BOY GETS GIRL

NOT RECOMMENDED

Terrific performances by a thoroughly engaging Ivy Khan and a riveting if miscast Jim Martyka highlight Theatre Unleashed’s ill-advised fifteenth-anniversary revival of Rebecca Gilman’s Boy Gets Girl, one which leaves this reviewer wondering how Gilman’s pseudo-thriller ended up named Time Magazine’s #1 Play Of The Year.
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THE KING AND I

NOT RECOMMENDED

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s score is as glorious today as it ever has been, the now iconic “Small House Of Uncle Thomas” ballet remains a thing of unique beauty and charm, and Victoria Strong and Richard Bermudez not only prove sensational choices to play Anna and the King of Siam, they give the visiting English schoolmarm and the Siamese monarch a romantic, sexual chemistry almost unheard of since The King And I made its 1951 Broadway debut.

Unfortunately, the current Welk Resort Theatre staging of the R&J classic also features some racially insensitive casting choices straight out of the 1950s that underline the creakiness of book writer Hammerstein’s depiction of the Thai people and their centuries-old culture.
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WIT

NOT RECOMMENDED

Too much meddling with a Pulitzer Prize winner, along with an otherwise effective Kelly Carlton’s unwillingness to “go all the way,” make Stage Against The Machine’s revival of Margaret Edson’s Wit a no-go despite co-director Carlton’s often quite moving work as Vivian Bearing PhD and a couple of terrific supporting turns.
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THE GIFT OF THE MAGI THE MUSICAL

NOT RECOMMENDED

The 2000-word classic The Gift Of The Magi might well make a charming twenty-minute one-act musical. Add to it over a dozen characters (none of whom would ever have entered O’Henry’s mind) and a dozen songs (only a couple of which might inspire a second listen), and despite the best efforts of director, choreographer, musical director, and cast, what you end up with is The Gift Of The Magi The Musical.

Rarely has this reviewer found two thirty-five minute acts so endless.
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TRAIN TO ZAKOPANÉ: A TRUE STORY OF HATE AND LOVE

NOT RECOMMENDED

The story Henry Jaglom has to tell is a compelling one and the lead actors who bring his star-crossed lovers to life do powerful work. Still, clunky dialog, uneven supporting performances, and problematic set and costume designs make Train To Zakopané: A True Story Of Hate And Love rather a tough go, even for those like this reviewer with a fascination for Europe in the first half of the 20th century.
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BEIRUT

NOT RECOMMENDED

If a two-character opposite-sex love story with no specific gay content seems a curious choice for an LGBT theater, then Theatre Out’s revival of Alan Bowne’s Beirut proves even more problematic for its dull, dated look at the AIDS crisis as seen through a heterosexual lens.
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PSYCHE: A MODERN ROCK OPERA

NOT RECOMMENDED

A sensational cast, phenomenal choreography, a spectacular production design, and Michael Matthews’s imaginative direction do everything possible to make the most of Cindy Shapiro’s Psyche: A Modern Rock Opera. Unfortunately, the gifted team’s best efforts can’t rescue “Psyche The Musical” from its ponderous libretto, mostly tedious tunes, and lyrics that clunk where they should soar.
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IN A DARK DARK HOUSE

NOT RECOMMENDED

It’s rare than a single performance can sink an otherwise mostly fine production, but such is the case in the Los Angeles Premiere of Neil LaBute’s In A Dark Dark House, a play consisting of three extended two-actor scenes revolving around a central character who only departs the stage during set changes. Unfortunately, since Aaron McPherson is not up to the challenges of bringing Terry to real, three-dimensional life, In A Dark Dark House fails to get the Matrix Theatre Guest Production it deserves.
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