TRAVIS MICHAEL HOLDER is Opinionatedasswipe-in-Chief for the new handydandy arts-oriented website TicketHoldersLA.com. He has been a LA theatre critic since 1987 and has taught acting at the New York Film Academy’s west coast campus since 2010. He was Theatre Editor for Entertainment Today for 21 years, reviewed for BackStage for 12 years, and is also currently a contributor to ArtsInLA.com. As a writer, five of his plays have been produced in LA and his first, "Surprise Surprise," became a feature film in 2010, for which Travis wrote the screenplay and appeared in a leading role. An actor since childhood who originally came to LA under contract to Paramount Pictures, he has appeared in six Broadway productions and has traveled extensively in everything from "Bye Bye Birdie," "Hair," and throughout Europe and Asia in "Hello Dolly" to touring as Amos (Mr. Cellophane) Hart in "Chicago." Locally, Travis received the LA Drama Critics’ Circle Award as Kenneth Halliwell in the west coast premiere of "Nasty Little Secrets," a Drama-Logue Award as Lennie in "Of Mice and Men," and he has also received six acting nominations from LA Weekly; a Sage Award; Ovation, GLAAD, NAACP, and five Garland Award nominations. Regionally, he was given the Inland Theatre League Award as Ken Talley in "Fifth of July," three awards for direction and performance as Dr. Dysart in "Equus," and he was up for Washington, DC’s Helen Hayes honors as Oscar Wilde in the premiere of "Oscar & Speranza." His first novel "Waiting for Walk," a memoir of growing up as a child actor, has been sitting in a desk drawer since its completion in 2005, proving there is often a deep divide between talent and functionality. www.travismichaelholder.coms

GREY NOMAD review

What makes Dan Lee's painfully old-fashioned sitcom-y script palpable, besides his sharply quirky dialogue and insight into the process of growing older despite ourselves, are these veteran performers able to make it work. This is especially true of Ros Gentle, with whom we fall in love as the curious, frustrated, ever-patient Helen in the first minutes. Every subtly pained expression, every moment of closing her fluttering eyelids to regain her composure, is golden, something that proves even more endearing when Val’s more outrageously free behavior begins to rub off on her more infinitely more conservative protégée.

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EMILIE: LA MARQUISE DU CHATELET DEFENDS HER LIFE TONIGHT review

Coeurage Theatre Company’s mounting of Lauren Gunderson’s intellectually challenging new play is not to be missed, for an introduction to an amazing new playwright, as a nod to this company’s commitment to create innovative and thought-provoking theatre at every turn, and for the unearthly and stalwart performance of Sammi Smith in the title role.

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ARSENIC AND OLD LACE review

Whenever Jacque Lynn Colton and Sheelagh Cullen are onstage, their presence is sure to make anyone smile from ear to ear. Explaining to Mortimer their mission to help poor lonely old creatures find their peace is hysterically funny in its abject seriousness, like two aged homicidal Mother Theresas proudly proclaiming all the good they’ve done and all the lepers they’ve saved. These two incredible veteran performers often seem to be moving or speaking as one, almost finishing each other’s sentences and nodding conspiratorially whenever the other makes a point. Like Jean Adair and Josephine Hull, the original Brewster sisters, their performances are the heart of this production, making it one of the premier theatrical events in a rather parched season.

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BLACKBIRD review

Hard to watch this psychologically traumatizing journey unfold twice in two months but ironically, this second time out proved a fascinating and interesting homage to just how beautifully David Harrower’s troubled characters are written. I want to do anything but compare the two productions or two casts but, suffice to say, if you’re a student of theatre, the comparison between the two BLACKBIRDs is almost instantly apparent. Even the direction shows two totally different approaches to the same subject. Where Anna Stromberg’s kinetic staging had her performers constantly circling each other ominously like caged animals, here Jeremy Ardianne Lelliott takes a far simpler, far more cerebral approach to the material, a choice which makes the ending even more devastating than the other. Both directions, amazingly, work beautifully.

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HONKY TONK LAUNDRY review

Even though they’re “cuter than two insects goin’ ta’ the June Bug Ball in July”—yes, you heard me right—even the infectious talents and incredibly powerful voices of Bets Malone and Misty Cotton can’t save this Laundry from puttin’ out the CLOSED sign. As wonderful as it always is to hear both of them sing, having only their two voices to listen to, hugely and inexplicably over-amplified overpowering the tiny Hudson’s sound system, eventually makes the evening a two-Ibuprofen event. So if you’re able to sit through the CMT Awards on TV or Miranda Lambert in concert, by all means head to the Hudson and stomp those feet of yours until they hurt. You probably haven’t had so much fun since the pigs et yer little sister.

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THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME review

Simon Stephen's adaptation of Mark Haddon's best-selling novel examines, through incredibly imaginative visual devices, the inside of someone’s brain living precariously with an unnamed condition falling within the crowded autism spectrum. I am often impressed with the ingenuity, imagination, and determination needed to bring a story like this to fruition as a performance piece, but this five-time Tony winner goes far, far beyond that. This is the stuff that keeps me waking up every morning, switching on the coffee, and facing another day in a world rapidly going to shit around us.

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THE LOST CHILD review

The true elephant in the room chockfull of puzzling and off-the-wall developments is when Angelica admits she is something of a fairy person, living underground with her mystical supernatural guru, if I wasn’t too confused and uninterested by then to get it right. There’s so much to still explore—and eliminate—here. Rowland's dialogue is beautifully written and the characters are potentially intriguing, but even considering all that and the knockout performance by Addie Daddio that will tear at your heart, little Angelica needs to have Ann sew her shadow back on, put her hands on her hips as she often does and sing a chorus or two of “I Won’t Grow Up,” then head back underground just a wee bit longer.

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HERSHEY FELDER'S "OUR GREAT TCHAIKOVSKY" review

Hershey Felder returns to LA and, unlike his previous efforts, this time out has a political and social message that elevates it to an even higher status than all the others. As fame and notoriety grew for Piotr Ilyich during the last half of the 19th century, so did his fearful trepidation that he would be exposed as a homosexual. “Nature is not perfect,” Felder as Tchaikovsky prophetically drops, something he then illustrates, bravely energizing the great man’s rule-breaking compositions while showing how his proclivities haunted his troubled and unfulfilled personal life. Under the wise directorial hand of his frequent contributor Trevor Hay, Felder presents Tchaikovsky as a sweet but tortured man unable to live the life which was endemic to him and, with extremely evocative expertise, he clearly elucidates this malady with his onstage artistry, arrestingly playing some of the master’s most enduringly beautiful compositions with worldclass results.

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THE DEVIL'S WIFE review

For whatever might be lacking, the Skylight’s impressive production values and Tom Jacobson’s unique capacity to entertain is not among the considerations. It’s actually a kinda perfect choice for a mostly mindless night out of summer fun, something desperately needed as our beloved country spirals down into the crapper around us. If I wasn’t such an avid devotee of Jacobson’s work and had no previous reference leading to a prevailing sense of disappointment since I probably was expecting so much, I’ll bet it would have provided a much better time.

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JACQUES BREL IS ALIVE AND WELL AND LIVING IN PARIS review

The production serves as proof that the haunting lyricism of Jacques Brel’s music and the insightful nature of his evocative, poetic lyrics can make this classic revue survive just about anything--and even eventually inspire director Dan Fishbach’s less accomplished, initially less magnetic cast to eventually soar to unexpected heights.

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