A year after Olivia Treviño directed the Long Beach Playhouse's best-ever production to that point, she returns to direct "Vigils," by playwright Noah Haidle ... and therein may lie a problem. Through July 13.
There's a reason the man at the next table won't answer his cell phone. He's dead. But why does Jean decide to tend to his cellular flame? "Dead Man's Cell Phone" only shows us that it brings her far more than she bargained for. At International City Theatre through June 30.
Due to popular demand, "Little Shop of Horrors" will be spreading its bloom and doom at Long Beach Playhouse Long in two additional performances---Friday, June 28 and Saturday, June 29 at 8 p.m.
"As You Like It" may be Shakespeare's best comedy, and Long Beach Shakespeare Company's current production features some of the best work it has ever done. Through June 29.
Craig Johnson and Robbie Danzie bring poignancy to an old couple's look back at their lives in "The Chairs," the more accessible of a twin bill of early plays by dada/absurdist playwright Eugène Ionesco---including his first, "The Bald Soprano"---at The Garage Theatre through June 8
"Machinal" is playwright Sophie Treadwell's 1928 expressionistic telling of a woman's struggle to find her way in a world she experiences as cold and absurd. Theatre critic Greggory Moore says it's the best thing he's seen at the LB Playhouse. Cold, absurd and Greggory Moore? We're in!
Adam Bock's bizarre black comedy, "The Thugs," touches on nearly every weary observation about modern life---a variety of topics and characters and depth and silliness that adds up to everything that Cal Rep does best. On the Queen Mary through April 30.
"A Chorus Line" is promoted as the greatest musical ever, but true or not, the question is what Musical Theatre West does with whatever it is. The answer is on stage at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center through April 28.
"A Flea in Her Ear" is the kind of farce the Long Beach Playhouse knows how to do from years and years of doing it. If it's the kind of production you like to see, go see it. Through May 11.
Maria Callas was one of the most galvanizing figures in opera history, and in International City Theatre's production of "Master Class," Gigi Bermingham gives the great diva all the crazywonderful she is due. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through April 14.
Even enthusiastic and deftly executed performances by the CSULB Players couldn't sufficiently sharpen the script of the Tony Award-winning musical "Spring Awakenings" so that its lines and lyrics could convincingly make its points. Playing through arch 30.
Forget about the Tyler Perry film version, to feel the power of "for colored girls ...," you've gotta get back to the source of the 1974 Obie Award-winning play by Ntozake Shange---and it's at the Manazar Gamboa Theatre (behind Homeland Cultural Center) through March 24.
In bringing "The Graduate" to the Long Beach Playhouse, director Carl DaSilva can't make a move without GreaterLongBeach.com critic Greggory Moore drawing comparisons---usually unfavorable---with the iconic film. But Moore acknowledges that most in the audience seem to be enjoying the production. You can judge for yourself through March 30.
"That Beautiful Laugh," a child-friendly production by the Four Clowns theatre troupe, has a lot going for it---except children in the audience to appreciate it. At the Long Beach Playhouse through March 17.
Director Brandon Alexander Cutts plays with the lights, turns the music up and down---even rewrites a scene---in The Winter's Tale, and the energy shows in cast and crew. At the Richard Goad Theatre through March 30.
Some people don't enjoy the music of Rodgers & Hammerstein, but at least one of them---our critic---still found endless reasons to enjoy Musical Theatre West's current production of "Oklahoma!" It's playing at the Carpenter Center through March 3.
There's a lot of iconography in Cal Rep's production of "Tartuffe Lab" but somehow Hitler, Stalin, John Lennon, Che Guevara, Mickey Mouse and bushels of religious references don't add up to anything that equals real meaning---unless you count the fun the actors are obviously having.
Nancy thinks serial killer Bill The Butcher is to die for, but her swooning is ruining the mood for him. The world premiere of "Catching the Butcher" is at the Long Beach Playhouse through February 24.
