Registered Critic: Leo Buck

With both the aim and professional motto being to bring readers: "Broadway, Theater and Entertainment news you’re NOT going to find in the pages of 'People Magazine' or 'Entertainment Weekly'," Leo has been covering various aspects of the Entertainment industry for close to two decades now. From DVD, film and theater reviews, to celebrity interviews, to book and restaurant reviews, and events designed for more mainstream as well as alternative tastes, Leo's pretty much handled it all for such publications as "The O.C. Blade", "4-Front", "Rage", "Gay Chicago", and "Camp Magazine" (in Kansas City) and even "N.O.W. Magazine" in the UK, and "Gay News Amsterdam" in the Netherlands. In addition, he served as the on-camera "Entertainment Correspondent" for two years on "The Gay News" broadcast via the internet television service, "Village TV". Six years ago he discovered this thing called the internet, establishing his on-line review column, "Buck-ing Trends". Since then he's been pleased to return to his first love of live theater--particularly musicals--where, on top of keeping local theater-goers informed, his new goal has been to demonstrate to as wide an audience as possible that the local Southern California theater scene is just as vibrant, creative, traditional, alive, and (at times) down right eclectic as any other major metropolitan area--including that world-famous Boulevard in New York City.
May

Disney's Newsies

Theater is at its finest when it’s also a celebration of some kind—whether it be life, romance, joy–or even of just theater itself; such is the case with all of these to be abundantly found in this new staging of Disney’s “Newsies”. Count this one ‘Headline And Shoulders’ Above The Rest!

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Apr

The Sound Of Music

Rodgers and Hammerstein have assembled one of their most celebrated scores, deftly causing this, their final collaboration, to be one of those rare shows where its one recognizable–even time-honored–hit song, one right after the other. Isn’t it time to be enchanted at the theater once again? If you answer in the affirmative, ‘your hearts will be blessed’ with this show!

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Mar

THE PATH TO CATHERINE - A New Musical

Like a big, buoyant ‘World History’ lesson set to music, this ranks as “Must See” viewing for students and History enthusiasts of all ages!! (Think of it as one of those rare theatrical treasures you may have had to hunt for, but once found, you know you’re far richer for discovering this musical gold mine!)

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Mar

Into the Woods

Director Lorton’s version of this newest season opener breathes new life and vibrancy into the fairy tales (and a musical) you thought you knew. It’s more than just ‘wishful thinking’ to say that this new production at “The Gem” is like a wish come true!

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Dec

The Holiday GEM

“One More Production’s” goal was to create, on the live, in-person stage, the kind of big, buoyant Christmas special, which back in the 1960’s and 70’s, peppered the network airwaves every December. With this consideration, “The Holiday GEM” doesn’t simply succeed, it excels masterfully. It’s like one great recital of your holiday favorites one on top of the other!

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Nov

Mamma Mia

Dawson and Solimando have seen to it that the harmonic happenings are given a brighter, fresher, and newer “look” with even higher spirits and a multitude of feel-good sensations that are sure to have you dancing in the aisles! In fact, it is no exaggeration to assert that this may very well be the most amazing rendering of this proven musical gem you’re likely to see!

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Oct

CLUE

Rightly hailed as the “ultimate whodunit that will leave you ‘dying’ of laughter”, the story is at its most humorous when it references—or even mocks–its source material; Infused with plenty of quick-witted word play, Sandy Rustin’s script also provides surprises aplenty around every corner (–and does this place ever have an abundance of them!) “A One-Act E-Ticket ride!”

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Oct

Yellowman

Questions that linger long beyond the house lights coming up prove the power the story and characters have had on us…such is the strength of Ms. Orlandersmith’s storytelling, and Ms. Hill and Mr. Alexander’s abilities to make all of them real. Ms. Foster’s direction favors a vivid insight and emphasis on innovative staging, making for genuinely potent and enthralling theater.

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Sep

A Chorus Line

Both the direction and choreography combine to furnish this production with plenty of pleasant surprises where you least expect them. In fact, Director Lorton has accomplished the enviable feat of striking the delicate balance twixt staying true to the source material–and its original spirit, while mixing things up just enough to keep the show fresh and fairly undated. ‘Front Orchestra and Balcony—what they’ve got, you’ll want to see!’

