Review: "WITNESS UGANDA" - A Rocking Documentary Musical at The Wallis

Review: "WITNESS UGANDA" - A Rocking Documentary Musical at The Wallis

Winston Churchill in his 1908 book “My African Journey” said Uganda is the Pearl of Africa. After watching Witness Uganda at The Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts, I declare this musical is a sparking diamond onstage.

The energy and music reminds me of the award-winning 90s rock musical RENT. Instead of watching impoverished young and creative artists struggle under the shadows of HIV in New York City, I watched a group of teens and children in Uganda orphaned by AIDS, and how one man’s life changes forever by helping them.

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Review: Julia Sweeney is Older, Wider and Wonderful

Review: Julia Sweeney is Older, Wider and Wonderful

Opening night at the Geffen Playhouse of “Julia Sweeney: Older and Wider” I didn’t recognize the beloved 90s Saturday Night Live superstar, as she walked out onstage dressed in black pants, shirt and shoes.

The friendly comedian who created and brought the androgynous character “Pat” to life on SNL, is older.  Her hair has turned gray and she is a tad wider, however within two minutes, this raw and vulnerable woman sparkles onstage with joy and giddiness performing in the small and intimate Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater.

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Review: Hollywood’s HELLO, DOLLY! is a Show Stopper

Review: Hollywood’s HELLO, DOLLY! is a Show Stopper

Walking up to the front of the Hollywood Pantages Theatre, I noticed a sparkly tiara and bouquet of red roses with petals scattered around Carol Channing’s star. Channing who passed away on January 15, 2019 was the quintessential Dolly Gallagher Levi in the musical “Hello, Dolly!” She brought Dolly to life over 5,000 times.

I remember seeing the Tony Award winning actress perform the role at the Hollywood Pantages when I was a young girl. About seven years ago, I saw her again dining with friends at Culina inside the Four Seasons Beverly Hills. She received the same adoration from the servers at the restaurant, as she did onstage.

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Review: "An Inspector Calls" at The Wallis

Review: "An Inspector Calls" at The Wallis

The entertaining J.B. Priestley whodunit historical thriller “An Inspector Calls” enlightens  Beverly Hills audiences thanks to Paul Crewes, the Artistic Director at The Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts. He invited director Stephen Daldry and his touring production to perform for an exclusive West Coast engagement through February 10, 2019.

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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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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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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: "A Bronx Tale" at Hollywood Pantages Theatre

Review: "A Bronx Tale" at Hollywood Pantages Theatre

Broadway’s coming of age hit A Bronx Tale is filled with exciting choreography by Tony Award nominees Sergio Trujillo (On Your Feet and Jersey Boys). The toe-tapping numbers and catchy musical tunes by Oscar, Grammy, and Tony Award winner Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast, Little Shop of Horrors and The Little Mermaid), and lyrics by Grammy Award winner and Oscar and Tony Award nominee Glenn Slater (School of Rock, The Little Mermaid and Sister Act) lend to its success. Directed by two-time Oscar winner Robert De Niro and four-time Tony Award winner Jerry Zaks, A BRONX TALE has the audience walking out of the Pantages smiling.

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Review: New Stage Adaptation of “Murder on the Orient Express” Stops at La Mirada

Review: New Stage Adaptation of “Murder on the Orient Express” Stops at La Mirada

Perhaps one of the most well-known detective mysteries ever published, Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” essentially became the subconscious blueprint for similar whodunnit stories that came after, particularly those that involve a confined room full of plausible suspects that are all under investigation by a brilliant sleuth.

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Review: Musical Theatre West presents Regional Premiere of Endearingly Powerful Musical "Bright Star"

Review: Musical Theatre West presents Regional Premiere of Endearingly Powerful Musical "Bright Star"

Unless your heart is as cold as ice, "Bright Star" will handily win you over right from the start, then make you emotional, and then even later, embrace you tightly in a great big bear hug, as if to ensure you that even in the bleakest of situations, there is always a bright light in the distance that can guide you to where you need to be.

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Review: "Dear Evan Hansen" at the Ahmanson Theatre

Review: "Dear Evan Hansen" at the Ahmanson Theatre

The cast is splendid in their roles and the songs soar filling the entire theatre, yet the story line fails at the end with its weak consequence for such a selfish plot by a teenage boy. While creating an important role for himself to feel a sense of belonging, the boy gets girl and then loses girl, disappoints many because of his dishonest actions.

