Setting the Tone
Our beginning was marked by star-studded productions at the Ahmanson, thought-provoking and controversial work at the Taper, and World premieres by writers including Neil Simon and Derek Walcott.
Tonight marks the realization of what seemed an impossible dream. Since we didn’t inherit great cultural monuments we had to create our own.
Mark Taper Forum Opens, 1967
Opening night of the inaugural production of The Devils, directed by Founding Artistic Director Gordon Davidson at the Mark Taper Forum, almost doesn’t happen after controversy erupts over its content. Thanks to the support of the Center Theatre Group Board, led by movie mogul Lew Wasserman, the show goes on. The Devils thus sets the thought-provoking tone Center Theatre Group will become known for.
Ahmanson Theatre Opens, 1967
'More Stately Mansions'
The inaugural Center Theatre Group Ahmanson production opens: the American premiere of Eugene O’Neill’s More Stately Mansions starring Ingrid Bergman.
New Theatre for Now
Gordon Davidson and Associate Artistic Director Edward Parone found New Theatre for Now, the first iteration of Center Theatre Group’s new play development program.
The Sorrows of Frederick by Romulus Linney at the Taper is the first in a long line of Center Theatre Group World premieres.
From the Ahmanson to Broadway
The Ahmanson hosts its first World premiere: The Happy Time (music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb). The show heads to straight to Broadway, earning Tony Awards® for Robert Goulet (Best Actor in a Musical) and Gower Champion (Best Choreography and Best Direction of a Musical).
With Warren Oates and Betty Garrett heading the cast, this was a new play in the American grain. … With Who's Happy Now?, one knew this was not simply a house in which to show plays—a theater was born.
The Sounds of the '60s
The Ahmanson hosts the World premiere of Jack Good’s musical adaptation of Othello, Catch My Soul, featuring a rock and country score by Ray Pohlman and starring William Marshall, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Julienne Marie. Catch My Soul moved to the UK and was later adapted into a movie.
'In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer'
Gordon Davidson directs the American premiere of In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer.
'The Dream on Monkey Mountain'
The World premiere of The Dream on Monkey Mountain by Derek Walcott at the Mark Taper Forum.
James Earl Jones and Jill Clayburgh appear in Othello at the Taper.
'Who Wants to be The Lone Ranger’
As part of New Theatre For Now, Center Theatre Group staged Who Wants to be ‘The Lone Ranger’ by Lee Kalcheim at the Taper. Directed by Edward Parone, this work in progress included actors Bob Balaban, Dana Elcar, and Judi West.
'The Trial of the Catonsville Nine'
Gordon Davidson directs the World premiere of The Trial of the Catonsville Nine by Daniel Berrigan, S.J. Davidson goes on to direct the movie as well, with Gregory Peck producing.
Improvisational Theatre Project (ITP), the Taper’s first youth program, debuts thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts., 1971
Center Theatre Group staged Volpone: An uninhibited adaptation of the Ben Jonson comedy at the Taper, under the direction of new theatre for now’s leader Edward Parone. Its cast included William Schallert, John Schuck, Sam Waterston, and Adam West.
Richard Chamberlain stars in 'Richard II' at the Ahmanson, March 7 – April 15, 1972
'The Prisoner of Second Avenue'
The Prisoner of Second Avenue, directed by Mike Nichols at the Ahmanson, is the first of 16 works by Neil Simon to appear at Center Theatre Group, the playwright’s adopted Los Angeles home.
Charlton Heston and Arthur Miller make their Center Theatre Group debuts with The Crucible at the Ahmanson Theatre. Heston would become a Center Theatre Group Board of Directors member and star in five more Ahmanson shows.
[A Streetcar Named Desire at the Ahmanson in 1973] had all the heart I ever invested in a work for the theatre or screen. …All involved in this revival make theatre worth living again for a playwright and audiences, too.
'The Hot l Baltimore'
Lanford Wilson’s The Hot l Baltimore makes its West Coast premiere at the Taper, becoming the first of many of Wilson’s works to be performed there, including Talley’s Folly, Fifth of July, A Tale Told, and Burn This. His early work Wandering was featured in 1967’s New Theatre for Now season.
Charlton Heston and Vanessa Redgrave as the Macbeths at the Ahmanson.
Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau at the Taper in a sold-out run of 'Juno and the Paycock' by Sean O’Casey, November 7 – December 22, 1974
'The Shadow Box'
Gordon Davidson directs the World premiere of The Shadow Box by Michael Cristofer at the Taper. The Shadow Box moves to Broadway in 1977 and wins the Tony Awards for Best Play and Best Direction of a Play and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Neil Simon brings the first of five of his World premieres to the Ahmanson: 'California Suite' starring Tammy Grimes, George Grizzard, Barbara Barrie, and Jack Weston, directed by Gene Saks, April 23 – June 5, 1976
Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov ran in repertory at the Mark Taper Forum with Ashes by David Rudkin, Cross Country by Susan Miller, and And Where She Stops Nobody Knows by Oliver Hailey. Directed by Edward Parone, the cast included Tyne Daly, David Ogden Stiers, Michael Cristofer, Lou Gossett, Ron Rifkin.
'And Where She Stops Nobody Knows'
Lou Gossett and Eileen Brennan in the World premiere of And Where She Stops Nobody Knows by Oliver Hailey, directed by Gordon Davidson at the Taper.
'A Matter of Gravity'
Katharine Hepburn stars in A Matter of Gravity at the Ahmanson.
The Taper hosts the West Coast premiere of 'Vanities' featuring Sandy Duncan, Lucie Arnaz, and Stockard Channing, November 4 – December 19, 1976
Maggie Smith and Brian Bedford star in The Guardsman by Ferenc Molnár at the Ahmanson.