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. Currently she is the Publicist and a member of the Kentwood Players at the Westchester Playhouse.
May

Someone Else's House

At the beginning of each performance, Jared guides the audience through examining the materials within the haunting kit box, going over the Johnson family tree and asking selected audience members to read about a few of them from the back of cards in their possession. This is one of the few really interactive times during the performance since once he starts telling tales as he walks through the house, there is no time to stop to ask the audience any questions as Jared winds up running for his life to escape the terror within the Enfield Village Victorian, built in 1800 by the eccentric Johnson family patriarch. And since Jared has shared its floor plan with us, each moment gets more frightening as he runs from room to room while revealing some of the secrets he has discovered about its spooky history.

Kudos to the imaginative Jared Mezzocchi for writing and performing such an entertaining show that will wrap you up in the terror along with him. In fact, be sure to notice the reactions of other audience members on the screen with you as the suspense mounts! Director Margot Bordelon along with the Virtual Design Collective (VIDCO) production team offer dazzling lighting, special effects and mysterious projections that will certainly grab your attention, even when the moment passes so quickly you are left wondering exactly what you just saw!

sweet - ...read full review

Mar

UnRavelled

We first meet Robert and Anne during an intense Scrabble match, then follow the couple through her decision to stick with painting after nursing their son back to health after his car accident crisis has passed. Nagle and Davenport take us into the lives of the married couple as their marriage begins to suffer as Anne withdraws into her studio to create art as her words begin to fail along with her memory. Between each scene, Dr. Marks shares via a lecture to his students about the progression of Anne’s symptoms, which are then brilliantly portrayed by Davenport, showing us how Anne now sees Ravel’s music, as well as most of the world, in squares of different colors that speak to her soul.

I found myself totally pulled into the characters and their stories, gaining new insight into both his music and her art. Now I need to really listen to “Bolero” in the presence of her canvas to appreciate how each square perfectly reflects the spirit and tone of his beautifully repetitive, iconic piece.

sweet - ...read full review

Feb

'ART'

The well-known phrase “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” certainly applies in the Art world, especially when differences of opinion on “what makes Art” can pull friends to opposite sides of any discussion. Thanks to the talents of all three actors, we are allowed to see into both the souls and minds of these three characters as their emotions overtake both their reason and intelligence. Director caryn desai, along with her brilliant technical team including Projections and Sound Design by Dave Mickey and Video Editor Mike Bradecich, move the characters around so it is very clear when they are speaking to each other or breaking the fourth wall sharing directly to the audience about what they are really thinking rather than what they are saying to often appease their friends.

sweet - ...read full review

Jan

Bollywood Kitchen (Los Angeles)

Sri Rao’s BOLLYWOOD KITCHEN Brings the Flavor of Family Favorites into Your Home   

The experience of being a descendant of immigrants to America began Sri Rao’s journey to commemorate his mother’s favorite Indian recipes, along with his knowledge of the Technicolor Utopia of Bollywood films his family watched together while eating, into his cookbook BOLLYWOOD KITCHEN so that his happy childhood memories would remain intact for future generations.

Now transformed into an interactive “dinner and a movie” experience of the same name, produced by the Geffen Stayhouse in association with Hypokrit Theatre Company, the World Premiere of Sri Rao’s BOLLYWOOD KITCHEN invites us to prepare a homemade Indian meal along with him, drawing on the recipes that were staples at his family’s table. As we join him in cooking these delicious dishes in our very own kitchens, Rao interweaves the story of his parents immigrating to America, the joy and nourishment that Bollywood musicals brought to his whole family, and the culinary traditions they shared. Mouthwatering flavors come together on the screen and in person with the colorful exuberance of Bollywood films creating a festive and fun virtual experience about rediscovering the comforts of home.

Prior to your scheduled performance, you will receive a beautiful Bollywood Box containing spices, dry ingredients and recipes delivered to your home. In addition to key recipe ingredients, your beautifully-designed box will include a shopping list for the perishable items you will need to purchase to complete each dish, as well as pre-show food prep instructions so that you can prepare everything in real time with Sri. You can choose to either cook your meal in advance and enjoy it as you watch the show, prep the ingredients beforehand and cook along with Sri in real time, or relax and enjoy Sri’s performance and storytelling, and cook at any time that’s convenient for you.

As the scrumptious meal is prepared, Sri shares stories about his parents, who began their life together via an arranged marriage in India and were then separated for eight years while he father moved to America to study Civil Engineering at Virginia Tech. Listening to how his father learned to adapt to such a different place when he arrived reminded me of stories my father told me about arriving in America from Poland when he was 8 years old, speaking a foreign language and overwhelmed by the new world around him.

After sending each other daily love letters via air mail while separated half-way around the world (just like star-crossed lovers in many Bollywood films), Sri’s parents finally reunited and moved to Mechanicsburg, PA where he was born into one of the few families of color in the entire town. And like my family, his celebrated the joy of being together and honoring their traditions by joining together for large family meals, usually centered in the kitchen. And it is one of those meals Sri prepares during the show, which includes a Mumbai Mule cocktail, Chicken Curry (by the way, curry just means a “sauce”) or Vegan Chana Masala, Basmati Rice, Bollywood Popcorn, Cucumber Raita (a mouth-cooling yogurt side dish), and a Chocolate Chair Affogato dessert drink, all of which viewers can make and enjoy along with him.

A limited number of pre-selected audience members virtually cook alongside and interact with Sri throughout the show, providing them with an opportunity to ask Sri questions and get tips along the way. Thus the entire experience feels like a big party, even though each participant in in their own home, thanks to the common experience of learning to prepare and then enjoying the same food together, all the while chatting about life in general.

No doubt the experience will soothe your soul and make you feel less alone during this time of isolation, almost as if you have been invited to a big party to celebrate the joy of Bollywood films as well as the delicious flavors of India. And by the way, did you know there are twice as many Bollywood films made around the world each year compared to the number of American movies made?  So, when the pandemic is over and we are able to go back inside movie theaters, just take a look around and notice how many multiplexes in your area offer Bollywood films as part of their movie rotation. And take note their beautiful “pulp fiction” style posters, especially since nudity is not allowed in Bollywood films.

The World Premiere of BOLLYWOOD KITCHEN, Written and Performed by Sri Rao, Directed by Arpita Mukherjee, and Produced by the Geffen Stayhouse in Association with Hypokrit Theatre Company, continues at 4pm and 7pm Pacific on Fridays and Saturdays through March 6. Run time is 75 minutes with no intermission. There are multiple tiers of ticketing options priced at $40 - $175 per household, available by phone at 310.208.2028 or online at www.geffenplayhouse.org.

Photography by Hartman Benzon Media and Kyle Rosenberg

sweet - ...read full review

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

sweet - ...read full review

Mar

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.

sweet - ...read full review

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.

sweet - ...read full review

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.

sweet - ...read full review

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.

sweet - ...read full review

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.

sweet-sour - ...read full review

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.

sweet - ...read full review

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.

sweet - ...read full review

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.

sweet - ...read full review

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.

sweet - ...read full review

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.

sweet - ...read full review

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.

sweet - ...read full review

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!

sweet - ...read full review

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.

sweet - ...read full review

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.

sweet - ...read full review

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.

sweet-sour - ...read full review

ADS
  • La Vie En Rose with Julia Migenes

Featured LemonAide