Layout Image

Archive for Ahmanson Theatre – Page 2



Don Shirley – LA Observed

Center Theatre Group, which continues to call itself “L.A.’s Theatre Company,” also continues to demonstrate virtually no interest in LA stories.

When CTG recently announced the next Mark Taper Forum season, after previously revealing new seasons for the coming year at CTG’s Ahmanson and Kirk Douglas theaters, I began counting. So, how many of the 14 CTG productions at these three venues are set in or near LA?


Read more…

MATILDA at the Ahmanson Theatre


Photo by Joan Marcus

Jon Magaril – Curtain Up

Broadway is commonly viewed as a middle-of-the-road mecca for lite, tourist-friendly fare. But a surprisingly significant number of current smash hit musicals focus on singing revolutionaries battling stinging oppression. Elphaba defies the the duplicitous Wizard and Miss Morrible; Jean Valjean, France’s Orleanist monarchy; and Elder Price, the Ugandan despot General Butt-Fucking Naked. The most inspiring of these rebels with a tuneful cause is the youngest, Matilda Wormwood. Read more…

Now running through July 20.

DAME EDNA’S GLORIOUS GOOD-BYE at the Ahmanson Theatre


Steven Leigh Morris  – LA Weekly

…With diamond studs in her horned-rimmed glasses, the purple-wigged, megalomaniac alter ego of 80-year-old Australian Barry Humphries spends much of the evening goading her Ahmanson Theatre audience. Read more…

Bob Verini -   Arts In LA

Dame Edna! The mere title and name connote rapier wit, lightly off-color insults, and self-obsession, in the ultimate unabashed satire of celebrities’ narcissism, not to mention their closet contempt for the paying customers. Read more…

Now running through March 15.

BLITHE SPIRIT at the Ahmanson Theatre

"Blithe Spirit"

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Noel Coward is said to have written Blithe Spirit in less than a week. The play premiered a couple of months after he completed it, in 1941, when the Germans were bombing London, and audiences, no doubt desperate for distraction, stepped gamely over the rubble on their way to the theater. Read more…

Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

Noël Coward’s wonderfully daffy supernatural comedy Blithe Spirit is now playing at the Ahmanson, in downtown Los Angeles, with the marvelous (almost) nonagenarian Angela Lansbury portraying the idiosyncratic spiritualist at the center of the story. The acclaimed actress is returning to the role of Madame Arcati, for which she won her fifth Tony Award® in 2009 for Best Featured Actress in a Play. Read more…

Now running through January 18.

THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL at the Ahmanson Theatre


Photo by Craig Schwartz

Margaret Gray – LA Times

Michael Wilson’s revival of Horton Foote’s “The Trip to Bountiful,” which has just opened at the Ahmanson Theatre, premiered on Broadway in 2013 to a bounty of praise and nominations, especially for Cicely Tyson, who won the Tony Award for her portrayal of Mrs. Carrie Watts.

Originally written as a teleplay in 1953, “Trip” tells the story of an elderly woman’s return to her hometown of Bountiful, Texas. A trustworthy vehicle for star turns—by Lillian Gish and Geraldine Page, among others—it has been recast in this production with black characters.
Read more…

Hoyt Hilsman  -  Huffington Post

Horton Foote’s enchanting tale of an old woman’s single-minded quest to return to her childhood home gets a memorable production under the deft direction of Michael Wilson and featuring thrilling performances by Cicely Tyson, Vanessa Williams and Blair Underwood.If ever there were a work defined by its poignancy, it would be Horton Foote’s The Trip to Bountiful, the story of an elderly woman’s efforts to live out her last days at her beloved childhood home. Set in Texas in the 1950s, it’s one of those leisurely paced plays that pays homage to nostalgia and runs the risk of being ickily sentimental.

Read more..

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

If ever there were a work defined by its poignancy, it would be Horton Foote’s The Trip to Bountiful, the story of an elderly woman’s efforts to live out her last days at her beloved childhood home. Set in Texas in the 1950s, it’s one of those leisurely paced plays that pays homage to nostalgia and runs the risk of being ickily sentimental.

But that pitfall is dodged in the current, splendid production at the Ahmanson. Directed by Michael Wilson, it’s propelled by veteran artist Cicely Tyson as the runaway, Mrs. Carrie Watts, with Blair Underwood as her troubled son Ludie and a volcanic Vanessa Williams as her spiteful and shallow daughter-in-law, Jessie Mae. Read more…


Les Spindle –  Frontiers L.A.

Boasting a rich history dating back to a 1953 teleplay, Horton Foote’s deeply affecting family drama scored a career-capping milestone for Cicely Tyson in a 2013 Broadway revival, as she earned richly deserved Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards.
The Ahmanson’s first-class rendition stars the luminescent Tyson repeating her role of feisty elderly widow Carrie Watts alongside outstanding portrayals by Vanessa Williams, repeating her take on Carrie’s impatient daughter-in-law, and Blair Underwood as Carrie’s son. Determined to make one last pilgrimage to her home in rural Bountiful, the elderly woman flees from her Houston home, leading to a profoundly cathartic journey.
A first-rate supporting cast is led by Jurnee Smollett-Bell as a kind young woman who meets the runaway matriarch at a bus depot.Foote’s funny and heartrending classic remains fresh and vibrant, courtesy of Michael Wilson’s sensitive direction, sterling performances by all and a gorgeously evocative design effort.


