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.
Jul

Good Boys

An explicit sex tape involving a prep school jock and a young woman decidedly not his girlfriend sets off a chain of events that will forever change the lives of one entitled Washington DC family in Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s suspenseful, provocative Good Boys, now riveting audiences at Pasadena Playhouse.

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Jul

Ragtime

L.A./OC theatergoers can now add Ragtime to Chance Theater’s long list of summer-musical hits, an inspired concept executed with equal parts passionate commitment and artistic command.

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Jul

FRIENDS! THE MUSICAL PARODY

If you’re one of the tens of millions who found themselves tuning in to Friends week after week, year after year, or if you ended up discovering it on DVD, or you’re watching it right now on Netflix, Friends! A Musical Parody provides moments of nostalgic fun assuming you’ve got the bucks.

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Jul

Dancing at Lughnasa

Brian Friel lovers could not ask for a finer production of his 1992 Best Play Tony winner Dancing At Lughnasa than Open Fist Theatre Company’s 2019 revival. Non-devotees might find their attention wandering during its long, chitchat-filled first act, but once Friel’s memory play takes fire post-intermission, the latest from Open Fist more than merits curtain-call cheers.

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Jul

The Wedding Singer

It’s anyone’s guess why The Wedding Singer hasn’t achieved nearly the regional success of its fellow 2000s musicals Hairspray and Legally Blonde. (Maybe language, maybe name recognition, but who knows?)
Fortunately for L.A. audiences, Morgan-Wixson Theatre is doing its best to remedy that in the most entertaining of ways. Expect to be driving home with a smile on your face and the ‘80s in your heart.

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Jul

Mysterious Circumstances

If Mysterious Circumstances’ final moments remain rather a tad too mysterious to be fully satisfying, they are perhaps as befits an Unsolved Mystery. (Producers of the upcoming Netflix reboot might want to take note.)
What counts most are the two hours that precede them, a theatrical roller-coaster ride well worth getting in line for at the Geffen.

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Jun

Loot

Even half a century after it shocked British sensibilities, Loot may still be a bit too scandalous to please those of the prudish persuasion, to which Joe Orton would likely respond, “Well bugger them!” If you ask me, Loot at the Odyssey is an abso-loot delight!

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Jun

The Producers

Precisely the reimagined, reinvented wonder of a show that Mel Brooks fans have been waiting for, Celebration’s The Producers is guaranteed to be this summer’s biggest small-stage musical smash.

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Jun

Dames at Sea

With its clever blend of nostalgia, camp, romance, melody, laughter, and dance, it’s hard to imagine a more scrumdiddlyumptious musical theater treat than Dames At Sea, one of the best and most entertaining summer musicals ever to light up the Sierra Madre Playhouse stage.

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Jun

Anne, A New Play

Rising worldwide antisemitism gives Anne Frank’s story a “now more than ever” relevance. But it’s not just relevance that makes the latest look at her life a must-see. The Diary Of Anne Frank has rarely if ever been more powerfully retold than it is in Anne, A New Play.

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Jun

Ready Steady Yeti Go

Ultimately, though there’s much to recommend in this National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere, Ready Steady Yeti Go is not quite ready to go as is. As a showcase for its talented cast, it’s a winner. With some rethinking, rewrites, and cuts, it might be a real keeper. With actual kids playing kids, it would be something else indeed.

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Jun

Death of a Salesman

A revelatory Rob Morrow heads an all-around superb cast in The Ruskin Group Theatre’s meticulously directed, stunningly performed 70th-anniversary revival of Arthur Miller’s Death Of A Salesman.

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Jun

THE LAST FIVE YEARS

Rare is the musical that lends itself to as many interpretations as Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years. After Hours Theatre Company’s Multisensory Experience may not be the definitive production, but it is quite spectacularly one of a kind.

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Jun

The Diary Of Anne Frank

Ultimately, despite high intentions, a thought-provoking concept, and the draw it will likely prove to new audiences, The Diary Of Anne Frank ends up doing insufficient justice to the girl whose diary gave The Holocaust the most heartbreakingly personal of faces.

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Jun

AVENUE Q

Parents of younger kids are hereby forewarned. Avenue Q gets an R-rating for raunch, so leave preteens at home with the babysitter and some age-appropriate Disney flicks. Also, anyone offended by the F-word and/or puppet sex should probably opt for the nearest Rodgers And Hammerstein musical. Everyone else may feel free to head over to North Hollywood where The Group Rep is offering adult audiences musical comedy entertainment with equal parts edge and heart, aka Avenue Q.

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Jun

Bestseller

With major rewrites, the germ of an idea that has inspired Peter Quilter’s latest comedy might make for a play that regional theaters would want to produce and audiences would tell friends to see. As a work in progress, however, Bestseller’s occasionally hilarious moments do not add up to a satisfying whole.

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Jun

INDECENT

A spectacularly performed, directed, designed hour and forty-five minutes of live theater at its most innovative, Indecent is guaranteed to have you up on your feet and cheering its multitude of theatrical wonders.

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Jun

Ladies

Overly fictionalized and with too much time devoted to contemporary ramblings, Kit Steinkellner’s version of these Ladies only occasionally manages to engage.

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Jun

Sucker Punch

South London accents either too thick to be understood or virtually non-existent along with loads of British slang prove detrimental to Coeurage Theatre Company’s site-specific West Coast Premiere of Roy Williams’ Sucker Punch. So do view-blocking sight lines for certain audience members squeezed into the Tiger Boxing Gym just off Melrose.

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Jun

HARVEY

Mary Chase’s Harvey may remain a school and community theater staple, but rarely are professional theaters granted their crack at this 20th-century American classic, just one reason to celebrate Elwood P. Dowd and company’s arrival in the OC. Mixing whimsy and nostalgia with abundant laughter and unexpected depth, Harvey lights up the Laguna Playhouse stage, no matter that only Elwood can see him.

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