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: 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
BWW Reviews: Limited Return to Pantages of Arthur Laurents' Latest WEST SIDE STORY
April 11, 2013
When the original West Side Story opened on Broadway in 1957, it changed in many ways the concept of what constitutes a Broadway musical. Its creative team-writer Arthur Laurents, director Jerome Robbins, composer Leonard Bernstein, and lyricist Stephen Sondheim-took Romeo and Juliet and turned it into a pulsing, kinetic opera about rival gangs of Puerto Ricans and Poles on Manhattan's west side, and the tragic consequences of their violent hatred for each other to Tony and Maria (Larry Kert and Carol Lawrence), who have fallen in love.
BWW Reviews: Kritzerland Salutes Comden and Green: It's a Perfect Relationship
April 8, 2013
On Sunday April 7 Kritzerland presented its monthly tribute to great composers, this time around in honor ofthe incomparable lyricists Betty Comden and Adolph Green, entitled Just in Time: The Songs of Betty Comden and Adolph Green.
BWW Reviews: Stunning Opening for Sustaining Sound Theatre Company
April 6, 2013
I am a huge fan of Louisa May Alcott's story of the March sisters and both films of Little Women, the one from the early 30s starring Katharine Hepburn and Joan Bennett and then the 1949 revival starring June Allyson, Elizabeth Taylor, Janet Leigh and Margaret O'Brien. I'm partial to the latter film, only because I love everyone in that cast, and it was in glorious technicolor. It also boasted Mary Astor as Marmee and Peter Lawford as Laurie.
BWW Interviews: International Singing Sensation Ramin Karimloo Talks About Bluegrass and His SRO Concerts at Sterling's Upstairs at the Federal
April 5, 2013
Olivier nominated for Love Never Dies, Canadian born actor/singer Ramin Karimloo will perform his cabaret act at Sterling's Upstairs at the Federal April 21-22. This will mark his cabaret debut in Los Angeles, and all three performances are already sold out. Renowned on the UK stage for every role in Les Mis including that of Jean Valjean and also for the Phantom in Phantom of the Opera and Love Never Dies, Karimloo performed on the Oscar telecast in February singing 'One More Day' alongside Hugh Jackman, Ann Hathaway, Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Barks and others from the cast of the film Les Mis. In our chat, Karimloo talks about career past and present as well as his love of music that includes bluegrass as well as Broadway.
BWW Reviews: Macha Theatre Presents the Image of Marilyn in a Somewhat Different Light
April 3, 2013
Two months from today Marilyn Monroe fans will celebrate what would have been her eighty-seventh birthday. It's hard to imagine her at such an advanced age, considering her beauty, vivacity, and girlish manner. Her death was indeed tragic, but it has left us with an image of Marilyn with her charms undiluted by advanced age.
BWW Reviews: Donald Freed's TOMORROW Artful Promise of Better Times
April 2, 2013
Donald Freed's new play Tomorrow at the Skylight Theatre was written expressly for Salome Jens, and Miss Jens is one of the chief reasons to see it. More about her later! Not that the play itself is not worth the price of admission, for, indeed, it is a peculiarly artful and quite theatrically exciting piece with a politically artistic air. The message 'Wake Up, America!' is hurled at us even before the curtain goes up. We listen to voice-over tapes of news broadcasts from the year 2000 proclaiming the re-election of George W. Busch as President of the United States in spite of the gross negligence/ miscount in the state of Florida. We are reminded of just how ineffective the administration - republican or democratic - has been over the past decade in keeping funding for the arts alive, deficit or no deficit. Our country's endeavors spell dismal failure, so when the curtain goes up and Jamie Booth (Geoffrey Forward) seems withdrawn and indifferent toward the world around him, the phrase American amnesia rings loud and clear. Freed desperately wants some individual action and over the next two hours this supremely stellar cast does its very best to point us more positively toward Tomorrow.
BWW Interviews: TV's New Normal Star Andrew Rannells Talks About Singing for S.T.A.G.E.
