Registered Critic: Shari Barrett

Shari Barrett, a Los Angeles native, has been active in the theater world since the age of six - acting, singing, and dancing her way across the boards all over town. After teaching in local secondary schools, working in marketing for several studios, writing, directing, producing, and performing in productions for several non-profit theaters, Shari now dedicates her time and focuses her skills as an independent publicist to "get the word out" about smaller theaters throughout the Los Angeles area. As a founding member of the LA Stage Alliance Leadership Council Task Force, she and reps from theaters throughout the city worked together to articulate a vision for the theatre community of Greater Los Angeles. Shari has received recognition from the City of Los Angeles for her dedication of heart and hand to the needs of friends, neighbors and fellow members of society for her devotion of service to the people of Los Angeles, and is honored to serve the theatre world in her hometown.
Mar

ALL PERFORMANCES CANCELED BY CTG - THE BOOK OF MORMON

No doubt like me, you will roar with laughter during the ensemble’s depiction of Elder Price’s recurring dream of Mormon hell, which includes every taboo subject to the faith from dancing Starbucks coffee cups to lust of all types, staged with eye-popping hellish costumes and scenery which moves into place in a matter of seconds, then disappears just as fast to take us back to Africa where Price must face his fellow Elders. Or you may think the funniest scene of the show is the depiction of the Book of Mormon via the song and staging of “Joseph Smith American Moses” put together by Nabulungi and the other Ugandan villagers, which of course has little to do with the real religious text, given Cunningham’s overly active imagining of the stories he has shared with them

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Mar

SUSPENDED - Human Interest Story

This thought-provoking testament to the universal struggle of living day-to-day in a society whose apathy seems to know no bounds for the down-and-out will grab your attention and keep you at the edge of your seat as Jane Doe's story unfolds. Tanya Alexander's magnificent ability to morph herself from a homeless woman in dirty clothing, sitting on a park bench holding a sign stating "I am NOT Invisible" allows us to see where she has been and how much she really desires to pick herself up by her bootstraps and do whatever is necessary to survive.

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Mar

The Andrews Brothers

In the spirit of what were surely amateur shows at the time, things that can go wrong do go wrong, props and scenery get misplaced or disappear, set pieces get stuck backstage, music is often played off-key, but nothing stops the dedicated and talented cast from presenting the best show possible to their audience of appreciative GIs, in this case, the audience itself. I especially enjoyed when two audience members were pulled onstage by cast members and asked to participate in several numbers, which generated very appreciative responses and laughter from the audience.

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Mar

Ballet BC's Romeo + Juliet

Ballet BC is committed to its role as a leader in the community through dancer training opportunities, community and audience outreach, and professional development activities. The ensemble's dancers are a group of open-minded and curious artists, each unique for their dynamic movement while sharing an intuitive passion for dance. I can certainly attest to the ensemble's dedication and skill on display while watching their expressive contemporary choreography combined with the most provocative, physical storytelling skills I have ever witnessed in any ballet.

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Mar

HOME

The entire play is a visual treat for the senses, not only for what we see but also for what we hear thanks to composer Elvis Perkins who performs several emotionally eerie songs on autoharp and guitar throughout the show as residents, one after the other, wake up in bed, perform daily routines in the bathroom (including full nudity walks in and out of the shower), walk up and down the stairs between floors, sit and watch TV in the living room, gather around the table center stage, or prepare and enjoy meals (as well as company) in the kitchen. And since there is no dialogue, it is up to us to figure out what is being said, although you will soon realize it doesn't really matter as it is just being together for whatever purpose in a house that makes it a home.

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Feb

THE LAST SHIP

The real star of the show is its designed-to-travel, multi-level scenic design by 59 Productions, enhanced by sound designer Sebastian Front and lighting designer Matt Daw, which includes some of the most amazing projections I have ever witnessed that completely transform into the many scenes required, from the shipyard, inside homes, the local beer pub, to an extraordinary church interior that generated gasps from the audience, as well as the appearance of waves crashing on the docks and snow falling. But it is the final scene when the Utopia, the last ship to be built, launches from the soon-to-close shipyard that will take your breath away. It's just a shame it takes almost 3 hours to get to it.

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Feb

Sunday Dinner

Tony Blake's often universally comedic dialogue, always delivered to illicit the most laughter possible by each member of the cast , who thoroughly inhabit their roles, at the end we are left wondering if the family can withstand the weight of so much sin, secrecy and shame. Blake leaves it up to us to decide if telling the truth is worth all the crap it's going to leave in its wake.

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Feb

Huckleberry Towers

While the pacing of the performance was a bit slow on opening night, most likely due to nerves as well as the ages of most of the performers, the appreciative, sold out opening night audience certainly enjoyed the show, perhaps because all of us know the situation will be part of our own lifetimes sometime in the future. And it certainly is wonderful to see so many "elders" up on the stage since so many of them are subscribing audience members at every theater in the city. And in the end, we are reminded that it is our friends who will be there for us.

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Feb

UNTIL THE FLOOD

During the play, Orlandersmith portrays several characters, both black and white, on both sides of the issue, by adding different costume pieces designed by Kaye Voyce to denote each one, with the actress changing her way of speaking and overall physicality with each new person she presents, with each name projected on the wall behind her. Every single one becomes unique thanks to her expert way of totally transforming herself, both physically and from her soul.

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Feb

This Side Of Crazy

Del Shores was born in Winters, Texas, and raised by his mother, a former high school drama teacher and the quirky members of her Southern Baptist family. He makes no bones about the fact most, if not all, his brilliantly written female characters are based, in part, on real women who populated his early life in small town America. The popular American film director and producer, television writer and producer, playwright and actor is an expert at creating mid-twentieth century lowbrow female characters, salt of the earth Southern women on the surface who bubble with peppery torment beneath the surface, just waiting to explode, on display to perfection by four incredibly talented performers.

