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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 […]

BASH: LATTERDAY PLAYS: 100% - SWEET

BASH: LATTERDAY PLAYS: 100% – SWEET

SWEET These three acts, bound together by the faith of their characters (and carefully hidden violent streaks), are each phenomenally performed by an amazing cast assembled and directed by Meredith Hinckley Schmidt. Susan Burns – Melpomene Blogs Back SWEET Coeurage Theatre Company’s production of Bash offers three one acts of vintage Neil LaBute that is […]

THE ESCORT: 91% - SWEET

THE ESCORT: 91% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET The play, a world premiere, is on the road to a destination that hasn’t yet been discovered. Some of this has to do with Anderson’s expository writing style, and some with director Lisa Peterson’s punching scene transitions that obscure some reflective essences in Anderson’s writing. Some with lapses of credibility and some with the […]

A RAISIN IN THE SUN (KIRK DOUGLAS RE-MOUNTING): 100% - SWEET

A RAISIN IN THE SUN (KIRK DOUGLAS RE-MOUNTING): 100% – SWEET

SWEET The stellar ensemble shines in a production enriched by lighting designer Elizabeth Harper and scenic designer Michael Ganio, whose hauntingly lit tenement towers loom over the Younger household like the crushing weight of history itself. Bill Raden – LA Weekly SWEET The groundbreaking commercial stature of the late Lorraine Hansberry’s 1959 drama of one […]

THE ECCENTRICITIES OF A NIGHTINGALE (A NOISE WITHIN): 93% - SWEET

THE ECCENTRICITIES OF A NIGHTINGALE (A NOISE WITHIN): 93% – SWEET

SWEET Under Dámaso Rodriguez’s direction, Puette gives a fearless performance: manic, swoony, exposed, acute —a being struggling to break free. Dechert deftly underplays his John, a steady tenor vibe to Puette’s lyric soprano. Charlotte Stoudt – LA Times SWEET Chivalry and the Southern false gentility, were they the cage that held in the nightingale? You’ll […]

IN MOTHER WORDS (GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE): 83% - SWEET

IN MOTHER WORDS (GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE): 83% – SWEET

BITTER The content of “In Mother Words” is painstakingly diverse, but by striving to cover the bases, the production comes off as thin and long. There’s probably a decent half-hour of mildly touching, mildly humorous material in this 95-minute show. But there’s nothing remotely as dangerous, perceptive or witty as what you’d find in a […]

THE BREAK OF NOON: 47% - BITTER

THE BREAK OF NOON: 47% – BITTER

BITTER The production, directed by Jo Bonney, is sleek and modern, but it’s not a miracle worker. A flashy presentation can’t cover up weaknesses in the writing, and the propulsive lighting (David Weiner) and sound design (Darron L. West) only italicize an emptiness in the drama. Charles McNulty – LA Times BITTER Director Jo Bonney […]

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM (SOUTH COAST REP): 100% - SWEET

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM (SOUTH COAST REP): 100% – SWEET

SWEET The poetic depths of “Midsummer” aren’t easy to illuminate at high romping speed. But the hues of this staging are so festive that it’s possible to overlook the loss. When was the last time a Shakespeare comedy infected you with its giddiness? We may not need a cure for the winter blues in this […]

HARPS AND ANGELS: 84% – SWEET [UPDATED]

HARPS AND ANGELS: 84% – SWEET [UPDATED]

SWEET Randy Newman has enjoyed a distinguished career as a writer of pop tunes and film music, where his knack for character-driven storytelling suggests that his talents are ideal for musical theater. Two previous Newman songbook revues raised few sparks, and his 1995 book musical “Faust” garnered critical hurrahs but wasn’t a hit. “Harps and […]

MAESTRO: THE ART OF LEONARD BERNSTEIN: 100% – SWEET [UPDATED]

MAESTRO: THE ART OF LEONARD BERNSTEIN: 100% – SWEET [UPDATED]

