BRENDAN


A young Irish immigrant adjusts to life in contemporary New York City in Ronan Noone’s Brendan, one of the best—and most entertaining and emotionally resonant—plays I’ve seen this past year, now getting an absolutely superb intimate West Coast Premiere at Theatre Banshee.
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THE 39 STEPS


Glendale Centre Theatre proves that you don’t need a cast of dozens and a seven-figure budget to bring John Buchan’s The 39 Steps to life, despite a plot that takes hero-on-the-run Richard Hannay on an adventure from London to Edinburgh to the Scottish moors and back (during which he crosses paths with a hundred fifty characters or so). All you need are four crackerjack actors, an inventive design team, a tireless stage crew, and directorial whiz Todd Nielsen on hand to bring Buchan’s classic spy novel to vibrant, hilarious life.
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SWEET KARMA


He was a 35-year-old physician when the Khmer Rouge took control of Cambodia, and barely escaped the holocaust that took the lives of more than a quarter of his countrymen. He was a refugee-turned-movie actor, winning an Oscar for his film—and acting—debut as real-life Cambodian journalist Dith Pran. He was a humanitarian who worked to rebuild his shattered country. And after surviving the killing fields, he met his death in the streets of Los Angeles, murdered by members of a predominantly Cambodian street gang.

This was the life—and death—of Dr. Haing S. Ngor, explored by playwright Henry Ong in the powerful Sweet Karma, now getting an exquisitely designed, imaginatively directed, and beautifully acted West Coast Premiere at the Grove Theatre Center.
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GIRL CRAZY


Musical theater lovers who might have wondered just how revolutionary Oklahoma! was when it redefined the Broadway musical in 1944 got a tangy taste of what came before it at Monday night’s terrifically entertaining Musical Theatre Guild concert staged reading of George and Ira Gershwin’s Girl Crazy.

Fully integrated songs and dances? No way. Lyrics that advanced the plot? Forget it. Serious subject matter? You must be kidding! And as for 21st Century political correctness, there was no such thing back in 1930 when Jews, Mexicans, Gypsies, Asians, Gays, Women, you name it, were deemed joke-worthy.
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A MIDSUMMER SATURDAY NIGHT’S FEVER DREAM

“If we offend, it is with our good will, that you should think, we come not to offend, but with good will.”

The prologue is straight out of Shakespeare, but after that, you know you’re in Troubies Land as the strains of “Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive. Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive” fill the Falcon Theatre … and the Troubadour Theater Company’s latest crowd-pleaser A Midsummer Saturday Night’s Fever Dream is off and running.
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SOUTH PACIFIC


Director-choreographer Valerie Rachelle makes a stellar Glendale Centre Theatre debut with as fine an in-the-round production of the legendary Rodgers & Hammerstein classic South Pacific as you will likely ever see, one that strips away the cobwebs to reveal just why the legendary team’s third Broadway smash remains one of the greatest musicals ever.
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FALLING FOR MAKE BELIEVE


The brief but artistically blessed life of legendary Broadway lyricist Lorenz Hart now serves as the inspiration for Falling For Make Believe, a Colony Theatre World Premiere musical that entertains, elucidates, and ends up this spring’s most unexpected treat.
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A CATERED AFFAIR


While it may be true that no musical is too big for Broadway, Spider Man being a case in point, it’s equally true that some musicals are simply too small, too intimate, too “chamber” to make it on the Great White Way, one more reason to celebrate Musical Theatre Guild for bringing these delicate gems back to life, if only for an evening or afternoon of musical theater bliss.

Such is the case with 2008’s A Catered Affair, which despite its pedigree (music and lyrics by John Bucchino and book by Harvey Fierstein, based on a screenplay by Gore Vidal and a teleplay Paddy Chayefsky) and a cast which included Tom Wopat, Faith Prinze, and Fierstein, closed on Broadway after a mere 143 performances and previews.
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