THEATER REVIEWS

THEATER REVIEWS

  • Actors Co-op's fine revival of Moisés Kaufman’s '33 Variations'

    Actors Co-op's fine revival of Moisés Kaufman’s '33 Variations'

    Moisés Kaufman’s “33 Variations,” now playing at the Actors Co-op’s David Schall Theatre, glows with the kind of radiant intellectualism that might seem showy if not for its resonant humanity. The central character is a brilliant academic, Katherine Brandt (Nan McNamara), who is suffering from...

  • L.A theater openings, Feb. 19-26: 'Fun Home' and more

    L.A theater openings, Feb. 19-26: 'Fun Home' and more

    This week: A salute to blues legend Bessie Smith, a revival of Larry Kramer’s AIDS-themed drama “The Normal Heart,” and the hit musical “Fun Home” finds a temporary home at the Ahmanson.  Shaolin Warriors Choreographed martial arts battles, acrobatics and more. Cerritos Center for the Performing...

  • 'Zoot Suit' at the Taper: An L.A. revival, perfectly timed

    'Zoot Suit' at the Taper: An L.A. revival, perfectly timed

    “Zoot Suit,” the landmark 1978 play by Luis Valdez that put the struggles of Mexican Americans front and center, is back where it originated at the Mark Taper Forum in an exhilarating revival that couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. It may be hard for 21st century theatergoers racking...

  • 'Come From Away,' 'Amélie' and the long, bumpy road from West Coast to Broadway

    'Come From Away,' 'Amélie' and the long, bumpy road from West Coast to Broadway

    “New musicals are never finished, only abandoned,” director Christopher Ashley quipped by phone a few days before flying to New York for the start of rehearsals for “Come From Away,” the musical with an upbeat 9/11 (yes, you read that right) story to tell. The line, a rephrasing of French poet...

  • Alfred Molina, Jane Kaczmarek and the slow burn of a 'Long Day's Journey Into Night'

    Alfred Molina, Jane Kaczmarek and the slow burn of a 'Long Day's Journey Into Night'

    America’s widespread opioid crisis has sadly made a crucial part of Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” more relatable.  Mary, the strung-out mother in the play’s alcoholic household, has once again succumbed to her morphine addiction. She lies, lashes out, makes trips to the pharmacy,...

  • '946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips': All's bouncy on the home front

    '946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips': All's bouncy on the home front

    Kneehigh, the seriously playful British theater company that turned the classic film “Brief Encounter” into a charmingly inventive multimedia stage play, is back at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts with “946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips,” a sprightly adaptation of the...

  • Mining the drama of everyday life in 'Gulf View Drive'

    Mining the drama of everyday life in 'Gulf View Drive'

    The intimate character-based play “Gulf View Drive” at the Rubicon Theatre in Ventura thoroughly satisfies on its own merits, but the finely tuned performances, script and staging also fittingly conclude a three-year project to present Arlene Hutton’s complete “Nibroc Trilogy.” The returning Rubicon...

  • Why is this man ribbon dancing to Whitney Houston? The mysteries of Echo Theater's 'Found Dog'

    Why is this man ribbon dancing to Whitney Houston? The mysteries of Echo Theater's 'Found Dog'

    In the first scene of Dominic Finocchiaro’s “The Found Dog Ribbon Dance,” a man brandishing red ribbon banners dances — wordlessly, ecstatically, inexplicably — to a Whitney Houston song. That opening salvo by the Echo Theater Company at the Atwater Village Theatre sets the tone for a persistently...

  • L.A. theater openings, Feb. 12-19: 'Forever Plaid' and more

    L.A. theater openings, Feb. 12-19: 'Forever Plaid' and more

    This week: A feel-good musical about a 1950s vocal quartet, a new play about an Indian family tripped up by the Internet age, and the return of a classic drama about Chicano life in 1940s L.A. Church Discipline New immersive-theatre production about a congregation in conflict; for ages 13 and up....

  • L.A. theater openings, Feb. 5-12: Chita Rivera, Julia Migenes and more

    L.A. theater openings, Feb. 5-12: Chita Rivera, Julia Migenes and more

    This week: Broadway’s Chita Rivera takes stock of her career, and soprano Julia Migenes celebrates a specific French composer. Plus, Jane Kaczmarek and Alfred Molina costar in a classic American drama. Mess Writer-performer Kirsten Vangsness (“Criminal Minds”) stars in this autobiographical one-woman...

