The Flagship – Performance Arts in Center Theatre Group
No matter who you are, local theater-maniac or just a visitor to LA, looking for something very LA to do in LA, you’ll find the fullfillment of your needs in here. One of the most acclaimed venues specialized in performing arts in Los Angeles (wide range of work from Broadway musicals through contemporary theatre to cutting edge theatrical events), the flagship of LA’s theatre scene -- Center Theatre Group is one of the top nationally-recognized producing and presenting companies, and one of the most successful non-profit arts organizations. As California's most popular theatre company they sell over 750,000 seats each year at the Ahmanson Theatre and Mark Taper Forum at the Music Center in downtown L.A, and at the new Kirk Douglas Theatre in nearby downtown Culver City.
For visitors, the new Mark Taper Forum is yet another addition to the renaissance Downtown LA has seen in the past few years. The Music Center, made up of the Mark Taper Forum, Ahmanson Theatre, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and Walt Disney Concert Hall, has undoubtedly become a preeminent cultural institution of Los Angeles, providing an acclaimed arts campus for LA visitors.
The Mark Taper Forum opened in 1967 as part of the Los Angeles Music Center on Bunker Hill, the West Coast’s equivalent of Lincoln Center. The smallest of the three, the Taper sits between the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and the Ahmanson Theater at opposite ends of a plaza. The three buildings of the Music Center were designed by Los Angeles architect Welton Becket and represent the style of New Formalism, which emphasized geometric shapes. The perfectly circular Taper is considered one of Mr. Becket’s best works, featuring a distinctive decorated drum of a design and its exterior wrapped in a lacy precast relief by Jacques Overhoff. At the time the building was designed and constructed it had no designated role. At one point it was considered for chamber music, or even grand jury meetings. Ultimately Dorothy Chandler, the Los Angeles cultural leader, convinced Center Theater Group artistic director Gordon Davidson to use the Taper. For 38 years Mr. Davidson was the artistic director of Center Theater Group, which also ran the Ahmanson and eventually the Kirk Douglas Theater in Culver City. The Taper became known for its thrust stage, jutting into a classical, semicircular amphitheater, which creates an especially intimate relationship between audience and performers.
A $30-million renovation of the Taper led by the Los Angeles firm Rios Clementi Hale Studios began in July 2007 after the 2006/2007 season and it turned to be almost complete reestablishment of a place that didn’t move only the concrete walls of the basic structure. The theater reopened on August 30, 2008 for the first preview of John Guare's The House of Blue Leaves.A $30-million renovation of the Taper led by the Los Angeles firm Rios Clementi Hale Studios began in July 2007 after the 2006/2007 season and it turned to be almost complete reestablishment of a place that didn’t move only the concrete walls of the basic structure. The theater reopened on August 30, 2008 for the first preview of John Guare's The House of Blue Leaves.
The Taper has received virtually every theatrical award including the 1977 special Tony for theatrical excellence. Additionally, the Taper was distinguished by having two of its plays, The Kentucky Cycle and Angels in America (Part One - Millennium Approaches), receive in consecutive years the Pulitzer Prize in Drama, marking the first time for this prestigious award.
Other two stages of the Center Theatre Group are also prominent for different reasons. For over 40 years the Ahmanson Theatre has presented a wide variety of dramas, musicals, comedies and classic revivals. The Ahmanson has been represented on Broadway as a co-producer of the award-winning productions and continues to present Broadway hits such as the exclusive Los Angeles engagements of the Tony Award-winning productions of Doubt, Jersey Boys and John Doyle's revolutionary production of Sweeney Todd as well as Cameron Mackintosh/National Theatre of Great Britain’s award-winning production of My Fair Lady. For excellence in all phases of production, the Ahmanson has been honored with over 50 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards. A unique, state-of-the-art 1995 reconfiguration provides the Ahmanson with variable seating capacity from 1,600 - 2,000, allowing the theatre to accommodate a greater variety of plays, from the intimate to the spectacular.
The Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City is the newest and most intimate of Center Theatre Group’s family of theatres. The 317-seat venue, located in a newly renovated historic theatre, opened in October 2004. Artistic Director Michael Ritchie has selected a wide range of productions, including co-productions with other Los Angeles theatre companies, special events, world premieres of new plays and musicals.
The 2009 season in Center Theatre Group is not yet over, by the end of the year there’s few fresh items coming. "The Lieutenant of Inishmore," by Academy Award-winning, Olivier Award-winning and Tony Award-nominated Martin McDonagh will be the fourth production of the Taper's 2009 season, July 23 through September 6.
In September (through November) Center Theatre Group presents the acclaimed Donmar Warehouse production of the powerful and engrossing musical "Parade with book by Alfred Uhry and music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, was co-conceived by Harold Prince, and is directed and choreographed by Tony Awardwinning choreographer Rob Ashford.