NEWS“¦ The surprising loss of Funny Girl from the Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson 2011-12 season is reaping some tuner benefits.Â Not only was CTG able to transfer the 2009 Tony-winner Fela! into the Dec/Jan slot, but Kennedy Center’s much lauded Broadway staging of the James Goldman/Stephen Sondheim 1971 Tony-winner, Follies, helmed by Eric Schaeffer with choreography by Warren Carlyle, will now occupy the Ahmanson, May 3-June 9.Â The current run at Broadway’s Marquis Theatre, starring Bernadette Peters, ends Jan 22. No word yet on whether Peters or any of the other leads will be making the trek west”¦The really big one that got away, the West Coast premiere of The Book of Mormon, winner of nine 2011 Tony Awards (including Best Musical), is not heading to CTG but will settle in for a 12-week run at Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, beginning Sep 5, 2012 (after a three-week stay in Denver). Wrought by Trey Parker andÂ Matt Stone (creators of the landmark animated series, South Park) and Robert Lopez (Avenue Q), the production is co-helmed by Parker and Tony-winning choreographer Casey Nicholaw“¦On a more solitary note, Antonio Sacre, whose one-hander The Next Best Thing was a hit at Hollywood Fringe Festival 2011, has recently been accorded the Best Storyteller Award at the recent United Solo Theater Fest in New York, warranting a one-night gig at Comedy Central Stage @ Hudson Theater in Hollywood, Dec 13. The plan is to bring in three cameras to film Sacre’s quirky autobiographical musings as a potential show for Comedy Central“¦
SHOULD AULD ACQUAINTANCE”¦The economically unstable state of the arts in the US over the last few years could be distilled within the recent history of Theater 150 in Ojai, “nestled in a valley 75 miles north of LA.”Â Under the leadership of artistic directors Chris Nottoli and Deb Norton, the company trumpeted the news on July 7, 2009 that “Theater 150, already well loved by Ojai residents for its top-notch local productions, recently made a bold leap into full professional status, and is mounting its first Equity production: Hamlet, opening July 18.” Guest director was Jessica Kubzansky, co-artistic director of Pasadena’s Theatre @ Boston Court, who also directed in Ojai the following two summers. Earlier this year, however, Nottoli and Norton stepped aside somewhat, as Michael Addison became the artistic director, but Nottoli remained as producing director and Norton as literary director. Then, this announcement last Saturday from board chairman Tom Krause:Â “It is with a mixture of resignation and hope that I write to inform you that Theater 150 will take a new form after December 31st of this year. The resignation aspect comes from realizing that the business model underlying professional Equity theater is not presently viable in Ojai. Over the past three years we have had some wonderful successes, but at the same time we have not reached our essential goal of financial stability. The new leadership team installed in June (2011) – Michael Addison (AD) and Susan Scott (MD) – has been outstanding, but they can’t resolve the economic problems besetting our country and our own community.”Â In Jan 2012, Theater 150 moves forward as a non-Equity, nonprofit theater for young adults and children, led by new co-artistic directors Krista Kim and Rick Kuhlman…
JANUARY 2012 DEBUTS”¦Sixth Avenue is offering the LA premiere of the two-hander first date saga, Nerve, scripted by Adam Szymkowicz, choreographed by Laura Harrison, helmed by multi-Ovation-nominated Michael Matthews (Take Me Out, What’s Wrong With Angry), featuring Anna Rubley and Adam Silver, opening Jan 6 at El Centro Theatre’s Chaplin Stage in Hollywood…Another two-hander, premiering as a guest production at Hollywood’s Elephant Space, is Expecting to Fly, “a dark and sometimes humorous journey through the young minds and memories of Jared (Justin Mortelliti) and his former lover, Sean (Casey Kringlen),” scripted by Michael Hyman, helmed by Kiff Scholl, debuting Jan 28″¦ La Mirada Theatre is introducing National Theatre of Britain’s staging of Collaborators, scripted by John Hodge, helmed by Nicholas Hytner, by way of the big screen, Jan 13.Â Set in the volatile political climate of 1938 Moscow, starring Alex Jennings and Simon Russell Beale, this is the third High Definition screening – via satellite broadcast – of this season’s National Theatre Live series. Upcoming broadcasts include Traveling Light (Feb 19) and The Comedy of Errors (Mar 18)”¦And Thousand Oaks-based Cabrillo Music Theatre is launching the Cabrillo Film Series, presenting four movies per season to coincide with each 2012 Cabrillo stage production.Â Serving as both entertainment and fundraiser for Cabrillo’s Outreach programs, the initial pairing is the 2005 Oscar-winning Johnny Cash bio film, Walk The Line (Jan 23 at the Muvico Theatre) and the stage tuner, Ring of Fire (Feb 3-12 at Thousands Oaks Civic Arts Plaza).Â Future film/stage parings are TBA”¦
