REVIEWS

STANDING ON CEREMONY: THE GAY MARRIAGE PLAYS


Los Angeles Times – Critic’s Pick – “Elegant craft weds political urgency in "Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays" at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center. This deft program of one-acts by noted American playwrights addresses marriage equality with remarkable purpose.  Conceived and directed by Brian Shnipper, "Standing" has gone from a one-night El Portal Theatre offering in 2009 to a burgeoning phenomenon…what sets "Standing" apart is how eloquently it speaks to more than gay marriage proponents -- a vital achievement, indeed".

LA Weekly – PICK OF THE WEEK - GO – “This highly acclaimed evening of short plays by award-winning playwrights, dealing with the subject of marriage equality…All nine plays are winners — funny, clever, stylish and compassionate — and none is allowed to devolve into mere propaganda. .. If director Brian Shnipper can assemble celebrity casts as skillful as the one reviewed (Amy Aquino, John Getz, Harriet Harris, Peter Paige, Tom Everett Scott and Cynthia Stevenson), this production is a luxury item”.

Entertainment Weekly – “It's easy to watch Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays and wonder: Is this a stage production...or a pro-social campaign? But truthfully, it's not one or the other. Standing on Ceremony — a zippy collection of nine short, one-act plays by such writing luminaries as Neil LaBute (Fat Pig), Moisés Kaufman (33 Variations), and Paul Rudnick (The Stepford Wives) — is both. It's just as much a theater experience as it is a crusade to illuminate the precarious, confusing, maddening, and — yes — oftentimes hilarious position that gays and lesbians find themselves in when it comes to getting hitched legally in the United States… The best part of Standing is the sheer joy that exudes from the production. Despite the fact that it's bringing a real issue to light, the show maintains a buoyancy and hopefulness that's infectious. All nine of the plays elicited lots of laughs — even Moisés Kaufman's ''London Mosquitoes,'' which is basically a eulogy — and that shows you just what the fight for marriage equality is all about: love.

Backstage – Critic’s Pick - “This glittering theatrical happening from conceiver-director Brian Shnipper elicited an almost rapturous communal experience during its opening performance. Nine distinguished playwrights contribute short but blissfully sweet works exploring the heartbreak, joy, and controversies surrounding the topic of gay marriage. The hugely entertaining show overflows with lyricism, scintillating wit, and profound food for thought. The project admittedly was devised to overturn Proposition 8 via fundraising and the opening of minds. Yet by focusing on the universality of the human condition, the plays transcend sermonizing and politicizing. …The reviewed performance was graced with top-flight actors, who read from scripts, putting the focus on the literate text, which is sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes screamingly funny, and often gorgeously poetic. ”

Stage and Cinema – “It was one of those magical nights in the theatre: a confluence of activism, sterling talent and magnificent playwriting, made all the more joyous by the palpable sense of abundant generosity and community spirit. One hopes that STANDING ON CEREMONY: THE GAY MARRIAGE PLAYS will become a mainstay of regional theatre long after gay marriage is legally recognized….  Shnipper has created an evening of stark universality: CEREMONY smartly elucidates why gay marriage, at heart, is not about religion and politics …The performances, albeit music-stand-style, are so richly textured, and delivered with such panache, that it becomes a theatre-goer’s dream come true. It is a privilege to witness such thespian artistry: the evening’s funny and ingenious works come to life with soul-stirring and inspirational interpretation… Whether you leave the theatre exhilarated or reflective (or both), you will no doubt have been completely entertained”.

Frontiers Magazine - This delightful evening of short plays by an array of renowned writers has taken on new life as it drops anchor at the Gay & Lesbian Center for a series of Monday night concert-style readings with a revolving door of celebrity cast members. The intermissionless program of nine 10-minute plays, directed by Shnipper, makes for an evening of theatrical tapas—small, sometimes delectable dishes, each one followed by something completely different as the issue of marriage equality is approached from every angle… Shnipper has staged the proceedings with class and finesse, and presenting the plays at the Center gives the evening a celebratory air. Go at least once; it just feels so good to be there.

