November 23, 2012 |
Childhood alienation may be painful, but it can be mined later for entertaining anecdotes. In a new comedy, “Mrs. Mannerly,” receiving its West Coast premiere at Theatre 40, playwright Jeffrey Hatcher dramatizes his experience as a misfit boy in Steubenville, Ohio. Nine-year-old Jeffrey (Richard Horvitz) is sent to an etiquette class taught by Mrs. Mannerly (Nan Tepper), a local legend who, although nearing obsolescence in 1967, doggedly preaches proper posture and table setting.
December 5, 2011 |
If the new Cirque du Soleil tribute to Michael Jackson, "Immortal," confirms one thing, it's that the King of Pop's presence, even in death, sure can rile up a crowd. Every time the late singer's image popped on-screen during the show's Las Vegas premiere on Saturday night, whether as a tyke with a golden voice as part of the Jackson 5 or as a Thriller with a sequined glove and a miraculous body for dance, the sold-out venue erupted, if only for a snapshot moment. But clips of Jackson being MJ, however magnetic, can't sustain an hour-and-a-half show dedicated to his music, nor can a dancing Bubbles the chimpanzee, big-Afroed J5 impersonators, a baffling mid-show cello solo, a sexy contortionist act atop a children's book, groups of synchronized mummies in hoop skirts and, most curiously, a life-sized dancing glove that looked more like a half-dead starfish.
June 20, 2012 |
Enda Walsh's "The New Electric Ballroom" has returned to Los Angeles in a Rogue Machine production directed by John Perrin Flynn at Theatre/Theater. The play is rather hermetic in a neo-Beckettian fashion, and I don't think I fully appreciated it when the beautifully acted Druid Ireland production was presented by UCLA Live in 2009 along with its companion piece "The Walworth Farce," which I liked a good deal more. Some plays require repeated exposures before their secret music can be discerned.
July 17, 2013 |
Fitting “The Tempest” in a teapot-sized theater is a daunting enough prospect, but the bigger challenges facing SkyPilot Theatre Company's “The Island,” a self-described “musical re-imagining” of Shakespeare's play, are the handicaps arising from its own unmet ambitions. In this new present-day adaptation by composer-book writer Jonathan Price and lyricist Chana Wise, and directed by Jeanette Farr, air travel, smartphones, Internet and hip-hop dance clubs coexist uneasily with “The Tempest's” familiar narrative elements (power-grabbing betrayal, magical spells, parental tribulations and raging teen hormones)
May 20, 2010 |
While filming "The Big Sleep," Howard Hawks asked author Raymond Chandler who killed a certain victim. Chandler's famous response: He had no idea. Hard-boiled plots can get lost in their own fog, a danger that bedevils "LA Noir Unscripted," the latest improvisational hijinks from Impro Theatre. The deadpan troupe, which has created original comic plays nightly in the style of Jane Austen, Tennessee Williams and Shakespeare, now dons fedoras and fishnets for this droll excursion into B-movie territory.
July 30, 2012 |
One percenters, hide those offshore accounts: Occupy LA - or something a lot like it - has been spotted at the Boston Court Performing Arts Center. The corruption of the privileged few is the comic target of Nikolai Gogol's “The Government Inspector,” now in an exuberant if overstated new adaptation by Oded Gross. We open on a scene that sounds suspiciously like a city council meeting in Bell: Mayor Anton (John Billingsley) alerts his cronies (Joe Fria, Alan Brooks, and Dana Kelly, Jr.)
November 19, 2012 |
Dorothy isn't the only one who got lost in Kansas. After World War II, more than 100,000 Japanese women married American GIs and resettled across the United States. We meet five of those brides, unmoored in the Midwest, in “Tea, With Music,” a bittersweet chamber musical with book and lyrics by Velina Hasu Houston and music by Nathan Wang, now at East West Players. The occasion is a tea ceremony - and an exorcism. In a small Kansas town, Himiko (Joan Almedilla) has killed herself after a downward spiral of loss and rage.
March 7, 2014 |
In “Stand-Off at Hwy #37,” a world premiere by Native Voices at the Autry, playwright Vickie Ramirez probes the ambiguous political landscape between Native and non-Native American territories. In upstate New York, residents of a reservation have organized a protest against an encroaching highway. A deceptively mild-mannered tribal elder, Aunt Bev (peppery LaVonne Rae Andrews), directs fellow protester Darrin (the scene-stealing Kalani Queypo) to place her armchair right on top of the disputed border.