Jul 302017
 

Community Conversations Coming To Ahmanson Theatre

 

CENTER THEATRE GROUP PARTNERS WITH EAST WEST PLAYERS ON

THE WORLD PREMIERE OF “SOFT POWER”

BY DAVID HENRY HWANG AND JEANINE TESORI

AT THE AHMANSON THEATRE

The Two Organizations Will Hold Four Community Conversations

Exploring Themes of this Center Theatre Group Commission

Center Theatre Group’s “Soft Power” Begins

May 3, 2018 and Runs Through June 10, 2018

 

Center Theatre Group will partner with East West Players on the upcoming world premiere of “Soft Power” at the Ahmanson Theatre May 3 through June 10, 2018, announced Artistic Director Michael Ritchie. Through the partnership, East West Players will add this new work created by Tony Award-winning artists David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori as part of its 2017-2018 Season and will also collaborate with Center Theatre Group on four Community Conversations leading up to the play’s premiere as part of the Ahmanson Theatre’s 2017-2018 Season.

“When we started talking with our colleagues at East West Players about ways to collaborate, we quickly realized that ‘Soft Power’ was the perfect opportunity for us to continue a tradition of artistic partnership by bringing our audiences together once again for a unique new work from David Henry Hwang,” said Ritchie. “The last time we partnered was on ‘Yellow Face’ at the Mark Taper Forum, so it’ll be great to have East West Players’ subscribers join us in another fascinating journey into David’s imagination, this time at the Ahmanson.”

“It is an honor to partner with Center Theatre Group on the world premiere of David Henry Hwang’s ‘Soft Power,’” said Snehal Desai, East West Players’ Producing Artistic Director. “As the playwright that is the namesake of our theatre and whose work East West Players has produced more than any other, David’s prescience and ability to turn a mirror not only to our world as it is, but also where we are heading never ceases to astonish. With this production, our relationship with Center Theatre Group will continue to deepen as we initiate a series of joint Community Conversations on Asian American representation and storytelling. East West Players’ 52nd season is dedicated to community and partnerships, and we are proud to include Center Theatre Group as part of ‘The Company We Keep.’”

The four joint Community Conversations are scheduled to take place on October 26, 2017, January 18, 2018, March 15, 2018 and June 5, 2018. Locations, topics and panelists will be announced at a later date. Center Theatre Group’s Community Conversations are a series of panel discussions free and open to the public that feature local thought leaders in dialogue about the context, issues and ideas finding voice on our stages.

“The Community Conversations are that moment when we ask people in our community to help us make relevant the themes and ideas that are alive on our stage,” said Leslie K. Johnson, Center Theatre Group’s Director of Social Strategy, Innovation and Impact. “Asking thought leaders to come and spark that conversation is exciting. By inviting them into the room, we are able to hear someone who lives these topics every day discuss them in the context of the show.”

“Soft Power” begins as a contemporary play before jumping 100 years into the future and exploding into a Chinese musical about present-day America. This seductive new work has book and lyrics by Hwang and music by Tesori. A beloved East-meets-West musical, China’s 21st-century rise and a Presidential candidate’s fundraiser collide to make mayhem—and some beautiful music. This show is inspired by the West’s often ridiculously inauthentic portrayals of Asia, and China’s quest for world cultural influence, also known as “Soft Power.”

“Soft Power,” directed by Leigh Silverman with choreography by Sam Pinkleton, is a Center Theatre Group commission and marks the first collaboration between Hwang and Tesori.

 

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Mar 012017
 
Something Rotten

The cast of the touring production of “Something Rotten!” “Something Rotten!” is part of Center Theatre Group’s 2017-2018 season at the Ahmanson Theatre and will be presented November 21 through December 31, 2017. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

CENTER THEATRE GROUP’s 51st SEASON AT THE AHMANSON THEATRE INCLUDES A WORLD PREMIERE, AN AMERICAN PREMIERE, AND WORKS BY EMMY, GRAMMY, OSCAR AND TONY WINNERS

The 2017-2018 Season at the Ahmanson Theatre Features “The Red Shoes,” “Bright Star,” “Something Rotten!,” “Soft Power,” “The Humans” and Another Production To Be Announced Later

Begins September 15, 2017, and Runs Through July 29, 2018

 

Center Theatre Group enters its second half century at the Ahmanson Theatre with the 2017-2018 season announced today by Artistic Director Michael Ritchie. The new season features two Tony-nominated musicals, a Tony-winning play, the world premiere of a Center Theatre Group commission and the American premiere of an exciting new work. An additional production for the subscription season will be announced at a later date.

“For more than 50 years, Center Theatre Group has been working with the world’s greatest artists to present unforgettable experiences for our audiences,” said Ritchie. “As we enter our next 50 years, I am pleased to be able to offer a wide-ranging season for our vibrant and diverse city.

“We welcome the return of the newly knighted Sir Matthew Bourne with the American premiere of another masterpiece, ‘The Red Shoes,’ as well as the return of director / choreographer Casey Nicholaw with a hilarious new musical, ‘Something Rotten!’

“We have Stephen Karam’s new play ‘The Humans’ which swept the 2016 Tony Awards and an incredibly romantic new musical, ‘Bright Star,’ from legendary entertainer Steve Martin and Grammy winner Edie Brickell.

“Finally, when we looked to celebrate Center Theatre Group’s first 50 years, I turned to Los Angeles-born David Henry Hwang to create a new work to mark the occasion. ‘Soft Power’ was previously announced as part of the Taper 2017-18 season but now will be presented at the Ahmanson. David is joined by fellow Tony Award-winner Jeanine Tesori to create an excitingly unique new work for our 51st season.”

