Registered Critic: Leo Buck

With both the aim and professional motto being to bring readers: "Broadway, Theater and Entertainment news you’re NOT going to find in the pages of 'People Magazine' or 'Entertainment Weekly'," Leo has been covering various aspects of the Entertainment industry for close to two decades now. From DVD, film and theater reviews, to celebrity interviews, to book and restaurant reviews, and events designed for more mainstream as well as alternative tastes, Leo's pretty much handled it all for such publications as "The O.C. Blade", "4-Front", "Rage", "Gay Chicago", and "Camp Magazine" (in Kansas City) and even "N.O.W. Magazine" in the UK, and "Gay News Amsterdam" in the Netherlands. In addition, he served as the on-camera "Entertainment Correspondent" for two years on "The Gay News" broadcast via the internet television service, "Village TV". Six years ago he discovered this thing called the internet, establishing his on-line review column, "Buck-ing Trends". Since then he's been pleased to return to his first love of live theater--particularly musicals--where, on top of keeping local theater-goers informed, his new goal has been to demonstrate to as wide an audience as possible that the local Southern California theater scene is just as vibrant, creative, traditional, alive, and (at times) down right eclectic as any other major metropolitan area--including that world-famous Boulevard in New York City.
Jan

1776 THE MUSICAL

A thoroughly delightful “Semi-History” lesson through song, “1776” is most assuredly a brave and uncommon musical—but nonetheless entrancing (maybe for this very reason.) Not only does it put very human faces (along with some very human foibles) on to all those ‘august’ and ‘esteemed’ figures who fill the pages of our text books, they’re down-right entertaining ones at that!

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Dec

Jane Austen’s EMMA

Featuring an intelligent and exceedingly witty score from Tony-nominated Composer Paul Gordon, (who also provided the book,) his lyrics are blithe, bubbly, astute and amusing while remaining 100% true to Austen’s fundamental intent..in any case, few if any, previous versions capture the buoyant energy and unabashed fun as wonderfully as this new production now playing in Anaheim California!

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Nov

BRIGHT STAR

What’s in store is an authentic theatrical ‘discovery’ waiting to be discovered–even better, this new production in Long Beach surely makes it worth discovering! Yes, it can be an emotional, ‘larger-than-life’ rollercoaster ride at times, but it’s one you’ll be thrilled to be taken on.

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Oct

The Producers

Co-Directed by “One More Productions” Co-Founders, Nicole Cassesso and Damien Lorton (who also Co-Stars as the hyper has-been Impresario, “Max Bialystock”) the choreography comes gratis Shauna Bradford, Heather Smith and Allan Collins. Staying true to the show’s entire celebrated and storied reputation, their new production is, without a doubt, something to be totally enthralled by!

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Sep

She Loves Me

Branda Lock’s Direction plays toward the many laughs the script gives rise to—often by means of the downright clever way more than a few of the numbers are staged. By the same token, many of the most discerning “laughs” or ‘make you think” moments are left understated, which ironically gives them even greater impact; “It’s Incandescent!” (–and like some adolescent) YOU’LL want to scrawl on every wall you see: You’ll LOVE “She Loves Me”!

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Jul

Hello, Dolly!

Calling on the talents of twenty-nine supremely adept performers, their collective enterprise and abilities all aid immeasurably in making this “Hello, Dolly!” a genuinely blithe, boisterous, and buoyant bit of convivial craziness from the basic, precursory notes of the overture to the final bows. (They also remind us exactly why audiences have loved this show for the last 60 years!)

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Jun

Newsies

Forget the movie! Fierstein’s book is exciting and even considerably moving at turns; Yet if there was one ‘take away” from this particular production (although in truth there are indeed many,) it would be what incredible dancing this live theatrical reworking can boast (even the scene changes are thrillingly choreographed!)

