Ellen Dostal (BroadwayWorld, Musicals in LA, Shakespeare in LA: Ellen Dostal is a Senior Editor and longtime writer for BroadwayWorld's Los Angeles region. A self-professed musical theatre geek, she also publishes two popular Southern California theatre blogs – Musicals in LA and Shakespeare in LA – and has covered the performing arts community, jazz, and classical music for KJazz 88.1 FM and K-Mozart 1260 AM. She is also the LA Show writer for TheThreeTomatoes.com, the Insider’s Guide for women who aren’t kids.

Ellen graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a Bachelor of Music in Performance and is also an award-winning morning show host of the now-defunct radio station KRKI in Estes Park, CO. As a founding member of New Musicals Inc.’s repertory company, she has developed roles in countless new works, many of which have been produced regionally and in New York.

DELEARIOUS review

The production contains three storylines in three different time periods twisted together in a fast-paced, boisterous style that was an award-winning hit for the company in 2008. Nine years later, it still packs in more story than you can possibly keep straight but it also offers up plenty of laughs to go along with it….The jokes are hit-and-miss, as are the performances, but the cast plows through with so much enthusiasm that the fun is infectious regardless of the show's shortcomings.

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KAIDAN review

…an immersive theatrical ghost story as artistically beautiful and complex as it is otherworldly…Everything about it is unpredictable, from the design of the space, and how you move through it, to the way they have adapted an ancient Japanese form of storytelling and turned it into a fascinating adventure into the unknown.

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CAPTAIN GREEDY’S CARNIVAL - A MUSICAL NIGHTMARE review

Program notes by the playwright say the songs and concept came first with the book following, which explains the episodic nature of the piece. It isn’t always easy to create a compelling arc when you write a plot to connect existing songs and that’s the case here. It was workshopped with the company before this world premiere but, even after its developmental phase, it feels like a work in progress. Missing is the precision that has made past Actors’ Gang productions so effective. Instead, scenes are sloppily executed, choreography is haphazard, and actors repeatedly mumble or flub their lines. The whole thing ends up feeling like a class exercise still finding its beats.

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OUR TOWN review

This co-production by Deaf West Theatre and Pasadena Playhouse is distinct in that it accomplishes the daunting task of telling a familiar story in a new way without betraying the playwright's original intent. With a cast that includes both deaf and hearing actors, it actively engages the audience, asking it to look at the play with fresh eyes. The integration of American Sign Language adds a sturdiness to the characters in a very physical way, creating a level of communication that makes for beautiful storytelling.

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MASTER CLASS review

Garry Marshall Theatre's elegantly crafted production of MASTER CLASS is a gorgeous example of pairing the right actor with the right play at the right moment in a theatre's evolution. Callas says one must know one's assets in order to create art. Rest assured they do here...Hennesy reveals a sensitivity to the material that makes this one of the most striking performances of the 2017 theatre season.

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WICKED LIT 2017 review

... unlike any other kind of theatre or Halloween event you’ve ever seen, impressive both in its artistry and in its creativity. Go once and you’re hooked. Go twice and you’ll be a WickLit-er for life…For the living, Wicked Lit offers an unforgettable chance to experience decadent entertainment in a drop-dead surreal setting. This year is their best yet.”

THOTH’S LABYRINTH: “Darin Anthony directs the piece at a pace that increases in urgency as each discovery is made. Lit mainly by the actors’ flashlights, and some well-placed smoke and murky accent lighting, it is the first time the mausoleum has been used in this particular way and it is incredibly exciting.”

THE DAMNED THING “Hold onto your senses because this one has an extended effect in it that seems impossible to orchestrate and is so otherworldly you can’t believe they actually pulled it off. Translation: it’s really cool.”

THE OPEN DOOR: “[Paul] Millet chooses audience vantage points at unusual angles that serve the story well. One of the best is watching the action from the concrete walkway above as the characters move through the garden area below. Lighting, and special effects, for all three plays is more intricate and carries an even bigger impact than in previous productions. The textures and moving parts in this story are particularly stunning.

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HONKY TONK LAUNDRY review

[Roger] Bean’s book is appropriately hokey, with predictable outcomes that leave the audience on a rousing high but there are times the show needs to shake its cliché-ridden writing or risk feeling dated. Both the full-blown stage show in the second act and its earlier first act set-up share a likable goofiness and folksy charm. Comic bits with audience participation work well in the Hudson’s intimate theater configuration as does James Vásquez’s classic country and western choreography. Bean’s staging is active and well-calibrated for both the space and the needs of the characters.

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HERSHEY FELDER'S "OUR GREAT TCHAIKOVSKY" review

Our Great Tchaikovsky’s run has already been extended a week longer than originally scheduled at The Wallis, due to high demand for tickets. I’m not surprised. The artistic consideration that has gone into the piece, together with Felder’s personal storytelling style, makes it an incredibly satisfying and tragically enlightening experience. Those who go to the theatre looking for a great story will find one here. For the classically inclined, Felder’s mastery at the piano will remind you why you love the music. And if you’re in search of art with a message that matters, this is your ticket.

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OKLAHOMA! review

There is an unparalleled thrill that occurs when a director takes a well-known musical like Oklahoma! and finds what others have missed, especially when it was there all along. T.J. Dawson’s thoughtful undertaking of the search to answer the question, “Why Oklahoma! and why now?” proves classic productions can be as significant today as when they were first written. It’s all in how you see it.

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LONDON CALLING review

As a longtime fan of The Clash, I really wanted this musical to succeed, but the ten years invested in creating it has not produced a strong, cohesive production. The program says, “The lyrics of the songs are the dialog, they propel the story forward...” Sorry, they don’t. In some cases they might, if you could hear them, but the show is run by a sound engineer from the house who doesn’t seem to notice his singers can’t be heard. They are also singing to pre-recorded tracks, which feels disingenuous when you’re watching a show about a band if the audience never gets to see them perform. We’re meant to take them at their word when they say they are brilliant but they never actually play together onstage. Show us, don’t tell us. It’s much more powerful storytelling.

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