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The cast of "Dysfunctional Family Christmas" at the BrickHouse Theatre. Photo: Paul Storiale.

DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY CHRISTMAS: 90% – SWEET

SWEET Holiday themed with a marvelous sense of pure fun and real comedy, “Dysfunctional Family Christmas” is a pure delight to see this holiday season. Lorenzo Marchessi – NoHoArtsDistrict SWEET The spirit of the smash Fox sitcom Married With Children lives on in Dysfunctional Family Christmas, now getting its World Premiere at North Hollywood’s newly [...]

Cyrus Alexander and Chris Winfield  in "Mom's Gift" at the Lonny Chapman Theatre. Photo: Sherry Netherland.

MOM’S GIFT: 86% – SWEET

SWEET This is a talented group of actors, and the performances are credit worthy. Phil Olson’s marvelous script, and Sherry Netherland wonderful direction position this family so we see all their failings, as well as all the love they have to give. Cathy Wayne – NoHoArtsDistrict SWEET This story is a heartfelt cross between family [...]

Paul Messinger, Rachel Boller, Gary Rubenstein and  Mandy Dunlap in Fierce Backbone's "A Good Grief" at the Lounge Theatre. Photo: Steven A Heller.

A GOOD GRIEF: 90% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET Strange as it may sound, the play might provide a richer experience if the audience could simply close its eyes and listen to the characters, as in a radio drama, and hear the way their self-contradictions eventually emerge. The visual cues keep insisting that these characters are made of cardboard. It’s hard to tell [...]

THE POKEMUSICAL (THEATRE ASYLUM): 87% – SWEET

THE POKEMUSICAL (THEATRE ASYLUM): 87% – SWEET

SWEET While “The Pokemusical” takes plenty of artistic liberty with the Japanese franchise, twisting wholesome characters, like Ash’s mom, into a busty, chain-smoking boozehound, and Ash into a power hungry zealot, there’s a level of charming authenticity that remains constant through the performance. Shane Scott – EdgeLosAngeles BITTERSWEET I’ve sat through more than a few [...]

Diane Linder and Randy Vasquez in "Rebecca's Gamble" at TheatreCraft Playhouse. Photo: Rick Walters.

REBECCA’S GAMBLE: 100% – SWEET

SWEET Rick Walters’ dramatic direction gives theatrical life to the courtroom atmosphere; the set by Group Rep. designer Chris Winfield, makes great use of the small space, and the costumes by Emily Doyle well fit the subject. Morna Murphy Martell – Theatre Spoken Here SWEET The compelling thing about this thoughtfully written script is that [...]

Sarah Ritter, Alexa Giraudon, Mia Giraudon, Doug Haverty in "Hotel Paradiso" at the Lonny Chapman Theatre. Photo: Christian Ackerman.

HOTEL PARADISO (GROUP REP): 60% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET Director Drina Durazo moves things a little slow, and the scene changes take a while, so the play is longer than 2 –and-one-half hours, but it is a delightful chance to see a farce often forgotten, one that should be as famous as A Flea in Her Ear. John Farrell – Random Lengths BITTER [...]

The cast of "Stepping Out" at the Lonny Chapman Theatre. Credit: Group Rep.

STEPPING OUT (GROUP REP): 93% – SWEET

SWEET Humorously and poignantly written by Richard Harris. Ambitiously directed and choreographed by Stan Mazin (with the assistance of Linda Alznauer and Michele Bernath respectively….) this is a comedic “slice of life” story. Pat Taylor – Tolucan Times SWEET The GROUP Rep has had a wonderful season, filled with entertaining and noteworthy performances. Next season [...]

The Group Rep presents Bert Emmett and Patrick Burke in "Sherlock's Last Case" at the Lonny Chapman Theatre. Credit: Sherry Netherland.

SHERLOCK’S LAST CASE (GROUP REP): 82% – SWEET

SWEET Sherlock’s Last Case is another notch in the belts of co-artistic directors Winfield and Eisenberg, and a real step forward for this already momentum-laden company. Radomir Luza – North Hollywood-Tolca Lake Patch SWEET A wickedly satisfying British play, loaded with saucy twists ‘n’ turns and plenty of chuckles … which makes the final outcome [...]

Elizabeth Harmetz, Carissa Gipprich, Josh Shaw and E. Scott Levin in "I, Caligula" at the Secret Rose Theatre. Credit: Company.

I, CALIGULA: AN INSANITY MUSICAL: 46% – BITTER

BITTERSWEET A lot of hard work went into this production. Still, there’s room for improvement. Joe Straw – Joe Straw #9 BITTER Were this a spoof in the spirit of Waiting for Guffman, the agonizing, overwrought playing would begin to make sense, but by all accounts this is a serious outing. High production values are [...]

