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.
Feb

The Cripple of Inishmaan

McDonagh’s work is definitely not for everyone—it is a specific brand of humor that is often mean, and one of the character decisions in act two comes a bit out of left field, feeling unearned and included for the sake of shock value. But overall, this is a solid production that succeeds the most in its depiction of quirky small town life, accentuating how it takes all kinds of people to make up a community—even terrible ones.

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Feb

Matthew Bourne’s ‘Cinderella’

Overall, this Cinderella makes for a charming evening at the theater that is a bit of a departure from your typical musical or ballet, creating a unique blend of art with a happy ending that casts a spell.

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Feb

RAGTIME: THE MUSICAL

This production is an achievement to be proud of. The heart and soul of the story feels relevant and important in today’s political climate, a timely reminder that we can never truly know someone else’s story, and that we often have more in common with those who seem different from us than we could ever imagine.

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Feb

Othello

This classic Shakespeare tragedy just opened in a new production at A Noise Within that sets the story in present day, a choice that ultimately makes the already dated aspects of the story seem even more dated.

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Feb

Hir

Directed by Bart DeLorenzo, it may seem like this is a story about experiences of people who identify as gender queer and the effect this has on their families, but the theme that ultimately overshadows everything else is that of abuse. Ironically for a play that is wall-to-wall speeches, banter, and loudness, Hir is most effective in its rare quieter moments, of which there are not nearly enough. Much like the set on which it unfolds, the writing is cluttered, and the amount of noise ultimately confuses the potentially interesting statements the playwright is trying to make.

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Feb

LINDA VISTA

Directed by Dexter Bullard, the real star here is Letts’s writing, which is at once subtle, nuanced, and laugh-out-loud funny. Background information and complex character relationships are drawn and revealed organically and easily, and each of the six characters gets a memorable moment to shine.

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Feb

HELLO DOLLY

Starring Broadway legend Betty Buckley and based on The Matchmaker by Thornton Wilder, this 1964 musical is a feel-good relic and a perfect example of classic musical theatre, where a grand overture begins the evening and there are too many dazzling dance numbers to count.

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Dec

Scissorhands: A Musical

The most surprising part of Scissorhands is how genuinely moving it is at times.Scissorhands is played by a woman, and many references are made to their ambiguous gender identity, something that was never explored in the film. After initially assigning the name Edward, Peg later realizes they/them pronouns are more appropriate for her new adopted child. It’s a seemingly small detail, but it goes a long way in adding a new modern layer to the story, and to the underlying theme of what is “required” to be accepted in society.

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Dec

LOVE ACTUALLY LIVE

The producers would have been better off sticking to the existing songs we all know and love, but considering this entire live experience is a bit of an experiment, it is definitely mostly a success. It is a chance to see a movie in a new way rather than just booting up Netflix for the fifteenth time, and, best of all, an opportunity for some truly talented singers to bring beloved source material to life.

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Dec

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

Every moment is meticulously thought out by Arden, and the best part is that while the production is innovative enough to make one of the most well-known stories of all time feel like something you have never seen before, the beautiful message and uplifting ending that made it such a classic are still perfectly intact, sending the audience out into the Christmas season with warmed hearts.

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Nov

COME FROM AWAY

Come From Away is that rare show that strikes a chord and reminds us of the power of theater to move and transform. There is just something so special about both the story and the raw, organic way in which it is told. The expertly crafted 90 minutes practically fly by, the emotional impact sneaking up on the viewer until you cannot remember precisely when you started to cry. This musical does not need flash; it does not need huge production numbers or sparkly costumes. It has something much more important—it genuinely captures the power of the human spirit in times of crisis, reminding us all that even when it may seem like the world is ending, somewhere in a tiny town no one has heard of people are performing selfless acts that will affect generations to come.

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Nov

THE UNAUTHORIZED MUSICAL PARODY OF STRANGER THINGS

Written by Kate Pazakis, creator and Executive Producer of the UMPO Series, this show adds a new twist to the usual format, a “choose your own adventure” element where each audience gets to decide the outcome of multiple storylines by either rolling a die or by simply picking between two options.

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Nov

A BRONX TALE

The problem with the understandable comparisons to musicals like Jersey Boys and West Side Story is that A Bronx Tale borrows the least interesting aspects from other stories of this era, resulting in a show that is pleasant but ultimately mediocre and forgettable.

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Nov

Cost of Living

Loneliness is the theme that rings the most true, especially based on the scenes chosen to bookend the play, but there are moments when this message feels muddled and it is hard to discern what precisely the piece is trying to say. That being said, the fact remains that simply seeing disabled actors playing people with disabilities—particularly people with disabilities who are also three-dimensional human beings—on stage is still incredibly rare.

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Nov

VALLEY OF THE HEART

Ultimately, many of the twists and turns feel predictable. While the subject matter is certainly relevant, moving, and timely today, this specific story is full of melodrama. This feeling largely comes across due to many of the performances, which are very soap-operatic and over-the-top.

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Oct

The Little Foxes

This impressive production, which happens to be the first of the play in Los Angeles in fifteen years, draws obvious parallels to the state of the world today, and even offers surprising moments of female empowerment in the final act.

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Oct

QUACK

Bucatinsky and Gilsig in particular are giving impressive performances—the former creates a Dr. Baer who feels like a fully realized human being, quirks and all, and excels in the more physical comedic moments, while the latter commands every scene she is in with quiet rage and poise. But overall, it is difficult to latch onto or root for any of the characters. Ultimately, Quack is a social commentary that does not successfully comment on much in a meaningful way.

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Oct

DEAR EVAN HANSEN

Dear Evan Hansen is a very high quality show all-around, from the performances to the music to the very modern set and projection design (David Korins and Peter Nigrini), which shows a never-ending stream of tweets and texts and Facebook statuses, creating an ironic backdrop of constant connection for a show that is all about the anguish of feeling terribly alone. And regardless of where you decide Evan’s moral compass falls, the message of the show is an important, hopeful one.

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Oct

Sell/Buy/Date

Jones’s writing is smart, insightful, witty, and moving, and the stories explored in Sell/Buy/Date could not feel more timely or relevant. By far the most extraordinary thing about Sell/Buy/Date is Jones’s performance. The ease with which she switches between characters is remarkable, and the energy required is that of running a 90-minute marathon.

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Sep

Gloria

But when a tragedy happens, both the play and the characters’ lives face an abrupt tonal shift, laying the groundwork for a story that is actually about the effects of trauma and the various ways the ruthless media industry capitalizes on catastrophe.

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