Registered Critic: Ed Rampell - Hollywood Progressive

Ed Rampell is an L.A.-based film historian/reviewer and co-author of “The Hawaii Movie and Television Book”.
Jun

Sex

...in our more enlightened age, like the immortal Mae West herself, you too, will enjoy Sex. Why don't you come up and see it sometime?

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May

Wiesenthal

Throughout the one-man show written by Dugan and expertly directed by Jenny Sullivan, Wiesenthal remains personable, good-natured, devoted, sometimes exasperated, anguished and angry – but at all times completely human and humane. A fine set and sound effects enhance the onstage ambiance and action which – although it consists mainly of the reminiscences of a 90-something old man – is completely captivating, thanks to virtuoso acting and a riveting story that takes us through hell and beyond.

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May

Native Son

While the Native Son presented by Antaeus still packs a wallop and is well-acted and directed throughout, retaining much of Wright's power, the excision of Boris Max is eyebrow-raising.

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Apr

Engaging Shaw

Nevertheless, while Engaging Shaw may not be as dramatically and intellectually engaging as Tramp was, it is indeed well-acted. ... Melanie MacQueen ably directs her ensemble and the set and costume designers – respectively, Jeff G. Rack and Michele Young – realistically conjure up Victorian England towards the end of the 19th century.

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Dec

Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily

Overall, while some strict by-the-book Sherlockians may object to Forgette's poetic license and her Baker Street irregulars, Jersey Lily is a case of good old fashioned theatrical fun during the holiday season.

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Sep

Daytona

A superbly written, acted and directed drama that may have you on the emotional edge of your seat. Daytona provoked total strangers to hold serious debates in their theater seats during the intermission.

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Sep

Democracy(sic)

Deploying lots of risqué language democracy (sic) includes startling, imaginative word play - an inventive, off-color Pidgin English of sorts - during banter in scenes that spoof alt right gibberish. Weisner and Warfield expertly, admirably deliver the tongue twisting doubelspeaking dirt.

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Sep

Honky Tonk Laundry

To be charitable, the L.A. premiere of Honky Tonk seems to be presented at the Hudson Mainstage Theatre with an eye on grander venues, where the taped music could actually be performed by a live band and the miked-up singing won't be too loud for an intimate showcase. At best this wannabe musical is rated “M.E.” – for “mildly entertaining” – while the best thing this two-hander has going for it are the winning performances by Malone and Cotton. These would-be Dixie chicks make do with the material they are given, which they surmount with their Opry-esque talents and charming presences as heartbroken, jilted belles determined to ring their bells.

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Jul

Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris

It's hard to pinpoint this live show's form. It is not a traditional narrative drama or comedy with a character arc, plot points and the like – although a more discerning eye (and ear) than mine might find the songs, which sometimes seamlessly segue into each other, to be thematically linked. Nor is this exactly a concert, a revue or a cabaret arc. Perhaps this is one of the outstanding things about Alive and Well – like Brel, who became an international star despite his horsey face, it defies description. Is it a Brel? Is it a Play? No, It's Super Minstrel! In any case, I can tell you what this show definitely is: Terrific! In the immortal words of that famous critic Tony the Tiger, “It's Grrrrreat!” The performances are all nearly as flawless as they are poignant, and director Dan Fishbach admirably helms his toe-tapping, mellifluous ensemble. Like each Brel tune, one thesp is better than the next, and young Michael Yapujian, who just graduated from USC and mere days later found himself co-starring in this, his first professional gig, clearly has a bright future in front of the footlights and beneath the klieg lights.

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Jun

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)

While some stick-in-the-mud, strictly-by-the- folio Shakespeare scholars may find this dazzling 90 minute extravaganza to be much ado about doo-doo, most theatergoers are likely to find all's well that ends well – with a splendid time had by all. Anon! Get thee to a MET-ery!

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Jun

The Pleasure Project

Enjoyable throughout...clever one-woman show about sexuality. Bogle brings a joyful, playful panache to her subject and exudes a sort of knowing innocence and good-naturedness. Imbued with a certain joie de vivre that makes it good fun to sexperience.

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Jun

Les Blancs

Overall, Les Blancs is an outstanding production, adeptly directed by Gregg T. Daniel, with a great set by Stephanie Kerley Schwartz and costuming by Wendell C. Carmichael.

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May

The Sweetheart Deal

Sweetheart, which is produced by The Latino Theater Company in association with El Teatro Campesino, does us a great service by looking back at an important moment in labor and Latino history – and by doing so in a highly entertaining way.

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Apr

The Complete History of Comedy (abridged)

As its title suggests, The Complete History of Comedy [Abridged] is an incomplete chronicle of what makes people laugh and those jesters who deliberately induce said laughter, from ancient times until today.

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Apr

Man of La Mancha

...just as the original Broadway hit captured the quintessence of sixties optimism, this rendition reflects its times, too. Living in an era when Washington's newly installed repressive regime calls the press “the enemy of the people” and tells journalists to “shut up and listen,” and praises autocrats abroad and toasts them at the White House, today's free thinkers are up against another kind of Inquisition.

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Apr

ABSINTHE

Absinthe is a heady mélange of a variety of entertainment forms geared for adult (although, not necessarily grown up) audiences. This naughty, bawdy brew blends circus acrobatics, commedia dell'arte, standup comedy, vaudeville, cabaret, the Rat Pack, cross-dressing, striptease, (taped) rock music and live singing. Imagine the Flying Wallendas meet Purple Owsley meet Cirque du Soleil meet burlesque...

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Apr

HARLEQUINO: ON TO FREEDOM

The two-acter is rendered with much tomfoolery and comic panache, as – talk about transgressing and transcending categorical boundaries – The Actors' Gang tosses other genres into the commedia dell'arte stew: Vaudeville, Burlesque and physical comedy in the tradition of silent cinema.

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Mar

Ah, Wilderness!

As struggling newspaperman [Sid Davis], the redoubtable Alan Blumenfeld steals the show. Blumenfeld is the L.A. theater scene's actor's actor, a playhouse perennial who venerably treads the boards, inexhaustibly bringing to life characters created by William Shakespeare, Clifford Odets, Neil Simon, Moliere and many more.

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Mar

Building the Wall

Only two months into his presidency and Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning playwright Robert Schenkkan's Building the Wall imagines Trump's plans to “solve” the “problem” of the millions of undocumented immigrants living in America in this world premiere ripped from the proverbial headlines. ​

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Feb

For Piano and Harpo

Like Next to Normal and Cuckoo's Nest, as well as the famed 1948 movie The Snake Pit, For Piano and Harpo is a brave production about mental illness that is dramatized and treated in a respectful and frequently funny way, as one man struggles to overcome his overpowering angst...

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