• The Fix With Some Screws Loose

    By John Farrell

    The Fix boasts a first-rate cast of singing actors, an on-stage band that can almost make you believe in the show’s less-than-electrifying rock score, and a production that is professional and creative.

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  • From Mother to Daughter

    By John Farrell

    Night Mother is the moving story of two people, an aging mother and her epileptic daughter, locked in the final night of their relationship. It’s been told before, notably in a film, but you will hardly see a better version than at Little Fish Theatre the nest two weeks: moving, articulate and with two actresses who bring to their performances an intensity, an honesty, you won’t forget for a long time.

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  • Goose and Tomtom Defies Easy Descriptions

    [slideshow]

    By John Farrell

    Goose and Tomtom is so many plays at once that any description, any attempt to tell you what it is all about, simply fails. Yes, it is about two hapless gun-crazy would-be robbers who can’t figure out where their loot went. It’s also about the dreams they keep having, (one seriously believes he was a frog – who knows,) about sex (though not drugs,) about the beauty of a sunrise. It’s nearly as filled with existential angst as Waiting for Godot (youtube/b542GxhzYiw). which it resembles at first, before the Princess is found tied-up hanging in the closet. And, oh yeah, don’t forget the aliens.

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  • Staging the Life of August G

    [slideshow]

    By John Farrell

    Armand Gatti is a prolific French playwright and filmmaker who is little known outside France, partially because his films have never been available on video, partly because his plays have rarely been seen outside France.

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  • Review With a Little Panache

    [slideshow]

    By John Farrell

    Panache, the play that opened at Little Fish Theatre last Friday, is supposed to be all about a license plate. Holly Baker-Kreiswirth plays Kathleen Trafalgar, a socialite with a fake accent and the wherewithal to find out who has the plate she wants, “PANACHE.” (She got “PANCAKE” instead.) Bill Wolski (in real life her husband) is Harry Baldwin, the card-playing failed artist and fry-cook who has it.
    But Kathleen has no idea how to bargain (she can’t remember to increase her bids) and Harry intends to keep the plate for a very personal reason: because his late wife said he had “panache.” She keeps coming back, though, and slowly learns about Harry’s life, his dead ex-wife, and in the process she reveals that her marriage is coming apart as well.

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  • Towers-Rowles Balances Stage, Family, and Legacy on Her Hip

    By John Farrell, Theater Writer

    San Pedro audiences saw Kristin Towers-Rowles most recently in the delightful production of Kiss Me Kate at the Warner Grand Theatre in February 2011.

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  • The Tawdry Backside of Broadway

    By John Farrell
    Forbidden Broadway 2 is a hilariously funny review that takes the best of Broadway musicals and parodies and pokes fun at them, lovingly, yes, but with plenty of cactus-sharp points and even more costume changes (46 all tolled) along the way.
    Musical Theatre West is presenting the show at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center through April 29, and if you love Broadway shows, and know a little about what goes in backstage and a lot about the larger-than-life personalities that inhabit this very American art form, you’ll love every minute of the show.

    And if you don’t recognize everybody and know every insider story (and this critic, presumably well-informed, didn’t recognize or understand every joke,) you’ll still have a great time as the four seasoned professionals, Susan Blakeslee, David Engel, Valerie Fagan and Larry Raben and their very talented Music Director Matthew Smedal take you through more shows than you can name, from Annie to Sound of Music to Evita, from Annie Get Your Gun to Rent, in a musical review that skewers everything from the green-skinned cast members of Wicked to the much-too-wordy sophistication of Stephen Sondheim.

    Forbidden Broadway was a long-time tradition in New York: 26 years and frequent alterations as the musical theater scene changed over the decades of its run were part of the tradition. There are classic sketches that have survived the decades (one parodying Carol Channing still holds the stage) and recent ones (like their version of Rent, all done with plenty of satiric intent but also, just at obviously, with love for the institution that in Broadway. All four cast members have starred on Broadway themselves, including in various versions of this show.

    Fagan gets the Ethel Merman roles, but she is also Annie (looking for work more than 20 years after she left the cast,) and Rita Moreno (or is Chita Rivera?) in a classic face off based on the song America from West Side Story. Blakeslee is Evita, with stiff arms and all, and a host of other characters, including a drugged-out Judy Garland. Engel is great in drag from La Cage au Folles, which he actually starred in on Broadway. And Raben, whose rubber face is ever-memorable, plays everyone from Yul Brenner in a bald-headed scalp cover from The King and I to Pseudolus, from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

    And don’t forget Smedal, who not only plays a wicked piano throughout the evening but stands and sings his own contribution in the second half.

    The audience loved the show and gave it two standing ovations, and if they didn’t get every line (especially those about the Connecticut audiences) they didn’t seem to mind.

    Tickets are $20-$65. Performances are April 21, 8 p.m., Sunday, April 22 at 2 and 7 p.m., Thursday, April 26 at 8 p.m., Friday, April 27 at 8 p.m., Saturday, April 28 at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 29 at 2 p.m.

    Details: (562) 856-1999, www.musical.org
    Venue: Carpenter Performing Arts Center
    Location: 6200 E. Atherton St., Long Beach

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  • Tartuffe: Piety is a Great Disguise for Profligacy But at Least We Can Laugh at It

    By John Farrell

    There is nothing new in the world, or so it seems. The stories of pious men, politicians and bankers who manage to fool almost everyone while they gleefully rob and letch their way through life seem common to the modern world. They were nothing new three hundred and more years ago, either, just a lot funnier.

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  • Review: Miss Saigon at La Mirada

    By John Farrell

    Miss Saigon is a re-telling of the story of Madama Butterfly, set in the apocalyptic world of the end of the United States military occupation of Saigon, known as much for its special effects (at one point a helicopter lands on stage) and the controversy it originally caused (the lead was not played by a Vietnamese) as for its score and story.

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  • Buono: On Making the Perfect Pizza

    By Terelle Jerricks

    Buono’s World Famous Pizza Giorgio

    When you ask a man who has been making pizza and Italian cuisine for as long as Frank Buono has, you’re bound to get answers that are at times bellyaching funny but always enlightening.

    Random Lengths caught up with the restaurateur a couple of day before he unveiled his fruittidde marde pizza March 30. This is a seafood pizza that combines a spicy red and a white sauce wit shrimp, scallops, and clams.

    “It’s a high end pizza but for seafood lovers it’s going to be hit,” he said.

    Buono actually has rolled this pizza out before in his menu some years ago. Playing the part of PT Barnum of Italian cuisine, he said he put the pizza back in the safe, “because we create excitement that way.”

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