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.
Apr

SINGIN' IN THE RAIN

Whether you're seeing Singin' In The Rain live on stage for the first time or taking your umpteenth trip down Hollywood memory lane, Spencer Liff's tribute to the MGM movie classic is as sensational as big-stage revivals get.

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Apr

Diana of Dobson's

A largely forgotten frothy romp with feminist teeth now being given a splendiferous 21st-century Antaeus Theatre Company revival. Rarely has a 111-year-old play seemed so fresh and alive and young and worth rediscovering.

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Apr

Next to Normal

Next To Normal may have lost the Best Musical Tony to Billy Elliott, but perhaps only the statuette-winner Dear Evan Hansen since then has matched the gut-punching, heart-wrenching, hope-inspiring impact of Next To Normal, a musical that The Wayward Artist gets absolutely right.

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Apr

The Unauthorized Musical Parody: 10 Things I Hate About You

Over the past half-dozen-or-so years, Kate Pazakis and her Unauthorized Musical Parody franchise have carved out a name and genre unique in L.A. musical theater. There are at the very least 10 Things You Will Love About UMPO 10 Things I Hate About You, but who's counting?

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Apr

POOR YELLA REDNECKS

By raising the dramatic, cultural stakes the second time around, Qui Nguyen outdoes himself with Poor Yella Rednecks. Giving those Crazy Rich Asians a low-income run for their money, Quang and Tong had me from xin chào. (That's “hello” in Vietnamese.)

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Apr

Catch Me If You Can - The Musical

Some sexual content and a “Crime Almost Pays” message make Musical Theatre West's latest too PG-13 for the kiddies, but for grownups in the mood for some Vegas-worthy pizzazz (and a story that may even tug at your heartstrings along the way), Catch Me If You Can can't be beat.

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Apr

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

I spent the final minutes of Edward's miraculous journey wiping well-earned tears from my eyes. Still, signature look or not, I can't help wishing 24th Street Theatre had taken a brighter design path this time round. The Miraculous Journey Of Edward Tulane is grim enough as is without added darkness.

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Apr

Argonautika

Jason's mythical quest for the Golden Fleece becomes the most thrillingly imaginative action-adventure swashbuckler of this or any L.A. theater year as A Noise Within treats audiences of all ages to Mary Zimmerman's Argonautika: The Voyage Of Jason And The Argonauts.

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Apr

Little Shop of Horrors

Quibbles aside, the Morgan-Wixson's Little Shop Of Horrors once more blurs the lines between community and professional theaters. The cast and crew may do it all for love, but once again in their latest musical comedy gem, what they do for love yields considerable entertainment rewards.

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Apr

STEEL MAGNOLIAS

Guaranteeing audiences the kind of “laughter through tears” that Truvy has been declaring her favorite emotion these past thirty-two years, Actors Co-op does Steel Magnolias proud.

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Apr

Pirates of Penzance

Arguably the most enduring of Gilbert & Sullivan's comic operas (and the only one to have gotten an ‘80s Broadway revival headed by movie star Kevin Kline, Oscar winner Estelle Parsons, teen idol Rex Smith and pop diva Linda Ronstadt), Pirates Of Penzance proves every bit as enchanting in 2019 as it did when New York first discovered it back in 1879.

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Mar

Too Much Sun

Too Much Sun may take its time in revealing what a truly fine play it is, but once it does, it's clear Nicky Silver has come up with another darkly comedic winner. The same can be said for its Odyssey Theatre guest production West Coast Premiere.

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Mar

Black Super Hero Magic Mama

Inda Craig-Galván merits snaps for taking chances on an offbeat approach to issues of gun violence, racial profiling, and the exploitation of both for higher TV ratings. It's a tactic that may work for some, but if comic book universes leave you cold, so perhaps too will Black Super Hero Magic Mama.

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Mar

ROALD DAHL'S MATILDA THE MUSICAL

Deliciously daffy lead performances, a couple of equally splendid but darker-hued star turns, an awesomely talented child ensemble, and one of the cleverest and most tuneful scores to cross the pond in recent years make 5-Star Theatricals' Matilda The Musical worth catching despite consistent sound-mixing problems that too often made Dennis Kelly's book and Tim Minchin's lyrics difficult if not impossible to decipher on Opening Night.

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Mar

FOR THE LOVE OF (OR, THE ROLLER DERBY PLAY)

If the play's the thing, then For The Love Of (Or, The Roller Derby Play) is a mixed bag in need of a trim. If, on the other hand, performances and choreography are the thing, it's hardly surprising that this year's Block Party starter ends with a standing ovation and cheers.

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Mar

Hype Man

The latest in a long line of Fountain Theatre winners, HYPE MAN: a break beat play has much to say about race and racism, friendship and fame, and the power of music to both unite and divide. More importantly, it says all this in the most electrifying of ways.

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Mar

The Wolves

Echo Theater Company has not only scored a major coup in snagging the Los Angeles Premiere rights to Sarah DeLappe's 2017 Pulitzer Prize finalist The Wolves, the extraordinary production Echo has mounted of DeLappe's Altmanesque eavesdropping on six Saturdays of teen-girl soccer warmups will surely be remembered as one of 2019's best.

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Mar

FRIENDS WITH GUNS

Stephanie Alison Walker's Friends With Guns provides no easy answers to our nation's ongoing Red State Blue State debate. What it does do is present both sides' arguments so provocatively, your response may well be as visceral as mine. One thing is certain. This is one gut-puncher of a play.

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Mar

Hamlet

Don't let the thought of “yet another Hamlet” deter you from catching The 6th Act's latest. Simply put, if you see any Shakespeare in 2019 (and even professed Bardphobes like this reviewer owe it to themselves to see Shakespeare at least once a year), let it be this one, a Hamlet like no other before.

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Mar

The Judas Kiss

With the art-house pic The Happy Prince having recently scored its writer-director-star Rupert Everett career-best raves, the time could not be riper for The Judas Kiss to bring L.A. theater audiences to their feet. Be prepared to stand up and cheer.

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