In Circles

Critics

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100 %

Reviews: 13

Audience

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Reviews: 0

“Papa Dozes, Mama Blows Her Noses.” That’s just one of the delightfully quirky musical numbers from this Obie award-winning musical romp adapted by composer Al Carmines from A Circular Play by Gertrude Stein. Presented as part of Odyssey Theatre Ensemble’s 50th Anniversary “Circa ’69” Season of significant and adventurous plays that premiered around the time of the Odyssey’s 1969 inception, In Circles sets Stein's nonlinear prose, based solely on her pleasure at the way certain words sounded together, to a splendid musical score featuring ragtime, tango, waltz, opera, barbershop quartet, jazz and other musical styles. “A madly meaningful tea party which composer Al Carmines has turned into a gemlike operetta.” — Jack Kroll, Newsweek. Sept. 14 – Nov. 10: Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. with 3 additional weeknight performances on Thursday, Sept. 26; Wednesday, Oct. 16; and Wednesday, Oct. 23, all at 8 p.m. Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, 90025; For reservations and information, call (310) 477-2055 or go to OdysseyTheatre.com.

Reviews

Michael Van Duzer

Carmines was a devotee of Stein, musicalizing five other works by her during his career. And while Stein collaborated with Virgil Thomson on the operas, Four Saints in Three Acts and The Mother of Us All, Opera gives pride of place to the music. It is Carmines’ downtown sensibility that more accurately captures Stein’s innovative style and showcases her humor. His joyous and eclectic score also offers a kaleidoscopic survey of 20th Century popular musical styles.

sweet - Michael Van Duzer - Show Mag - ...read full review


Rob Stevens

Schweizer has cast Colton as Stein herself and as such she sort of acts as a ringmaster and cheerleader to the seven young cast members who sing, act and dance their way through the 80 minute show.

sweet - Rob Stevens - Haines His Way - ...read full review


Carol Kaufman Segal

I can only tell anyone seeing the production not to try to figure out what is going on, but to enjoy the performances by the wonderful talented singers and dancers...

sweet - Carol Kaufman Segal - Carol's Culture Corner - ...read full review


Avatar

In the dedicated hands of Director David Schweizer (along with indispensable assistants Marissa Dubois and Bo Powell), what might otherwise come across as dated, instead enhances the play's other-worldly ambience. That ambience is strongly supported by Ann Closs-Farley’s delightfully all white 1920s-esque costumes, enhanced further by Chu-Hsuan Chang’s arrestingly beautiful light design, sparkling on an ingenious red set background by Mark Guirguis. The ensemble, stage-managed by Owen Panno, is both playful and polished, a remarkable accomplishment given the apparent lack of specificity written into each role.

sweet - Chris Daniels - The Show Report - ...read full review


Avatar

Despite the absence of a linear plot line, IN CIRCLES proved to be an entertaining journey spotlighting an exuberant group of talented actors with serious musical chops who literally danced circles around Ms. Stein as the joyous/happy/ melancholy/sad music slithered from musical director Kenneth J. Grimes’ piano into the audience’s ears. Cleverly directed by David Schweizer, IN CIRCLES kept the cast hopping. Although they admitted that this was a very difficult play to learn (given the absence of rational sense as it rolled along), they rose to the task enthusiastically.

sweet - Elaine Mura - Splash Magazines - ...read full review


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This may have been the best production of drama I have seen this year in Los Angeles.

sweet - Douglas Messerli - US Theater - ...read full review


Avatar

Schweizer imbues everything with a slightly campy quality, his way of paying tribute to “the excitement of the absurdist and often GAY energy pouring forth from the cafes and makeshift spaces of ‘downtown’ New York City.”

sweet - Willard Manus - Total Theater - ...read full review


Eric A Gordon

That said (and it would be irresponsible not to have said it), the very best spirit of inventiveness and freedom of speech that Gertrude Stein represented is on display now in a stunning perf

sweet - Eric Gordon - People's World - ...read full review


Avatar

...what makes the current OTE revival of In Circles enjoyable is not an expectation that it should make sense, but that it should entertain. And that it does. It all lies in its conception by Carmines and in its execution, which in this case rests primarily with director David Schweizer.

