SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS

There’s nothing at all sweet about the sleazy, smarmy, downright despicable protagonist of Sweet Smell Of Success, the Broadway musical adaptation of the 1957 Burt Lancaster/Tony Curtis pic, which may well be the main reason the 2002 John Lithgow-starrer flopped, the last of its mere 109 performances (plus 18 previews) less than two weeks after Lithgow won a Best Actor Tony.
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BUSKER ALLEY

RECOMMENDED

A pair of stellar lead performances, a topnotch supporting cast, and direction by the musical’s original leading lady bring out the best in the never-made-it-to-Broadway Busker Alley, Musical Theatre West’s Reiner Reading Series 2013-14 season closer. Still, despite some terrific Sherman Brothers songs, it’s hard to become invested in the story of as sad sack a lead character as street entertainer Charlie Baxter, even as played with abundant pizzazz by triple-threat extraordinaire James Leo Ryan.
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THE GOODBYE GIRL

Sunday’s delightful “family-affair” concert staged reading of the 1993 Broadway flop The Goodbye Girl made it abundantly clear why, despite a stellar pedigree, the Neil Simon-Marvin Hamlisch-David Zippel musical was not destined for a long life on The Great White Way, yet proved a perfect choice for Musical Theatre West’s One-Night-Only Reiner Reading Series.
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CITY OF ANGELS

If ever there were a Broadway musical that would seem to lend itself less to being performed as a concert staged reading, it would probably be City Of Angels, and yet wonder of wonders, the Tony-winning Best Musical of 1989 has within less than ten months, served as the basis of not one but two concert staged readings, both of them absolutely inspired.
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RUTHLESS! THE MUSICAL

The Bad Seed met Gypsy met All About Eve met Mame met a tickled-to-death audience of musical theater lovers on Sunday as Musical Theatre Guild presented their latest, a one-night-only concert staged reading of the murderously funny cult off-Broadway spoof Ruthless! The Musical.
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CARNIVAL


Bob Merrill and Michael Stewart’s 1961 hit Carnival may have run a healthy 719 performances on Broadway, but unlike its fellow early-’60s Tony winners The Sound of Music, Gypsy, Bye Bye Birdie, How to Succeed .., Funny/Forum, and Oliver!, regional revivals of Carnival have been few and far between, hence its inclusion in Musical Theatre West’s Reiner Reading Series as a one-night-only concert staged reading, one that reminded those in attendance on Sunday that even forgotten Broadway gems have much to offer.
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DEATH TAKES A HOLIDAY


A gorgeous if derivative score and creaky book did not add up to off-Broadway smash status (or a Broadway transfer) for 2011’s Death Takes A Holiday, but with a cast chock-full of L.A. musical theater stars and director Calvin Remsberg providing expert guidance, Musical Theatre Guild’s first concert staged reading of 2014 garnered a deserved standing ovation this past Sunday at Santa Monica’s spiffy new Moss Theatre.
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CALL ME MADAM


Musical theater lovers can once again thank Ken and Dottie Reiner and Musical Theatre West’s Reiner Reading Series for bringing back to life a musical theater gem grown too obscure to inspire a fully staged production. (After all, given the choice of the two Tony-winning musicals of 1951, Guys And Dolls and Call Me Madam, which one would you choose to program as part of an upcoming season?)
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