Registered Critic: Rob Stevens

Rob Stevens began reviewing in 1973for the monthly community theatre magazine, Showcase, covering the professional theatres in Los Angeles. He served as editor/co-publisher of It’s Showtime in 1996-98. He has also been a reviewer/interviewer for Dimension, Data-Boy Magazine, The Civic Star, Frontiers, Frontiers After Dark, Drama-Logue, Backstage West, L.A. Reader, Santa Barbara Independent and a few others. In 1988 he began writing the column West Coast Stages in the national publication Backstage. In recent years he has written for the websites Showmag.com, Theatremania.com, and StageHappenings.com. He is the founder of The Robby Awards which began as a listing in Showcase magazine in 1975 and has since grown into an annual awards show. The 30th Robby Awards were presented in February, 2016. He is a member of the LA Drama Critics Circle.
Nov

Defenders

Harrison has written a hot mess of an Icelandic set play. The spooky myth part doesn’t really gel and neither does the frenzied military reality... Reena Dutt’s haphazard direction does not aid the over-the-top histrionics. Defenders makes for a long and unsatisfying 100 minutes in the theatre.

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Nov

Defenders

Harrison has written a hot mess of an Icelandic set play. The spooky myth part doesn’t really gel and neither does the frenzied military reality... Reena Dutt’s haphazard direction does not aid the over-the-top histrionics. Defenders makes for a long and unsatisfying 100 minutes in the theatre.

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Nov

The Thanksgiving Play

I am sure the Native American playwright had her tongue planted firmly in her cheek as she set about to writing this biting satire on the state of today’s overly PC world... FastHorse really skewers both the absurdness of the entertainment business and its wannabes as well as the tsunami of well-meaning political correctness infecting our modern world. Most PC folks have no sense of humor; Fasthorse definitely does.

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Nov

Orry

His is a fascinating life story, rich in Hollywood gossip.. Hardcastle delivers the right amount of wit and caustic humor and makes a delightful narrator as Orry takes us through his life and career.

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Nov

SUMMER - THE DONNA SUMMER MUSICAL

The show seems to be fueled by estrogen. There are three different Donnas—the young Duckling Donna (Olivia Elease Hardy), the flashy dance queen Disco Donna (Alex Hairston) and the more mature mothering Diva Donna (Dan’yelle Williamson)–and the chorus is largely female. Yet it took three men (Colman Domingo, Robert Cary and Des McAnuff) to write the threadbare book (with an assist from Summer’s widower Bruce Sudano as Story Consultant). Early on, Summer claims to be presenting “the concert of a lifetime” but it turns out to be more of a concert with annoying dialogue and half-hearted attempts at staging scenes.

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Nov

The Best Man

As great as it is to hear intelligent dialogue spoken by fully formed characters in a twisty political thriller, this WTV production misses hitting the bullseye...The main problem in this production is Mark Belnick in the leading role of William Russell...This grave miscasting sinks this production to a lower level, one of curiosity piece rather than thrilling and barbed political discourse.

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Oct

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR

director Timothy Sheader has managed to inject new energy and insight into the proceedings...Aaron LaVigne commands attention as Jesus and his performance of “Gethsmane” is one for the memory...Sheader has provided some memorable visuals—his glitter strewn “39 Lashes” is the most stunning...Jesus Christ Superstar that miraculously spans the 50 years from inception to now

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Oct

IN TROUSERS

In Trousers has been seldom seen over the past three decades so that is why it is joyful news that a new production is now available to L.A. audiences at the Lounge Theatre in Hollywood thanks to Knot Free Productions. Despite a seemingly last minute change of directors, the 90-minute sung thru show is mostly a delight.

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Oct

In Circles

Schweizer has cast Colton as Stein herself and as such she sort of acts as a ringmaster and cheerleader to the seven young cast members who sing, act and dance their way through the 80 minute show.

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Oct

THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP - A PENNY DREADFUL

Actors Co-Op in Hollywood is currently presenting this outrageous farce and high cardio workout for two performers...You may easily solve The Mystery of Irma Vep but you will probably laugh yourself silly doing so.

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Oct

ANASTASIA

Darko Tresnjak has deftly directed and keeps the action flowing smoothly through the many scenes. He is aided tremendously by the amazing projection design created by Aaron Rhyne...The strong cast fits their roles like a perfectly tailored glove...Anastasia is a welcome addition to the ever growing list of film to stage adaptations. This one is a keeper.

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Oct

The Vandal

Linklater has written a lovely little paean to loneliness and the need for human contact. It’s wordy yet succinct, a quickly evolving 80 minutes with plenty of humor as well as pathos. Kari Hayter has skillfully directed her trio of actors, imbuing the staging in the intimate Fyda-Mar Stage with intimacy and heart.

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Sep

The Solid Life of Sugar Water

Randee Trabitz has skillfully guided her cast through the humor and the tragedy of the story. Frank and Cooley rip your heart out with their impassioned performances while Camunas and Apostolina add the right amount of shading to their vocalizations. They don’t merely speak the words, they inhabit them. They make a Fantastic Four...

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Sep

Never Ever Land

The cast does a decent job of inhabiting their characters; the problem being they are all extremely unlikable, even the kids. You won’t want to spend any time with them let alone the interminable two hours it takes for Strong to conclude his tale that finally ends without much of a resolution.

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Sep

GRUMPY OLD MEN: THE MUSICAL

The dialogue and situations more closely resembled Porky’s VS Revenge of the Nerds at Animal House. Nick Meglin’s lyrics for the 16 songs and many reprises lowered themselves to the same level of crudeness. Composer Neil Berg has supplied some catchy tunes but they are done in by the lyrics attached to them.

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Sep

A PLAY IS A POEM

Except for the opener these non-poetic plays take too long in getting to their endings. Add in the non-essential scene change musical numbers...you have 100 minutes without an intermission that feels at last twice that length

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Sep

Skintight

Harmon has written some very unlikable characters and given them some really offensive words to spew, but in this latest play he has actually written more back and forth dialogue instead of straight-on monologues. Under the tight direction of Daniel Aukin the sextet of actors pointedly deliver each barbed line and are skintight in their characterizations. There are plenty of laughs to go along with the vitriol.

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Sep

DRIVING WILDE

The resultant play does not begin to explain what director Bart DeLorenzo has managed to bring to the stage. This play is one hot mess and that is not meant as a compliment.

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Sep

THE CHINESE LADY

Rebecca Wear does a fine job of directing the various scenes so they don’t feel too repetitive, giving the actors and the audience a chance to enjoy the finer points of the writing. Unfortunately Suh’s writing goes off the tracks about 80 minutes into the 100 minute intermission-less work.

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Sep

Deadly

It’s an ambitious task to give the forgotten victims a voice, but there are too many stories, too many songs and the end result is muddled. A more definitive tone is needed in the writing as on opening night some lines, lyrics and situations elicited unwarranted laughter.

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