Don Grigware is an Ovation nominated actor and writer whose contributions to theatre through the years have included 6 years as theatre editor of NoHoLA, a contributor to LA Stage magazine and currently on his own website:
BWW Reviews: Edgemar's RAINMAKER Remains A Must See Through Early September
June 18, 2013
Let me start off by saying that the performance of The Rainmaker on Saturday June 15 was almost cancelled due to the illness of the two actors playing File and the Sheriff. Ron Vignone and Daniel Robinson respectively stepped in with only a couple of hours rehearsal so that the show could go on. With script in hand, both covered their roles quite effectively based on the little amount of time they had for preparation. Bravo!
BWW Reviews: Brilliant Satirical YES, PRIME MINISTER Lands at Geffen
June 17, 2013
Not unlike David Mamet's November, a screwball look at the overwhelming incompetence of an American President, Yes, Prime Minister by Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn in its American premiere at the Geffen, is a savvy, right-on-target satire of British politics that is over-the-top, hysterically funny with an outstanding director and cast.
BWW Interviews: Dr. Ana Isabel Ordonez Extends Ruby Flower Records to Include Publications
June 12, 2013
Internationally known biologist and writer Dr. Ana Isabel Ordonez is constantly embarking on new projects. Educated in Europe and a self-taught Victorian patchwork maker since the early 90s, Ordonez has presented her work in France and Luxembourg.
BWW Interviews: Chicago Playwright Brian Golden Stops at the Road to Discuss His COOPERSTOWN
June 12, 2013
Playwright Brian Golden, who is currently artistic director for Theatre Seven in Chicago, hails from Iowa. His latest play Cooperstown is being produced at The Road Theatre's second space at the NoHo Senior Arts Colony on Magnolia Blvd. In town for the weekend, Golden held three talk-back discussions after the Friday June 7, Saturday June 8 and Sunday June 9 performances. In our chat, he describes how the play got started and what it means to him.
BWW Reviews: Good People Theatre Company Produce an Astounding Inaugural A MAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
June 11, 2013
What a treat to see a brand new theatre company present such a fine opening show like A Man of No Importance! Winner of the 2003 Outer Critics Circle Award in New York as Best Off-Broadway Musical, Man..., based on a 1994 film starring Albert Finney, tells a simple but rich story of an ordinary bus conductor in Dublin in 1964 who invests his poetic soul in the spirit of Oscar Wilde and comes up all the richer. Now onstage at the Lillian Theatre in Hollywood, A Man of No Importance is a triumph for Good People and director Janet Miller, who has assembled a fantastic cast.
BWW Interviews: Three Co-Stars of PRISCILLA Take Their Wigs Off and Look at Their Roles From the Other Side
June 6, 2013
I asked the three co-stars of Priscilla Queen of the Desert the musical Wade McCollum, Scott Willis and Bryan West what they thought was the main reason for the show's amazing popularity.
BWW Interviews: Actress/Comedienne Jo Anne Worley Talks About Performing Her One-Woman Show KEEP LAUGHIN'
June 5, 2013
Actress/comedienne Jo Anne Worley needs no introduction. One of the stars of the classic TV variety show Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, Worley will be at Welk Resorts in Escondido displaying her comic versatility as she presents her one-woman show Keep Laughin' June 26-30. In our recent chat, she did indeed have me laughing as she talked about her show, her take on what makes something funny, her favorite stars, and Actors and Others For Animals, which remains close to her heart. She's a tremendously joyous lady with terribly strong vibes about people and the biz and proves an overall endearing human being.
BWW Reviews: Kritzerland Salutes the Sophistication of Noel Coward
June 5, 2013
The Sunday, June 2nd Kritzerland Show at Sterling's Upstairs at the Federal in North Hollywood proved another highly enjoyable evening from Bruce Kimmel and Adryan Russ. The composer celebrated in this show, Noel Coward, is perhaps more renowned for his lyrics than his melodies, but what lyrics they are! Clever, witty, or cynical, they come fast and they delight the intellect.