April 1, 2013
BWW Reviews: Fountain Theatre's ON THE SPECTRUM Is Engrossing Theatre
March 26, 2013
Ken LaZebnik's west coast premiere play On the Spectrum at the Fountain Theatre is a life-affirming work that explores the power of love between two autistic people, and the repercussions on those around them. Thanks to LaZebnik, a trio of fine actors and splendid direction from Jacqueline Schultz, we make contact with a drastically different world, experiencing what may surely change the way we think and live. Could one wish for anything greater from a night in the theate?
S.T.A.G.E. Benefit on April 6 Welcomes Alex Newell to Cast
March 22, 2013
ALEX NEWELL, one of the newest cast members of FOX's groundbreaking mega-hit series, 'Glee,' has been added to the cast of the 29th Annual Southland Theatre Artists Goodwill Event (S.T.A.G.E.) 'Broadway, My Way,' being held on Saturday, April 6th at the historic Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills. David Galligan directs for the 29th time with John McDaniel returning as Musical Director.
BWW Interviews: Director/Playwright Les Wieder Talks about VOICES at Griot Theatre
March 22, 2013
In high school, a girl I was dating got the lead in the school musical. I didn't want her to be rehearsing all night with other guys, so I tried out for the show. Much to my surprise, I was given one of the lead male roles. I've always suspected that it was because I could sing on key. Anyway, that was 1960, and that's where my life in the theatre began.
BWW Reviews: Quilter's END OF THE RAINBOW Blows Into the Ahmanson
March 21, 2013
For diehard fans of Judy Garland, for those who adored every song she sang and every word she uttered, Peter Quilter's account of Judy's final comeback in the UK at Talk of the Town in December, 1968, called End of the Rainbow must be seen. Yes, it's darkly frank showing literally the decay of the alcoholic/drug addicted superstar whose great pain and loneliness drove her over the edge, but it retains a delicious sense of humor, Judy Garland's unique sense of humor whereby she could put herself down and everyone in the room around her, get big laughs and get away with the deprecation...and still be adulated and adored by all. Garland was iconic who delivered every performance from the bottom of her soul, and in End of the Rainbow Tracie Bennett's mesmerizing electricity dominates her portrayal, giving us the essence of the woman on and off the stage. It's uncannily brilliant!
BWW Reviews: Kentwood Players Stage Melodically Rousing RAGTIME
March 20, 2013
Since its creation in 1997, Ragtime has remained one of my favorite musicals for two reasons. Its simply gorgeous almost opera-like musical score by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens moves me to the bone, and it has more meaningful historical content about America at the turn of the 20th century than just about any other show. Now via an excellent production by the Kentwood Players, Ragtime continues its deeply moving effect on audiences.
BWW Reviews: Nightmarish WOLVES Entertains at Celebration
March 19, 2013
The short and fast-moving Wolves, which comes in at about one hour, is a smart, scary, thrilling theatrical ride akin to a nightmare. What in the beginning upsets, though, sooner or later yields enlightenment and even an odd sense of relief. The whole bleak argument of the city as wilderness and man versus beast adds lyricism, and with this, the message of True West rings prophetic. You may find yourself thinking about what is happening, but, a word to the wise, don't think too hard; better to take it at face value and enjoy!
BWW Reviews: A Star Is Born in NUTTIN' BUT HUTTON
March 19, 2013
Triple threat actress/singer/dancer Betty Hutton is perhaps one of the greatest yet lesser known musical film stars of the 40s and 50s. Star of Annie Get Your Gun and The Greatest Show on Earth, Hutton possessed a uniquely energetic style that can be most realistically described as 'manic'. It seems that she was in constant motion, never stopping for an instant and propelling her musical numbers through her electric singing and dancing to new heights of excitement. Diane Vincent was so taken by Robert Osborne's 2000 interview with Hutton on TCM (Turner Classic Movies) that she knew she had to research and put together a show to celebrate the lady's immeasurable talent. And here it is, some 13 years later, the world premiere of Nuttin' But Hutton, a revue in two acts with music both familiar and unfamiliar from all of Hutton's films.
Mrs. Warren's Profession Is a Class Act at Antaeus
March 19, 2013