Writer: Travis Michael Holder - Ticket Holders LA

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
Aug

The Ruffian on the Stair

Having such a quintessential representation of the outrageous people and situations Joe Orton celebrated as he cleverly called out the societal and political corkscrewing we still endure a half-century later is indeed a treat, especially as brought to life by director Mark Kemble and a trio of slickly harmonious actors, any of whom I suspect Joe Orton would have been thrilled to encounter by chance in the loo at Islington Station.

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Aug

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG

Nigel Hooks' ingenious collapsing set is the heart and soul of this production, but not without a troupe of eight performers willing and physically able to make it work. One almost wonders if each of right Wrong player had to be a graduate of a physical workshop led by the late Marcel Marceau before studying agility with Cirque du Soleil and completing a season training with the U.S. Olympics gymnastic team.

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Aug

Apple Season

Darin Anthony stages the action in E.M. Lewis' gossamer new play with a smooth and loving directorial hand, as well as an uncanny ability to make the story swing back and forth through time from present day to that half-century earlier with immeasurable help from lighting designer Martha Carter, the evocative ambient sound plot of Warren Davis, and a trio of amazing actors willing to wholeheartedly willing take the ride.

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Jul

The Producers

This revival is a must-see, once again a testament to the team that keeps turning out jaw-dropping, ingeniously scaled-down Lilliputian versions of huge productions no other intimate theatre company would ever attempt. I am firmly of the opinion that the gamely unflappable Celebration Theatre, especially with the inclusion of the visionary prestidigitation of director Michael Matthews, could take on "War and Peace" and transform it with guaranteed success into a masterful production called "Honey, I Shrunk the Napoleonic Wars."

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Jul

Naked Came the Neighbor

I can’t honestly say this particular piece will stay on my list of personal favorites among his prolific works, but hey—if you’ve never seen a Michael Sargent play mounted and been gloriously shocked by his unique ability to make us laugh out loud as we confront our society’s least publicly discussed hypocrisies, you are doing yourself a grave injustice not to check this out.

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Jul

Mysterious Circumstances

Brilliantly directed by the Geffen's artistic director Matt Shakman with invaluable help from set designer Brett J. Banakis and projection designers Kaitlyn Pietras and Jason H. Thompson, Michael Mitnick’s adaptation is a gem, but it is the production itself that ultimately is the star of show. As the incredibly whimsical and sometimes towering sets evolve into a series of rapidly unfolding vignettes, seven gamely committed actors assay all the roles, led by the tour de force performance of Alan Tudyk as both Lancelyn Green and Sherlock Holmes himself.

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Jun

Anne, A New Play

Director Eve Brandstein works diligently staging this new version of the Anne Frank story on a rather static playing space overpowered by projections of the city and the war, but it’s obvious the play was meant to be a more immersive and audience-interactive piece. On the wide and shallow stage of the Museum of Tolerance’s 300-seat Peltz Theatre, however, the production is hampered by its austere environment surely designed for film showings, awards nights, and speech-giving.

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Jun

Loot

Bart DeLorenzo’s kinetic staging pays respectful homage to the legacy of Joe Orton and the history of this play, adding all the signature craftiness of which he is such a master. “Wake up! Stop dreaming!” the officious Fay yells to McLeavy at the opening of the play as he sits vigil next to his wife’s onstage coffin. Perhaps this was Orton’s most fervent warning to playgoers in his short stay on our perilous and precarious planet not long before he left it with so much still to say he never got to share. Would that people had been bright enough to listen when the laughter finally ended.

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Jun

INDECENT

Everything and everyone involved in this production pays respectful homage to Paula Vogel, whose incredible script, as Sholem Asch originally intended so many, many years ago, speaks of the necessity of Jews to honestly and unapologetically show ourselves to be as flawed and complex as anyone who throughout the centuries has hated us for who we are as we all collectively struggle for a foothold on this risky planet.

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Jun

DANA H.

This is the haunting tale of survival, told with unique and never-before attempted innovation of pure theatrical genius. As someone who since early childhood has literally spent all of my life surrounded by and devoted to the wonders of creating theatre—especially in the experimental creation of groundbreaking new forms—may I say without hesitation what Lucas Hnath has here wrought, energized and brought to glorious life by the unbelievably creative collaboration of director Les Waters and featuring a tour-de-force performance by Deirdre O’Connell, has totally blown my mind.

