THE BETTER LEMONS CRITIC OF THE YEAR AWARD FOR 2019 GOES TO...

STEVEN STANLEY - Stage Scene LA

The CRITIC OF THE YEAR Award goes to the critic who has done the most to advance the fine art of theater criticism. This critic sets a standard for partnering with the artists who bring LA theatre to life and the audiences that LA theatre serves.

Congratulations to Steven from all of us!

Steven Stanley is the editor of StageSceneLA.com and he is also the author of Moroccan Roll, available at Amazon.com.

Steven has been an ESL instructor in the English Language Program (formerly the American Culture And Language Program) at California State University, Los Angeles since 1979.

In the early 1970s, Steven Stanley taught English at Lycée Ibn Sina in Beni-Mellal, Morocco—an experience which led him to write Moroccan Roll (2007, iUniverse) , a multiple-plot novel which has received favorable comparison to Armistead Maupin’s Tales Of The City and TV’s Sex In The City.

Steven Stanley’s love for theater began at an early age, as a young audience member at L.A. Civic Light Opera productions. In 1993, he returned to acting for the first time since a number of teenaged appearances with a featured role in The Pajama Game at the San Gabriel Civic. This was followed by numerous appearances on Los Angeles area stages including the Lillian Theatre, the Actor’s Group Theatre, the Stephanie Feurie Studio Theatre, the Gardner Stages, the Sierra Madre Playhouse, and the Whittier Center Theatre.

StageSceneLA.com debuted in August of 2007, just as Steven Stanley was concluding two years as an Ovation Awards voter, during which time he attended and voted on over 375 productions. Each September, StageSceneLA.com presents the Scenies to the finest Southern California theater talents.

To view all of Steven's review excerpts, visit his Better Lemons page HERE.

To view all the Registered Critics on Better Lemons who post their own review excerpts and give each show a LemonMeter rating, go to Better-Lemons.com/Registered-Critics.

All Registered Critics write theater and art reviews for their own publications and then rate registered shows on our website and add their LemonMeter rating. Please contact them through their own website to congratulate them and to get them to review your production.

And here are the previously announced 2019 Critic Award winners:

THE BETTER LEMONS "FOMENTER OF REVOLUTION" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Ed Rampell from Hollywood Progressive.

THE BETTER LEMONS "NAME DROPPER" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Jill Weinlein from Onstage Blog.

THE BETTER LEMONS "SAY WHAT" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Lorenzo Marchessi from The Geek Authority.

THE BETTER LEMONS "SILVER TONGUE" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Vanessa Cate from Stage Raw.

THE BETTER LEMONS "DIRECTOR" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Ernest Kearney from TheTVolution.

THE BETTER LEMONS "UP LATE" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Eric Gordon from People's World.

THE BETTER LEMONS "THEATRE HOUND" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Shari Barrett from Broadway World.

THE BETTER LEMONS "I LOVE LA" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Paul Myrvold from Paul Myrvold Theatre Notes.

THE BETTER LEMONS "ENLIGHTENMENT" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Deborah Klugman from Stage Raw.


THE BETTER LEMONS "THEATRE HOUND" CRITIC AWARD FOR 2019 GOES TO...

SHARI BARRETT - Broadway World

The "Theatre Hound" Award goes to the critic most likely to review the hidden gems, off the beaten path, those with short runs and small budgets.

Congratulations to Shari from all of us!

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.

To view all of Shari's review excerpts, visit her Better Lemons page HERE.

To view all the Registered Critics on Better Lemons who post their own review excerpts and give each show a LemonMeter rating, go to Better-Lemons.com/Registered-Critics.

All Registered Critics write theater and art reviews for their own publications and then rate registered shows on our website and add their LemonMeter rating. Please contact them through their own website to congratulate them and to get them to review your production.

Tomorrow we will announce the winner of the "I Love LA" Award - the critic who did the most to promote LA Theatre in 2019.

THE BETTER LEMONS "FOMENTER OF REVOLUTION" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Ed Rampell from Hollywood Progressive.

THE BETTER LEMONS "NAME DROPPER" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Jill Weinlein from Onstage Blog.

THE BETTER LEMONS "SAY WHAT" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Lorenzo Marchessi from The Geek Authority.

THE BETTER LEMONS "SILVER TONGUE" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Vanessa Cate from Stage Raw.

THE BETTER LEMONS "DIRECTOR" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Ernest Kearney from TheTVolution.