SWEET Having anatomized the lives and catalogs of Beethoven, Chopin and Gershwin in previous biographical monodramas, writer-actor-musician Hershey Felder assumes a more modern, certainly more likable and flamboyant persona in “Maestro: The Art of Leonard Bernstein.” The script is persuasive on its protagonist’s art, less so (at this point) on the personal life, yet Felder […]

ROCK ‘N’ ROLL (OPEN FIST): 56% – Bittersweet [UPDATED]

ROCK ‘N’ ROLL (OPEN FIST): 56% – Bittersweet [UPDATED]

BITTERSWEET Barbara Schofield’s direction, while thoughtful, fails to maximize the potential of the capacious playing area. The large and emotionally acute cast spends a great deal of energy chasing errant dialects. Some actors are even a bit mush-mouthed, which contributes to the general inaccessibility. One suspects, however, that many problems will smooth out during the […]

GREAT EXPECTATIONS (A NOISE WITHIN): 100% – Sweet [UPDATED]

GREAT EXPECTATIONS (A NOISE WITHIN): 100% – Sweet [UPDATED]

SWEET The astonishing 2 hour-long staging made me wonder what A Noise Within would do with David Edgar’s 1980, 8 hour adaptation of Nicholas Nickleby! In any case, all devotees of the theatre must see what a small company is capable of inventing, regardless of the shortcomings of the material. Tony Frankel – Stagehappenings SWEET […]

BECKY SHAW: 83% – Sweet [UPDATED]

BECKY SHAW: 83% – Sweet [UPDATED]

SWEET The result is a briskly entertaining comedy that suppresses a stronger, sadder tale of a man’s discovery that the solitude he celebrates is actually a response to an impossible love. Gionfriddo has (almost) written a compelling portrait of a man finding his humanity by getting dumped, then played. Becky would approve. Charlotte Stoudt – […]

THE TRAIN DRIVER: 88% – Sweet [UPDATED]

THE TRAIN DRIVER: 88% – Sweet [UPDATED]

BITTERSWEET Ward’s Simon — quietly watchful, full of natural grace and settled peacefully into his solitude — contrasts with Higgins’ Roelf, a frenzied being caught between worlds and at home in neither. Together they bear witness to a difficult truth: This unwelcoming stretch of South African earth ultimately makes brothers of all races. Now if […]

VENICE: 73% – Sweet [UPDATED]

VENICE: 73% – Sweet [UPDATED]

BITTERSWEET The real tragedy of Rosen’s self-consciously mythic melodrama is in its disservice to the show’s powerhouse vocal talent and inspired production team. David Weiner’s elegant lights, Meghan Raham’s smart costumes and striking, bomb-ravaged church set and Jason H. Thompson’s meta-theatrical projections all lend the evening a stylish polish. Sax’s music emerges as the star […]

FDR: 33% – Bitter [UPDATED]

FDR: 33% – Bitter [UPDATED]

BITTER From the moment he rolls onstage in a wheelchair until his labored exit, 90 minutes later, with cane in hand, Ed Asner does a phenomenal job of channeling — himself. But in all fairness to this accomplished actor, giving dramatic life to a towering figure such as FDR is no easy task. For all […]

IN THE NEXT ROOM (OR THE VIBRATOR PLAY): 100% – Sweet [UPDATED]

IN THE NEXT ROOM (OR THE VIBRATOR PLAY): 100% – Sweet [UPDATED]

SWEET No, this is not the plot synopsis of a period porno, but rather the opening sequence of Sarah Ruhl’s delightful, provocative, conversation-provoking, and ultimately uplifting new comedy In The Next Room (or the vibrator play). Nominated for three Tony awards including Best Play last year, as well as for the Pulitzer Prize, In The […]

RUINED: 100% – Sweet [UPDATED]

RUINED: 100% – Sweet [UPDATED]

SWEET Nottage has clearly made a conscious artistic choice. Mama has no patience for the romantic novels her workers adore, but her heart isn’t dead, just long buried in the business of survival. Yet what moved me most about “Ruined” were the quieter displays of stamina among the women, those moments that didn’t need to […]

