie Buenneke – Neon […]

CATCH ME IF YOU CAN (PANTAGES/SEGERSTROM CENTER): 67% - BITTERSWEET

CATCH ME IF YOU CAN (PANTAGES/SEGERSTROM CENTER): 67% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER Unfortunately, there’s nothing about “Catch Me If You Can” that inspires a repeat visit. While the cast is working hard, the material they’re working with is too flawed to make the show an enjoyable experience. Katie Buenneke – Neon Tommy BITTERSWEET These tireless touring actors nearly con us into thinking we’re seeing a show […]

WOLVES: 69% - BITTERSWEET

WOLVES: 69% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET Director Michael Matthews and his game cast intently embrace the darkness, but Yockey’s newest work doesn’t seem ready to be honored with such a ferociously ardent effort to make it whole. Travis Michael Holder – Backstage BITTER He directs the actors, to the varying degrees that they can take direction, toward real motivations and […]

SKETCHES FROM THE NATIONAL LAMPOON (HAYWORTH THEATRE): 63% - BITTERSWEET

SKETCHES FROM THE NATIONAL LAMPOON (HAYWORTH THEATRE): 63% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET Some of that is-nothing-sacred irreverence still haunts the theatrical debut of “Sketches from the National Lampoon” at the Hayworth Theatre, though too often as a ghost of former greatness. Philip Brandes – LA Times SWEET “Sketches From the National Lampoon” is simply a series of revisited goofy blackout skits, no doubt. It has no […]

THE GIFT: 55% - BITTERSWEET

THE GIFT: 55% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER An appealing and capable cast keeps the flicker of hope alive that Joanna Murray-Smith’s play “The Gift” will be worth our time despite the mounting evidence to the contrary. But by the end of this 90-minute comedy even the actors seem done in by the effort of sustaining the illusion that there’s something important […]

TRIASSIC PARQ: THE MUSICAL: 80% - SWEET

TRIASSIC PARQ: THE MUSICAL: 80% – SWEET

SWEET The show’s many charms include playful costumes (by Anthony Tran), vigorous choreography (by Kelly Todd) and the lithe, fearless cast. Margaret Gray – LA Times SWEET It is well worth seeing, wherever you live in Southern California. Daniel Faigin – Observations Along the Road BITTERSWEET The show and its staging are pleasingly wacky and […]

BACKBEAT: 65% - BITTERSWEET

BACKBEAT: 65% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER The design team turns the Ahmanson stage into a virtual black-and-white movie. It’s nice to look at, but Leveaux never finds a way to piece together the two stories, especially in act two. The Beatles glide upstage and down on a platform, Sutcliffe and Kirchherr move across stage on a series of sofas and […]

CYMBELINE (BROAD STAGE): 94% - SWEET

CYMBELINE (BROAD STAGE): 94% – SWEET

SWEET “Cymbeline” has no business being on anyone’s top 10 Shakespeare list, but it has its glories — most of them outlandish, though a few that are breathtakingly refined. Fiasco’s revival gives us a fair glimpse of both. Charles McNulty – LA Times BITTERSWEET What the company lacks in skill, they make up for in […]

OTHER DESERT CITIES (MARK TAPER): 76% - SWEET

OTHER DESERT CITIES (MARK TAPER): 76% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET What should be a perfect storm, alas, isn’t. Working with watchable and often affecting material, Egan and his cast of five feel like they’re trying to wrestle two or three disparate plays into a shapable entity. Despite a career-stretching performance by JoBeth Williams and strong work by the consistently reliable Robert Foxworth, “Other Desert […]

CONEY ISLAND CHRISTMAS: 79% - SWEET

CONEY ISLAND CHRISTMAS: 79% – SWEET

SWEET As with many gifts, the wrapping isn’t much to speak of, in this case a weak framing narrative taken from a Grace Paley short story. But what’s inside – not one but two kid pageants superbly staged by Bart DeLorenzo, and a pan-denominational message – is a jewel to be cherished. Bob Verini – […]