...The result makes for a kind of well-curated vacancy, entirely sustained by these talented artists. The impression, correctly, is that of a period piece playing out of its time, yet faithfully and lovingly representing it. 

sweet - Sylvie Drake - Cultural Weekly - ...read full review


Avatar

Like her other dramatic works (which the author preferred to call “landscapes”), it’s an eccentric piece that might not appeal to everyone. Stein is cryptic and nonsensical, and the volley of words, expressions, puns and allusions that seem to come out of nowhere can make for frustrating listening. But for those who are familiar with her work, it offers entertainment and laughs, augmented by the buzzing energy and imagination of veteran director David Schweizer...

Grimes doesn’t miss a note during this 80-minute piece, which showcases a variety of music and dance styles. The ensemble is quite good, their performance augmented by the slick choreography (Kate Coleman). Equally impressive is Chu-Hsuan Chang’s lighting schema.

sweet - Lovell Estell III - Stage Raw - ...read full review


Travis Michael Holder

The evening is ultimately all about Jacque Lynn Colton, whose expressive face can alter from stern admonishment to sweet Abby Brewster-esque kindness at a moment’s notice as she shepherds and leads her costars in how to interpret what she and visionary director David Schweizer perceive might have been Gertrude Stein’s original intention. In a fair world, creator/composer Al Carmines should be recognized with equal reverence as fellows named Rodgers, Hammerstein, Bernstein, and Sondheim. Without him around to make artistic waves during the emergence of the off-Broadway movement in the late 60s and early 70s, we might still only be singing about real good clambakes and corn as high as an elephant's eye.

sweet - Travis Michael Holder - Ticket Holders LA - ...read full review


Avatar

The skillfulness of the singing is captivating, but equally so is the adventurousness of the actors. They seem game for anything, and not just game but committed. Schweizer has created a theatrical ensemble that lives in and for the babbling, warbling moment.

sweet - Charles McNulty - LA Times - ...read full review


Avatar

The performers have the energetic appeal where their verse tells some kind of tale, only to let go into another saga of sorts. Gertrude herself is the grandmother figure. She has the charm and appeal of a “little old lady” that boy scouts supposedly helped to cross the street...

Directed by David Schweizer, IN CIRCLES is a show that is ideal for the small stage. It also a great way to be introduced to the poetry of Gertrude Stein as her written expression holds a craft set within its own terms. And finally, it plays out as a period piece that doesn’t speak for a specific era or time frame. It’s just all part of the circles.

sweet - Rich Borowy - Accessibly Live Off-Line - ...read full review


Michael Van Duzer

Carmines was a devotee of Stein, musicalizing five other works by her during his career. And while Stein collaborated with Virgil Thomson on the operas, Four Saints in Three Acts and The Mother of Us All, Opera gives pride of place to the music. It is Carmines’ downtown sensibility that more accurately captures Stein’s innovative style and showcases her humor. His joyous and eclectic score also offers a kaleidoscopic survey of 20th Century popular musical styles.

sweet - Michael Van Duzer - Show Mag - ...read full review


Rob Stevens

Schweizer has cast Colton as Stein herself and as such she sort of acts as a ringmaster and cheerleader to the seven young cast members who sing, act and dance their way through the 80 minute show.

sweet - Rob Stevens - Haines His Way - ...read full review


Carol Kaufman Segal

I can only tell anyone seeing the production not to try to figure out what is going on, but to enjoy the performances by the wonderful talented singers and dancers...

sweet - Carol Kaufman Segal - Carol's Culture Corner - ...read full review


Avatar

In the dedicated hands of Director David Schweizer (along with indispensable assistants Marissa Dubois and Bo Powell), what might otherwise come across as dated, instead enhances the play's other-worldly ambience. That ambience is strongly supported by Ann Closs-Farley’s delightfully all white 1920s-esque costumes, enhanced further by Chu-Hsuan Chang’s arrestingly beautiful light design, sparkling on an ingenious red set background by Mark Guirguis. The ensemble, stage-managed by Owen Panno, is both playful and polished, a remarkable accomplishment given the apparent lack of specificity written into each role.

