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.
Sep

Handjob

Theatre Of NOTE’s He Asked For It and Echo Theater Company’s One Of The Nice Ones demonstrated Erik Patterson’s knack for delivering “I didn’t see that coming” twists and Handjob is no exception. If only I could have bought into all those twists this time round.

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Sep

Witch

Is there something you want so badly that you’d give up your soul to get it? That is the question Jen Silverman poses in Witch, her devilishly clever, deliciously laugh-packed, decidedly dark look at gender, class, and the future of life as we know it, set way back in Jacobean England but told in a vernacular as contemporary as the latest Netflix hit.

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Aug

Moby Dick - Rehearsed

With metatheatrical stage adaptations of literary classics almost as commonplace today as cell phones and email, Orson Welles’ Moby Dick — Rehearsed feels like it could have been written last week and not way back in 1955. It’s also as thrilling a production as I’ve seen at Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum.

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Aug

Beast on the Moon

If good intentions were all that mattered, then International City Theatre’s production of Richard Kalinoski’s Beast On The Moon would merit raves. Unfortunately, for this reviewer at least, good intentions do not suffice.

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Aug

Early Birds

Early-bird actresses across the land will have good reason to celebrate Schwartz’s crowd-pleaser if it ends up making the regional rounds, and Dames Judi and Maggie could easily take their pick of roles in an Anglicized movie adaptation. In the meantime, Jean Gilpin and Jayne Taini are owning the stage at Atwater Village Theatre and L.A. audiences are reaping the rewards.

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Aug

Hannah and the Dread Gazebo

Theater genres are a matter of taste, and if magic realism is your thing, you may well take to Hannah And The Dread Gazebo in ways this reviewer did not. I for one would have preferred a good deal more realism and a lot less magic.

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Aug

Nick Dear's Frankenstein | California Premiere

You may have seen Frankenstein before (indeed with over sixty film adaptations you almost certainly have) but you have likely never seen it so powerfully and movingly told through a misunderstood monster’s eyes. A Noise Within’s Frankenstein opens its 2019-2020 season in the most thrilling and unforgettable of ways.

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Aug

Dope Queens

Dope Queens, Grafton Doyle’s seamy dissection of the go-nowhere lives of three drug-addicted, fresh-out-of-prison LGBTQ street walkers (two of them gender non-conforming POCs and one a GWM) is not just a major downer, it’s an overwrought, all-over-the-place two-acter that overstays its welcome by at least half an hour.

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Aug

The Skin of Our Teeth

Had Theatricum Botanicum staged its third The Skin Of Our Teeth only a few years back, it wouldn’t have had nearly today’s contemporary relevance. In 2019, it’s a potent reminder not just that the more things may seem for a time to be changing, the more they stay the same, but also that great plays remain great no matter their age.

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Aug

A Midsummer Night's Dream

The ideal introduction to the Los Angeles summer-theater treasure that is Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum, A Midsummer Night’s Dream once again proves the most magical of midsummer delights.

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Aug

An Enemy of the People

Had Theatricum Botanicum simply revived Ibsen as written, audiences would have marveled at the play’s contemporary relevance. Had Ellen Geer been inspired by the 1882 original to write something brand new, the result would have been more rewarding. If the cast were performing several times a week, their work would have the razor-sharpness expected from a professional production. As is, An Enemy Of The People disappoints more often than it satisfies.

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Aug

Twelfth Night

William Shakespeare’s star-crossed twins, mismatched lovers, and zany fools are as star-crossed, mismatched, and zany as ever this summer at Theatricum Botanicum, but this time round they burst into song in Ellen Geer’s enchanting Twelfth Night under Topanga skies.

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Aug

The Caucasian Chalk Circle

While it may not make complete converts of those for whom Brecht rhymes with blech, the Antaeus Theatre Company’s season closer comes pretty darned close. It’s as exhilarating a theatrical experience as you’ll enjoy all summer long.

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Aug

West Side Story

West Side Story may be sixty-two years of age, but you’d hardly know it from 5-Star Theatricals’ exciting 2019 revival. Expect tears to be streaming down your cheeks as you stand up and cheer.

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Aug

The Spitfire Grill

With its compelling storyline, colorful cast of small-town characters, gorgeous folk-meets-Broadway score, and much-needed message of forgiveness and redemption, The Spitfire Grill is musical theater at its most compelling and transformative. At Garry Marshall Theatre, it is all that and more.

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Jul

Apple Season

Playwright Lewis, too long absent from our L.A. stages, could not have asked for a finer production of her latest dramatic gem, nor could SoCal audiences, than its moving Moving Arts World Premiere. Tart as a Granny Smith, Apple Season is one of the summer season’s dramatic best.

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Jul

The Direction Home

With more seamless transitions from comedy to drama, a pizzazzier title, and a less abrasive Ted, The Direction Home could end up having legs beyond its World Premiere debut. Even as is, you’ll likely have fun spending time with its mostly engaging characters and celebrate its playwright/protagonist’s journey towards self-acceptance and love.

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Jul

Renovations for Six

Act One could stand a trim, but once its cast of characters get together for post-intermission cocktails, Norm Foster’s Renovations For Six ends up among the Canadian comedy master’s most rewarding creations … and a terrifically acted Theatre 40 gem to boot.

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Jul

Disney's The Little Mermaid at Musical Theatre West

With humor and heart to match its eye-popping spectacle, Disney The Little Mermaid is that rarity in family-friendly musical theater, a show that adults can truly enjoy as much as (and perhaps even more than) the kids who bring them in tow. Musical Theatre West audiences are in for an underwater banquet of delights.

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Jul

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG

So nonstop hilarious is the latest National Tour playing a visit to the Ahmanson, The Play That Goes Wrong just might hold the laugh-a-minute record for a West End-to-Broadway comedy smash.

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