Matthew Bourne’s Production of “The Red Shoes”
American Premiere

The Red Shoes

Ashley Shaw in Matthew Bourne’s production of “The Red Shoes.” “The Red Shoes” is part of Center Theatre Group’s 2017-2018 Season at the Ahmanson Theatre and will be presented September 15 through October 1, 2017. Photo by Johan Persson.

Acclaimed choreographer Matthew Bourne returns to the Ahmanson Theatre with his production of “The Red Shoes.” Presented by Center Theatre Group and Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center, the American premiere of “The Red Shoes” runs September 15 through October 1, 2017, with the opening set for September 20. This production is presented as a bonus option for Center Theatre Group subscribers and will be offered as the first engagement in the Dance at The Music Center 17/18 season.

A beloved fairy tale and Academy Award-winning movie, “The Red Shoes” has seduced audiences and inspired generations of dancers with its tale of obsession, possession and one girl’s dream to be the greatest dancer in the world. Victoria Page lives to dance but her ambitions become a battleground between the two men who inspire her passion.

Bourne’s magical new adaptation of the legendary Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger film reunites him with his regular collaborators and New Adventures Associate Artists who created “Sleeping Beauty,” Lez Brotherston (set and costumes), Paule Constable (lighting) and Paul Groothuis (sound).

“The Red Shoes” is set to a new score arranged by New Adventures Associate Artist Terry Davies using the mesmerizing music of golden-age Hollywood composer Bernard Herrmann (most famous for his collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles and Martin Scorsese). Herrmann’s work ranges from the witty and playfully robust to the achingly romantic and bittersweet.

Bourne has enjoyed a special relationship with Los Angeles audiences, and Center Theatre Group, in particular. In addition to “Swan Lake,” which had its American premiere at the Ahmanson in 1997, a total of eight other Bourne productions have been presented: “Sleeping Beauty,” “Cinderella,” “The Car Man,” “Play Without Words,” “Nutcracker!,” “Edward Scissorhands,” “My Fair Lady” and “Mary Poppins.”

“Matthew has been a beloved member of the Center Theatre Group family for many years,” said Michael Ritchie. “It is always a pleasure to welcome him back home.”

“We are thrilled to open the 2017-2018 season of Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center with Matthew Bourne’s ‘The Red Shoes,’” said Rachel Moore, president and CEO of The Music Center. “Matthew has been an extraordinary force in the dance world. His new interpretation of one of the greatest films about ballet, one that highlights the poignant theme of love vs. art, still resonates with audiences today.”

“It’s a feast for the eye, with every scene animated by sharp detail and witty characterization,” said Luke Jennings of The Observer in his review of the London engagement. “Bourne choreographs with the lightest of touches, threading in references to Hollywood movies and Diaghilev-era ballets as he goes. ‘The Red Shoes,’ I’m certain, will be dancing for years to come.”

“Bourne’s production provides something that Powell and Pressburger by definition couldn’t: the immediacy of flesh-and-blood dancers, right before your eyes,” said Mark Monahan of The Daily Telegraph. “It’s a complex story, one that ricochets between London and France, art and real life. And, brilliantly aided and abetted by his long-standing designer Lez Brotherston, Bourne lets it unfold clearly and urgently, with no prior knowledge of the film necessary.”

Matthew Bourne is a five-time Olivier Award winner, and the only British director to have won the Tony Award for both Best Choreographer and Best Director of a Musical. He has been recognized by over 40 international awards and was awarded the OBE for Services to Dance in 2001.

Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center is one of the leading presenters of dance on the West Coast. The celebrated series offers significant works by prestigious ballet and contemporary dance artists from around the world. Entering its second decade, Dance at The Music Center continues to be a powerful commissioning force through the support of new works and artists-in-residence projects by today’s most influential companies and choreographers. Performances take place throughout The Music Center, including the historic Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the distinctive Ahmanson Theatre and the iconic Walt Disney Concert Hall, providing the ideal setting for inspiring dance experiences.

“Bright Star”

Bright Star

Carmen Cusack (center) and the cast of the original Broadway production of “Bright Star.” “Bright Star” is part of Center Theatre Group’s 2017-2018 Season at the Ahmanson Theatre and will be presented October 11 through November 19, 2017. Photo by Nick Stokes.

The Tony-nominated “Bright Star” with music, lyrics and story by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell will be presented by Center Theatre Group at the Ahmanson Theatre October 11 through November 19, 2017, with the opening set for October 20.

The powerfully moving new musical by Grammy, Emmy and Oscar winner Martin and Grammy winner Brickell, “Bright Star” is directed by Tony winner Walter Bobbie and choreographed by Josh Rhodes. “Bright Star” won the 2016 Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Musical and Best Score and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music. It also received five 2016 Tony Award nominations including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book, Best Lead Actress in a Musical and Best Orchestrations.

Inspired by a real event, “Bright Star” tells a sweeping tale of love and redemption set against the rich backdrop of the American South in the 1920s and ’40s. When literary editor Alice Murphy meets a young soldier just home from World War II, he awakens her longing for the child she once lost. Haunted by their unique connection, Alice sets out on a journey to understand her past — and what she finds has the power to transform both of their lives. Propelled by an ensemble of onstage musicians and dancers, the story unfolds as a rich tapestry of deep emotion, beautiful melodies and powerfully moving performances. An uplifting theatrical experience that holds the audience tight in its grasp, “Bright Star” is as refreshingly genuine as it is daringly hopeful.