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Jun

VIOLENCE: The Misadventures of Spike Spangle, Farmer

With the return of Tim Robbins' delightfully off-centered 1985 PC-proof comedy, his creatively unstoppable Actors’ Gang ensemble members sweating off their weirdly wonderful kabuki makeup and flicking their tongues out from under Erhard Stiefel’s hauntingly creepy masks as they skewer political greed then and now, are not just actors. They are us. We are them. It’s a shame it’s always so hard to remember that, to recognize and live with that, even as we try our best at every opportunity to defy the shortcomings inherent in our own human nature and change them.

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Jun

Daniel's Husband

Under the sure and steady directorial hand of Simon Levy, Michael McKeever's indelible play is a tribute to committing oneself to love and life, written by a splendid wordsmith and assayed by a brilliant team of designers and players who tenderly make a plea for us all to be kinder and more conscientious of who we are and what our place is in the world if we care enough to try to leave it a better place.

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Jun

A Streetcar Named Desire

Veteran director Jack Heller once again conjures a magical, dreamlike place where, seven decades ago, the world reeled as the greatest playwright of the last century bestowed on us all his lyrical, poetic dialogue and an uncanny ability to honor and to elevate to heroic stature the lost and less desirable denizens of our mess of a society. It was a groundbreaking moment in the history of theatre that changed the future of dramatic literature for all time to come and, for that reason if no other, this heartfelt production deserves our appreciation and attention.

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Jun

Happy Days

With our planet today crashing toward destruction through climate change as we all helplessly endure the destructive reign of a “leader” more interested in his legacy than our planet, Samuel Beckett’s 1961 absurdist masterpiece eerily reinforces his chillingly prophetic, humorously bleak pronouncements of the gradual disintegration of all living creatures struggling for fresh air and daily sustenance on this unforgiving planet. For director James Bundy, guiding an actor as brilliant as Dianne Wiest has inspired something new and fresh and truly remarkable.

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Jun

HERSHEY FELDER: A PARIS LOVE STORY

What's the most eye-opening in actor/storyteller/pianist extraordinaire Hersey Felder’s revelations about composer Claude Dusussy was the man’s passion for the natural world around him despite the horrors of a world at war, so clearly influencing the genius of his art as he tirelessly attempted to conjure “musique that only engaged with nature,” creating notes that would evoke the sounds of water flowing, butterflies gracefully floating through the breeze, and the citizens of his beloved Paris walking through the streets of his city.

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Jun

LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR AND GRILL

Billie Holiday is a legend and, as such, is surely a hard act to follow. Deidrie Henry, however, with the precision directorial guidance of Gregg T. Daniel and both of them paying deference to Lanie Robertson’s uncanny ability to bring Lady Day back to life, does far more than follow; she creates an indelible, mesmeric portrait of one of the greatest figures in American musical history.

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Feb

Matthew Bourne's 'Cinderella'

Everything about a work by Sir Matthew Bourne is pure magic; his angular, Nijinsky-inspired choreography is almost tribal in its individuality, heralding a new rule-breaking form of artistic communication almost primitive in nature. His hilariously inventive take on this familiar old classic could easily be compared to watching those indigenous ethnic tribes, long hidden in the planet's last bastions of remaining wilderness, performing their own self-evolved consanguineous raindances passed down from generation to generation, as Bourne's work should also be.

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Feb

The Cripple of Inishmaan

It seems lucky to me the six plays of Martin McDonagh's pair of County Galway trilogies surfaced in a time before the current climate where the only way to not offend anyone is to write about trees. Today, without having achieved classic status, there would surely be some group or another outside the Kiki and David Gindler Performing Arts Center carrying signs of protest. Still, if that ever did happen, all the good folks at Anteaus would need to do is invite them in and offer them seats, for once anyone begins to understand the heart and endearing nature lurking below the crusty surface of ignorant inappropriateness that dogs residents of Inishmaan Island, they will surely abandon their signs and applaud this stellar production along with the rest of us.

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Feb

An Inspector Calls

In 1992, Stephen Daldry took J.B. Priestley's mission one step further, innovatively blasting apart and reassembling his old melodramatic warhorse into his multiple award-winning revival, a kind of nonrealistic, expressionistic theatrical mindfuck. Now returned here to the Wallis, this is still a magical effort even better today when the absurdity of real life is more than enough to contemplate on a daily basis.

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Jan

Hir

Through humor and shock value that blasts through at full gallop, what energizes Taylor Mac's signature vision more than anything else is its blistering indictment of the ways our society has marginalized the folks struggling to navigate and understand our existence in these troubling time, an era when many of us are edging closer and closer to the kitchen sink to cough up all the bile Tweeted by our inglorious “leader” on a daily basis as those around him ignore all the Isaacs trying their damnedest to come home.

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