Musical pleases with its genre-bending minimalism

This is not the stuff of musicals. Gruesome murder, racism in the South, unseemly politicking, media sensationalism, official corruption, Messianism, public morality — rarely are such weighty issues even considered as themes for musicals, a genre serious theatergoers regularly denigrate for its bubbly superficiality and lack of profundity. Musicals are to theater what romance novels […]

Family drama delivers multifaceted performances

“This is exactly like my family!” one woman exclaimed during the first of two intermissions. Hopefully, she didn’t mean “exactly.” If she did, she should not — under any circumstances whatsoever — be smiling, and should instead be safely at therapy. Such is the dysfunctional family at the heart of Tracy Letts’ Tony Award–winning drama […]

Award-winning actor reaffirms genius potential

Few words mean less today than “genius,” which casual overuse has seriously devalued over time. Like “brilliant” and “awesome,” “genius” is cheap praise, and too often it is mistaken for simple intelligence. That’s why I humphed noisily and rolled my eyes when I overheard some woman say that the man whose performance we were about […]

LA improv group goes to ‘Space Camp’

In elementary school, my best friend went to space camp; I still resent her for it. My parents wouldn’t let me go — they claimed it was too dangerous and expensive — so I sat on my couch while my friend twirled around with the astronauts. About 15 years later, I finally got to go […]