All entries by this author

Review: Shen Yun in Southern California

February 8, 2013 | By Penny Orloff | Category: Theater and Dance

Colorful Shen Yun billboards liberally displayed all over Ventura and LA Counties promised exotic entertainment on a grand scale — I imagined a sort of Chinese “Cirque de Soleil.”  Those billboards and a whiz-bang marketing campaign worked — although the ticket prices were astronomical, the shows were completely sold out several days before the troupe’s [...]



Judd Hirsch in “Freud’s Last Session” at the Broad Stage

January 22, 2013 | By Penny Orloff | Category: Theater and Dance

Playwright Mark St. Germain offers a fictional meeting between Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis in his two-character, 80-minute work, “Freud’s Last Session,” directed by Tyler Marchant and playing now through Feb. 10 on Santa Monica’s Broad Stage.
It is Sept. 3, 1939. Hitler’s invasion of Poland has just unhinged the entire world. Great Britain has this [...]



Book Review: Adventures in the Scream Trade by Charles Long

October 10, 2012 | By Penny Orloff | Category: Books and Lectures

For two decades Charles Long was one of a handful of American baritones at the top of the international opera scene. Singing opposite such luminaries as the late Shirley Verrett, Carlo Bergonzi, Sam Ramey and other legendary stars, he was known for his gleaming high notes, meticulous musicianship and infallible dramatic rightness. At the peak [...]



Artist Profile: Los Angeles Ballet’s Bianca Bulle

July 22, 2012 | By Penny Orloff | Category: Theater and Dance

Growing up in a small village near Brisbane, Australia, Bianca Bulle had never entertained the thought of a career in dance. But a conversation with her mentor Rowena Jackson, former prima ballerina of the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden, changed everything, when Jackson convinced the 15-year-old to participate in the international Youth American Grand Prix [...]



Los Angeles Ballet’s NextWaveLA

May 31, 2012 | By Penny Orloff | Category: Theater and Dance

A few weeks ago, as I sat in Walt Disney Concert Hall for a concert by the New York Philharmonic, I mused to my companion that – in our 60s – we were some of the youngest people there. That isn’t news. But this is: the much-lamented “graying” of the audience for classical music, opera [...]



Artist Profile: Los Angeles Ballet’s Christopher McDaniel

May 12, 2012 | By Penny Orloff | Category: Theater and Dance

Ballet dancer Christopher McDaniel was raised from birth by his single grandmother in East Harlem when his drug-dependent mother was deemed unfit.  His father was incarcerated during most of McDaniel’s childhood. Though the boy loved to dance, antisocial behavior, belligerence and violence characterized his early years. However, a school field trip to see the Dance [...]



Review: Los Angeles Ballet’s ‘Swan Lake’

March 18, 2012 | By Penny Orloff | Category: Theater and Dance

Kudos to the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and the LA Board of Supervisors, for supporting Los Angeles Ballet’s completely credible “Swan Lake” in five venues around LA County. The Arts Commission’s major funding of the production acknowledges our city’s worthiness of LAB’s continuing presence as LA’s own world-class ballet company.
The quintessential classical ballet, “Swan [...]



Katselas Theatre’s INKubator Hatches Success

February 15, 2012 | By Penny Orloff | Category: Theater and Dance

For more than a quarter of a century, the Katselas Theatre (recently re-named for late founder/artistic director Milton Katselas) has been on the cutting edge of new theatrical work in Los Angeles. In just the last two years, under new artistic director Gary Grossman, KTC has produced 11 world premiere productions including the critically acclaimed [...]



‘The Nutcracker’ Opens LA Ballet Sixth Season

December 15, 2011 | By Penny Orloff | Category: Theater and Dance

LA County’s resident classical ballet company, Los Angeles Ballet opens a sixth season with Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary’s original staging of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker.”  This sweet holiday treat is currently making its annual three-week tour from Glendale’s landmark Alex Theatre to UCLA’s Royce Hall to the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center.
The ballet opens on [...]



‘Bhutan’ at Rogue Machine Theatre

November 17, 2011 | By Penny Orloff | Category: Theater and Dance

Daisy Foote’s gripping “Bhutan,” now in its West Coast premiere at LA’s Rogue Machine Theatre, is a time-bending tragedy that chronicles the disintegration of a small New Hampshire town. Focusing on one hard-luck farm family, Foote expertly weaves the personal with the socio-political, delivering a grim, last-gasp portrait of rural America.
The Conroy clan appears plucky [...]