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2004: The Year Ahead in Los Angeles Theatre

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Lately I have been saying that L.A. is the new New York, as the city continues to expand its cultural horizons and bring us the best the theatre world has to offer. Not only was L.A. the first to see Tony Kushner's Angels in America, we also got The Cider House Rules, and Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake before Broadway (and some shows like Matthew Bourne's Cinderella and The Car Man, both wondrous, magical evenings of theatre, that never saw the bright lights of Broadway). And with such new venues as the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and it's adjacent RedCat Performance space, I think L.A. will be seeing a lot more theatre greats and productions pass through town.

After a great 2003 in L.A. theatre, which brought us, among other things, Elaine Stritch: At Liberty (my personal fave) and The Producers (finally!), the year 2004 shows some great promise for the Southland legit-lovers. It will be a year when some of your favorite shows return to town, the best of Broadway stop by for the first time, as well as some 'L.A. only' shows which will make this city the envy of the rest of the country (well, aside from New York).

Before I begin the list of things to come, I would like to highlight a few things that are sure to be the hot tickets in town.

First off is Baz Luhrmann's production of La Boheme, which opened in New York to the critics' accolades. Well, L.A. is the only other American city (aside from San Fran which hosted it's O.O.T. tryout) that will see this spectacular production. Previews begin January 9th, the show opens officially with a Black-Tie gala on Sunday, January 14th, and it runs through March 7th, 2004. For tickets visit www.taperahmanson.com.

Also creating buzz right next-door at the Mark Taper Forum, is the new musical, Like Jazz, running now through January 25th, 2004. Talk about a dream team of creators: music by Cy Coleman (Sweet Charity, City of Angels), lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman (Streisand's favorite!), book by Larry Gelbart (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, City of Angels), choreography by Patricia Birch (A Little Night Music, Parade), and directed by Gordon Davidson (Children of a Lesser God). This new musical offers a glimpse into the world of Jazz, celebrates the art form and the people who can do nothing else but live, breathe, sleep and create jazz. For tickets visit http://taperahmanson.com/theatre.asp?theatre=taper.

Heading west across town to the Geffen Playhouse, audiences will be thrilled to discover the new work by actor/writer/director Steve Martin (Picasso at the Lapin Agile) who adapts Carl Sternheim's 1910 farce, The Underpants. In what is sure to be a crowd-pleasing show, a newly married couple must cope with the craziness that ensues when the wife's underwear falls down in the midst of a parade for the king. On top of that, they also have to deal with a noisy neighbor and some suitors who want to rent a room in their tiny flat. Performances begin March 9 – April 18th, 2004. For tickets visit http://geffenplayhouse.com/.

The Reprise! Series is back with another couple of great "gems" beginning with Kismet. Starring Len Cariou (Sweeney Todd), this musical retelling of Arabian Nights won five Tony Awards and is sure to win accolades from L.A. audiences in this staged reading. Performances begin January 20th through February 1st, 2004 at the Freud Playhouse on the UCLA campus. For more info visit http://www.reprise.org/. Then from May 18-30, 2004, the famed concept musical Company, by Stephen Sondheim gets the Reprise! treatment.

Just down the coast at the Laguna Playhouse is the California Premiere of Jason Robert Brown's (Parade) acclaimed Off-Broadway hit, The Last Five Years. Garnering praise from the Southland critics, this is musical, about the unraveling of a relationship between husband and wife, is an event not to be missed. Playing NOW through February 1st, 2004. For tickets and information visit http://www.lagunaplayhouse.com/new_season/season_at_glance.html.

Back downtown, the Taper is also offering the American Premiere of the new play The Talking Cure by Christopher Hampton (Les Liasons Dangereuses, Sunset Boulevard). This daring new work explores the budding friendship of Sigmund Freud and philosopher Carl Jung. In the play, Jung uses Freud's new therapy regime – psychoanalysis – on a woman by the name of Sabina Spielrein. But with it comes a new era of sexual politics that neither is quite ready for, leading to an irreconcilable break in their friendship. Performances begin April 4, 2004 – May 23, 2004.

In the heart of Hollywood, three Broadway musicals will finally be making their L.A. debuts! First Urinetown: The Musical lands at the Wilshire Theatre in May (coming from it's other Southland venue, the Orange County Performing Arts Center where it plays in April). And then the hit of Broadway, Hairspray (Last year's Tony Award-winning musical), dances its way into the Pantages (recent home of The Producers) for a three-month stint, from July 20th – September 5th, 2004. Tickets go on sale April 25, 2004. For more information on these two shows visit CLICK HERE. Finally, Thoroughly Modern Millie comes to the Southland, visiting both the Ahmanson Theatre in May and the OrangeCountyPerformingArtsCenter in July.

So as you can see, it looks to be another exciting year! On top of these shows, several theatres have yet to announce their full schedules, so there will still be a few surprises on the horizon for southland theatre-lovers.

