Theatre has the power to speak to us in many ways. And for close to 39 years, Center Theatre Group has developed and produced work that reflects our time, our audiences and our community.
In 1964, the Music Center opened through a partnership with the County of Los Angeles, which owns the facilities including the Mark Taper Forum and the Ahmanson Theatre. In 1967, Founding Artistic Director Gordon Davidson began creating new work at the Mark Taper Forum and opened the theatre with the controversial play, The Devils. This play, written by John Whiting, was about a vain priest who becomes a scapegoat for a corrupt political system.
The Taper has received virtually every theatrical award including the 1977 special Tony for theatrical excellence. Additionally, the Taper was distinguished by having two of its plays, The Kentucky Cycle and Angels in America (Part One - Millennium Approaches), receive in consecutive years the Pulitzer Prize in Drama, marking the first time for this prestigious award.
Since its inception in 1967, the Ahmanson Theatre has presented a wide variety of dramas, musicals, comedies and classic revivals, including 11 plays by Neil Simon (five world premieres). The Ahmanson has been represented on Broadway as a co-producer of the award-winning Smoke Joe’s Café, August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson and Two Trains Running, and Frank Loesser’s The Most Happy Fella.
Under the artistic leadership of Robert Fryer, the Ahmanson Theatre played host to a veritable who’s who in the entertainment world including Katherine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Jack Lemmon, Ingrid Bergman, Charlton Heston, Angela Lansbury and Peter Ustinov. In 1989, Gordon Davidson assumed the role of Artistic Director for the Ahmanson Theatre and was responsible for programming The Phantom of the Opera for a record-breaking, four-year stay at the Ahmanson Theatre.
In 2002, Center Theatre Group opened its third theatre – the Kirk Douglas Theatre – through the generosity of Kirk and Anne Douglas and with the help of the Culver City Redevelopment Agency. This 317-seat theatre was met with such warm reception that it sold out of subscriptions for its first season.
When Gordon Davidson decided to step into a new role as Founding Artistic Director in 2004, Michael Ritchie agreed to step in to the Artistic Director role for all three theatres. In his first season, Ritchie programmed an impressive 22 productions, including three world premieres and three U.S. premieres.
Mark Taper Forum Production History
Mark Taper Forum Awards
Ahmanson Theatre Production History
Ahmanson Theatre Awards
Stacy Keach and Georg Stanford Brown in "Hamlet."
Photo by Keull.