Non-Registered Critics: Nikki Munoz

Mar

Postponed - SHOW ME A HERO

A love story based on real people has the potential to compel an audience’s attention. Unfortunately, Show Me A Hero is attention-getting for all of the wrong reasons — its many missteps.

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Mar

Suspended - Hot Tragic Dead Thing

Each cast member is stellar and convincing throughout. The two leads, DeParis and Campbell, are especially notable in their vibrant performances. The pair emit a palpable tension in their scenes together, one that is both complex and compelling. Bekah’s visceral pain is arrestingly expressed by DeParis with care and precision. Miles’s trajectory feels natural and is wholly believable throughout Campbell’s meticulous performance.

Raymond’s direction is adept and organic. The buildup of Bekah’s and Miles’s relationship, one that develops from awkward to fiercely intimate, is manifest in the staging.

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Feb

THE $5 SHAKESPEARE COMPANY

Meta stories often are complicated to pull off. The contrived nature of theater is put directly under the microscope by the play itself. But “The $5 Shakespeare Company” proves to be cleverly self-referential, bursting with humor that pulls the audience into the world of theater actors. It’s a love letter to Shakespeare and to theater lovers.

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Feb

Nowhere On The Border

...the Road Theatre Company production of “Nowhere on the Border,” while slightly too on-the-nose with its message, invokes adept acting and direction to successfully spotlight one of today’s most topical issues.

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Jan

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

The entire cast, both major and minor players, is exceptional, both together and individually...

...These successful elements are all brought together in Booth-Ong’s stunning direction. In her directorial debut, she commands the space with confidence and skill. The stage feels small, given the size of the ensemble, yet also large, given the multiple storylines that converge. Everything is developed with keen intention and pulled off with precision. And in one particularly mesmerizing directorial decision, Booth-Ing combines the art of distraction and spatial perspective to pull off a surprise shift unmatched in creativity and spectacle.

For a production that evolves on a minimalist stage, Young Stars Theatre’s Sweeney Todd is nothing but grand in its result. - RECOMMENDED

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Jan

Sunday Dinner

...the production stumbles in some aspects of its execution, but manages to captivate through a strong, tension-filled plot.

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Jan

Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and Then Some!)

...under Lamb’s direction, the show maintains a fast pace, one key to holding audience members’ attention and garnering their amusement. Lamb also keeps most of the comedy from becoming too broad so that the few moments which are played larger — such as the sped-up retelling of The Nutcracker (additional choreography by Cate Caplin) — garner some of the night’s biggest laughs.

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Nov

Seven

Directed by Natsuko Ohama, with movement direction by Stephanie Shroyer, the production at Atwater Village Theatre is staged with precision and thoughtfulness...

Ohama’s handling of onstage movement is problematic, however. The stage is small and cramped, and while there are many smooth flowing moments in which multiple actors interweave, there are other times when the movement or positioning is awkward — the actors’ backs are to the audience or they are blocking each other.

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Nov

UNCLE VANYA

In this New American Theatre’s production, directed by Jack Stehlin, the stakes are high and the action engaging. The play comes to life via a talented cast and crew, resulting in an effectively executed drama...

The actors’ talents are heightened by Stehlin’s excellent direction. Stage blocking is key, and Stehlin nails it on every level, both in the slow scenes, where the characters merely sit around and talk, and in the livelier ones...

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Nov

Once

The musicians are strong performers with a commanding presence, and the numbers in which the cast moves in complete sync while song bursts from the stage are arrestingly memorable.

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Nov

Ravenswood Manor

Based on what I’ve seen, “Ravenswood Manor” is a sharply written and well-acted exemplar of the horror-comedy genre. The success begins with Sayre, whose lines are as poignant or as subtle as they need to be, the storytelling seamless when it matters most. He has constructed an intricate plot that is absurd, hilarious and mysterious, and he has crafted characters that fit perfectly into the camp, each amusingly over the top and foundationally ridiculous...

For a show full of those sharp and witty moments, head to “Ravenswood Manor.”

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Oct

Good Fishermen Know A Lot About Sex

The emotional root of the play — the family’s pain and desire to push through an extremely difficult time — is clear overall but becomes muddled by poor execution.

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Oct

Sisters In Law

Shapiro has excelled in depicting a long and intricate relationship within the confines of a 90-minute play. Many scenes are brief — vignettes that portray the women’s everyday lives — but the pace slows down when it needs to, for the most pivotal moments. Further, the relationship between the women is presented carefully and thoughtfully, resulting in our emotional investment in how their story unfolds.

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Oct

Last Swallows

What does work is director Scholl’s staging — having the performers cross and interweave on the small stage as they speak. In fact, this blocking works so well to create the chaos at the heart of the story that it would have been better performed without the overlapping dialogue.

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Aug

LOOSE KNIT

Loose Knit is meant to be a character study, a dialogue-heavy emotional drama. Instead, it serves as a reminder of how important a good text can be, and how difficult it is to overcome a bad one.

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Aug

Billie Holiday: Front and Center

Jatta, the writer/performer, is clearly dedicated to Holiday’s memory. She is a phenomenal vocalist with a stellar voice. She commands attention through channeling the beloved singer during the tribute performances. Yet, half the job demands acting out the vignettes that illustrate Holiday’s life. This is where Jatta falls short, as her acting is timid and restrained...

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Aug

Pericles

Under Chalsma’s direction, the production is an example of how arresting Shakespeare can be when handled carefully and skillfully. The show is filled with bursting-with-life characters who drive a compelling plot forward. - RECOMMENDED

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Jul

Nancy F***ing Reagan

Overall, Nancy F***ing Reagan features compelling dialogue and a strong dynamic that draws us in. The characters and their relationships are believable. The rising tension is not only effectively paced, but transfixing. While the play is blatant in its criticism of Reagan’s policy on AIDS, it is also a careful and thoughtful character study that examines how this tragedy continues to affect in the lives of the individuals connected to it. Despite shortcomings in plot and structure, this play lingers in the mind — much like the impact of AIDS still lingers today.

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