While many arts organizations are feeling the unrelenting pinch of bad economic times, LA Opera is flush enough to make the final payment on a $14 million bridge loan from Bank of America, guaranteed by LA County Board of Supervisors, which stabilized the Company in 2009. An initial payment of one half the loan was made in Jan 2012.Â According to general director PlÃ¡cido Domingo, “This is a direct testament to the generosity of our donors and the dedication of our ticket buyers.””¦Two notable ladies of LA theater have combined their talents.Â Robin Weigert, who is about to appear in the West Coast premiere of Jon Robin Baitz’s Other Desert Cities opening Sunday at CTG’s Mark Taper Forum, has also lent her voice to the audio version of The Whip, the 2012 Book News Award-winning debut novel by thesp Karen Kondazian, based on the true story of Charlotte “Charley” Parkhurst (1812-1879), who spent 30 years of her life as a man in the Old West”¦.
DAMASO RODRIGUEZ HEADS NORTH… DÃ¡maso Rodriguez has been tabbed to be the new artistic director of Portland Oregon-based Artists Repertory Theatre, beginning January 2013. He is exiting his position as co-artistic director of LA’s Furious Theatre Company, which he co-founded in 2001.Â He also served as associate artistic director for Pasadena Playhouse (2007-10). Rodriguez is taking over 30-year-old Artist Rep leadership from retiring AD Allen Nause, who led the company for the last 25 years. Rodriguez will make his directorial debut with the company in April, helming the West Coast premiere of Jeffrey Hatcher’s Ten Chimneys. In a statement released by the company, Rodriguez states, “Artists Rep has been built from the humblest of beginnings into one of America’s great theatre companies by an exceptional group of artists, supporters and adventurous audiences.Â I am honored to follow Allen Nause in leading this extraordinary organization, and to partner with managing director Sarah Horton in building upon Allen’s inspiring legacy and Artists Rep’s boundless promise.” Rodriguez was recently recognized as one of three finalists for the 2012 Stage Directors & Choreographers Society’s “Zelda Fichandler Award,” which is given each year to an “outstanding director who is transforming the regional arts landscape through theatre.””¦
MORE HOLIDAY CHEER“¦ Ventura-based Rubicon Theatre’s annual Rubicon Family Christmas Concert, conceived and helmed by Brian McDonald, will be so crowded with talent, it is being staged at Ventura College Theatre, opening Dec 20. Musical theater stars Joan Almedilla, Teri Bibb, Dina Bennett, Trey Ellett, Anthony Manough and Brian Sutherland are joined by a half dozen young artists from the Ventura County area, plus a 60-member children’s choir, directed by pianist Miriam Arichea“¦City Ballet of Los Angeles (CBLA), continuing “its mission to reflect the diversity of its city,” is offering The Nutcracker Swings, co-mingling the sounds of Tchaikovsky and Duke Ellington, set in 1942 LA during WWII, Dec 21 and 22 at Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Hancock Park”¦Staying in that era, on Dec 16, Sierra Madre Playhouse is hosting Liquid Radio Players Do Christmas, helmed by Stan Morse, featuring a 20-member comedy troupe that improvises shows in the style of 1940s radio fare”¦
AROUND TOWN”¦ Projecting into the future, One White Crow, focusing on a journalist’s attempt to expose what she considers to be a fraudulent TV psychic, scripted by Dale Griffith Thomas, helmed by Deborah LaVine, premieres Apr 20 at Edgemar Center for the Arts, featuring Rob Estes and Edgemar artistic director Michelle Danner“¦Odyssey Theatre in West LA is combining Theatre in the Dark’s individual stagings of short plays performed completely in the dark — Dark and More Dark — into a single entity, Beyond Dark, beginning Jan 5, running through Feb 9″¦The West Coast debut of Samuel D. Hunter’s A Bright New Boise, helmed by artistic director John Flynn, is sticking around Rogue Machine on Pico Blvd, now extended through Dec 17″¦ Also at Rogue on Dec 15, the recurring Around-the-Clock Play Festival — featuring works that have been scripted overnight — takes the stage, produced by Tracie Lockwood”¦Santa Monica’s Ruskin Group Theatre continues its once-a-month Library Girl series of readings, Dec 9, created and hosted by Susan Hayden, featuring Lisa Jane Persky, Tom Brosseau, Apryl Skies, JR Phillips, Eve Brandstein and Steve Abee”¦And what may be the initial Bard offering of the new year, Porters of Hellgate’s King Lear, helmed by Thomas Bigley, starring Larry Cedar, opens Jan 4 at Studio/Stage on Western Ave”¦
INSIDE LA STAGE HISTORY“¦ It is Sep 15, 1991 and I am about to enter the Burbage Theatre to see Creatures, scripted by Gar Campbell, directed by Marilyn Fox. I see Campbell, co-founder of the legendary Company Theatre, and his longtime companion, Fox, standing in front of the Burbage involved in an intense conversation. I utter a friendly “howdy folks,” but I do not penetrate their conversational intensity.Â After the play, I spy the duo standing in almost the same spot, still locked into one another. I proclaim, “Great show” and move on. This is the closest I ever come to having a conversation with Campbell, one of the most compelling actors to set foot on an LA stage. An LA native born in 1943, Campbell enters USC in the mid 1960s, a math and science major intent on becoming an engineer.Â He falls in with student thespians who drag him onstage and he never looks back. In 1967, a group of USC grads, including Campbell, found The Company Theatre, operating out of an underwhelming space located on Robertson Blvd, with Steve Kent serving as its initial artistic director. With a mandate to produce avant-garde and experimental work, the ensemble receives critical acclaim for it staging of Kurt Weill’s anti-war tuner, Johnny Johnson, with Campbell playing the lead. In 1970, Campbell is memorable as a drugged-out rock star in Children of the Kingdom. One of Company’s more acclaimed works, featuring Campbell, is The James Joyce Memorial Liquid Theater, which not only breaks the fourth wall but also draws the audience in as participants. The production also sets a precedent by going to New York City to perform at the Guggenheim Museum. Elsewhere, Campbell performs on a number of local stages, including the Mark Taper Forum, performing in Michael Cristofer’s Ice (1976) and Comedians (1977) by Trevor Griffiths. The emotional volatility of much of Company Theatre’s work during this decade carries over into the inter-relationships of the ensemble members. The Company Theatre officially closes at the end of 1981.Â In 1982, Campbell receives an NEA grant to underwrite the development of his highly experimental Creatures. In 1985, he finds a new home at Pacific Resident Theatre when he joins Fox, who has become a member of the company. At PRT, Campbell thrives as a director as well an actor. Campbell and Fox – who becomes artistic director of PRT -Â Â also initiate a Monday night acting class that runs for 20 years, while Campbell also serves as visiting faculty in UCLA’s theatre department.Â Â In 1988, he even portrays a film director in the low budget,Â Fright Night Part 2.Â Â In 2004, Campbell discovers he has cancer. After a three-year battle, Campbell succumbs at age 64 on Dec 20, 2007″¦
– Julio Martinez produced and hosted Arts in Review, celebrating the best in LA-area theater and cabaret, airs Fridays (2 to 2:30 pm), on KPFK Radio (90.7FM).