Twist: A review–and a musical–in progress

Pasadena Playhouse calls Twist a new musical. But the Prohibition era, New Orleans-set permutation of Oliver Twist actually has been in development since the ‘90s. Back then, I caught a promising fully staged version at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia and was intrigued to see how it has evolved, now under the directorial/choreographic supervision […]

Oh, and there’s another show in town…

There are several popular mythologies about theater audiences. Some people say that big splashy tours build general excitement for in theater, theoretically increasing interest in events like RADAR L.A. and Hollywood Fringe. But a quick poll of people attending “Les Miserables” at the Ahmanson Theater on Sunday paints a different picture. Or maybe it’s just a marketing issue…

Riveting Talk Breaks the Locks in La Razón Blindada

Inspired by the experience of playwright/director Aristides Vargas’ brother, a political prisoner of the Argentine dictatorship, La Razon Blindada (“Armored Reason”) is an extraordinary meditation on the endurance of human creativity in the face of hopelessness. In Rawson prison, a desolate Patagonian pen where the government stashed anyone who dared question the status quo, inmates […]

Arab spring comes to Los Angeles’ theater festival summer

  Theatre Communications Group went bold when it scheduled Mona Eltahawy to open its 50th annual conference, which closed Saturday in Los Angeles.  The Egyptian-American columnist is a mainstay read for those following the tectonic shifts of Middle East nations beyond the headlines. But for theater professionals? It’s safe to say more than one head […]

Paul F. Tompkins Takes to the Stage to Take to the Air

Join us as we return to the thrilling days of yesternight! Paul F. Tompkins is on the air! Or, as the articulate indie-age interlocutor puts it himself, “It is once more nighttime on the internet.” Paul F. Tompkins isn’t the sort of measured performer treasured by golden age radio producers. His material is manic: contemplative […]

Forget about the NEA: theater companies plan for the worst

The non-profit Theater Communications Group made it to 50 years old at a moment when long-standing models for arts funding (government grants, foundation giving) are drying up, seriously calling into question if non-profit theater will even exist in another 50 years. Folks at the conference are supposed to brainstorm around “What If…” Meanwhile, DC’s Arena […]

Know before you go: “Hot Pepper, Air Conditioner and The Farewell Speech” Chelfistch

Office work will suck out your soul.  It will assign you a uniform; it will force you into a square dance of empty social interactions; it will try your patience until you blurt out a string of intimate confessions, sending you on your way with a useless parting gift.  And then, you’re unemployed again. In […]

90% of the theater scene, but too small to be noticed

As a journalist from out of town, I arrived in LA last weekend with hopes of boning up on previews of the upcoming theaterpalooza (four festivals in two weeks). But I found the newspaper of record was more interested in the Tonys (based in the town I’d just come from). Don Shirley of says […]

Can LA handle the “greatness thrust upon it”?

The rap on LA theater is that there isn’t much. And what there is just serves as a vehicle for film actors trying to get their big break. Not so, argues LA Weekly’s Steven Leigh Morris.  He soundly refutes that assumption with a short history of LA theater (a must-read for all out-of-towners squatting here […]