When was the last time you got to experience Jerry Herman’s Dear World? If you’re the most fortunate of Angelinos, it was probably way back in 2003 at Musical Theatre Guild’s one-performance-only concert staged reading of the 1969 Broadway gem, that was until last night when Cal State Northridge’s Valley Performing Arts Center opened its 2016-17 season with Dear World In Concert, starring an exquisite Tyne Daly as Countess Aurelia, the Madwoman of Chaillot.
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Spectacular design, inspired direction and choreography, and above all one electrifying star turn—elements that together made the 2010 National Tour of the legendary Dreamgirls one for the ages—have been reassembled at the La Mirada Theatre For The Performing Arts to make for the big-stage, big-budget Dreamgirls revival its fans have been waiting for.
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It takes guts and chutzpah to write a musical about a hundred-year-old anti-Semitism-fueled lynching that remains today one of the most horrific miscarriages of justice in United States history, but this is precisely what Jason Robert Brown and Alfred Uhry pulled off in 1998’s Tony-winning Parade, now being given a Cal State Northridge revival that easily rivals the best our top SoCal regional theaters have to offer.
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The year was 1947 and Tennessee Williams, still basking in the success of his New York Drama Critics Circle Award-winning The Glass Menagerie, was hoping to avoid a sophomore jinx with his upcoming A Streetcar Named Desire. Elia Kazan was set to direct, and Jessica Tandy to star as Blanche DuBois, but as yet no one had been cast in the pivotal role of Stanley Kowalski. Producer Irene Selznick was batting for John Garfield, but Williams had his doubts that the film star was right for the part. Then, according to Wikipedia, a virtually unknown actor named Marlon Brando “was given car fare to Tennessee Williams’ home in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where he not only gave a sensational reading, but did some house repairs as well.” Oh, and he got the part.
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At the risk of alienating the many who consider Anton Chekhov one of the world’s greatest playwrights, I must preface this review with a confession. I am not now, nor am I likely to become, a Chekhov fan. Having seen one or two productions each of his four greatest works, I have come to the conclusion that the author of The Cherry Orchard, The Seagull, The Three Sisters, and Uncle Vanya is simply not my cup of tea—or should that be vodka? Therefore, any Chekhov lovers reading this review should take whatever I say about Three Sisters Or Perestroika with a grain of salt. By the same token, those with a similar lack of affinity for the very talky Russian may want to pass on Pavel Cerny’s 1980s adaptation of Chekhov’s ode to Moscow.
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The sky’s the limit for Janet Krupin, superstar in the making, who followed her L.A.’s Next Great Stage Star 2010 victory with a sensational cabaret debut that people will be talking about in years to come.
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Santasia—A Holiday Comedy is back for its 9th annual potpourri of skits, videos, musical production numbers, and recollections of Christmases past—and what a show it is, whether you’re someone who’s enjoyed the all-male cast’s wackiness in years past, or a newbie like me.  Of all the Christmas shows I’ve seen this season, Santasia is quite possibly the best blend of comedy and heart.
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The arrival of Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers in Los Angeles is big news indeed. Though the musical ran 840 performances on Broadway in the mid-1990s, and has been playing continuously on London’s West End for over two decades, it’s been years since there’s been a fully staged L.A. production offering local audiences the chance to see what has made Blood Brothers such a British (and international) phenomenon. 
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