Registered Critic: Steven Stanley

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.
Dec

Jane Austen's EMMA

Sparklingly tuneful, witty, and romantic as all get-out, Jane Austen's Emma: The Musical proves a perfect companion piece to Chance Theater's previous, frequently revived holiday offerings. I couldn't have loved it more.

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Dec

KING LEAR

Having sat through enough three-hour 6-long Lears to last this reviewer a lifetime, only the promise of ninety-minutes, no intermission could have gotten me back for more. Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre Group's King Lear is Shakespeare minus all the extra words, and for that alone it is worth a look-see.

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Dec

A CAROL CHRISTMAS

With just the right tweaking, it's easy to see A Carol Christmas living on after its Group Rep run. In the meantime, Charles Dickens lovers in search of something new this December can enjoy ninety merry, melodious minutes as Carol, like Scrooge before her, learns what Christmas really means.

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Nov

Finks

The term “now more than ever” may be overused, but take a gander at any day's headlines out of D.C. and you'll see how aptly it describes Finks, just one reason the latest from Rogue Machine packs the most powerful of punches.

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Nov

OPPENHEIMER

It's hard to overstate just how much of a feather it is in Rogue Machine's cap to give Oppenheimer its first American staging since its 2015 Royal Shakespeare Company debut. That this U.S. Premiere represents Los Angeles membership theater at its most vibrant and indispensable gives L.A. audiences even more reason to cheer.

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Nov

Steambath

Debuting the year after Sossi founded the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, the company's latest offering has not aged nearly as well as the soon-to-be fifty-year-old West Los Angeles treasure. Despite sporadic chuckles, Steambath should have been left on the shelf.

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Nov

Cost of Living

It would be a major coup for any SoCal regional theater to snag the rights to Maryna Majok's latest. (The 661-seat Geffen gave her Ironbound its West Coast Premiere in February.) That it's a 99-seater giving Angelinos their first look at Cost Of Living is a much deserved vote of confidence in The Fountain Theatre, one that pays off as one of the year's most remarkable, compelling productions large or small.

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Nov

SHE LOVES ME

Director-choreographer Cate Caplin and a pitch-perfect cast do everything right in Actors Co-op's intimate revival of the 1963 Broadway charmer She Loves Me, perhaps better known today as the pre-Internet You've Got Mail.

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Nov

Remembering Boyle Heights

A surefire conversation starter, Remembering Boyle Heights serves as both a reminder of L.A.'s fascinating if all too forgotten past and a call to keep its many communities alive and thriving.

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Nov

Death and Cockroaches

Family dysfunction has taken centerstage countless times before, and Eric Reyes Loo is far from the first playwright to tackle terminal illness and loss, but rarely has this been done with more originality and flair than in Death And Cockroaches. Just remember to leave your prudishness at the door

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Nov

BLISS (or Emily Post is Dead!)

Having loved Jami Brandli's Through The Eye Of A Needle so much that I went back for a second holiday-season visit, I found BLISS (or Emily Post is Dead!) more than a bit of a letdown. At the very least it scores points for ambition, and for those who can tell Clytemnestra from Cleopatra or Medea from Madea, it just might just do the trick.

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Nov

THE COLOR PURPLE

Sensational performances and an intimate theatrical setting make Greenway Arts Alliance's The Color Purple an exciting addition to the L.A. holiday scene if not as spectacular a revival as the musical's 2012 99-seat L.A. debut.

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Nov

THE UNAUTHORIZED MUSICAL PARODY OF STRANGER THINGS

Not only one of UMPO's all-time best installments, as the first to spoof a currently running TV series with fans numbering in the millions, UMPO Stranger Things could easily prove the series' most popular entry to date despite some pretty stiff competition. Trust me. Stranger Things have happened.

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Nov

Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol

What starts out as a simple out-loud reading soon turns into one of the Christmas season's most spectacular stage offerings. That it ends up quite possibly the most moving and inspiring A Christmas Carol I've seen is icing on the holiday cake.

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Nov

VALLEY OF THE HEART

Though far from a bad play, Valley Of The Heart isn't nearly the great one it aims to be. It's admirable that the Yamaguchis' and Montaños' stories are being told, but they deserve a less hackneyed, more nuanced telling than this Mark Taper Forum World Premiere.

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Nov

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS

Farce master Ken Ludwig proves the perfect playwright to adapt Agatha Christie's Murder On The Orient Express for the stage, evidence of which is now on display at La Mirada Theatre For The Performing Arts where Sheldon Epps has directed a pitch-perfect production of a pitch-perfect play.

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Oct

QUACK

I absolutely loved Eliza Clark's Future Thinking when it world premiered at South Coast Rep a couple years back, and Quack is every bit the winner. Expect to be thinking and talking about Dr. Irving Baer long after the spotlight Clark shines on him fades to black.

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Oct

BRIGHT STAR

Kudos to Musical Theatre West for taking a chance on a show its familiarity-loving subscriber base may not know from Adam, a risk that more than pays off in the masterful staging of a largely undiscovered gem. Bright Star shines brightly indeed.

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Oct

The Little Foxes

Lillian Hellman might have written The Little Foxes in post-Depression 1939, but her tale of the Alabama Hubbard clan's quest for even more filthy lucre hasn't aged a day, just one reason her three-act Southern-fried melodrama makes for an especially scrumptious Antaeus Theatre Company three-course meal.

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Oct

A Splintered Soul

World War II Holocaust survivors and Los Angeles theater audiences deserve far better than the preposterously plotted 1940s B-movie melodramatics of Long Beach playwright Alan L. Brooks' A Splintered Soul, a major misfire from the almost always stellar International Theatre.

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