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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” [...]

William Peterson and Rae in "Slowgirl" at the Geffen Playhouse. Photo: Michale Brasilow (courtesy of Steppenwolf Theatre).

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 [...]

The cast of "Harmony" at the Ahmanson Theatre. Photo:

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, [...]

Thomas Vincent Kelly and Sal Viscuso in "A Steady Rain" at the Odyssey Theatre. Photo by Enci.

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 [...]

Stephanie Zimbalist and William Reinbold in "Sex and Education" at the Colony Theatre. Photo: Michael Lamont.

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 [...]

Maria Tomas, Vincent Guastaferro, David Fraioli and Jonathan Kells Phillips in “On The Money” at the Victory Theatre. Photo by Tim Sullens.

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 [...]

Jonathan Goldstein and Nikki McCauley in "The Twilight of Schlomo" at the Elephant Space. Photo: Company.

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 [...]

Brian Dennehy in "The Steward of Christendom" at the Mark Taper Forum. Photo: Craig Schwartz.

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 [...]

The cast of "Parfumerie" at the Wallis Annenberg theater in Beverly Hills. Photo: Jim Cox.

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 [...]

Emily Padgett, left, Erin Davie and Manoel Felciano in "Side Show" at La Jolla Playhouse. Photo: Kevin Berne.

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 [...]

L-R: Will Roland, Harrison Chad, Coby Getzug and Jimmy Brewer in "The Black Suits" at The Kirk Douglas Theatre. Photo: Ed Krieger.

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 [...]

Melissa Fahn and Kade Pait in "When You Wish: The Story of Walt Disney" at UCLA's Freud Playhouse. Photo: Ed Krieger

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" at the Mountain View Mausoleum and Cemetery. Photo: Unbound Productions.

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 [...]

Davis Gaines and _____ in "Kiss Me Kate" at Thousand Oaks. Photo: Ed Krieger.

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 [...]

Adam Stein and Allison Pill in "Wait Until Dark" at the Geffen Playhouse. Photo: Michael Lamont.

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 [...]

Brian Dare and Butch Klein in Celebration Theatre's "The Homosexuals" at the Atwater Village Theatre. Photo: Sean Lambert.

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 [...]

Danny Devito and Judd Hirsch in "The Sunshine Boys" at the Ahmanson Theatre. Photo: Craig Schwartz.

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 [...]

Lorenzo Pisoni in "Humor Abuse" at the Mark Taper Forum. Photo: Craig Schwartz.

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 [...]

Tim Cummings, left, and Bill Brochtrup in "The Normal Heart" at Fountain Theatre. Photo: Ed Krieger.

THE NORMAL HEART (FOUNTAIN THEATRE): 81% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET The production at the Fountain is middle-of-the-road due to Levy’s casting inconsistencies and his unfocused direction of the actors. Let’s classify it as “normal” for L.A. theater. I just wish it had more heart. Tony Frankel – Stage and Cinema BITTERSWEET Tim Cummings turns in a fearlessly outsize portrayal of Ned Weeks. He’s a [...]

Lauren Patten, Daniel David Stewart and Adam Dingeman in "The Burnt Part Boys" at the Third Street Theatre. Credit: Elizabeth Mercer.

THE BURNT PART BOYS (THIRD STREET THEATRE): 69% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET Within the heavy-handed framework, the cast acquits itself sincerely and honorably, though Patten seems to have been glued to Annie Get Your Gun while Pete was over at The Alamo. In her relish at waving her rifle around and singing about the joys of roasting squirrels and gophers, she can make one nostalgic for [...]

Nicole Parker, center, in "Funny Girl," with Jean Kauffman, Carol Kline, Jill Van Velzer and Helen Geller at Plummer Auditorium. Phot: Isaac Jacobs.

FUNNY GIRL (3D THEATRICALS): 94% – SWEET

SWEET Well, Nicole Parker is living proof that a contemporary actress does indeed have the chops to play Fanny Brice. What a lovely treat this performance doles out from a gal that can really sing and who is unbelievably, seemingly spontaneously funny, in all aspects of the word. Don Grigware – BroadwayWorld SWEET A star [...]

Payson Lewis and the cast of "Bare" at the Hayworth Theatre. Photo: Leigh Schindler.

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 [...]

Ruby Hinds and Jolie Oliver in "The Old Settler" at the Pico Playhouse. Photo: Ed Krieger

THE OLD SETTLER (PICO PLAYHOUSE): 100% – SWEET

SWEET What elevates this revival is the riveting interplay between Oliver and Hinds as the estranged siblings facing deep-seated conflicts with naked emotional honesty — there’s no plot safety net to coast on here. As icing on the cake, the songs threaded through the play showcase Hinds’ background as an opera singer — by the [...]

"Women are Crazy Because Men are Assholes" at The Macha Theater. Photo: Company.

WOMEN ARE CRAZY BECAUSE MEN ARE ASSHOLES: 67% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET Imagine Sartre coming of age in the era of sitcoms and Prozac: Yes, Hell is other people—and it’s a really funny place. Margaret Gray – LA Times BITTERSWEET As far as the relationships are concerned – there are five couples – there is merely superficial exploration. The characters, with one exception, are exceedingly selfish [...]

Marin Ireland and Carlo Alban in "A Parallelogram" at the Mark Taper Forum. Photo: Craig Schwartz.

A PARALLELOGRAM: 82% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET Like the play as a whole, the talk is more intellectually tantalizing than dramatically meaningful. “A Parallelogram” has the distinction of making us think, but the fruits of this contemplation weren’t for me all that bountiful. Charles McNulty – LA Times SWEET A Parallelogram is a brilliantly mind-boggling play by Bruce Norris that asks [...]

Ty Jones, left, Matt Jones and Kevin Daniels in "One Night in Miami..." at Rogue Machine. Credit: John Flynn.

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 [...]

"The Scottsboro Boys" at the Ahmanson Theatre. Credit:

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 [...]