Edgar Allen Poe's gothic fever-dreams are driven by Philip Glass's darkness and musical wheels to great success in Long Beach Opera's "The Fall of the House of Usher" at the Warner Grand in San Pedro.
Attention all passengers! Jules Verne's 19th Century circumnavigational classic---"Around The World In 80 Days," is now boarding at the International City Theatre. Through Feb. 17.
"Intimately Wilde" overcomes the danger of cliché and delivers an entertaining dramatic portrait of the inimitable Oscar Wilde that feels like a historical document come to life. At the Long Beach Playhouse through ---and quite entertainmen cliche
The leading characters In "Fuddy Meers" are people whose lives are changed---and whose identities are absorbed---by the comic possibiliies of the following medical conditions: amnesia, stroke, severe burns, limping, lisping, baby-talking, criminality and emotional overreliance on hand-puppets. Closes Nov. 24 (Saturday).
Although the show is called "Ain't Misbehavin'," this high-powered vehicle for the music of Fats Waller definitely ain't about behavin', either. Fortunately, the International City Theatre cast---including Niketa Calame, Jennifer Shelton and Amber Mercomes---finds the rhythms and the blues in its rendition of this classic joyride. Through Nov. 4.
In "Trojan Barbie," playwright Christine Evans puts history under the microscope in an examination of how winners have tended to treat losers. If you are a loser, you already know. If you are a winner, here's a tip: don't lose. At the Garage Theatre through October 13.
"The Changeling" succeeds, at least, as a souvenir of theatrical history. Nobody writes theatre like this anymore—and without such plays, we wouldn't be in the relatively sophisticated position we are today. A piece like this helps us see that our road was paved with more than Shakespeare. At LB Playhouse through Sept. 29.
In "Cosmopolis" (now playing at the Art Theatre), director David Cronenberg uses a limo ride across New York City with Robert Pattinson to argue (in so, so, so many words) that capitalism is carrying us to hell.
How do we let go of someone who has gotten so far inside us as to become part of our very being? "Ghost-Writer" poses that question but playwright Michael Hollinger doesn't go far enough inside his characters to find the answer. Or does he? At ICT through Sept. 16.
"The Taming of the Shrew" isn't The Bard's greatest work, but LB Shakespeare Company makes it pop, flavoring each joke with inflection and facial expression necessary to make the jibes work---not just as points of humor, but as true repartee. Today through Sept. 9.
GreaterLongBeach.com theatre reviewer Greggory Moore has never much liked "Macbeth," and after attending the Long Beach Playhouse production ... he still doesn't.
LONG BEACH — In yet another layer of controversy for Long Beach’s battle over the city’s medical marijuana dispensaries, a video posted on YouTube this week reportedly shows Long Beach Police Officers using excessive force while raiding a local dispensary. The raid occurred June 19 at the THC Downtown Collective, an example of what LPBD [...]
Two married couples, friends since they went to prom together 17 years ago, renew an annual ritual to commemorate their love for each other. What could go wrong? The answer runs at the Garage Theatre through July 28.
Musical Theatre West's production of "Spamalot" extracts everything possible out of this showbiz stepson of the Monty Python legacy. It still doesn't feel like quite enough.
Long Beach Opera's production of "The Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat"---the story of a musician no longer able to see faces---emphasizes what the powers of love, patience and cleverness can overcome ... and what they cannot.
LOLPERA, last year's smash debut at the Garage Theatre, has been tweaked a little for its current production at the Hollywood Fringe Festival, The laughs are as big as ever, but for those who have seen both versions, every gain made by a change seems to be be accompanied by an offsetting loss
"Cloud Tectonics" is the consensus masterwork of playwright José Rivera, and GreaterLongBeach.com theatre critic Greggory Moore proposes that its current production at the Long Beach Playhouse may amount to the high point in the 83-year history of the theatre.
Sean Scofield is a standout as the churlish Malvolio in Long Beach Shakespeare Company's rendition of "Twelfth Night, or What You Will," playing weekends at the Richard Goad Theatre in Bixby Knolls through June 30.
