Review: “The Mortality Machine” at Wildrence

Review: “The Mortality Machine” at Wildrence

How deep will you dig to find out the truth about your loved ones?

In a completely immersive experience, “The Mortality Machine” takes you through a laboratory After an illegal experiment caused five deaths, authorities quickly covered it up before loved ones could get any information. Now, five years later, the lab is finally open for inspection. Groups of friends and family of the five victims are gathered together to hopefully get some closure and some answers. Though what follows may raise more questions than it answers…

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Review: “1776,” America’s Tuneful Origin Story Gets Vibrant New Staging at La Mirada Theatre

Review: “1776,” America’s Tuneful Origin Story Gets Vibrant New Staging at La Mirada Theatre

As of the writing (and perhaps publishing) time of this review, the United States government, mere weeks into 2019, continues to be shut down—an unfortunate by-product of our current combative, unwilling-to-compromise political climate that’s more about the attainment (and retainment) of party power rather than the actual pursuit of overall prosperity and goodness of the country. In the midst of these troubling times, what hardly no one can argue against, though, is the fact that thousands of livelihoods are now being negatively and perilously affected by this mess, and that, hopefully, a resolution happens very soon rather than much, much later.

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Review: "After the Fire" at The Theatre Centre

Review:  "After the Fire" at The Theatre Centre

Award winning Albertan playwright Matthew MacKenzie enjoys a recent successful run of his production of Bears, a foray into the politics of oil pipelines in our country.  With After the Fire, MacKenzie examines an equally large topic with the Fort MacMurray fires of 2015 and their devastating costs, both human and environmental.  The fires were the costliest disaster in terms of resources that Canada has seen.  Political and societal implications were vast – from South African “volunteers” on strike to a prime minister bent on pride.  Mr. MacKenzie has chosen a very wide issue that fragments into many sub-strata.

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Review: 'Craving For Travel' with Dark Horse Theatre Company

Review: 'Craving For Travel' with Dark Horse Theatre Company

In my experience, true theatre magic doesn’t come in huge auditoriums or expensive venues. It comes from small rooms or meeting spaces. Such was the case for Craving For Travel presented by Dark Horse Theatre Company. From the moment you enter the venue (a historic church), you are engrossed in a sense of community and love of the theatre. The show follows a hectic day by two rivaling travel agents (once married to each other) and the interactions they have throughout the day. The fun part is that only two actors are on stage, playing the agents and everyone they come in contact with. This leads to hilarity and entertainment for the audience.

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Review: "We Are Not Alone" with 2B Theatre Company

Review: "We Are Not Alone" with 2B Theatre Company

Do I believe that extra-terrestrial beings can exist? Do any of us believe they might exist?

About fifteen minutes into his riveting monologue performance, Damien Atkins asks us by a show of hands how many of us believe in this possibility and how many of us are still not convinced. I did raise my hand in support of other worldly life could possibly exist. Notice I’m not saying ‘does exist’ because I’m not certain of that fact.

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Review: "1979" at Berkeley Downstairs Theatre

Review: "1979" at Berkeley Downstairs Theatre

Joe who?

For most Canadians, it was a blink of an eye in remembering a naively thirty-nine-year-old Joe Clark’s tenure as the 16th Prime Minister of Canada from June 4, 1979 – March 3, 1980. I was just finishing high school and can recall the turmoil in which our country found itself during this time, but I really had no interest in that political spectrum as all my thoughts were turned to beginning post secondary education.

I wish now that I had paid closer attention to said events as they were comically played out to audience delight and standing ovation in Michael Healey’s superb comedy ‘1979’ now on stage at the Berkeley Street Theatre.

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Off-Broadway Review: “I’m Not A Comedian . . . I’m Lenny Bruce”

Off-Broadway Review: “I’m Not A Comedian . . . I’m Lenny Bruce”

The first image after the lights come up on stage is a slumped over, motionless, naked man sitting on a toilet. What follows is a silence that fills the room and becomes a force that provokes processing this scene. There might be the assumption that this is not a comedy. That would be a good guess, since the subject matter of “I’m Not a Comedian . . . I’m Lenny Bruce,” currently enjoying a successful run at The Cutting Room, is the tragic life of the outrageous, groundbreaking comedian. Yes, there are snippets from his more familiar routines to provide a glimpse into what was considered obscene during his heyday in the turbulent decade of the 1960s. His act complimented a society filled with protests and marches, supporting civil rights and denouncing war, proving Lenny Bruce was a performer that took to the stage intentionally to become a fierce advocate for free speech. He was arrested several times and charged with public obscenity for the shocking language he used in his routines that scoffed race, religion, sex, and politics. This one-man show is testament that his stand-up comedy was more abrasive than funny and reinforces the power of words. Mr. Bruce exposed the hypocrisy of humanity in such an unconventional style that his audience was shocked and humored at the same time.

