CENTER THEATRE GROUP’s 51ST SEASON AT THE AHMANSON THEATRE INCLUDES A WORLD PREMIERE, AN AMERICAN PREMIERE, A PRE-BROADWAY PRODUCTION AND WORKS BY EMMY, GRAMMY, OSCAR AND TONY WINNERS
The 2017-2018 Season at the Ahmanson Theatre Features “The Red Shoes,” “Bright Star,” “Something Rotten!,” "Crazy for You,"† “Soft Power” and “The Humans”
Begins September 15, 2017, and Runs Through July 29, 2018
[For complete listing of plays and performance dates, please see PDF of release.]
† Please note the recently announced “Crazy for You” will complete the 2017-18 season and the opening night for “The Red Shoes” has moved
Center Theatre Group enters its second half century at the Ahmanson Theatre with the 2017-2018 season announced today by Artistic Director Michael Ritchie. The new season features two Tony-nominated musicals, a Tony-winning play, the world premiere of a Center Theatre Group commission and the American premiere of an exciting new work. An additional production for the subscription season will be announced at a later date.
“For more than 50 years, Center Theatre Group has been working with the world’s greatest artists to present unforgettable experiences for our audiences,” said Ritchie. “As we enter our next 50 years, I am pleased to be able to offer a wide-ranging season for our vibrant and diverse city.
“We welcome the return of the newly knighted Sir Matthew Bourne with the American premiere of another masterpiece, ‘The Red Shoes,’ as well as the return of director / choreographer Casey Nicholaw with a hilarious new musical, ‘Something Rotten!’
“We have Stephen Karam’s new play ‘The Humans’ which swept the 2016 Tony Awards and an incredibly romantic new musical, ‘Bright Star,’ from legendary entertainer Steve Martin and Grammy winner Edie Brickell.
“Finally, when we looked to celebrate Center Theatre Group’s first 50 years, I turned to Los Angeles-born David Henry Hwang to create a new work to mark the occasion. ‘Soft Power’ was previously announced as part of the Taper 2017-18 season but now will be presented at the Ahmanson. David is joined by fellow Tony Award-winner Jeanine Tesori to create an excitingly unique new work for our 51st season.”
Matthew Bourne’s Production of “The Red Shoes”
Acclaimed choreographer Matthew Bourne returns to the Ahmanson Theatre with his production of “The Red Shoes.” Presented by Center Theatre Group and Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center, the American premiere of “The Red Shoes” runs September 15 through October 1, 2017, with the opening set for September 19.† This production is presented as a bonus option for Center Theatre Group subscribers and will be offered as the first engagement in the Dance at The Music Center 17/18 season.
A beloved fairy tale and Academy Award-winning movie, “The Red Shoes” has seduced audiences and inspired generations of dancers with its tale of obsession, possession and one girl’s dream to be the greatest dancer in the world. Victoria Page lives to dance but her ambitions become a battleground between the two men who inspire her passion.
Bourne’s magical new adaptation of the legendary Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger film reunites him with his regular collaborators and New Adventures Associate Artists who created “Sleeping Beauty,” Lez Brotherston (set and costumes), Paule Constable (lighting) and Paul Groothuis (sound).
“The Red Shoes” is set to a new score arranged by New Adventures Associate Artist Terry Davies using the mesmerizing music of golden-age Hollywood composer Bernard Herrmann (most famous for his collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles and Martin Scorsese). Herrmann’s work ranges from the witty and playfully robust to the achingly romantic and bittersweet.
Bourne has enjoyed a special relationship with Los Angeles audiences, and Center Theatre Group, in particular. In addition to “Swan Lake,” which had its American premiere at the Ahmanson in 1997, a total of eight other Bourne productions have been presented: “Sleeping Beauty,” “Cinderella,” “The Car Man,” “Play Without Words,” “Nutcracker!,” “Edward Scissorhands,” “My Fair Lady” and “Mary Poppins.”
“Matthew has been a beloved member of the Center Theatre Group family for many years,” said Michael Ritchie. “It is always a pleasure to welcome him back home.”
“We are thrilled to open the 2017-2018 season of Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center with Matthew Bourne’s ‘The Red Shoes,’” said Rachel Moore, president and CEO of The Music Center. “Matthew has been an extraordinary force in the dance world. His new interpretation of one of the greatest films about ballet, one that highlights the poignant theme of love vs. art, still resonates with audiences today.”
