New York – June 2018

My Fair Lady: Amazing set, production elements were fantastic, Lincoln Center is an awesome venue where every seat is good, Norbert Leo Butz stole the show.

Carousel: Jessie Mueller makes me cry every time, the choreography and ensemble dancers were incredible.

Ravi Coltrane Quartet at Birdland: Outstanding venue and set.

Sleep No More (picture is from the rooftop bar, Gallow Green): Underwhelming. Maybe because it’s been so hyped up – but I was disappointed. There’s no clear path, so it’s too easy to follow a bit part (ie the maid, the butler) and miss the main event(s).

-Jerusha

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2018 so far

You may have been wondering why you haven’t heard from us lately (but you probably haven’t). Job transitions (the consequences of which are less free tickets), a move across town, and getting ready for….a wedding! Yes, we’re getting married! Plus, I’m way into baseball this year (Go Dodgers!), and that’s a committment. But for the sake of the running inside joke/anecdote that is #LAThtrCouple, I’ll update this blog with what we’ve seen lately…which is far less than what we’ve seen in the past.

Once on this Island (Broadway)
Something Rotten (Ahmanson)
Hamilton (San Diego Civic)
Candide (LA Opera)
Water by the Spoonful (Mark Taper)
God of Carnage (Surf City Theatre Company)
The Art Couple (Sacred Fools)
The Book of Mormon (Segerstrom)
More Guns (Zephyr Theatre)
Happy (New Concepts Theatre Co @ Lounge Theatre)
Trick to Magic (Walnut Canyon Elementary School)
Parade (3D Theatricals)
Eyes of the Blind (Granville House Productions @ Lounge Theatre)

Coming up, when we go to New York at the end of June: Sleep No More and My Fair Lady! (Plus a Dodgers v. Mets game). What else should we see?!?!

Also coming

2017 Roundup

In 2017 we saw 50 shows (all together). AND we’re engaged! That gives us a pass for not updating, right?!

Here’s a full list:

Frenchie Davis (Geffen Playhouse)
Peter & The Starcatcher (YAEForever)
The Lion (Geffen Playouse)
Abduction from the Seraglio (LA Opera)
Freaky Friday (La Jolla Playhouse)
Zoot Suit (Mark Taper)
Moby Dick (South Coast Rep)
Good Grief (KDT)
Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Geffen)
Fun Home (Ahmanson)
Cat on A Hot Tin Roof (Antaeus)
Tales of Hoffman (LA Opera)
Punk Rock (Odyssey)
Jelly Roll Morton (Walt Disney Concert Hall)
Failure: A Love Story (Coeurage/KDT)
The Legend of Georgia McBride (Geffen)
Tosca (LA Opera)
Citizen: An American Lyric (Fountain/KDT)
Into the Woods (Ahmanson)
Lord of the Underworld’s Home for Unwed Mothers (Skylight)
Archduke (Mark Taper)
Little Drummer Bowie (Falcon)
Waitress (Broadway)
Beautiful (Broadway)
Well (Diversionary)
Beckett 5 (Odyssey)
Maria Schneider Orchestra (SOKA)
An American in Paris (Pantages)
Peerless (Marin)
Plasticity (Hudson Theatres)
Last 5 Years (First Chair Theatre Company)
Farragut North (Odyssey Theatre)
Dry Land (Echo Theatre)
Actually (Geffen Playhouse)
Man of La Mancha (La Mirada)
Trump in Space (Hollywood Fringe)
Constellations (Geffen Playhouse)
Mice (Ensemble Studio Theatre)
Mouth Full of Nothing (Groundlings)
Dogfight (After Hours)
Mystery Lit (Unbound Productions)
Heisenberg (Mark Taper)
Born for This (Broad Stage)
Mamma Mia! (Hollywood Bowl)
Two Gentlemen of Verona (Independent Shakespeare Co)
Once (South Coast Rep)
On the Verge (Little Fish)
Ain’t Misbehavin’ (La Mirada)
Nabucco (LA Opera)
White Christmas (Musical Theatre West)

Zoot Suit (Mark Taper Forum)

IMG_7759CTG’s Zoot Suit by Luiz Valdez is everything you could want and more. The play is just as relevant as it was when it first premiered at CTG under Gordon Davidson. The play gives a voice and perspective to the Chicano and entertains regardless of your background.

I studied Chicano Theater when I attended UCLA and read many of Valdez’s works. I learned that Valdez is excellent at being truthful to the culture while adding magical realism. His company, El Teatro Campesino, would perform plays for the farm workers in the fields on the back of truck beds and helped Cesar Chavez with his National Farm Workers Association. Valdez is an activist and presents powerful messages for his audiences. If you miss out on hearing Zoot Suit’s message at the Mark Taper, don’t worry because Valdez’s Valley of the Heart will be presented at LATC in the future, and I would be shocked if this Zoot Suit production didn’t travel to Broadway like its predecessor.

-Trevor

Freaky Friday (La Jolla Playhouse)

unnamed (4)Freaky Friday is a real delight at the La Jolla Playhouse. The production is trying to go to Broadway and I definitely think it is worth seeing at this stage. It is not a perfect piece of theater, but it has a lot going for it. The biggest thing is the music. The team that won the Pulitzer for Next to Normal (Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey) have created some really wonderful songs that will stay with you. One favorite is “Oh, Biology” which takes place in a biology class and has a great beat that really gets the cast and audience going.

