By Julio Martinez
IN THE NEWS
- Dr. Dianne F. Harrison, president of California State University, Northridge, announced the renaming of CSUN’s Valley Performing Arts Center as the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts, in recognition of a $17 million gift from the Y&S Nazarian Family Foundation, the philanthropic foundation of Younes and Soraya Sarah Nazarian and their family. The gift will support the programming and operations of the Performing Arts Center, which opened six years ago. The gift is one of the largest in the history of the California State University and the system’s largest single gift to support the arts. (The preferred shortened name for the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts will be “The Soraya.”) The new name will be used informally throughout the 2017-18 season and formally unveiled at the start of the 2018-19 season.
- After a 21-month closure, the newly renovated, 1200-seat, historic John Anson Ford Amphitheatre—a $72.2 million project that began in 2012 and broke ground at the Ford Theatres complex in September 2014—has opened to the public with the launch of its inaugural summer season, spotlighting tap dancer and choreographer Savion Glover on July 15, followed on July 16 by Culture Clash’s satiric variety show OG Summer Desmadre, a Ford Theatres commission. The Ford Amphitheatre season, featuring music, dance, theatre, and family programming, runs through October 16. Upcoming on July 23: Yitzhak Rabin: Chronicle of an Assassination, presented with the Skirball Cultural Center in association with The Lincoln Center Festival. After many delays and disappointments, the renovation—spearheaded by then-3rd District LA County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and LA County Arts Commission Executive Director Laura Zucker, who hired Levin & Associates Architects for the project—is a momentous success, elevating the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre to rank as one of the best of its kind in the U.S.
- The Road Theatre Company is presenting its Eighth Annual Summer Playwrights Festival (“8 Days! 30 Plays +!”). Running from July 30 to Aug 6, the festival, with Carlyle King serving as Festival Executive Director, will present complete works by Julie Marie Myatt, Sharr White, Donna Hoke, Shem Bitterman, Bruce Graham, Minna Koskela and more, performed at The Road on Lankershim and at The Road on Magnolia in North Hollywood. Live music will be featured during each reading, performed by the bands and musicians Mleo, Stage 11, Engine of Survival, End of Ever, Theo’s Dream, and Whiskey Sunday. The receptions will be held in the Road’s backyard patio, Bettina’s Cantina.
- The musical Cagney began its off-Broadway run at New York’s Westside Theatre in March 2016. After 502 performances, the tuner—directed by Bill Castellino, with book by Peter Colley, music & lyrics by Robert Creighton and Christopher McGovern, and choreography by Tony Award-nominee Joshua Bergasse—is taking a circuitous route to Broadway. It is making its West Coast debut on the Debbie Reynolds Mainstage of the El Portal Theatre in NoHo (Oct 8-29), with the original New York cast, including Creighton in his role as James Cagney. The plan will be to then return to New York for the show’s Broadway debut.
- The Promenade Playhouse in Santa Monica will present the LA premiere of Rebel With a Cause: The Sal Mineo Story—a tragic glimpse at the Oscar-nominated actor and a pioneer gay activist—written and performed by Dean Ghaffari; directed by Tom Waters. Opens Aug 11.
- McCadden Theatre in Hollywood is hosting the premiere of Becoming Human—30 years in the life of an actress-turned-therapist after her mother’s descent into dementia—by Dr. Nicki J.Monti, helmed by Diana Wyenn. Opened this week, plays through Aug 6.
- Sacred Fools Theater in Hollywood is hosting the LA premiere of the two-character psychological drama, Any Night, written by Daniel Arnold and Medina Hahn, directed by Elizabeth V. Newman, and starring Zac Newman and Marie Fahlgren. Opened July 13, runs through July 30.
- Theatre of NOTE in Hollywood will present the second show of its 2017 season, the West Coast premiere of Welcome to the White Room, written by Trish Harnetiaux and directed by Megan A. McGuane. Stars Sierra Marcks, Chris Gardner, Sarah Lilly, and Reuben Uy. Opens Aug 17.
- Celebration Theatre is offering the LA debut of the comedy, Tilda Swinton Answers An Ad On Craigslist, written by Byron Lane and directed by Tom DeTrinis. Stars Lane, Tom Lenk, Jane Entwistle, and Mark Jude Sullivan. Opens Aug 10 at Celebration at The Lex in Hollywood.
- Bootleg Theatre is hosting PaduaLAB, presenting two new works out of the Padua Playwrights workshop: Mr. Job, written and directed by Juli Crockett; and Clearwater, written by Guy Zimmerman, directed by Gray Palmer. Original music by Gray Palmer, with choreography by Jessica Emmanuel. Opens July 21.
- Triptych Theatre Company is presenting the Pulitzer Prize-nominated Nocturne— the story of one man’s journey of redemption in a meditation on guilt and grief—written by Adam Rapp and co-directed by James Eckhouse and Richard Schiff. Features Jamie Wollrab, Artistic Director of Triptych Theatre. Opens July 22 as a guest production at Vs Theatre on Pico Blvd. in LA.
- Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga Canyon continues its 2017 season with Alice Childress’s Trouble in Mind— a backstage drama about interracial politics, following an integrated theater company in rehearsal for a “progressive” anti-lynching drama, Chaos in Belleville—helmed by Ellen Geer. Opens July 29.
THE THING IS…
Director Guillermo Cienfuegos, actor Keith Stevenson, and Artistic Director Marilyn Fox discuss Pacific Resident Theatre’s revival of Eugene Ionesco 1959 post-war, avant-garde satire, Rhinoceros. Runs through Sep 10.