Post image for Los Angeles Theater Review: BRIGHT STAR (Ahmanson)

LIGHTING UP THE SOUTHERN SKY Carmen Cusack is luminous. She uses her whole self—physically, emotionally, vocally—to open herself to the audience, holding every last one of us in her loving arms. Cusack has been on a multi-year journey with Bright Star, since the Steve Martin/Edie Brickell musical began in a 2013 workshop by the New […]

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Post image for Chicago Theater Review: HIS GREATNESS (Pride Films and Plays at the Pride Arts Center)

HIS FALL FROM GREATNESS By 1980 Tom “Tennessee” Williams was on a constant skid: His last great play, The Night of the Iguana, had premiered two decades before. Ever since, the once-supreme author of The Glass Menagerie, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Summer and Smoke, Camino Real, Suddenly Last Summer, Orpheus Descending, and, above all, A Streetcar […]

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Post image for Los Angeles Music Review: MIRGA CONDUCTS MAHLER (Los Angeles Philharmonic)

INACCESSIBLE? MIRGA MAKES US THINK AGAIN The three composers that make up LA Phil’s current program—which opened last night and plays through Saturday—are not what one would call “accessible,” meaning easy to listen to for some folks. Laypersons will often find themselves searching for lyrical, easy-to-digest melodies, or possibly an introduction of a theme or […]

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Post image for Chicago Dance Review: GISELLE (Joffrey Ballet)

DANCES OF THE DEAD Both classic ballet and romantic fantasy, Adolphe Adam’s 1841 masterwork is for a rightly renewed reason a worthy offering by Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet. Playing the gorgeous Auditorium Theatre through Oct. 29 only, this two-hour treasure, revisioned in 2012 by Lola de Ávila (formerly of the San Francisco Ballet School), leaps and soars. […]

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Post image for Los Angeles Film and Music Preview: LA BELLE ET LA BÊTE (LA Opera at Theatre at the Ace Hotel)

GREAT OPERA, GREAT CINEMA, GREAT PARTY! A familiar fairy tale takes on a broader and deeper subject—the transformative power of love and art. Jean Cocteau’s stunningly beautiful 1946 cinematic masterpiece is recast with an enchanting new soundtrack by Philip Glass. Not only is it one of Glass’s most accessible works, it may well be the […]

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Post image for Los Angeles Theater Review: TIME ALONE (Belle Rêve Theatre Company at the Los Angeles Theatre Center)

THE SOLITARY LONELINESS OF LOSS There is something cheeky and even a bit dangerous about a writer reaching far outside his or her community, culture, or country. When an outsider succeeds, though, the unfamiliarity can be an advantage, yielding wonder and illumination—as happens here with Italian playwright Alessandro Camon’s remarkable new play, now getting its […]

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Post image for Los Angeles Opera Review: THE CONSUL (Long Beach Opera in Lawndale, The South Bay)

BUREAUCRATIC NIGHTMARE; OPERATIC DREAM After witnessing Long Beach Opera’s extraordinarily satisfying production of Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Consul, starring the magnificent Patricia Racette, I find it shocking that this dramatic opera has not become part of the standard repertoire. There may be one simple reason. When this Pulitzer Prize-winner opened on Broadway in 1950, its […]

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Post image for Los Angeles Theater Review: TURN ME LOOSE (The Wallis in Beverly Hills)

DRY WIT AND RIGHTEOUS OUTRAGE The best sequence in this largely solo show starring Joe Morton as civil rights activist, comedian, and writer Dick Gregory, is playwright Gretchen Law’s dramatization of a 1968 interview Gregory gives at the legendary hungry i in San Francisco. By this point in his life and career, he is driven […]

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Post image for San Diego Opera Review: THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE (San Diego Opera)

PLUCKY PIRATES, DARLING DAMSELS AND SILLY SHENANIGANS San Diego Opera has come a long way since announcing in 2014 that, despite being the only opera company in the nation’s eighth largest city, it would be shutting down to avoid bankruptcy. Between a groundswell of support on crowdfunding, restructure of the organization, and some changes to […]

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Post image for Chicago Theater Review: BILLY ELLIOT THE MUSICAL (Porchlight Music Theatre at Ruth Page Center)

DANCING OUT A DREAM Billy Elliot was born to dance; likewise his cinematic tale just had to become a musical. But it’s a case of apples and oranges: If you loved the Universal Pictures film from 2000, you’ll like the musical. If you never saw the movie, or wish it had been both more political and more […]

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