The Grammy-nominated original cast recording of “Bright Star” charted on five different Billboard lists in its first week of wide release. The cast album from Ghostlight Records placed at number 1 on the Top Current Blue Grass Albums chart, number 2 on the Top Broadway chart, number 5 on the Americana/Folk Albums chart, as well as hitting the Top 100 on the Billboard Top Albums chart and Top 200 on the Overall Digital Albums chart.

Steve Martin is one of the most well-known and pervasive talents in entertainment. His work has earned him an Academy Award, five Grammy Awards (two for comedy, three for music), an Emmy, the Mark Twain Award and the Kennedy Center Honor. Martin’s films are widely popular successes, such as “The Jerk,” “Planes, Trains & Automobiles,” “Roxanne,” “Parenthood,” “L.A. Story” (Martin also wrote the screenplay), “Father of the Bride” and “Bowfinger.” As an author, Martin’s work includes the plays “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” and “The Underpants”; the best-selling novella “Shopgirl” and his memoir “Born Standing Up.” Also an accomplished banjoist, Martin released his third full-length album, “Love Has Come For You,” in 2013 with songwriter Edie Brickell. The album won a Grammy for “Best American Roots Song” and inspired the musical “Bright Star.”

Edie Brickell released the debut multi-platinum album “Shooting Rubber Bands At The Stars” with New Bohemians in 1988. Her recent works include a 13-track collaboration with Steve Martin titled “Love Has Come For You.” The duo’s second album “So Familiar” features 12 new songs that bring the duo’s musical collaboration into fresh creative territory.

Walter Bobbie directed the New York productions of “Venus in Fur,” “The Landing,” “Golden Age,” “School for Lies,” “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas,” “Chicago,” “The Submission, Cabin Pressure,” “The Savannah Disputation,” “New Jerusalem,” “High Fidelity,” “The Other Woman,” “The Marriage of Bette and Boo,” “Sweet Charity,” “Twentieth Century,” “Footloose,” “Durang Durang,” “For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls” and “A Grand Night for Singing.” He was Artistic Director of City Center Encores! where he also directed “Fiorello!,” “Chicago,” “Tenderloin,” “Golden Boy,” “No, No, Nanette” and “Zorba!,” as well as the Carnegie Hall concerts of “South Pacific” and “Carousel.” Bobbie served for 12 years on the Board of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society. He is a recipient of the Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Tony Awards.

“Something Rotten!”

Something Rotten

L-R: Josh Grisetti and Rob McClure with the cast of the touring production of “Something Rotten!” “Something Rotten!” is part of Center Theatre Group’s 2017-2018 season at the Ahmanson Theatre and will be presented November 21 through December 31, 2017. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

The completely original and uproarious ode to the Broadway musical, “Something Rotten!” comes to Center Theatre Group at the Ahmanson Theatre November 21 through December 31, 2017. Opening night is the first performance, November 21.

“Something Rotten!” is directed and choreographed by Tony winner Casey Nicholaw (“The Book of Mormon,” “The Drowsy Chaperone”), with music and lyrics by Grammy winner and Tony nominee Wayne Kirkpatrick and Golden Globe and Tony nominee Karey Kirkpatrick and a book by Tony nominees Karey Kirkpatrick and best-selling author John O’Farrell. Three Broadway principals will be reprising their roles with Rob McClure as Nick Bottom, Adam Pascal as Shakespeare and Josh Grisetti as Nigel Bottom.

With 10 Tony nominations including Best Musical, this hilarious new musical comedy tells the story of brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom, two playwrights stuck in the shadow of that Renaissance rockstar Will Shakespeare. When a soothsayer foretells the next big thing in theatre involves singing, dancing and acting at the same time, the Bottom brothers set out to write the world’s very first musical.

Elisabeth Vincentelli of the New York Post called “Something Rotten!” “a deliriously entertaining new musical comedy that is devilishly clever under its goofy exterior. … Set in 1595 England, the show is a love letter to both Shakespeare and musicals. Never mind that tuners hadn’t been invented yet.” Charles McNulty of the Los Angeles Times said it “just may be the funniest musical comedy to come around since ‘The Book of Mormon.’”

Karey Kirkpatrick began as a screen and songwriter for Disney Animation, where he penned “The Rescuers Down Under” and “James and the Giant Peach.” Screenwriting credits include “Chicken Run” (Golden Globe nominee for Outstanding Comedy), “Charlotte’s Web,” “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” “The Spiderwick Chronicles,” “Flakes” and “Over the Hedge,” which he also co-directed.

Wayne Kirkpatrick is the Grammy-winning songwriter of “Change the World” by Eric Clapton (Song of the Year). His songs have been recorded by Bonnie Raitt, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Joe Cocker, Wynonna, Gabe Dixon, Nickel Creek, Trisha Yearwood, Babyface, Peter Frampton, Amy Grant, Garth Brooks, Little Big Town and Michael W. Smith, among others.

John O’Farrell is a bestselling author whose books have been translated into 25 languages and adapted for BBC radio and television. Film and television credits include “Spitting Image,” “Have I Got News for You,” “Chicken Run,” “Murder Most Horrid” and “Smith and Jones.” O’Farrell won the British Comedy Award and founded U.K.’s first daily satirical news website, NewsBiscuit.

Casey Nicholaw’s Broadway credits include directing and choreographing “The Drowsy Chaperone,” “Elf” and Disney’s “Aladdin.” Casey was co-director and choreographer of “The Book of Mormon” and choreographer of Monty Python’s “Spamalot” directed by Mike Nichols (2005 Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations, Best Choreography).

