October 8, 2012 |
Charles Smith is just your average, bumbling occupant of the Oval Office. Up for reelection, he doesn't stand much of a chance of gaining a second term. His wife is already asking whether she can take one of the White House couches she had reupholstered when they leave. Even those seeking favors are apt to remind him that his poll numbers are "lower than Gandhi's cholesterol. " From this desperate political situation, David Mamet, playwriting's graying enfant terrible, spins a retro farce that will have many wondering whether the ghost of Sid Caesar has taken possession of the author of such foul-mouthed dramatic landmarks as "American Buffalo" and "Glengarry Glen Ross.
November 6, 2006 |
HOLD off on the novenas for "Sister Act: The Musical. " The show, which opened Friday at the Pasadena Playhouse, has Broadway blockbuster written all over it. But it's going to need a little divine intervention if it's to become more than just another generically manufactured hit. The whole project has an air of inevitability to it. Putting aside the clumsy lip-synching of its star, the 1992 Whoopi Goldberg movie most vividly came to life during...
January 3, 1996 |
Agatha Christie's talent for ingenious twists was never sharper than in "Witness for the Prosecution," and for devotees of the mystery genre, the surprise ending is probably worth wading through her stage adaptation. But in dramatic terms, the play's creaky construction and endless exposition make for very slow going, and Robert Craig's staging for Pasadena's Knightsbridge Theatre is further hampered by uneven casting and awkward blocking.
August 14, 2012 |
As imagined by John Logan in his Tony-winning drama "Red" and portrayed by the galvanizing Alfred Molina, painter Mark Rothko is a man of fierce convictions and fiery words. His opinions about art are delivered like biblical proclamations, spoken in the Old Testament cadences of a burning bush. As he holds forth on the nobility of highbrow ambition and the ignominy of commercial frivolity you might momentarily think you've stumbled into a town hall on the fate of the Museum of Contemporary Art. In fact, you are at the Mark Taper Forum, where this sensational production from London's Donmar Warehouse (and later Broadway)
August 22, 2012 |
Enigmatic anecdote is the currency of Martin Crimp's "The City," having its U.S. premiere at Son of Semele Theater in a production directed by artistic director Matthew McCray. The characters don't so much engage in dialogue as indulge in a cryptic form of storytelling, in which puzzling incidents are set against a background of warfare, brutality and personal desolation. A foreboding air of menace invokes the work of Harold Pinter, though Crimp, a playwright better known in the States for his springy translations of French dramatic classics, is more abstract and diffuse.
March 15, 1995 |
Sometimes a good novel is just that: a good novel. Its tone, plot and characters remain stubbornly resistant to transmutation into a theatrical form. When it comes to F. Scott Fitzgerald novels, this seems particularly true, as evidenced by Hollywood's pathetic string of "Great Gatsbys." None of these past failures intimidated playwright Simon Levy. He bravely adapted Fitzgerald's "Tender Is the Night" for the inaugural production of the American Literature Theatre Lab at the Fountain Theatre.
December 7, 1994 |
Clearly playwright Don L. Freeman doesn't want to hide his intentions in "God and Other Terrorists," at the Laguna Festival of the Arts Forum Theatre through Dec. 17. When you name your central character Emmet Surrey Force, you are putting something more than a character on stage: You're creating a presence as much as a person. Which is all to the good: The best characters are presences who resonate.
June 14, 2013 |
Six months after her husband's death, Olga Knipper, famed actress and widow of Anton Chekhov, is gearing up to face an audience again. In a dimly lighted rehearsal hall in St. Petersburg, Russia, with two other actors, she prepares to resume her life onstage. Her monologue from "The Cherry Orchard," though, is not coming out right. She fears that grief has destroyed her capacity to feel. Outside a graver crisis is erupting. A march of workers ended in a massacre. Actors from this company may have been killed.
January 16, 2013 |
Any show created by or with the late Jerome Robbins invariably retains its magic through decades of restagings. The scruffy-looking but endearing production of "Peter Pan" that opened Tuesday at the Pantages Theatre for a two-week run is no exception. His first show as both director and choreographer, "Peter Pan" found Robbins putting together the script from previous stage adaptations and author James Barrie's various editions and afterthoughts. He also invited Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Jule Styne to supplement the songs by Carolyn Leigh and Moose Charlap, and gave this patchwork of words and music the sense of a complete, living world that audiences soon came to recognize as a Robbins trademark.
March 19, 2013 |
Cormac is a law-school-bound young man living in a cramped apartment in New York's West Village with his financially strapped mother. Iris is a blogger, working from home in Queens, who hires "Mac" to spiff up her website. The love story that develops between them in Ken LaZebnik's drama "On the Spectrum," now at the Fountain Theatre, would be traditional to a fault were it not for a salient difference: Mac and Iris are characters with autism. Mac has Asperger's syndrome and lives a fairly mainstream life with help from his mother, who is there to nudge him when he gets stuck in one of his obsessive loops.