Original Casts to Record TRIBES, DIRTY BLONDE, I AM MY OWN WIFE and More for L.A. Theatre Works' 2014-15 Season
L.A. Theatre Works celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2014-15 with a season of ten radio-theater productions, each recorded by a star-studded cast in front of a live audience for future radio broadcast, distribution on CD, digital download and online streaming. All performances take place at the 300-seat, acoustically vibrant James Bridges Theater located on the campus of UCLA in West Los Angeles. In addition, the company heads out on its 10th annual national tour.
Highlights of the upcoming season include the recording of Nina Raine's West End and off-Broadway hit Tribes by original off-Broadway cast members Russell Harvard, Susan Pourfar and Mare Winningham; Tony Award-nominated performances by Broadway cast members Claudia Shear, Bob Stillman and Kevin Chamberlin in Shear's Dirty Blonde; and Doug Wright's I Am My Own Wife starring Jefferson Mays, who will record his Tony Award-winning tour-de-force performance as Charlotte von Mahlsdorf. Five performances of John Ball's noir thriller In the Heat of the Night, adapted for the stage by Matt Pelfrey, will kick off a 21-city national tour set for October through March.
L.A. Theatre Works will also celebrate the 100th birthdays of two literary giants: a distinguished cast of Welsh and Welsh-American actors including Kate Burton, Laura Evans, Andrew Howard, Jason Hughes, Christopher Monger and Matthew Rhys will create a landmark recording of Under Milk Wood to honor the great Welsh poet Dylan Thomas (1914-1953), and Edward Asner, Hector Elizondo and Jane Kaczmarek will headline the cast of an L.A. Theatre Works original docudrama about Arthur Miller (1915-2005).
"Although we've been around for four decades, L.A. Theatre Works took a leap in the mid-80s in how we bring great theater to audiences everywhere," says producing director Susan Loewenberg. "While the technology behind how we get theater to millions of global audience members keeps changing, the one constant continues to be great dramatic content. L.A. Theatre Works has an unwavering commitment to presenting and producing the highest quality, most exciting and meaningful plays of yesterday, today and tomorrow with stellar casts."
When Loewenberg and several colleagues founded L.A. Theatre Works, then known as "Artists in Prison," in 1974, the company's goal was to use theater as the tool to provide a voice for unheard and under-served communities including incarcerated adults. In the 1980s, LATW began producing highly theatrical and new works from the U.S. and abroad, introducing Los Angeles to writers such as Steven Berkoff, Jon Robin Baitz, Milton Sanchez Scott, John Steppling, John Godber, Franz Xavier Kroetz, Peter Handke and Timberlake Wertenbaker. During this period, the organization received numerous Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle and Best Production awards, was in on the first round of Kennedy Center grants for new work, was chosen to participate in the Olympic Arts Festival, toured the Coyote Cycle to Yugoslavia and sent two plays on to New York. The establishment of L.A. Classic Theatre Works in 1987 led to the audio recording of Sinclair Lewis' Babbitt, and subsequently to The Play's The Thing live-in-performance radio theater series, which had its first season in 1989. Today, L.A. Theatre Works produces and records 10 plays a year at UCLA's James Bridges Theater in addition to recording plays in the studio.
L.A. Theatre Works stands apart in its approach to making great theater widely accessible and affordable, bringing plays into the homes and classrooms of millions of theater lovers, teachers and students each year via public radio; the internet; iOS and Android-compatible apps; and availability on iTunes, Amazon, audible.com and in over 11,000 libraries across the U.S. In addition, L.A. Theatre Works recordings are distributed, free of charge, along with study guides, to thousands of middle and secondary schools. The L.A. Theatre Works catalog of 500 recorded plays is the largest archive of its kind in the world.
The schedule for L.A. Theatre Works's 40th Anniversary Season is as follows:
Under Milk Wood - Opening its 40th Anniversary Season and paying homage to the great Welsh poet Dylan Thomas on the 100th anniversary of his birth, L.A. Theatre Works records his immortal "play for voices" with a distinguished cast of Welsh and Welsh-American actors. Sara Sugarman directs Kate Burton (Scandal), Laura Evans (BBC's The Basil Brush Show), Andrew Howard (Limitless, Hatfields and McCoys), Jason Hughes (Midsomer Murders), Christopher Monger (director, The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill But Came Down A Mountain) and Matthew Rhys (The Americans) in Thomas' intensely beautiful, poignant and sublimely funny linguistic tour-de-force about the salty little fishing village of Llareggub - an enchanted spot where the wicked are forgiven and their indiscretions transformed into rich fuel for comedy. Featuring original music composed by Matthew Gold (Doctor Who).
In the Heat of the Night - L.A. Theatre Works kicks off a national tour with five performances of John Ball's sizzling 1965 noir thriller, adapted for the stage by acclaimed playwright Matt Pelfrey. Based on the award-winning novel which inspired the Oscar-winning film and the Emmy-winning television series, this off-Broadway hit pits a visiting black detective from California against a small Alabama town simmering with anger over desegregation. The play, a fitting reflection of America in the 1960s, remains provocative, timely and uncomfortably relevant. Following the L.A. run, the radio theater production heads out on tour to 21 cities across the U.S. (Oct. 24-March 9). Directed by Brian Kite and starring Ryan Vincent Anderson, Michael Sweeney Hammond, Kalen Harriman, Travis Johns, Darren Richardson and Tom Virtue.