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Jul

Edges

Pasek and Paul’s lyrics exude pithy sentiments and fathom-deep emotional truths, and through them many basic (and often hard) realities are outlined and articulated. These are songs that are meant to be acted as much as sung. In fact, to casually write this one off as just another bunch of dissatisfied “Millennial’ lamentations is to totally disregard the universality of the potent truths explored here.

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May

Always...Patsy Cline

The poster looming outside the box-office reads: “The Legend Returns”, and there couldn’t be a better way to describe the feat that “One More Productions” has accomplished with the opening of their latest production, the two-character charmer, “Always…Patsy Cline”

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Feb

Fun Home

At turns haunting, enthralling, humorous, devastating—and well deserving of every award it has earned; love it or hate it, respect or reject it’s compelling message, this is some powerful theater and the new production at “The Chance” lives up to, and honors all of the musical’s many strengths and virtues.

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Feb

This Side Of Crazy

Uproariously funny, devastatingly authentic, and resolutely moving–practically beyond words, this latest chapter in the ‘Gospel according to Shores’ is a spot-on, slice-of-life ‘dramedy’ that returns to ground well-traversed by way of his previous stage endeavors…“This Side Of Crazy” lives up to that high standard set by Shores’ previous works. He knows this territory and these people and that’s how he so capably is able to introduce us to them here.

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Dec

Beauty and the Beast - Gem Theatre

This production benefits magnificently from the understanding that less is often more—relying less on special effects or stage gimmicks and more on stellar performances, always with an eye toward authenticity—despite how fantastic the situations. Why ‘seek adventure in the great wide somewhere’ when it’s right there at “The Gem Theatre”? Indeed, now’s the time to fill your holiday with enchantment with this thoroughly magical musical!

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Oct

Neil Simon's Musical Fools

If you’re in the market for a good, old fashioned. “Forget your troubles” kind of musical you’ve hit the jackpot here—so what if it all adds up to lunacy, it’s lovable lunacy! Up in “Comedy Heaven” it’s a good bet ol’ Neil Simon is looking down and smiling—this amazing new ‘musicalization’ certainly gives him excellent reason to!

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Oct

Once

Even with a decade of providing Southland theater enthusiasts with top-flight entertainment under their belts, this marks something of a distinguished achievement for 3-D Theatricals, as it’s categorically like nothing they’ve ever produced before! If you’re eager to find a theatrical experience comprised largely of softer, more intense–but 100% genuine and relatable moments, “Once” is definitely it!

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Oct

Bright Star

If the goal of theater is to make one feel and be affected by what they’re seeing and experiencing, the gang at “One More Productions” have certainly succeeded in spades as “Bright Star” is sure to be counted among their grandest productions to date that can lay claim to exactly this phenomenon—this is what magnificent musicals are all about!

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Sep

GRUMPY OLD MEN: THE MUSICAL

At turns hilarious, while at others startlingly affecting, many of the best lines or crucial plot-twists delightfully take you off guard, making their impact lingering and lasting…it’s unconventional but sincerely sweet, ensuring that by the curtain calls, odds are you’ll be challenged to elicit a smile large enough for what you’ve just experienced!

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Jul

West Side Story

Helped tremendously by the more intimate size of the venue, this closer proximity to the action increases the visceral-level responses one gets concerning all the high-stakes emotions and their urgency, along with all the vitriol and the valor. Simply put, if you’ve never attended a show at “The Gem Theatre”, now’s an outstanding reason to—you honestly couldn’t choose better!

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Jul

The Wedding Singer

Ms. Mattsson’s direction is lively, and free-flowing, with an inspiring trend toward finding the ‘realism’ in the outright farcical; this makes the characters, and what they’re doing so much easier to identify with. Yet, perhaps she and her creative team score their greatest accomplishments through their insightful use of subtlety in the props, costumes, and set concepts. It’s just these minute “did you catch that?” touches that make this production particularly invigorating–and unforgettable!

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