“Soft Power”
World Premiere

The world premiere of “Soft Power,” a hilariously provocative new work created by two Tony Award-winning artists, David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori, will debut at the Ahmanson Theatre. Directed by Leigh Silverman with choreography by Sonya Tayeh, this time and genre-bending piece runs from May 3 through June 10, 2018, with set for May 16.

What begins as a contemporary play jumps 100 years into the future and explodes into a Chinese musical about present-day America, in this seductive new work with book and lyrics by Hwang and music by Tesori. A beloved East-meets-West musical, China’s 21st-century rise and a Presidential candidate’s fundraiser collide to make mayhem—and some beautiful music. This show is inspired by the West’s often ridiculously inauthentic portrayals of Asia, and China’s quest for world cultural influence, also known as “Soft Power.”

Hwang was commissioned by Center Theatre Group to create this work for the 50th Season at the Mark Taper Forum. Tesori is now joining the creative team as “Soft Power” moves into the 2017-2018 season at the Ahmanson.

Hwang returns to Center Theatre Group where he premiered Pulitzer Prize finalist “Yellow Face” and his Tony-nominated revival of “Flower Drum Song.” Hwang’s other work includes the plays “M. Butterfly,” “Chinglish,” “Kung Fu,” “Golden Child,” “The Dance and the Railroad” and “FOB,” and the Broadway musicals “Aida” (co-author, Ahmanson 2001-2002 season) and Disney’s “Tarzan.” He is also America’s most-produced living opera librettist, and a writer/producer for the Golden Globe-winning television series “The Affair.” Born and raised in Los Angeles, Hwang is a Tony Award winner (“M. Butterfly”) and three-time nominee, a three-time Obie Award winner and a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Recent honors include the 2011 PEN/Laura Pels Award for a Master American Dramatist, the 2012 Inge Award, the 2012 Steinberg Distinguished Playwright “Mimi” Award, a 2014 Doris Duke Artist Award and the 2015 IPSA Distinguished Artist Award. He is Chair of the American Theatre Wing and sits on the boards of Young Playwrights Inc. and the Lark Play Development Center. Hwang was recently the Residency One Playwright at New York’s Signature Theatre, and currently serves as head of playwriting at Columbia University School of the Arts. In 1998, East West Players named its new mainstage The David Henry Hwang Theatre.

Tesori’s Broadway credits include “Fun Home” (2015 Tony Award winner which plays at the Ahmanson February 21 through April 1, 2017), “Violet,” “Caroline, or Change,” “Shrek The Musical,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “Twelfth Night” (Lincoln Center Theater) and John Guare’s “A Free Man of Color.” Tesori also collaborated with Tony Kushner on “Mother Courage” starring Meryl Streep at the Delacorte. Her opera credits include “A Blizzard on Marblehead Neck” (libretto, Tony Kushner; Glimmerglass) and “The Lion, the Unicorn and Me” (libretto, J. D. McClatchy; Washington National Opera). Her songs are featured in the Netflix revival of “Gilmore Girls.” She is the artistic director/co-founder of A Broader Way, an arts empowerment program for girls from underserved communities; the founding artistic director of Encores! Off-Center; and a lecturer in music at Yale University and Columbia University. Tesori is a member of the Dramatists Guild.

“The Humans”

The Humans

L-R: Reed Birney, Sarah Steele, Jayne Houdyshell and Arian Moayed in the New York production of “The Humans.” “The Humans” is part of Center Theatre Group’s 2017-2018 season at the Ahmanson Theatre and will be presented June 19 through July 29, 2018. Photo by Brigitte Lacombe.

The Tony Award-winning Best Play of the Year, “The Humans,” written by Stephen Karam and directed by Joe Mantello will be presented by Center Theatre Group at the Ahmanson Theatre June 19 through July 29, 2018, with the opening set for June 20.

The angst, anguish and amity of the American middle class are first coaxed – then shoved – into the light in this uproarious, hopeful and heart-breaking play that takes place over the course of a family dinner on Thanksgiving. Breaking with tradition, Erik Blake has brought his Pennsylvania family to celebrate and give thanks at his daughter’s apartment in lower Manhattan. As darkness falls outside the ramshackle pre-war duplex and eerie things start to go bump in the night, the Blake clan’s deepest fears and greatest follies are laid bare. Our modern age of anxiety is keenly observed, with humor and compassion, in this new American classic.

After transferring from Off-Broadway’s Laura Pels Theatre, the Broadway production of “The Humans” swept the 2016 awards season, including winning the Tony Award for Best Play. “The Humans” was also named the Best Play of the Year by the New York Drama Critics’ Circle, the Outer Critics Circle and the Drama League. The Obie Awards honored Stephen Karam with a 2016 Award for Playwriting and he was a Pulitzer Finalist for “The Humans.” Garnering the most ecstatic reviews of any play in recent memory, “The Humans” was heralded as “The Best Play of the Year” by The New York Times, New York Magazine, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Record, Time Out New York, The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline, The Wrap and more.

Charles Isherwood of The New York Times called “The Humans,” “blisteringly funny, bruisingly sad and altogether wonderful.” Jesse Green of New York Magazine said, “The best play of the year. The most, well, human play I’ve ever seen. This is why we go to the theatre.”

Stephen Karam is the author of “The Humans” (Tony Award, Obie Award for Playwriting, New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, Drama Desk Award, Drama League Award and 2016 Pulitzer Prize finalist), “Sons of the Prophet” (New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, Lucille Lortel Award, Hull-Warriner Award and 2012 Pulitzer Prize finalist) and “Speech & Debate.” Stephen has written a screenplay adaptation of Chekhov’s “The Seagull” and an adaptation of Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard” that opened on Broadway last fall at the Roundabout Theatre Company. Stephen is a graduate of Brown University and grew up in Scranton, PA.

