STAGESCENELA named R&J "BEST PRODUCTION OVERALL" of the 2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival!
STAGESCENELA (click here for full review):
If tough women and gentle men don’t sound like the dramatis personae of any Shakespeare play you’ve ever seen or read, the time has come to meet the characters who populate R&J, A Gender-Reversed Romeo And Juliet, a production so all-around superb that it is “Hollywood Fringe” in name only.
Mine Is Yours Theatre Company’s inspired concept is revealed in the production’s tweaked title. Have Romeo become Romea and Juliet Julian, turn the enterprising Friar into SisterLawrence and Juliet’s Nurse into Julian’s (Male) Nurse, and you’ve got a brand-new take on a classic tale...
...It’s a whole new world for these iconic characters, with tough chicks fighting things out in the street*, a Catholic nun taking matters into her hands, and a love story so powerful, it invokes tears like never before.
An absolutely splendid featured cast (Alan Blumenfeld, Hayley Brown, Katherine James, Cj Merriman, dramaturg Hannah Pell, and Taylor Jackson Ross) support Mary Ellen Schneider and Dane Oliver, both leads absolutely incandescent—and stardom bound.
Director Abby Craden ensures that each performance rings true—and comprehensible despite antiquated language....Assistant director Sam Szabo’s musical soundtrack and choreography up the romance every step of the way....
...A stunning photo montage by Jenn Spain and Nate Grams provides R&J with a deeply emotional climax that left me shattered. If there’s ever been must-see Shakespeare, R&J, A Gender-Reversed Romeo And Juliet is as must-see as it gets.
NIGHT-TINTED GLASSES (click here for full review):
...the chemistry between these two actors is one of the major highlights of the production--that and the often-startling ways their love is portrayed...the moment wherein they meet is fairly electric--and tellingly, from that moment on the hitherto rather callow Romea begins to act in a more adult manner. She starts to show promise of what a very fine young woman this teenager might grow to be, if only.
If only. Two little words that might as well be engraved on one of the two theatrical masks. We've all seen this particular Shakespeare play many times, but kudos to the cast and director Abby Craden for making us feel that tragedy in the gut. In fact, that seems to be the reason for the gender switch. It makes us see the work anew. When Julian is treated as a sex object, we aren't used to thinking of that in relation to a teenage boy. When Romea stabs Tybalt to death, the rage involved feels different when fueled by feminine energy...
...I genuinely would say this is my favorite live production of Romeo and Juliet...it holds my attention and twists my heart.
HAINES HIS WAY (click here for full review):
...A cast of eight brought the tragic tale vibrantly to life with women playing the usual male roles and males the female roles.
Therefore the women came across as the more violent, aggressive and boastful sexual swaggerers while the men came across as more sensitive and vulnerable. Dane Oliver brought a beguiling, tender innocence and budding anticipation to his role as the cloistered Julian, raised more by his gentle, caring Nurse (a touching and comic Alan Blumenfeld) than his macho mother (a forceful Katherine James). James pulled double duty as the gentle and helpful Sister Laurence. As the love-struck Romea, Mary Ellen Schneider mooned properly over her love-at-first-sight fixation and showed a quick temper as the vengeful Montague whose quick action with a knife spelled doom for all.
STAGESCENELA (click here for full review):
Mean girls reign supreme in Bachelorette, Leslye Headland’s acidly funny glimpse into the ugliness that can hide behind pretty faces, back for a return L.A. engagement just a mile from where its 2008 World Premiere put playwright Headland and IAMA Theatre Company on the map.
This time round it’s the year-old Mine Is Yours Theatre Company who bring Becky, Gena, Katie, and Regan (and a couple of not-so-nice young men) to hilariously vicious life, and though these are not folks you’d normally want to spend even an hour with, Bachelorette’s ninety minutes add up to outrageously biting entertainment, albeit quite the opposite of “sugar and spice and everything nice.”
...Under Jessica Hanna’s incisive direction, a cast of talented, attractive L.A.-based up-and-comers do terrific, high-voltage work, beginning with the rowdy, rambunctious duo of Brown and Lyddan as a pair of best friends each more whacked-out than the next.
Taylor is simply stunning as the outwardly lovely, inwardly vile Regan, a revelatory performance sure to open doors for the dancer-turned-actress.
A riveting Oliver continues to fulfill the promise of his Theatricum Botanicum appearances this past summer as a young man who knows exactly how to work his Prom King looks to his best advantage. Bates is memorable too as Jeff’s somewhat unwilling partner in seduction whose (relative) niceness makes him—and Bates’ performance—Bachelorette’s secret weapon.
Last but not least, though Headland makes us wait a good long while for Becky’s eleventh-hour appearance, a pitch-perfect Pell makes it well worth the wait in a climactic scene which allows the actress to show both Becky’s strength and her own potential for cruelty.
The slick black walls of West Hollywood’s The Actor’s Company Theatre allow scenic/properties designer Shen Heckel to create a snazzy hotel room set with just furniture and props, and Heckel’s lighting is first-rate too.
...Mine Is Yours Theatre Company may just be starting out on IAMA’s path, but as Bachelorette 2015 makes abundantly clear, you’ll likely be hearing a lot more from this talented ensemble of classically trained Los Angeles-based artists in years to come.
STAGE RAW (click here for full review):
If you saw Yours is Mine’s The Bachelorette, you probably left with a sense of relief that your life probably isn’t as shitty as theirs. The characters are nasty, hard and sad. We are able to laugh in astonishment at the antics because the cast plunges fearlessly into the characters’ messy given-circumstances. Pell, Brown, Lyddan and Taylor are classically trained, vibrant and multi-dimensional, bold in their ability to be ugly and hard.
Jessica Hanna beautifully orchestrated the animal den, which was surprisingly tender and heart-breaking in vignettes throughout the story. These allowed for a resurgence of otherwise drained empathy.