BWW Reviews: Encore Dinner Theatre Presents Superb Production of Neil Simon Comedy RUMORS
June 4, 2013
What better place for an assortment of controversial characters to gossip and frolic than at a dinner party? The participants are famous within their own local realm as community politicians and their narrow-minded friends. It's a small town in New York state and mayor Charlie and his wife Myra are throwing a 10th wedding anniversary party. But we never see Charlie or Myra. At the very top, their friends Ken and Chris (Dan Acor and Tiffany Berg), the first arrivals, discover that some mischief's been going on : Charlie has been shot, with Myra nowhere to be found. What follows are the arrivals of three more couples and the police, and in between? A frenzied jumbo of crazy freak occurrences and spoken innuendos that liven up the party more than food or music ever could. It's a series of one fabrication after another. The only truth in Neil Simon's Rumors is its sheer sense of fun. It takes a super-skilled cast to pull it off. The play's a farce, so it's all in the timing. Without perfect timing, it dies. Michael Lopez has directed his 10 actors with the utmost nurturing and care, and the result is a nonstop absurd treat, richer than the 1000 Chocolate Chip dessert cake, at Encore Dinner Theatre in Tustin, now onstage through June 30 only. This is the first play they have produced in a while, as the offerings have consisted of mainly singers, a magician and other night club acts. Well, let me tell you, Rumors is a great dinner theatre choice, and this production should put the theatre once again on the SoCal map.
BWW Reviews: Marsha Moode Brings Down the Curtain at Downey Civic Light Opera with the Rarely Produced PAINT YOUR WAGON
June 4, 2013
Originally on Broadway in 1951 Lerner & Lowe's Paint Your Wagon was one of their less successful shows, which chronologically came right before their mega-hit My Fair Lady. As with most Lerner & Lowe, it's the place and characters that Lerner had such a talent for depicting. In Paint Your Wagon it's the Old West circa 1852 during the days of the Gold Rush when men sought their dreams via the move west. David Rambo rewrote the book and presented a new version in 2004 at the Geffen and in 2007 in Salt Lake City - a totally revised, trimmed down and slicker rendition of the original, critiqued as harsh and cold, a downer, in spite of its beautiful music. The 1969 movie starring Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin, needless to say, was a bomb with a terrible script and bad rendition of the music due to the fact that none of the actors could sing. For her last hurrah, Marsha Moode, who is sadly forced to close Downey Civic Light Opera after 27 years, has chosen to dust off the original 1951 show, altering its ending for the better and presenting it with a wonderful cast led by the remarkable Richard Gould as Ben Rumson.
BWW Reviews: Pasadena Playhouse Goes SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE
June 4, 2013
Sleepless in Seattle is one of the most popular films of the 90s which gave Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan two of their best roles ever as destined.to.meet lovers Sam and Annie. In a brave move Jeff Arch, Ben Toth and Sam Forman have composed a musical based on the movie which is making its world premiere at the Pasadena Playhouse through June 23. Under Sheldon Epps superior guidance, the well-cast show is a very bright, upbeat, contemporary look at relationships that does its ultimate best to remain faithful to the tone and texture of the film.
BWW Reviews: Over the Moon Design for PRISCILLA Makes for a Knockout Glamorous Show at the Pantages
May 31, 2013
Priscilla Queen of the Desert the musical/book by Stephan Elliott & Allan Scott/based on the 1994 film distributed by MGM/directed by Simon Philips/Pantages Theatre/through June 16
BWW Reviews: Kander and Ebb's Last Work THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS Cuts Like a Knife at the Ahmanson
May 31, 2013
Leave it to Kander and Ebb to create The Scottsboro Boys, a monstrously humane musical in the guise of a minstrel show. After all, it's what they are most famous for: taking headline news - the darker, the better - and turning it upside down inside out it with an unexpectedly entertaining structure.
BWW Reviews: Beautiful World Premiere Heart Song Heats Up the Fountain
May 28, 2013
In a quite extraordinary way Stephen Sachs' world premiere comedy/drama Heart Song tears down barriers separating life and death across many cultures. There is no finer celebration of the joys and pains of life than performing flamenco dance, which is gut wrenching and intensely theatrical. Boasting top-notch direction from Shirley Jo Finney and a resplendent cast, Heart Song is a life-affirming poem that must be experienced at the Fountain Theatre through July 14.
BWW Reviews: Candlelight Presents a Deliciously Sturdy FULL MONTY
May 21, 2013
The Full Monty/book by Terrence McNally/music & lyrics by David Yazbek/choreography by John Vaughan/directed by John LaLonde/Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theatre, Claremont/through June 16
Ageless Neile Adams Delights at Casita del Campo
May 21, 2013
BWW Reviews: Shinn's Blistery DYING CITY Has West Coast Premiere at Rogue Machine
May 21, 2013
In Dying City, now in its West Coast premiere at the Rogue Machine Theatre, Christopher Shinn examines the devastating effects of the Iraq War on the American soldiers who participated in it and more urgently on those they left behind. At the core are Kelly (Laurie Okin), the wife of a deceased soldier, his identical twin brother Peter (Burt Grinstead) and in flashback, the deceased soldier/husband/brother Craig (also Grinstead).
