Registered Critic: Steven Stanley

Since creating StageSceneLA in 2007, Steven Stanley has reviewed over 2400 productions in and around Los Angeles and commemorated each year’s outstanding achievements with his annual StageSceneLA Scenies. As an actor, he has appeared on the stages of the Lillian Theatre, the Actor’s Group Theatre, the Stephanie Feurie Studio Theatre, the Gardner Stages, the Sierra Madre Playhouse, the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse, and the Whittier Center Theatre. By day he teaches ESL at Cal State L.A.
Feb

Hamlet The Rock Musical

If producer (David) Carver’s wishes come true, Hamlet The Rock Musical’s El Portal debut could well be just the first stop in a 2020 World Tour. Whatever the future holds, L.A. audiences are guaranteed one humdinger of a show this week and next.

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Feb

The Father

As eye-opener of a play with as thrilling a lead performance as you’ll see any time soon, The Father will not only hold you on the edge of your seat. You’ll be talking about what you’ve witnessed long after its devastating final scene fades to black.

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Feb

Fun Home

Scaled down to intimate-theater perfection from the Broadway National Tour that played the 3000-seat Segerstrom Center a few years back, Chance Theater’s Fun Home is Orange County musical theater at its most powerful and transformative.

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Feb

THE $5 SHAKESPEARE COMPANY

Previous The 6th Act productions have showcased the company’s knack for innovative Shakespeare, and The $5 Shakespeare Company proves itself every bit the winner. Simply put, this love letter to zero-budget L.A. theater is as entertaining and invigorating as L.A. theater gets.

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Feb

ROCK OF AGES

An eye-filling, eardrum-blasting look back at the days when synthesizers, drum machines, and a bold androgyny left their mark on the pop music scene for all time, Rock Of Ages Hollywood is easily L.A.’s ‘80s rock party of the year!

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Feb

She Loves Me

South Coast Repertory may do only the occasional full-fledged Broadway musical, but like Sweeney Todd, Once, and The Light In The Piazza before it, She Loves Me makes it abundantly clear that when SCR makes musical theater magic, it simply doesn’t get better than that.

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Feb

Never Been Kissed: The Unauthorized Musical

You don’t have to have seen Never Been Kissed: The (Authorized) Movie (or even think it’s all that good a film) to have the best possible time at Never Been Kissed: The Unauthorized Musical. I for one had a blast.

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Feb

This Side Of Crazy

No one writes about the sordid lives of Southern Baptist women with more vinegar-laced love and affection than Del Shores, once again delighting Zephyr Theatre audiences with his latest dramedic treat, a rib-tickling, tear-jerking Kentucky-fried feast appropriately dubbed This Side Of Crazy.

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Jan

Sunday Dinner

Expertly segueing from comedy to drama and back, and unafraid to resist leaving things tied up in a neat, pretty bow, Sunday Dinner makes for one richly rewarding family feast.

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Jan

ARSENIC AND OLD LACE

Like last season’s Murder On The Orient, Arsenic And Old Lace is so all-around splendid, you can’t help wishing La Mirada/McCoy Rigby would do more than just one straight play per year. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine a more murderously mirthful Golden Era treat.

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Jan

The Water Tribe

The Water Tribe may not be everyone’s cup of tea, perhaps no wonder given that even a little of Claudia can go a long long way. Still, for those willing to put up with a whole lot of crazy, The Water Tribe makes for one wild ride.

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Jan

It's Only A Play

With ticket prices maxing at a mere $25 (and half that if you shop around for discounts) and performances that more than hold their own against those you'd see in houses charging three or four times that much, It’s Only A Play is easily the best theatrical bargain in town. It might also end up the funniest, best acted comedy of the season.

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Jan

THE LAST SHIP

A simply gorgeous score is just one of many reasons to celebrate The Last Ship’s arrival at the Ahmanson, and with Sting getting above-the-title billing, CTG looks to have another National Tour hit on its hands. Though it could stand a bit of judicious pruning, The Last Ship more than earns its standing ovation.

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Jan

RED INK

What’s been happening to print journalism since the Internet took control could drive a newspaper person crazy, or so a certain alternative press reporter discovers quite literally in Steven Leigh Morris’s brand new play Red Ink, the exciting, adventurous latest from Playwrights’ Arena.

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Jan

Earthquakes in London

Epic in its scope and timeframe, intimate in its intersecting family dramas, bleak in its depiction of a world doomed by climate change, and as thrillingly theatrical as stage storytelling gets, Rogue Machine’s West Coast Premiere of Mike Bartlett’s Earthquakes In London is sure to be one of the season’s most talked-about productions.

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Jan

Nowhere On The Border

I would have loved tseeing Nowhere On The Border as a Gary-Roberto two-hander, and I’d like to have heard its “Spanish-language” dialog delivered the way Spanish would sound to a native speaker’s ears. As is, about half of Road Theatre Company’s latest hits the mark.

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Jan

Fireflies

Fireflies ought by rights to have moved me the way countless plays and movies set in the same time and place have before, and I ought to have cared about Charles and Olivia. In the end, however, both play and protagonists left me cold.

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Jan

Bad Habits

With Orson Bean still going strong at 91 and a stageful of nuns giving back as good as they get, Bad Habits hits the comedic mark with panache. Even those who’ve never ever set foot in a Catholic school classroom could do far worse than spend an afternoon or evening with the sisters of St. Cyril’s.

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Jan

Charley's Aunt

Despite having just one hit play to his name, Brandon Thomas has rightly earned his place in theatrical history with the timeless classic Charley’s Aunt, and director Carter Thomas (presumably no relation) knows how to do his namesake’s chef-d’oeuvre divine justice. Together with a couldn’t-be-better cast, they open Glendale Centre Theatre’s 2020 season with New Year’s fireworks pizzazz.

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Dec

Little Women

While its cast and creative team deserve A for effort, and a number of its performers merit the rounds of applause they are awarded at curtain calls, Kentwood Players’ Little Women The Musical falls short of the nine other productions I’ve seen.

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