“It’s a feast for the eye, with every scene animated by sharp detail and witty characterization,” said Luke Jennings of The Observer in his review of the London engagement. “Bourne choreographs with the lightest of touches, threading in references to Hollywood movies and Diaghilev-era ballets as he goes. ‘The Red Shoes,’ I’m certain, will be dancing for years to come.”
“Bourne’s production provides something that Powell and Pressburger by definition couldn’t: the immediacy of flesh-and-blood dancers, right before your eyes,” said Mark Monahan of The Daily Telegraph. “It’s a complex story, one that ricochets between London and France, art and real life. And, brilliantly aided and abetted by his long-standing designer Lez Brotherston, Bourne lets it unfold clearly and urgently, with no prior knowledge of the film necessary.”
Matthew Bourne is a five-time Olivier Award winner, and the only British director to have won the Tony Award for both Best Choreographer and Best Director of a Musical. He has been recognized by over 40 international awards and was awarded the OBE for Services to Dance in 2001.
Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center is one of the leading presenters of dance on the West Coast. The celebrated series offers significant works by prestigious ballet and contemporary dance artists from around the world. Entering its second decade, Dance at The Music Center continues to be a powerful commissioning force through the support of new works and artists-in-residence projects by today’s most influential companies and choreographers. Performances take place throughout The Music Center, including the historic Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the distinctive Ahmanson Theatre and the iconic Walt Disney Concert Hall, providing the ideal setting for inspiring dance experiences.
The Tony-nominated “Bright Star” with music, lyrics and story by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell will be presented by Center Theatre Group at the Ahmanson Theatre October 11 through November 19, 2017, with the opening set for October 20.
The powerfully moving new musical by Grammy, Emmy and Oscar winner Martin and Grammy winner Brickell, “Bright Star” is directed by Tony winner Walter Bobbie and choreographed by Josh Rhodes. “Bright Star” won the 2016 Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Musical and Best Score and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music. It also received five 2016 Tony Award nominations including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book, Best Lead Actress in a Musical and Best Orchestrations.
Inspired by a real event, “Bright Star” tells a sweeping tale of love and redemption set against the rich backdrop of the American South in the 1920s and ’40s. When literary editor Alice Murphy meets a young soldier just home from World War II, he awakens her longing for the child she once lost. Haunted by their unique connection, Alice sets out on a journey to understand her past — and what she finds has the power to transform both of their lives. Propelled by an ensemble of onstage musicians and dancers, the story unfolds as a rich tapestry of deep emotion, beautiful melodies and powerfully moving performances. An uplifting theatrical experience that holds the audience tight in its grasp, “Bright Star” is as refreshingly genuine as it is daringly hopeful.
The Grammy-nominated original cast recording of “Bright Star” charted on five different Billboard lists in its first week of wide release. The cast album from Ghostlight Records placed at number 1 on the Top Current Blue Grass Albums chart, number 2 on the Top Broadway chart, number 5 on the Americana/Folk Albums chart, as well as hitting the Top 100 on the Billboard Top Albums chart and Top 200 on the Overall Digital Albums chart.
Steve Martin is one of the most well-known and pervasive talents in entertainment. His work has earned him an Academy Award, five Grammy Awards (two for comedy, three for music), an Emmy, the Mark Twain Award and the Kennedy Center Honor. Martin’s films are widely popular successes, such as “The Jerk,” “Planes, Trains & Automobiles,” “Roxanne,” “Parenthood,” “L.A. Story” (Martin also wrote the screenplay), “Father of the Bride” and “Bowfinger.” As an author, Martin's work includes the plays “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” and “The Underpants”; the best-selling novella “Shopgirl” and his memoir “Born Standing Up.” Also an accomplished banjoist, Martin released his third full-length album, “Love Has Come For You,” in 2013 with songwriter Edie Brickell. The album won a Grammy for “Best American Roots Song” and inspired the musical “Bright Star.”
Edie Brickell released the debut multi-platinum album “Shooting Rubber Bands At The Stars” with New Bohemians in 1988. Her recent works include a 13-track collaboration with Steve Martin titled “Love Has Come For You.” The duo’s second album “So Familiar” features 12 new songs that bring the duo’s musical collaboration into fresh creative territory.
Walter Bobbie directed the New York productions of “Venus in Fur,” “The Landing,” “Golden Age,” “School for Lies,” “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas,” “Chicago,” “The Submission, Cabin Pressure,” “The Savannah Disputation,” “New Jerusalem,” “High Fidelity,” “The Other Woman,” “The Marriage of Bette and Boo,” “Sweet Charity,” “Twentieth Century,” “Footloose,” “Durang Durang,” “For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls” and “A Grand Night for Singing.” He was Artistic Director of City Center Encores! where he also directed “Fiorello!,” “Chicago,” “Tenderloin,” “Golden Boy,” “No, No, Nanette” and “Zorba!,” as well as the Carnegie Hall concerts of “South Pacific” and “Carousel.” Bobbie served for 12 years on the Board of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society. He is a recipient of the Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Tony Awards.