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Review: “VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE” Brings Sibling Hilarity to South Coast Repertory

Review: “VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE” Brings Sibling Hilarity to South Coast Repertory

Shocking it is to admit, my personal familiarity with the classic works of playwright Anton Chekhov is basically slim to none.

Thank goodness my lack of knowledge of his library of theatrical plays and fictional stories didn't prevent me from enjoying Christopher Durang's wildly hilarious, Chekhov-inspired “VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE,” a modern-set play that won the Tony Award for Best Play back in 2013. Apparently filled with casual allusions to past Chekhov works—from character names and one-off references to thematic motifs—the play does offer, at its core, a laugh-a-minute comedy about a dysfunctional trio of siblings trying to face the apparently troubling onset of middle age…and the possibility that they may not have done enough in their lives to deem it a satisfactory one.

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Review: OC's Chance Theater Presents Intense Drama “THE OTHER PLACE”

Review: OC's Chance Theater Presents Intense Drama “THE OTHER PLACE”

In award-winning playwright Sharr White's intriguing 2011 psychological drama “THE OTHER PLACE,” the play's compelling central figure, 52-year-old laboratory scientist turned drug company marketing exec Juliana Smithton, narrates her own fascinating story directly for the audience.

At first, she is introduced with the poise and prominence of a seasoned TED Talk orator, with even hints of a sharp stand-up comic that's adept at self-effacing observations and commanding an audience of drunken doctors. It certainly makes sense, considering it seems to be what she does for a living, at least for the moment: getting up on stage in front of medical conventions and neurological conferences near and far to pitch her revolutionary miracle treatment to attendees in the same way Tony Robbins, Suze Orman, or even Oprah or Dr. Phil might address a room.

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Review: "The Cake" at the Geffen Playhouse

Review: "The Cake" at the Geffen Playhouse

Walking into the smaller Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater inside the Geffen Playhouse, I admired Peter Hickok’s set for The Cake. It was so detailed that I thought I was walking into a soundstage to watch a taping of the Cake Wars baking show. The Tiffany blue walls and bright pink bakery counter were pleasing to the eye, and the two bedrooms on either side of the bakery lent an air of intrigue.

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Review: South Coast Repertory Presents Charming Stage Adaptation of “SENSE AND SENSIBILITY”

Review: South Coast Repertory Presents Charming Stage Adaptation of “SENSE AND SENSIBILITY”

To kick off its 55th Season, Orange County's Tony Award-winning regional theater South Coast Repertory is presenting a charming new stage adaptation of the Jane Austen literary classic “SENSE AND SENSIBILITY,” which continues performances in Costa Mesa through September 29.

Winningly likable with plenty of sharp wits and appealing characters, this admirable stage iteration—adapted by UK playwright Jessica Swale and directed here by Casey Stangl—reacquaints audiences with the seemingly erratic and emotionally taxing task of landing a suitable mate in late 18th Century/early 19th Century England.

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Review: "Black" at the Zephyr Theatre

Review: "Black" at the Zephyr Theatre

Sitting in the Zephyr Theatre to watch a touching one-man show by British playwright, actor and storyteller Michael Washington Brown, I felt as if I was attending a Black Studies class at a local college.

With a simple set, this multimedia experience is enhanced with images and music as Brown examines race from a global perspective. The curriculum includes a study of black history, music, sociology, and psychology.

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Review: "The Untranslatable Secrets of Nikki Corona" at the Geffen Playhouse

Review: "The Untranslatable Secrets of Nikki Corona" at the Geffen Playhouse

Screenwriter and playwright José Rivera (over 26 plays and an Academy Award nominated Motorcycle Diaries) wrote “The Untranslatable Secrets of Nikki Corona” with an interesting story line about death and communicating with loved ones in the afterlife. In the Playbill, Rivera was interviewed by Rachel Wiegardt-Egel about his inspiration for the play. About ten years ago, while looking through Harper’s Magazine, he noticed a company whose service was to connect people who are dying, with people who want to send a message to the other side. This fascinated him, and soon he began writing a creative play about exploring the afterlife where untranslatable secrets are told.

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