BWW Reviews: Theatre 40 Offers Funny Canadian Hit, OPENING NIGHT
May 21, 2013
As backstage comedies go, Opening Night is not on a par with the farcical Noises Off or with the flamboyant My Favorite Year, but it is a sweet play just the same with uber belly laughs and miles of heart. Now onstage at Theatre 40, a fine cast and steady direction make the play within a play Opening Night a definite worth see through June 16.
BWW Reviews: Tony Winner Betty Buckley Brings Her Class Act to Segerstrom's Samueli Theatre
May 17, 2013
It is easy to understand why Betty Buckley has been called the 'Voice of Broadway'. To begin, she has an astounding instrument with an incredible range. She can belt out the lyrics from 'Come Back to Me' from On a Clear Day You Can See Forever and then in the next breath bring her voice down to almost a whisper, like a prayer, in essaying 'Maria' from West Side Story. Secondly, she is a dynamic actress who feels the story the song is telling. Most of all, through living this material, there's great soul, a deep sense of humanity lurking beneath. I have always said it takes a great actress to be a great singer. Betty Buckley is most definitely among the small group of Broadway divas who consistently hit the mark. Her unique contribution is an unparalleled grace and class which emanate from every phrase she utters.
BWW Reviews: 3-D Theatricals' Magnificent PARADE
May 14, 2013
In 1998 when Jason Robert Brown won a Tony Award for the score of this unusually provocative musical Parade, the opulent Broadway production closed to critical acclaim, but due to excessive costs, the show remained inaccessible until the Donmar Warehouse resurrected it and produced a tight - minus the frills - mounting at the Mark Taper Forum in 2009. 3-D Theatricals, who are becoming increasingly known for their superlative skill with producing big musicals, have decided to put back many of the frills of the original and double the cast to its original size - 36, in order to enhance and give the musical the big, full-voiced chorus sound it deserves. And, in my mind, this bigger hybrid version surpasses the Taper's for its grande musical elegance and the presence of a perfectly cast lead actor in the role of Leo Frank, Jeff Skowron.
BWW Reviews: Theatre West Does Clare Boothe Luce Proud with New Production of THE WOMEN
May 14, 2013
Clare Boothe Luce's satirical classic The Women was a big grossing box-office hit at the movies in 1939.
BWW Reviews: Welk Resorts' CHICAGO Sizzles On Through June 2
May 11, 2013
Chicago/book by Fred Ebb & Bob Fosse/music by John Kander; lyrics by Fred Ebb/directed & choreographed by Ray Limon/Welk Theatre, San Diego/through June 2
BWW Interviews: Actor/Singer Robert Yacko Talks 3DTheatrical's PARADE, Opening 5/11
May 7, 2013
Opening this week in Fullerton at Plummer Auditorium is 3-D Theatricals' (3DT) production of Jason Robert Brown's Tony winning musical Parade, a show that is rarely if ever revived due to its dark and controversial subject matter. Recently one of its stars, actor/singer Robert Yacko, who did the show at the Mark Taper Forum in 2009, contributed thoughts about the challenges he's facing in Parade.
BWW Reviews: The Roar of Kritzerland as They Salute Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse
May 6, 2013
I can't help but borrow from the genius of Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse when I affirm it was The Roar of Kritzerland, The Smell of the burgers at the Federal on Sunday May 5 - Cinco de Mayo, no less - as Kritzerland presented its 33rd show in its current home at Sterling's Upstairs at the Federal, entitled Once in a Lifetime: The Songs of Anthony Newley & Leslie Bricusse. And it was a lollapalooza of an evening!
BWW Reviews: Neil LaBute's Riveting Adaptation of MISS JULIE Commands the Geffen
May 4, 2013
The world premiere adaptation by LaBute of Miss Julie is moment.to.moment chillingly riveting theatre with a brilliant cast of three under the expert direction of Jo Bonney currently at the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater of the Geffen through June 2.