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Feb

The Manor: Murder and Madness at Greystone

The annual production has become a Los Angeles/Beverly Hills institution with several performances selling out even before tickets go on sale to the public. Its popularity, no doubt, is due to the scandalous true story as told by the talented actors who each inhabit their characters to a tee, costumed to time-period perfection, as well as the chance to be inside the grand and glorious architectural landmark in which the tragic events of 91 years ago actually took place.

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Feb

Ballet West's Giselle

GISELLE was the first ballet to feature dancers "en-pointe" and was done to emphasize the dancer's ghostly movements; it was also the very first ballet to have its own original score. The title role of this ballet has been a touchstone in the legacy of many great ballerinas, who have mastered the technical demands and the emotional depth of the story. And after experiencing the glorious beauty of the Ballet West production at the Soraya at CSUN, highlighted by the title role danced to perfection by Beckanne Sisk, beautiful sets and costumes by Peter Cazalet, magnificent lighting by Joseph R. Walls, and an extraordinary ensemble of skillful dancers, I can certainly understand why GISELLE has enchanted audiences since its first performance in 1841 at the Paris Opera.

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Feb

Revenge Song

Offers an exciting, entertaining, and rollicking theatrical experience, ingeniously directed by Robert Ross Parker that is sure to please rowdy fans of The Rocky Horror Picture Show during the heroine's interactive journey toward self-discovery and acceptance.There are so many moments of sheer hysteria and musical brilliance during the production, perhaps it's best to imagine yourself as the cast does from the beginning as drunk on red wine, laughable French people and just let yourself laugh along with them from start to finish as they make fun of themselves at every turn, especially when interacting with Avenue Q-type puppets who offer more social satire per second during their scenes. Rocky Horror Picture Show fans - this is the show for you!

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Feb

Hamlet The Rock Musical

On all levels, there is something for everyone in this totally new production of HAMLET THE ROCK MUSICAL. I guarantee you do not have to be a fan of Shakespeare's story or an expert in understanding his Elizabethan English as this fabulously inventive, sung-through musical extravaganza is told using modern lyrics which everyone will understand during this theatrically entertaining rock show.

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Feb

Activities of Daily Living

Lipari shares moments that have shaped her psyche along her life's journey, opening her heart and soul in ways universal to those of us who have experienced life during those same years. Certainly some of the lessons she has learned or life-changing events she has endured will ring true for most of us; a lost love (or two), an inanimate object that triggers deep feelings of regret; getting lost in a multi-level parking garage and feeling you will never find an escape route; or a chance meeting with strangers that renewed your belief that guardian angels live among us.

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Feb

Frankenstein

I found the storyline as presented completely incomprehensible. Yes, it was entertaining to watch the talented cast of twelve, all doubling as musicians, cavort around the small stage set with ceiling-high shelves of seemingly unrelated props on both sides thanks to set dressing designer Regan Baumgarten, with many of the actors half-dressed to draw attention to them which mostly just distracted me from following the story, as did the hurtful, extremely bright lights designed by Brandon Baruch which were often flashed upon the audience, so much so that many reached for their programs to shield their eyes - me being one of them. Projection design by Laskfar Vortok added interesting 2001 A Space Odyssey type visual effects that were eye-catching and very entertaining to watch.

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Feb

LOVE IN BLOOM

As is true with almost every one of The Bard's plays, magic and mayhem, fops and fairies, mistaken identity, romance and humor abound in this tongue-firmly-in-cheek evening with elements of pantomime, Commedia dell'arte and conventions of classical theater woven together with DeCarlo and Rudie narrating the tale as the elvish mischief makers Orion and Talia.

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Feb

"The Unseen Hand" and "Killer's Head"

It's as if E.T. meets the Old West in THE UNSEEN HAND, Shepard's hilarious yet foreboding sci-fi Western about a trio of legendary cowboys resurrected to help a mutant extraterrestrial free his people from slavery. The title refers to what I can best describe as an invisible Big Brother entity who places his hand on the head of an enemy, then squeezes until the victim's pain becomes so unbearable it creates insanity... and then death. So who better to ride in to the rescue than hot, gun-toting heroes of the Old West?

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Jan

It's Only A Play

Directed by Aric Martin with a real appreciation of McNally's wit and a keen sense of how to keep the actors moving at a pace that perfectly reflects their intense emotional turmoil, IT'S ONLY A PLAY now onstage at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre in Santa Monica takes us inside the master bedroom suite of producer Julia Budder's luxurious Manhattan townhouse where the cast and production team are gathering, while a who's who list of celebrities is gathering to eat and drink their way into the wee hours of the morning after the opening night of Peter Austin's new play as he anxiously waits to see if his show is a hit. McNally runs with the idea, taking no prisoners across two acts boasting almost as many Broadway name-drops as punch lines, all delivered with perfect comic timing by a cast of talented actors who know how important it is to both give and take with each other as the wide range of human emotions overcomes the "stars" who hope and pray this play will revive their struggling careers. And all the while, the laughs abound non-stop.

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Jan

WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME

In this hilarious, hopeful, achingly human, timely and galvanizing new play, Playwright Schreck resurrects her teenage self in order to trace the profound relationship between four generations of women and the founding document that shaped their lives. I guarantee your eyes will be opened to the ever-changing meaning of passages depending upon those on the Supreme Court who are charged with interpreting what our founding fathers meant when the document was created 230 years ago. I encourage everyone to see this insightful examination of what it means to be an American and how each of us is responsible to keep democracy alive in our ever-changing world.

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