Review: “Serpent’s Tooth” at The Tank

Review: “Serpent’s Tooth” at The Tank

Most statistics show that the vast majority of marriages today end in divorce. While many kids with divorced parents ultimately grow up to become very happy and successful adults, the fact of the matter is that it still isn’t a pleasant experience, while growing up. So what do you do about it? Make a few jokes about it, of course! At least, that seems to be one of the lessons from Serpent’s Tooth, an event of various featured storytellers – revolving around the theme of memorable awkward events, when they were younger - on the last night of The Tank’s highly successful Speak Up, Rise Up festival.

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Review: As You Like It at Shakespeare & Company

Review: As You Like It at Shakespeare & Company

William Shakespeare’s comedy As You Like It is a story of love and the adventurous journey towards new beginnings. Duke Senior has been banished from court by his younger brother Duke Frederick. Frederick then banishes his niece Rosalind who has grown close with his daughter Celia. The pair attend a wrestling match where Rosalind first lays eyes on Orlando whom she quickly becomes enamored with. Orlando flees from his older brother Oliver who is threatening his life and withholding his rightful inheritance from their father Sir Rowland. He ends up in the Forest of Arden, where Duke Senior, Rosalind and Celia have also found sanctuary. But as we see in the play, when characters take on a foreign persona and live in disguise happily ever after doesn’t come as quickly as they’d like. 

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Off-Broadway Review: “Smokey Joe’s Café”

Off-Broadway Review: “Smokey Joe’s Café”

The revival of Grammy-Award-Winning “Smokey Joe’s Cafe: The Songs of Leiber & Stoller,” having headed south from its recent engagement at the Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine, has landed at Stage 42 in New York City to positive notices from the press – including this one! Forty iconic Leiber and Stoller hits in ninety minutes would be glorious enough, but hearing those songs delivered by a cast of nine extraordinary singers and dancers backed by a powerhouse eight-member band is an experienced not to be missed. “Smokey Joe’s Café” currently running at Stage 42 delivers more that might expect from any musical revue.

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Review: “I’m Choking (and other excuses to leave a party)” at The Tank

Review: “I’m Choking (and other excuses to leave a party)” at The Tank

It’s a very familiar feeling, which I’m sure we’ve all had before: Whether it was a party, a wedding, a meeting, etc., we’ve all been to events before where we felt compelled to go to, but were desperate to find a way out of. Whatever the reason may be, from anxiety to awkwardness to simple boredom, we’ve all been there before. That much is clear, given the overwhelming reaction last week to I’m Choking (and other excuses to leave a party) by Josh Johnson, one of many outings recently presented at The Tank’s Speak Up, Rose Up storytelling festival.

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2nd Opinion Review: "Be More Chill"

2nd Opinion Review: "Be More Chill"

Have you ever wished that you could just take something, and you’d be cool instantly?

No? You probably thought junior high was fun, too, I’ll bet. So, for those of you who remember the teen years as something resembling medieval torture, you know what I’m talking about. Those times where everything you said and did rendered you eating your lunch alone… again.

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Off-Broadway Review: “Be More Chill”

Off-Broadway Review: “Be More Chill”

It is difficult to separate “Be More Chill,” currently running The Irene Diamond Stage at The Pershing Square Signature Center, from the hype surrounding what has become a teenage cult musical since its 2015 run at the Two River Theater in Red Bank, New Jersey. This hype has been heightened by a cast recording and an extensive marketing campaign. What is this musical about and how successful is its current incarnation?

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Review: Rockwall Summer Musicals Presents “The Music Man”

Review:  Rockwall Summer Musicals Presents “The Music Man”

Rockwall Summer Musicals’ production of the cherished classic, The Music Man, directed by Barbara Doudt, transported a Dallas, Fort-Worth-area audience away from the complex demands of modern life to an era of simple, sincere pleasures through lively song and dance celebrating turn-of-the-century America. Through this production’s passionate jubilee, talented performers, both young and old, took us on a spirited journey to find redemption through acts of love and kindness.

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Review: “Don’t Reach in the Bag” at The Tank

Review: “Don’t Reach in the Bag” at The Tank

Porn.

Just the word alone invokes something dirty, kinky, and raunchy. Naturally, when hearing about a place such as a porn video store – back in the late-90s, when video stores were still a thing – one might think exactly how dirty could such a place potentially be, if they’ve never been inside one. Yet one new solo show which recently played at The Tank as part of the Speak Up, Rise Up festival this past week – Don’t Reach in the Bag – is here to show a more human side to the reality of what it’s like to work in such an environment.

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Review: "Mamma Mia" - International Tour(Toronto)

Review: "Mamma Mia" - International Tour(Toronto)

I must have been one of the rare and few individuals who did not see the original Toronto production of Mamma Mia when it played the first time in 2000 with Canadian chanteuse, Louise Pitre. Yes, I did listen to Abba’s music during my undergraduate years from the early 1980s, but life moves forward and we move away from music that we liked to other genres.

