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BWW Reviews: PERICLES, PRINCE OF TYRE: A Shakespearean Soap Opera Without the Blood Review BWW Reviews: PERICLES, PRINCE OF TYRE: A Shakespearean Soap Opera Without the Blood
by Ellen Dostal - May 05, 2015

Each summer in Griffith Park, Independent Shakespeare Co. presents fully-produced large scale performances for hundreds of people on a nightly basis. Instead of the expensive dinner and a movie scenario, families flock to the park for a more neighborly picnic and a play. It's friendly, affordable (the play is free), and fun...and that's about as good as it gets on a summer night in LA. (more...)


BWW Reviews: Sequel to The Crucible ABIGAIL/1702 Mesmerizes at ICT Review BWW Reviews: Sequel to The Crucible ABIGAIL/1702 Mesmerizes at ICT
by Don Grigware - May 05, 2015

The creation of Arthur Miller's now classic The Crucible about the Salem witch trials of 1692 was influenced by the McCarthy era of the 50s. It provided an intensely ferocious perspective on the unjust distortion and destruction of human life. In Salem, Massachusetts it was a religious issue - did you believe in God or the Devil Incarnate? McCarthyism was about Americans and their supposed involvement with the Communist Party. Religion and politics should be private issues, but in a community riddled with guilt about morality, there is no such thing as personal. Your way of life is an open book for all to judge and condemn. Roberto Aguirre-Acasa has penned an imagined sequel to The Crucible entitled Abigail/1702 about protagonist/witch namer Abigail Williams (Jennifer Cannon), who escapes Salem and tries to find salvation after her crimes. The action picks up ten years later in 1702, and as a thought-provoking piece now onstage at ICT, Long Beach, it works quite well under the expert guidance of director Caryn Dasai and with the help of five outstanding performances. (more...)


BWW Reviews: IMMEDIATE FAMILY Rises Above Sitcom at the Taper Review BWW Reviews: IMMEDIATE FAMILY Rises Above Sitcom at the Taper
by Don Grigware - May 05, 2015

It is rich yet rare to find a new American play that is at once terribly funny, terribly real and utterly demanding of one's attention. Immediate Family is such a play; it's fiercely original way at looking at an American black dysfunctional family is both heartwarming and completely enjoyable. In fact, I found myself looking at this black family and listening to playwright Paul Oakley Stovall's jokes about being from a black family and found myself, although white, identifying thoroughly with the issues at play. The family is black - and much of the humor is unmistakably black - but the conflicts are universal. Under Phylicia Rashad's steady hand, Immediate Family in its West Coast premiere at the Taper is one great big hit. (more...)


BWW Reviews: The Legendary Groove Comes to Life in MOTOWN THE MUSICAL Review BWW Reviews: The Legendary Groove Comes to Life in MOTOWN THE MUSICAL
by Ellen Dostal - May 04, 2015

Turning a profit in the theatre business is challenging at best but it isn't surprising that MOTOWN THE MUSICAL easily recouped its initial investment during its run on Broadway, or its outlay for the First National Tour, now playing at the Hollywood Pantages. The popularity of the Motown sound is undeniable. Even if you wanted to, it's impossible to keep from being carried away by the irresistible groove of the music. And why would you even want to try? (more...)


BWW Reviews: Kritzerland's BERLIN TO ROME - Lovely Generations of Musicality Review BWW Reviews: Kritzerland's BERLIN TO ROME - Lovely Generations of Musicality
by Gil Kaan - May 04, 2015

Kritzerland's Berlin to Rome's theme unintentionally became 'generations,' as the youngster and the senior stole the show from the others of the talented line-up of singing pros.  (more...)


BWW Review: Legendary Broadway Musical CATS Enchants Audiences at the Norris Theatre Review BWW Review: Legendary Broadway Musical CATS Enchants Audiences at the Norris Theatre
by Shari Barrett - May 04, 2015

In the history of musical theater, there is little question of the cultural significance of "CATS." It was the first branded spectacle musical and its biggest song "Memory" became an instant standard. All the big musicals that have come along since owe a debt of gratitude to the special effects and overall spectacle "CATS" allowed the world to experience for the first time onstage. Due to the size of the production and the incredible cast requirement for dozens of triple-threat actors and actresses who can handle the operatic score and dancing from tap to jazz to ballet, "CATS" is a treat to behold for audiences of all ages whenever a production comes to town. (more...)


