Non-Registered Critics: Dany Margolies

Feb

CANCELLED - The Winter's Tale

Geoff Elliott directs, streamlining the script. Frederica Nascimento’s scenic design makes the Sicilian scenes densely somber, the characters living within walls of thick black stone. Brightness and congeniality fill the Bohemian scenes, as the characters dance in pastoral beauty while life blooms all around them.

Leontes realizes his unrestrained jealousy has ruined his life and the lives of too many others. A happy ending, beautifully rendered, reminds us, as do all these productions this week, that we can’t always control others so we must learn to control ourselves.

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Feb

Frankenstein

The lighting in this production can get harsh, blasting directly into the audience, and the narrative is often difficult to follow. But the creativity in assembling this piece is worthy of Shelley’s premise that all of us have the potential to make change but must do it wisely.

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Feb

ALL PERFORMANCES CANCELED BY CTG - THE BOOK OF MORMON

Parker and Casey Nicholaw co-direct again, meaning the show is the same as in its previous two tours through the area — with a few exceptions. Cunningham is more Jerry Lewis geeky. The Mormon’s district leader in Uganda, Elder McKinley (Andy Huntington Jones), is less militantly gay. And our view of the world has shifted. This time around, we just might be noticing all the lying, all the spreading of misinformation, all the delusion we allow ourselves.

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Feb

Eurydice

Saturday’s performance emerged as a triumph — musically, visually and vocally. It features a sterling cast led by the lithe and endearing soprano, Danielle de Niese (as Eurydice); the robust baritone of Joshua Hopkins (as her music-obsessed boyfriend, Orpheus); counter-tenor, John Holiday (as Orpheus’s spirit double); Barry Banks, a cross between Lucifer and Harvey Weinstein (as Hades); with LA Opera veteran baritone Rod Gilfry as Eurydice’s father, a sort of rumpled mid-western advice-giving version of Polonius.

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Feb

Kinky Boots

John Tartaglia directs, and while the production lacks some of the interplay and subtext of the 2014 national tour, it certainly feels every bit as heartwarming and pointed as ever. It also boasts David Rockwell’s Broadway set and Gregg Barnes’ happily flamboyant Broadway costume designs.

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Feb

The Father

“The Father” is one of the most-affecting, subtly wrenching, conversation-provoking pieces to grace our stages in too long a while.

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Feb

Revenge Song

Though “Revenge Song” speaks to gender equality and spotlights its love-who-you-love theme, its style overpowers its substance. But what style! Robert Ross Parker’s direction is big and splashy, as if each moment featured a giant “Kapow!” bursting from the stage, with a guerrilla edge that belies the scrupulously detailed fight direction (Maggie Macdonald and Tim Brown).

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Jan

ARSENIC AND OLD LACE

Director Casey Stangl has cast such fine actors so impeccably, and provided so many delightful comedic touches, we’re left admiring the work of all involved.

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Jan

THE LAST SHIP

Sting’s voice has remained poetically raspy, though it befits his punk-pop legacy more than it befits musical theater. His acting chops lag behind those of his fellow cast members. It speaks well of him, however, that he surrounds himself with powerful singers.

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Jan

WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME

“What the Constitution Means to Me” is writer Heidi Schreck’s nearly two-hour, rather heartfelt, well-staged, beautifully delivered lecture centering on the one document holding America together.

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Dec

DISNEY'S FROZEN

The 2018 Broadway musical “Frozen,” in its national tour, just might melt the hearts of even the most hardened theatergoers at the Pantages.

It’s not flawless, but it’s surprisingly deep, sweetly romantic, visually opulent and plentifully humorous.

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Dec

MATTHEW BOURNE'S SWAN LAKE

We’re left with the sensation that we’ve experienced artistry beyond our own limited imaginings: the flawless blending of visuals with this magnificent score, the uniquely athletic dancing, the penetrating study of the mind.

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Nov

AUGUST WILSON'S JITNEY

Each scene is a gem in its own way, some filled with warm humor, some with pointed social commentary. But the scenes featuring Jones as the rightfully self-righteous father and Battiste as the rightfully self-protective son are exquisite. Ramrod-straight Jones and respectfully constrained Battiste seem to do so little in those moments, yet they produce powerful emotions in us.

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Nov

Key Largo

Symbolism includes storms, predators, crutches, and other representations of good and evil. Those whom we might identify with, or learn from, however, might secretly surprise us.

Like a frustrated child, Rocco rages against the storm, firing his gun and demanding the thunder stop. And we believe that we are watching a real man in a real hotel lashing back at a real storm. If entertainment takes us out of our theater seats and into a story, this is entertainment indeed.

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Nov

The Great Leap

...Likewise above and beyond superb are the writing, designs and direction in this joint presentation by Pasadena Playhouse and East West Players of playwright Lauren Yee’s memorable story, given a richly visual, deeply felt production. Even those who don’t care for basketball or international affairs will care about these characters.

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Nov

SUMMER - THE DONNA SUMMER MUSICAL

Considering that the legendary figure at the center of this story spent much of her life battling against being pigeonholed as superficial and unworthy, “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical” is unforgivably superficial and pretty much unworthy.

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Nov

The Thanksgiving Play

Michael John Garcés directs. He drives this work with near manic energy. His actors are superb, even when pushed to skit-like heights. But subtlety, whether moments or entire scenes, would give at least some in the audience a chance to think, to absorb, to let the language and the situations sell the satire.

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Nov

THE NEW ONE

Yes, it is strange to head to the Ahmanson for a solo show.

But like a big Broadway musical would, Birbiglia fills the Ahmanson stage, using his warmth and honesty. He’s like the couch he talks about anthropomorphically: hugging us, soothing us, drawing us in for the duration.

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Oct

Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill

The utterly convincing Foreman walks an unsteady Holiday up the theater’s aisles, where we hope Holiday doesn’t lose her footing or more. This Holiday didn’t do cross-training, didn’t hydrate, didn’t eat organic. We hope Foreman is taking good care of herself, however, because the stamina and focus needed for this performance must be a bit brutal on the body and mind.

“Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill” is indeed about Holiday and this evening of her cabaret act. It’s also about a race, a gender, an entire species. How could we treat one another this way — lynching, raping, drug-pushing, even just saying the vilest things? And then, how could the human spirit rise above and fill a voice like hers?

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Oct

ANASTASIA

If you are looking for a musical with voices to thrill you and music to transport you, “Anastasia” at the Pantages is not it. If you are looking for a musical with a story that resonates, inspires, educates, again this one isn’t it.

However, this musical’s projection designs are stunningly gorgeous and ingenious enough to induce the gasps and sighs we might otherwise experience from great singing or transportive storytelling. Add in the stunning costuming, lighting and staging, and the show nears must-see status.

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