When I heard that a story had been created with Abba’s music that would open in London’s West End in 1999, the concept just did not appeal to me whatsoever. From what I recall, international reviews were favourable but I still had no desire to see it. When the original Toronto company premiered with Ms. Pitre, again still no interest.

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Review: "Who Killed Snow White?" at the 4th Line Theatre

Review: "Who Killed Snow White?" at the 4th Line Theatre

I’ve read several recent online articles about the value of the spontaneous standing ovation, and if it is now somewhat expected at the end of each play rather than earned by hard-working actors. Has the standing ‘O’ lost its’ impact because audience members simply jump to their feet since they either are friends of the cast or director and do not want to disappoint or offend anyone? I’ve noticed recently in some of the larger professional/semi/non-professional Toronto/GTA houses that, while I may have enjoyed a performance but felt it did not merit me standing, I’ve had to do it begrudgingly, so I can watch the actors take their earned bows.

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U.K. Review: "Waiting for Godot" at The Lyceum, Edinburgh International Festival 2018

U.K. Review: "Waiting for Godot" at The Lyceum, Edinburgh International Festival 2018

During this year's festival there are so many new productions, however, there is also a momentous amount of already existing plays/musicals being performed. It's difficult to pick from the varied catalogue of productions. Therefore, I decided to see a new production of the Samuel Beckett classic, Waiting for Godot, as even though I have performed snippets of this show, I have not seen the play performed in full.

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Review: “Perfect Teeth” at Theaterlab

Review: “Perfect Teeth” at Theaterlab

While not without its flaws, this play does a very fine job, in terms of exploring issues that are highly relevant, and for some theatergoers, perhaps all too relatable. It is bound to be a thought-provoking experience, and the climactic scenes are particularly potent moments that are impossible to keep your eye off of. Consider seeing it during its last few performances this week, and decide for yourself how successful it is at portraying these issues.

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Review: “Dick Pix” at Theaterlab

Review: “Dick Pix” at Theaterlab

According to statistics, a majority of millennial women have, at some point or another in their lives, received an unsolicited picture of someone’s penis on their phone. It was the frequency of the sending of these pictures, along with the narcissistic misogyny of the men who send them, which inspired "I Didn't Ask For This: A Lifetime of Dick Pics”, a 2016 art gallery filled with one woman’s over 200 unsolicited dick pics, which attracted a great deal of public attention, as one can easily imagine from such a concept. Each of these two realities – both the narcissism of the men sending this unwanted pictures, and the public’s never ending fascination with both the male and female genitalia – are well-reflected in Dick Pix, one of two new plays by Daniel McCoy currently playing at Theaterlab, which revolves around a somewhat similar gallery.

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Review: "Waitress" Appeals to Your Senses

  Joan Marcus

Joan Marcus

Jill Weinlein

  • Chief Los Angeles Theatre Critic

Immediately while walking into the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, I smelled the aroma of warm golden brown and flaky pie crust, with a sprinkle of cinnamon, burnt sugar and maybe hint of apple wafting through the air.

While taking a seat, I looked onstage and noticed the house curtain was a checkerboard of cherry pies. Appealing to my senses, I was excited to see the National Touring company of Waitress. The musical has been enjoying a two year run on Broadway, and now the all-female creative team has a National Touring Company in Hollywood until August 26, 2018.

The inspiration for Jessie Nelson’s book Waitress is based on the 2007 motion picture of the same name written by Adrienne Shelly. It’s also influenced by the writer’s experience serving customers food and coffee for 10 years before her writing, directing and producing career took off.

The Tony Award-winning director Diane Paulus (Hair, Pippin, Finding Neverland) does her best with this lively musical production about Jenna (Desi Oakley), a waitress and expert pie maker. We learn Jenna’s loving departed mother taught her everything she knows about dreaming up new pie recipes. Living in a small town, Jenna has a sisterhood with two other waitresses Becky (Charity Angel Dawson) and Dawn (Lenne Klingaman). She dreams of a better life than waitressing, maybe even opening her own pie shop one day.

Suffering in an abusive and loveless marriage, when she discovers she is pregnant, she doesn’t want “Earls Baby Pie” baking in her oven. Earl (Nick Bailey) wants his wife home, barefoot and baking pies. He is an insecure “Promise me you won’t love that baby, more than you love me” jerk. Bailey probably is a nice guy in person, but he sure knows how to play a loser onstage.

Almost like a “Mamma Mia!” plot, her two girlfriends help lift up Jenna’s spirits throughout the nine months.

What I found disturbing was Jenna’s relationship with her OB/GYN Dr. Pomatter (Bryan Fenkart). I wonder if other Los Angelenos were sensitive to their forbidden relationship, especially with the current scandal between USC female students and one of the University’s OB/GYN physicians. I would have been uncomfortable seeing this with my teenage daughter.

Memorable characters include taciturn short order cook Cal (Ryan G. Dunkin) amusingly shouting out “Put some hustle in your bustle” to his servers. His playful banter with Jenna softens a little more after a little loving with Becky.