BWW Review: Black Comedy 63 TRILLION Examines the Cutthroat World of Financial Advisors Review BWW Review: Black Comedy 63 TRILLION Examines the Cutthroat World of Financial Advisors
by Shari Barrett - May 03, 2015

Proving that money makes their world go around, financial advisors bicker about the falling stock market and how to best keep making money as their clients are losing their portfolios. With each desiring to be at the top of his game, none is safe from the backstabbing devised to make sure only the cream of the crop rises to the top no matter the cost to anyone else. "It's not how smart you are, it's how smart the world thinks you are" seems to be motto of these cutthroat sharks. (more...)


BWW Reviews: Nadège August Simply Captivates as SUNSET BABY Review BWW Reviews: Nadège August Simply Captivates as SUNSET BABY
by Gil Kaan - May 02, 2015

The West Coast premiere of Dominique Morisseau's Sunset Baby provides a wonderful star vehicle for the very talented Nadege August. As the title character, August wholly embodies Nina, the troubled daughter of her recently deceased mother Ashanti X and her estranged father Kenyatta (who deserted the two of them long time ago to lead his revolution). (more...)


BWW Reviews: O MY GOD Offers Insightful Exam of Faith, Fear, Love and the Power of the Divine Review BWW Reviews: O MY GOD Offers Insightful Exam of Faith, Fear, Love and the Power of the Divine
by Shari Barrett - May 01, 2015

Israeli playwright Anat Gov grew up in a country surrounded by other countries that wanted to blow her homeland out of existence. Perhaps living on the edge of destruction for so long enhanced her ability to face disaster with a sense of hope and laughter. Now being presented by the West Coast Jewish Theatre, the American Premiere of her play O MY GOD deals with the power of faith, belief and how best to cope with the obstacles of everyday life with a sense that all will work out for the best. The production runs through June 7 at the Pico Playhouse in West LA. (more...)


BWW Reviews: ZJU's MACBETH - Short and Sweet, Dark and Bloody Review BWW Reviews: ZJU's MACBETH - Short and Sweet, Dark and Bloody
by Ellen Dostal - April 28, 2015

Director Denise Devin knows how to set a mood. Her one-hour Shakespeare adaptations condense the Bard's source material into compact, efficient theatre capsules that are perfect for those who want their Shakespeare short and sweet - or in this case, dark and bloody - with enough time left after the show to head out on the town. (more...)


BWW Reviews: MY CHILD: MOTHERS OF WAR Reminds Us That Soldiers Have Mothers Waiting at Home Review BWW Reviews: MY CHILD: MOTHERS OF WAR Reminds Us That Soldiers Have Mothers Waiting at Home
by Shari Barrett - April 27, 2015

Directed by playwright Angeliki Giannakopoulos, the world premiere of MY CHILD: MOTHERS OF WAR is based on her award winning documentary of the same name, which aired nationally on PBS. Composed of a collection of true intertwining monologues telling stories of six mothers whose lives were radically changed when their sons were sent to fight the war in Iraq, the play focuses on the struggle women face before, during and after their child leaves their protective arms and learns to be an adult on the battlefield, whether or not they ever return home. (more...)


BWW Reviews: WORDS BY IRA GERSHWIN: A Happy Night at the Theater Review BWW Reviews: WORDS BY IRA GERSHWIN: A Happy Night at the Theater
by Ellen Dostal - April 27, 2015

Two famous brothers. One historic collaboration. Gershwin. Theirs was a name that would forever represent the early twentieth century music of the Jazz Age by capturing the heart and soul of the American people. Music drove George, the charismatic life-of-the-party musician who created sophisticated compositions like An American in Paris and Rhapsody in Blue, while Ira, the older and quieter of the two, was happier in the company of words. Together they created a prolific body of work that includes some of the most beloved standards today like 'Fascinating Rhythm,' 'Let's Call the Whole Thing Off,' and 'Love is Here to Stay.' (more...)


BWW Reviews: 3-D Theatricals Big Bold SIDE SHOW Is a Hot Ticket Review BWW Reviews: 3-D Theatricals Big Bold SIDE SHOW Is a Hot Ticket
by Don Grigware - April 27, 2015

The musical Side Show played Broadway in 1997 for 91 performances and was Tony nominated but never got the recognition it deserved. A revamped version went to Broadway in 2014, but it, too, closed early. Like Jason Robert Brown's Parade, another noteworthy Broadway miss, it's worth the attention, but its dark grotesque presentation of carnival freak shows is not the most appealing fare for commercial theatre audiences. Many are repelled by the sight of a man with three legs, a bearded lady, a half-man, half-woman or in the case of Daisy and Violet Hilton, by the appearance of twins who are conjoined. The girls hated the term Siamese twins, for they were not Siamese, and also if people asked them if they wanted to be normal. What is normal? Now in a revival production of the original - not the 2013 revamped production, which played La Jolla and the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. before Broadway - by 3-D Theatricals at Plummer Auditorium, Fullerton, Side Show comes out as winning and memorable as when it first appeared. (more...)