Joe Mantello received a 2016 Tony Award nomination for “The Humans.” Other directing credits include “Blackbird,” “An Act of God” (on Broadway and at the Ahmanson), “Airline Highway,” “The Last Ship,” “Casa Valentina,” “I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers,” “The Other Place,” “Dogfight,” “Other Desert Cities,” “Pal Joey,” “9 to 5” (on Broadway and at the Ahmanson), “November,” “Three Days of Rain,” “The Odd Couple,” “Glengarry Glen Ross” (Tony nomination), “Laugh Whore,” “Assassins” (Tony), “Wicked,” “Take Me Out” (Tony), “Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune,” “Design for Living,” “The Vagina Monologues” and “Love! Valour! Compassion!” (Tony nomination). Acting credits include the Broadway productions of “The Normal Heart” (Tony nomination) and “Angels in America” (at the Mark Taper Forum and on Broadway, Tony nomination); and for HBO, “The Normal Heart” (Emmy Award nomination). He is a member of Naked Angels, a Roundabout Theatre Company Associate Artist and has received Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, Helen Hayes, Clarence Derwent, Obie and Joe A. Callaway Awards.

Available on Membership Only
Tickets for the Ahmanson Theatre’s 51st season are currently available by season ticket membership only. For information and to charge season tickets by phone, call the Exclusive Season Ticket Hotline at (213) 972-4444. To purchase season memberships online, visit www.CenterTheatreGroup.org/Ahmanson.

Center Theatre Group offers a number of services to accommodate persons requiring mobility, vision and hearing access. For more information, please visit www.centertheatregroup.org/access.

Center Theatre Group
Center Theatre Group, one of the nation’s preeminent arts and cultural organizations, is Los Angeles’ leading nonprofit theatre company, programming seasons at the 736-seat Mark Taper Forum and 1600 to 2000-seat Ahmanson Theatre at The Music Center in Downtown Los Angeles, and the 317-seat Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. In addition to presenting and producing the broadest range of theatrical entertainment in the country, Center Theatre Group is one of the nation’s leading producers of ambitious new works through commissions and world premiere productions and a leader in interactive community engagement and education programs that reach across generations, demographics and circumstance to serve Los Angeles.

Bank of America is the season sponsor for Center Theatre Group’s 2017-2018 season the Ahmanson Theatre.

 

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Jul 212016
 

CENTER THEATRE GROUP CELEBRATES 50 YEARS
AT THE MARK TAPER FORUM

 

THE 2017-2018 SEASON AT THE MARK TAPER FORUM FEATURES TWO WORLD PREMIERES,
A PULITZER PRIZE WINNER,
A NEW WORK BY A MACARTHUR “GENIUS”
AND THE RETURN OF A GROUNDBREAKING TAPER PLAY
IN ADDITION TO FIVE PLAYS IN THE THEATRE,
“REMOTE L.A.” WILL TAKE THE CELEBRATION TO THE STREETS

 

The 2017-2018 Season at the Mark Taper Forum
Begins January 31, 2017, and Runs Through May 13, 2018

 

Center Theatre Group celebrates 50 years in the iconic Mark Taper Forum with the 2017-2018 season announced today by Artistic Director Michael Ritchie. The new season features five plays that represent the past, present and future of the theatre, plus a special immersive event on the streets of Los Angeles.

“Theatre has always created an extraordinary connection between artists and audiences,” said Ritchie. “Nowhere is that more clear than in the uniquely intimate space of the Mark Taper Forum. And that connection continues well beyond the curtain call in plays like Luis Valdez’s ‘Zoot Suit,’ which changed the cultural landscape when it premiered at the Taper almost four decades ago and will continue to offer a vital insight when it opens our 50th season at the Taper in 2017.”

“I am also excited to welcome back Rajiv Joseph with the world premiere of ‘Archduke,’” Ritchie continued. “Drawing on Rajiv’s signature dark comedy and ability to draw parallels between current and historical events, this new work offers a fascinatingly personal look at the path to terrorism.”

“MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant winner Tarell Alvin McCraney comes to the Taper for the first time with his powerful new work ‘Head of Passes.’ Phylicia Rashad is recreating tour de force performance from the production at The Public Theater earlier this year. And we will present our first play by Quiara Alegría Hudes with her Pulitzer-winning ‘Water by the Spoonful.’”

“We conclude the season with the world premiere of ‘Soft Power,’ created for the occasion by Los Angeles-born David Henry Hwang,” said Ritchie. “Seeing shows at the Taper as a young man helped launch David’s journey toward a life in the theatre. Now he is one of the most important voices in American theatre and the ideal playwright to send the Mark Taper Forum into its next half century.”

“Our 50th anniversary also includes a special event,” added Ritchie. “‘Remote L.A.’ is a production that literally takes the performance out of the theatre, changing the way we see our city and interact with the community at large.”

“Over the past 50 years the Taper has been a place to explore diverse perspectives, experience new ideas and be entertained by amazing storytellers. This theatre has sparked countless conversations, and as I look at our upcoming season and many seasons to come, I know it will spark a million more,” Ritchie concluded.

“Zoot Suit”
Written and Directed by Luis Valdez
Center Theatre Group’s 50th anniversary season at the Mark Taper Forum kicks off with one of the most iconic works from the Taper’s past, “Zoot Suit,” written and directed by Luis Valdez, January 31 through March 12, 2017. Presented in association with El Teatro Campesino, the opening night of “Zoot Suit” is February 12.