THE BETTER LEMONS "UP LATE" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Eric Gordon from People's World.


Winners at the 30th Annual LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards

The 30th Annual LA STAGE Alliance Ovation Awards were presented on Monday, January 13, 2020, at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

The fast-moving evening awarded in thirty-six categories—13 Southern California theatre companies won, with 33 individual artists receiving awards.

Of the total awards, the Geffen Playhouse received 17 total for their shows "Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol" with Dane Laffrey winning two (2)—Scenic Design and Costume Design - Large Theatre, and "Lights Out: Nat 'King' Cole." The Fountain Theatre received six (6) awards  for "Cost of Living" and "Hype Man: A Break Beat Play," the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts received four (4) total for their shows "Singin’ in the Rain" and "A Night with Janis Joplin, and Sophina Brown received three (3) for "August Wilson's Two Trains Running," as did the Pasadena Playhouse for "Ragtime."

The Skylight Theatre received two (2) awards for "Bronco Billy – The Musical," as did the Center Theatre Group for "Dana H." and the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts for "Witness Uganda."

The Fountain Theatre received the Best Season Award for "Cost of Living," "Daniel’s Husband," and "Hype Man: A Break Beat Play."


Here are winners at the 30th Annual LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards in the order of their announcements:


PLAYWRITING FOR AN ORIGINAL PLAY

LUCAS HNATH
DANA H.
Center Theatre Group

FEATURED ACTOR IN A MUSICAL

DANIEL J. WATTS
LIGHTS OUT: NAT “KING” COLE
Geffen Playhouse

FEATURED ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL

AMBER IMAN
WITNESS UGANDA
Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

FEATURED ACTOR IN A PLAY

ADOLPHUS WARD
AUGUST WILSON’S TWO TRAINS RUNNING
Sophina Brown

FEATURED ACTRESS IN A PLAY

XOCHITL ROMERO
COST OF LIVING
Fountain Theatre

SOUND DESIGN – Intimate Theatre

JEFF GARDNER
AUGUST WILSON’S TWO TRAINS RUNNING
Sophina Brown

VIDEO/PROJECTION DESIGN – Intimate Theatre

VIDEO/PROJECTION DESIGN – Large Theatre

LUCY MACKINNON
CHARLES DICKENS’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Geffen Playhouse

OVATIONS HONORS RECIPIENT

MUSIC COMPOSITION FOR A PLAY

ROMERO MOSLEY
HYPE MAN: A BREAK BEAT PLAY
Fountain Theatre

OVATIONS HONORS RECIPIENT

PUPPET DESIGN

DILLON NELSON & ERIN WALLEY
ARGONAUTIKA
A Noise Within

SCENIC DESIGN – Large Theatre

DANE LAFFREY
CHARLES DICKENS’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Geffen Playhouse

SCENIC DESIGN – Intimate Theatre

JOEL DAAVID
A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE
Dance On Productions, LLC

THE SHERWOOD AWARD FOR

MAT DIAFOS SWEENEY

BOOK FOR AN ORIGINAL MUSICAL

DENNIS HACKIN
BRONCO BILLY – THE MUSICAL
Skylight Theatre Company

LYRICS/COMPOSITION FOR AN ORIGINAL MUSICAL

MUSIC DIRECTION

BEST PRESENTED PRODUCTION

COSTUME DESIGN – Intimate Theatre

LEAD ACTOR IN A MUSICAL

CHOREOGRAPHY

FIGHT DIRECTION

JEN ALBERT
SUCKERPUNCH
Coeurage Theatre Company

DIRECTION OF A PLAY

DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL

DAVID LEE
RAGTIME
Pasadena Playhouse

LEAD ACTOR IN A PLAY

LEAD ACTRESS IN A PLAY

ACTING ENSEMBLE OF A MUSICAL

ACTING ENSEMBLE OF A PLAY

COST OF LIVING
Fountain Theatre

BEST PRODUCTION OF A PLAY – Intimate Theatre

BEST PRODUCTION OF A PLAY – Large Theatre

BEST PRODUCTION OF A MUSICAL – Intimate Theatre

LIZZIE, THE MUSICAL
Chance Theater

BEST PRODUCTION OF A MUSICAL – Large Theatre

BEST SEASON

FOUNTAIN THEATRE
Cost of Living
Daniel’s Husband
Hype Man: a Break Beat Play

 


Sherwood Award-winning Kristina Wong Brings 'UndocuStories' Through LA Department of Cultural Affairs Grants

Actress, Comedian, and local Politician, Kristina Wong, will be presenting a “UndocuStories: Journeys of Justice and Freedom” workshop series at the Dream Resource Center in MacArthur Park, beginning September 3, 2019.

