This Week in LA Theatre

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Written by Julio Martinez

Image credit: Book of Mormon, coming to Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre (see News section)

 

  • Center Theatre Group’s staging of The Book of Mormon, winner of nine Tony Awards including Best Musical, is announcing a lottery ticket policy for the National Tour, which begins Feb 18 at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, playing a limited six-week engagement through Mar 29. In Los Angeles, the production will conduct a pre-show lottery at the box office, making a limited number of tickets available at $25 apiece. Entries will be accepted at the box office beginning two and a half hours prior to each performance; each person will print their name and the number of tickets (1 or 2) they wish to purchase on a card that is provided. Two hours before curtain, names will be drawn at random for a limited number of tickets priced at $25 each. The Book of Mormon features book, music and lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone. The production is choreographed by Casey Nicholaw and is directed by Nicholaw and Parker. Orchestrations are by Larry Hochman and Stephen Oremus. Music direction and vocal arrangements are by Oremus.
  • Pasadena Playhouse will be offering a wide variety of educational and community events this winter and spring, beginning with In Conversation: Dr. Paul Stephen Aisen: a discussion of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and the current state of therapeutic research, in conjunction with the Playhouse’s production of The Father (Feb 22). Written by Florian Zeller, translated by Christopher Hampton and directed by Jessica Kubzansky, this Tony and Oliver Award-winning play stars Alfred Molina.  Upcoming community events include The HERE Summit & Festival (Mar 27-29) and the return of MACH 33: The Caltech/Pasadena Playhouse Festival of New Science-Driven Plays (Apr 3-5). On April 20, Pasadena Playhouse will participate in the 2020 6th annual National Jewish Theater Foundation Holocaust Theater International Initiative – remembrance readings with The Diary of Anne Frank. This play reading commemorates International Holocaust Remembrance Day January 27th and the week of Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) (May 1-2) and honors the victims and survivors of the Holocaust. From May 16-23, the Playhouse will host Director Lab West 2020an 8-day summer intensive for stage directors and choreographers produced by the Steering Committee, in association with Pasadena Playhouse. Educational events offered this spring at the Playhouse will be rounded out by the USC New Works Festival 2020 (May 22-23). The thesis plays of the graduating MFA in Dramatic Writing cohort are presented as concert readings with professional actors and directors. 

 

  • Pulitzer Prize/NY Drama Critics Circle/OBIE Award recipient David Mamet brings his new play, The Christopher Boy’s Communion, to Los Angeles for 11 performances only, directed by Mamet. The play, which follows a grisly murder that has taken place in Central Park, features a cast that includes Fionnula Flanagan, Clark GreggDominic Hoffman, William H. MacyDavid PaymerRebecca Pidgeon and John Pirrucello. Performances are Feb 13-23 as a visiting production at Odyssey Theatre in West L.A.
  • El Portal Theatre in NoHo is hosting the L.A. premiere of Hamlet the Rock Musical, based on Shakespeare’s timeless tragedy, featuring music and lyrics by Cliff Jones and additional music, lyrics and orchestrations by Craig Fair. Stars Payson Wilson and a cast of 15, directed by Bill Castellino, joined by musical director and conductor Doug Oberhamer and Ovation Award-winning choreographer Janet Roston. Opens Feb 14.  

 

  • Deaf West Theatre is presenting Orphée, an irreverent reimagining of the Greek myth by surrealist poet, playwright and filmmaker Jean Cocteau. First performed in Paris in 1926, translated from the French into Spoken English by John Savacool and American Sign Language by Andrew Moore, the production ensemble includes Danny CronDaniel DurantMalik B. El-AminAmelia HensleyJacquelyn LandgrafKrissy LemonNatasha OfiliLorinda Hawkins Smith, directed by Deena Selenow.  Opens Mar 13 as a visiting production at Odyssey Theatre in West L.A.
  • Pacific Resident Theatre is extending the run of Arthur Miller’s Tony Award Winner, All My Sons, directed by Elina de Santos. Cast includes Amy-Helene Carlson, Terry Davis, Enzo De Angelis, Richard Fancy, Rick Garrison, Tania Getty, Jason Huber, Scott Jackson, Jennifer Pollono and Marc Valera. Now running through Mar 1.

 

 

  • Orson Bean (1928-2020) died last Friday evening, February 7, when struck by a car while crossing Venice Blvd to meet his wife, actress Alley Mills. They were going to see a production of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons at Pacific Resident Theatre. Though he had achieved success in many entertainment mediums, he had decided to devote his time, in recent years, to live theater, particularly small theatre in Los Angeles. He passed up a profitable guest role in TV’s MacGyver series in the ‘90s to work on Dario Fo’s satirical Accidental Death of an Anarchist at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble in West L.A. Beginning in the 1980s, Orson Bean “trod the boards” on numerous local stages, including such now closed venues as the Richard Burbage Theatre (Waiting for Phil) and the Richard Basehart Theatre in Woodland Hills (I Was Dancing), as well as the Odyssey (Hess), Geffen Playhouse (Death of an Author) and the afore-mentioned Pacific Resident Theatre, where he co-starred with his wife Alley Mills in the autobiographical, Safe at Home: An Evening With Orson Bean, in 2016. The couple had recently completed a premiere run of Bad Habits by local playwright Steve Mazur at the Ruskin Group Theatre, located at Santa Monica Airport. They were also company members of Rogue Machine in Venice.  Director Guillermo Cienfugos, co-Artistic Director of the Rogue, commented, “We are devastated as we mourn and try to process the loss of Orson Bean. To the world he is a legend of stage and screen. To the LA Theatre community, a giant, to the neighborhood of Venice, a beloved neighbor. He is our friend. And we miss him.” From director Mike Reilly at Ruskin Group Theatre (director of Bad Habits), “Orson Bean was one of the most gifted, gracious and just thoroughly, glorious ‘human’ beings I’ve ever met. At 91, in the last show he would act in, Steve Mazur’s Bad Habits, ‘he was out-energizing every one of us.’ He loved being on stage, and especially loved working with Alley. Pacific Resident Theatre Artistic Director Marilyn Fox, stated, “PRT was Orson’s ‘home’ company in Los Angeles. Orson was the grandfather of our theatre. He was a beautiful human being who was generous, honest, and loved theatre with all of his heart.” 

Julio Martinez hosts Arts in Review, celebrating the best in theater and cabaret in the Greater Los Angeles area, airing on KPFK (90.7fm) on Fridays 2-2:30pm, streamed live around the world in real time over www.kpfk.org 

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Julio Martinez

Julio Martinez

Julio pens the weekly LA STAGE Insider column for @ This Stage Magazine, as well as the monthly LA STAGE History column. He is a recurring contributor to Written By (the monthly publication of the Writer’s Guild of America) and is the TeleVision columnist for Latin Heat Entertainment. On air, he hosts the weekly Arts in Review program for KPFK 90.7 FM. An active journalist for over 30 years, Julio’s articles and reviews have appeared in Los Angeles Times Magazine, Daily Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, L.A. Weekly, Stage Raw, Backstage West, Westways Magazine, and Drama-Logue Magazine, among others.