Review: "Miss Saigon" - National Tour (Los Angeles)

Review: "Miss Saigon" - National Tour (Los Angeles)

Cameron Mackintosh’s Broadway revival of “Miss Saigon” opened on Thursday, July 19 at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre. This version is especially poignant as Americans daily read and watch the political refugee crisis, as desperate people flee violence in Central America and other countries under our current administration.

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Review: "The Play That Goes Wrong" at the Ahmanson Theatre

Review: "The Play That Goes Wrong" at the Ahmanson Theatre

What I enjoyed about “The Play That Goes Wrong” by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields of Mischief Theatre Company is that it’s a play within a play. We are sitting in the audience watching “The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society" perform their newest murder mystery “The Murder at Haversham Manor.”

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Review: "Invisible Tango" at the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater

Review: "Invisible Tango" at the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater

Go see the one man show “Invisible Tango” starring Portuguese storyteller and master card illusionist Helder Guimarães­ premiers at the Geffen Playhouse. Under the direction of Frank Marshall, the performer shares his personal perspective of experiencing serendipity through telling a story about the occurrence and development of events.

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Review: "The Scale of Dreams: The Music of Claude Debussy"

Review: "The Scale of Dreams: The Music of Claude Debussy"

Hershey Felder has brought to life everyone from Beethoven to Irving Berlin in his biographical musicals. Currently at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, he takes audiences on his own personal journey, while exploring the life and music of Impressionist composer Claude Debussy.

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Review: 'Falsettos' is Full of Love and Loss

Review: 'Falsettos' is Full of Love and Loss

There are a lot of things I liked about the Tony Award-winning musical “Falsettos,” now at The Ahmanson Theatre. I fully understand why it was nominated for five 2017 Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical, however at almost three hours long, with 37 songs by composer/lyricist William Finn and playwright and director James Lapine it needs to be cut down to 120 minutes for this LA audience.

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Review: Renée Taylor sharing her 'MY LIFE ON A DIET'

Review: Renée Taylor sharing her 'MY LIFE ON A DIET'

Last night I laughed throughout the autobiographical comedy by Academy Award nominated and Emmy Award winning writer and actress Renée Taylor. Written by Taylor and her late husband Joseph Bologna, this one-woman show MY LIFE ON A DIET was originally directed by Bologna, and made its New York premiere in 2018. With such critical acclaim, Taylor’s show was extended to run Off-Broadway at the Theatre at St. Clements and now has embarked on a national tour. In November of last year, the show won the annual United Solo Special Award for their significant contributions to solo theater during the year. 

Currently in the intimate Lovelace Studio Theater at the Wallis Annenberg Center, the set by Harry Feiner is decorated with muted animal skin rugs, a large projection screen, a fancy desk and chair where Ms. Taylor sits at during most of the show.

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Review: 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' is a Winner!

Review: 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' is a Winner!

There are so many winning elements to the hit Broadway touring musical, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, now at the Pantages Theatre. First the show’s music by Grammy, Emmy and Tony Award winner Marc Shaiman, and lyrics by Grammy and Tony Award winners Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman. Besides familiar toe-tapping songs "Pure Imagination," "The Candy Man," songs, new-to-Broadway includes “A Letter from Charlie Bucket.”

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Review: "Black Super Hero Magic Mama" Isn’t Perfect

Review: "Black Super Hero Magic Mama" Isn’t Perfect

The world premiere of the wildly theatrical Black Super Hero Magic Mama tackles real life social injustice with fantasy comic book super heroes. Playwright Ida Craig-Galvan tries to instill humor into a tragic event, yet it gets lost in its execution.

She wrote this piece during her second year in grad school about a grieving black mother after watching Tamir Rice’s mother on television. Seeing her sadness and helplessness, she wrote about a similar experience and how the mother goes into a magical fantasy world as a coping mechanism

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Review: 'Lacawanna Blues' is a Moving Musical Montage

Review: 'Lacawanna Blues' is a Moving Musical Montage

Taking my seat during the opening night of Lackawanna Blues, two women named Pam and Sally sat down next to me. They started talking about their friend, writer, performer and director Ruben Santiago-Hudson. They shared with me how Pam is Ruben’s publicist, and that the first reading of Lackawanna Blues was in the living room of Sally’s home. Later I discovered I was sitting next to actress Sally Struthers and her publicist and good friend Pam Sharp.

Ruben’s deeply personal musical montage began with a spotlight shining on Grammy Award-winning blues guitarist, composer, and performer Chris Thomas King. While strumming his guitar, another spot illuminates Ruben standing in front of a brick boarding house with the number 32 above the doorway.

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Review: "Canyon" at Los Angeles Theatre Center

Review: "Canyon" at Los Angeles Theatre Center

Walking into the intimate theatre at Los Angeles Theatre Center to see Jonathan Caren’s newest play ‘Canyon’, I admired the three-sided thrust stage allowing the audience greater intimacy to see and hear the actors onstage.

The majority of the show takes place on a raised wooden deck with potted plants, a bench, an outdoor table and chairs. Scenic designers Daniel Soule and Ryan Wilbat include a stairway leading up to the house of Jake (Adam Shapiro) and Beth (Christine Woods), a 30+ white couple living the American Dream. They recently bought their first home with the money left to Jake from his deceased father. Beth is newly pregnant and the bread winner, working as a doctor at County hospital. The time is during the 2016 Presidential elections, and Beth mentions donating to the Hillary campaign.

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Review: "CATS" Lacks its Magic

Review: "CATS" Lacks its Magic

I was so excited to take my teenage daughter to see CATS at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. CATS was a Broadway sensation for over 18 years and the fourth-longest running show in Broadway history.

The first time I saw the musical was in the 1980s. Based on Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot and music by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, I shared some of my favorite “memories” of the show with my daughter while driving to the theater. Director Trevor Nunn and lighting designer Natasha Katz excitedly open the show with a multitude of large green cat eyes prowling up and down the aisle before they prance upon the dimly lit stage.

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Review: “Lights Out: Nat ‘King’ Cole” at the Geffen Playhouse

Review: “Lights Out: Nat ‘King’ Cole” at the Geffen Playhouse

Velvety voice Dulé Hill portrays Nat “King Cole during the last night of his televised variety show in Lights Out: Nat “King Cole at the Geffen Playhouse.

Taking my seat before the show, I admired Clint Ramos and Ryan Howell’s 50s style television sound stage set with “applause” and “on-air” boxes high up. We feel as if we are part of a studio audience. Musicians David Witham (Conductor/Keyboards), Greg Poree (Guitar), Edwin Livingston (Bass) and Brian Miller (Drums/ Percussion/ Orchestra Conductor) warm up before the show begins.

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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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