Tag Archives: Reviews

Early and Often at Open Fist Theatre, Los Angeles

Screwball comedy takes the stage at Open Fist Theatre in the west coast premiere of Early and Often written by Barbara Wallace and Thomas R. Wolfe.

Set in Chicago 1960, democrats, republicans and everyone else will stop at nothing to compete for votes, power and a political code of honor in this tumultuous, zany, murder-mystery filled with whodunits, real estate scams and plenty of illicit affairs all around.  It should have been hilarious and at times, is.  But Early and Often has difficulty finding its way through the gags, setups and style as good guys do bad things to prevent the bad guys from having their share of the “goods” when suddenly there becomes a vacancy in the state assembly.  Unevenly written and directed, there is never-the-less, an interesting show in development.

READ THE REVIEW (click here)


Now playing at Open Fist Theatre                                                                                        6209 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90038

For showtimes and tickets visit: www.openfist.org

April 7-May 26th                                                                                                                     Fridays and Saturdays @ 8pm                                                                                             Sundays @ 2pm                                                                                                                              Tickets $25.00

Reviewed by Tracey Paleo

The Model Critic Reviews: The Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet

Reviewed by Carlos Stafford, The Model Critic
 Recently, Gelsey Kirkland’s Academy of Classical Ballet (GKA) energetically presented a truly pleasing showcase of both her young, dynamic students, as well as a debut for her newly minted, fledgling Academy.
    What was pleasing?: Youth, strength, quickness, on the one hand, coupled with a ready enthusiasm and joy exuding from Kirkland’s well trained dancers–they came to deliver their best performances with surefire commitment, nothing held back. When this fortunate event occurred, the audience didn’t necessarily look for perfection of technique from the budding dancers, which by the way was very accomplished, but to the exchange of the infectious, energetic dynamics given so generously by the performers. And indeed, grounding this energy was a very evident clarity of acting ability that connected character and story, giving the varied program depth and delight.
      The theme of the night was the “Art of the Ballerina–The Triumph of Feminity.”  Kirkland and Michael Chernov tell us, to achieve this goal “we look to the archetype of the ballerina, who represents the ideas of purity, gentleness, sensitivity, empathy, and tolerance while demonstrating strength of body, heart and mind parallel to that of the bravest heroine.”
    The program was well chosen–“Mostly Bournonville and Petipa”:  “Pas de Huit” from a Folk Tale, “Excerpts from Le Conservatoire,” Napoli Pas de Six,” from Bournonville; “Neapolitan” and “Hungarian” from Swan Lake, “Drum Dance,” and the longer closing piece from La Bayadere, “Jewels,” “Blue Bird Pas de Duex,” and “Red Riding Hood and the Wolf” from Sleeping Beauty–all these from Petipa.  And special mention to the wonderful “Pas de Quatre” by Perrot/Dolin, beautifully performed and costumed, as well as the final La Bayadere lead couple, pas de trois, and corps.  La Vivadiere by Arthur St. Leon was also exciting and well received.
    The mission statement at GKA is also well worth mentioning…“we believe the development of a ballerina is dependent on more than simply providing excellent instruction in technique; the dancer must also be nurtured in the light of inspiration and the waters of culture…to encourage a renaissance of dramatic storytelling in ballet.”
     That GKA stresses storytelling is refreshingly evident, and so correct to my mind.  So often at the bigger, important productions from abroad, as well as a trend in national companies, ballet, at times, has become showier, more gymnastical, with dancers performing bravura movements with more regularity.  Too much of this display and the message becomes the dancer’s individual prowess instead of the work at hand; everything becomes subverted, and we loose nuance and subtlety. Yes, this approach is commercial, sells tickets, and has its place in divertissements, but can in the end, become cloying and unsatisfying, beyond the spectacle, projecting nothing.  So, having the dancer’s live their roles with honesty, grounded in the context of verisimilitude with the story, will always, in the end, appeal to the audience’s desire for inspiration, transcendence, and the enjoyment of recognition of truth and beauty.
      Perhaps from this group of dancers we will one day see an individual emerge that can lead the way to a new and honest view of dance that bridges the gap to the past (i.e. Dame Margot Fonteyn), and reflects the actual gift of performance that Gelsey Kirkland herself offered the world of ballet.  Look at her Nutcracker for instance!
  Here’s wishing the Directors, Faculty, and dancers all the luck in achieving their goals, and congratulations on your auspicious beginnings.
(company photos courtesy of GKA)

Gia Reviews: Fruit Fly Now Playing at The Celebration Theatre in Hollywood, CA

 Fruit Fly the new show written and performed by Leslie Jordan is enough to make any other Southern Belle blush.  And, with plenty of hilarious humor, playfulness, twists, turns, hammed up bloopers and a little bit of polite dissing, Mr. Jordan gives us a surprising, sentimental and bittersweet picture of what it was like growing up a boy who really loved being a girl in the South, with the off-handed help of his grandmother, Mary Lucille, and mother whose early sage advice was, “just don’t tell daddy,” giving us more than a devilish take on the age old question, “Do gay men become their mothers?”

Read the review by clicking:  HERE

Now playing at The Celebration Theatre, 7051-B Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. Ends Feb. 18. $34. Call (323) 957-1884  or www.celebrationtheatre.com. Running time: 1 hour, 15 minutes.

