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Monday, November 27, 2017

"Your Holiday Hit Parade" @ Broadway Rose

"Your Holiday Hit Parade" is the best of the Broadway Rose Holiday Revues I have seen. I'm going to be jokingly egotistical for a moment and claim credit for the newest offering having more of a "book" which i have been advocating for each year. The story revolves around 2 stranded motorists and the ghost who haunt an abandoned hotel. (The show was written by Dan Murphy and Rick Lewis, though I suspect it may have been "ghostwritten" by Jack Skelington, of "The Nightmare Before Christmas" fame.) Boy, I am just full of jokes.... There is also more of a set than in previous Broadway Rose holiday productions. As always, the band is fantastic, and the score features a moment my percussionist Mitch Wilson which stands out so much that it merits being projected on stage in silhouette.

I saw the first Sunday Matinee, which followed Thanksgiving, placing it on the cusp of acceptability for a Christmas-themed show. It was enough to push me over the threshold into a festive mood. I suspect it will do the same for you.

The Humans @ Artist's Rep

"The Humans" is somewhat difficult to review. I'll start by saying that it is quite simply splendid. The difficulty in writing about it lies in trying to explain why. The best, and most succinct way is to describe and laud its realism. Usually, "realism" is used as a synonym for "gritty." I use it here as the best way I can think of to denote that few other plays I've seen have been so true-to-life. The mother, Diedre, (Luisa Sermol)  seems achingly motherly. A woman who is both exasperating and endearing. The father, Erik Blake, (Robert Pescovitz) is equally Dad-ish, an incessant worrier about maintenance issues, and the like. Vanna O'Brien is outstanding in her role as the matriarch suffering from dementia, believable to frightening degree when she loses her grip.

It is as if playwright Stephen Karam recorded a Thanksgiving Meal and then simply transcribed it. Even the jokes seem unnervingly natural. Which makes it all the stranger when the play takes a breakneck turn towards a sadder tone. This turn is welcome, if sudden and arguably incongruous. The final minutes are bewildering, perhaps not in a negative way, though the people I chatted with at the Reception were similarly confused, so at least i'm not alone. None of this diminishes the remarkableness of the production as a whole, I suspect you will see someone you know represented by at least one these characters. Their sheer humanity is that striking.   

Sunday, November 19, 2017

"To Kill a Mockingbird" @ Lakewood

"To Kill a Mockingbird" is one of those shows that just demands to be seen. It's a show that despite the backing-up of my personal schedule, I still had to make sure I attended, even though it is now late in the all to brief run. See it before the explosion of yuletide cheer. See it for its unfortunate contemporary relevance. In short: See it as soon as possible. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

"Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles" @ PCS

There is much to admire in"Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles" There's the dreamlike Magical Realist set, with its beautifully askew angles, and truly remarkable bits of stage-magic. There's biting contemporary social-commentary, concerning all-too-urgent issues of immigration and assimilation. And I have joust now gained an appreciation for the Greek Mythological skeleton upon which the play is built. Unfortunately, I gained this insight too late to assist me in deciphering some of the play's more confusing moments, because I did not arrive in time to peruse the playbill adequately, and the relevant section is buried on the last page page of that play's section in the playbill which serves all three of PCS's current and upcoming productions. Something so crucial should be given more pride-of-place. Now that you know to look for it, you may have an even better time than I did.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

"The Events" @ Third Rail Rep

"The Events" is a harrowing play, and unfortunately a topical one. My guess is that it was inspired by the massacres of Anders Behring Breivik, given the shooting's racial motivations. Sadly, in recent times, David Greig could have taken inspiration from any number of mass-shootings. Given the motive, it is a daring, yet confusing choice to cast a black actor in the role of the shooter. It is also just a mindbender of a play, and there are moments when more than two actors would have made the narrative easier to follow. However, Joseph Gibson is more than up to the task.

It is a cliche to call it haunting, but I think the word is apt, when it takes a day of "digestion" to write about the play. I wholeheartedly recommend "The Events". Catch it before it's all to brief run is over.