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.
Mar

The Andrews Brothers

Jamie Torcellini deftly directs the comic mayhem that ensues. The male trio easily match the tight harmonies of the original sister act and it is a lovely stroll down a musical memory lane...Kelley Dorney proves to be a true triple threat and stellar leading lady material.

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Feb

CANCELED - A BODY OF WATER

A middle-aged couple wake up one morning naked in bed. The woman gently removes his hand from her breast, dons a handy silk robe and is off to the kitchen to make coffee. The man soon follows. But they seem unsure with each other; they don’t know each other’s names for starters. Heck, they don’t know their own names. Thus begins Lee Blessing’s A Body of Water, currently receiving a stellar production of its World Premiere new ending at Actors Co-Op in Hollywood.

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Feb

Hamlet The Rock Musical

A lot of money has been spent on the production...The cast of 16 all prove to possess strong voices, several displaying rock ‘n’ roll sass as well as operatic power...Yet there is still a lot that is rotten or at least not well in this version of Denmark’s famous moody prince.

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Feb

The Father

Zeller and Hampton have crafted a wonderful jigsaw puzzle of a play and director Jessica Kubansky has skillfully fitted all the intricate pieces together with superb craftsmanship.

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Feb

THE $5 SHAKESPEARE COMPANY

Leavitt has written some fun characters and the cast ably inhabits their roles under the assured direction of Joel Zwick. Besides painting a truer-than-life exhibit of the 99-seat theatre scene and its inhabitants (doing A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Hawaiian shirts, muumuus, leis and flip flops) Leavitt also pokes some satiric jibes at Scientology. Cell phones on stage, oiled hunks causing their leading ladies to break out in hives, cheap props and cheesy costumes—they are all here.

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Feb

This Side Of Crazy

As usual with Shores’ writing, he has you near tears laughing hysterically one moment and then trying to hold back the tears as he rips out your heart with gut-wrenchingly heartfelt deeply human moments....Shores skillfully directs his play, eliciting every emotional moment while making sure every laugh line delivers the laughs. His superb quartet of actresses...

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Feb

Day After Day (the Life and Music of Doris Day)

This by-the-book bio approach is acceptable mostly because of the talented Deborah Robin inhabiting the Day persona. She artfully recreates Day’s sunny, optimistic zest for life as well as doing pitch perfect vocals that sound amazingly akin to the original.

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Jan

WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME

As much as I admire what Schreck is saying in her play, I am not pleased by the execution she and director Oliver Butler have chosen to present it...For this viewer, the show would have worked much better as a one-person monologue. Schreck has a lot of insightful commentary on the way the Constitution has been interpreted and used and mis-used in the over two hundred years since its adoption.

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Jan

DISNEY'S FROZEN

The direction by Michael Grandage is pedestrian and uninspiring. Rob Ashford’s overly athletic choreography consists mostly of twirling and lifting...Magic is what is lacking throughout much of this production.

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Dec

Salvage

Alderson’s script may be a bit too threadbare at times, but he really displays a strong talent for picking the right song for the right moment to not only move the plot along but to enhance the characters. ..The title, Salvage, can have several meanings—the salvage of dreams, the salvage of friendships, the salvage of a lost soul. Salvage the play is worth salvaging in the landscape of local theatre. Seek it out.

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Nov

Key Largo

The timing of Doug Hughes’s direction and the character development are thrown off in this production....The real star of the show is John Lee Beatty’s amazingly detailed and beautifully constructed scenic design which also artfully begins to self-destruct during the hurricane

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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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