Stagehappenings.com – “Art – and theatre specifically – can influence the world around us.  Whether soundly dramatic or wildly comedic, the live performance can be used for the propagation of good…a neat, funny, horrific, sad and gleeful examination of what the challenges are in advancing the concept of Gay Marriage”.

Tolucan Times - an entertaining, often humorous, moving and provocative evening of new short plays…stellar performances... Standing on Ceremony is a not-to-be-missed evening of theatre.

EyeSpyLA   -“…an even-sided perspective with intelligent humor, refreshing frankness, and emotional appeal. With its roster of acclaimed playwrights and an all-star cast, the staged readings are of the same impeccable quality as LATW’s The Play’s the Thing series, underscored however, with a veracity to affect positive change that is palpable... What struck me was the variety of insights and perspectives raised in an emotional kaleidoscope that had the audience roaring with laughter one moment and swallowing hard the next. This is not a show, which in essence preaches to the choir; nor does it slant its view with sentimentality. It is raw, witty, moving and compassionate—the driving forces behind the performers and the text”.

StageSceneLA – “Tons of laughs and more than a few tears. And all this to promote the cause of marriage equality.  What progressive theatergoer could pass up a chance like this?  Certainly not this one…  It’s hard to imagine better readings of the nine plays than those given by the stellar ensemble…I loved every single minute of a recent preview of Standing On Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays.  There’s truly not another show like it in town.  Director Brian Shnipper, who conceived Standing On Ceremony shares kudos for the cast’s uniformly fine work”.

LA Splash - Standing on Ceremony: the Gay Marriage Plays, graces the stage of the Renberg Theatre Mondays this summer. Featuring the works of nine different playwrights and an ever-changing collective of extraordinary actors, that has travelled coast-to-coast lending an artistic hand to the cause of marriage equality in America… While enough cannot be said about the superior quality and breadth of the writing, the performers were equally terrific… Armed with just “the page” and an empty stage, this small band of performers brought to life a phenomenal array of characters, transported us from sea to shining sea.  The emotional ride taken in one night was pretty remarkable as well. Well done.  Great acting. Exceptionally crafted stories. And Cake!  I can think of worse ways to spend a Monday night.

Culture Vulture – “Get yourself to the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center’s Renberg Theatre in Hollywood and consider the issue though nine sparkling mini-plays about men and women who want the right to marry whomever they want, regardless of gender.  “Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays,” features six excellent actors—Peri Gilpin, Julie Hagerty. Jay Harrington, Rachael Harris, Peter Paige and John Rubinstein—in nine one-act plays…the actors adorn the plays in humor, affection and poignance under the deft direction of Brian Shnipper”.

KCRW 89.9 FM "Standing on Ceremony is an evening's anthology of plays about gay marriage. The plays approach the subject with a surprising delicacy and obliquity, startling me into emotional responses I didn't know I had. I would find myself moved to sudden laughter or astonished tears. Why? Because the plays presented as actual something that is still only a dream. The dream of equality is one of the dearest dreams we share. Theater asks us to believe in dreams come true, and this is an evening of wonderful dreams."

LA Talk Radio – “Standing on Ceremony is a perfect way to enjoy a night at the theater and support a worthy cause”.

Blogcritics – “The evening was thrilling and meaningful… The plays all spoke to the subject at hand, the marriage of same-sex couples. The subject was attacked or rather examined from many different angles, some unexpected…It was funny, poignant, and struck a very real chord about the legitimacy of such couplings”.

Neon Tommy – “…it’s just good theater — funny, touching and very human”.

Showmag - "Standing on Ceremony ascribes a purpose and passion to the struggle and beauty of partnership in a period of civil unrest defined by a singular word: marriage A combination of nine short plays gives just a glimpse into the joys, struggles, and humor that are inherent in the topic.   Conceived and well directed by Brian Shnipper, a celebrated list of playwrights comment on and add to the dialogue about same-sex marriage. ..the show commits to being a show strongly rooted in the wants and desires of the human experience--to love, honor, and cherish.  Do I believe everyone should see this show? Might I say, I do."

