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EDITOR: Andrea Kirk
RECENT THEATRE AND OTHER PERFORMING ARTS REVIEWS
"TOTEM" A TESTAMENT TO THE WONDER OF WHAT THE HUMAN BODY CAN DO
(10/18/2013 Theater Review in Los Angeles by Mark Share)
The latest show from Cirque du Soleil, TOTEM traces, through amazing gymnastics, the progress of evolution from amphibians to athletic, trapeze-flying human beings...
'TRACERS' & 'THE LONG WAY HOME' DO THEATER PROUD
(10/18/2013 Theater Review in Los Angeles by M.R. Hunter)
It’s been almost 35 years since ‘Tracers’ debuted (at a then little known theater called the Odyssey) and its current reprisal with an all-veteran cast is as prescient and harrowing now as it was in its first staging during the aftermath of the Vietnam war era.
‘THE GUARDSMAN’ AT A NOISE WITHIN IS UNGUARDEDLY BLISSFUL
(10/11/2013 Theater Review in Los Angeles by M.R. Hunter)
The premise sounds preposterous but unlike cheeky farces relying on devices rather than ever escalating little dénouements, ‘The Guardsman’ plays better than it reads in review or synopsis. It requires the utmost seriousness to the craft to pull this type of comedy off successfully. For all their studious approach, the cast were openly enjoying themselves and their performance.
‘BREATH AND IMAGINATION’ SOARS AT THE COLONY IN BURBANK
(09/27/2013 08:26:42 AM Theater Review in Los Angeles by M.R. Hunter) The season opener at the Colony about the first African-American concert artist, Roland Hayes, epitomizes the pursuit of passion despite struggle and necessary determination when all that sustains it is little more than breath and imagination. Given the Colony’s recent financial woes, this west coast premiere is a fitting choice.
‘THE TWILIGHT ZONE: UNSCRIPTED’ THE RISK IN THE SPUR OF THE MOMENT
(09/20/2013 12:50:27 PM Theater Review in Los Angeles by M.R. Hunter) Seeing Impro Theatre is a bit like going to a Nascar race. You want everyone to come out alive, but knowing what is at stake as the lights rise and the players stand unbeknownst to them what will actually occur in the next 90 minutes is a thrill within itself regardless of the quality produced. We are spectators demanding this troupe to afford us some continuity, characters, a plot line and a satisfying resolve with a recommendation shouted out from the seats. Do this! Explore that! And these actors jump in with only the knowledge of Serling in this case to guide them. That’s frickin’ awesome!
YAKOV SMIRNOFF’S ‘HAPPILY EVER LAUGHTER’ TICKLES THE HEART & SOUL
(08/08/2013 08:14:05 PM Theater Review in Los Angeles by M.R. Hunter) What’s more astounding is the Yakov Smirnoff most people don’t know or would ever imagine. In his one-man hit show direct from Broadway, “Happily Ever Laughter,” Smirnoff challenges preconceived notions and entrenched assumptions by revealing himself as a patriot, an artist, an academic, a father and husband and a philosopher on the subject of happiness and love. In our current pessimistic worldview and reflexive narcissistic sensibilities, Smirnoff defies the temptation and trap of apathy with personal reflections on his family and his comedic career.
THE SECOND MOUNTING OF ‘JUDAS ISCARIOT’ IS A GODSEND
(07/25/2013 12:51:32 AM Theater Review in Los Angeles by M.R. Hunter) There is a god in the L.A. theater community and his name is Josh T. Ryan. One of the founding members of Zombie Joe’s Underground, Ryan brings an ambitiously fresh, determined sensibility as the newly appointed director to Breedlove Productions’ second staging of “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot” and raises an otherwise would-be Lazarus from the dead.