  • 'Every Brilliant Thing' approaches suicide with touching comic sincerity

    'Every Brilliant Thing' approaches suicide with touching comic sincerity

    Something miraculous happens in “Every Brilliant Thing.” Something you might want to include on your own list of life-enhancing pleasures should you follow the lead of the protagonist, who inventories all that makes the world worthwhile for him. First produced by Paines Plough and Pentabus Theatre...

  • L.A. theater openings, Jan. 29-Feb. 5: Alan Cumming, Bernadette Peters and more

    L.A. theater openings, Jan. 29-Feb. 5: Alan Cumming, Bernadette Peters and more

    This week: Tony winners and other Broadway veterans bring music and merriment to local stages. Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs The “Cabaret” star performs classics by Stephen Sondheim, Noel Coward, et al., with the L.A. Phil. Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., L.A. Sun., 2 p.m. $62-$122....

  • 'Beckett 5' at the Odyssey: five plays, two hours, one sinister ending

    'Beckett 5' at the Odyssey: five plays, two hours, one sinister ending

    Just as the short stories in collections by Anton Chekhov, Flannery O’Connor, Grace Paley and Alice Munro are meant to be savored one small masterpiece at a time and not gobbled up indiscriminately like a box of assorted chocolates picked up at the pharmacy, so too the compact plays of Samuel Beckett...

  • At South Coast Rep, a stunning, gravity-defying stab at 'Moby Dick'

    At South Coast Rep, a stunning, gravity-defying stab at 'Moby Dick'

    There’s no avoiding politics these days. Not even a thrilling stage adaptation of the great American novel set on the high seas can offer complete escape. At Saturday’s matinee of “Moby Dick” at South Coast Repertory, when Starbuck, the levelheaded first mate on the Pequod, asked about Captain...

  • For a new Hollywood theater company, the Holocaust drama 'Bent' proves overly ambitious

    For a new Hollywood theater company, the Holocaust drama 'Bent' proves overly ambitious

    With ominous stories of right-wing extremism in parts of the world, there’s a solid case to be made for a revival of the Holocaust drama “Bent” so soon after the high-profile Mark Taper Forum production less than two years ago. Arguments in support of the new Hollywood Stage Company’s ambitious...

  • 'The Bitter Game': Personalizing the Black Lives Matter movement through theater

    'The Bitter Game': Personalizing the Black Lives Matter movement through theater

    Driving home from the Skirball Cultural Center after being thrown to the ground by Keith A. Wallace’s powerful solo performance piece, “The Bitter Game,” I noticed that I was going over the speed limit while cruising along a particularly snaky stretch of Mulholland Drive. I slowed down not out...

  • L.A. theater openings, Jan. 22-29: 'Moby Dick' and more

    L.A. theater openings, Jan. 22-29: 'Moby Dick' and more

    This week: A lively adaptation of “Moby Dick” sails into South Coast Rep. Plus, a new drama about the inner workings of the brain, and the conclusion of Arlene Hutton’s “Nibroc Trilogy.” God Bliss (In the Name of Semelah) This new work from Eko Nugroho’s shadow-theater ensemble Wayang Bocor tells...

  • L.A. theater openings, Jan. 15-22: 'God Bliss (In the Name of Semelah)' at REDCAT and more

    L.A. theater openings, Jan. 15-22: 'God Bliss (In the Name of Semelah)' at REDCAT and more

    This week: Indonesian shadow theater at REDCAT, five short plays by Samuel Beckett at the Odyssey, and Segerstrom’s Off-Center Festival continues. Chapatti Two animal lovers in Dublin connect in Christian O’Reilly’s romantic comedy. Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach. Sun.,...

  • Gordon Davidson tribute recalls the humane heart of Los Angeles theater

    Gordon Davidson tribute recalls the humane heart of Los Angeles theater

    Center Theatre Group’s tribute to Gordon Davidson on Monday night at the Ahmanson reminded us of the gentleness of this theater giant. “Zoot Suit” author Luis Valdez gave a rousing speech in which he placed the work of Gordon, who died Oct. 2 at 83, at the center of the American project. Public...

