Non-Registered Critics: Dany Margolies

Feb

Witness Uganda

…But the music direction and ultimately the story attract our attention and eventually win our admiration for the work and its good heart.

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Feb

Matthew Bourne’s ‘Cinderella’

Even with all this thoughtfulness, the achingly beautiful music, and the pointed narrative, the peak of the story comes at “this is the real me” moment, when Harry and Cinderella reveal their unglamorous selves to each other. They’re probably contentedly together in old age today, recalling the Blitz and how they met.

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Jan

LINDA VISTA

His ensemble is flawless, and yet Barford stands out in his richly detailed, specific, feeling portrait of a middle-aged white grouch who could be any of us.

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Jan

1776 THE MUSICAL

This production entertains, it evokes admiration, it provokes discussion. But its most pertinent and useful purpose may be to encourage its audiences to reread the Declaration of Independence, in full. Now, that’s a piece of writing.

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Dec

LOVE ACTUALLY LIVE

Hearing these pop songs sung as inner monologues reminds us how very much music is each of our soundtracks, and watching a few of the performances, particularly by the women, briefly convinces us that those characters are indeed live.

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Dec

DIXIE’S TUPPERWARE PARTY

It’s not quite a Christmas show, though Dixie pays cursory homage to it, as well as Hanukah, Kwanza and Ramadan, none of which she cares to pronounce remotely accurately. But the feeling promoted by Dixie, and her colleague Kris, is one of communal humor and an appreciation for what makes us human. And that’s a worthy gift this holiday season.

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Nov

COME FROM AWAY

You won’t hum any of the songs when you’re leaving the theater. You will instead hum the human spirit.

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Nov

Hughie & Krapp’s Last Tape

Steven Robman gets credit for directing here, most likely more responsible for planning and shepherding the design elements than for shaping the performance.

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Nov

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

In a generous, spirited performance, Mays starts onstage as Dickens, then plies his many skills to quickly morph into the story’s young and old, male and female, earthly and spectral characters, as Dickens uses words and Mays uses his subtle vocal and physical shifts to bring each character to life.

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Nov

VALLEY OF THE HEART

Sweet, timely and picturesque, “Valley of the Heart” tells of an earlier chapter in in American history when our nation behaved badly.

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Nov

A BRONX TALE

The gifted actor De Niro shares directing credit here with the gifted Jerry Zaks, who helmed the solo show on Broadway. It’s a safe guess De Niro developed the characters and Zaks made the staging fluid and, considering the subject matter, humorous. Even with the talents involved, however, the final product feels ordinary. Vocal and acting performances are adequate but not memorable. Even the, again, gifted choreographer Sergio Trujillo seems uninspired by the material. His dances look best, though, on tiny Leoni. If only every dancer on any stage would evidence the level of commitment yet ease with which the lad moves.

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Nov

Members Only

…And we can readily tell from the remaining dialogue, and from the action vividly and stylishly set onstage by director José Luis Valenzuela, that jealousy, fear, tribalism and basic ignorance are the ideas at the core of Mayer’s work… Ramon Espada choreographed the boxing, but especially impressive are those actors — particularly Henson, who not only repeatedly takesa fall but also then lands in exactly the same position onstage…

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Oct

QUACK

Keller keeps the dialogue bubbling, mostly thanks to the lively, quirky Bucatinsky. But Keller also keeps the action literally moving along. Near the play’s end, a little mercifully, because we may have been wondering how it all gets done, and a little boastfully, because we get to see the magic between the last several scenes, the set, designed by Dane Laffrey, reveals its secret.

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Oct

DEAR EVAN HANSEN

If this musical is ultimately about mental illness, note that Evan took himself off his anxiety meds. If it’s about suicide and its effects, note that the possibility of Evan’s attempt is dusted over. If it’s about forgiveness, we don’t see the how and when, and the why is reported to us by somewhat unreliable sources. But if the musical is intended to bring young audiences to the theater, and to encourage discussion, it has and will continue to meet that goal.

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Oct

A Splintered Soul

A script with good intentions, about people with endlessly debatable intentions, has hit the stage at International City Theatre in Long Beach, where it proves that fine acting and economic direction can elevate problematic material.

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Oct

THE CAKE

So, thankfully, none of the characters is too outrageous, too broad. No one is mocked, no position is disparaged. Still, any way you slice it, “The Cake” should be seen for Rupp’s performance as a woman struggling to reconcile what we as a society have learned with what we need to be learning. The rest is the icing.

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Sep

SCHOOL GIRLS

Bioh is aided immensely by Rebecca Taichman, who directs with wisdom and subtle theatricality. Taichman turns lines that could have become ungainly into glimmering bubbles of wittiness. Her staging embodies a primitive gathering of a clan. Her imagery provides subtext. And her casting is spot-on.

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Sep

BACCHAE by Euripides

SITI Company has brought its production of Euripides’ “Bacchae” to the Getty Villa outdoor amphitheater, where this vibrant evening reminds us that the ancient Greek playwrights put human behavior downstage center, and that human behavior hasn’t changed much since ancient times. Several other factors make this production immediate and engaging. In large part, Aaron Poochigian’s new translation and Anne Bogart’s direction feel contemporary but are based in classicism.

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Sep

The Untranslatable Secrets of Nikki Corona

But whether because of the writing or the direction, the audience feels clumsily yanked from serious thought into light laughter, and not in a good way. Rivera overuses profanity. As a character trait, or sprinkled lightly for seasoning, it can be utilitarian. But making every character blast it out is immature writing, well below the skills of the likes of Rivera. Happily, the visuals here are phenomenal, thanks to Hana S. Kim’s projection designs, Myung Hee Cho’s scenery and Lap Chi Chu’s lighting. As of now, though, a banner over the doors of the Geffen might as well read, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

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Sep

AIN’T TOO PROUD

The performers here look near enough to the real-life Temps that the audience becomes fully immersed in the story. Backed by orchestrations by Harold Wheeler, under thorough music direction and arrangements by Kenny Seymour, the vocal performances are likewise near enough to the originals but have more theatricality. And, as impressive as it was to watch the real-life originals as they simultaneously sang and danced, the dance skills here are up several notches. Choreographer Sergio Trujillo captures the essence of the decades, making sure his performers look completely comfortable in those loose-limbed moves.

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