Dan Sykes, Paul Cady and Julia Silverman in "The Paris Letter" at the Lonny Chapman Theatre. Credit: Sherry Netherland.

THE PARIS LETTER (GROUP REP): 88% – SWEET

SWEET In fact, Jon Robin Baitz’ The Paris Letter with its breathtaking scope and poetic literary style may very well be categorized a new classic, and the current production is rendered so beautifully by a stellar cast and crew at Group rep through September 2. Don Grigware – Grigware Blogspot SWEET Baitz’s script is literate, [...]

Chris Winfield and Suzy London in “Moon over Buffalo” at the Lonny Chapman Theatre. Credit: Sherry Netherland.

MOON OVER BUFFALO (GROUP REP): 100% – SWEET

SWEET MOON OVER BUFFALO is truly a night (or afternoon) of fun and frolic. Great script, fabulous actors and a completely enjoyable experience. Isn’t that what the theatre is supposed to be. Have a great time! Cathy Wayne – NoHoArtsDistrict SWEET Moon over Buffalo features hilarity and hijinks as it celebrates the theatrical world. Mary [...]

NAKED BEFORE GOD: 83% – SWEET

NAKED BEFORE GOD: 83% – SWEET

SWEET We all like to say “support the theatre.” We should be more specific: Support GOOD theatre. Go see this show. Go because it is balls-deep funny. Go because Circle X wants to entertain YOU, not just themselves. And in the end, it’s all about mutual pleasure, isn’t it? Andrew Moore – MadTheatrics (scroll down) [...]

EXIT THE KING (CLASSICAL THEATRE LAB): 83% – SWEET

EXIT THE KING (CLASSICAL THEATRE LAB): 83% – SWEET

SWEET Utilizing Neil Armfield and Geoffrey Rush’s playful and sophisticated translation, director Michael Matthys’ staging gamely transitions from oafish farce, during the scenes in which King Berenger arrogantly deludes himself that he will live forever, to the beautifully elegiac sequences in which Queen Marguerite convinces him otherwise and guides him to the world beyond. This [...]

From l, Cynthia Bryant, Joseph Runningfox, and Ayanery Reyes in “Not One More Foot of Land!” at the Secret Rose Theatre. Credit: Company.

NOT ONE MORE FOOT OF LAND! (SECRET ROSE): 72% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET Not One More Foot of Land is not a great play. It is too long, too leisurely and in the premier production by Secret Rose Theatre, there are a lot of things to argue with. But it is an important play nonetheless and if it tells its story more in the manner of a [...]

A CHRISTMAS WESTSIDE STORY (TROUBADORS): 91% – SWEET

A CHRISTMAS WESTSIDE STORY (TROUBADORS): 91% – SWEET

SWEET If you’re looking for a plot in this format, you won’t find much of one. What’s presented is just good old Troubie terrifically talented mayhem, laced with clever lyrics and lots of ad libs. Robert Axelrod – Reviewplays SWEET Take the storyline of a classic holiday flick, add the music of a revolutionary Broadway [...]

Annabelle Borke, Ben Huber and Amelia Alvarez in "Between Us Chickens" at the Atwater Village Theatre.  Photo courtesy of Shane William Zwiener.

BETWEEN US CHICKENS: 67% – SWEET

SWEET In 90 minutes, Alvarez tackles the changing face of today’s 20-somethings. Unlike many youthful and superficial comedies, hers presents a somewhat darker face on surviving in a place like Los Angeles, suggesting that the inherent character of success may lead to an opportunistic and destructive ending. Debate certainly doesn’t end with the final curtain. [...]

THE CHINESE MASSACRE (ANNOTATED): 75% – SWEET

THE CHINESE MASSACRE (ANNOTATED): 75% – SWEET

SWEET The ensemble cast is expertly led by the visionary directing of Jeff Liu. Their collective talent carries the audience as the play vacillates between right brain emotionality and the rapid-fire delivery of historical dates and annotations designed to remove the viewer from the trauma of the events as they unfold. The cast delivers extraordinary [...]

From l, Kaylena Rose Mann and Liza de Weerd in “Wait Until Dark” at the Lonny Chapman Theatre.  Photo courtesy of the Group Rep.

WAIT UNTIL DARK (LONNY CHAPMAN THEATRE): 83% – SWEET

SWEET WAIT UNTIL DARK promises juicy classic suspense, and a “thriller” of an evening. Cathy Wayne – NoHoArtsDistrict SWEET You just have to make a major purchase of Act One and you’re all set for a good time. It’s a plus to recall that the play takes place in 1966, when folks were a little [...]