BWW Reviews: Well Acted THE ANARCHIST Takes Up a Short Residence at Theatre Asylum Review BWW Reviews: Well Acted THE ANARCHIST Takes Up a Short Residence at Theatre Asylum
by Don Grigware - April 27, 2015

David Mamet's curious one-act The Anarchist, which bombed on Broadway in 2012 after a mere 17 performances, was called by critics 'a slip of a play'. True, it does come in at 70 minutes, but who cannot be riveted by Mamet's intriguing exploration of salvation? Yes, religious salvation that erupts during a prison interrogation serving as a final appeal for prisoner Cathy (Felicity Huffman), convicted some 35 years previous for the murders of two guards. Cathy was a young revolutionary at the time in Algeria; when we see her she describes herself as 'an old lady', perhaps somewhere in her 50s. Ann (Rebecca Pidgeon), the warden of the prison or psychologist working in direct connection with the prison authorities, performs the interrogation with one goal in mind: to break down Cathy, to make her confess the whereabouts of her accomplice, whom she hasn't seen or had contact with since the crime. Far-fetched, you say? But Cathy's release depends on this piece of information. Despite some dissatisfying results, Mamet's fiercely engrossing dialogue, crisp direction from Marja-Lewis Ryan and superior performances from both Huffman and Pidgeon make the one-act worthy of note. (more...)


BWW Reviews: South Coast Rep Stages World Premiere of Rajiv Joseph's MR. WOLF Review BWW Reviews: South Coast Rep Stages World Premiere of Rajiv Joseph's MR. WOLF
by Michael L. Quintos - April 27, 2015

South Coast Repertory's latest offering, MR. WOLF---now on stage in Costa Mesa through May 3---is a high-quality presentation of an intriguingly audacious if not quite fully-gestated new world premiere play from Pulitzer Prize finalist Rajiv Joseph, the playwright behind the celebrated BENGAL TIGER AT THE BAGHDAD ZOO. In Mr. Joseph's enticing new drama, the play employs a ripped-from-the-headlines plot that feels more like a stand-alone episode of any given TV procedural drama, which, unfortunately, by their very nature leaves very little room for real character development, yet provides enough juicy (and at times soapy) melodrama to pique an interested audience. (more...)


BWW Reviews: MY BARKING DOG Successfully Clears His Hurdle of Credibility Review BWW Reviews: MY BARKING DOG Successfully Clears His Hurdle of Credibility
by Gil Kaan - April 27, 2015

The Theatre's Co-Artistic Director, Michael Michetti skillfully directs his two brilliant actors (Ed F. Martin and Michelle Azar) in a streamlined, no-fat depiction of two lonely souls possibly finding their ultimate purpose in life. (more...)


BWW Reviews: BETRAYAL - A Bewilderment with a Motown Soundtrack Review BWW Reviews: BETRAYAL - A Bewilderment with a Motown Soundtrack
by Gil Kaan - April 26, 2015

Harold Pinter's 1978 Betrayal gets an inventive re-mounting by director Aaron Craig as he augments Pinter's dialogues with musical interludes using jazz versions of Motown tunes. (more...)


BWW Reviews: Alexandra Billings Makes a Stunning Return to Singing at the Federal After 5 Years Review BWW Reviews: Alexandra Billings Makes a Stunning Return to Singing at the Federal After 5 Years
by Don Grigware - April 21, 2015

On Sunday April 19, actress/singer Alexandra Billings brought her new show I'm Still Here...Still! to Sterling's Upstairs at the Federal to overwhelming success. It was a packed house of adoring friends and fans who have come to love Billings for what she brings to the stage -passion, a passion for performing, and most importantly, a passion for her audience. She genuinely cares about everyone, and on top of that, she is screamingly funny. When I first reviewed her cabaret six years ago, I stated: (more...)