Jenny Chow! comes to life in the flashbacks, which reveal agirl whose life is as neurotically limited as her mind is expansive. Jennifer Jung does a solid job rendering a character desperate to keep it all together while clearly at loose ends.
In "Ainadamar," director Andreas Mitisek's cast achieves a triumph of chacter over caricature by playing subtleties more generally akin to good theatre than classic operatic scale. The payoff is real emotion among characters who feel authentic. The show closes tonight at the Terrace Theatre.
International City Theatre works hard, but nothing can save "The Fix," in which composer Dana P. Rowe seems to have attempted to write a rock musical without ever having listened to rock 'n' roll.
Giggle at the goofy fun, be annoyed by the non-linear story line, but to get what "Goose and Tomtom" has going for it requires forgetting the "higher" self for a moment and joining the meditation on the magic of experience.
Director Thomas P. Cooke turned playwright Tom Stoppard's becoming-a-classic up a notch, using clips from Laurence Olivier's 1948 film to skewer the late overactor for hamming up "Hamlet."
“America: A Political Burlesque,” a sort of risible salve for election fever, is the most elaborate offering yet from Post Mortem, a spinoff of the Alive Theatre. While some quite-talented artists get a payoff for all their work, they might have hit the jackpot by paring things down.
The Long Beach Shakespeare Company's production of "Romeo and Juliet" isn't perfect, but it understands these are two idiot kids, who know about hormones, obsessiveness and instant gratification, but nothing about substantive romantic love.
In "boom," an absurdist play by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb---now playing by the Alive Theatre troupe at the Long Beach Playhouse---people just can't win for trying ... sometimes including their attempts to understand the play.
Cal Rep's production of Obie Award-winning "Quills"---which invokes the Marquis de Sade to make a case for freedom of expression---gets its drive from high-octane acting and lowbrow bawdy, but slows down when the moralizing begins.
"God of Carnage" trades on the possibility that civilization---for better and/or for worse---is merely a veneer we apply over our true, wild selves. But not in a way that will keep you from having a wonderful evening.
Robert Edwards' effin-perfect portrayal of Orson Welles establishes the tone of "Orson's Shadow," and it resonates through a cast---also playing famous actors/fragile people of another era--that has found their characters and truly fills those roles.
Original works characterized Long Beach theatre in 2011, led by Ryan McClary's "General Entropy" at the Alive Theatre and "LOLPERA" by LN&AND at The Garage Theatre---and Ashley Allen (above) played big parts in both of them.
Don't see "Terror at the Pike!" expecting the poignant stories of other holiday-season theatre traditions. The sixth installment of The Garage Theatre’s annual why-is-this-a-Christmas-story is all about the goofiness, just like the previous five.
How does a cast of 10 in a tiny theatre portray 60 characters across big-city London and a time-traveling universe while telling a tale that everybody already knows is headed toward St. Nick-of-time-redemption? Convincingly, movingly, almost miraculously, and God bless them for it, every one!
Shirley Merchant's keep-your-cliches portrayal of a homeless woman who loves McDonald's fries is easily the best of 10 mostly underachieving monologues for women that comprise Jane Martin's "Talking With ...."---the debut production of the Long Repertory company.
Cal Rep explores the motifs that may have played out in the mind of scientist Louis Slotin's during the nine days he lived---knowing he was going to die---after his slip of the screwdriver exposed him to a deadly dose of radiation.
"Awake from This Noirmare" is the best of the trio of new works that comprise Segment 3 of Alive Theatre's Long Beach Poppin' Play Festival. In a genre so often spoofed that the cliches have cliches, Shawn Katherine Kane's script is a quick, funny and not-at-all-guilty pleasure.
This "Mockingbird" is not the movie, or even Scout Finch's story, anymore. The script is something of a condensed version of the original. Yet when the play winds up in that familiarly bittersweet place, reminding us that people sometimes do the right thing simply because it's right, we know this classic has touched us again.