WISH I HAD A SYLVIA PLATH: 88% – SWEET

WISH I HAD A SYLVIA PLATH: 88% – SWEET

SWEET Nonetheless, it’s a show not be missed, whether you’re a theatre techie, an acting nut, or simply a person who wants to see a show that teaches an important lesson, which is that death is most certainly not the end of life. Joshua Morrison – FineArtsLA SWEET Davidson, in a full-skirted red dress, can [...]

Alet Taylor, from left, Shannon Warne, Jennifer Leigh Warren, Lindsey Alley, Kim Huber in "Having it All" at the NoHo Arts Center. Credit: Michael Lamont.

HAVING IT ALL: 100% – SWEET

SWEET If overworked women can find time to see this show, they will be in on the ground floor of something very special indeed. (Men fond of musical numbers that will blow them into next week should tag along too.) F. Kathleen Foley – LA Times BITTERSWEET It’s all pleasant, but the show is held [...]

Karole Foreman, Travis Schuldt, Lisa Valerie Morgan, Peter Larney and Buck Zachary star in “The Violet Hour,” written by Richard Greenberg and directed by Darin Anthony.

THE VIOLET HOUR: 67% – SWEET

SWEET As one of the characters describes it, the title of the play refers to that daily miracle as the sky turns all shades of brilliant colors, signifying when the evening is about to reward you for the day. As I left the Sunday matinee and headed west into a brilliant LA sunset, it may [...]

Tony Motzenbacker, left, and Alexander Zale in "Beverly Hills Psychiatrist" at the Lounge Theatre 2. Photo courtesy of Gerhard Clausing.

THE BEVERLY HILLS PSYCHIATRIST & JESSICA’S MONOLOGUE: 0% – BITTER

BITTER While all humor is built on incongruity, it requires a rational or at least pseudo-rational context; here, the premise that someone would continue seeing a senile analyst for this long is a stretch of credibility and patience, and the faltering performances lack the comic timing to sell it. Philip Brandes – LA Times BITTER [...]

Liza de Weerd and Gwen Van Dam in “The Trip to Bountiful” at The Lonny Chapman Theatre. Photo courtesy of Lonny Chapman Theatre.

THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL (LONNY CHAPMAN GROUP REPERTORY): 100% – SWEET

SWEET This is a flawless production in every aspect of “live” theatre! The heartfelt direction, performances, sets, costumes and storyline… perfectly intertwine, offering a rewarding theatrical experience for the audience. Pat Taylor – Tolucan Times SWEET Director Larry Eisenberg has diligently brought out the best of everything in this Trip and it’s sure to leave [...]

The cast of "Head: The Musical" at the Met Theatre. Photo by Irene Hovey.

HEAD: THE MUSICAL: 86% – Sweet [UPDATED]

SWEET Composer-lyricist Kevin Fry’s delightfully campy horror musical, based on Roger Corman’s 1962 gore-fest The Brain That Wouldn’t Die, is not only enjoyable on the level of Midnight Theater excess, it’s a quick-witted show by any standard. Its catchy score and clever, bloodthirsty lyrics are in the style of Little Shop of Horrors. And how [...]

Photo courtesy of The Production Company

AMADEUS: 100% – Sweet – UPDATED

BITTERSWEET In that quest, Swander often speaks of passion, yet it rarely feels as if his character possesses the passion his words suggest. Part of this may have been director August Viverito’s desire for a slow build, even though it does eventually pay off in Act 2. Stafford’s Mozart, on the contrary, is id perfectly [...]

Laurie Morgan - Janet Wood. Photo by Robert Engalia

SWEET SUE: 75% – Sweet – UPDATED

SWEET The quality of the acting is good. The women are pert and spunky, the men are big and obliging. Susan takes pills while Susan Too drinks wine. She’s constantly looking for her kids’ approval. Jake is waffling between romance with Susan and love with an unseen woman his own age. Dichotomy abounds. Susan Too [...]

Courtesy of Missing Piece Theatre

DON JUAN DISPENSO: 57% Bittersweet – UPDATED

BITTER If the smoky-eyed Enani rarely stokes the Don’s legendary libido with sufficient fire, blame Tanner; he transposes his characters to modern times (a period nicely suggested in designer Daniel Mahler’s ’20s gowns) without updating his antique, baroque archetypes with psychological nuances contemporary to his theme. The result is that the Don’s rascally seductive charms, [...]

Photo by Doug Engalla

THE CITY: 33% Bitter – UPDATED

BITTERSWEET Director Stan Mazin’s adaptation and update of Clyde Fitch’s 1909 play has a lot going for it. That said, references to Lady Gaga and Desperate Housewives can’t disguise the fact that it’s an overly talky melodrama. Sandra Ross – LA Weekly BITTERSWEET The holes come in the staging and acting. Hector Hank plays his [...]