Destiny Mr. Holland's Opus Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium Mr. Mom Mr.
Smith Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Mrs. Doubtfire Mrs. Miniver Mud Mulan Mulholland Dr. What's Up, Doc? Bean's Holiday Mr. This is not entirely a compliment, despite Felder's expert storytelling skills, his pristine instincts for timing, and his irrepressible love for the classical composers he impersonates in what's become a cottage industry of his monodramas with music. Here, he takes on Ludwig van B.
Erik Carstensen's sound design brings the clean, digital sounds of a full orchestra in support of Felder while he's seated center stage at the stool of a baby grand, plunking out one of the great piano concertos.
The show is a compendium of fascinating biographical details, smartly told — homing in on the personal agony of a man, whose creation of music is his life's centerpiece, slowly losing the ability to hear. If you know anything at all about Beethoven's life, Felder's show isn't going to add to your knowledge. There's more recognition here than surprise, which makes Felder's homage more comfortable than probing. Geffen Playhouse, Le Conte Ave. Steven Leigh Morris. Just as we're getting increasingly dire reports on the blowback of our economic recession on public education — rural schools cutting back to a four-day week, bus service curtailed, the cost of school lunches being jacked up as the rate of families evicted from their foreclosed homes keeps escalating — along comes Russell's homage to the capacities of learning to change minds and lives.
They're both addicts — she to cigarettes, he to booze — but she has an insatiable curiosity about poetry and literary criticism. She does, and he gets more than he bargained for. Through the course of their lessons, her life opens up, despite her shattering marriage; meanwhile, caught in pangs of jealousy and personal remorse, his life stumbles toward oblivion.
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The general pattern has a generic shape of A Star Is Born, but the emotional complexities that come with addictions and self-loathing are revelatory. The fire in Mozo's Rita is hypnotic — though her dialect keeps intruding like a small thorn, wavering between the south of England, the north of England and Alabama. Johnson is more credible than compelling in a workmanlike performance.
Even with these drawbacks, the play's inner tensions come through, and Victoria Profitt's library-office set and Terri A. Lewis' costumes say as much about what's going on between these two as any of their words. Third St. International City Theatre, E. Ocean Blvd.
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Gregg's improvised humor borders on the puerile, but the dancers' dexterity and skill are beyond reproach. King King, Hollywood Blvd. This beautifully simple minute musical, composed by Stephen Flaherty with a book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, eschews the popular mechanics that seem more important than performances in most Broaway musical fare.
Instead director Billy Porter and choreographer Bradley Rapier count on their brilliant cast to provide powerful singing, gorgeous dance and emotion-packed athleticism. Based on the novel by Rosa Guy a young product of the Harlem Rennaissance the story follows the plight of Ti Moune Kristolyn Lloyd , a dark-skinned peasant in the French Antilles who rescues noble mulatto Daniell Jesse Nager , who's half-descended from the island's now departed colonists.
Taking its cue from The Little Mermaid, the musical has Ti Moune ingratiates herself into the ruling class with tragic results. The cast's topflight skills are supported by a fine small orchestra, directed by Darryl Archibald. Anita Yavitch's beautifully crafted Caribbean costumes provide visual flair — especially as they flow with the actors' constant physical movement of the actors. John H, Binkley's set design maintains the Reprise style of simplicity while creating its own magic — particularly the moving creation of a symbolic tree that allows the story to rise above its tragic conclusion.
Presented by Reprise Theatre Company. Tom Provenzano. Rubicon Theater, E. Main St. For example, the intermission that existed in previews has now been removed. This gives the production a chance to dramatize an unbroken sequence of scenes over three decades, showing the coming of age, and aging, of three Texas high school cheerleaders Lauren Kennedy, Sarah Stiles and Anneliese van der Pol. The action starts in with a focus on what seem to be monumental concerns to its three teenage cheerleaders; the trio is fused at the hip, incurious about any world larger than their campus while being intoxicated by their own appearance, status and popularity.
When the announcement of JFK's assassination comes over a loudspeaker, one of them, perplexed, can't imagine how the president of the student body could have been shot in Dallas when she just saw him in algebra class. However, the costs of that insularity are precisely what the work studies, as the women — each buffeted by the shifting eras — individuate and grow apart. Betrayals and transformative offstage events are revealed, and the play emerges as a musical chick-flick convergence of Beth Henley's Crimes of the Heart and Bernard Slade's Same Time, Next Year — somewhere between a portrait of changing times and a soap opera.