The completely original and uproarious ode to the Broadway musical, “Something Rotten!” comes to Center Theatre Group at the Ahmanson Theatre November 21 through December 31, 2017. Opening night is the first performance, November 21.
“Something Rotten!” is directed and choreographed by Tony winner Casey Nicholaw (“The Book of Mormon,” “The Drowsy Chaperone”), with music and lyrics by Grammy winner and Tony nominee Wayne Kirkpatrick and Golden Globe and Tony nominee Karey Kirkpatrick and a book by Tony nominees Karey Kirkpatrick and best-selling author John O’Farrell. Three Broadway principals will be reprising their roles with Rob McClure as Nick Bottom, Adam Pascal as Shakespeare and Josh Grisetti as Nigel Bottom.
With 10 Tony nominations including Best Musical, this hilarious new musical comedy tells the story of brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom, two playwrights stuck in the shadow of that Renaissance rockstar Will Shakespeare. When a soothsayer foretells the next big thing in theatre involves singing, dancing and acting at the same time, the Bottom brothers set out to write the world’s very first musical.
Elisabeth Vincentelli of the New York Post called “Something Rotten!” “a deliriously entertaining new musical comedy that is devilishly clever under its goofy exterior. … Set in 1595 England, the show is a love letter to both Shakespeare and musicals. Never mind that tuners hadn’t been invented yet.” Charles McNulty of the Los Angeles Times said it “just may be the funniest musical comedy to come around since ‘The Book of Mormon.’”
Karey Kirkpatrick began as a screen and songwriter for Disney Animation, where he penned “The Rescuers Down Under” and “James and the Giant Peach.” Screenwriting credits include “Chicken Run” (Golden Globe nominee for Outstanding Comedy), “Charlotte’s Web,” “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” “The Spiderwick Chronicles,” “Flakes” and “Over the Hedge,” which he also co-directed.
Wayne Kirkpatrick is the Grammy-winning songwriter of “Change the World” by Eric Clapton (Song of the Year). His songs have been recorded by Bonnie Raitt, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Joe Cocker, Wynonna, Gabe Dixon, Nickel Creek, Trisha Yearwood, Babyface, Peter Frampton, Amy Grant, Garth Brooks, Little Big Town and Michael W. Smith, among others.
John O’Farrell is a bestselling author whose books have been translated into 25 languages and adapted for BBC radio and television. Film and television credits include “Spitting Image,” “Have I Got News for You,” “Chicken Run,” “Murder Most Horrid” and “Smith and Jones.” O’Farrell won the British Comedy Award and founded U.K.’s first daily satirical news website, NewsBiscuit.
Casey Nicholaw’s Broadway credits include directing and choreographing “The Drowsy Chaperone,” “Elf” and Disney’s “Aladdin.” Casey was co-director and choreographer of “The Book of Mormon” and choreographer of Monty Python’s “Spamalot” directed by Mike Nichols (2005 Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations, Best Choreography).
“Crazy for You”
The Tony Award-winning Best Musical, “Crazy for You,” with music and lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin and a book by two-time Tony Award nominee Ken Ludwig (“Lend Me a Tenor”), will be produced by Center Theatre Group in an exclusive pre-Broadway engagement at the Ahmanson Theatre. Susan Stroman (“The Producers,” “Show Boat,” “Contact”), who won the first of her five Tony Awards for choreographing the original 1992 Broadway production of the musical, will direct and choreograph this limited Los Angeles engagement which will begin performances February 7, 2018, and run through March 18, 2018. Opening night is set for February 16, 2018.
“‘Crazy for You’ is – at its heart – a raucous musical tale about the power art has to bring life to a community and purpose to its people,” Ms. Stroman said. “It’s as resonant today as ever, and I am thrilled at the chance to re-discover this show and introduce a whole new generation to its great comedy, unabashed romance and the most choreographically-inspiring Gershwin music the world has ever known.”
“I’m thrilled that a whole new generation of theatregoers will get to see ‘Crazy for You’ at the great and glorious Ahmanson Theatre,” said Ken Ludwig. “It will be a treat for me to roll up my sleeves, revisit the show and spend time once again in Deadrock, Nevada with Bobby, Polly and Bela Zangler.”