BWW Reviews: BARBARA MINKUS Performs Benefit Concert of Love Songs for St. Mark's Review BWW Reviews: BARBARA MINKUS Performs Benefit Concert of Love Songs for St. Mark's
by Don Grigware - April 21, 2015

On Friday, April 17 Barbara Minkus brought her new one-woman show An Evening with Barbara Minkus 'It's All About Love' (the good, the bad, the funny, the sad) to Saint Mark's Episcopal Church in Glendale as a fundraiser for the Sacred Arts Ministry. Affable Ron Barnett served as musical director and accompanied at the piano and Cooper Appelt was on bass for the bright 65-minute set. (more...)


BWW Reviews: Supercalifragilistic MARY POPPINS Flies Into Cabrillo Review BWW Reviews: Supercalifragilistic MARY POPPINS Flies Into Cabrillo
by Don Grigware - April 21, 2015

Mary Poppins/book by Julian Fellowes/music by The Sherman Brothers/new songs by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe/directed by Lewis Wilkenfeld/choreographed by Cheryl Baxter/Cabrillo Music Theatre at the Fred Kavli Theatre of the Thousand Oakes Civic Arts Plaza/through April 26 only (more...)


BWW Reviews: New GUYS AND DOLLS Tour Charms OC Review BWW Reviews: New GUYS AND DOLLS Tour Charms OC
by Michael L. Quintos - April 19, 2015

Surprise! This brand new, non-equity national tour of GUYS AND DOLLS---currently onstage at Orange County's Segerstrom Center for the Arts for a limited week-long run through April 19---is a winning, nicely-nicely done charmer. Of course, it helps a lot that this traveling production comes equipped with Broadway-caliber sets and costumes and, most satisfying of all, a really talented, engaging ensemble cast. (more...)


BWW Review: WORKING FOR THE MOUSE Exposes Backstage Shenanigans at Disneyland Review BWW Review: WORKING FOR THE MOUSE Exposes Backstage Shenanigans at Disneyland
by Shari Barrett - April 18, 2015

San Francisco playwright and performer Trevor Allen spent a few years in Southern California portraying Pluto, Mr. Smee, the Mad Hatter and other characters in his 5'5' height range on his quest for voice clearance and his dream of becoming Peter Pan. The boy who never wanted to grow up recounts his tales of backstage debauchery, sex, drugs, kicks to the crotch, militant managers, and quirky coworkers in this unique coming-of-age tale that blows pixie dust in your eyes while offering a glimpse behind the ears of the Magic Kingdom. (more...)


BWW Reviews: THE POWER OF DUFF Proves Even When in Doubt, You Can Influence Faith and Spirituality in Others Review BWW Reviews: THE POWER OF DUFF Proves Even When in Doubt, You Can Influence Faith and Spirituality in Others
by Shari Barrett - April 17, 2015

What does it take to become a charismatic spiritual leader, one who has people questioning and empowering their own faith? Is it possible in our media soaked society to grab the attention of millions of people simply by speaking your mind and sharing your faith, ultimately proving the power of positive thinking? THE POWER OF DUFF is ultimately about a person who is fundamentally ambivalent about religion, even about spirituality - who undergoes an emotional transformation, which in turn leads him to a position of being a suddenly looked-to spiritual leader even as his ambivalence continues. (more...)


BWW Reviews: Admirable Regional Production of LES MISERABLES Storms into MTW Review BWW Reviews: Admirable Regional Production of LES MISERABLES Storms into MTW
by Michael L. Quintos - April 16, 2015

So. Cal audiences should check out Musical Theatre West's rather admirable regional production of LES MISERABLES, which continues its limited run at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center in Long Beach through April 26, 2015. This highly-commendable, local production features a superb-sounding 30-person cast, an impressive arsenal of lighting, set, and costume designs, and strikingly lush musical accompaniment from a 16-piece live orchestra. Despite some choppy-ness in its narrative flow, the ear candy produced by this exceptional collective had me floating in euphoria. (more...)


BWW Reviews: LOOPHOLES: A PAIN IN THE I.R.S. - Laughable Deductions to Claim Review BWW Reviews: LOOPHOLES: A PAIN IN THE I.R.S. - Laughable Deductions to Claim
by Gil Kaan - April 16, 2015

World premiere of playwright Stan Rich's Loopholes: A Pain In The I.R.S. benefits from a very game cast of talented actors performing his fun, pun- galore, shtick-filled musical. The troupe's overall enthusiasm and commitment really pull off this 90-minute piece which possesses a very Judy Garland-Mickey Rooney, 'Let's go to the barn and put on a show' vibe. (more...)






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