I won't even try to predict the production's odds of success on Broadway, where it's slated to transfer in February There's some tension in style between the considerable dialogue, reflecting the work's stage-play origins, and Kirshenbaum's perfectly pleasant, melodic songs, which bring to mind the gentle pop stylings of Dionne Warwick. The scenes are often so strong that the reason for a character bursting into song appears contrived, though the songs — perfectly executed by the band and actors, under Judith Ivey's nicely honed direction — are lovely on their own terms.
The original play ended its character study in — two years before it opened off-Broadway at the Chelsea Westside Theater Center. The musical extends that frame to , obviously a strategy to prevent a new musical from being an antique curio at birth — and possibly because we haven't undergone any seismic shift of values since the Reagan era. Heifner's biggest change, however, is an attitude shift from ennui to the romantic gush of three gals enduring the winds of time and betrayal by sticking together.
In a recent interview, Heifner said he was no longer cynical.
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Perhaps he had his eye on 42nd Street when he said it. Eden Espinoza as the green-skinned, bespectacled girl-witch Elphaba has a contagiously smart appeal. After recognizing that Elphaba's not going to power-play along with the Wizard's John Rubinstein Stalinist shenanigans, Mrs. Morrible the delightful Carol Kane , starts a witch hunt for the girl, and the whole thing starts to resemble some of the tawdrier chapters in American history.
Pantages Theater, Hollywood Blvd. Political complexities inevitably overshadow Bergson's personal life, but they are fascinating in their own right. Deborah LaVine skillfully melds a fine cast into a gripping production. Fountain Theater, Fountain Ave.
Giovanni Affinito's story of Nero and his mom. Most are decent Walkens, and the best have mastered the piranha stare and elastic enunciation that snaps the ends of syllables like rubber bands. Theatre 68, Sunset Blvd. Richard Israel's on-target production is stark and lively; Johanna Kent's music direction is sure-footed, and the entire cast is splendid. El Centro Theatre, N. El Centro Ave.
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This blend might explain her satirically grim portrait of the world she grew up in, and the cheerfully British mask she places over it. In some ways, Clerkin's one-woman show is a study in the loneliness of being ignored by her workaholic dance-teacher mother, who focused all her attention on the paying customers.
This child's-eye view could be peevish stuff were Clerkin not so intractably good-humored. Nor does she place herself above her mocking portraits, including at age 14 a groping suitor in the dance hall, his eyes boggling, tongue swishing lips as he grabs her hips at arm's length and pushes her around the dance floor like a mop. The requisite of keeping both arms slammed into one's body emerges as a metaphoric constriction in a world that Clerkin captures so meticulously, with the help of Dan O'Connor's direction and Maxine Mohr's pristinely delicate sound design.
Intro to snogging French kissing is one of many rites of passage detailed by Clerkin with a blend of intrigue and disgust, as is binge-drinking and the morning-after consequences in one high-stakes public display. Clerkin's glorious riffs of traditional Irish dance and disco, and some intermingling of both genres, make her argument for transcendence with nary a word spoken. Fairfax Ave. Flint Esquerra, Yves Lola St. Early in the play, much of the uproarious humor emanates from Free Carl Crudup , a teller of tall tales. But the hilarious, well-written banter of Act 1 gives way to something much darker in Act 2 when one of the characters appears with a series of escalating injuries and bruises.
Director Esquerra handles the light and dark elements equally well, adding to the shock in Act 2. As with many plays set in diners or bars, playwright St. Vil includes various stock characters, including a street hustler Antonio Ramirez and a church lady Barbara Barnes , but superb character development puts refreshing new twists on these archetypes.
Oxford Ave. Added perfs Tues. The material gets repetitive toward the end, and the heavy regional accents sometimes make some of the dialogue difficult to follow — but not so much that it sabotages the laughs we glean from performers who are clearly having so much infectious fun.
La Brea Ave. The material has potential in terms of exploring the cyclical mistakes of successive generations, as well as the suffocating gossip of Mexican-American enclaves. While Lopez has created moving work over the years and Casa remains an important voice in its community, it has definitely seen better productions. MK Casa , E. First St.