Featuring a score of showstoppers by George and Ira Gershwin including “I Got Rhythm,” “Embraceable You,” “Slap That Bass” and “Someone To Watch Over Me,” “Crazy for You” is an irresistibly funny valentine to the American musicals of the 1930s. The book by Ken Ludwig brings audiences into a world of cowboys and showgirls, where a Wall Street guy and a Main Street gal can fall madly in love, put on a show and dance their way to happiness.
When “Crazy for You” first premiered on Broadway in 1992, Frank Rich raved in The New York Times, “When future historians try to find the exact moment at which Broadway finally rose up to grab the musical back from the British, they just may conclude that the revolution began last night. The shot was fired at the Shubert Theater, where a riotously entertaining show called ‘Crazy for You’ uncorked the American musical’s classic blend of music, laughter, dancing, sentiment and showmanship with a freshness and confidence rarely seen… ‘Crazy for You’ scrapes away decades of cabaret and jazz and variety-show interpretations to reclaim the Gershwins’ standards, in all their glorious youth, for the dynamism of the stage.” It went on to win Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Choreography and Best Costume Design of a Musical, playing 1,622 performances.
The world premiere of “Soft Power,” a hilariously provocative new work created by two Tony Award-winning artists, David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori, will debut at the Ahmanson Theatre. Directed by Leigh Silverman with choreography by Sonya Tayeh, this time and genre-bending piece runs from May 3 through June 10, 2018, with the opening set for May 16.
What begins as a contemporary play jumps 100 years into the future and explodes into a Chinese musical about present-day America, in this seductive new work with play and lyrics by Hwang and music by Tesori. A beloved East-meets-West musical, China’s 21st-century rise and a Presidential candidate’s fundraiser collide to make mayhem—and some beautiful music. This show is inspired by the West's often ridiculously inauthentic portrayals of Asia, and China’s quest for world cultural influence, also known as “Soft Power.”
Hwang was commissioned by Center Theatre Group to create this work for the 50th Season at the Mark Taper Forum. Tesori is now joining the creative team as “Soft Power” moves into the 2017-2018 season at the Ahmanson.
Hwang returns to Center Theatre Group where he premiered Pulitzer Prize finalist “Yellow Face” and his Tony-nominated revival of “Flower Drum Song.” Hwang’s other work includes the plays “M. Butterfly,” “Chinglish,” “Kung Fu,” “Golden Child,” “The Dance and the Railroad” and “FOB,” and the Broadway musicals “Aida” (co-author, Ahmanson 2001-2002 season) and Disney’s “Tarzan.” He is also America’s most-produced living opera librettist, and a writer/producer for the Golden Globe-winning television series “The Affair.” Born and raised in Los Angeles, Hwang is a Tony Award winner (“M. Butterfly”) and three-time nominee, a three-time Obie Award winner and a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Recent honors include the 2011 PEN/Laura Pels Award for a Master American Dramatist, the 2012 Inge Award, the 2012 Steinberg Distinguished Playwright “Mimi” Award, a 2014 Doris Duke Artist Award and the 2015 IPSA Distinguished Artist Award. He is Chair of the American Theatre Wing and sits on the boards of Young Playwrights Inc. and the Lark Play Development Center. Hwang was recently the Residency One Playwright at New York’s Signature Theatre, and currently serves as head of playwriting at Columbia University School of the Arts. In 1998, East West Players named its new mainstage The David Henry Hwang Theatre.
Tesori’s Broadway credits include “Fun Home” (2015 Tony Award winner which plays at the Ahmanson February 21 through April 1, 2017), “Violet,” “Caroline, or Change,” “Shrek The Musical,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “Twelfth Night” (Lincoln Center Theater) and John Guare’s “A Free Man of Color.” Tesori also collaborated with Tony Kushner on “Mother Courage” starring Meryl Streep at the Delacorte. Her opera credits include “A Blizzard on Marblehead Neck” (libretto, Tony Kushner; Glimmerglass) and “The Lion, the Unicorn and Me” (libretto, J. D. McClatchy; Washington National Opera). Her songs are featured in the Netflix revival of “Gilmore Girls.” She is the artistic director/co-founder of A Broader Way, an arts empowerment program for girls from underserved communities; the founding artistic director of Encores! Off-Center; and a lecturer in music at Yale University and Columbia University. Tesori is a member of the Dramatists Guild.
The Tony Award-winning Best Play of the Year, “The Humans,” written by Stephen Karam and directed by Joe Mantello will be presented by Center Theatre Group at the Ahmanson Theatre June 19 through July 29, 2018, with the opening set for June 20.