 

ICU

LA Times - "Director Brian Shnipper keeps the energy high and the mise-en-scène authentic while guiding his adept cast around the jagged faceoffs...the striking environmental staging...We enter a detailed waiting room, seated against the walls in direct proximity to the Siegenfelds' dilemmas."   

 

Broadwayworld.com - "...expertly directed by Brian Shnipper"

 

LAist - "One of the performance spaces at AVT is configured not as a stage with rows of seats facing it, but as a white-walled "box," conducive to placing the actors and set in the middle of the room with the audience surrounding them in chairs along three or four walls. In the first act of Circle X Theatre Co.'s world premiere production of ICU, a comedy by Fielding Edlow, we are right there in the St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital waiting room...It's a strikingly immersive—as opposed to interactive—theatrical experience to be sharing a space as closely with a play being performed as set designer Amanda Knehans and director Brian Shnipper allow here...It's the high comic energy, and Shipper's nimble close-quarters staging, in the play's first half that make the strongest impression."

 

artsinla.com - "...under the snappish direction of Brian Shnipper..."


Edge Media Network -  "Under Brian Shnipper's astute direction, her farce about a horrible family having to gather at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital's ICU ward makes potent points about family and adult responsibilities while the audience sits there, laughing and shivering. Jewish, they play out certain negative stereotypes about neurosis, self-and-outer-directed destructive behaviors, and unbridled lust... Extremely funny (while you cringe, mind you), Shnipper's well-gathered cast plays it all to the hilt, eliciting groans and gasps over the characters' outrageous behaviors."

 

Stage and Cinema - "To a large extent, author Fielding Edlow and director Brian Shnipper collaborate happily to detail a very funny circumstance just this side of farce. Shnipper whips up a frenzy in which sitcom-ready jokes often seem more like inspired madness. The main characters are well-drawn in the script, and the actors are excellent, and many of the situations are well-defined and well-mapped...Shnipper has a strong handle on the loony, overlapped, crescendo-prone banter that defines this family and this world." 

 

KPCC - "Want something a little different?  The latest ofering from Circle X in Atwater is it from the moment you step into the room.  True, an ICU is not exactly a place of humor, but thanks to the dysfunctional family usurping the room, hilarity ensues.  A great cast and director tackling a challenging production."

 

Showmag.com - "Director Brian Shnipper deftly stages the play in Amanda Knehans’ utilitarian hospital waiting room with the audience sitting around the perimeter: a choice which heightens the voyeuristic aspect of the show. Shnipper understands the style of the piece and coaxes brilliantly unpredictable performances from the entire cast."

 

THE BEST BROTHERS

The Independent - "...the actors are outstanding, the design is impeccable, and the direction is spot-on, all of which conspires to render the play’s lyrical interludes — its brief departures from expected dramatic forms — that much more unexpected... Director Brian Shnipper has the perfect touch for the material, and as a result, the performances of these talented actors are beautifully realized. Just don’t go expecting anything in particular as far as genre goes. Like so much great theater, The Best Brothers is restless formally and never completely what it seems."

 

Broadway World - "A witty, fascinating excursion into the psychology of character creation and identity, Ensemble's production of The Best Brothers is both intelligent and entertaining.  A play about mourning, remembrance, and learning to love, Ensemble delivers a stylish comedy that incorporates elements both absurd and tragic... MacIvor and director Brian Shnipper, thankfully, have avoided these annoying pitfalls: the brothers are sentimental about their mother without waxing poetic; the meaning derived from the reflection of their individual relationships with her is equally positive and negative.... Ensemble's production of The Best Brothers is entertaining and thought provoking, and maintains a sense of playfulness even in its most moving moments.... Both Mahaffy and Polak handled their roles with a notable balance of subtlety and comedy, perpetuating naturalness in their performances and offering a satisfying range of emotion. The Best Brothers is a fascinating journey into the process of character creation through memory and perception-as well as a touching, accessible story about the surprising triumph of catharsis, even when significance is gleaned from the absurd."