Zoot Suit

Luis Valdez (center right) with the cast of the 1978 production of “Zoot Suit” at the Mark Taper Forum. Written and directed by Valdez and presented in association with El Teatro Campesino, “Zoot Suit” will play January 31 through March 12, 2017, as part of Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum’s 2017-2018 season at the Los Angeles Music Center. Photo by Jay Thompson.

“Zoot Suit” was originally commissioned and developed by Center Theatre Group, playing for nearly a year in Los Angeles first at the Taper from August 6 to October 1, 1978, then from October 10, 1978, through July 1, 1979, at the Aquarius in Hollywood, and went on to become Broadway’s first Chicano play, was made into a major motion picture and became a cultural phenomenon.
Nearly forty years after its world premiere, the original creator will once again fill the Taper’s stage with a company of 25 actors, singers and dancers weaving fact and fiction together as they portray the events surrounding the infamous 1942 Sleepy Lagoon murder in Los Angeles. Filled with heart, sly wit and the infectious songs of Lalo Guerrero, “Zoot Suit” remains an urgent portrayal of the clash between generations in a Chicano family, the rifts between cultures in America and how racism and injustice can haunt a city and a society.

Luis Valdez founded the internationally renowned and Obie Award-winning El Teatro Campesino (The Farm Workers’ Theater) in 1965 during the United Farm Workers (UFW) struggle and the Great Delano Grape Strike in California’s Central Valley. His involvement with Cesar Chavez, the UFW and the early Chicano Movement left an indelible mark that remains embodied in all his work: his early actos (short plays written to encourage campesinos to leave the fields and join the UFW), his mitos (mythic plays) Chicanos their own contemporary mythology, his examinations of Chicano urban life in “I Don’t Have To Show You No Stinkin’ Badges,” his Chicano re-visioning of classic Mexican folktales in “Corridos” and his exploration of his indigenous Yaqui roots in “Mummified Deer.”
Valdez’s screen credits include “Zoot Suit” (featuring Edward James Olmos), “La Bamba” (starring Lou Diamond Phillips), “The Cisco Kid” (featuring Jimmy Smits and Cheech Marin) and “Corridos: Tales of Passion and Revolution” (with Linda Ronstadt).

Awards include LA Drama Critic Circle Awards, Bay Area Critics Awards, the George Peabody Award for excellence in television, the Presidential Medal of the Arts, the Governor’s Award from the California Arts Council and Mexico’s prestigious Aguila Azteca Award given to individuals whose work promotes cultural excellence and exchange between the U.S. and Mexico. He was inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. In 2007, he was awarded a Rockefeller fellowship as one of the 50 U.S. artists so honored across the United States. Valdez was recently inducted into the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences as a director.

“Archduke”
By Rajiv Joseph
Directed by Giovanna Sardelli
World Premiere
Pulitzer finalist Rajiv Joseph returns to Center Theatre Group with the world premiere of “Archduke.” Directed by Giovanna Sardelli, Joseph’s insightful and darkly comic play, a Center Theatre Group commission, begins April 18, 2017, and runs through May 28. Opening night is April 30.

Rajiv Joseph

Pulitzer finalist Rajiv Joseph returns to Center Theatre Group with the world premiere of “Archduke.”

“Archduke” follows the unlikely path to terrorism as three strangers, already struggling to get by, receive a death sentence in the form of a tuberculosis diagnosis. But being young men with nothing to lose in Belgrade, 1914, makes them the perfect recruits for a secret organization looking to strike a blow in the name of Serbian nationalism.

“Archduke” explores the short journey from individual hardship to public harm as personal desperation is cultivated into an act with international significance and a few average men spark World War I.

Rajiv Joseph’s “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo” premiered at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in 2009 before moving to the Taper in 2010 and Broadway in 2011. “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo” was named a 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist for Drama and was also awarded a grant for Outstanding New American Play by the National Endowment for the Arts. Joseph’s play “Guards at the Taj” was a 2016 Obie winner for Best New American Play and 2016 Lucille Lortel winner for Best Play. His other plays include “The North Pool,” “Gruesome Playground Injuries,” “Animals Out of Paper” and “The Lake Effect.” His plays have been translated and produced worldwide.

Rajiv Joseph has written for television and film and is the librettist for the opera “Shalimar the Clown,” adapted from the novel of the same name by Salman Rushdie, which had its premiere this past June at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.

He has been awarded artistic grants from the Whiting Foundation, United States Artists and the Harold & Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust. Joseph received his B.A. in creative writing from Miami University and his MFA in dramatic writing from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He served for three years in the Peace Corps in Senegal.

“Head of Passes”
By Tarell Alvin McCraney
Directed by Tina Landau
Tony Award-winning actress Phylicia Rashad returns to the Taper stage in “Head of Passes,” an astonishing, deeply moving new drama about family, acceptance and the power of faith by MacArthur “Genius” Grant recipient, playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney (“The Brother/Sister Plays”). Directed by Tina Landau, “Head of Passes” begins performances on September 13 and continues through October 22, 2017. The opening night is set for September 24.

Tarell Alvin McCraney

Tarell Alvin McCraney, whose play “Head of Passes” will be a part of Center Theatre Group / Mark Taper Forum’s 2017-2018 season at the Los Angeles Music Center. Directed by Tina Landau, “Head of Passes” will play September 13 through October 22, 2017. Photo by Jean-Marc Giboux.

