Non-Registered Critics: Karen Salkin

Aug

Billie Holiday: Front and Center

Sybil really channels Billie Holiday when she sings, so the songs are a joy. And there are over a dozen of them in this show, which showcase some of Holiday’s greatest hits, including the classics God Bless the Child, Strange Fruit, All of Me, My Man, and Good Morning Heartache.

And the quartet of live musicians right on the intimate stage makes the show even more special!

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Jul

West Side Story

For a regional theatre company (i.e. not Broadway or a National Tour) to do West Side Story is a majorly ambitious undertaking, which is successful for the most part. Is it exactly the Broadway quality that most of their productions are? Not fully. But it’s definitely a very worthwhile presentation. And everyone should see it, especially people who’ve never witnessed the story on a stage before. We SoCal peeps are fortunate to be able to get familiar with the scenario ahead of that remake coming out next year.

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Jul

The Spitfire Grill

...all in all, I suspect that most people will enjoy this show. If nothing else, just close your eyes and let Nico Brouillette’s beautiful violin playing wash over you. That alone is worth the visit to The Spitfire Grill.

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Jul

Renovations for Six

Renovations For Six is the best show I’ve seen at this theatre in a while. Actually, it’s the best show I’ve seen anywhere lately! I had been wondering if any entertainment was ever going to make me laugh again!...

...So, for every reason, I really recommend that you see Renovations For Six at Theatre 40 in the next few weeks. You might even come away with some paint color tips!

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Jul

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG

But, even with my dearth of mirth, I recognize the brilliance of every little bit, every little line; it’s awesome to behold. It’s all so nutty, in a good way. So I’m advising you to not judge harshly if it doesn’t make you laugh out loud the entire time; just sit back and enjoy watching this uber-precise work, and the crowd, as well.

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Jul

Good Boys

despite my issues with much of it, Good Boys is still worth seeing. First of all, anytrip to the Pasadena Playhouse is a worthwhile one. I love that place! And though it’s far from the most riveting story I’ve ever seen, and the performances need to percolate quite a bit more, if you’re a fan of seeing TV actors work right in front of your eyes, this could be the theatre experience for you.

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Jul

Ride or Die: The Hip-Hop Musical

do yourselves a favor and spend that little bit of your day or night seeing Ride OrDie: The Hip-Hop Musical–it will warm your heart! I had a smile on my face the entire time. And laughed through just about all of it.

Besides that it’s a really funny show, with excellent performers, and fun understandable raps, the cast features some artists with Down Syndrome and some with autism, including the three leads. And they’re all better than all the other actors I’ve seen during this year’s Fringe Festival! No lie. (And several of them are on TV series now, so you’ll actually be seeing celebrities!)

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Jul

INDECENT

...every aspect of Indecent works—the writing (which, of course, all the rest of the goodness springs from,) direction, music, acting, lighting, and little special effects that take us by surprise each time. There are some very powerful visuals, especially at the beginning and the end.

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Jul

DANA H.

On the surface, it looks so simple, with her just sitting in a chair, front and center, but it’s one of the most brilliant, mesmerizing performances I’ve ever seen! She should win every award possible for this work!

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Jul

Dames at Sea

This entire triple-threat cast is talented, especially all three females (Jennifer Knox, Marissa Mayer, and Katie Franqueira,) who are all superb tap dancers with excellent voices and quality comedic skills. Each one excels at one of those skills, (Jennifer at comedy, Marissa at singing, and Katie at dancing,) so they make for a perfect blend of performers.

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Apr

ROALD DAHL'S MATILDA THE MUSICAL

On one hand, it's an excellent production, with an exceptional little girl in the title role, and wonderful performances all the way around. On the other hand, even though Matilda the Musical is a popular Broadway and West End in London show, the writers of the musical turned it into a way more perturbing story than Roald Dahl's original tale, making it, in my opinion, not only inappropriate for children, but for anyone with a social conscience!  Child abuse should never be set to music!!!

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Apr

My Big Gay Italian Wedding

If you can put aside all the accent incongruities, and the scenery-chewing, and the grammar-school-level script, I think you'll have a lot of fun at this one. And isn't that the goal of most theatre to begin with? Viva Italia!

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Apr

LACKAWANNA BLUES

Anyone with a heart must see this show at the Mark Taper Forum! Ruben Santiago-Hudson is talented, charming, and has soul with a capital S! When I would see him do his expository few lines (as the police captain) on Castle each week back in the day, I had no idea that his capabilities were so wide-ranging!

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Apr

The Sound of Murder

Not only is The Sound of Murder entertaining, but it's one of Theatre 40's most well-done shows all-around; the acting, the use of occasional mood music, the lighting by Brandon Baruch, and, as usual, a spot-on set by Jeff G. Rack. I have not one quarrel with the entire production!

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Feb

Miss America's Ugly Daughter: Bess Myerson & Me

The one-act is a comfortable eighty-two minutes. But the tales of woe are sort-of hard to listen to. It appears that Barra found no redeeming qualities whatsoever about her mother. And, without Bess here to defend herself, I don't know what to believe.

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Jul

Mutt House

It's a charming two-hour respite from the rest of the world. (And who doesn't need that right about now?!) And if you have a dog, I have a feeling you'll hug him or her even harder when you get home. (And if you don't have one, you just may feel the urge to rush right out to your nearest shelter to adopt one!) And don't forget to take the kids to Mutt House; they'll positively adore it!!!

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Jun

Pump Boys and Dinettes

What a fun show this is!!! There's no pain, no thinking, no sadness. Just music, music, and more music.

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Feb

ELLIOT, A SOLDIER'S FUGUE

...And the production is admirable. The uber-sensitive friend I brought along found it to be especially moving. Actually she was moved to tears on more than one occasion during the show. And even on the way home when we were just discussing the show! So it accomplished what I perceive is its purpose.

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Dec

A Christmas Story

...And this year, they've outdone themselves with A Christmas Story. It's the perfect holiday entertainment! I cannot tell you how much I loved this production! (And you know that I rarely say that!)

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Dec

Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily

This Sherlock Holmes mystery is the best presentation I've seen at Theatre 40 in quite awhile. It's fun all the way through, and seems to fly by.

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  • DIRTY TRICKS w/ The New Bad Boys of Magic