Registered Critic: Erin Conley

Erin developed a love for theater growing up in upstate New York, just a couple hours from Broadway. A resident of Los Angeles since 2011, she began reviewing theater in 2014 and founded On Stage & Screen. In addition, she is a Los Angeles critic for OnStage and a 2017 member of the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle.
Mar

Postponed - Found

The production makes great use of the unique space, both physically thanks to the lively choreography (Kathryn Burns) and auditorily thanks to the smart music direction (Frank Galgano and Matt Castle). Any shortcomings of the main storyline in terms of originality are made up for by the emotion and humor of the found letters and notes. They’re a lovely, heartfelt glimpse into the human experience, and it is impossible to not be taken in by the charm exuding from every aspect of this production.

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Feb

The Father

The concept of seeing the world through the eyes of someone with late-stage dementia is frightening and deeply sad, and the visceral approach this production takes is truly startling. Yes, it is off-putting to watch scenes that are sometimes out of order or repeated with only small differences, but this forced uncomfortability puts the audience in André’s shoes, whether they like it or not.

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Jan

Never Been Kissed: The Unauthorized Musical

Overall, this parody does not reinvent the wheel or dig very deep into the source material, but it still provides a thoroughly fun night out.

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Jan

THE LAST SHIP

The Last Ship is one of those musicals that feels just on the verge of being something special. Many of the pieces are there, but it ultimately meanders too much and lacks the cohesion to ascend from good to great. Relying on the star power of Sting to mask some of the flaws is a savvy move that will do the show well, but based on the running time alone, this one, much like a long voyage at sea, is not for the faint of heart.

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Jan

WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME

Everything about it feels fresh, timely, and meticulously crafted, and despite the intense subject matter and hovering dark shadow of the current political climate, it manages to end on an uplifting note. All in all, this production is a triumph and should be required viewing in this election year.

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Jan

Postponed - ROCK OF AGES

The more informal setting feels perfect for this show, which was always just a little bit silly for Broadway and feels right at home in a rowdier atmosphere where guests are encouraged to rock out right along with the cast.

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Dec

DISNEY'S FROZEN

But ultimately, as the Disney Theatrical productions go, Frozen falls solidly in the middle of the pack. It does not elevate the source material the way The Lion King managed to, nor is it a cringe-worthy disaster like The Little Mermaid. It is just magical, enchanting fun, and by the time “snow” falls on the audience at the end, you will not be able to wipe the smile off your face.

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Nov

Key Largo

This production is visually gorgeous, unfolding on an ornate and adaptable set (John Lee Beatty). The lighting (Peter Kaczorowski) and sound design (Alex Hawthorn) work together to set the mood as the hurricane threatens to overtake the hotel. Overall, this substance of this production never quite manages to live up to its high-quality packaging. Perhaps gangster stories are just better off on the big screen.

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Nov

The Great Leap

It is possible that this ambitious story Yee is trying to tell, one that spans generations and continents and decades, is simply too complicated for such a small cast. Ultimately, the script and the production seem at odds, with neither able to properly service the other, resulting in a well-intentioned attempt that cannot quite score.

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Nov

The Thanksgiving Play

The Thanksgiving Play is a lot of fun to watch in its tight 90 minutes, and the cast plays off each other wonderfully. Particularly given how broad the humor becomes, it would be interesting to see how it would translate on the Geffen’s mainstage or a larger space. FastHorse’s writing is sharp and funny, and would only be made more so with a couple more opportunities to show these characters’ humanity beyond the archetypes they are meant to portray.

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Nov

Buried Child

Ultimately, this is the type of story most will either love or hate. The absurd style is not for everyone, nor is the exceptionally dark humor. It can be exhausting to watch pretty terrible people dance around what will obviously be a big reveal for nearly two hours, and some moments, particularly the final scene, are hard to watch in a way that teeters on the border of challenging and gratuitous.

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Nov

SUMMER - THE DONNA SUMMER MUSICAL

It features three actresses working together to portray the Queen of Disco at different points throughout her life, all while singing the artist’s popular dance anthems. While enthusiastic fans of Summer’s music will surely delight in this mostly upbeat show, it is a bit of a mixed bag as a bio-musical, with certain more dramatic aspects of the singer’s life glossed over haphazardly.

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Oct

The Abuelas

The story of the children of the disappeared is a fascinating one I have never seen dramatized onstage, and the play shines brightest when it focuses on that rather than getting swept up into trivial interpersonal drama that is of little consequence. Ultimately, it is exciting to see Antaeus using their always top-tier stable of actors and designers to present new works.

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Oct

Between Riverside and Crazy

It is certainly easy to see why this play has garnered so much attention and acclaim. Police shootings are a hot-button issue, perhaps even more now than in 2015 when it premiered, and Walter is a deeply interesting character, a seemingly reluctant father figure who in actuality savors those relationships.

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Oct

ANASTASIA

If you, like me, grew up on the 1997 animated film version of Anastasia, you probably remember the creepy and scary Rasputin, and the titular heroine eventually defeating him by destroying a magical glass vial. While much of the plot, and all of the memorable songs, are the same in the musical version that opened last night at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre, Rasputin and all of the supernatural elements have been removed. But despite those differences, this charming production evokes strong feelings of nostalgia, telling a touching tale of a traumatized princess attempting to find her way back to herself.

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Oct

A Kid Like Jake

While the scenes are enjoyable to watch, thanks to smart dialogue and keen performances, by the end you wonder if this series of conversations actually led anywhere. All of the issues raised are compelling and important ones, but without a clear conclusion the character arcs feel incomplete and a bit unsatisfying.

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Oct

Never Is Now

There is a lot of very poignant material here, and it is well performed by the refreshingly diverse cast, but this is not the right format to properly service it. The amount of ground to cover is too ambitious for the short running time, and the themes are too heavily emphasized to the point where there is no room left for imagination or personal interpretation.

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Sep

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS

This is not your mother’s Little Shop of Horrors that opened at the Pasadena Playhouse last night—most of the camp has been replaced with grit in an iteration that illuminates the realities of Skid Row life. But the results are mixed—while some performances and choices are successful, others miss the mark and seem to be the result of a confused creative vision.

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Sep

Skintight

Beauty is an important commodity, and Skintight, a play by Joshua Harmon currently in its west coast premiere at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, is a biting and astute look at age, appearance, and how they affect our relationship with the world. Overall, Skintight is an entertaining look at complicated people, with ideas that go beyond skin deep.

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Sep

The Solid Life of Sugar Water

Despite jumping around in time, the story moves seamlessly, held together by the strong emotional thread of the core relationship. Overall, this play is a perfect choice for Deaf West, and beautifully realized in this production, which is a brutally honest look at coping and connecting in the face of tragedy.

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