Back-to-Back Pulitzer Prizes
Center Theatre Group continued to cultivate and build relationships with theatrical talent from around the world, from August Wilson to Matthew Bourne. A highlight of this decade came in 1992 and 1993, when Taper plays The Kentucky Cycle and Angels in America won back-to-back Pulitzer Prizes.
'A Lie of the Mind'
Playwright Sam Shepard’s A Lie of the Mind played the Mark Taper Forum January 10 – March 6, 1988 and featured a cast including Holly Hunter, Arliss Howard, Amy Madigan, and James Gammon. In the play’s program note, our Founding Artistic Director described Shepard’s playwriting as having a “quirky, soulful sound.” And of A Lie of the Mind, Gordon said the play contained “some of the best roles for actors anywhere on the American stage.”
'Summer and Smoke', February 19 – April 10, 1988
'Les Liaisons Dangereuses'
Frank Langella, Lynn Redgrave, and Kathleen Quinlan star in Les Liaisons Dangereuses at the Ahmanson.
'Into the Woods'
Charlotte Rae and Robert Duncan McNeill in the first national tour of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Tony Award® winning musical Into the Woods, which stops at the Ahmanson Theatre.
'Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune', November 17 – December 18, 1988
'Stand-Up Tragedy', May 20 – June 25, 1989
After being developed at Center Theatre Group’s New Work Festival and Taper, Too, Stand-Up Tragedy by Bill Cain, directed by Ron Link, makes its World premiere at the Taper.
'The Phantom of the Opera'
The Phantom of the Opera begins its record-breaking four-year, $130-plus million run at the Ahmanson, becoming the West Coast’s most commercially successful theatrical production of all time. Michael Crawford reprised his Tony®- and Olivier-winning role of the Phantom for the first 11 months of the run and then was succeeded by Robert Guillaume and Davis Gaines. During this time, the Ahmanson season takes place at the James A. Doolittle Theatre in Hollywood.
'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?', October 5 – December 17, 1989
'The Piano Lesson'
August Wilson finishes developing The Piano Lesson at the Ahmanson before the Yale Repertory Theatre/Center Theatre Group production heads to Broadway. The Piano Lesson goes on to win the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding New Play and receive five Tony® nominations.
August Wilson writing for 'The Piano Lesson,' which ran at the Ahmanson.
'The Lisbon Traviata'
Richard Thomas and Nathan Lane in the West Coast premiere of Terrence McNally’s The Lisbon Traviata at the Taper.
If music be the food of love, rarely has it been better used to illustrate its dismantling.
'Jelly's Last Jam'
The World premiere of Jelly’s Last Jam at the Taper is directed by George C. Wolfe, who also wrote the book for this musical based on the life and career of Jelly Roll Morton. The following year, Jelly’s Last Jam debuts on Broadway and receives 13 Tony® nominations, winning four.
'A Little Night Music'
Gordon Davidson directs a revival of Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music at the Ahmanson.
Oskar Eustis, Center Theatre Group's then Resident Director, helmed this Taper production of William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar that featured a cast including Stephen Markle, Delroy Lindo, Dakin Matthews, and Robert Petkoff. Eustis described his interpretation of the classic play as “a kind of gestural, visual, and political translation, bringing Shakespeare’s people into our distinctly American habitat.” Such gestures included ‘60s-style wardrobe, a set design inspired by the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, and video monitors displaying documentary footage of ‘60s protests and marches.
Cycle Pulitzer proves N.Y. run not essential.
'The Kentucky Cycle'
Robert Schenkkan’s The Kentucky Cycle, which was developed at the Taper Lab New Work Festival, plays as part of the Taper’s 25th Anniversary Season. The Kentucky Cycle receives the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, becoming the first play that had not already been presented in New York City to win.
'Angels in America', November 8 – December 6, 1992
'Angels in America'
Tony Kushner’s landmark play Angels in America, opens at the Taper. Part One: Millennium Approaches was workshopped at Center Theatre Group and goes on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony® Award for Best Play.
'Two Trains Running'
Laurence Fishburne, Roscoe Lee Brown, and Cynthia Martells star in August Wilson’s Two Trains Running at the Ahmanson at the Doolittle.
'Jake's Women', April 15 – June 27, 1993
'Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992'
Anna Deavere Smith in Twilight: Los Angeles,1992, a Center Theatre Group commission that makes its World premiere at the Taper before moving to Broadway.
In Bandido!, [Luis] Vasquez is a revolutionary without a revolution.
Zoot Suit writer/director and El Teatro Campesino founder Luis Valdez returns to the Taper with the World premiere of the musical 'Bandido!', June 9 – July 24, 1994
A 17-month run of Miss Saigon reopens the Ahmanson after a nearly nine-month renovation.
'The Master Class'
The pre-Broadway production of The Master Class at the Taper features Zoe Caldwell and Audra McDonald, who went on to win Tony® Awards along with playwright Terrence McNally.
Gordon Davidson directs Leonard Bernstein’s 'Candide' to celebrate the reopening of the Ahmanson., November 8 – December 24, 1995
Keith David stars alongside a powerhouse cast including Ruben Santiago-Hudson and Viola Davis in the pre-Broadway production of August Wilson’s Seven Guitars at the Ahmanson. The Broadway production goes on to earn eight Tony® nominations and one win.
'Seven Guitars' , January 17 – March 16, 1996
'Kiss of the Spider Woman'
Chita Rivera, Juan Chioran, and Dorian Harewood star in Kiss of the Spider Woman, with book by Terrence McNally, music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and directed by Harold Prince.
Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake makes its American premiere at the Ahmanson, beginning an ongoing relationship between the Tony®- and Olivier Award-winning choreographer/director and Center Theatre Group. His work has appeared on the Ahmanson stage 11 times over the past two-plus decades.