During the Belle Epoque ("the beautiful era"), French playwright Georges Feydeau became famous in the genre of the farce. While his many plays were later hailed as key precursors to the surrealist and absurdist movements, his typical farce is as light as a soufflé and nowhere as portentous as the works of his successors.
Of his 60
David Mamet's "American Buffalo" debuted in 1975, and for years it's been cited as a masterpiece – a taut, gritty urban drama whose themes of loyalty dueling with greed are timeless.Timeless and timely. A well-cast production at the Geffen Playhouse drives home the sad reminder that poverty and the desperation it breeds are an espec
Long before Yoko Ono appeared on the scene, another artsy foreigner made life difficult for the Beatles.Astrid Kirchherr, an aspiring German photographer, was introduced to the Fab Four during their gritty Hamburg days, when they cranked out six-hour gigs in some of the seediest clubs in Europe. Her love affair with Stuart Sutcliffe, the
"Billy Elliot" is a popular but problematic musical.Nobody can deny that it's uplifting: A working-class British boy's dancing dreams triumph over his strike-torn surroundings. Hooray!But despite the contributions of some top-drawer talent, including songs by Sir Elton John, the story is clumsy in execution, over-telegraphs its mes
The undisputed hit at last year's Off Center Festival was "The Car Plays." The lucky few who could snag tickets lined up in pairs to see short scenes performed in cars parked on the Arts Plaza beside Costa Mesa's Segerstrom Hall. Most seemed to agree that there's nothing like witnessing sex, death, love, hate and screaming arguments, the juicy g
"Chapter Two," Neil Simon's 1977 play about a recently widowed man's bumpy road to romantic happiness, is an interesting hybrid. It's full of the rat-a-tat jokes and formulaic exit lines that characterize his early work. Simon started out as a TV gag writer, and signs of that pedigree are everywhere here.
But it's also the first time tha
Some critics have called "Chinglish" the best play David Henry Hwang has written since his career-making hit, "M. Butterfly," premiered 25 years ago. Hwang fans will notice familiar themes in this puckish comedy, which opens Feb. 1 at South Coast Repertory: Cultural miscommunication between East and West; the tortuous and deceptive paths traced
Daniel Cavanaugh, like so many of playwright David Henry Hwang's characters, gets thoroughly entangled in the web of miscommunication and misunderstanding between East and West. His predicament is a source of comedy and intrigue.Like the Westerners in Hwang's "M. Butterfly" and "Golden Child," the principal character in "Chinglish," which
Any actor who tackles the gargantuan role of Judy Garland must walk a devilishly tricky tightrope.For Garland's fans – and almost a half century after her death they're still legion – she's an icon of Hollywood's Golden Age, the ageless girl who defined sweet-faced innocence in "The Wizard of Oz" and many other films.Bu
"Flashdance" was one of those movies that critics loved to hate. When it came out in the spring of 1983, the poison-pen reviews seemed to compete with each other in their vindictiveness."('Flashdance') is so loaded down with artificial screenplay contrivances and flashy production numbers that it's waterlogged," Roger Ebert wrote. "This i
"She's a maniac, maaaaniac on the _____."If you can complete that sentence, then you're part of the coveted demographic that "Flashdance the Musical" is aiming for. It's been 30 years since the hit movie about a blue-collar girl named Alex with big dancing dreams turned baggy sweatshirts, fuzzy leg warmers, wild hair and welding into the
Sometimes, one family is important enough to alter the course of human history.The Medici family of Florence, Italy, was one of those families. The Medicis were a key merchant and banking family from the 14th through 17th centuries. Four popes and two queens came from the House of Medici.But the Medicis were also dedicated patrons
"Having It All," which opened Saturday at the Laguna Playhouse, is both a reality check and a feel-good musical for women old enough to realize that feminism's lofty goals don't always trump life's slings and arrows.The title is taken from a 1982 book by the late Helen Gurley Brown that set the standard for female success. Its thesis was
Back in 1982, the late Helen Gurley Brown wrote a book, "Having It All," that set the standard for female success at the time.Women should aspire to excel everywhere, Brown confidently stated: the boardroom, the bedroom, the family room and whatever other arena they desired. The only thing holding women back was outmoded attitudes and a l
The Cyndi Lauper-scored "Kinky Boots" has earned a leading 13 Tony Award nominations, with the British import "Matilda: The Musical" close behind with 12.Both will compete for the best musical prize with the acrobatic "Bring It On: The Musical" and "A Christmas Story, The Musical," adapted from the beloved holiday movie.Amon
Is it real, or is it art?That's the question you might ask yourself while viewing the latest exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, overlooking the majestic Pacific Ocean in La Jolla. You might say the group show "Lifelike" is a case of art imitating life. Or, it could be more complicated than that – art that
What makes art created in California unique?Could it be the light, the varied landscape, or the progressive ideals, as Meg Linton proposes? She's the director of galleries and exhibitions at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, and she's also juror and curator of the City of Brea Gallery's latest "Made in California" group exhib
Who knew that August Strindberg and Neil LaBute were soul mates?Well, not exactly. LaBute's adaptation of Strindberg's withering examination of class conflict and sexual power politics, "Miss Julie," hits a few snags in its world premiere at the Geffen Playhouse.Despite changing locales from late 19th-century Sweden to 1929 Long Is
"Moby Dick" was literally a whale of a tale for Herman Melville, a time-consuming, painstaking endeavor that chewed up many years. The same has held true for anyone adapting the 1851 literary classic to other mediums.Trying to create a live staging without the benefit of a sizable budget to help re-create the spectacle the story demands i
The work that Russian choreographer Boris Eifman has been producing for the last four decades is easy for certain critics and audiences to dismiss.
Hyper-expressive, prone to spectacle and filled with grand theatrical gestures, it will never appeal to those who like their ballet abstract and traditional or their dancers to be models of B
Noah Haidle is one of theater's bomb throwers.
Since the beginning of his precocious career more than a decade ago, the 34-year-old Michigan-born playwright has never been interested in well-crafted realism. The three Haidle plays produced at South Coast Repertory over the last decade – "Mr. Marmalade," "Princess Marjorie" and "Sat
When German playwright Frank Wedekind's "Spring Awakening" appeared in 1891, its candid, honest depiction of teens struggling to deal with puberty was considered controversial.Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik's musicalization, which arrived on Broadway 115 years later, is no less frank than its source. What's surprising is how much of Wedeki
Stephanie Zimbalist, Teri Ralston and other cast members from the Laguna Playhouse production of "Steel Magnolias" were kicking back at Ralston's seafront Baja condo last week, just days before the show was scheduled to open in previews. There was laughter in the background as I chatted with the two veteran performers, and did I perhaps hear the
Our introduction to Charlie ranks as one of the more shocking moments in American theater.
He's literally larger than life: a 600-pound hermit marooned like a fleshy mountain inside his fetid apartment, a forlorn landscape filled with pizza boxes and other evidence of his pathology. Suffering from congestive heart failure, Charlie has al
The Body Beautiful is practically a religion in our pampered part of the world. The evidence is all around us: health clubs in every neighborhood, impossibly slim models pouting at us from billboards, red-carpet celebrities who look like they've declared war on carbohydrates."The Whale," Samuel D. Hunter's perceptive and moving new play,