THE GOOD BOOK OF PEDANTRY AND WONDER: 63% – Sweet – UPDATED

THE GOOD BOOK OF PEDANTRY AND WONDER: 63% – Sweet – UPDATED

BITTER From such fascinating but dramatically unpromising ingredients Pomerance seeks to assemble a play. Given that Murray used the wealth of English literature to assemble his dictionary, one might have imagined a Stoppardesque approach where Murray’s painstaking effort is scrimmed through some well-known literary masterpiece providing a superstructure on which to hang the theatrically inert […]

SUPERNOVA: 100% – Sweet

SUPERNOVA: 100% – Sweet

SWEET Director Lindsay Allbaugh’s fantastic ensemble sells us on each individual scene, even if the play as a whole doesn’t add up to more then some well-acted catharses. Kelly Elizabeth and Joe Wiebe join in for the furious climax as two fellow high schoolers who bear witness to what even the adamantly optimistic Mabel admits […]

CRIMES OF THE HEART (SCR Production): 75% – Sweet – UPDATED

CRIMES OF THE HEART (SCR Production): 75% – Sweet – UPDATED

SWEET Sams, Lyon and Rylie make a beautifully balanced, wholly convincing threesome, each finding an incisive fresh take on their character. Auberjoinois avoids the caricature inherent in Chick, almost reasonable in her understated bile. If Baesel reads too young as Doc, he offers an able mix of joviality and regret, and Mahaffy imbues Barnette with […]

BEHIND THE GATES: 70% – Sweet – UPDATED

BEHIND THE GATES: 70% – Sweet – UPDATED

SWEET Played out on Stephanie Kerley Schwartz’s set of stone columns and sheer curtains, David Gautreaux’s staging has a minimalist elegance occasionally at odds with the style of the play, which mixes the tropes of a Lifetime movie with journalistic clarity. What ultimately resonates in this Hatikva Productions drama is the fierce hunger of an […]

LOVE, LOSS, AND WHAT I WORE: 90% – Sweet – UPDATED

LOVE, LOSS, AND WHAT I WORE: 90% – Sweet – UPDATED

SWEET Sullivan has the cast occasionally act out bits of dialogue, which adds a sense of theatricality to the reading, and breaking up “Gingy’s Story” adds cohesion to the evening. Even the weakest stories have interesting elements, and performed by this cast, they are engaging and entertaining. Jeff Favre – Backstage SWEET “What I Wore” […]

WELCOME HOME, JENNY SUTTER: 100% – Sweet

WELCOME HOME, JENNY SUTTER: 100% – Sweet

SWEET Myatt’s confidence was well placed. Under Nguyen’s authoritative, nuanced direction, Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter is yet another Chance Theater triumph, a powerful, moving, beautifully performed and staged drama which has much to say to and about our world today. Steven Stanley – StageSceneLA SWEET “Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter” is a must-see. Shirle Gottlieb – […]

THE LANGUAGE ARCHIVE: 88% Sweet – UPDATED

THE LANGUAGE ARCHIVE: 88% Sweet – UPDATED

SWEET Director Mark Brokaw, an experienced hand with adventurous American playwrights (he’s had an especially fruitful history with Paula Vogel and Craig Lucas), stages the whimsy in an exaggerated manner that doesn’t diminish the work’s underlying streak of tragicomic tenderness. If the humor at times seems strained, that’s probably because Cho is better at imagining […]

LOYALTIES: 67% Sweet - UPDATED

LOYALTIES: 67% Sweet – UPDATED

BITTER Pasqualini’s play is not really a thesis drama, but it often sounds like one, treating its characters as mouthpieces. There are, however, some potent scenes. Though we’re clearly intended to sympathize with Michael, he’s too whiny and self-centered to take seriously. Director David Gautreaux has able actors but sometimes allows them to succumb to […]