April 26, 1991 |
Personal criticism, as opposed to aesthetic distance, usually gets a critic in trouble. But sometimes there's no other way to go. "Canton Jazz Club" at the East West Players, big sprawling mess that it is, captivated me. It is a musical about a glamorous hot spot in L.A.'s Chinatown in 1943. When I was kid in the early '40s, my mother's favorite movie was "Limehouse Blues," with George Raft (as an Oriental roustabout) and Anna Mae Wong.
May 14, 1999 |
The marquee outside Little Tokyo's Union Center for the Arts, home of East West Players, reads like this: World Premiere Beijing Spring A Musical About Tiananmen Huh? What? A tuner about the 1989 Chinese pro-democracy movement, its massive student concentration in Beijing's Tiananmen Square and the bloody aftermath of the government's military solution? Stranger shows have happened. (That's the thing about musical theater: It's a magnet for nervy improbability.
April 7, 1991 |
April theater brings a happy mix of old-time comedians, modern-day Marlboro men, yuppies, contract players, chanteuses and priests--plus a famous dead rock star and famous dead writer. The openings include: Today: Obie winner Bradley Rand Smith focuses on a disparate group of modern-day cowboys and Indians in "Mojave," a lab production at the Odyssey Theatre in West L.A. Charles Otte directs.
September 30, 2005 |
First-time writer-director Renee Chabria's sincerity and commitment to "Sueno" are so complete they override its sentimental streak and some overly familiar plotting. Chabria inspires her cast to reveal the kindness and caring in her characters in a most endearing manner. "Sueno," which means "dream" in Spanish, is a sweet-natured film, steeped in richly varied and seductive Latin music.
May 19, 2000 |
The greatest ashes-in-the-mouth musical America ever produced, "Follies" (1971) uses the Ziegfeld showgirl era as ghostly nostalgia, stalking our present-day disillusionment. Stephen Sondheim's score, a marvel of pastiche, remains one of his most penetrating. James Goldman's book can't quite match it, which remains the reason "Follies" will always have a few problems. Even so, it's a rare bird, and it doesn't come in for a landing often. Or easily.
November 11, 2000 |
A play titled "The Theory of Everything" should think big and mess with a lot ofideas. In its easygoing way, Prince Gomolvilas' comedy is pleased to comply. Although confined to the rooftop of a Las Vegas wedding chapel, the characters--UFO watchers of varying Asian American extraction, waiting for a sign--reflect on the ineffables: love, faith, flunking out of law school, finding a way home. Not yet 30, this San Francisco-based Thai American writer is developing a strong voice.