AROUND TOWN”¦Golden Globe Award winner Peter Gallagher (The O.C., American Beauty) takes on the role of life-challenged George Bailey, joining the previously announced star-studded cast of Geffen Playhouse’s Dec 10 one-day-only reading of It’s A Wonderful Life”¦Co-produced by Urban Theatre Movement and Latino Theater Company, Miguel Pinero’s 1974 Obie winner, Short Eyes, helmed by Julian Acosta, is extending until Dec 18 atÂ LA Theatre Center”¦Hoping to launch an on-going monthly happening, Theatre West is hosting the New Year’s Eve debut of The Laugh Pack, “an all-star comedy and music show,” produced and hosted by Bruce Fine, featuring comics Brian Kiley, 92-year-old yock-meister Max Turell, Bobby Tessel and Kira Soltanovich. Warbling the top songs of 2011 is singer Dalal“¦Encouraged by its success at this year’s Hollywood Fringe, Her Majesty’s Secret Players’ Pulp Shakespeare re-opens Jan 12 at Theatre Asylum in Hollywood”¦Tennessee Williams’ Baby Doll (adapted from 27 Wagons Full of Cotton), helmed by Joel Daavid, is extending its run at Lillian Theatre in Hollywood until Jan 22 (no perfs Dec 19 to Jan 5)”¦ Thesp Johnny O’Callaghan’s solo chronicle of his “comedic struggle to adopt an Ugandan orphan against all odds,” Who’s Your Daddy?, extends until Feb 19 at Victory Theatre Center in Burbank”¦Finally, if a stage work has been reviewed only by The Tolucan (Nov 11), does it still qualify as a “new play”? The folks at NoHo’s Actors Workout think so, re-launching Seatbelts Required, scripted by Kimberly Demmary, helmed by John Barker, opening Jan 6.Â All reviewers welcome”¦
THE THING IS”¦“I was inspired to produce this fundraiser by my wife who as a child spent over a year at this hospital when she had open heart surgery. I’ve always wanted to thank them for that. So, we felt having celebrities gather to read from the recently published haunted holiday children’s stories by the acclaimed writer Jim Krueger would be a perfect way to do that. Krueger is the Will Eisner Award-winning former creative director for Marvel Comics and his stories have this great “˜Nightmare Before Christmas’ feel to them that is so entertaining. To date, we have confirmed actors Eddie Jamison, Ernie Hudson, Katie Lowes, Adam Shapiro and Barry Bostwick. We’re expecting many more.Â We are hoping to make this an annual event.”Â Â – John Bucher is founder/owner LA-based Sideshow Media Group which is producing Oh Haunted Night, benefiting Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, Sunday, Dec 11 at Acme Theatre in Hollywood”¦
INSIDE LA STAGE HISTORY”¦In 1955, Paris-born 28-year-old Rachel Rosenthal moves from New York to LA having studied art, theater, music and dance with such disparate contemporary figures as Hans Hoffman, Merce Cunningham, Epic Theater pioneer Erwin Piscator and Jean-Louis Barrault, as well as connecting creatively with avant garde composer John Cage and artists Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg.Â When she arrives, Rosenthal begins teaching at Pasadena Playhouse, but her non-traditional teaching methods and apparel do not put her in good stead with Playhouse administration.Â She is fired. She then meets former film ingénue Vanessa Brown who has married well and indulges herself by holding Wednesday afternoon salons for aspiring actors in her home. Rosenthal begins to organize workshops and seeks Brown’s support in finding a apace that can be utilized for experimental work.Â Brown demurs. Undeterred, Rosenthal launches Instant Theatre in 1956 at a small workshop space at 804 N. El Centro Ave in Hollywood (now El Centro Theatre), adjacent to the Circle Theater. Rosenthal begins to hold improvisational workshops, devising exercises that combine movement, voice, sound, found objects and experimental lighting. The workshop dispenses with conventions of fixed interpretations that are entrenched in the traditional theatrical script and the proscenium stage. Instead, Rosenthal seeks a radical sensory experience drawing on the model of Antonin Artaud’s theatrical manifesto, Le ThéÃ¢tre et son Double (“The Theater and its Double”). She attracts a diverse group of young thesps, including unknowns as well as such established Hollywood actors as Vic Morrow, Tab Hunter, Anthony Perkins and Dean Stockwell, who feel insulated from the need to project their tinseltown personas. But when Rosenthal decides to allow the public to see the work, the Hollywood crowd leaves, warned by agents that they shouldn’t be involved in something that is so “weird.” Rosenthal and her smaller, more committed ensemble, press on, remaining resistant to the commercial structures of a newly developing LA art world that considers her work too radical.Â Rosenthal and Instant Theatre persist for ten years. Rosenthal goes on to achieve legendary status as a performance artist, as a leading figure in the ’70s LA Women’s Art Movement, co-founding womanspace. In 2000 she is honored by the City of LA as “a Living Cultural Treasure of Los Angeles”…Today, vibrantly active as a creator and teacher, Rosenthal is still the artistic director of her Rachel Rosenthal Company.
Photo credit:Â Rachel Rosenthal, Instant Theater, performance, 1961-62, (photo courtesy of artist)
“¦The Julio Martinez-hosted ARTS IN REVIEW, broadcast FridaysÂ Â (2 to 2:30 pm) on KPFK (90.7FM), spotlights the best in live theater and cabaret in the Greater LA area. Upcoming on Dec 9, producer and French pianist/melodistÂ Francois Chouchan…