Non-Registered Critics: Elaine L. Mura

Feb

The Importance of Being Earnest

THE IMPORTANCE OF EARNEST is a rollicking satire in which nothing is sacred. Presented in three acts, this merry and entertaining boondoggle through life in “the good old (Victorian) days” will keep you laughing. Helmed by Michael Marchak, the talented cast seem to enjoy the play as much as the audience.

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Feb

Matthew Bourne’s ‘Cinderella’

There is no dialog in Matthew Bourne’s CINDERELLA. All is projected through effortless dance to melodies which let us know in no uncertain terms the emotions coursing through every character’s being. Some tips are offered through bits of newsreels, old snapshots, some cinematic moments, and exquisite lighting and sound. For this is a multimedia productions which weds music, dance, and the digital world around us. At the same time, CINDERELLA also brings together past and present to create an intriguing new whole.

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Feb

Death House

Written by skilled playwright Jason Karasev and directed by Michael Peretzian, DEATH HOUSE is a play you don’t want to miss. Gripping, poignant, exciting, enigmatic, intriguing, startling, fascinating. All of these descriptors and more mark the Road Theatre on Lankershim’s latest must-see production.

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Feb

1776 THE MUSICAL

Overall, this is a colorful, uplifting musical which is entertaining, thought provoking, and just plain fun. Kudos to Stephen Gifford for his perfect scenic design, Shon Le Blanc for those spectacular costumes, Jared A. Sayeg for beautiful lighting, and Philip G. Allen and Leon Rothenberg for great sound. With superb musical direction by Jeff Rizzo and terrific direction and staging by Glenn Casale, 1776 THE MUSICAL takes off. By all means, bring the kids. Let them experience the birth of their nation.

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Feb

SOUL CRUSHING DISCO BALL

The two male leads did an excellent job of detailing their characters’ feelings and emotions on the path from childhood and silliness to adulthood and silliness…

SOUL-CRUSHING DISCO BALL will likely appeal to lovers of “buddy” stories, as well as fans of “coming of age” sagas. Although it is somewhat uneven – and sometimes fails to dig into deeper dynamics – it was still amusing and entertaining.

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Feb

Stockholm

Kim Rubinstein’s direction lures the audience into the darkness of souls in conflict. Both actors are a joy to watch as their weave and parry, each aware of the other while pretending otherwise. Given the absence of a traditional stage set, the full weight of the piece must fall on their shoulders; and they do a superb job of keeping the audience on its toes. Kudos to Stephen Buescher for his gorgeous choreography, so enticing and involving. And a special thanks to Ingmar Bergmann, whose films may have inspired this play.

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Feb

LINDA VISTA

A production of the Steppenwolf Theatre, LINDA VISTA is blessed with an excellent cast headed by Barford, who really gets into his character with gusto. Skillfully helmed by Dexter Bullard, the cast gives its all to a story of failed dreams and persistent tries. And let’s not forget that, even though the story can smack of underlying sadness, Letts has managed to turn Wheeler’s tragedies into very funny stuff. Get ready to laugh while ridiculous situations rear their poignant heads.

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Feb

An Inspector Calls

AN INSPECTOR CALLS is a classic thriller and is guaranteed to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. The plot will keep you guessing while raising unbidden goosebumps.

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Feb

The Diary Of Anne Frank

THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK is a poignant, moving tale, a must-see for anyone with ties to or interest in the epoch. This production also draws parallels to the present which cannot be ignored. It’s an important show for audiences from eight to eighty. Entertaining? Yes. Thought provoking? Absolutely.

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Feb

Hir

Skillfully directed by Bart DeLorenzo, HIR explodes beyond its confines with dark humor and irreverence. The talented ensemble cast keep the story popping in unexpected and very funny ways. …The entire production team has done a terrific job of making the ridiculous painfully real.

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Jan

The Cripple of Inishmaan

Brilliantly directed by Steven Robman – who has managed to help mold each character on Inishmaan into his own very special persona – no two characters are even remotely interchangeable. Each stands out as a unique human being – and yet they all play together so well even as the hurtful words fly. Kudos to every actor in the show, each etched into a fine engraving. Kudos too to John Iacovelli, whose scenic design is breathtaking; Garry Lennon, whose costumes are perfect; and to all the production crew who make Irish Inishmaan come alive. Dialect coach Lauren Lovett also deserves a hand. The cast sound more Irish than the Irish.

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Jan

Rod Serling’s Stories from the Zone

Adapted and co-directed by the talented Jeff G. Rack, ROD SERLING’S STORIES FROM THE ZONE captures the naively wonderful world of Serling to a tee.

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Jan

Paradise

PARADISE proves to be entertaining, thought-provoking, and fun besides. This is a fascinating study of conflict and how it might be resolved – or not.

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Jan

SMART LOVE

Contemporary twist on what makes a human, human… tailor made for today’s science – and all the ethical and practical questions. The cast is letter perfect in conveying their emotional roller coaster rides through today’s digital world. A light, funny, and charming play which will resonate with today’s millennials

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Jan

It Is Done

No matter what your opinion about the devil, souls, an afterlife, or even evil in general, you won’t be able ignore the clever and very funny thesis that underlies veteran writer Goldberg’s piece about life, death, and payback. Directed by Renaissance man Jeff G. Rack – set designer, writer, and director for dozens of Los Angeles shows and guiding light (with partner Charlie Mount) of Arcane Theatreworks – Rack clearly enjoys tweaking audience sensibilities with works that stretch the imagination.

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Jan

A Misunderstanding

The ensemble cast does an excellent job of playing off each other’s strengths and weaknesses – each with a very special niche to fill in this potential fire fight. Director de Santos delves into the characters with intensity and manages to add some life (and a few lighter moments) into a story which could have been rather dry and bookish.

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Jan

Forever Brooklyn

It’s a poignant and slyly funny tale which will keep the audience tickled throughout. Audience Alert: As I mentioned above, audience members who remember Brooklyn in its heyday (or who have heard a lot about it from their nostalgic family members) will be especially charmed by this warmhearted story of rags to riches.

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Jan

Special

Although the constant shifts of character sometimes proved confusing, the frequent changes also kept the story moving along at a frantic pace. While SPECIAL may not be the definitive answer to the question raised by everybody involved in the TV bomb, it certainly offered some amusing possibilities.

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Dec

middle8

MIDDLE8’s special contribution to the theater must remain its music and the talented people who make this an unforgettable evening.

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Dec

COME FROM AWAY

COME FROM AWAY is an enchanting fairy tale; and, at the same time, a real-life adventure which will charm everyone in the audience. It’s almost impossible not to smile as the engaging account progresses. This is a feel-good story which may just prove that people, given half a chance, can handle any crisis with grace and wit.

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