Sponsored by UCLA Dream Resource Center, Wong, and the UCLA Labor Center, the workshop is funded by an Artist-in-Residence grant from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.

In the eighth year as recipient of this grant as Artist-in-Residence, Wong, who refers to her work as “mind-blowing social commentary with a little humor,” on a picture of her 2020 Census Form posted on her Facebook page, facilitated a similar workshop last year where DACA recipients, undocumented individuals, permanent residents, mixed-status families, and allies participated with a similar grant, which was increased this year from $8,000 to $12,000.

Participants in the "UndocuStories" workshops in 2018 in an exercise involving karaoke. (Photo courtesy of Kristina Wong/UCLA Dream Resource Center)

“Last year’s show was a combination of comedy sketches, poetry, movement work, first-person testimonials and a cover of Vanilla’s Ice Ice Baby called “ABOLISH Ice, Ice Baby,” she said. “This year's workshop will specifically center on experiences of undocumented immigrants.”

Wong, who is a newly elected Representative for Sub-District 5 Wilshire Center Koreatown Neighborhood Council, recently received the Center Theatre Group’s Dorothy and Richard E. Sherwood Award for her work as a “Boundary-Pushing Artist,” which was presented to her at the LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards ceremony at this year.

"UndocuStories: Journeys of Justice and Freedom" is a twelve-week theater workshop facilitated by Wong, that will feature guest artists Yosimar Reyes (2nd Verse: The Rebirth of Poetry) and Kat Evasco (Working in the Theater) who will teach skills in comedy writing, Theater of the Oppressed (TO), movement, and performance, where participants will engage on issues that “impact the undocumented immigrant community, transforming those stories into an original theater piece for the public,” said Wong on the LAFPI site.

According to the Mandala Center for Change, TO is a form of community-based education that “uses theater as a tool for social change" that was developed by Augusto Boal.  Theater of the Oppressed "is now used all over the world for social and political activism, conflict resolution, community building, therapy, and government legislation. It is also practiced on a grassroots level by community organizers, activists, teachers, social workers, cultural animators, and more."

Per Wong, as a public elected official in Koreatown in “a small, unpaid position, but very mighty,” a lot of her constituency and neighborhood is undocumented. In her first 100 days in office, and while still working as an actress, comedian, and writer, she wrote a community impact statement about supporting the abolishment of ICE (Integrations and Customs Enforcement), and that process may make it into a future show. Since then she has made it her goal to work and educate toward achieving social justice through her comedy, where she discusses social issues affecting people of color—especially women of color—, white privilege, and how to be an armchair social justice warrior (or a better one on foot). A great example of her approach is one of her earlier productions titled the “Wong Street Journal.”

“Last year, our allies were really great about stepping up to support the storytelling of our undocumented participants and de-centering themselves when necessary to keep the focus of storytelling on the experiences of undocumented participants,” said Wong in her blog.

Each week, for twelve weeks, with information provided by the Dream Resource Center, participants will explore a new topic that specifically affects the undocumented community, such as “Know your Rights” or healthcare options for undocumented communities and unaccompanied minors crossing the border, along with theater games, a mix of improv and sketch writing exercises, and performance work.

For some individuals who might be concerned about giving their identities with regard to the workshop and performances, they will establish community rules at the top of each meeting so that “everyone is on the same page about how to work together,” according to the LAFPI article, so participants may not be required to give full names if they are undocumented.

“Just let us know if you don’t want your name published on materials or if there are limits as to what you want to share with the group or publicly,” Wong wrote on the LAFPI site.

With regard to any fears about ICE roundups, Wong said, “they would have to have a warrant” [for an individual] and that there are staff members present who are “super trained on how to address ICE” if they were to show. But she feels confident that would not happen or be an issue.

“To those who are not undocumented, it seems scary, but the "Know Your Rights" training in the workshop prepares the undocumented as well as the allies so that we are all ready to put the knowledge to the task," Wong said. “But also they have to ring a doorbell to come in, so we'd at least be able to confront them at the door.”

