Critic’s notes: In Pasadena, Jammin’ with Jelly Roll Morton

Dance · Theater
Janaya Mahealani Jones, Naomi C. Walley, Cyd Charisse Glover-Hill Jelly’s Last Jam / photo by Jeff Lorch It doesn’t get more rollicking than the scene in the photo above, a trio of triple-threat red-hot mamas bumping and grinding in their bawdy-house skivvies in Dell Howlett’s well-crafted choreography for Jelly’s Last Jam, now on at the ...

Key ingredient in Ebony Rep’s STEW? Family!

She’s equal parts Mildred Pierce, Julia Child, and Danai Gurira. She’s in her muu-muu with house slippers. Her hair is wrapped, and she’s cooking. She’s Greta Oblesby, playing “Mama,” in a marvelous, alive production of Zora Howard’s Pulitzer Prize-shortlisted play, STEW. Newly produced by Ebony Repertory Theater and directed by Jade King Carroll, it’s now ...

A still-timely revisit to TMB’s ‘Tiny Little Town’

When I saw it in a workshop production in July 2022, I immensely enjoyed “Tiny Little Town, A New Musical” by the witty folk who comprise Theatre Movement Bazaar. A thinly veiled allegory to our own society’s serious malaise rendered laughable in the guise of theater, the show gives a reprieve by hinting that our ...

Choreographers are writers, said Bob Fosse

Dance · Ideas & Opinion · Theater

John Waters, son of P.T. Barnum

Film · Theater
He was irrepressible. In 1959, filmmaker John Waters posted announcements on telephone poles of his Baltimore neighborhood. From the start, he was both a creator and a P.T. Barnum impresario. Culled from the costumes, props, handwritten scripts, correspondence, scrapbooks, photographs, film clips, and more, included in “John Waters, Pope of Trash,” the major exhibition dedicated ...

REVIEW: ‘Pal Joey’ presses ahead, at New York City Center ‘Encores’

Reviews · Theater
My introduction to Pal Joey came at New York City Center in 1995, when the then-new “Encores” series presented the iconic Rodgers and Hart’s 1940 musical with its original Hans Spialek orchestrations restored. The music – which included an old-fashioned overture and a five-minute ballet (a Richard Rodgers specialty in those vintage early musicals) to ...

artsmeme to glimpse CAP-UCLA ‘Nimoy’ the erstwhile Crest Theatre

Architecture & Design · Dance · Music · Theater
photo courtesy chris nichols for los angeles magazine Named in honor of artist, actor, director and philanthropist Leonard Nimoy, The Nimoy is a reimagining of Westwood’s historic Crest Theatre, acquired by UCLA in 2018 and since renovated into a flexible 300-seat off-campus performing arts space. The show artsmeme will attend features performances by Grammy Award-winning ...

To the Tetons with Lear: loving memories of Christopher McHale 8

It was April 2008, and a glorious time to be in the region of the Grand Teton mountains of Utah. I was there, of course, for the majestic scenery but also to hunker down, indoors, in a dark theater, watching my longtime friend Chris McHale (1954-2023) scale his own high peak playing the titular role ...

A ‘Hungry Ghost,’ satiated, at Skylight Theatre

Reviews · Theater
It’s everyone’s nightmare … to have a very weird white man, a hermit who lives in the woods, pry apart your sliding-glass doors and invade your crib, your private space, your digs, your boite, your last-ditch barrier of bricks-and-mortar against … people like him. And yet, that’s exactly what happens in Hungry Ghost, a new ...

Adieu to two valiant dancing women of Los Angeles arts: Deborah Lawlor & Flip Manne 2

Dance · Music · Theater
Fountain Theatre co-founder Deborah Lawlor, who died May 2, 2023, began her career in the ’60s as a dancer, choreographer and actor in New York, where she was a member of the Judson Church/Caffe Cino scene in the Village. She moved to South India in 1968, there pioneering Auroville, a 12-square-mile utopian international community created ...