  • The love of her life, and the lies that came with him: Singing '13 Things About Ed Carpolotti'

    The love of her life, and the lies that came with him: Singing '13 Things About Ed Carpolotti'

    Penny Fuller plays a well-coiffed widow in “13 Things About Ed Carpolotti,” a charming cabaret-scale one-act musical in which her character finds out that the husband she’s mourning had been keeping a few secrets. What kind of secrets? Imagine waking up to discover that your assets have all been...

  • The one-man musical 'The Lion' leaps to the L.A. stage with songs of regret and hope

    The one-man musical 'The Lion' leaps to the L.A. stage with songs of regret and hope

    I spent much of “The Lion,” singer-songwriter Benjamin Scheuer’s one-man musical at the Geffen Playhouse, inwardly commiserating with my twentysomething self. She hung out in so many coffee shops all those years ago, strung out on caffeine and poetry slams, waiting in vain for someone exactly like...

  • 'The Roommate': When an 'Odd Couple' story shifts toward 'Breaking Bad'

    'The Roommate': When an 'Odd Couple' story shifts toward 'Breaking Bad'

    The shortage of meaty stage roles for women in their 50s is a problem that up-and-coming playwright Jen Silverman tackles head-on in her breakout 2015 dramedy, “The Roommate,”  making a well-cast West Coast debut  at South Coast Repertory. In the aftermath of a failed marriage and the departure...

  • L.A. theater openings, Jan. 8-15: 'The Last Vig' and more

    L.A. theater openings, Jan. 8-15: 'The Last Vig' and more

    This week: A new mob comedy, a drama about cultural appropriation, and a salute to a female silent-era filmmaker. End Up Here Composer-lyricist Christopher Reiner (“Urban Death”) presents an afternoon of music and prose. Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd. North Hollywood....

  • A little song, a little snark in a pay-what-you-want production of 'Urinetown'

    A little song, a little snark in a pay-what-you-want production of 'Urinetown'

    “What kind of musical is this?” wails a distraught orphan after the good guys think they have brought hope and change to a troubled society — but then everything suddenly falls apart. The reversal of apparent progress strikes a resonant, albeit disturbingly dissonant, chord in the timely revival...

  • L.A. theater openings, Jan. 1-8: 'Rent' and more

    L.A. theater openings, Jan. 1-8: 'Rent' and more

    This week: A salute to African American poet Langston Hughes, a classic Clifford Odets drama, and “Rent” rolls into Costa Mesa on its 20th-anniversary tour. Get Lit’s Dante Hip-hop musical inspired by Dante’s “Inferno.” Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Lovelace Studio Theater, 9390...

  • L.A. theater openings, Dec. 25-Jan. 1: Rita Rudner and more

    L.A. theater openings, Dec. 25-Jan. 1: Rita Rudner and more

    This week: A small assortment of shows to help you ring in the new year. The Annual All-New One-Time-Only New Year’s Eve Musical Revue! Family-friendly celebration features sketches, sing-alongs and more. Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 4th St., Santa Monica. Sat., 6 and 9:30 p.m. $39.50-$69.50. (310)...

  • Get out the hankies for a sumptuous, touching 'King and I' at the Pantages

    Get out the hankies for a sumptuous, touching 'King and I' at the Pantages

    Twentieth-century French literary maven François Mauriac once observed, “If you would tell me the heart of a man, tell me not what he reads, but what he rereads.” That epigram could be extended to the theater, as certain works are so familiar and beloved, revisiting them can be a holiday reunion...

  • Notes on a truly Shakespearean year: An enlightened boldness brings out the best in the Bard

    Notes on a truly Shakespearean year: An enlightened boldness brings out the best in the Bard

    For better or worse, 2016 has been a truly Shakespearean year. It has also been the year of Donald Trump, a figure who could no doubt hold his own in one of Shakespeare’s ruthless history plays. In an election year rife with melodramatic intrigue, the plays were ransacked for character analogies,...

  • The off-kilter charms of 'Amelie' sing with spirit at the Ahmanson

    The off-kilter charms of 'Amelie' sing with spirit at the Ahmanson

    "Amélie, A New Musical,” which began at Berkeley Repertory Theatre last year, has brought its whimsical magic to the Ahmanson Theatre, where a retooled production starring Phillipa Soo (late of Broadway’s “Hamilton”) had its official opening on Friday. The show is headed to Broadway in the spring,...

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