sweet - Chris Daniels - The Show Report - ...read full review


Avatar

Despite the absence of a linear plot line, IN CIRCLES proved to be an entertaining journey spotlighting an exuberant group of talented actors with serious musical chops who literally danced circles around Ms. Stein as the joyous/happy/ melancholy/sad music slithered from musical director Kenneth J. Grimes’ piano into the audience’s ears. Cleverly directed by David Schweizer, IN CIRCLES kept the cast hopping. Although they admitted that this was a very difficult play to learn (given the absence of rational sense as it rolled along), they rose to the task enthusiastically.

sweet - Elaine Mura - Splash Magazines - ...read full review


Avatar

This may have been the best production of drama I have seen this year in Los Angeles.

sweet - Douglas Messerli - US Theater - ...read full review


Avatar

Schweizer imbues everything with a slightly campy quality, his way of paying tribute to “the excitement of the absurdist and often GAY energy pouring forth from the cafes and makeshift spaces of ‘downtown’ New York City.”

sweet - Willard Manus - Total Theater - ...read full review


Eric A Gordon

That said (and it would be irresponsible not to have said it), the very best spirit of inventiveness and freedom of speech that Gertrude Stein represented is on display now in a stunning perf

sweet - Eric Gordon - People's World - ...read full review


Avatar

...what makes the current OTE revival of In Circles enjoyable is not an expectation that it should make sense, but that it should entertain. And that it does. It all lies in its conception by Carmines and in its execution, which in this case rests primarily with director David Schweizer.

...The result makes for a kind of well-curated vacancy, entirely sustained by these talented artists. The impression, correctly, is that of a period piece playing out of its time, yet faithfully and lovingly representing it. 

sweet - Sylvie Drake - Cultural Weekly - ...read full review


Avatar

Like her other dramatic works (which the author preferred to call “landscapes”), it’s an eccentric piece that might not appeal to everyone. Stein is cryptic and nonsensical, and the volley of words, expressions, puns and allusions that seem to come out of nowhere can make for frustrating listening. But for those who are familiar with her work, it offers entertainment and laughs, augmented by the buzzing energy and imagination of veteran director David Schweizer...

Grimes doesn’t miss a note during this 80-minute piece, which showcases a variety of music and dance styles. The ensemble is quite good, their performance augmented by the slick choreography (Kate Coleman). Equally impressive is Chu-Hsuan Chang’s lighting schema.

sweet - Lovell Estell III - Stage Raw - ...read full review


Travis Michael Holder

The evening is ultimately all about Jacque Lynn Colton, whose expressive face can alter from stern admonishment to sweet Abby Brewster-esque kindness at a moment’s notice as she shepherds and leads her costars in how to interpret what she and visionary director David Schweizer perceive might have been Gertrude Stein’s original intention. In a fair world, creator/composer Al Carmines should be recognized with equal reverence as fellows named Rodgers, Hammerstein, Bernstein, and Sondheim. Without him around to make artistic waves during the emergence of the off-Broadway movement in the late 60s and early 70s, we might still only be singing about real good clambakes and corn as high as an elephant's eye.

sweet - Travis Michael Holder - Ticket Holders LA - ...read full review


Avatar

The skillfulness of the singing is captivating, but equally so is the adventurousness of the actors. They seem game for anything, and not just game but committed. Schweizer has created a theatrical ensemble that lives in and for the babbling, warbling moment.

sweet - Charles McNulty - LA Times - ...read full review


Avatar

The performers have the energetic appeal where their verse tells some kind of tale, only to let go into another saga of sorts. Gertrude herself is the grandmother figure. She has the charm and appeal of a “little old lady” that boy scouts supposedly helped to cross the street...

Directed by David Schweizer, IN CIRCLES is a show that is ideal for the small stage. It also a great way to be introduced to the poetry of Gertrude Stein as her written expression holds a craft set within its own terms. And finally, it plays out as a period piece that doesn’t speak for a specific era or time frame. It’s just all part of the circles.

sweet - Rich Borowy - Accessibly Live Off-Line - ...read full review