Family and friends are gathering to celebrate Shelah’s (Rashad) birthday under the leaky roof of her home at the mouth of the Mississippi River. But an unwanted birthday party and unrelenting rains are only the first challenges in this contemporary parable inspired by the Book of Job in which unexpected events turn the reunion into the ultimate test of faith and love. As her world seems to collapse around her, Shelah must fight to survive the rising flood of life’s greatest challenges in this poetic and piercing new play.

When “Head of Passes” was presented at The Public Theater, Ben Brantley of The New York Times said, “… in her remarkable, pull-out-all-the-stops performance in Tarell Alvin McCraney’s ‘Head of Passes,’ Ms. Rashad gives the impression that she could definitely hold her own on Shakespeare’s blasted heath. Portraying a sorely tested Southern matriarch, she can be found railing against God and the elements with a harrowingly Lear-like rage.” Linda Winer of Newsday observed, “If Phylicia Rashad had not already taken us on formidable journeys through the world of August Wilson and so many other formidable dramas, it would be tempting to call Shelah, the matriarch in ‘Head of Passes,’ the role of a lifetime.”

Phylicia Rashad last performed at the Taper in 2003 in the world premiere production of August Wilson’s “Gem of the Ocean,” a role that would earn her a 2005 Tony nomination. She won the 2004 Tony for Best Actress in a Play for her performance as Lena Younger in “A Raisin in the Sun.”

Tarell Alvin McCraney is an ensemble member at Steppenwolf Theatre Company and founding member of Teo Castellanos/D-Projects. In addition to the MacArthur “Genius” Grant, he has received the Doris Duke Artist Award, Whiting Award, Steinberg Playwright Award, Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright, the New York Times Outstanding Playwright Award, the Paula Vogel Playwriting Award and the Windham Campbell Award. He was International Writer in Residence for the Royal Shakespeare Company (2009 to 2011) where he remains an associate artist. He is a professor of theatre and civic engagement for the University of Miami’s department of theatre. McCraney is the Artistic Director of the Youth Arts Leadership Summer Program.

His Public Theater productions include “Head of Passes,” “The Brother/Sister Plays” and an edit of “Antony and Cleopatra.” “The Brothers Size” was a part of the Under the Radar Festival and other credits include “Choir Boy” and “Wig Out.”

“Water by the Spoonful”
By Quiara Alegría Hudes
Directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz
The 2012 Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Water by the Spoonful” by Quiara Alegría Hudes will be presented at the Taper January 31 through March 11, 2018. Directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz, the opening of “Water by the Spoonful” is set for February 11.

Quiara Hudes

Quiara Alegría Hudes, whose play “Water by the Spoonful” will be a part of Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum’s 2017-2018 season at the Los Angeles Music Center. Directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz, “Water by the Spoonful” will play January 31 through March 11, 2018. Photo by Joseph Moran.

A janitor, a software mogul, a college grad and an IRS paper-pusher have one thing in common. Although they live thousands of miles apart, these four people share a secret: they’re recovering addicts who have found a safe haven in an online chat room. There, with liberal doses of jokes and bullying, they help each other navigate the broken terrain of their lives. But when an Iraq War veteran’s tragedy spills over into their cyberhome, everything changes. In this fearless play by Quiara Alegría Hudes (“In the Heights”), worlds virtual and real unfold onstage, challenging our notions of family, forgiveness, community and courage.

When it played off-Broadway, Charles Isherwood of The New York Times said, “‘Water by the Spoonful’ gives off a shimmering, sustaining warmth. Ms. Hudes writes with such empathy and vibrant humor that regeneration and renewal always seem to be just around the corner.”

Quiara Alegría Hudes is the author of a trilogy of plays including “Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue” (2006), “Water by the Spoonful” (2011) and “The Happiest Song Plays Last” (2012). “Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue” premiered off-off Broadway by Productions and was a finalist for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. “Water by the Spoonful” premiered at Hartford Stage Company and won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. “The Happiest Song Plays Last” premiered at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago in Mark Taper Forum 50th Anniversary Season 2013. Hudes wrote the book for the Broadway musical “In the Heights,” which received the 2008 Tony Award for Best Musical, a Tony nomination for Best Book of a Musical, and was a 2009 Pulitzer Prize finalist. Other works include the plays “26 Miles” and “Yemaya’s Belly” and the children’s musical “Barrio Grrrl!” Hudes grew up in West Philadelphia where she studied music with Don Rappaport, Dolly Kranzapolski and Linda Hudes. She was later mentored by playwright Paula Vogel at Brown University. Hudes is an alumna of New Dramatists and sits on the board of Philadelphia Young Playwrights, which produced her first play in the tenth grade.

“Soft Power”
By David Henry Hwang
Directed by Leigh Silverman
World Premiere
Center Theatre Group’s 50th Season at the Mark Taper Forum comes to a close with the world premiere of “Soft Power,” a new work by David Henry Hwang. Directed by Leigh Silverman, this time and genre-bending play runs April 4 through May 13, 2018 with opening set for April 15.

David Henry Hwang

David Henry Hwang, whose play “Soft Power” will have its world premiere in Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum’s 2017-2018 season at the Los Angeles Music Center. Directed by Leigh Silverman, “Soft Power” will play April 4 through May 13, 2018. Photo by Gregory Costanzo.

Hilariously provocative, what begins as a contemporary play slowly becomes a play with music set 150 years in the future in this seductive new work by Tony Award winner David Henry Hwang (“Yellow Face,” “M. Butterfly”). A beloved East-meets-West musical, China’s 21st-century rise and a theatre company gala collide to make mayhem—and some beautiful music. Inspired by the West’s often ridiculously inauthentic portrayals of Asia, “Soft Power” has been commissioned as the final production of Center Theatre Group’s 50th anniversary season and is the ideal work to launch the theatre into the next half century.

