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ENTERTAINMENT
December 5, 2013 | By Philip Brandes
A vacant laundry becomes the moral crucible for competing interests in a financially depressed Bronx borough in John Patrick Shanley's “Storefront Church,” making its L.A. area premiere at NoHo Arts Center. Following “Doubt” and “Defiance,” this is the concluding play in Shanley's “Church and State” trilogy exploring ethical dilemmas at the intersection of institutional politics and individual responsibility. Although the piece lacks the tight focus and precision of “Doubt,” there's no mistaking Shanley's unique ability to illuminate complexities underlying topical issues.
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ENTERTAINMENT
October 10, 2013 | By Philip Brandes
When it comes to matters of the heart, in the absence of information there's a natural tendency to fill the vacuum with our greatest fears and insecurities. Even so, the flamboyant Actor protagonist in Ferenc Molnár's “The Guardsman” at A Noise Within takes this foible several side-splitting steps further, applying all his theatrical skills to actually become the embodiment of his worst nightmare: a rival suitor for the affections of his Actress wife. Hilarity, warmth and wry wisdom abound in Michael Michetti's perfectly staged revival of Molnár's long-neglected comic gem about the perpetual romantic gulf between the sexes.
ENTERTAINMENT
September 26, 2013 | By Margaret Gray
A moment in the second act of the Pasadena Playhouse's revival of “Smokey Joe's Café: The Songs of Leiber and Stoller” took me back to my teenaged years, when my brother strictly forbade me to sing any song he liked. Merely hearing a song in my voice, with its corny musical-theater inflection, could drain all the coolness out of it for him. For the entire first act of this musical revue, which ran on Broadway from 1995 to 2000, I was happily tapping my toes to songs both deeply familiar (“Kansas City,” “Poison Ivy,” “On Broadway”)
ENTERTAINMENT
September 25, 2013 | By Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times Theater Critic
The three solo performance pieces being presented on separate bills at the Kirk Douglas Theatre - Luis Alfaro's "St. Jude," Roger Guenveur Smith's "Rodney King," and Trieu Tran's "Uncle Ho to Uncle Sam" - haven't much in common stylistically. And why should they? They're the product of different sensibilities in a theatrical form dedicated to celebrating radical individuality. But taken together these DouglasPlus offerings, which are part of the Radar L.A. festival, present a portrait of an America made up of insiders and outsiders.
ENTERTAINMENT
September 17, 2013 | By Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times Theater Critic
"Richard II," Shakespeare's history play about the fate of a king who talks a better game than he delivers, is given an entrancing stripped-down production at the Theatre @ Boston Court. Jessica Kubzansky, the theater's co-artistic director, has adapted and directed what she's calling "R II," a deft distillation of the drama that begins after Richard has been taken prisoner. Performed by an adroit cast of three, Kubzansky's version proceeds in flashbacks that are staged with laser-like precision, each scene offering another angle on this political object lesson.
ENTERTAINMENT
September 2, 2013 | By Philip Brandes
As a snapshot of Harlem in 1943, John Henry Redwood's “The Old Settler” evokes some historical artifacts that have faded into obscurity - party line telephones, the Savoy Ballroom - and others that stubbornly endure in more camouflaged form, i.e., segregationist tactics that stack the economic deck. Nevertheless, Redwood's 1998 romantic dramedy is first and foremost a humanist work with a vision of endurance and connectedness that transcends race and politics, and its best qualities are admirably served in William Stanford Davis' fine staging at the Pico Playhouse.
ENTERTAINMENT
July 18, 2013 | By David Ng
Cathy Rigby, the former Olympic gymnast turned stage actress, is being sued for millions of dollars by a composer who claims that he hasn't been properly paid for his work on a production of "Peter Pan" that her company presented at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts in 2004 and on a national tour. Composer Craig Barna is claiming that McCoy Rigby Entertainment has breached its contract with him and has continued using music he created and orchestrated for the show without properly compensating him, according to court papers obtained by The Times.
ENTERTAINMENT
July 17, 2013 | By Philip Brandes
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)
ENTERTAINMENT
June 25, 2013 | By Philip Brandes
Anyone familiar with Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum -- the scenic Topanga Canyon outdoor theater operated by the late actor's family -- will immediately appreciate the slyly apropos casting for its charming revival of George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber's “The Royal Family.” Though this 1927 satirical portrait of a showbiz dynasty was modeled on the contemporaneous Barrymores, some foibles never go out of style -- and who better to illustrate them...
ENTERTAINMENT
June 14, 2013 | By Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times Theater Critic
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.
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