 

Montecito Journal - "Brian Shnipper, who directed last season’ s Red, a two-actor play, is back at the Ensemble Theatre Company’s New Vic with another dynamic duo, played amusingly by Michael Polak and Kasey Mahaffy. An enjoyable night out."

 

Casa Magazine – "Mr Shnipper crafts an excellent production and moves it crispy along."

 

 

RED

Santa Barbara News Press - "One of the most exciting things on stage this year... As directed by Brian Shnipper (who directed both Ensemble's "Opus" and "Bell, Book and Candle"), "Red" is an energetic affair with pauses for breathing room"

 

The Independent - "Brian Shnipper’s acute direction brings out all the nuances in John Logan’s terrific script"

 

Montecito Journal - "This sizzling, 90 minute, one-act by John Logan at the New Vic, beautifully directed by Brian Shnipper...The play, a complex examination of two very driven and sensitive men literally getting down and dirty is spellbinding." 

 

Casa Magazine - "...a remarkable 90 minute tribute to the process of artistic creation...Together they [the actors] are held on a high tension wire being kept taut by insightful director Brian Shnipper..."

 

MIRACLE ON SOUTH DIVISION STREET

Los Angeles Times - “Brian Shnipper’s lively staging and smart casting make the most of playwright Dudzick’s cleverly constructed falling domino surprises that ultimately tie up seemingly loose narrative ends in a breezy but heartfelt message about tolerance.”

LA Weekly – “Brian Shnipper directs it with panache and the skillful actors expertly mine the comic possibilities.”

StageSceneLA - “Director Brian Shnipper has just the right deft touch to make Miracle the audience-pleasing treat that it is”

 

LA Stage Times - "Brian Shnipper directed with complete assurance."

 

BroadwayWorld.com - "Brian Shnipper has evenly directed a superb cast of four actors."

 

Will Call - " Brian Shnipper's sprightly direction. "

 

Stagehappenings.com - "These days, it’s difficult to pull off a play that enters “Abie’s Irish Rose” territory, but Dudzick’s sincerity and director Brian Shnipper’s homespun approach provides the grounding for the actors playing this close-knit, blue-collar family."

 

My Burbank - "...brought to vivid life by director Brian Shnipper and his great cast, along with a richly-detailed and evocative set."

 

GRIGWARE - Critic's Pick -  "Brian Shnipper has evenly directed a superb cast of four actors."

 

Observations Along the Road  - " The results are heartfelt and hilarious...Credit, as always, goes to a mix of the acting team and the director Brian Shnipper."

 

www.reviewplays.com - "The entire cast, under the sharp direction by Brian Shnipper, brings these appealing characters to life."

 

VOICE OF GOOD HOPE
*Top Ten Of The Year – Peter Filicia, Star Ledger*

New York Times - “ably directed by Brian Shnipper…(the play) reminds us of the indomitable spirit that was Barbara Jordan”

Star Ledger – “Superb biographical play…such scenes require efficient direction, and Brian Shnipper delivers.”

Montclair Times - “A first rate portrait of a truly great woman…Brian Shnipper brings the powerful black, moral and political figure into focus.”

ALL THE RAGE (East Coast)
New York Times - “In Brian Shnipper’s terribly swift staging, a capable cast is in tune with Mr. Reddin’s discordant rhythms…powerful and often hilarious…that this play, highly praised in Chicago, has bypassed New York attests to the importance of regional theatre and the shortsightedness of commercial producers”

Montclair Times - “All the Rage explodes at Montclair’s 12 Miles West with a bang… amusing and engaging thanks to a comically gifted, finely tuned cast and the taut, well-paced direction of Brian Shnipper”

Star Ledger - “Brian Shnipper and his cast once again prove that there is a wealth of talent in the troupe…every performance is beautifully realized

THREE VIEWINGS
New York Times - “Inventive, insightful, amusing and original… Be assured that Brian Shnipper’s direction does not allow three characters to just stand there…Most of New Jersey’s theatres do not dare to tread into threatening theatrical terrain.  12 Miles West may well be the little theatre that can”

Star Ledger - “The Saturday night capacity crowd laughed harder than any audience I’ve witnessed in the three years that 12 Miles West has inhabited it’s handsome Bloomfield Avenue playhouse…keeping three monologist-actors on course, making sure they don’t overdo it, is a feat of another kind.  Shnipper was up to the challenge… Three Viewings is at least worth one viewing.”