The “UndocuStories: Journeys of Justice and Freedom” workshop is located at UCLA Downtown Labor Center at 675 S Park View St, Los Angeles, CA 90057, which will meet Tuesdays from September 3 - November 19, 2019, from 6 - 8 p.m., with the final performance on November 19th at 7 p.m. Participants do not need to be a UCLA student to attend, there are no age restrictions for the workshop, the workshop is free, and dinner will be provided at each session. For more information contact: [email protected].


2020 Sherwood Award now accepting applications!

Center Theatre Group's $10,000 Dorothy and Richard E. Sherwood Award for theatre artists is given annually to nurture innovative and adventurous theatre artists working in Los Angeles. Two additional finalists will each receive a $1,000 honorarium.

The Sherwood Award nurtures selected artists and invites them to engage in a professional relationship with Center Theatre Group. Competitive candidates demonstrate leadership qualities, push existing boundaries, and are dedicated to improving the future of their respective artistic fields. Artists are not limited by title, role, or genre, but they must have a relationship to contemporary performance rooted in theatre.

The deadline for the initial application consisting of an artist's statement and resume is June 10, 2019 at 11:59 PM.

Apply here!

After the first round, select candidates will be invited to submit full applications. Full applications, along with letters of recommendation and work sample material will be due no later than July 19, 2019 at 11:59 PM. The winner will be announced at the LA STAGE Alliance Ovation Awards.

The application and more information about the Sherwood Award can be found here.

If you have any additional questions about the Sherwood Award, please contact [email protected]


Steven Leigh Morris Resigns as Executive Director of LA Stage Alliance

Morris' resignation letter reflects on his three years as ED and of the successes and struggles along the way.
Though there was no official announcement from LA Stage Alliance, they posted the following on their facebook page early Tuesday morning.
Dear L.A. Theater Community,
Wanted to let you know that on Oct. 29, I tendered my resignation from LA STAGE Alliance, effective Nov. 11. My aim was to wait until after the Ovation Awards nominees had been announced before making this public. (Congratulations to all the nominees.)
Short version: After three years as Executive Director, I feel I've done what I can within the confines of a complicated administrative structure. For this, and for personal reasons, I feel it's time for me to move on and turn the organization over to new leadership.
In three years, I can point to three accomplishments that I'm proud of: First, upon taking the job, in a series of community meetings, I was told that the community needed greater visibility. With the help of LA City's Department of Cultural Affairs and Butcher Bird Studios, we produced a dozen public service announcements promoting local theater, and hosted by local theater makers with name recognition. These are currently being aired on public TV station KCET.
These PSAs refer the public to a new destination website for LA (onstage.la), conceived by LA STAGE Alliance and funded by The Ahmanson Foundation. This website has now launched, and its public facing side is gorgeous, guiding residents and visitors to performances across the region, as well as to arts journalism and local stage reviews. Most of the community interacts with the site's Ovation Awards functions, and developing that side has been far more challenging. For several months, IT Manager Mark Doerr lived somewhere near the seventh circle of hell, trying to resolve the onslaught of glitches. Mark's tenacity has elevated him to somewhere between the first and second circle, as problems continue to be fixed. And he continues to work, to repair, and to rise towards the land of the living. Thank you Mark.
Finally, with the help of The Ahmanson Foundation, NPO Solutions and the Non-Profit Sustainability Initiative (NSI), LA STAGE Alliance has been leading the effort to implement a discount ticketing program for teenagers, based on Teen Tix Seattle. Such a program is vital to bring a new generation of arts-goers to the sector.
I must express my gratitude to the Board of Directors, and for the generosity of Marco Gomez and Jose Luis Valenzuela, whose vision and combined efforts have sustained LASA. Thanks also to Cj, Miriam, Tomas, Mark Seldis, Cathy Carlton; and finally, to Eric Sims and Cricket Meyers, who have been instrumental in keeping the Ovation Awards program clipping along.
The ecology for arts service organizations is even more brittle than it is for arts organizations, and Los Angeles needs a pillar organization that represents the interests of the stage community. I hope you'll continue to support LA STAGE Alliance in that role, as I will.
In the meantime, I'll be turning my professional attentions back towards teaching and to journalism which is my home, via Stage Raw which is my now gangly, pre-teen child.
I'll say more on that from the Stage Raw platform.
Keep the faith,
Steven Leigh Morris