The angst, anguish and amity of the American middle class are first coaxed – then shoved – into the light in this uproarious, hopeful and heart-breaking play that takes place over the course of a family dinner on Thanksgiving. Breaking with tradition, Erik Blake has brought his Pennsylvania family to celebrate and give thanks at his daughter’s apartment in lower Manhattan. As darkness falls outside the ramshackle pre-war duplex and eerie things start to go bump in the night, the Blake clan’s deepest fears and greatest follies are laid bare. Our modern age of anxiety is keenly observed, with humor and compassion, in this new American classic.
After transferring from Off-Broadway’s Laura Pels Theatre, the Broadway production of “The Humans” swept the 2016 awards season, including winning the Tony Award for Best Play. “The Humans” was also named the Best Play of the Year by the New York Drama Critics’ Circle, the Outer Critics Circle and the Drama League. The Obie Awards honored Stephen Karam with a 2016 Award for Playwriting and he was a Pulitzer Finalist for “The Humans.” Garnering the most ecstatic reviews of any play in recent memory, “The Humans” was heralded as “The Best Play of the Year” by The New York Times, New York Magazine, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Record, Time Out New York, The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline, The Wrap and more.
Charles Isherwood of The New York Times called “The Humans,” “blisteringly funny, bruisingly sad and altogether wonderful.” Jesse Green of New York Magazine said, “The best play of the year. The most, well, human play I’ve ever seen. This is why we go to the theatre.”
Stephen Karam is the author of “The Humans” (Tony Award, Obie Award for Playwriting, New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, Drama Desk Award, Drama League Award and 2016 Pulitzer Prize finalist), “Sons of the Prophet” (New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, Lucille Lortel Award, Hull-Warriner Award and 2012 Pulitzer Prize finalist) and “Speech & Debate.” Stephen has written a screenplay adaptation of Chekhov’s “The Seagull” and an adaptation of Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard” that opened on Broadway last fall at the Roundabout Theatre Company. Stephen is a graduate of Brown University and grew up in Scranton, PA.
Joe Mantello received a 2016 Tony Award nomination for “The Humans.” Other directing credits include “Blackbird,” “An Act of God” (on Broadway and at the Ahmanson), “Airline Highway,” “The Last Ship,” “Casa Valentina,” “I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers,” “The Other Place,” “Dogfight,” “Other Desert Cities,” “Pal Joey,” “9 to 5” (on Broadway and at the Ahmanson), “November,” “Three Days of Rain,” “The Odd Couple,” “Glengarry Glen Ross” (Tony nomination), “Laugh Whore,” “Assassins” (Tony), “Wicked,” “Take Me Out” (Tony), “Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune,” “Design for Living,” “The Vagina Monologues” and “Love! Valour! Compassion!” (Tony nomination). Acting credits include the Broadway productions of “The Normal Heart” (Tony nomination) and “Angels in America” (at the Mark Taper Forum and on Broadway, Tony nomination); and for HBO, “The Normal Heart” (Emmy Award nomination). He is a member of Naked Angels, a Roundabout Theatre Company Associate Artist and has received Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, Helen Hayes, Clarence Derwent, Obie and Joe A. Callaway Awards.
Center Theatre Group’s 2017 – 2018 Ahmanson Season
Available on Membership Only
Tickets for the Ahmanson Theatre’s 51st season are currently available by season ticket membership only. For information and to charge season tickets by phone, call the Exclusive Season Ticket Hotline at (213) 972-4444. To purchase season memberships online, visit www.CenterTheatreGroup.org/Ahmanson.
Center Theatre Group offers a number of services to accommodate persons requiring mobility, vision and hearing access. For more information, please visit www.centertheatregroup.org/access.
Center Theatre Group
Center Theatre Group, one of the nation’s preeminent arts and cultural organizations, is Los Angeles’ leading nonprofit theatre company, programming seasons at the 736-seat Mark Taper Forum and 1600 to 2000-seat Ahmanson Theatre at The Music Center in Downtown Los Angeles, and the 317-seat Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. In addition to presenting and producing the broadest range of theatrical entertainment in the country, Center Theatre Group is one of the nation’s leading producers of ambitious new works through commissions and world premiere productions and a leader in interactive community engagement and education programs that reach across generations, demographics and circumstance to serve Los Angeles.
Bank of America is the season sponsor and Delta airlines in the official airline sponsor for Center Theatre Group’s 2017-2018 season the Ahmanson Theatre.
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February 23, 2017/Updated November 13, 2017