There are some theatregoers who argue that despite added hassle, the act of going to a theatre and watching a play in-person is virtuous and the very cornerstone of the art.
Most of those people probably haven’t had to deal with L.A. traffic, but there’s no denying the draw and power of live performance. But there is one night a year where even the most ardent theatregoers head home, get cozy on the couch, and turn to their screens: the Tony Awards. The 2018 show features tons of amazing artists who have knocked it out of the park this year, but we wanted to take a moment to highlight a few artists who’ve given their time and talent to Center Theatre Group in the past—and a couple who will be returning to our stages soon.
George C. Wolfe, Direction for The Iceman Cometh
George C. Wolfe is an unequivocal powerhouse in the world of theatre (see above), with his current Tony nomination only the most recent of his numerous accolades. He wrote the book and directed the World premiere of Jelly’s Last Jam at the Mark Taper Forum in 1991—receiving two Tony nominations after the show moved to Broadway—and more recently was back at the Taper to direct Topdog/Underdog. He also directed Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk, Caroline, or Change, and Elaine Stritch At Liberty at the Ahmanson, all of which also earned him Tony nominations (he won for Noise/Funk). His most recent nomination for The Iceman Cometh also features another prominent and familiar talent…
Denzel Washington, Lead Actor for The Iceman Cometh
Denzel Washington is a household name and a double threat for his stage and screen work as both actor and director. With three Golden Globe Awards, two Academy Awards, and a Tony Award already under his belt for his work in productions like The Hurricane in 2000 and the Broadway revival of Fences in 2010 (Washington also starred in and directed the award-winning film adaptation in 2016), he’s nominated again this year for his role in The Iceman Cometh. It’s impressive to see how far he’s come from his early days as Private First Class Melvin Peterson in A Soldier’s Play, which had its West Coast premiere at the Mark Taper Forum in 1982. His performance earned him an Obie Award, which he shared with the ensemble.
We just felt like we were a part of something that was special,Washington said in an interview with The New York Times,
and little did I know how big it was going to be.
Ann Roth, Costume Design of a Play for Three Tall Women and The Iceman Cometh; Costume Design of a Musical for Carousel
She has a whopping three nominations in two categories this year alone, but Ann Roth has been designing costumes for Broadway productions, film, and TV for over 50 years. Some of her notable credits include The English Patient (which earned her an Academy Award in 1997, see her acceptance speech above), the HBO miniseries Angels in America (which earned her a Primetime Emmy nomination in 2004), and The Book of Mormon (which earned her respect from every musical theatre fanatic in the 2010s). We’re grateful for her continued work in theatre, including past shows at the Ahmanson. Roth designed costumes for the World premieres of Neil Simon’s They’re Playing Our Song in 1978 and Biloxi Blues in 1984, which she reprised once they moved to Broadway. She also designed for 1985's The Odd Couple, which adapted the two lead roles for women (and also moved to Broadway)—and featured another 2018 Tony nominee at the Ahmanson: Tony Shalhoub!
Michael Starobin, Orchestrations (with Annmarie Milazzo) for Once on This Island
Michael Starobin has orchestrated numerous well-known productions, beginning back in 1984 with his first work Broadway credit, Sunday in the Park with George, which earned him a Drama Desk Award. Since then, he’s worked all over the country, including in our neck of the woods at the Ahmanson for 1994’s Falsettos (which he music arranged), 2010’s Next to Normal, and Leap of Faith, which premiered here in 2010 before moving to Broadway. We’ll be hearing Starobin’s work at the Ahmanson again when Once on This Island arrives as a part of the 2018/2019 Season. If you haven’t had the chance to catch his work live, you’ve probably heard one of his many Hollywood projects if you’ve had or been around children in the last few decades (hint: these works involve some singing princesses.)
David Zinn, Scenic Design for SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical
David Zinn has been a familiar face at Center Theatre Group over the last several years, with his designs appearing in multiple touring productions, as well as for the World premiere of Soft Power by David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori and the pre-Broadway run of Amélie. He’s accumulated many credits on and Off-Broadway as both set and costume designer, but Zinn’s early career included rejection due to his having only worked on
shoestring budgetproductions. While Zinn’s amazing Soft Power set will be moving on to the Curran after its run at the Ahmanson, we’ll be seeing his work again soon enough with the upcoming The Humans tour, for which he won a Tony Award in 2016 (see his acceptance speech above).