A nurse drinks urine in 'Bring On the Dancing Girls," and perhaps pith is where you find it. 'Rotations' is worth seeing because of how well Paul Knox, Maribella Magana, and Craig Johnson perform. 'Dracula' has no substance but is so funny you won't care. 'Return to Lightning Mountain' springs from whatever force compels humans to absurd extremes of creation.
Really, I could give a damn about a musical like "The Robber Bridegroom," which wraps up the International City Theatre's 2011 season. Yet I enjoyed myself from start to finish. The entire cast sells everything to perfection.There's a real joy in seeing a group of people come together and just knock it out of the park.
Like the previous three, Alive Theatre's fourth Long Beach Poppin' Play Festival consists of never-before-seen plays getting their first shots at an audience..But that's where the similarity ends in what has become one of the city's most-eclectic and uneven traditions of artistic expression. Show up, and you're part of the process.
What do you get by turning the whole LOLcats phenomenon into a full-blown opera whose libretto is comprised of the actual captions-on-kitty pictures that are on the web site sung by the kittehs made human flesh and composed into a story with the kind of meaning that matters? You get brilliance.
In Cal Rep's The Lovesong of J. Robert Oppenheimer," the physicist who first helped invent the atomic bomb but later lost his security clearance for outspokenly trying to control it, is teased and tortured by a female demon named Lilith, who finds his big bangs positively orgasmic.
There's nothing very surprising or unusual about Steve Martin's script for "The Underpants"---except perhaps the fact it is adapted from a 1910 German farce---and the veteran humorist makes sure everyone knows from the get-go by packing the opening scene with a string of sausage jokes. Sound like pantalunacy? Listen again: that's wild-and-crazy, reheated---Martin, same as he ever was.
"Corpus Christ" is a liberal-in-every-sense retelling of the Jesus story, wherein the fleshed-out Christ is Joshua, a Texas boy imbued with a sense of foreboding specialness that sets him apart from his peer and shapes his simultaneously beautiful and persecuted life.
This may appear a bit harsh, but I think it’s inexcusable that Long Beach Playhouse is running Athol Fugard’s “Master Harold” . . . and the Boys under the title Master Harold & the Boys. Even were the differences in the title insignificant, it’s a bit of an insult to the playwright to alter his [...]
LB Shakespeare's production of "La Mandragola" feels like we are seeing the same thing audiences saw in the 16th century, and being transported 500 years into the past is pretty good bang for your ticket bucks---that is, if you enjoy a well-aged Machiavelli play.
Where are you when we need you, David Foster Wallace? We're waiting for the story of 9/11ii. It's the story of a world where a great national tragedy took place---so immense and consequential that, 10 years later, the United States government transforms it into secret policy. The world needs that book, but David Foster Wallace is somewhere else.
"Entropy" is the inexorable march toward decay that will eventually make of the universe a wash of energy. But "Entropy General" is Ryan McClary's smart, funny, philosophizing play that the Alive Theatre almost turns into an antidote. And you've got an extra weekend---this one coming up---to see it
The high promise of Allan Cubitt's script turns out to be a prototypical doctor-becomes-patient heartstring-tugger dressed up in phantasmagoric dreamscape that has no cash value where the play does its emotional banking.
Four-year-old Lucy, not Mr. Marmalade, is the star, but playwright Noah Haidle has not created her as a realistic preschool-aged tot, but to reflect the adult-world realities that are all around her and that will invariably shape her.
The key to Long Beach Playhouse's success with "Godot" is unobtrusiveness---a completely straight take, with nothing to clutter up the pithy sparseness of the dialog. The actors never let their clowning infringe upon the pathos that pops up in seemingly every minute of this masterpiece.
"Anna In The Tropics" won the Pulitzer Prize for playwright Nilo Cruz, and Long Beach Shakespeare Company captures the human story---and the humidity---that's at the essence of his tradition-vs.-modernization theme.