Montclair Times - “Three fine actors transforming intimate monologue into all-embracing lament…their monologues move seamlessly from the mundane to the searingly affecting…gripping drama

Verona-Cedar Grove Times - Some of the most clever writing and strongest characters in recent memory.  12 Miles West Theatre Company’s New Jersey premiere of “Three Viewings” uses them to maximum effect”

ALL THE RAGE (West Coast)
LA Weekly - “Go – super cast under Brian Shnipper’s fluid direction”

LA Magazine –“…directorial expertise of Brian Shnipper…so shrewdly cast, each of the ten actors seems born to the part”

CityBeat - “Brian Shnipper’s West-Coast premiere is cast to perfection and follows the bouncing ball among the many characters with expert timing”

Reviewplays.com - “How all these people connect is a marvel of intricacy and intrigue, carefully woven by author Reddin and skillfully managed by director Brian Shnipper” 

KCLA Radio - “Prepare yourself so an enjoyable fast moving evening

UNDESCENDED
LA Weekly – “In MacLeod's witty monologue "Undescended," a middle-aged coffeehouse barista and new mother (Jennifer Skinner) gets good news and bad news about her baby: The infant suffers from an unusual testicle ailment, and is also the Second Coming of the Messiah. Director Brian Shnipper's production, both intimate and ironic, possesses great comic timing — and Skinner's hard-boiled, crusty turn as the barista turned Virgin Mother is richly multidimensional” – only review published

OPUS
Santa Barbara News Press  - “His hand is sure and steady, making sure to assemble a stand-out cast that play off each other as assuredly as the quartet does….Opus is one of this season’s winning plays at the Ensemble, and in our city in general”

Casa Magazine – “The uniformly superb cast, who’s richly textured performances make this a most memorable evening, guided by director Brian Shnipper  who, with care and grace, allows all the passion and jealousy to simmer, explode, and resolve expressively as this chamber opus moves deliciously along…. Opus is a beautiful and engaging production; a treat”

Ventura County Star - “The Ensemble Theatre Company in Santa Barbara has embraced Hollinger’s astute play in a production elegantly directed by Brian Shnipper”

Santa Barbara Independent – “Under Brian Shnipper’s direction – or is it conducting? – the actors flow between traditional staging and close up interviews…. Any lover of chamber music will want to catch this production”

BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE
Santa Barbara Independent - "New York City was at one of its creative peaks in 1959. It was the year that Miles Davis released Kind of Blue, that Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum building opened, and that comedian Lenny Bruce made his network television debut on the Steve Allen Show. Bell, Book & Candle, the revival now playing at Ensemble Theater Company, is set in that place and that year, and, while it may not offer anything quite as shocking as Lenny Bruce or as radical as Wright’s Guggenheim, it does sail along with something like the panache and bittersweet wisdom of great jazz."

Casa Magazine  - "A fanciful flight of fantasy, spiced with whimsy and magic that is this Holiday Season's gift to Santa Barbara from the Ensemble Theatre Company... This is charming old fashioned stuff"

Santa Barbara News Press - "...the stage version hit the intimate - and momentarily bewitched - stage of the Ensemble Theatre...fine time in the theatre."

