Rock ’n’ roll and musical theatre, Kansas City and Los Angeles, the Pacific Palisades and “Malibu,” and Center Theatre Group donors and artists came together for an unforgettable evening under a 100-plus-year-old oak tree on a Saturday night this fall. The occasion: a CTG benefit to celebrate and support the opening of Todd Almond’s Kansas City Choir Boy at the Kirk Douglas Theatre featuring Almond and rock icon Courtney Love, who both appear in the show. CTG Board Member Jody Lippman and her husband, David Lippman, hosted an intimate group of donors at their Pacific Palisades home for cocktails and dinner followed by a private concert.
Jody Lippman introduced Artistic Director Michael Ritchie by explaining that Kansas City Choir Boy reflects CTG’s signature blend of originality and history, innovation and tradition. Ritchie echoed that sentiment.
Kansas City Choir Boy is “a great new piece people who have been going to the theatre for decades will love,” said Ritchie, “and so will newcomers.”
Todd Almond took the stage and explained the origins of the show, which began in a hotel room in Kansas City. Almond was feeling lonely and sorry for himself when a photograph of a missing girl came on the TV screen; it reminded him of a young actress who had starred in Almond’s version of The Odyssey, and later went missing and was found dead. “I stopped feeling sorry for myself and wrote a show,” said Almond.
As he played the opening notes of “Sixteen,” Almond said that this stripped-down version—with Almond on keyboard, accompanied by a cellist—was different from the techno beats and computer music of the show. After singing a few more lines, Almond introduced Courtney Love, and they proceeded to perform three songs from the show. “I’m in love with Courtney Love,” said Almond—garnering laughter and murmurs of agreement from the audience—before Love closed out her performance with a version of the Hole song “Malibu.”
“I look forward to seeing you all at our show,” said Love.
The performance certainly whetted the appetite of the audience for more of Love and Almond.
“Tonight was about connection,” said CTG donor Mara Carieri. Love and Almond have “completely different careers and come from different places in life, but you believe the connection between them.”
Host Jody Lippman concurred. “They have an incredible chemistry that’s very powerful to watch,” she said. “Their performance was wonderful.”
Almond, who wrote the book for Girlfriend, which played at the Douglas this summer, is looking forward to spending more time with CTG audiences. “I’ve really fallen in love with the Center Theatre Group and Kirk Douglas Theatre audiences,” he said. “Tonight felt like a special opportunity to share the show and some ‘insider’ details with them. It’s a nice way to introduce this show to the community and the theatre.”