Greggory Moore asks: If you could eradicate either prostitution or littering, prostitution or graffiti, prostitution or texting while driving---wouldn't you do a greater service by in each case leaving prostitution alone and getting rid of the other?
Here’s an assignment, class: Write a 90-minute script about a widowed man and woman who meet late in life and fall in love. Have the two meet in the man’s New Jersey hometown, and have the woman eventually be willing to move from the South to be with him. Your motivation? You’re trying to make [...]
All we see is their suffering, but that does not make "Four Clowns" a morbid show. It's a physical, musical and emotional journey into what it means to be a human being, and despite all the pain, the Alive Theatre makes it all quite funny.
After seeing this production of Shakespeare's classic, "Othello," I can't help feeling the Bard shows a lack of restraint. And Long Beach Shakespeare's staging plays into the script's worst tendencies along these lines, heavy on the yelling and light on nuance.
Ethan Coen says his collection of three short plays---Almost an Evening---was named after “hear[ing] a parting theatergoer complain it had been ‘not even almost an evening.’” Coen's rejoinder to us: “I take some pride in my work, and together these plays do make up almost an evening—I don't care what anyone says.”
"The Hyacinth Macaw" is handled with care, which means faithfully delivering the mouthfuls of playwright Mac Wellman's absurdist pith, sounding and resounding his themes. That doesn't stop the play from scoring points. There's enough cleverness to go around, plus a lot of little laughs—and some big ones.
My familiarity with Cal's visage from the TV spots of my childhood set me up for shock when I recently started seeing him again in Worthington Ford commercials. The gauntness, the obviously skeletal frame beneath his suit jacket, the dragging of his palate as he enunciated his sales pitch. There was no denying it: Cal Worthington is dying ... as are we all.
If you like conventional musical theater devices and Gertrude Stein's unconventional style of repeatedly rearranging the words in simple sentences, you'll probably enjoy "Loving Repeating" ... enjoy Repeating Loving you'll probably ... Loving you'll Repeating enjoy probably ... Repeating probably you'll enjoy Loving ... Repeating you'll Loving probably enjoy ...
Laughing at torture and murder may be stomach-turning for some, and Long Beach Playhouse's “The Lieutenant of Inishmore” does shock---but gently, both because of Martin McDonagh's blithe dialog, and because the point of the gore comes across while always seeming pretend.
David Mamet's "Revenge of the Space Pandas" is one of those pieces of writing in which the plot is merely a vehicle for the laughs. As long as the comedy's good, you'll let it drive you anywhere. Mamet's comedy is good ... and The Garage Theatre's execution of this silliness is perfect.
A couple weeks ago, 88-year-old Roy Laird went to County Villa Healthcare Center in Seal Beach to see 86-year-old Clara, his wife of nearly 70 years---like he did three times every day because Clara could no longer walk, sit up, feed herself or recognize visitors. This time, Roy shot her in the head with a .38 caliber revolver.
Cal Rep is a fantastic theatre company, which over the years has presented such fantastic scripts as Melissa James Gibson's "Current Nobody" and a recent adaptation of Clifford Odets' "Waiting for Lefty." So it's especially puzzling and disappointing when they choose something not up to the very high bar they have set.
The Alive Theatre has cancelled all three of last weekend’s performances of Tom Stoppard's "Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead" as well as weekend shows Nov. 26 and 27 due to what a spokesperson for the company called “regrettable and uncontrollable circumstances.”
The stories playwright Shirley Lauro unleashes in "A Piece of My Heart" constitute a cross-section of female experiences as they tried to cope with the hell on Earth they found south of the 17th parallel in the late 1960s.
Miss Julie, the somewhat disreputable daughter of a count, decides that just dancing with servant Jean upstairs at her father's Midsummer's Eve ball is not enough---so she follows him both down the stairs and down the social ladder. The result is ... interesting.
