Since creating StageSceneLA in 2007, Steven Stanley has reviewed over 2400 productions in and around Los Angeles and commemorated each year’s outstanding achievements with his annual StageSceneLA Scenies. As an actor, he has appeared on the stages of the Lillian Theatre, the Actor’s Group Theatre, the Stephanie Feurie Studio Theatre, the Gardner Stages, the Sierra Madre Playhouse, the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse, and the Whittier Center Theatre. By day he teaches ESL at Cal State L.A.

KING OF THE YEES

I left the Kirk Douglas not merely entertained but a whole lot more knowledgeable about things Chinese-American (and eager to learn more). Invigorating as all get-out and every bit as filled with fascinating facts as it is with risk-taking whimsy, King Of The Yees reigns supreme out Culver City way.

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Love is a Dirty Word

Arriving just in time for Pride Month 2017, Love Is A Dirty Word celebrates one man’s coming of age, coming out, and coming alive as his own true self, and does so with a mix of power, originality, and gut-punching depth.

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HEISENBERG

For a play named after a man best known for writing about uncertainty, but there’s nothing at all uncertain about Simon Stephens’ Heisenberg, at least not as regards its power to touch, to compel, and to captivate, all in equal measure.

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PARADE

From The Who’s Tommy to Jerry Springer: The Opera to West Side Story to Hairspray to A Chorus Line, Chance Theater’s summer musicals have established a standard of excellence unmatched in the OC. Parade, relevant in ways that might have seemed unimaginable even a year ago, carries on this esteemed tradition to unforgettable effect.

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Welcome to Your Alternative Reality

Open Fist Theatre Company gives late-night-TV-style sketch comedy an entertaining go in Welcome To Your Alternative Reality, a more-hit-than-miss collection of Trump-era-inspired sketches that could stand a trim but serves as an often quite funny showcase for company members in SNL-meets-MadTV mode.

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Hairspray

Hairspray is that rarity among 21st-century musicals, one that keeps on entertaining and inspiring year after year after year. Check it out at the Laguna Playhouse and you’ll see why audiences (and this reviewer) keep coming back for more.

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Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris

Ultimately, the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble’s Jacques Brel Is Alive And Well And Living In Paris may have those unfamiliar with the Belgian legend, particularly younger audiences members, wondering why his songs still get sung four decades after his death, and Brel aficionados longing for voices that might make this crystal clear.

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The Cake

Treating all of her characters with the utmost affection and respect, Bekah Brunstetter has written that rarity among LGBT-themed plays, one that might actually inspire baby steps towards mutual understanding. I laughed, I cried, I learned, I loved, and like a certain someone who shall remain nameless, I am better for having tasted The Cake.

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John Bucchino's "It's Only Life"

The dreams and searching and loneliness and blessings that make up this thing called life are highlighted in song in Art-In-Relation’s superbly performed, imaginatively directed intimate staging of John Bucchino’s aptly-titled It’s Only Life.

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Oklahoma!

Like Broadway’s recent The King And I and South Pacific revivals, 3-D Theatrical’s Oklahoma! takes a Rodgers-&-Hammerstein classic that’s been done to death and daringly reinvents it for contemporary audiences. It is a triumph for all concerned.

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Lucky Stiff

No Los Angeles membership theater company does intimately-staged musicals better than the Co-op. A tuneful treat from start to finish, Lucky Stiff ends Season 25 with a pizzazzy bang.

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