BWW Reviews: Singer Matt Zarley Rocks Sterling's
April 30, 2013
On Sunday April 28 at Sterling's Upstairs at the Federal, Matt Zarley debuted his new show Broadway to Billboard, celebrating his latest album Change Begins With Me. It won the 2012 OutMusic Award as Best Single and Album of the Year. This guy with his powerhouse voice and delicious, down-to-earth charm had his audience swooning from the top. First up, a colorful video montage followed by his opening number, a medley of tunes representing all the Broadway roles he has played so far. Entitled My Great White Way, he included 'What I Did For Love', 'Pinball Wizard' from The Who's Tommy, 'Memory' from Cats, 'Kiss of the Spider Woman', 'All That Jazz' from Chicago, a triumphant march from Les Mis, and closing with another round of 'What I Did For Love' from A Chorus Line, which was his first Broadway show in 1988. When Zarley sings, it's an ecstatic, full-throttle experience. This opening provided all that...and... this was just the beginning.
BWW Reviews: Yet Another PETER PAN Premieres at The Blank
April 30, 2013
The latest incarnation of the J. M. Barrie classic Peter Pan by Michael Lluberes entitled Peter Pan The Boy Who Hated Mothers, now onstage at the Blank Theatre Company, has stellar production values, including imaginative staging by prolific director Michael Matthews and a delightfully versatile cast of actors, but bottom line - what's the point of Lluberes' adaptation? Promoted as a dark retelling, for me, it isn't dark enough. What is different is having the woman's point of view - that of Mrs. Darling and female Captain Hook (captivating Trisha LaFache) with their diametrically opposed yet brooding feelings about children - take center spotlight. It may pique some interest but in the final analysis its purpose is rather unfulfilling. It's the innovative, workshop-like execution of the primary action that entertains.
BWW Reviews: Fascinating ONE WHITE CROW Premieres at Edgemar
April 30, 2013
Playwright Dale Griffiths Stamos is unafraid to delve into the human psyche to search for answers that will perhaps never be found; it makes for a brave new work One White Crow whose deeply human characters with divergent opinions on faith vs. skepticism make us prick up our ears and really listen. Now onstage at the Edgemar Center for the Arts, One White Crow, labeled a work in progress, is intelligent, stimulating theatre with superb direction form Deborah LaVine and a trio of fine actors.
BWW Reviews: Mullally and Offerman Live ANNAPURNA at Odyssey
April 22, 2013
Annapurna is one of the highest mountain peaks of the Himalayas, considered the most dangerous. Yet that does not stop climbers from risking their lives. Theirs is an extreme form of commitment. Sharr White uses scaling the mountain range as a symbol in his new play Annapurna now at the Odyssey through June 9. Megan Mullally and husband Nick Offerman under Bart DeLorenzo's steady hand work a sometimes pleasurable, oft times painful but worthwhile 90-minute encounter that puts a whole new spin on marital fidelity.
BWW Reviews: Ramin Karimloo Sings Broadway to Bluegrass at Sterling's, Opening His Newest US Tour
April 22, 2013
On Sunday evening April 21 singer/actor Ramin Karimloo best known to UK audiences for his stellar performances as the Phantom in both The Phantom of the Opera and its sequel Love Never Dies, made his Los Angeles cabaret debut at Sterling's Upstairs at the Federal in Broadway to Bluegrass. Since this concert was sold out from the onset, two more performances were added, Sunday matinee of the 21st and tonight, Monday evening April 22. With such growing popularity from his theatre work and recordings, it seems obvious that Karimloo will be a household name before too long in the US as well in Europe. Personable, warm and deeply grounded, the performer loves country music, rock and pop as well as Broadway and conceived Broadway to Bluegrass as a means of displaying all of his musical tastes. He also told me that a cabaret concert should have more to offer than just the songs from roles you've played. He wants his audience to get to know, not the Phantom or Valjean, but Ramin Karimloo.
BWW Reviews: Behind the Scenes Play BILLY & RAY Proves a Colorful Exploration
April 19, 2013
Boasting slick staging by director Garry Marshall and a stalwart ensemble of four, Billy & Ray, to quote a Wilder (Kevin Blake) phrase from the play, sparks and sparkles with entertainment value.
BWW Reviews: Candlelight Pavilion Loves Charity... Charity Hope Valentine, That Is!
April 16, 2013
Sweet Charity/book by Neil Simon/music by Cy Coleman; lyrics by Dorothy Fields/directed by Neil Dale/choreographed by Janet Renslow/Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theatre, Claremont/through May 5
GCT Welcomes Kaufman and Hart's Man Who Came to Dinner
April 15, 2013