Racing Demon - The first play in David Hare's trilogy dealing with British social institutions in the aftermath of Thatcherism focuses on four Church of England clergymen who are attempting to minister to an economically and racially mixed parish in South London's Southwark diocese. More than 20 years after its groundbreaking debut at London's National Theatre (winner, Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play), the questions raised by this modern classic - from the relevancy of religion in today's world to the issue of gays and women as priests - ring more resoundingly than ever. Starring Alan Mandell and Lesley Nicol (Downton Abbey), and directed by Rosalind Ayres.
Cyrano de Bergerac - For over a century this soaring story of passion, honor, romance and the heartbreak of unrequited love has celebrated the optimism and resilience of the human spirit like no other. Hamish Linklater (The Newsroom) stars as Cyrano, France's greatest swordsman and a distinguished poet whose many talents and whimsical aptitude for the spoken word are overshadowed by an attribute that is iconic, outrageous and gigantic - his nose. How can the curiously snouted Cyrano ever hope to win the affections of the beautiful Roxane? Also featuring Geoffrey Arend (upcoming CBS series Madame Secretary), Gregory Itzin (Covert Affairs) and David Krumholtz (Numb3rs), and directed by Martin Jarvis.
Jan. 29-Feb. 1:
Intelligence-Slave - Kenneth Lin's startling tale is based on real events. We have all heard countless tales of the Holocaust: some heartbreaking, some inspiring - but few will have heard of Curt Herzstark, an Austrian industrialist and concentration camp prisoner. This deeply moving drama reveals how Herzstark was sent by the Nazis to an underground salt mine, where he began experimenting with a device that would become one of the most significant inventions of the 20th century: the hand-held calculator. Directed by Matt August, featuring Dakin Matthews and Josh Stamberg, and presented as part of L.A. Theatre Works' Relativity Series featuring science-themed plays. Major funding for the Relativity Series is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to enhance public understanding of science and technology in the modern world.
Tribes - Original off-Broadway cast members Russell Harvard, Susan Pourfar and Mare Winningham star in Nina Raine's savage, funny look at family dynamics and the challenges of communication. Billy has been deaf since birth, but his hilariously narcissistic family has never learned sign language. In fact, until he meets Sylvia, who is fluent in ASL, Billy has never in his life been heard or understood by anyone. Teeming with rich characters and revolutionary dialogue, this critically-acclaimed West End and off-Broadway sensation boldly asks some of life's hardest questions: what is communication and understanding, and can we truly have it - with anyone? Winner of the 2012 Drama Desk Award winner for Outstanding Play.
Arthur Miller-A Life - Celebrating the 2015 centennial of the great American playwright, this world premiere docudrama starring Edward Asner, Hector Elizondo and Jane Kaczmarek reveals the events in Arthur Miller's life that shaped some of the most iconic plays in modern history. Get a glimpse into Miller's Depression-era adolescence. Journey into the McCarthy era and Miller's complicated relationships with director Elia Kazan and Marilyn Monroe; and, later, his marriage to Inge Morath. Arthur Miller-A Life sheds rich and lasting light on the life and art of a profound man. Directed by Kate McAll.
Dirty Blonde - L.A. Theatre Works reunites one of the few Broadway casts in history to be entirely nominated for individual Tony Awards - Claudia Shear, Bob Stillman and Kevin Chamberlin - in this touching and hilarious tribute to Mae West. The 1930s film star comes roaring back to life when two super-fans meet at her grave and form a hesitant friendship. Together, their celebrity fantasies form a strikingly human portrait of America's wittiest sex symbol.
I Am My Own Wife - Jefferson Mays recreates his Tony Award-winning role as Charlotte von Mahlsdorf in the solo play that swept the 2004 awards season, garnering Tony, Obie, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Theatre Awards as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Inspired by interviews conducted by the playwright over several years, I Am My Own Wife tells the fascinating real-life story of a German transvestite who managed to survive both Nazi rule and the repressive East German Communist regime, hiding in plain sight for over fifty years.
The Whipping Man - Why is this night different from all other nights? For three Richmond Jews gathered around a makeshift Seder table at the close of the Civil War - one a former Confederate soldier (Jonathan Groff), two his former slaves - age-old questions of justice and freedom find new and surprising answers. Matthew Lopez's riveting and richly complex story has been hailed as "emotionally potent" by The New York Times, "wonderfully satisfying" by the Village Voice and "gripping" by the Los Angeles Times. Winner of the 2011 John Gassner New Play Award from the New York Outer Critics Circle. Directed by Judyann Elder.
L.A. Theatre Works has been the foremost producer of radio theater in the United States for over 25 years, bringing the finest recorded dramatic literature to millions of listeners every week. L.A. Theatre Works' syndicated radio theater series airs weekly on public radio stations nationwide, including KPFK 90.7 FM, Los Angeles (98.7 FM in Santa Barbara, 99.5 FM in Ridgecrest/China Lake and 93.7 FM in Rancho Bernardo/North San Diego); KALW 91.7 FM, San Francisco; KRCB 91.1 FM, Santa Rosa; KUOW 94.9 FM, Seattle; and in over 75 markets nationwide.
All performances of L.A. Theatre Works' radio theater series take place at UCLA's James Bridges Theater on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., with matinees on Saturdays at 3 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m., and are recorded live-in-performance (without sets or costumes). The James Bridges Theater is located in Melnitz Hall on the campus of UCLA, at 235 Charles E. Young Dr., Los Angeles CA 90095. Enter UCLA off Sunset Blvd. and Hilgard, and park in Lot 3 on the lower level. Tickets range from $15-$60. Assisted listening devices are available. For more information and to purchase season subscriptions or single tickets, call 310-827-0889. To view the season brochure and order online, go to www.latw.org.