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REVIEW: ‘KIVIUQ RETURNS: AN INUIT EPIC’

REVIEW: ‘KIVIUQ RETURNS: AN INUIT EPIC’

‘Kiviuq Returns: An Inuit Epic’ is a creative-collection performance of drumming, song, story-telling and movement based on the legends of the Inuit hero Kiviuq, as remembered by Inuit elders: Miriam Aglukkaq (from Kugaarjuk), Susan Avingaq (from Igloolik), Madeleine Ivalu (from Igloolik), and Qaunaq Mikigak (from Kinngait). There is an English language descriptive guide in the program and online that I would recommend future audiences to read in order to develop further insight of the play.

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Review: "Frankenstein" – Manual Cinema at Under the Radar Festival at The Public

Review: "Frankenstein" – Manual Cinema at Under the Radar Festival at The Public

Worried about the fate of live performance or cinema in this digital age? Run to see Frankenstein at The Public’s Under the Radar Festival this month and you’ll be shouting, “It lives!!”

Adapted from the novel of the same name by Mary Shelley, Frankenstein turns the anatomy of a play inside out in a unique amalgamation of shadow puppetry, cinematic techniques, sound, and live music. Interwoven stories of Mary Shelley, Victor Frankenstein, and his Monster unfold before one’s eyes in a 97-minute spectacle of nonverbal, unadulterated marvel in which actors and technicians are one entity, seamlessly transitioning between a multitude of characters and multimedia platforms to tell the story. Three playing areas exist comprised of live feed cameras, lights, projecting screens, and puppets that allow Manual Cinema to manually create a sort of live movie projected on one giant screen above center stage.

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Off-Broadway Review: “Blue Ridge”

Off-Broadway Review: “Blue Ridge”

Abby Rosebrock introduces an interesting mélange of broken characters in her new play “Blue Ridge” currently running at Atlantic Theater Company’s Linda Gross Theater. She drops these six disparate “recovering” personalities into the vortex of a Christian halfway house in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina. Pastor Hern (a cagey but caring Chris Stack) and his partner Grace (a sincere and dedicated Nicole Lewis) run the place and come to the enterprise with their own baggage. Their twelve-step-type program includes daily Bible study, meditation, community service, and help securing required employment.

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Review: “The Second City Guide to the Symphony”

Review:  “The Second City Guide to the Symphony”

What do you get when you cross the diverse talents of a top-tier improv comedy troupe with a world-class symphony orchestra? You get a dynamic and entertaining performance which peels back the thin veneer of stuffiness and intellectual snobbery associated with the symphony to reveal the rich textures of humanity beneath.

In “The Second City Guide to the Symphony,” conductor Case Scaglione paired the superb musical talent of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (DSO) with comedic powerhouses from Second City. Together, they delivered a performance which carved out distinctive and uniquely-entertaining territory equally appealing to both classical music buffs and improv comedy fans alike.

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My Top 5 Touring and Original Productions in LA/Orange County of 2018

My Top 5 Touring and Original Productions in LA/Orange County of 2018

All that hype and endless accolades and awards? Completely justified. A work of genius from start to finish “HAMILTON” will certainly go down in history not only for its incredible music and storytelling but also for its purposeful vision of depicting America's past with the faces of America's present.

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Broadway Review: “Network”

Broadway Review: “Network”

When Howard Beale (a tortured yet determined Bryan Cranston) first admonishes his listeners to get out of their chairs, go their widows, stick out their heads and yell, “I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore,” the audience at the Belasco Theatre erupts with a nostalgia that since the 1976 release of Paddy Chayefsky’s “Network” has morphed into a current state of being: an irrepressible rage about the state of the world, particularly about the current political environment. The satire in Chayefsky’s iconic film transfers well to Lee Hall’s adaptation currently running at the Belasco.

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Review: "Love Actually Live" at the Wallis

Review: "Love Actually Live" at the Wallis

For an enchanting holiday experience that will have you clapping and singing in your seats, “Love Actually Live” at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts will lift your spirits.

As soon as the show opened on December 4, it started getting a favorable buzz. Celebrities Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson sat in the row in front of my daughter and me, as we watched 16 talented musicians and the all-star cast perform. The show begins with a bang as the ensemble march down the stairs and appear next to audience members singing “Love Actually Is All Around.”

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Review: “The Russian and the Jew” at The Tank

 Review: “The Russian and the Jew” at The Tank

For some younger theatergoers, it could be easy to forget how during the dark days of the Cold War in the 1960s, many Soviet citizens feared the state tyranny and suppression of faith that existed in that era, and sought to escape to the United States in a manner that isn’t all too different from the refugees fleeing countries like Syria and Yemen today. What’s still easy for many people to forget today is that these migrants have deeply personal (and often tumultuous) stories that they are often taking with them. That’s exactly what “The Russian and the Jew”, the latest production to be showcased at The Tank, seems to be aiming to remind us.

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Review: “The Fantastical, Dangerous Journey of Q” at the 14th Street Y

Review: “The Fantastical, Dangerous Journey of Q” at the 14th Street Y

Toward the beginning of this year, I had the pleasure of seeing a sci-fi themed solo-show geared for young audiences about caring for the environment entitled “Constellarium”. It was just the latest outing from educational theatre company Rebel Playhouse, the brainchild of actor/producer Clara Kundin. Given , after receiving an invite to their latest production: The premiere of Ric Averill’s “The Fantastical, Dangerous Journey of Q”. Thankfully, I was not disappointed.

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