SAY YOU LOVE SATAN
LA Weekly - Pick of the Week - “Brian Shnipper directs an excellent cast with an ear finely tuned to the dialogue's nuances and an eye focused on emotional detail”

Los Angeles Times - “Brian Shnipper's resourceful work"

Backstage -“Brian Shnipper's direction keeps the proceedings clipping along at a breezy pace"

CityBeat - "Brian Shnipper's staging bounces briskly along"

LA Stage Scene - “Brian Shnipper keeps things rolling along swiftly and has assembled a very good cast"

LASplash - “ …a refreshing spin on many of our favorite classic plot lines.  The play takes an occult situation and plops itself lovingly in the heart of the gay world. This ensemble was just great with characters and performances that had the small Attic Studio space bursting at the seams.”

 

THE ROAD TO APPOMATTOX 

LA Times - "Brian Shnipper’s handsome, well-paced staging could serve as a textbook model for efficient, unobtrusive scene changes."

 

My Burbank  - "The Road to Appomattox, enjoying its west coast premiere at the Colony Theatre, is flat out brilliant...Director BRIAN SHNIPPER and his superb cast make both stories, past and present, compelling." 

StageSceneLA - "Brian Shnipper’s brisk direction, and five talented actors insure that the road Gray’s characters are following is an engaging one" 

 

Will Call - "This is a smartly staged and well researched play...The comings and goings are well coordinated and the cast, directed by Brian Shnipper, is strong." 

Showmag.com - "...handsome production... Director Brian Shnipper keeps the competing narrative strands clear and the pace brisk, though he does allow the emotional moments to breathe." 

 

NoHoArtsDistrict.com - "...a talented director who has assembled an equally gifted cast...Brian Shnipper’s direction fills the Colony’s ample stage with movements, manipulations and massacres. Every action has a reaction, every word a response. Shnipper has gotten the utmost from his actors and they him."

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TRAILS

Westside Theatre Reviews - "Brian Shnipper's moving and evocative staging" 

Judy Nerdy - "Under direction of Brian Shnipper, tensions build in a place devoid of everything but nature, and the burdens the two men have carried for years are fully unloaded."

 

STONES IN HIS POCKET

Daily Record – “Luckily, Brian Shnipper was taking on the job of keeping all those roles straight…a perfect summer night of theatre”. - only review published

 

ALIEN BOY
*Off-Off Broadway Review Award for Best Production*


OOBR - “Everything Off-Off Broadway should be:  a variety of blended ideas and talents in a large open space, reveling in humor, pathos and compassion…David Hoffman manifesting prejudices of his own, turned a suburban tragedy into hilarious comedy.  Director Brian Shnipper gave us Hoffman’s bar mitzvah boy who didn’t want to be Jewish” - only review published

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HITTING FOR THE CYCLE
Star-Ledger – “Co-directors Liz Zazzi and Brian Shnipper, who have staged the plays well, have transformed the theatre into a ballpark…makes for a great deal of peripheral fun”.

Montclair Times – “Brian Shnipper and Lizz Zazzi have directed with pace and an obvious affection for the subject”.

A HOTEL ON MARVIN GARDENS
Star Ledger - “Go to “A Hotel on Marvin Gardens”.  Go directly to “A Hotel on Marvin Gardens”.  Do not pass “Go”, and do not collect $200.”

Essex Journal - “Under the masterful direction of Brian Shnipper, the meltdowns resulting from this not-so-friendly competition are side-splitting, yet thought provoking.”

Montclair Times - “a skillfully acted, well-paced Brian Shnipper production”

Pascack Valley Life - “Skilled direction of Brian Shnipper…Don’t pass.  Go”

THE WATER CHILDREN
Star Ledger - “Brian Shnipper’s production never flags”

Montclair Times - “…a strongly acted production under Brian Shnipper’s direction”

THE NOTEBOOK OF TRIGORIN
Star Ledger - “The troupe’s biggest-ever production has turned out to be its biggest success…credit director Brian Shnipper and his remarkable production.”

Essex Journal - “…not-to-be-missed experience for theatre lovers…director Brian Shnipper and his talented ensemble keep the action moving along steadily, with nary a lull…You won’t want to miss this production”

Montclair Times - “A finely acted, beautifully designed Trigorin”