Post image for Los Angeles Music Review: 2016 PIATIGORSKY INTERNATIONAL CELLO FESTIVAL (University of Southern California, Los Angeles Philharmonic)

A CAVALRY OF CELLISTS I have covered rock, classical, and musical festivals, so it’s surprising that one of the most satisfying, exciting, and inspirational events I have ever experienced just closed up shop last Sunday after ten days of celebrating the cello. Exhaustive but never enervating, this meticulously planned day-and-night gathering included workshops, master classes, and […]

{ 0 comments }

Post image for Los Angeles Theater Review: ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY (Musical Theatre West in Long Beach)

SCREWBALL MUSICAL HEAVEN When it opened on Broadway in 1978, On the Twentieth Century achieved the impossible. Cy Coleman’s clever score—a beautiful pastiche of turn-of-the-century operetta and silent film scores with some added jazz and musical comedy bounce—collided on the tracks with Betty Comden and Adolph Green’s delectably chewy lyrics and screwball script, resulting in […]

{ 0 comments }

Post image for Chicago Theater Review: TUG OF WAR: FOREIGN FIRE (Chicago Shakespeare Theater)

BINGEWATCHING THE BARD “Tug of war”–a child’s game that mutates into an adult’s nightmare; it’s an apt title for Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s marathon of Bard history plays. Tug of War: Foreign Fire revisits the lowlights from the Hundred Years War between England and France. We see—and feel–strife from both sides and at all levels, a harrowing chronicle […]

{ 0 comments }

Post image for Film Review: BLACK GIRL (directed by Ousmane Sembène)

BACK TO BLACK Naïve and primitive in style, Ousmane Sembène’s 1966 feature debut Black Girl is a political statement regarding some of the aftereffects of French colonialism on Senegal. The simple, if not simplistic, story concerns a young African woman, Diouana (Mbissine Thérèse Diop), who is invited to France by a white family to take […]

{ 0 comments }

Post image for Film Review: ALMOST HOLY (directed by Steve Hoover)

ALMOST TRUSTWORTHY The collapse of the Soviet Union led to, among other things, an epidemic of child homelessness in its former republics. Whether orphaned, escaping impossible domestic situations or poorly run government institutions, on the streets these children become junkies, prostitutes, criminals. They are used and abused, raped, beaten and murdered. Officials—assuming they are not […]

{ 0 comments }

Post image for Chicago Theater Review: THE BOYS UPSTAIRS (Pride Films and Plays at Mary’s Attic)

AN UNCRITICAL MATING COMEDY Familiar gay fare, The Boys Upstairs, a 2009 rouser by Jason Mitchell, revels in industrial-strength crowd-pleasing. Pride Films and Plays’ two-hour funfest is crammed with catty-more-than-witty banter, salacious-to-graphic sexual situations, bitchy byplay, lifestyle branding, eroticized objectification, italicized zingers, shameless doubles entendres, and a feel-good happy ending. Not that these are bad […]

{ 0 comments }

Post image for Los Angeles Theater Preview: THE CITY OF CONVERSATION (The Wallis in Beverly Hills)

THE CITY COMES ALIVE The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts is about to begin a new era under the leadership of its new Artistic Director Paul Crewes. Right out of the gate is a production of novelist, essayist and playwright Anthony Giardina’s The City of Conversation, which premiered at Lincoln Center last year. While […]

{ 0 comments }

Post image for Chicago Theater Review: THE BODY OF AN AMERICAN (Stage Left Theatre at Theater Wit)

A DOCUMENTARY DRAMA DELIVERS Chicago is currently witnessing two productions about photojournalists haunted by their work. TimeLine Theatre’s Chimerica offers a flawed but fascinating 180-minute look at a fateful historical “shot”: the “tank man” from Beijing’s 1989 demonstrations at Tiananmen Square. Delivering a more potent work in much less time, Stage Left Theatre’s 95-minute The […]

{ 0 comments }

Post image for Los Angeles Theater Review: HONKY (Rogue Machine at the Met Theatre)

HONKY IF YOU LIKE RACISM It’s such a weird time in America. From talk shows to a speech from President Obama, it’s clear that the racism remains a topical subject. But we don’t actually talk about it. Can a white person get a simple answer if they ask a black person, “Why can you say ‘nigger’ […]

{ 0 comments }

Post image for Chicago Theater Review: DISENCHANTED! (Broadway in Chicago at the Broadway Playhouse)

GIRL-POWER PRINCESSES TAKE ON TROPES, BUT THIS REVUE COULD USE MORE WIT AND MAGIC If you were a mean girl, you might call Disenchanted! a feel-good pity party. More compassionate souls will see this 95-minute 2011 musical, created by former history teacher Dennis T. Giacino, as a pushback protest. In any case it definitely counts […]

{ 0 comments }