Center Theatre Group - L.A.'s Theatre Company

The Tallest Tree in the Forest


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Performance Length

Approx. two hours, with one intermission.

Be Aware

Recommended for audiences ages 16+
Children 6 and under who may cry or fidget are never admitted.


CTG Show Guide for Parents

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Paul Robeson's Larger-Than-Life Story

“Go and see this important retelling of Paul Robeson’s life; You will be moved, enlightened and ferociously entertained.”

—Don Grigware,

Obie Award-winning writer and performer Daniel Beaty chronicles Paul Robeson’s remarkable life in an extraordinary theatrical biography. Embodying not only Robeson but also dozens of international personalities who crossed Robeson’s path, Beaty fills the theatre with the dreams, words and songs (American classics like “Ol’ Man River”) of a man who sacrificed everything in the name of liberty.

On a recent sweltering day, the actor and writer Daniel Beaty spent six hours at a high school near Watts, showing the students how their pain could turn into poetry. A few hours later, and about 20 miles north, he walked onstage at the Mark Taper Forum to portray the singer Paul Robeson, Robeson’s wife, the Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein and 40 or so other characters in 'The Tallest Tree in the Forest.'
Read more in The New York Times.

“Beaty does a heroic job…it’s an impressive display of craft.”

—Paul Hodgins, Orange County Register

We marvel at Robeson’s triumphs — All-American linebacker and valedictorian while at Rutgers, NFL linebacker while in Columbia Law School, and eventually international star of stage and screen (Showboat; the longest running Othello in Broadway history) — and we gasp at the indignities he suffered as a civil rights and labor rights activist during the McCarthy era.

This remarkable play with music provided by a live combo on stage is a powerful, unflinching account of a minister’s son, who became the voice of the everyman around the world, daring to speak up and sing out for what was right.

The Kansas City Repertory Theatre/La Jolla Playhouse Production in association with Tectonic Theater Project.

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  • A Play with Music
    Written and Performed By
    Daniel Beaty
  • Directed by
    Moisés Kaufman

  • Music Director/Incidental
    Music & Arrangements
    Kenny J. Seymour
  • Set Designer
    Derek McLane
  • Costume Designer
    Clint Ramos
  • Lighting Designer
    David Lander
  • Sound Designer
    Lindsay Jones
  • Projection Designer
    John Narun
  • Dramaturg
    Carlyn Aquiline