ARTS IN LOS ANGELES
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November 2019

Celebrating the Arts since May 2012

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THEATRE!

KEY LARGO!

Key Largo plays at the Geffen Playhouse this month (Starring Andy Garcia)

KEY LARGO!

  • By Deborah Behrens
  • Photo Courtesy of Geffen Playhouse

Fans of Bogie and Bacall’s 1948 film noir classic Key Largo should beeline to the Geffen Playhouse for a world premiere adaption directed by Tony Award winner Doug Hughes (Doubt, Farragut North) and featuring Academy Award nominee Andy Garcia (Mama Mia! Here We Go Again, The Godfather: Part III) as gangster Johnny Rocco. Garcia and Jeffrey Hatcher (A Picasso, Wait Until Dark) adapted material from both Maxwell Anderson’s 1939 Broadway hit and Richard Brooks/John Huston’s subsequent screenplay to offer a bold reimagining. Featuring original music by ten-time Grammy Award winner Arturo Sandoval.

World War II Army veteran Frank McCloud travels to a Key Largo, Florida hotel to pay his respects to the widow of a fallen friend. He arrives to discover a hurricane rapidly approaching and the hotel’s six guests include the notorious Rocco whose hostage plans have no room for heroes. Starring Danny Pino (Mayans M.C.) as McCloud, Rose McIver (iZombie) as Nora D’Alcala, Tony Plana (Ugly Betty) as Mr. D’Alcala, Joely Fisher (‘Til Death) as Gaye Dawn, Stephen Borrello (At Middleton) as Toots, Louis Mustillo (Mike and Molly) as Curly, Richard Riehle (Straight White Men) as Sheriff Gash and Bradley Snedeker (Truth or Dare) as Ziggy.

Plays November 6th to December 10th. For more information, click here.

THE GREAT LEAP!

The Great Leap plays at the Pasadena Playhouse

THE GREAT LEAP!

  • By Deborah Behrens

Basketball diplomacy with China is fraught with moral ambiguity. The NBA debacle over free speech support for the Hong Kong protesters is a current example. Lauren Yee’s new fiercely honed drama The Great Leap takes place thirty years earlier when a University of San Francisco team travels to Beijing for a “friendship” tournament unaware that events in Tieneman Square are about to unfold. Chinatown’s public high school phenom Manford Lum talks his way onto the college squad headed by salty USF coach Saul Slezak. Opposing coach Wen Chang was Saul’s interpreter during a previous 1971 trip to teach American technique to communist China’s newly formed team. When these three paths collide, game day playbooks will be tossed aside.

Tony Award winner (M. Butterfly) BD Wong, who played Chang in the off-Broadway and American Conservatory Theatre productions, directs this co-production between East West Players and Pasadena Playhouse. Stars Justin Chien (Valley of the Heart) as Manford, Christine Lin (Chinglish, The Black List) as Connie, Grant Chang (Mr. Robot, Marian Jean) as Wen Chang and James Eckhouse (All the Way, High and Mighty) as Saul.

“An exhilarating, deeply satisfying piece of work…full of bright, inquisitive, humorous life.” New York Magazine

For more information, click here.

The New One

The New One is now playing at Ahmanson Theatre (Starring Mike Birbiglia)

The New One

  • By Ken Werther
  • Photo Courtesy of Center Theatre Group

Vogue called Mike Birbiglia’s The New One, “A life-affirming piece of work for fathers, mothers, and all of us who have them.” I’d say that pretty much covers it! In the show, Birbiglia tells the hilarious story of his reluctance to become a father and the revelations he experienced on the other side of parenthood. Directed by Seth Barrish, The New One ran for 81 performances on Broadway earlier this year and won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Solo Performance. Variety called the show, “A brimmingly warm, entertaining, and universally relatable new play.” And New York Magazine said, “Birbiglia’s great comic storytelling is art.”

Birbiglia is well known for his work on NPR’s This American Life and in The Moth storytelling series. His fame grew wider when he adapted Sleepwalk with Me (2008) into a book, recorded the show live and wrote, directed, and starred in the award-winning film version (2012).His other shows include What I Should Have Said Was Nothing, My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, and Thank God for Jokes. In the age of Netflix and HBO dropping big bucks to see a comedian in person may seem like a waste. But I was lucky enough to be at the Ahmanson opening night and I am happy to report that in this case it definitely is not (a waste)! Get your tickets now!

For more details, click here.

Jitney

Amari Cheatom and Nija Okoro in August Wilson’s Jitney at the Mark Taper Forum November 22 through December 29 (Photo Joan Marcus)

Jitney

  • By Ken Werther
  • Photo Courtesy of Center Theatre Group

In 2017, Jitney became the final play in two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner August Wilson’s masterful American Century Cycle to be seen on Broadway. (Ironically, it was the first play Wilson wrote.) Directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, this acclaimed production of Jitney received six Tony Award nominations, winning Best Revival of a Play and winning the 2017 Drama League, Outer Critics Circle, and Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Revival of a Play. Set in the early 1970s, Jitney offers a look into 1970s Pittsburgh and the lives of a group of black men scraping out a living in a gypsy cab company (or jitney station). The play’s central character, Charles Becker, is the owner of the unlicensed company who must deal with the city’s plan to board up his business as well as his son’s return after 20 years in prison.

Between the years of 1996 and 2000, Jitney received more than 20 productions nationwide, one of which was seen here in LA at the Mark Taper Forum. I remember it vividly. The play is riveting and the acting was extraordinary. Los Angeles gets an early Christmas gift this month when the Broadway production of Jitney arrives at — where else — the Taper! The cast will feature Francois Battiste, Harvy Blanks, Amari Cheatom, Anthony Chisholm, Brian D. Coats, Steven Anthony Jones, Nija Okoro, Keith Randolph Smith, and Ray Anthony Thomas. My advice is simple … don’t miss this show!

For more details, click here.

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ANNUAL HALLOWEEN COSTUME BALL

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1st

8pm – MIDNIGHT

BUILDING BRIDGES ART EXCHANGE

Bergamot Station at 2525 Michigan Avenue, Unit F2, Santa Monica, CA 90404

COMPLIMENTARY COCKTAILS AND HORS D’OEURVES

(Complimentary vodka, wine, beer, and soft drinks all night!)

COSTUME CONTEST / DJ SHARK AND DANCING

$20 PER PERSON

PROCEEDS BENEFIT BUILDING BRIDGES ART EXCHANGE

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