‘THE ISLAND’ SHOULD REMAIN AN ISLAND UNTO ITSELF
(07/19/2013 12:32:11 PM Theater Review in Los Angeles by M.R. Hunter) Clearly, this romantic, neoclassical tale needs help or the SkyPilot Theatre believes it does. Book and music by Jonathan Price takes the fantastic world of an island and drags it through the gutter with the lowest common denominator of our modern sensibilities: F-bombs, pelvic-thrusting and mind-numbing idiocy. Chana Wise’s lyrics leave much to be desired with her adolescent attempts at what may resemble hip-hop, mimicking Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “I Like Big Butts.”
ALL IN THE FAMILY: THE GEERS IN “THE ROYAL FAMILY”
(06/28/2013 11:57:08 AM Theater Review in Los Angeles by M.R. Hunter) Those unacquainted with Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum are in for a rare treat and an informal introduction to the relations as artistic director Ellen Geer (Will Geer’s daughter) plays matriarch Fanny Cavendish with her sister Melora Marshall as Fanny’s daughter Julie. Ellen’s daughter Willow plays Melora’s daughter Gwen and Abby Craden, is perfectly cast as both she and her character Kitty are related by marriage. Add in the family by extension with Alan Blumenfeld, Aaron Hendry and Earnestine Phillips in supporting roles with Susan Angelo directing and the adage “keeping it in the family” springs to mind throughout.
IT’S EASY TO JUST IMAGINE TIM PIPER AS JOHN LENNON
(06/27/2013 Theater Review in Los Angeles by M.R. Hunter) Accuracy and faithful characterization grounds his performance with authenticity but it is his musical ability as a vocalist and guitarist that keeps fans returning to his show and attracts younger audiences discovering Lennon for the first time apart from their parents LP’s. “We get people who grew up with The Beatles. They were those teenagers watching The Ed Sullivan Show. Some of them never saw The Beatles or Lennon in concert, so now they can revisit their youth through our show.”
WILL GEER'S THEATRICUM BOTANICUM’S CHARMING "TAMING OF THE SHREW"
(06/21/2013 09:30:20 AM Theater Review in Los Angeles by Mark Share) For its opening production of summer 2013, Theatricum Botanicum revives Shakespeare’s comic "Taming of the Shrew" with Ellen Geer directing to highlight the humor and Willow Geer game for the indignities in the role of Katherina (or Kate) the shrew. It feels like this anti-feminist play has seen few productions over the past decade or so, but recently there have been a spate of revivals, with comedy overcoming the misgivings of conscience.
CREATIVE COGNITIVE DISSONANCE: “WE ARE PROUD TO PRESENT”
(06/21/2013 08:53:39 AM Theater Review in Los Angeles by M.R. Hunter) The challenge with Drury’s balancing act is that the conscious shifts are executed with hairpin turns from the absurdity of the situation to the savage recreation of a systematic extermination. Laughing at the hilarity of a less than cohesive band of actors stumbling through a timeline of historic events over a span of some 30 years lends itself to amusing situations and hilarity. Underscoring all this is the reality they wish to uncover and “present” in a serious manner.
“NIGHT OF NOIR” CAPTURED AURAL PHANTASY THEATER AT THE EL CID
(06/07/2013 01:47:43 PM Theater Review in Los Angeles by M.R. Hunter) These players are making a monthly go at it down in the El Cid. I suggest you find your sordid way down the boulevards to this rustic place that houses an eclectic group with a penchant for horror, comic books, live staged radio and terrors that will keep you awake at night like the flickering neon glow of a No Vacancy sign outside a motel on the side of a two-lane highway that leads to nowhere. No sense in keeping it LA Confidential. Like Fred Otash, I’m slipping you the skinny on a dirty rag that stinks of chloroform and is so hard-boiled you can chip a tooth on it.
"DYING CITY" AT THE ROGUE MACHINE IS MEH
(05/24/2013 10:51:31 AM Theater Review in Los Angeles by M.R. Hunter) When a play relies on a clever device, the result is only as strong as its own conceit. Shinn’s approach is novel, but the impetus driving the action should not be the literary gambit supporting the main thrust of the story. The machinations cannot be so transparent that one in essence can see the nuts and bolts of a playwright plying away at pretence. There’s a risk of being gimmicky.
