Los Angeles Theatre Podcast Reviews

photo by Adrien Carr

Synopsis : To love or not to love? The play focuses on the ups and downs of one oddly perfect couple. The playwright, Jane Martin, presents two shattered and fragile individuals in an attempt to reveal how ridiculous love is when clung to as a means of self-appraisal. Taken from the website 

Feb 5th – May 1st 2016 

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Photo credit: Mathew Caine- Digitrope Studios.

Billed as an original jukebox musical set in the 1930s and the 1960s with plenty of sparkling romance and sartorial style, Down on Your Knees and Up to the Moon is the latest production from writer-director Gloria Gifford and her Gloria Gifford Conservatory (GCC) students. Taken from the website 

May 1 – May 15 2016

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Written by Craig Grossman 

Stage adapter Mark Brown brought a very different vision of  Around the World in 80 Days to the stage at the Long Beach Playhouse. All throughout, the play had a sense of modernity and gentle hints of boldness.  Refreshingly enough,  Brown’s portrayal adds more humor into the show then I’ve previously experienced from this Jules Byrnes’ classic adventure novel.

Around the World in 80 Days tells the story of a member of the Reform Club–a British Victorian gentleman’s club.  This adventuresome Londoner’s name is Phileas Fogg, and he adamantly devises a plan to crisscross the world in 80 days.  Fogg’s fellow Reform Club mates are all incredulous at the prospect of such a daunting feat.  After all, this is the 1870s, a time when such a journey would be impractical.  He is prompted to accept a wager of 20,000 British pounds stating  that he can complete his journey within the allotted 80 day time period.  During the course of the journey, Fogg travels via rail and on steamers throughout India, Egypt, China, Japan, and the United States.

I read the Jules Byrne-authored 80 Days, so I was already  approaching this stage version with some understanding of the overall storyline.  Unlike the Byrnes novel, I found humor to be present in this stage adaptation.  It made the play flow more easily for my tastes (actors bouncing hilariously up and down on their seats to demonstrate being on a train for example).  There’s serious versatility in this skeleton crew of a cast, as only five actors play through the entire show.  

Rick Reischman (Phileas Fogg), guides the play beautifully as its lead actor but shows the least versatility of the actors on stage (given that he  only plays one character). Lisa Carver does a wonderful job playing multiple roles in this show, playing an Indian princess as well as male roles. Jaxson Brashier is fantastic, I can’t help but associate him with Bobby Moynihan of the NBC TV show “Saturday Night Live,” in both look and in comedic ability.  Stephen Alan Carver brings out a great deal of laughter to the assembled audience by playing the French servant Jean Passepartout.  His overall body language and persona is the funniest overall, as he takes material that was not actually funny and does a lot more with it because of his timing and facial expressions.

There are a few instances of failed line delivery but I came away quite impressed.  It’s carefree, edgy, and does not feel as uptight as the original Byrne novel at all.  It was stunning to me how the actors managed to do so much, with so little, and in such a small performance space.  

Around the World in 80 Days runs April 9th through May 7th on Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays. 

April 9 – May 7th 2016 

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Synopsis : In The Revisionist, David arrives in Poland with a crippling case of writer’s block and a desire to be left alone, while his second cousin Maria welcomes him with an overwhelming need to connect with her American family. Taken from the website 

March 29 – April 17, 2016

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Written by Patrick Chavis 
 
When writing a story –whether it be a play, poem, or film –the motivations for writing it are as important as the writing itself. In my opinion, which has been formed over the meager 29 years I’ve lived on this earth, I would say the best stories are the ones weaving those motivations for writing the story so deeply into the fabric of the plot that the audience becomes entangled within it and has to look further inwards. It takes more work, but overall, things we struggle for usually have more meaning and takes a more skillful hand to write. A Singular They at the Blank Theatre doesn’t do any of what I mentioned above. Its intentions are smack dab in front of you: acceptance, acceptance, and accept people for who they are.  For those not already convinced, the text probably will not move you, but the actors on stage will. Continue reading

Synopsis : Based on the bestselling novel by Lauren Weisberger, the 2006 film earned its star Meryl Streep an Oscar nod and a Golden Globe win for her portrayal of the world’s most demanding boss. Now, the Cinderella tale of a frumpy-to-fierce fashion magazine intern gets a musical makeover.  Taken from the Website. 

Jan 28, 2016 – May 8, 2016

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Good Show 

Written by Mike Martin 

Let me get a few things out-of-the-way…

Dreamgirls is a script that runs a bit long and does tend to show its age.

Lyrically the score is a bit one note and juvenile.

This production had some sound hiccups when I attended.

There.

Whew.

Now that the unpleasantness is out-of-the-way, let me say that this production of Dreamgirls is an absolute treat. This is a production that not only makes one pine wistfully for the big, spectacle shows of the 80’s in its staging, but showcases talent that transcends the very limitations I mentioned above. Masterful choreography and direction keep the pace moving and fluid, and technically (other than the sound issues mentioned above) the production value is top-notch. If you haven’t been to La Mirada (or it’s been a FEW years as in my case), do yourself a favor and see some big shows done right. While I applaud the efforts of smaller theatres, even I am capable of forgetting what a great night of theatre can be with a bit of a budget behind it. Continue reading

March 25 – April 17
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Synopsis : Dreamgirls tells the story of an up-and-coming 1960s girl singing group, and the triumphs and tribulations that come with fame and fortune. With music by Academy Award nominee Henry Krieger and book and lyrics by Tony and Grammy Award winner Tom Eyen, Dreamgirls features the unforgettable hits: “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” “One Night Only” and “Listen.”  Taken from the Website    PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Lamont

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The 26th New Works Festival (NWF) begins April 1st at the Long Beach Playhouse in Long Beach. 

According to Broadway World, 

“The festival spans two weekends. The first weekend, the two best submissions each receive a one-time staged reading that includes a facilitated discussion with the audience and a written critique by local theater professionals. The second weekend features a two-night production workshop staging of one of the plays that won in 2015. It also includes a facilitated talk back with the author and audience.” Broadway World

April 01 – April 09 

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Written by Patrick Chavis 

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March 1 – April 10, 2016

Critic Opinion : Though it might make you laugh. The often-hammy undeniably funny lines and the solid sexual tension between both actors can’t hide the boring underdeveloped characters and plot of the actual story.

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