LA Theater reviews & previews, from the opulent Phantom of the Opera, to the optimistic HERLAND

 Los Angeles continues to offer the very best entertainment at theaters big and small, from the powerful new production of The Phantom of the Opera, to the inspiring new play HERLAND about empowerment, and much more coming this summer for folks who enjoy live theater.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA – The Company performs Masquerade – photo by Alastair Muir

Review: THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre is presented from June 6 through July 7. The epic story has raised the bar for opulence on stage in the spectacular new production presented by Cameron Mackintosh.

 The Phantom of the Opera has been one of the most popular musicals since its London West End debut in 1986, with a score that soars. The music is by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Charles Hart, and book by Webber and Richard Stilgoe. It is based on the iconic French novel by Gaston Leroux.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA -Derrick Davis and Eva Tavares – photo Matthew Murphy

 The Phantom’s overture still sends shivers throughout the audience at the Pantages when the huge show begins, with more trembles to follow as the intensity builds. There is a new emotional take on the revamped story for this production, with the impressive Derrick Davis playing the disfigured Phantom as less tragic and fragile, and more volatile and stronger as he wreaks havoc for the love of his music. Eva Tavares is gorgeous as Christine Daaé, the young soprano the Phantom mentors with his “Music of the Night.” She is also played more powerfully than previous reincarnations. And Jordan Craig as Raoul, Christine’s childhood friend who endeavors to be her guardian, is less romantic and more protector.

 Performed by a cast and orchestra of 52, this is one of the largest production now on tour. Skillfully directed by Laurence Connor, with choreography by Scott Ambler, the show offers an interesting fresh new look at the classic love triangle—and maybe strives to ‘set the stage’ for the Phantom’s musical sequel Love Never Dies, that follows up on the complexities of the star-crossed threesome beyond the Paris Opera House.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA plays through July 7 at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood & Vine in Hollywood. For tickets go to the box office, phone 800-982-2787, or go to

HERLAND, (front) Gladys Bautista; (center) Lisa Richards, Laura James, Judith Scarpone; and (back) Victoria Ortiz. (photos by Philicia Endelman).

Preview: HERLAND presented by the GREENWAY ARTS ALLIANCE, uniting communities since 1997, at the GREENWAY COURT THEATRE from May 30 through June 23. It’s the National New Play Network’s Rolling World Premiere of award-winning playwright Grace McLeod’s HERLAND, about coming of age and coming out.

Gladys Bautista

 The truly AWESOME and inspiring new play about empowerment presents an optimistic story featuring Glaydys Bautista, Lisa Richards, Judith Scarpone, Laura James and Victoria Ortiz as Becca. HERLAND tells the story of Natalie (Bautista), a recent high school graduate who gets a summer internship working for her elderly neighbor Jean (Richards). She is tasked with the special project of creating a DIY retirement home for Jean and her two best friends Louise (Scarpone) and Terry (James). As Natalie helps set up shop in Jean’s garage – formerly a rehearsal space for her ex-husband’s Springsteen cover band – she finds herself planning the next chapter of the trio’s lives together.

 Greenway Court Theatre’s producing director Tiffany Moon is at the helm of HERLAND that the playwright Grace McLeod (an incredibly gifted 24-years-old) calls “a queer coming-of-age comedy about women growing up, growing old, and growing into themselves.”

 It is produced by Greenway Court Theatre’s associate producer Lily Brown, and Greenway Arts Alliance co-founders and co-­­artistic directors Whitney Weston and Pierson Blaetz are proud to showcase a play about women rocking out to the beat of their own drums.

 HERLAND will play from May 30 through June 23, 2019 at the Greenway Court Theatre, 544 North Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036 (Free parking is available in the Fairfax High School parking lot on Fairfax and Clinton, directly adjacent to the theatre). For tickets and schedule information call 323-673-0544, or go to Also

Preview: GOOD BOYS, at the Pasadena Playhouse, June 26 through July 21.

 The play by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Riverdale writer) follows the aftermath when a sex tape rocks St. Joseph’s Prep, putting Brandon Hardy’s reputation on the line and threatening to shatter the comfortable lives of the Hardy family. It is a summer drama that will have everyone talking. Betsy Brandt (Breaking Bad) plays Brandon’s mother, the matriarch of the Hardy family who must separate fact from fiction—and, ultimately, choose to either preserve a legacy or risk losing everything in pursuit of the truth. The suspenseful family drama is directed by Carolyn Cantor.

  GOOD BOYS plays the Mainstage at The Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Avenue, Pasadena, CA, from June 26 to July 21. Go to

Preview: For cabaret lovers, The Wallis presents a variety of popular intimate nightclub shows in THE SORTING ROOM with fabulous entertainment from June 13-29, in the Wallis’ LOVELACE STUDIO THEATER. Among the many great shows are… STEVE ROSS: COLE PORTER AND BEYOND, June 14 and 15; LOVE ALWAYS WINS: Daniel Beaty in Concert with Special Guests Ledisi & Esperanza Spalding, June 20 & 27; and FEELS LIKE LOVE: An Intimate Evening with Chrysta Bell, June 28.

 It all takes place in The Sorting Room at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, located at 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills. For tickets and information call 310-746-4000, and for an up-to-date schedule of upcoming shows and events visit Life is a cabaret, go enjoy!


Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to have been half of the husband & wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who had written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 38 years.