Frances Baum Nicholson has spent over thirty-five years as a theatrical critic for Los Angeles suburban newspapers, beginning in the late 70s with the Altadena Chronicle (which, after her time there, became the Pasadena Weekly). In 1982 she began writing for the Pasadena Star-News. With its purchase by what is now the Southern California Newspaper Group, her reviews began to appear in several of their other papers as well. In June of 2011 she also began posting reviews on her blog, The Stage Struck Review, allowing her work to reach an even wider audience. Born in an “educational trunk” (her mother and grandmother both performed in and taught the subject), she studied theater at The University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, and holds an MFA in writing from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. When not at the theater, she teaches in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program at Pasadena's Blair High School. Under the name F.M. Nicholson she is the author of two published collections of poetry.

WELCOME TO THE WHITE ROOM review

“Welcome to the White Room” is challenging and fascinating to watch. The performances are very strong, and the results prove compelling. In an era which often uses elaborate technology to enhance a theatrical experience, this underscores the entertainment value in a production focused on a single set, solid acting, and puzzle which will take a while even after the play to digest. This is theater of the intellect, and thus a particular kind of refreshing.

..read full review...

THE MARRIAGE ZONE review

The concept of the piece is actually quite intriguing, but with the necessary filter missing the result is impressively sub-par. The playwright’s choice to direct – in other words, to have to listen only to his own views on the script, stage movement, pacing, etc. – means that there was nobody left to push the play to its potential.

..read full review...

SEQUENCE review

What proves most fascinating in all of this are the handoffs: the moments when a statement made in one duo’s argument is answered or added to as the other duo’s discussion begins. The beauty with which this is handled lies largely at the feet of director Bruce Gray, who gives the piece — performed without intermission — a seamless quality bordering on dance. The performers are also impressive, handling fantastically detailed dialogue, said in most cases at a furious pace, with grace and articulation.

..read full review...

HEISENBERG review

Stephens’ script is delightful and wistful by turns, but never sentimental. There are moments of startling, delicious humor, and others of ponderable introspection. But most of all, in the hands of these two extraordinarily skilled actors, there is a particular kind of aching humanity – that delicate need for human connection that a modern social system makes easy to overlook.

..read full review...

MAN OF LA MANCHA review

In the end, with the new underscore of continuing spaces of despairing imprisonment and horror in our world, the main sentiments of “Man of La Mancha” come through: hope may seem madness, but can lift up those who choose it. And that is just as apt today as it was for the original creators of the musical, or Cervantes himself. It could have been more even in presentation, but it is definitely there.

..read full review...

GOD'S WAITING ROOM review

Given the current script, it could have at least been nuanced by a director into a better, though not great, piece of theater. As it is, “God’s Waiting Room” has absolutely nothing new to say, and says it in a most imperfect way.

..read full review...

THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF COMEDY (ABRIDGED) review

Stephen Gifford’s set is just about perfect, setting a specific tone from the very start and facilitating all those costume changes. Those costumes, by A. Jeffrey Schoenberg, and Warren Casey’s many and varied comic props, do as much as absolutely possible to make this show as funny as it is.

..read full review...

42ND STREET review

The skills of the performers are solid and highly entertaining to watch. The singing, under the musical direction of Douglas Austin, proves so organic it makes one forget the fact the orchestra was recorded ahead of time.

..read full review...