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ONE IN THE CHAMBER: 100% - SWEET

ONE IN THE CHAMBER: 100% – SWEET

SWEET For committed theatergoers, there’s no happier occasion than stumbling upon a mature, polished work of dramatic art where you never expected to find one. In the little hole-in-the-wall Lounge on Santa Monica Boulevard, 6140 Productions is putting up the world premiere of Marja-Lewis Ryan’s One in the Chamber, and you will not encounter a […]

BROADWAY BOUND (ODYSSEY THEATRE): 94% - SWEET

BROADWAY BOUND (ODYSSEY THEATRE): 94% – SWEET

SWEET Director Jason Alexander, who originated the role of Stanley in the Broadway premiere, imparts his command of the material into an attentively drilled cast. Despite limited rehearsal time, the actors have become comfortable enough to dredge shaded subtext from their roles, which is impressive especially under the close scrutiny of an audience shoved smack […]

BUYER AND CELLAR: 98% - SWEET

BUYER AND CELLAR: 98% – SWEET

SWEET Wicked without being unnecessarily cruel, Buyer and Cellar takes jabs at the cult of celebrity while reminding us why we’re so fascinated by it in the first place. Streisand’s eccentric behavior is counterbalanced by nice moments of humanity — awkwardly comforting a distraught Alex or revealing a painful childhood secret. But then Barry makes […]

DIFFERENT WORDS FOR THE SAME THING: 75% - BITTERSWEET

DIFFERENT WORDS FOR THE SAME THING: 75% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET In the case of “different words,” the ghost finally learns, as part of the climax, exactly how she died. Unfortunately, this is the weakest moment of an otherwise fine-grained play, because the explanation introduces a complicated subplot — briefly sketched only in words, not in action — that doesn’t seem to have much relevance […]

UNORGANIZED CRIME: 88% - SWEET

UNORGANIZED CRIME: 88% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET The ending, though bold, is disappointing: There’s the sense that D’Aquila wasn’t quite sure what to do with his entertaining characters once he’d gotten them all onstage. His writing and performance make Gino, especially, a sympathetic and interesting antihero who may deserve a better story than he gets. Margaret Gray – LA Times SWEET […]

HOLDING THE MAN: 89% - SWEET

HOLDING THE MAN: 89% – SWEET

SWEET There were a number of Australians in the audience opening night and they were obviously, warmly familiar with Holding the Man as evidenced by their hearty laughter and proud ovations. It is by no means a play only for gay theatergoers. Despite this production’s perceived shortcomings, anyone who has experienced love and loss will […]

INTO THE WOODS (3-D THEATRICALS): 67% - BITTERSWEET

INTO THE WOODS (3-D THEATRICALS): 67% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER But Sondheim’s tricky lyrics, many of them filled with significant exposition, do indeed fly by with the speed of a witch’s broom. So it’s a shame that outstanding conductor Julie Lamoureux and her Broadway-caliber orchestra consistently collided with Julie Ferrin’s atrociously botched sound design. This, combined with a few actors thinking that character voice […]

THE GERSHWINS' PORGY AND BESS (AHMANSON THEATRE): 89% - SWEET

THE GERSHWINS’ PORGY AND BESS (AHMANSON THEATRE): 89% – SWEET

SWEET Diane Paulus’ direction of “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess” is mesmerizing. It features a cast of strong actors, abundant laughs amidst serious moments, and some of the most beautiful vocals this side of Broadway. Get a chance to see this show while it’s in town. Molly Quinlan – Neon Tommy SWEET Paulus’ creation, as […]

BE A GOOD LITTLE WIDOW (NOHO ARTS CENTER): 71% - BITTERSWEET

BE A GOOD LITTLE WIDOW (NOHO ARTS CENTER): 71% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET Director Sara Botsford elicits fine performances from her well-balanced cast. F. Kathleen Foley – LA Times SWEET Gracefully segueing from what initially seems like a breezy romantic comedy to a thoughtful and heart-wrenching portrait of grief, family dynamics, and life’s unpredictable twists and turns, Bekah Brunstetter’s 2011 Off-Off-Broadway play “Be a Good Little Widow” […]

RUTH DRAPER'S MONOLOGUES (GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE): 92% - SWEET

RUTH DRAPER’S MONOLOGUES (GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE): 92% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET Perhaps the problem, aside from the material, is in Bening’s decision to direct herself. Aside from a vocal quality onstage that always seems a bit flat and somehow forced, Bening might have needed a second critical eye to help her better differentiate each of these four annoying women from one another. Directing oneself robs […]

