Non-Registered Critics: Ben Miles

Feb

She Loves Me

She Loves Me is the most lovable show one is likely to see this year, if not this millennium.

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Jan

WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME

Despite the earthy homily-like soliloquies offered by Schreck’s character, lending humble insight into her personal evolution, the comedy conceit of What the Constitution Means to Me is ably accompanied by a serious addressing of such lingering issues as women’s rights, immigration, and domestic abuse...

What the Constitution Means to Me is an important, if not essential, piece of theater that’s in sync with the zeitgeist of our times. It’s appropriate viewing for teens.

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Jan

Fireflies

With muscular performances by Christina Clark as Olivia and Lester Purry as Charles, this two-hander cast could not be in better or more nuanced form. Love’s dialogue literally sings from the lips of Purry, and fury pours from the performance of Clark. These two actors make not a false note in their characterizations. Bravo!...

Prepare to be lit and lifted by this 90-minute (with no intermission) theatrical trip back to the turmoil of the Civil Rights Movement.

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Nov

Bad Habits

With a simple sitcom storyline, Bad Habits is elevated to theatrical artistry by its formidable cast... Kudos to each cast member, who sing, dance and bring us to high hilarity as we watch and enjoy this two-hour spiritual comedy.

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Nov

Fifteen Men in a Smoke-Filled Room

Technically Fifteen Men runs with the proficiency of a Swiss watch, from the set design by Jeff G. Rack, which is elegant and a period-perfect replication to Michelle Young’s equally impressive costumes, which evoke 1920s fashion, to Joseph “Sloe” Slawinski’s sound engineering, which alludes to the cacophony of noises that might come with a political convention and Brandon Baruch’s lighting motif, which provides shadings in mood and variations in location.

However corrupt and inept the Harding Administration may have been, the fact that our country was able to overcome the detriments of that epoch gives us hope in our own age of political incompetence. That’s the value in experiencing Fifteen Men in a Smoke-filled Room.

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Nov

The Lion In The Winter

Under Sheldon Epps’s layered direction, with regal production values (scenic design by Stephanie Kerley Schwartz, costuming by David Kay Mickelsen, lighting by Lonnie Rafael Alcaraz, sound design by Kate Wecker, and wig designs by Anthony Gagliardi), and an able cast, Lion purrs enough to endear us to the dramatic conceit, as when the hygienically challenged Prince John (played with off-beat charm by Spencer Curnutt) says this to a rival, “You stink. You're a stinker and you stink.” But it also roars and growls, such as when Henry declares, “Who’s to say it’s monstrous? I’m the king. I call it just. Therefore, I, Henry... do sentence you to death. Done this Christmas Day in Chinon in God’s year 1183.”

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Oct

Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill

For jazz and blues music aficionados, for musical history buffs, and/or for those simply interested in having an engrossing theatrical experience, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill is a must-see show.

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Sep

ON BECKETT

In 89-minutes we not only learn of Beckett’s literary and dramatic contributions to the western canon (many of which Beckett wrote in French), we also delight in Irwin’s lighthearted abilities as an entertainer. Irwin, accomplished in the art of clowning, shows us the importance of the bowler hat in Godot and in clowning generally — recall Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp persona, bowler hat, big shoes and all. But inherent in Irwin’s On Beckett is Irwin’s exquisite interpretation of Beckett’s words.

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Aug

Nick Dear's Frankenstein | California Premiere

No mere creature feature, Dear’s stage version of the Shelley tale is a horror story, but it is about the horror that is inflected on the psyche of a neglected, rejected, alienated being—a sentient being—and the toll that such cruelty extracts from the abused being and that being’s reaction the insensitivity of others to his outlier appearance.

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Jul

RICHARD III

With an adaptable black box scenic design (by Kojac), meticulous costume designs, which evoke the sensibilities of the 15th century (by Celestina Hudson) — as well as spot on lighting and sound design and operation by Brian Newell and Trevor Clayton, respectively — this Richard III is not only a grand theatrical experience but also a warning against tyrannical, opportunistic leadership.