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Mar

Little Women, the Musical

Boasting a bevy of splendid performances and brimming with lots of catchy tunes (—quite a few genuinely moving,) Howland and Dickstein’s score offers one rousing number after another, while Knee’s book hits on all the most memorable “chapters” from this cherished and time-tested story, with the best moments often being those that sneak up on you. Indeed, this new production at “The Morgan-Wixson Theatre” could practically define the term “Handsome”, and we’re told that Anne Gesling’s main aim as Director was to find, furnish, and explore the ‘truth” in Alcott’s iconic story and characters, and in this regard she and everyone involved have succeeded wonderfully!

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Feb

Bullets Over Broadway

This fun and funny, feel-good frolic features a book that is quintessentially “Woody Allen”–seasoned with witty sight gags, stage-bits, and one-liners–each better than the one that came before, making it one of the funniest musical librettos in recent memory. Likewise, the score—comprised of genuine songs of the 1920’s and early 30’s offers one great tune after another—not to mention some even greater reprises!

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Jan

Cabaret

Far richer, vaster and more nuanced than the 1972 Academy Award-winning film, this 1998 revival script utilized for this production explores more facets of its characters and the explosive times in which they live, granting spectators a more thought-provoking (and much more satisfying) theatrical experience. Carpenter’s direction frequently takes advantage of these added elements—even re-imagining several numbers in a whole new light.

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Dec

The Secret Garden

Brimming with sumptuous melodies, baronial choreography, and a heartwarming story of faith, forgiveness, and renewal, this elegant new production is the perfect panacea to squelch any rumblings of your inner-cynic, while warming the heart, soul, and psyche; it’s the gift you should be giving yourself this year!

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Nov

deLEARious

Although a piece as elaborate as “King Lear” is not the easiest thing to musicalize, nonetheless, the show’s creators have enviably managed to do just that conjuring copious amounts of bold-faced glee, while still staying amazingly true to the source material; by the same token, they present a story you may have presumed you knew in a side-splitting new light!

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Oct

This Land

Ms. Ordaz has constructed an intricate jigsaw puzzle of a plot with a copious array of layers—but it all becomes crystal clear by the closing scene which brings everything brilliantly full-circle! Along the way, we’re introduced to a plethora of rich, complex, and varied characters who encompass a multitude of cultures and ethnicities.

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Oct

Cabaret

Were there ever any doubt, “One More Productions” validates its worthiness to be counted among So Cal’s “Big League” theater companies with this outstanding–and astounding new production…so ‘come hear the band, come blow that horn–start celebrating! (Right this way, your table’s waiting’!)

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Sep

Ain’t Misbehavin’

Director Ken Page has the Midas touch as regards his complete understanding of this riveting time and the material that sprang from it, and he deftly applies this knowledge liberally with a tremendous outcome.

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Aug

Arsenic and Old Lace

Who’d ever think that Murder and Whimsy could go so well together? A silly, sinister—and always satisfying slice of satire, there’s giggles and guffaws galore ripe for the taking courtesy of “The Odyssey Theatre Ensemble”!

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Aug

Spamalot

Original “Pythoner” Eric Idle has deftly managed to set all the inherent nuttiness and over-the-top comedy of “Python’s” humor to music, while also sending-up many of the standard conventions of modern Broadway musicals in their own right. Consistently demonstrating electrifying energy and a contagious brand of enjoyment, it’s apparent that 3-D Theatricals’ multi-talented cast are all having an incredible time up there, so the audience can’t help but to have one too!

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Jul

PARADE

While admittedly, not a show for those who prefer that their musical entertainments promote more ‘light-hearted’ and easily-digested sentiments, for mature theater enthusiasts who yearn for thoroughly compelling, thought-provoking fare, “The Chance Theater’s ’ latest is well worth the trip.

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Jun

Oklahoma!

Dawson’s direction attempts to add gravitas and deeper relevance to this musical-romance—What’s more, it should be noted that the Director’s point isn’t so much that any issues raised here necessarily get resolved here—but rather that we, as the audience, see them in a different and weightier light; concrete resolutions and/or conclusions he leaves up to our own individual acumen.

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Jun

MAN OF LA MANCHA

Director Casale has astutely packed his cast with some genuinely astonishing talents—vocally and dramatically. In addition, his direction bestows on us a more earthy and realistic production than has been seen recently, while making terrific use of humor to create greater relatability between his characters and the audience.

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