Non-Registered Critics: Chris Daniels

Nov

Aubergine

Under Ms. Peterson’s direction, these scenes are skillful and affecting, cruel and kind. There are wordless pleasures here, too, like the way Ray’s uncle kneels at his brother’s bedside or how Mr. Kim’s Ray handles a turtle, destined for the soup pot.

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Nov

Matilda The Musical

The La Mirada Theatre and McCoy Rigby Entertainment has struck gold with this wildly entertaining musical makeover of Roald Dahl's “Matilda,” and Director Matthews’ wondrously well-drilled production finds just the right balance between gleeful grotesque humor and heart-warming poignancy. The show ends in a triumphant celebration of good over evil, kindness over brutality, and intelligence over stupidity.

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Nov

Goosebumps the Musical: Phantom of the Auditorium

Stepping right off that script, "Goosebumps the Musical: Phantom of the Auditorium" opened on October 6th at Chance Theater, Anaheim’s official resident theater company, just in time for the Halloween season, and exuberantly retaining the Stine signature heebie jeebies: campy horror, personal growth for the tween protagonists, and a supernatural twist in the final pages.

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Oct

The Vandal

Directed by Kari Hayter, “The Vandal” has been expertly cast...

For all the intrinsic appeal of Linklater’s literate script, it’s the actors who fill in the blanks—a task that should not be trusted to anyone less skilled than the three thespians astutely cast here.

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Sep

GRUMPY OLD MEN: THE MUSICAL

In a cast of scene-stealers, the ensemble plays the comedy and romance to perfection, with Director Lenz adroitly allowing their own professional canniness and individual characterizations at times to ensure that this grumpy hurrah remains natural and poignant. Much of that credit significantly belongs to scripter Dan Remmes. His compassion in his book for these now well-known characters eschews real sentimentality and provides a certain dignity even amid the ribald banter and utter puerility of the pension-age adolescents.

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Sep

In Circles

In the dedicated hands of Director David Schweizer (along with indispensable assistants Marissa Dubois and Bo Powell), what might otherwise come across as dated, instead enhances the play's other-worldly ambience. That ambience is strongly supported by Ann Closs-Farley’s delightfully all white 1920s-esque costumes, enhanced further by Chu-Hsuan Chang’s arrestingly beautiful light design, sparkling on an ingenious red set background by Mark Guirguis. The ensemble, stage-managed by Owen Panno, is both playful and polished, a remarkable accomplishment given the apparent lack of specificity written into each role.

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Sep

Beast on the Moon

In the play, “Beast on the Moon,” its depiction of this travesty is delicate, yet unflinching, and creates a powerful exploration of legacy for many of its survivors. Rich in historical fact, the play not only addresses the deep emotional resonance about love but also the remarkable way humans are able to survive unspeakable pain and tragedy and go on to cobble together a life in spite of it.

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Aug

Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward

It is sublime, divine and genuinely amusing, in equal proportions. A glorious confection, every mouthful of which deserves savoring.

...But that is not all. Once again, this cast is mouth-watering perfection. Mr. Hovance, the crust, Ms. Blakeley the filling, Ms. Plotin the topping, and Ms. Churgin, indubitably, the vanilla bean ice-cream.

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Aug

Puffs

Director Lowe, along with Choreographer Aidan Daguro, Stage Manager Kelsey Somerville and Assistant SM Ashley Jones, coordinates and actor-wrangles this compelling 11-strong cast as they bring this award-winning show to fulfilling jollity. Jeff Lowe’s directorial stylings, in concert with Matt Cox’s breathless pace, command of satire and improvised mania seem to go together much like Lennon and McCartney.

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Jul

Ragtime

Blessed with visual beauty, ambition, a smashing wardrobe and a social conscience, ''Ragtime'' is the kind of musical that brings audiences to their knees in adoration. And there is truly much to admire in the show, from its daguerreotype images telestically brought to life to the electric presence of its leading man, Dony Wright, as the revolutionary Coalhouse Walker Jr.

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Jun

Rewind - A New 80s Musical

The show is a 90-minute timeless adventure that keeps you guessing, but so well entertained! Integrated with a pulsing score and electrifying performances by an impressive company of actors, the musical stars seven veteran actors in a high-energy production that is a carnival of delights. Uproariously funny, complete with a double love story, some of the best original pop songs ever written – not to mention, copious amounts of blue eyeshadow, cans of hairspray, and even a Star Wars Yoda impression. The result is a musical that will not only charm and amuse audiences of any age, but you will be singing these tunes in the shower for days.

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Jun

Kentwood Players Presents Pippin

Altogether, the show is a tour de force of vocal genius, athletic feats and exquisite acting, and the charisma of the entire company uniquely nonpareil. You come expecting entertainment, and you are definitely not disappointed. Even the musical's opening moments were attention-getting, with black lights and a sea of white-gloved hands.

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Jun

M. Butterfly

Playwright Hwang layers many nuanced themes in this beautifully written story, including sexual identity, male-female relationships, foreign policy during the Vietnam era, the puritanism of China’s Cultural Revolution, and the traditional Peking Opera. The acting, in whole, represents what every play should have, what every relationship should have—consummate concomitants, dedicated and true. In this case, the company of “M. Butterfly” exceeded every expectation, executing a masterful work of art, and has the ultimate recommendation!

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Jun

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

This is a Disney spectacle at its finest and most sumptuous — perhaps off-putting to some theatrical purists, but excessively entertaining nonetheless.

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May

And Then There Were None

Director Thomas-Visgar brings admirable clarity to the play, with a sense of dramatic pacing that is particularly effective. The play grows in intensity and passion as it progresses toward its agreeably surprising conclusion.

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May

Tigers Be Still

There’s something funny going on at Chance Theater…and, also something sweet. Spring has only just begun, but it’s hard to imagine things getting much more honeycombed than they already are with this wonderfully appealing domestic dramedy...

I’m referring to "Tigers Be Still,” Kim Rosenstock’s quirky little 90-minute curtain raiser, which plays like a cross between a Seinfeld episode and the off-kilter dysfunction of Showtime's hit show, “Shameless.” Actually, it’s times like these that a theater critic lives for. I felt privileged simply being in the same room with some really amazing actors.

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May

Skylight

Tear-stained stories of impossible love have been a staple of theater for centuries. And David Hare’s 1995 heart-piercing drama, “Skylight,” his tightest, and arguably his best melodrama yet, delivers big on the rueful pleasures of that genre at Chance Theater, Anaheim.

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May

One Slight Hitch

The jokes come fast and furious, piled on each other like pancakes at a church fundraiser, and there is plenty of substance and silliness to feast on. After the performance, it felt like it fit somewhere between a reality show like Bridezilla and a situation comedy. Directed with style by Jason Sutton, the cast is extremely adept in their roles.

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May

SINGIN' IN THE RAIN

With the aid of brilliant technical minds, La Mirada Theatre provides the audience with an abundance of “glorious feelings” throughout the show, and also makes it rain on stage during the signature number as well as an encore. But it’s the core of the cast that precipitates the show's success.

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May

Next to Normal

...the creators of “Next to Normal” realized they had something of authentic and original value beneath the formulaic flourishes, so they made the decision to toughen up and cast off the last traces of cuteness. This meant never releasing the audience from the captivity of its characters’ minds. That decision has transformed a small, stumbling musical curiosity into a work of muscular grace and power.

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