Non-Registered Critics: Steve Gottfried

Mar

Frankenstein

The current production of Frankenstein at the Wallis Center for the Performing Arts pushes the envelope. Whether that’s a good thing is open to interpretation. It’s an unusual mélange of bone-crunching mayhem performed by an ensemble of 12 actors and musicians tasked with bringing the Mary Shelley classic back to life. The Wallis commissioned the project in partnership with Four Larks, a Los Angeles-based enterprise known for site specific performance art, fusing theater with orchestration and choreography. The work, described as “an exuberant amalgamation of dynamic physical theater, live music and experiential design,” draws from the original text of Mary Shelley’s 19th century novel by going back to the source material to deconstruct the classic tale. The result is something of a mixed bag depending on one’s appetite for experimental theater.

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Feb

VOLTA

While I’ll admit I’ve grown a bit jaded over the years, expecting the Cirque shows to keep raising the bar and showing me something I haven’t seen before, they always seem to win me over. Because the narrative is told visually, there’s a lot of symbolism at work in a Cirque du Soleil show.

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Dec

LOVE ACTUALLY LIVE

While some of the storylines have begun to show their age in the intervening years since the movie was released in 2003, there’s much to enjoy with this holiday favorite if you’re able to check your 2019 woke sensibilities at the door and let the nostalgia wash over you.

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Nov

Tonight only. All other dates cancelled - La Vie En Rose

Migenes utilizes her lower register to great effect. She has a commanding stage presence and an uncanny sense of phrasing and a keen appreciation for delivering life’s hard-fought battles and harder-won truths.

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Nov

Key Largo

The parallels in this reimagined Key Largo are self-evident to anyone who’s followed the news or the tweets. Whether you find this production hits too close to home or whether you find it cathartic, the cast acquits itself admirably with conviction.

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Sep

Witch

While there’s much to laud about this production, there seemed to be a disconnect between its message of empowerment and a reliance on old tropes and stereotypes.

...That being said, the writer is to be commended for tackling an ambitious project and trying to craft a meaningful allegory to frame contemporary issues.

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Jul

A Streetcar Named Desire

This fine ensemble, under the helm of director Jack Heller, faithfully recaptures the spirit of the play and essential truths of human relationships, tragically codependent and dysfunctional though they may be. I’d liken this production to a well-preserved jewel box that’s been tucked away in the attic and burnished to a brilliant sepia-toned hue.

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Jun

HERSHEY FELDER: A PARIS LOVE STORY

His latest show is perhaps his most striking and personal because of the effect Debussy had on Felder’s own life, and that of his mother, who died when he was thirteen. As Felder describes it, their lives were intertwined and it makes for a fascinating, and incredibly moving, night of theater.

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Feb

HELLO DOLLY

The real heroes of this production are the chorus. Their energy, their collective vocal power and their energetic dancing rescued this production from a rather by-the-numbers revival. They provided the “oomph” that seemed to be lacking from the supporting cast.

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Jan

DEAR EVAN HANSEN

The message of hope and the notion that we are all connected has clearly resonated with audiences, and that's something worth celebrating.

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Dec

LOVE ACTUALLY LIVE

You'd have to be a stone not to be moved by this creative reimagining and the onslaught of talent and emotion.

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Oct

THE CAKE

What Brunstetter has done so effectively is create characters with such specificity that they never seem like mouthpieces for the Christian right or the liberal elite. They are flawed, complicated people. And that's what allows us (whichever side of the divide we occupy) to understand the other side without generalizing or demonizing.

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Aug

Hershey Felder: Beethoven

These days, immersive is the buzzword commonly associated with virtual reality, but Felder's one-man show is immersive in the old-school vernacular, rendering this 500-seat theater pin-drop quiet. In the space of an hour and a half, Felder melds storytelling with music to draw us in to another world and paint a vivid portrait of a musical genius whose humanity is often eclipsed by his ubiquitous compositions.

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Jul

ON YOUR FEET

This exuberant tribute to the life and career of Gloria and Emilio Estefan is no ordinary jukebox musical. And yet — boasting a catalogue of familiar hit songs — it is also that, unabashedly so. In a larger context, On Your Feet is a triumphant celebration of the immigrant experience. At a time when immigrant rights — and by extension human rights — are under attack, this high-energy, somewhat sentimentalized yet highly entertaining musical takes on a greater importance about the ideals and values we cherish and must now fight to protect.

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