Non-Registered Critics: Melinda Schupmann

Feb

ALL PERFORMANCES CANCELED BY CTG - THE BOOK OF MORMON

Jointly directed by Nicholas and Parker, the production is slick and has just the right amount of humor laced with humanity. Stephen Oremus’ music supervision and vocal arrangements elevate this comedy. Brian MacDevitt’s lighting design and Brian Ronan’s sound design greatly enhance all the quasi-religious moments along with large ensemble production numbers. Andrew Graham’s music direction is integral.

There are many touches throughout that speak to the careful detail given to making sure that the offensive doesn’t offend too much and the message of hope for the future gets delivered. The current production at the Ahmanson is a high quality, fun, and well executed play.

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Feb

Kinky Boots

Giving the show its Broadway vibe are musicians from Los Angeles Musicians Collective. There is simply something about a live orchestra that provides the excitement necessary for an outstanding show. Choreography by Linda Love Simmons adds the last element that gives this show its vitality.

All the principals in the production deliver strong performances, especially Poost and Goglia. Lauren’s “History of Wrong Guys” is notable. Lola’s “Hold Me In Your Heart” makes a nice finish for the conflict.

You won't be disappointed in this musical. It has the right amount of heart, humor, and high spirits.

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Feb

This Side Of Crazy

Religion, homosexuality, sibling rivalry, celebrity—all are topics Shores knows well, and his characters never disappoint. The small Zephyr Theatre makes a perfect intimate showcase allowing the audience to get up close and personal with the actors, making it a very satisfying evening.

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Jan

ARSENIC AND OLD LACE

Though there are some time period references that might elude younger audiences (Roosevelt's charging up San Juan Hill,  Karloff's reference, or a swipe at long-time actress Judith Anderson), the play is remarkably charming ninety-plus years later. It has the requisite uh-oh factor when murder is about the happen, and the precision timing delivered by director Stangl keeps the action moving briskly along. The ensemble makes the show a fine addition to the La Mirada season.

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Jan

VOLTA

It's true that you have to be there to get the full effect. Mere words can't convey the magic of the Cirque, and marveling at the skills of the performers never gets old. Gasps, oohs and aahs are the order of the day.

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Nov

SUMMER - THE DONNA SUMMER MUSICAL

Overall, this tour will likely be successful, as Summer is beloved and represents a period in music that breeds nostalgia. It provides no insights, though, and you leave with regret at the missed opportunities for capturing the heart and soul of a woman who made an impact on the industry.

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Oct

Something Rotten! presented by Musical Theatre West

Director Josh Grisetti, who also performed Nigel in the New York production, leads the cast in a brisk, well executed play. Giving a nod to the Globe Theater, working from the stage and stage apron, the scenic changes can be as fluid as necessary as the actors traverse the locations.

Led by the multi-talented Music Director Dennis Castellano, numbers like "Welcome to the Renaissance" give the show its Broadway sizzle. Choreographer Eric Sciotto also puts his cast through some engaging numbers, including "It's Eggs" with some fine visuals.

Costumes by Robin I. McGee are colorful, and scenery/lighting (Paul Black) and sound (Terry Dycus) easily fill the bill. Wigs are nicely done by Michon Gruber-Gonzales.

This show makes a great addition to MTW's season. It's big, it's fun, and it has enough wit to engage and dazzle to delight. Judging by the audience's reception, it should be a winner for the company.

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Oct

BLUE MAN GROUP

Among the most recognizable novelty acts extant, the three cobalt-blue headed guys in black trench coats are still amusing audiences long after their 1987 debut. What they do is part clown, part musician, and part artist. It is impromptu and planned, depending on the whims of the performers. For 90 minutes they unleash their special blend of theatrical shtick to the delight of the crowd.

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Sep

To Dad with Love: A Tribute to Buddy Ebsen

Another highlight is a sequence in which Kiki imagines a dance with her father (played by  Gast). It is icing on the cake--an evocative moment that must be a pleasure for Kiki Ebsen to include. Overall, it is a charming tribute to the man so familiar to us all yet one with the usual human foibles.

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Jul

The Producers

Never let it be said that a large profile show needs an enormous stage to execute fabulous musical numbers, because the tiny LGBTQQIA-friendly Celebration Theatre at the Lex has surpassed any expectations for re-creating the wonderfully funny 2001 Tony award-winning Broadway hit. On an almost impossibly small stage, 13 cast members bring to life the improbable story of producer Max Bialystock's (Richardson Jones) frenzied quest for a return to glory.

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Jun

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

Director Michael Heitzman brings out the special qualities required to give this story its emotional core as special effects take center stage...

This is a show that draws children and adults to the theater with happy anticipation, and La Mirada delivers all that could be hoped for.

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May

The Price

Credit goes to the actors who make believable the interference from the old man and the ultimate showdown telegraphed from the start.

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May

Daniel's Husband

Director Simon Levy skillfully provides a balanced and evenhanded touch at the lighthearted and charming outset, but when Daniel's fate has to be decided, he gives the actors space to explore the realism of the situation with empathy and believability. His emphasis on the multi-dimensional nature of the characters adds to the thoughtful import of the story...

This is a play that resonates long after the final moments. McKeever follows the dramatic ending with a flashback that allows the audience to revisit Daniel and Mitchell in a sweeter moment. Thanks to the fine production, this night of theater stimulates discussion and debate.

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Apr

SINGIN' IN THE RAIN

The success of a show is determined by the audience reaction to the production, and many moments bring extended applause and gasps of pleasure as fancy footwork is exhibited and all the elements of the original movie come to life... It's clear that Singin' in the Rain continues to be a welcome revival with its familiar music and cheerful romantic storyline.

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Apr

HEISENBERG

Director Katherine Farmer understands them well and lets them find the trajectory that propels the story forward. Pauses are profound and stage business disappears as the audience becomes more and more involved in discovery. There is much humor in the journey...

The rebirth of these two individuals challenges theories about how people behave when paired in a seemingly random way. Though Stephens ends the play with closure, his gift to the audience is that you are left to ponder what might really happen next for these two as their lives play out.

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Apr

Catch Me If You Can - The Musical

The show is part fun, part object lesson, and, given Musical Theatre West's treatment by director Raben, an audience pleaser. It makes a nice addition to MTW's 66th season.

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Mar

Life Could Be A Dream

Bill Wolfe's musical direction is spot-on, adding to the success of the many vocals in the show...

This is a crowd-pleaser, certainly for those in the audience who listened to the originals growing up. For a younger generation, it's an introduction to the '50s and '60s doo-wop phenomenon first-hand.

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Feb

HELLO DOLLY

Though by modern standards the plot and sentiments of Dolly are far from politically correct, star power takes center stage, supported by an ensemble that adds the requisite humor and goofy charm...

The show is full of froth, and love triumphs as expected. The cast and ensemble meld together as perfectly as one would hope, which is not always the case in touring shows.

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Oct

42ND STREET

Directed with precision by David F. M. Vaughn, the 40-member cast sings and taps with high spirits and sparkle. With over eighty wigs and a hundred costumes, the production numbers, enhanced by Corey B. Hirsch's fine musical direction, often dazzle.

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Jul

THE HUMANS

There have been hundreds of plays written about family dynamics, sometimes even set, as this one is, in an apartment around a dinner table. This play is a notch above the pack, and it is notable for its naturalistic style and dialogue that packs a subtle punch. It is utterly believable, sympathetic, and its humor guarantees that it will be a theatrical staple illuminating the human condition

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