Non-Registered Critics: Eric Marchese

Sep

GRUMPY OLD MEN: THE MUSICAL

On its own terms, “Grumpy Old Men: The Musical” is the kind of fluffy, feel-good show that generally pleases the theater-going masses. Its good-natured tone lends it a similar feel to “The Full Monty,” as both depict older guys struggling to retain their self-images and sense of masculinity.

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Dec

Jane Austen's EMMA

Impeccable in every respect, Chance Theater's staging brims with effervescence and wit. With a solid cast of 13, skilled direction from Casey Long, and design elements that complement the nature and themes of the novel, it's all fans of Austen's work could hope for.

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May

Good People

All of these issues and a few more come into play in David Lindsay-Abaire's “Good People.” The 2011 dramedy receives an auspicious Orange County premiere at Chance Theater, where the skilled playwright delivers the same brutal honesty as seen in such modern classics as “Kimberly Akimbo” and “Rabbit Hole.”

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May

Cardboard Piano

...Jung and ICT's devastatingly powerful staging deliver valuable and vibrant lessons about love, religion, violence and forgiveness.

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Feb

Daddy Long Legs

...“Daddy Long Legs” is a beautifully lyrical tale grounded in the realities and complexities of human nature and the human heart.

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Feb

Violet

Hayter's six principals and five-person ensemble are simply superb, their talents elevating the show's 26 solid, and solidly enjoyable, musical numbers...“Violet” is tough, unforgiving and bittersweet. With a sad story that ironically brims with life and hope, it's unlikely you'll soon forget this potent piece of musical theater – or Chance's masterful production of it.

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Oct

Home

Thanks to director Gregg T. Daniel, we get the full impact of Cephus' life and Williams' writing. Better still is Donathan Walters' portrayal of Cephus.

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Oct

Tribes

The nature of communication is skillfully played for laughs yet explored from a dramatic standpoint both in the play's self-assured text and in the way Marya Mazor's virtuoso direction dazzlingly brings out the play's key elements.

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Sep

Ain't Misbehavin'

...the show is an outrageously enjoyable celebration of a bygone world. Filled with joy, sass, flair, and 'tude to spare, La Mirada-McCoy Rigby's superb production revives that world while generating nostalgia for a singular time in American life.

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Sep

Silent Sky

ICT's handsome, expertly crafted production is confidently helmed by director Todd Nielsen, with Leavitt's world cloaked in the often stuffy formality of both the era and the world of academia. Yet, the impressively solid work of Nielsen and his superb cast can't compensate for the script's shortcomings.

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Jul

PARADE

And while Chance's production is by no means small in scale, its stripping away of theatrical window dressing proves that the show's power lies in handling it as a chamber musical. Nothing in Hayter's heart-wrenching staging separates us from the characters and their words and actions, and her choreography and Robyn Manion's musical direction amplify the force of the story and songs. Their work is bolstered by Fred Kinney's mostly bare raked wooden stage, Masako Tobaru's subtle lighting, Ryan Brodkin's sound design and Elizabeth Cox's spare-looking early 20th-century costumes. Chance's up-close handling puts our focus wholly onto the actions, emotions and vocal work of every member, top to bottom, of Hayter's superlative 18-person cast.

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Jun

Crimes of the Heart

In director Luke Yankee's hands at International City Theatre, the 1978 seriocomedy is dryly funny and engagingly but never brittly dramatic, his well-chosen actors adroitly relaying both ends of the play's emotional and tonal continuums.

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May

In Kings & Fools

Director Derek Long's casting and staging could hardly be improved upon, delivering straightforward and candid emotions while meshing a standard family drama with tragic historic events.

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Feb

Forever Plaid

“Forever Plaid” has always been a fun, innocuous, G-rated show that baby boomers probably enjoy more than anyone, but that's suited for all ages. This Long Beach staging hits on all cylinders, its cast and production team so talented as to reinforce, yet also justify, this show's ongoing popularity.

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