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Jul

Ragtime

With an abundance of dramatic conflict, a rousing musical score , and production values that are unimpeachable. Scenic design by Christopher Scott Murillo transforms from a modern-day transit station that quickly transfers into a location from a century ago, and imaginative prop designs created by Danthi Tran insures that the Chance’s mounting of Ragtime is a notable and honorable achievement. It’s a must see for musical aficionados and American history buffs.

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Jun

Bestseller

Bestseller has moments that reveal the potential for a fine and funny farce. In its current state of incubation, however, this two-hour romp is more madcap than comedy.

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Jun

A Streetcar Named Desire

Currently in production at the Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles, however, is a staging of Streetcar that comes to vibrant, tragic life before our eyes. Under the delicate direction of Jack Heller this revival of Streetcar is a pertinent and insightful case study in marriage and family relations. Not only is the phenomenon of spousal abuse put on view here, psychological fragility and personal desperation are also acutely explored in this intricate theatrical achievement.

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May

M. Butterfly

Now M. Butterfly graces South Coast Rep’s Segerstrom Stage through June 8, and under the colorfully stylized direction of Desdemona Chiang, Butterfly is a complex take by playwright Hwang on the phantasmagoric tale of French diplomat Rene Gallimard’s obsession with Song Liling (Lucas Verbrugghe performing as Gallimard with boyish naivety).

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May

The Price

Directed with hoary elegance by John Henry Davis, with a stunningly evocative scenic design by Yuri Okahana; credible costuming by Kim DeShazo; indispensable property designs by Patty and Gordon Briles; and with appropriate sound and lighting designs by Dave Mickey and Dan Weingarten, respectively — this ICT production of The Price is brought to life by a four member cast, which includes David Nevell as Victor Franz; Eylse Mirto as Esther Franz; Bo Foxworth as Walter Franz; and Tony Abatemarco as Gregory Solomon — all of whom carve meticulous portrayals of Miller's complex characters.

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May

Skylight

Love, lust, resentment, and guilt are some of the emotional conundrums broached in David Hare's drama, Skylight,which won the Olivier Award for Play of the Year in its premiere production at London's National Theatre in 1995...

Directed with much emotion by Oanh Nguyen — with superb stagecraft by Bruce Goodrich (scenic design); Adriana Lambarri (Costuming); Matt Schleicher (Lighting); and Ryan Brodkin (Sound).

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Apr

Marx in Soho

While the monodrama proves more informative and educational than theatrically powerful, it is nevertheless a tribute to the budding theatre company — The Social Stage — which under the artistic direction of Ye'ela Rosenfeld aims to couple its socially relevant productions with salon-like discussions based on the socially conscious stagings it produces...

The Social Stage is the first and only such theater company in Los Angeles. Its mission is to “encourage audiences to connect and converse about social and economic issues.” It is a noble and necessary purpose that couldn't be more timely.

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Apr

Catch Me If You Can - The Musical

With precise direction by Larry Rabin, toe-tapping musical direction by Dennis Castellano, and luscious eye-candy choreography by Peggy Hickey, Catch Me is a musical extravaganza employing 23 performers in 21 scenes, packed tightly into two acts, with over a dozen and-a-half song and dance numbers.

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Mar

Life Could Be A Dream

Directed and choreographed by Jamie Torcelli, with upbeat musical direction by Bill Wolfe (on the piano) backed by Adolfo Kushelevish (guitar) and Juan Garcia (percussion) - "Life Could Be a Dream" is loaded with nostalgia and a "Happy Days" - like good cheer.

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Jan

1776 THE MUSICAL

1776 is an inspiring take on a monumental time in American history. Still, much dramatic license is taken with the script... With period-punctuated costuming by Shon LeBlanc; a time-setting scenic design by Stephen Gifford; mood-setting lighting by Jared Sayeg; pristine sound engineering by Philip G. Allen and Leon Rothenberg; and a rousing seven-member orchestra, 1776 gives a stirring retelling of this earthshaking episode in history. Don't miss it.

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