Non-Registered Critics: Elaine L. Mura

Feb

A BODY OF WATER

Director Nan McNamara does a powerful job of helming a play filled with fear, pain, and humor as she carefully dissects the lives of three individuals and their interactions with each other.

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Feb

West Adams

The talented cast eagerly enters into the battle with ferocious antagonism that rapidly devolves into an assaultive onslaught on the enemy. Attacking timely issues like race, class, gentrification, and immigration, WEST ADAMS is certainly a thought-provoking study of people caught in the cross-hairs.

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Feb

"The Unseen Hand" and "Killer's Head"

From a historical perspective which honors Sam Shepard’s early work in experimental theater, this double bill was intriguing. At the same time, both plays often prove confusing and difficult to follow. They clearly reflected the ethos of the hippie era – both comic and tragic – but times and styles change. Shepard’s early work might almost be seen as the male version of the feminist movement, in that he studies the world from the perspective of the macho guy and all that viewpoint entails. Aficionados of Shepard’s work, as well as drama history buffs, will clearly enjoy the double bill. However, early Shepard might also be seen as an acquired taste.

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Feb

This Side Of Crazy

THIS SIDE OF CRAZY is faultlessly written and directed by Del Shores with the invaluable aid of four very talented performers – one better than the next. Playwright Shores has managed to elegantly parse these women’s personalities and dig into their individual deep-rooted drives with compassion, humor, and flashes of the poignant. Tom Buderwitz’s scenic design fits right in, as do Shon Le Blanc’s costumes, Matthew Brian Denman’s lighting, and Drew Dalzell’s sound. As the Blaylock Sisters sing their signature song, it’s obvious that musical director Blake McIver is having fun with the gospel scene. THIS SIDE OF CRAZY is a not-to-be-missed production which showcases the talents of everyone involved.

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Jan

UNTIL THE FLOOD

Director Neel Keller does an excellent job of bringing to life each of Orlandersmith’s alter-egos – whether they be black, white, male, female, young, or old. Takeshi Kata’s scenic design is simple but artful as Orlandersmith glides from personality to personality and center stage to corner space...

But above all, this is Orlandersmith’s show as she cleverly invites the audience to peek at the inner lives of so many interesting people experiencing the after-effects of trauma and racial bias. With subtle changes of expression, movement, and speech, she projects the dissimilarities – and similarities – of the individuals she spoke to. UNTIL THE FLOOD is a thought-provoking production which turns the philosophic into human form with all the faults, foibles, hopes, and dreams of real people.

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Jan

ARSENIC AND OLD LACE

ARSENIC AND OLD LACE is a fun play which will charm and entertain. Don’t look for depth in this light, laugh-inducing, hilarious production. This is a play to enjoy, and the audience clearly loved it.

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Jan

Sunday Dinner

Director/author Tony Blake does an excellent job of building up the inevitable progression of secrets coming to light with the aid of a talented ensemble cast who can deliver a quip as well as a painful confession with equal skill. As always, Jeff G. Rack’s set is flawless, as well as Michele Young’s costumes, Brandon Baruch’s and Gregory Crafts’ lighting, and Joseph Slawinski’s sound.

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Jan

THE LAST SHIP

The writer of the new book, Lorene Campbell, also serves as director for THE LAST SHIP; he proves to be efficient and successful in both endeavors. The cast is large and multi-talented, singing and dancing with abandon. Like the director, Sting had a dual role as composer of the music and lyrics and also one of the lead actors, Jackie White. The music ranges from melancholy to rousing, and the lyrics tell their story effectively. Again, Sting shines in both roles.

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Jan

Nowhere On The Border

NOWHERE ON THE BORDER is timely and thought-provoking in an era where political realities may often clash with humanitarian concerns. The talented cast successfully tell the story while treading the fine line between melodrama and reality, kindness and anger, dreams and the mystical.

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Jan

It's Only A Play

T’S ONLY A PLAY is an entertaining comedy/farce/satire which alternates between raucous and ridiculous – all the while keeping the audience on their toes in a laugh-a-minute fest. Theater audiences will enjoy seeing how “the other half” – those in front of the lights rather than behind – lives and survives. IT’S ONLY A PLAY proves that sometimes the biggest laughs happen offstage. To quote the 2014 New York Times review: “These are among the funniest lines to roll off a stage in years.” This critic for one thinks that the Morgan-Wixson has outdone itself in this superb production.

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Jan

WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME

Directed with a firm hand by Oliver Butler, who manages to tell Schreck’s story through her memories and then in real time, WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME is highly effective and involving.

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Jan

Earthquakes in London

The talented cast give their all to this tale of potential death and destruction – with a little bit of hope thrown in at the end.

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Jan

The Adventures of Peter Rabbit

With music and musical direction by Matt Dahan and choreography by Mark Marchillo, THE ADVENTURES OF PETER RABBIT is brimming with sparkling song and dance. Ashley Taylor’s set design is simple but effective, and the entire production team does a yoeman’s job of making theater accessible to the young and young-at-heart. There is even an intermission replete with cookies and apple juice.

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Jan

Charley's Aunt

Director Carter Thomas has done an excellent job of keeping the play moving swiftly along, replete with hilarious sight jokes and the obligatory but also hysterical pratfalls. The large cast really gets into the tale with enthusiasm and talented teamwork. Costume designer Angela Manke has a ball dressing up the twenties crowd, and Paul Reid’s lighting keeps the scenes rolling along. CHARLEY’S AUNT is an entertaining, uproarious comedy which shouldn’t be missed.

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Jan

The Legend of Georgia McBride

THE LEGEND OF GEORGIA MCBRIDE is a fun experience that poses some intriguing questions for its characters – amid lots of laughs for the audience members. Profundity isn’t its strong suit – but pure unadulterated entertainment certainly is.

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Jan

THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER

For THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER transcends time to come across as fresh and new at every turn. Even if a few of the “famous” in the play don’t ring any bells for you – you’ll quickly catch on to the humor. Good writing is timeless – and THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER proves the point.

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Dec

MATTHEW BOURNE'S SWAN LAKE

Bourne’s SWAN LAKE manages to modernize an old favorite with the introduction of male swans – all the while adding new zest and titillation into the story. Because – for all the subtlety of Tchaikovsky and flowing dance – SWAN LAKE has become a truly erotic journey with overwhelming sensual suggestions and racy undertones.

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Dec

Disposable Necessities

The entire production team does a creditable job of creating a “Brave New World” for its characters. But make no mistake: it is the cunning introduction of this fascinating new world which keeps the audience focused. For better or worse, it doesn’t take too much imagination to see that our twenty-first century digital age could easily go in author McGowan’s direction. Science fiction buffs will love this comic tale – but it will also appeal to people who love to uncover layers of meaning – and who want to be entertained while doing it.

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Dec

Before

A fascinating combination of music by a man who purports to hate musicals and an unfulfilled longing for the special love between parent and child, BEFORE shines in ways that only Pat Kinevane can craft. Director Jim Culleton does a superb job of corralling so many thoughts and feelings into a complete whole.

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Dec

The Wrong Kind of People

THE WRONG KIND OF PEOPLE is a cute bit of fluff about some disturbing Los Angeles history, a play which tries to focus on the humorous rather than the tragic. The ensemble cast works well together to set the mood and keep things going forward. For an audience who enjoy lots of visual humor and the occasional funny jibe, THE WRONG KIND OF PEOPLE should prove highly entertaining.

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