I haven’t seen the movies in a while, but I’m positive the musical has taken liberties that I feel are welcome. I don’t want to list them all, but one great example is that the daughter is over-weight, which helps add another dramatic layer to the mother-daughter dynamic. There is a theme of body issues which I believe is great for all the young females who will inevitably be watching this show with their mothers.

The cast is very strong and often doubles up on parts. My favorite though is Heidi Blickenstaff,  who plays a wonderful mother and portrays an angst filled teen with comedic ease. She is a magnet to the eyes and every scene she inhabits is stolen by her talent.

If you have a chance to see Freaky Friday it is a fun night out for the family. When we went the cast received an immediate standing ovation, which is rare these days.

– Trevor

Beauty Queen of Leenane (Mark Taper)

Martin McDonagh’s Beauty Queen of Leenane is another hit for the Taper. McDonagh is such a master at dark comedy and it is played to perfection in the Druid’s production. Broad comedy is on display with Aaron Monaghan’s antsy brother and subtle comedy with Marie Mullen, Marty Rea and Aisling O’Sullivan’s nuanced line deliveries and guttural noises. Another quality of McDonagh’s work that is sometimes overlooked is his knack for dripping horror and suspense into his pieces. You know you’re seeing a great show when the audience gasps multiple times.

I thought the play was executed brilliantly minus one part where a certain character didn’t scream after getting tortured, but other than that – go see this tortured relationship between a mother and daughter. It will make you feel much better about your relationship with your parents, to say the least.

-Trevor

Akhnaten (LA Opera)

Akhnaten by Philip Glass might be my favorite opera I’ve ever seen. I can’t believe I just wrote that for a show I didn’t even want to see! After hearing multiple rave reviews from friends and strangers (I talk to A LOT of people) I decided to get us tickets and was happy all the positive reviews were correct. The score by Philip Glass is hypnotic and immediately pulls you back in time. The staging by Phelim McDermott was slow and deliberate which helped one focus on all the little details sprinkled throughout the show. The performances were bold and provocative with Anthony Roth Costanzo full on naked for the first 5-10 minutes of the show. The best part though was the juggling. To see the precision and perfection of the jugglers was just icing on the cake. They juggled things that I didn’t even know was possible and made it look so effortless. My favorite scene was when Akhnaten was singing under the giant moon with fog surrounding him and jugglers were throwing giant balloons in the air. It was phenomenal and something that I know I’ll be talking about for years to come.

-Trevor

A View From The Bridge (CTG)

Ifullsizerender-5 can’t think of another time I have heard so many different opinions of a production of A View From The Bridge by Arthur Miller. Some people LOVED it and others HATED it. I heard so many different polar that I wanted to see for myself how I would react to the piece.

The show is stripped down and minimalist, which is great and really shows off the brilliant writing of Arthur Miller. At moments of tension there is a drum that reminds me of kabuki theater. Some scenes are underscored with Greek chorus-type singing which really drives home the fact that this is a modern Greek Tragedy. With that said, I feel like there were more things I disliked than liked about this production.

I felt that Eddie was miscast. He is too good looking. The Italians don’t have accents which is fine, but only if no one has an accent. Eddie and some of the other characters had New York accents, which doesn’t work for me – if the Italians don’t have accents, then no one should have an accent. I thought some stuff was too heavy-handed. For example, at one point Catherine is drying the floor with a towel, but her skirt is short she is blatantly and repeatedly revealing her underwear (or as my friend Brooke said, “her vagina is hanging out!”). A little distracting to say the least.

There were a lot of things to like about this production, and I would love to see an Ivo Van Hoe production of All My Sons. But there were a lot of moments where it felt like a stereotypical high school production.

– Trevor

Jerusha: It was a rare treat to get to see this show with our friends Brooke and Alex – a little double date! It’s always nice to debrief the show after viewing, and hear everyone’s opinions, insights and perspectives. My interpretation of this production is that it was meant to view like you were reading the script. Hence the decision to give the Italians no accents and the minimalist design aspects. Having never read or seen the show before, I also thought the narrator’s stage direction-type lines also played into this.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (CTG)

IMG_5755.JPGI had my reservations about seeing August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom  because I didn’t think it was Wilson’s strongest work. I was on the fence about Phylicia Rashad’s direction after seeing her production of Joe Turner which was very good, but weak in some areas. This production blew us both away! The emotions and life that Rashad brought out of her actors was spellbinding. The story felt fresh and relevant even though it took place in 1927. Ma Rainey definitely raised in my ranks of Wilson’s Cycle.

This was Broadway level quality. You could take this production, move it to New York, and I guarantee Lillas White and Gylnn Turman would receive Tony Award Nominations. CTG does a wonderful job of bringing August Wilson’s works to life with their productions and Monologue Competition. Keep up the powerful work!

– Trevor

Jerusha: Fun fact, Trevor was once an intern for the August Wilson Monologue Competition program at CTG….awwww!