Now running through Nov. 2.

WE WILL ROCK YOU at the Ahmanson Theater

Photo by Lawrence . Ho

Photo by Lawrence K. Ho

Neal Weaver  – Arts In LA

This show is an exuberant, enthusiastic, unabashed homage to the rock group Queen and its lead singer, the late Freddie Mercury. It is also splashy, a little bit silly, and loud enough to rattle your ribcage, with a rock-concert-style light show that is occasionally blinding. Read more…

Photo by Paul Kolnik

Photo by Paul Kolnik


Sharon Perlmutter  -  Talkin’ Broadway

Whenever I travel, in an attempt to overcome jet lag, I try to find the loudest, most obnoxious musical I can find, in the hopes that it will keep me awake my first night in town. I have seen quite a few shows on this principle, and none suits the task quite as well as We Will Rock You. It’s currently playing the Ahmanson, as part of a national tour, and though it has been Americanized (and not necessarily for the better) since I saw it in London, it’s still just as loud and just as brash. Read more…

Now running through August 24.


THE LAST CONFESSION at the Ahmanson Theatre

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Dany Margolies  -  Arts In LA

Most Westerners of a certain age, certainly most Catholics, recall the startling day in 1978 when we learned that Pope John Paul I had died 33 days after the puff of white smoke announced his election to the papacy. Very few people, if anyone, knew the exact cause of death. Whether the Curia, the Vatican’s governmental cabinet, considered it unseemly to probe or the answers didn’t favor a perfectly innocent explanation, any investigations into his death seemed likewise to die swiftly. Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Organized around the star wattage of David Suchet, the celebrated and prolific British theater actor best known worldwide for his 74 television films as Agatha Christie’s detective Hercule Poiret, The Last Confession makes for a rather wan touring vehicle for his talents. Read more…

Bob Verini -   Stage Raw

The current tenant at the Ahmanson, Roger Craig’s The Last Confession, made me think about Charlton Heston and Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

The Heston musings may be the more surprising. But however you may feel about his stature as an actor, or his latter-year turn to the right and NRA leadership, Heston and the Ahmanson were prominently associated in the public’s mind in the 1970s and 1980s, thanks to his rarely letting a year go by without appearing there in a play of substance. Read more…

Terry Morgan  -  Talkin’ Broadway

Roger Crane’s The Last Confession has a doozy of an opening statement: “Forgive me, father, for I have sinned. I have killed the emissary of God.” The speaker refers to Pope John Paul I, who died under mysterious circumstances in 1978. It sounds compelling in theory—somebody murdered a pope in recent history? Read more…

Now running through July 6.

THE GERSHWINS’ PORGY AND BESS at the Ahmanson Theatre

Kingsley Leggs (center) and the cast of ?The Gershwins? Porgy and Bess? by George Gershwin, DuBose and Dorothy Heyward, and Ira Gershwin, book adapted by Suzan-Lori Parks and musical score adapted by Diedre L. Murray. Directed by Diane Paulus, ?The Gershwins? Porgy and Bess? previews at the Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre April 22 and opens April 23. Performances continue through June 1, 2014. For tickets and information, please visit or call (213) 972-4400.  Contact: (213) 972-7376 Photo by Michael J. Lutch

Photo by Michael J. Lutch

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Porgy and Bess (the lamentable and disingenuous branding title will not be employed again by this writer) is one of those incomparable works of art that necessarily is always somewhat imperfect in performance. It is too grand, too bold, and too low-down not to be. Read more…


Neal Weaver  – ArtsInLA

George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (with libretto and lyrics by Dorothy and Dubose Heyward and Ira Gershwin) has an astonishingly long and varied production history, and it has repeatedly been sliced and diced according to the taste of its producers and directors. George Gershwin’s orchestrations have been adapted and tampered with, and the original recitatives have often been replaced with spoken dialogue, making hash of Gershwin’s leitmotifs.

Read more…

Bob Verini – Stage Raw

The lean though not especially mean, 40% fat free The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess came into being on a whim and a prayer.  As widely reported a year ago, the songwriters’ estate sought to purvey a version of the Catfish Row perennial that would minimize the vocal, logistical, and running-time demands traditionally only within the grasp of the opera house. Read more…

Now running through June 1.

