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.
Aug

Early Birds

Early-bird actresses across the land will have good reason to celebrate Schwartz’s crowd-pleaser if it ends up making the regional rounds, and Dames Judi and Maggie could easily take their pick of roles in an Anglicized movie adaptation. In the meantime, Jean Gilpin and Jayne Taini are owning the stage at Atwater Village Theatre and L.A. audiences are reaping the rewards.

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Aug

Hannah and the Dread Gazebo

Theater genres are a matter of taste, and if magic realism is your thing, you may well take to Hannah And The Dread Gazebo in ways this reviewer did not. I for one would have preferred a good deal more realism and a lot less magic.

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Aug

Nick Dear's Frankenstein | California Premiere

You may have seen Frankenstein before (indeed with over sixty film adaptations you almost certainly have) but you have likely never seen it so powerfully and movingly told through a misunderstood monster’s eyes. A Noise Within’s Frankenstein opens its 2019-2020 season in the most thrilling and unforgettable of ways.

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Aug

Dope Queens

Dope Queens, Grafton Doyle’s seamy dissection of the go-nowhere lives of three drug-addicted, fresh-out-of-prison LGBTQ street walkers (two of them gender non-conforming POCs and one a GWM) is not just a major downer, it’s an overwrought, all-over-the-place two-acter that overstays its welcome by at least half an hour.

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Aug

The Skin of Our Teeth

Had Theatricum Botanicum staged its third The Skin Of Our Teeth only a few years back, it wouldn’t have had nearly today’s contemporary relevance. In 2019, it’s a potent reminder not just that the more things may seem for a time to be changing, the more they stay the same, but also that great plays remain great no matter their age.

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Aug

A Midsummer Night's Dream

The ideal introduction to the Los Angeles summer-theater treasure that is Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum, A Midsummer Night’s Dream once again proves the most magical of midsummer delights.

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Aug

An Enemy of the People

Had Theatricum Botanicum simply revived Ibsen as written, audiences would have marveled at the play’s contemporary relevance. Had Ellen Geer been inspired by the 1882 original to write something brand new, the result would have been more rewarding. If the cast were performing several times a week, their work would have the razor-sharpness expected from a professional production. As is, An Enemy Of The People disappoints more often than it satisfies.

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Aug

Twelfth Night

William Shakespeare’s star-crossed twins, mismatched lovers, and zany fools are as star-crossed, mismatched, and zany as ever this summer at Theatricum Botanicum, but this time round they burst into song in Ellen Geer’s enchanting Twelfth Night under Topanga skies.

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Aug

The Caucasian Chalk Circle

While it may not make complete converts of those for whom Brecht rhymes with blech, the Antaeus Theatre Company’s season closer comes pretty darned close. It’s as exhilarating a theatrical experience as you’ll enjoy all summer long.

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Aug

West Side Story

West Side Story may be sixty-two years of age, but you’d hardly know it from 5-Star Theatricals’ exciting 2019 revival. Expect tears to be streaming down your cheeks as you stand up and cheer.

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Aug

The Spitfire Grill

With its compelling storyline, colorful cast of small-town characters, gorgeous folk-meets-Broadway score, and much-needed message of forgiveness and redemption, The Spitfire Grill is musical theater at its most compelling and transformative. At Garry Marshall Theatre, it is all that and more.

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Jul

Apple Season

Playwright Lewis, too long absent from our L.A. stages, could not have asked for a finer production of her latest dramatic gem, nor could SoCal audiences, than its moving Moving Arts World Premiere. Tart as a Granny Smith, Apple Season is one of the summer season’s dramatic best.

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Jul

The Direction Home

With more seamless transitions from comedy to drama, a pizzazzier title, and a less abrasive Ted, The Direction Home could end up having legs beyond its World Premiere debut. Even as is, you’ll likely have fun spending time with its mostly engaging characters and celebrate its playwright/protagonist’s journey towards self-acceptance and love.

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Jul

Renovations for Six

Act One could stand a trim, but once its cast of characters get together for post-intermission cocktails, Norm Foster’s Renovations For Six ends up among the Canadian comedy master’s most rewarding creations … and a terrifically acted Theatre 40 gem to boot.

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Jul

Disney's The Little Mermaid at Musical Theatre West

With humor and heart to match its eye-popping spectacle, Disney The Little Mermaid is that rarity in family-friendly musical theater, a show that adults can truly enjoy as much as (and perhaps even more than) the kids who bring them in tow. Musical Theatre West audiences are in for an underwater banquet of delights.

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Jul

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG

So nonstop hilarious is the latest National Tour playing a visit to the Ahmanson, The Play That Goes Wrong just might hold the laugh-a-minute record for a West End-to-Broadway comedy smash.

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Jul

Good Boys

An explicit sex tape involving a prep school jock and a young woman decidedly not his girlfriend sets off a chain of events that will forever change the lives of one entitled Washington DC family in Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s suspenseful, provocative Good Boys, now riveting audiences at Pasadena Playhouse.

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Jul

Ragtime

L.A./OC theatergoers can now add Ragtime to Chance Theater’s long list of summer-musical hits, an inspired concept executed with equal parts passionate commitment and artistic command.

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Jul

FRIENDS! THE MUSICAL PARODY

If you’re one of the tens of millions who found themselves tuning in to Friends week after week, year after year, or if you ended up discovering it on DVD, or you’re watching it right now on Netflix, Friends! A Musical Parody provides moments of nostalgic fun assuming you’ve got the bucks.

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Jul

Dancing at Lughnasa

Brian Friel lovers could not ask for a finer production of his 1992 Best Play Tony winner Dancing At Lughnasa than Open Fist Theatre Company’s 2019 revival. Non-devotees might find their attention wandering during its long, chitchat-filled first act, but once Friel’s memory play takes fire post-intermission, the latest from Open Fist more than merits curtain-call cheers.

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ADS
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