L.A. DELI: 93% - SWEET

L.A. DELI: 93% – SWEET

SWEET L.A. Deli is a therapeutic 12 Sketch Program for show business habitués trying to break the cycle of rejection and self-delusion. Industry predators and their preyed-upon square off across the tables of Jeffery P. Eisenmann’s detailed set. They include starry-eyed wannabes, jaded has-been, and every shade of shady character in between. Bobrick’s program note […]

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” […]

SLOWGIRL (GEFFEN): 85% - SWEET

SLOWGIRL (GEFFEN): 85% – SWEET

SWEET But Pierce has caught the rhythms of teenage girl-speak, and Gray, a credentialed actress and University of Chicago student (no relation to this reviewer) revels in them. Her wonderfully gravelly voice and quirky delivery make Becky thoroughly entertaining. And the characters’ developing bond despite their differences is touching and persuasive. Margaret Gray – LA […]

HARMONY (AHMANSON): 78% - SWEET

HARMONY (AHMANSON): 78% – SWEET

SWEET Manilow’s’ ‘Harmony’ pleases despite a few sour notes. Paul Hodgins – OC Register SWEET Its leitmotif is nothing less than the true nature of harmony, which this disparate, diverse sextet found in the commingling of their voices and in their offstage unity — even as an antithetical ideology of divisiveness and conquest swept Germany, […]

A STEADY RAIN: 100% - SWEET

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 […]

SEX AND EDUCATION (COLONY THEATRE): 74% - BITTERSWEET

SEX AND EDUCATION (COLONY THEATRE): 74% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET Although the plot is nearly as implausible as this bald synopsis implies, and although in another play Miss Edwards’ behavior might invite a lawsuit, neither concern, somehow, is obtrusive here. Director Andrew Barnicle establishes a brisk, good-humored pace that enables him to sidestep every sand trap and land mine. Margaret Gray – LA Times […]

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 […]

ON THE MONEY (VICTORY THEATRE): 95% - SWEET

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 […]

THE TWILIGHT OF SCHLOMO: 94% - SWEET

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 […]

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 STEWARD OF CHRISTENDOM (MARK TAPER): 53% - BITTERSWEET

THE STEWARD OF CHRISTENDOM (MARK TAPER): 53% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET This devotion to verbal patterning is both his signal strength and conspicuous weakness as a dramatist. In “The Steward of Christendom,” Barry’s 1995 play now being revived at the Mark Taper Forum as a star vehicle for Brian Dennehy, retrospective prose substitutes for dramatic action. Charles McNulty – LA Times BITTERSWEET The playwright’s prose […]

PARFUMERIE (WALLIS ANNENBERG CENTER): 80% - SWEET

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 […]

SIDE SHOW (LA JOLLA PLAYHOUSE): 78% - SWEET

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 […]

THE BLACK SUITS: 54% - BITTERSWEET

THE BLACK SUITS: 54% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET This world premiere musical, now at Kirk Douglas Theatre, manages to get plenty of new wine into very old, if not downright dusty, bottles. The saga of the making of the eponymous garage band soars despite a paper-thin, clichéd plot; derivative character types; and QED themes of friendship and youthful dream-making. What gets it […]

WHEN YOU WISH: 61% - BITTERSWEET

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 […]

WICKED LIT 2013: 94% - SWEET

WICKED LIT 2013: 94% – SWEET

SWEET This year’s show represents a quantum leap for the relatively young but fast-rising company, which focuses on anthologies of new scripts adapted from classic short literary works. Les Spindle – EdgeLosAngeles SWEET We cannot recommend it highly enough. Steve Biodrowski – Hollywood Gothique SWEET I found this to be a very worthwhile Halloween buffet […]

KISS ME, KATE (CABRILLO MUSIC THEATRE): 93% - SWEET

KISS ME, KATE (CABRILLO MUSIC THEATRE): 93% – SWEET

SWEET Wunderbar for sure! Cabrillo Music Theatre’s revisit to Cole Porter’s fun-filled 1948 musical “Kiss Me Kate” is as close to experiencing the joys of an MGM movie musical extravaganza on a stage as a show can get. Melding chunks of classic Shakespeare into the framework of an old-fashioned romantic stage tuner was a masterstroke […]

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

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 […]

THE HOMOSEXUALS: 83% - SWEET

THE HOMOSEXUALS: 83% – SWEET

SWEET Each of the six scenes is interesting and entertaining, but there’s little real action and the narrative arc is weak — a fact emphasized by the playing of the scenes in reverse order, à la Merrily We Roll Along. But the piece is largely redeemed by director Michael Matthews’ fine production and excellent performances […]