THE KISS METHOD…KEEP IT SIMPLE SMART IN “YEARS TO THE DAY”
(04/26/2013 07:12:06 AM Theater Review in Los Angeles by M.R. Hunter) The world premiere of Allen Barton’s two-hander play epitomizes the KISS Method (otherwise known as ‘keep it simple stupid’) but in this case it is actually quite smart. Smart enough not to need any window dressing in the sense of a set beyond a table and two chairs; smarter still, director Joel Polis wisely keeps both men’s butts in seats almost throughout the 90 minutes. The script is also smart enough to hold the audiences’ attention because the actors Jeff LeBeau and Michael Yavnieli dig into their characters with gusto and realism, sniping at each other while maintaining a precarious balance of friendly rapport given the simple but logical premise.
BETTY HUTTON: HOT DOG!
(04/12/2013 12:03:05 PM Theater Review in Los Angeles by M.R. Hunter) Diane Vincent, a professional Lucy Ricardo impersonator, treats her subject like an adoring fan. The love and affection for Hutton is unquestioningly evident, especially Vincent’s foreword in the program which carefully sidesteps exactly what this show is, “a musical tribute to the songs of Betty Hutton” (underlined for emphasis). Fair enough but the attempt produces only fair results. Vincent does not attempt to recreate the persona of Hutton in any largely recognizable way.
WOLVES: A VERY BLOODY FAIRY TALE
(04/05/2013 01:29:08 PM Theater Review in Los Angeles by M.R. Hunter) Steve Yockey’s world premiere at the Celebration Theatre mightily attempts to incorporate the romanticism of a love story between two men and a wolf that brings retribution in blood and fear. It is a mildly interesting concept but for all its intrusive narrating throughout and convenient exposition that does little to illuminate the whiny, neediness of a lonely man in a big city attached to faithless couch-hopper, the deeper connotations are completely absent which is imperative for these storybook stock characters to connect beyond the superficial setup.
GET THEE TO “PARADISE”…Y’ALL WILL HAVE A GOOD TIME, YA’ HEAR
(03/29/2013 09:48:15 AM Theater Review in Los Angeles by M.R. Hunter) The world premiere of a kicky bluegrass musical at the Ruskin Group Theatre in Santa Monica delivers corn spun humor and wit with the refined subtleness of biscuits and gravy, but it leaves you feeling full and satisfied in spite of the hackneyed storyline and clichéd hillbilly characters.
RUNNING TO STAND STILL: "TRAINSPOTTING"
(03/22/2013 Theater Review in Los Angeles by M.R. Hunter) Aboot fuckin time n aws thit, likesay, director Roger Mathey remoots his belter 2002 production based oan the novel by Scottish punter, Irvine Welsh. Ah’m warnin youse this isnae fir ivir one. It’s two hours ay radge addicts gittin high oan skag between shaggin wi skuddy burds but no the catboys, (whae is a bit ay a slag off fir the mantovani’s but whit kin you dae), n harsh language. Fir those whae already ken whit ah’m sayin n huv no stoaped readin this yet, thin ya jist need tae git up off ay yir arse n shee it because it is a night ay total licentious enjiyment.
THE MAN AND THE IMAGE IN “UNDISPUTED TRUTH”
(03/21/2013 Theater Review in Hollywood by Kelly Hargraves) There is the man and the image. There is the guy in the ring, the guy in the acclaimed biopic from a few years back and then there is the guy sitting on a stool under a spotlight on the stage of The Pantages Theater. It’s as unlikely a place to imagine seeing world champion boxer Mike Tyson as any but this is what makes so many want to see him. We need a chance to understand this brutal fighter, thoughtful brain and gentle soul. And that is what "Undisputed Truth" is all about.
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