Review: A TRANSPARENT MUSICAL at Mark Taper Forum

A TRANSPARENT MUSICAL is a magnificent new classic that should reverberate with people of all stripes.

By: Jun. 03, 2023
Click Here for More on A Transparent Musical
Review: A TRANSPARENT MUSICAL at Mark Taper Forum
Enter Your Email to Unlock This Article

Plus, get the best of BroadwayWorld delivered to your inbox, and unlimited access to our editorial content across the globe.

Existing user? Just click login.

Based on the hit Emmy-winning Amazon series “Transparent,” the world-premiere musical comedy A TRANSPARENT MUSICAL is a joyous, thrilling triumph of character, story, and performance.

The show kicks off when three adult Angelenos—harried wife and mother Sarah (Sarah Stiles), self-proclaimed “sex addict” Josh (Zachary Prince), and lost and confused Ali (Adina Verson)—are summoned to their father’s place for a “special brunch” where he comes out to them as trans. Mort becomes Maura (Daya Curley), sending shock waves through the entire dysfunctional Pfefferman brood, including the overbearing, self-absorbed mother, Shelly (Liz Larsen), sending them all on their own paths seeking identity, history, and family. The result is a riotous, affectionate, emotional crowd-pleaser.

Review: A TRANSPARENT MUSICAL at Mark Taper Forum
Sarah Stiles, Adina Verson,
and Zachary Prince

Just by being so forthrightly pro-trans, the musical is political by default with transgenderism being such a hot-button issue these days (some of which issues are tackled on stage), but it’s really about finding yourself, and loving yourself, something everyone can identify with. Additionally, the topics that are highlighted are dealt with smartly, without being preachy or cloying or shrill.

With Joey Soloway, who created the series, behind the production, the setup and characters are similar to the Amazon show, but it’s also a stand-alone, so even if you’re new to the Pfefferman’s world, you’ll be able to enjoy it. The book by MJ Kaufman and Joey Soloway with music, lyrics, and vocal arrangements by Faith Soloway handles ballads, dance, and rock, among other styles, with aplomb, revealing truths about characters and moving the story ahead through catchy, rousing, and moving songs. There’s a sweet charm to all of them, including the dramatic showstoppers that bring the house down, with an energy running through the entire show that will sweep you away, embodying the joy of “Hairspray” and the sass of “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.”

Director Tina Landau keeps the show going from romantic to stark to raucous without missing a beat, weaving the intertwining stories with a consistent tone despite the different tenor in each of them. She gets fantastic performances from the entire ensemble, no matter the size of the role, so much so that it’s difficult to pinpoint any stand-outs, though Larsen does steal some scenes as she embarks on an autobiographical solo stage show and Murphy Taylor Smith really pops as Rabbi Raquel, the newest love of Josh’s life. Verson, who has a stunning range, has palpable chemistry with Kasper, who plays Ezra, a new boy at the Jewish Community Center where Ali volunteers. And Prince and Stiles, as frustrated siblings trying to make sense of their outlandish family while also figuring out their own selves, display just the right balance of frustration and tolerance many brothers and sisters will find relatable.

Review: A TRANSPARENT MUSICAL at Mark Taper Forum
Adina Verson

The dynamic scenic design by Adam Rigg makes grand use of the space, utilizing it so that it stands in for a number of spots, including the community center, a bar, and Maura’s house, without ever feeling cramped, even in the striking dance numbers choreographed by James Alsop. The lighting design by Jen Schriever offers a vibrant palate of eye candy in addition to the vivid costumes by Toni-Leslie Jones and projection design by Yee Eun Nam. It’s one of the most beautiful stage productions I’ve ever seen. Simply gorgeous, bordering on magical.

Soloway and their cast and crew have created something very special, I’d even say magnificent, a new classic that should reverberate with people of all stripes and make them think about their own lives, whether they know who they are and if they like who they are … and whether they need to take steps on their own journeys to find just who they were meant to be.

Photo credits: Craig Schwartz Photography

A TRANSPARENT MUSICAL is performed at the Mark Taper Forum, 135 N. Grand Avenue, through June 25. Tickets are available at, by calling (213) 628-2772, or at the box office.

Add Your Comment

To post a comment, you must register and login.