AIDA

For a 1,852-performance Broadway musical smash, Elton John & Tim Rice’s Aida: The Timeless Love Story has had few if any major SoCal stagings in the years since its 2000 Broadway debut, just one reason to catch Moonlight Stage Productions’ sensational big-stage revival under Vista skies.
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OKLAHOMA!

Director T.J. Dawson takes a little-known bit of early 20th-century Oklahoma Territory history (its U.S. government-encouraged racial diversity) and reinvents the granddaddy of all contemporary musicals in 3-D Theatricals’ stunning 21-century revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!
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LEGALLY BLONDE

Elle Woods wins cases and hearts once again as Cupcake Theater entertains SoCal audiences with a dynamically performed Legally Blonde, marred on opening night by some serious technical glitches but worth a standing ovation for Arri Leigh’s star-making performance as the most bodaciously brainy blonde beauty Harvard University has ever seen.
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THE SPITFIRE GRILL

A young woman fresh out of prison seeks a second chance at life in James Valcq and James Alley’s powerhouse chamber musical The Spitfire Grill, the gorgeously directed-and-performed latest from Solana Beach’s North Coast Repertory Theatre.
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AVENUE Q

A beefed-up cast of fourteen terrifically talented student performers and some inspired directorial tweaks make UC Irvine’s Avenue Q the best of the five productions I’ve seen since first discovering it on Broadway a baker’s-dozen years ago.
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CARRIE THE MUSICAL

Director Nick DeGruccio amps up the horror movie thrills at UCLA as two-dozen of the most talented musical theater up-and-comers in town give Carrie The Musical as exciting a big-stage production as any scary-musical buff could possibly wish for.
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DOGFIGHT

It’s taken five years for Dogfight, the Louise Lortel Award-winning Outstanding Musical of 2012, to finally make it to Los Angeles proper, and praise be the gods of L.A. musical theater, Dogfight’s Hudson Mainstage debut is (to quote from one of the show’s best songs) “Nothing Short Of Wonderful.”
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THE BODYGUARD

Over a dozen of Whitney Houston’s Greatest Hits performed by an electrifying Deborah Cox in the screen-to-stage tale of a superstar pop diva and her obsessed, life-threatening stalker may not be great art. Indeed, it’s not even a traditional song-propelled musical per se. But no matter. I enjoyed just about every minute of The Bodyguard, the West End smash now touring the U.S.A. and stopping this week and next at the Segerstrom Center For The Arts.
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