A WORD OR TWO at the Ahmanson Theatre

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Pauline Adamek  – ArtsBeatLA

An exuberant celebration of language is the most apt description for actor Christopher Plummer’s self-created one-man show. A Word or Two is playing through February 9, 2014 at the Ahmanson Theatre, downtown LA. Early on in the show, Plummer selects a book from a heap and begins to read from a lectern. But this is no ordinary stack of books—the stage is dominated by a massive and elegant sculpture made from a twisting pile of books, piled on top of each other in a stack that curves upwards to resemble a spiral staircase and magically suspended in mid air. The whimsical and slightly surreal scenic design is beautifully realized by Robert Brill. Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Few enticements can feel as comforting as an invitation into the inner life of the protean Christopher Plummer. Through the blandishments of his seductive voice, he shares a lifetime of escape into the world of literature. As a solitary and painfully shy boy, books provided a world in which he could safely seek adventure and find guidance for living.   Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

As a child in Canada, the legendary actor Christopher Plummer spent his childhood devouring the fictional worlds created by books. He imbibed on the adventures of Lewis Carroll’s Alice. As he got older, the works of Shakespeare shaped his talent as an actor. Now that he has reached his later years, he traces his past and accepts his future through the teachings of his favorite authors. He shares the joy of how the written world formed his life by celebrating the books and poems that enriched it in his solo show A Word or Two. .
Read more…

Steven Leigh Morris  – LA Weekly

The demise of language is the big idea at the Ahmanson, where Christopher Plummer performs A Word or Two, a one-man rumination on the books that shaped him. As directed by Des McAnuff, this is a genial, candid, amusing and bemusing soliloquy of recollections and recitations by an elderly gent who fears that our culture is discarding the sanctity of words. Read more…
Now running through February 9.

PETER AND THE STARCATCHER at the Ahmanson Theatre

Pauline Adamek – LA Weekly

Much like the dastardly pirates terrorizing the high seas in his fun Peter and the Starcatcher, playwright Rick Elice has ransacked the best of British kids lit, giving us plucky, pint-sized sleuths fresh from the Boy’s Own adventures and larger-than-life characters straight out of rowdy pantomimes. Based on the 2006 novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, the tale is an imagined prequel to one of England’s most beloved plays, Peter Pan, Or, The Boy Who Never Grew Up.
Read more…


Photo by Jenny Anderson

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

The steely durability of J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan mythology gets mightily flexed in this willfully imaginative fantasia of Victorian music hall tropes, modern mash-up gestures, Story Theater techniques and period nancy humor. Shameless puns, alliteration, spoonerisms and daft nonsequiturs abound.
Read more…


Now running through January 12.


Dany Margolies – Arts In LA


Photo by Simon Annand

In the good old days, Sleeping Beauty was a ballet choreographed, in its first incarnation, by Marius Petipa. In it, we meet Princess Aurora, first in a prologue when she is a baby—represented by a doll, or more likely a bundle of cloth—swaddled beyond recognition and housed in a froufrou cradle upstage, then, in Act One, as a 16-year-old who meets and by Act Three marries Prince Désiré.
Read more…

Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

With its Gothic theme, reflected in lavish costuming and majestic sets (both elements designed by Lez Brotherston), and a lush score by Tchaikovsky, “Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty” promises to be a magical evening of fairy tale and ballet. Instead, on Thursday night LA audiences were presented with cacophonous and insultingly unsubtle show that suffers from heavy-handed, exaggerated gestures and uninspired, pedestrian choreography—more synchronized movement than dance. Minus the grace and ethereal nature of classical ballet and the sensitivity of a live orchestra, “Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty” is a braying and disappointingly earthbound production. Read more…


Now running through December 1.

THE SUNSHINE BOYS at the Ahmanson Theatre

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Pauline Adamek  – ArtsBeatLA

Legendary comedy writer Neil Simon’s 1972 play The Sunshine Boys has an excellent premise: two old vaudevillian stars who worked together for over 40 years, but who haven’t spoken in over a decade, are reunited for a TV spot. (In fact, it was a good enough premise for Fellini to copy for Ginger e Fred for his comedy/drama in 1986.  Read more…

Bob Verini -   ArtsInLA

The pleasures of The Sunshine Boys stem from the interplay of phlegmatic Judd Hirsch and volcanic Danny DeVito, one-time Taxi stars now interpreting the fictional legendary vaudeville team of (respectively) Lewis and Clark. As rendered by author Neil Simon, these so-called comedy giants are pretty tame, their alleged gifts hardly in evidence in the weak sketch they’re called upon to perform.   Read more…

Steven Leigh Morris  – LA Weekly

The Sunshine Boys, written in 1972 and now in a revival at the Ahmanson, isn’t just about an odd couple. It’s as much about the theater and its legacy. A washed-up vaudeville team, Al Lewis and Willie Clark (Justin Hirsch and Danny DeVito), can’t seem to live with or without each other. Read more…

Les Spindle –  Frontiers L.A.

Center Theatre Group’s import of British director Thea Sharrock’s 2012 London revival of Neil Simon’s 1972 comedy The Sunshine Boys offers an appealing mix of raucous humor and nostalgia.
Read more…

Now running through November 3.