Playwright Clive Barker is not especially concerned with plot or logic. Instead, this seems to be about holding forth on the nature of evil and of humanity, and musing on whether the former isn't wholly a product of the latter. On the other hand, the acting is wonderful.
It seems the first shots of Cold War II are being fired---we've probably got two years until Sarah Palin and the Fox Newsillies bring the term “pinko” back into vogue. Cal Rep has obviously joined the battle by opening its season with Waiting for Lefty: Seeing Red, and its production is a clear counteroffensive.
Max and Rudy are on the run from Nazi persecution of homosexuals, a flight that does not last long. But Bent is about (re)claiming one's identity in the face of brutal dehumanization—an act of free will that flies in the face of the Nazi regime. It is a true triumph of the will. And that is beautiful, and human.
Matilde the housekeeper immigrated to Connecticut from her native Brazil a year ago, after her mother died laughing from a joke told by Matilde's father, who not long afterward shot himself from grief. Now she's trying to craft the perfect joke. Now playing at International City Theatre.
What are we to make of a festival of new plays? Are these finished works making their debuts? Are they experiments, a halfway house between workshopping and full-scale production? Never afraid to take chances, the Alive Theatre gives us a compelling and intimate take on the creative process. It's nice to have.
Revealing what you want—never mind proactively going about getting it—is not part and parcel with dictating what you receive. The thing is, you don't know. You take your shot and see what happens. You may or may not get what you wish for, but you're going to get something. "Stop Kiss" now at The Garage Theatre
Absurdist as this clown-show-with-wordplay may be, “Usallica” is a clear satire of much of the tradition and belief that binds us—the point being that some of that binding is too tight and all too often insufficiently parsed (or we might say: conjugated).
For its inaugural production---its first fight---LoneCollective Theatre chose Stephen Belber’s “Tape,” a script completely reliant on the acting for whatever punch it might have. And as we might expect from a rookie boxer, the new troupe comes out with plenty of energy, but with a fighting style that’s a little stiff.
I haven’t particularly enjoyed the plays put on by the International City Theatre (ICT). Some of this is simply script selection—whoever is doing the choosing has very different taste than I—and some of it is a sense of what makes for effective theatre that is different than mine. But I’m happy to say that the [...]
Let’s be honest: ancient Greek theatre is primitive. How could it not be? It’s just about when the whole art form was born. Based on that historical truth, you are welcome to slant your judgment of the aesthetics of a play like Lysistrata, but you are not obliged to. And if you don’t, the first [...]
They say timing is everything. It isn't, of course—but in some plays it's pretty damn near to it. David Grimm's Measure for Pleasure is one of those plays. Are the words on the page funny? Clever? At times, yes. But if even the most literary scripts can be ruined in performance (as I once saw CSU Fullerton do to Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia), one like Grimm's—almost all jokes and timing—owes half its soul to the performers. Fortunately, the Garage Theatre got rhythm.
Be forewarned: this is not a play. I don't mean that esoterically, like C'est ci n'est pas une pipe or something. I mean: this is not a play. To be sure, Cal Rep isn't billing Out of Thin Air as a play; the press release labels it "out-of-the-box theatre unlike anything you've seen before" (a claim that's overly bold, I'm afraid), but since it occupies a spot in its season and costs the same as a play, one might go unawares simply because Cal Rep is such an excellent company. In that case, you might be disappointed.
Alive Theatre is an itinerant troupe, but every space they’ve inhabited during their three-year existence has worked for them—they’ve made them work. The empty whatever-it-was at 3838 Atlantic Ave. in Bixby Knolls that they’ve transformed into a theater for their current show, Eugene Ionesco’s A Hell of a Mess, or Oh, What a Bloody Circus, [...]
The Found Theatre does goofy. If you go there, you’re probably looking for a simple, good time. When the production is a satire, it’s going to be soft-hearted and silly. Hope Dope Is on the Way:The Medical Marijuana Telethon is a sort of a double-satire—part on the medical marijuana movement, part on telethons. Each is an [...]