David Henry Hwang returns to the Taper where he premiered Pulitzer Prize finalist “Yellow Face” and his Tony-nominated revival of “Flower Drum Song.” Hwang’s other work includes the plays “M. Butterfly,” “Chinglish,” “Kung Fu,” “Golden Child,” “The Dance and the Railroad” and “FOB,” and the Broadway musicals “Aida” (co-author, Ahmanson 2001 – 2002 season) and “Disney’s Tarzan.” He is also America’s most produced living opera librettist, and a writer/producer for the Golden Globe-winning television series “The Affair.” Born and raised in Los Angeles, Hwang is a Tony Award winner (“M. Butterfly”) and three-time nominee, a three-time Obie Award winner and a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Recent honors include the 2011 PEN/Laura Pels Award for a Master American Dramatist, the 2012 Inge Award, the 2012 Steinberg

Distinguished Playwright “Mimi” Award, a 2014 Doris Duke Artist Award and the 2015 IPSA Distinguished Artist Award. He is Chair of the American Theatre Wing and sits on the boards of Young Playwrights Inc. and the Lark Play Development Center. Hwang was recently the Residency One Playwright at New York’s Signature Theatre, and currently as head of playwriting at Columbia University School of the Arts. In 1998, East West Players named its new mainstage The David Henry Hwang Theatre.

“Remote L.A.”
By Rimini Protokoll
Concept, script and direction by Stefan Kaegi
Co-directed by Jörg Karrenbauer
Presented outside of the Mark Taper Forum as a bonus production in addition to the regular subscription, “Remote L.A.” runs March 12 through April 2, 2017. Opening is set for March 14.

Written and directed by award-winning international documentary theatre team Rimini Protokoll, “Remote L.A.” invites audience members to join a group of 50 people venturing out into Los Angeles on a guided audio tour that seems to follow its audience members as much the audience is following it. Audience members meet up, put on headphones and have their perspectives changed as they are provided with a soundtrack to the streets, parking garages and rooftops of Los Angeles. A computer-generated voice guides the group’s movements on a course through the city in real time. The performance reveals a “secret Los Angeles,” continuing to places normally unseen, places where humans encounter their limits, places where crowds gather, hidden alleys, back hallways and common areas seen through a new lens. At times the group is given tasks — take the Metro, travel at a new pace. They are not just audience members—they become actors and spectators, observers and observed, individuals and hordes, all at the same time.

Helgard Haug, Stefan Kaegi and Daniel Wetzel have been working as a team since 2000, and since 2002 they have written collectively under the label Rimini Protokoll. At the focus of their work is the continuous development of the tools of the theatre to allow for unusual perspectives on our reality. They have created works in dozens of cities around the world, winning the NRW Impulse Preis, the European Theatre Prize for “New Realities,” the Faust Theatre Prize and the European Prize for New Theatre Forms among others.

Jörg Karrenbauer has collaborated with Rimini Protokoll since 2003. Together with Stefan Kaegi he’s focused on site-specific projects. He adapted Kaegi’s “Remote“ for more than 30 cities in Europe, India and the US.

Center Theatre Group’s 2017 – 2018 Mark Taper Forum Season Available on Membership Only

Tickets for the Mark Taper Forum’s 50th season are currently available by season ticket membership only. For information and to charge season tickets by phone, call the Exclusive Season Ticket Hotline at (213) 972-4444. To purchase season memberships online, visit www.CenterTheatreGroup.org/Taper.

Center Theatre Group offers a number of services to accommodate persons requiring mobility, vision, and hearing access. For more information, please visit www.centertheatregroup.org/access

Center Theatre Group
Center Theatre Group, one of the nation’s preeminent arts and cultural organizations, is Los Angeles’ leading nonprofit theatre company, programming seasons at the 736-seat Mark Taper Forum and 1600 to 2000-seat Ahmanson Theatre at The Music Center in Downtown Los Angeles, and the 317-seat Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. In addition to presenting and producing the broadest range of theatrical entertainment in the country, Center Theatre Group is one of the nation’s leading producers of ambitious new works through commissions and world premiere productions and a leader in interactive community engagement and education programs that reach across generations, demographics and circumstance to serve Los Angeles.

Center Theatre Group’s 2017 – 2018 Season

at the Mark Taper Forum

First Season Production
January 31 — March 12, 2017 “Zoot Suit”
(Opens February 12.) Written and Directed by Luis Valdez
Presented in association with El Teatro Campesino

Bonus Production
March 12 — April 2, 2017 “Remote L.A.”
(Opens March 14.) By Rimini Protokoll
Concept, script and direction by Stefan Kaegi
Co-directed by Jörg Karrenbauer

Second Season Production
April 18 — May 28, 2017 “Archduke”
(Opens April 30.) By Rajiv Joseph
Directed by Giovanna Sardelli
World Premiere

Third Season Production
September 13 — October 22, 2017 “Head of Passes”
(Opens September 24.) By Tarell Alvin McCraney
Directed by Tina Landau

Fourth Season Production
January 31 — March 11, 2018 “Water by the Spoonful”
(Opens February 11.) By Quiara Alegría Hudes
Directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz

Fifth Season Production
April 4 — May 13, 2018 “Soft Power”
(Opens April 15.) By David Henry Hwang
Directed by Leigh Silverman
World Premiere