The actor who gave it his all and won over the audience in his first scene is the hilarious, charming twinkle toes Ogie (Jeremy Morse). He sings, dances and recites spontaneous poetry, that has us belly laughing and applauding while he woos shy Dawn throughout the show.

Grumpy Joe (Larry Marshall) is the owner of Joe’s Pie Diner. He sees Jenna’s goodness and offers fatherly advice. He is her biggest fan, enjoying a daily slice of her “27 different types of pies, including breakfast pies, fruit and cream pies, and a new pie each day.”

The talented ensemble includes Skyler Adams, Law Terrell Dunford, Patrick Dunn, James Hogan, David Hughey, Arica Jackson, Kyra Kennedy, Emily Koch, Maiesha McQueen, Gerianne Perez, Grace Stockdale.

Nadia DiGiallonardo the music supervisor and arranger along with Sara Bareilles and the Waitress Band perform onstage throughout the show. Bareilles is a 6-time Grammy nominated singer and songwriter. Graduating from hometown UCLA, she also is a New York Times bestselling author. Waitress is her first Broadway show. Her group of pop and theatre singers, multi-instrumentalists, writers and producers include Rich Mercurio, Lee Nadel, Yair Evnine, Rich Hinman and Jamie Edwards.

My three favorite dance scenes by choreography Lorin Latarro (Les Dangereuse Liasons, Waiting for Godot) include the pregnancy stick number, Ogie and Dawn’s courtship and the spoon skit.

Scenic designer Scott Pask replicates a diner with counter, stools, kitchen and dining area. Within minutes the stage is changed to a doctor’s office, blue-collar apartment, and hospital delivery room. Lighting designer Ken Billington enhances the set with the prettiest sunsets along the back curtain.

Even though the show offers 19 entertaining songs, not one was memorable enough to hum on the way home. Both Oakley and Dawson have the strongest singing Broadway voices, yet the only song I could recall while walking out of the theatre was the echo of “Sugar.”

Let me tell you right now if you go to dinner before the show, don’t order dessert. Out in the lobby during intermission are little mason jars filled with apple and salted caramel pie. A salivating line of people wait patiently to get their pie fix for $10.

Waitress does a good job appealing to all of your senses with the smell of pies being warmed up, pies being made and eaten with sublime bliss. I just felt it was a little corny at times and a little too long.

The performance schedule for WAITRESS is Tuesday through Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm & 8pm, and Sunday at 1pm & 6:30pm. WAITRESS is recommended for ages 12 and up, especially with the OB/GYN office scenes. Tickets are available at www.HollywoodPantages.com/Waitress and www.Ticketmaster.com, by phone at (800) 982-2787 or in person at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre Box Office the it opens daily at 10am.

Review: Pocket Sandwich Theatre’s "Captain Blood"

Review:  Pocket Sandwich Theatre’s "Captain Blood"

Dallas’ intimate dinner theater venue, the Pocket Sandwich Theatre, recently served up a lively dish of sea-salty swashbuckling action with “Captain Blood-The Pirate Melodrama”.

This three-act comedic spoof play, written by one of the theatre’s late founding fathers, Joe Dickinson, and directed by Michael Speck, takes the audience on an energetic high sea swashbuckling adventure with lively song and dance, sword fights, and, of course, pirate mischief and romance.

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Review: "Propeller"at The Pleasance Courtyard during the Edinburgh Fringe

Review: "Propeller"at The Pleasance Courtyard during the Edinburgh Fringe

In this modern age, we see younger generations become disengaged with the world around them. Rather than focusing and talking about important issues, they would rather discuss who won Love Island, what the Kardashians named their latest child and boast about the latest snapchat filter. However, at the Edinburgh Fringe, the Scottish Drama Training Network’s ensemble have devised a brilliant piece of theatre with their director, Caitlin Skinner, which emphasizes that the younger generation should feel empowered to make a move if they feel dissatisfied on issues that matter to them. 

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Off-Broadway Review: PTP/NYC’s “The Possibilities” and “The After-Dinner Joke”

Off-Broadway Review: PTP/NYC’s “The Possibilities” and “The After-Dinner Joke”

PTP/NYC’s thirty-second season includes two plays by the company’s “usual suspects.” The double bill, currently running at Atlantic Stage 2, includes four of the ten short plays in Howard Barker’s 1987 “The Possibilities” and Caryl Churchill’s 1977 “The After-Dinner Joke.” Both offerings invite the audience to grapple with provocative content that often seems elusive and controversial and that raises numerous essential, enduring questions.

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Snaps to the Hawthorne Players “Legally Blonde: The Musical”

Snaps to the Hawthorne Players “Legally Blonde: The Musical”

The Hawthorne Players present “Legally Blonde: The Musical” at the Florissant Civic Center Theatre. The story follows the story of “Elle Woods” who gets scorned by her boyfriend and decides to change herself in order to win him back. That includes being admitted to Harvard Law school. The story is based off the film released in 2001, which is based off the novel by Amanda Brown also released in 2001.

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