Reviewed by Tracey Paleo

Food Review LA: Tiro Vino Wine Bar

by Tracey Paleo

SPUMONE!  The password to delight.

Tiro Vino Wine Bar on Melrose Avenue has become my Saturday night home away from home and choice of casual movie theater experience. (yes, really, it’s the bonus.)  It’s warm, osteria/bar feeling mixed with elegance and down right Italian chic surpasses expectation in friendliness and food including desserts — especially ones like the uniquely Neapolitan, favorite, Spumone.  This better than gelato sampler, introduced to the United States in 1870 as a Cosmopolitan-style ice cream, is the perfect trifecta for variety seeking taste buds.  And along with a completely eclectic menu whose flavors are as delightful as the restaurant itself, you will find that eating fresh and dining Italian never tasted soooo good!  And you can always get a seat at the bar.  Dinner and a movie anyone?

Did you know that August 21st is National Spumoni Day in the United States and November 13th is National Spumone Day in Canada?

Tiro Vino is now Closed.

The Model Critic Reviews The Sokolow Theater Dance Ensemble

Cunningham Studio, New York, New York
 Reviewed by Carlos Stafford, The Model Critic
Anna Sokolow (1910-2000), iconic modern dance choreographer, whose career vigorously spanned the entire 20th Century; an artist in whose life and times  collaborated with many of the great dancers and choreographers of her era; an artist with deep roots in Israel, Mexico, and the New York dance scene, was honored with a performance of a few of her representative pieces, Nov 14th, at the Cunningham Studio.

Photo Credit: Meems

Before “Odes,” the most important offering of the evening, a short film presented Sokolow working with dancers at Ohio State University, and these asides are loosely recalled:
Words lie, movement never lies.
Steps are important, but what really matters is the mood and the drama created.
I don’t want to be popular.  I don’t want to please everybody.  I want to tell the truth.
Sokolow, above all, wanted her dancers to be committed, to be connected to belief, to seek the most beautiful way of expression.  She also stressed clarity of movement, and definite, strong gestures.
“Odes”–Accompanied by flutist Roberta Michel, and music by Edgard Varese, twenty-three dancers created an intense, highly dramatic mood of terror and dehumanization.  With mechanical blips and bleeps in the soundscape, conveying the interior horrors of a concentration camp, the dancer’s frenzied movements of fear and impending doom created a frightening mood.  The dancer’s total commitment to living the choreography with honesty, belief, and energy made this piece entirely engrossing.
But if you were to deconstruct the choreography from “Odes” and “Two Preludes” which topped the evening’s presentation, the dominant theme would be pain and suffering, nothing light, nothing edifying;  misery, we would find, is the human condition, the overriding motif of these dances.  That Sokolow defined this theme well cannot be denied here; in this sense she accomplished her ends.  In “Two Preludes,” an intimate solo, danced beautifully by long-limbed Melissa Birnbaum, we have a dance created twenty years after “Odes,” but with the same mood, although not as deadly intense:  remorse, loss, internal suffering, contractions to the floor, implosions of energy, fetal postures, head cupping, unsteady footing–everything pointing to imprisonment on being.  The same applied to the personal work of artistic director Jim May, in his solo “Passage” and “At the Still Point of the Turning World” by Ernestine Stodelle–a very literal dance to a poem by T. S. Eliot; both encompassing the very same themes–No Exit.
As you view these dances, you are reminded that as culture evolves, language changes.  The same applies to dance vocabulary–the symbols and images become dated and loose their frisson.  For example, if you see a performance of a Broadway show like “A Chorus Line” today, it reads as refreshingly quaint, and a bit dusty; no modern viewer would believe, for all its merits, that it had won a Pulitzer Prize in its day.  It simply doesn’t speak to today. The same applies with these museum pieces by Anna Sokolow; once relevant, but difficult to watch now.
But most relevant to this performance, is the notion of depressing doom and gloom.  It begins to look like artistic self-indulgence or posing–to have one idea pounding out the nastiness of life, and nothing else. Of course few view the world quite like this, or else we’d all jump into the East River. Finally, we can look at this performance either as a bad choice of programming the pieces of this legendary choreographer, or perhaps as a real glimpse into Sokolow’s concerns as a choreographer.  In either case, it was difficult to watch, not solely because the dance movement did not transcend time, but because the ideas expressed were not balanced.

Lay Me Down Justin Timberlake! at Sacred Fools

Justin Timberlake your my hero!

“Awesomeness” wins the day in the current production of Crumble (Lay Me Down Justin Timberlake) written by Sheila Callaghan and directed by Jeremy Aluma (and I still have no idea why he makes an appearance in this show…But who cares!  Cool and chemicals Set The MoodDude you rule! )

Managing to elude the creep factor of a vengeful, languishing apartment with its own personal opinion of cleanliness and living, a spiteful and troubled little girl with a death wish and a mom who can’t see past her own panic attack induced hysteria or the kitchen, Sacred Fools Theater turns in an amusing, South Park style rendition of a family in turmoil and falling apart in every possible way.  Read the review.

Reviewed by Tracey Palwo

Monkey Adored at the Rogue Machine

Through allegorical collage, puppetry, projection and “animal magnetism”  playwright Henry Murray explores the ideas of experientiality versus DNA, sexuality and violence, and prejudice in Monkey Adored, a humorous, modern day Animal Farm, farce.  Read the review…(click here)