For a complete list of most of the major shows hitting the Southern California main stages, see below…

JANUARY

Chicago - Musical (National Tour starring Patrick Swayze)
NOW – Jan. 25, 2004 @ the Pantages Theatre

Like Jazz – Musical (World Premiere)
NOW – Jan. 25, 2004 @ The Mark Taper Forum

The Last Five Years – Musical by Jason Robert Brown (California Premier)
NOW – Feb. 1 @ The Laguna Playhouse

Lovers and Executioners – Play
NOW – Jan. 25, 2004 @ SouthCoast Rep; Julianne Argyros Stage

Talley's Folly – Play by Lanford Wilson
Jan. 9 – Feb. 15, 2004 @ The Pasadena Playhouse

La Boheme – Opera/Musical (Baz Luhrmann's Broadway Production)
Jan. 9 – March 7, 2004 @ The Ahmanson Theatre

War Music - Play
Jan. 13 – February 22, 2004 @ The Geffen Playhouse

Antigone – Play
Jan. 23 – Feb. 29, 2004 @ SouthCoast Rep; Segerstrom Stage

Starlight Express – Musical (National Tour)
Jan. 27 – Feb. 8, 2004 @ the Pantages Theatre

FEBRUARY

Topdog/Underdog – Play (West Coast Debut)
Feb 1 - March 28, 2004 @ The Mark Taper Forum

The Constant Wife
– Play
Feb. 14 – March 14, 2004 @ The Laguna Playhouse

Dirty Blonde – Play (Los Angeles Premiere)
Feb. 27 – April 4, 2004 @ The Pasadena Playhouse

MARCH

Intimate Exchanges – Play (Alan Ayckbourne)
March 7 – 28, 2004 @
South Coast Rep; Julianne Argyros Stage

The Underpants – Play (West Coast Premiere)
March 9 – April 18, 2004 @ The Geffen Playhouse

The Royal Family – Play Revival (George S. Kaufman & Edna Ferber)
March 23 – May 16, 2004 @ The Ahmanson Theatre

APRIL

Safe in Hell – Play (World Premiere)
April 2 – May 9, 2004 @ SouthCoast Rep; Segerstrom Stage

What the Night is For – Play (American Premiere)
April 3 – May 2, 2004 @ The Pasadena Playhouse

The Talking Cure – Play (American Premiere)
April 4 – May 23, 2004 @ The Mark Taper Forum

Enchanted April – 2003 Tony Nominated Play (West Coast Premiere)
April 16 – May 23, 2004 @ The Pasadena Playhouse

Mamma Mia! – Musical (National Tour)
April 22 – May 2, 2004 @ The Pantages Theatre

Urinetown: The Musical (National Tour)
April 27 – May 2, 2004
@ The Orange CountyPerforming Arts Center

MAY

Urinetown: The Musical (National Tour)
May 11 – 23, 2004 @ The Wilshire Theatre

Thoroughly Modern Mille – 2002 Tony Award: Best Musical (National Tour)
May 18 – July 25, 2004 @ The Ahmanson Theatre

Cyrano de Bergerac - Play
May 21 – June 27, 2004 @ South Coast Rep; Segerstrom Stage


Stones in His Pockets
– Play (Returns to L.A. after it's Broadway engagement)

May 29 – July 18, 2004 @ The Mark Taper Forum.

JUNE

Oklahoma – Musical Revival (National Tour of 2002 Tony Nominated Production)
June 15 – 20, 2004 @ The OrangeCounty Performing ArtsCenter

Miss Saigon – Musical (Non-Equity Tour)
June 15 – 27, 2004 @ The Pantages Theatre

110 in the Shade – Musical Revival
June 18 – July 25, 2004 @ The Pasadena Playhouse

JULY

Hairspray – 2003 Tony Award: Best Musical (National Tour)
July 20 – Sept. 5, 2004 @ The Pantages Theatre

Be Bold – Play (World Premiere)
July 25 – Sept. 12, 2004 @ The Mark Taper Forum

Thoroughly Modern Millie – 2002 Tony Award: Best Musical (National Tour)
July 27 – Aug. 1, 2004 @ The OrangeCounty Performing ArtsCenter

AUGUST

The Producers – 2001 Tony Award: Best Musical (National Tour)
Aug. 3 – 22, 2004 @ The OrangeCounty Performing ArtsCenter

James and Annie – Play (West Coast Premiere)
August 13 – Sept. 19, 2004 @ The Pasadena Playhouse

WEBLINKS FOR MORE INFORMATION

The Ahmanson Theatre
http://taperahmanson.com/theatre.asp?theatre=ahmanson

The Geffen Playhouse
http://www.geffenplayhouse.com/

The Laguna Playhouse
http://www.lagunaplayhouse.com/

Mark Taper Forum
http://taperahmanson.com/theatre.asp?theatre=taper

Orange County Performing ArtsCenter
http://www.ocpac.org/onstage/Category.asp?EventCategoryID=1

Pantages & Wilshire Theatres
http://www.nederlander.com/wc/schedule/theatre_schedule.htm

Pasadena Playhouse
http://www.pasadenaplayhouse.org/

South Coast Repertory
http://www.scr.org/

REPRISE! Series
http://www.reprise.org/index.htm

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Timothy Kuryak After starting at the bottom, fetching coffee for some of theatre's most powerful producers of the great white way, and making his way up to Assistant Director of one of Broadway's longest-running musicals, Timothy headed west to try his luck in television. He then spent a few years in syndicated television, interviewing celebrities and producing segments featuring musicals coming through town, before directing the first season of "Big Brother" for CBS, and then focused his attention at two cable network start-ups. He then segued to international TV production for FOX, where he oversaw the international production of such formats as "Beauty & the Geek," "The Simple Life," and "Temptation Island" among others. In 2008, he was instrumental in the start-up and launch of Discovery Communications' PLANET GREEN network before segueing to OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network where he was VP, Programming. Most recently he served as VP of Production & Development (West Coast) for TLC, overseeing such shows as the "Say Yes to Dress" franchise, "Little People, Big World," "Who Do You Think You Are?" and "My 600lb Life" to name a few. Currently, he is the Executive Producer of "Who Do You Think You Are?" with Season 5 premiering this summer on TLC.

They say there is no culture in LA (well aside from what's in yogurt), but he is here to prove that axiom wrong. Anxious to begin covering the state of theatre here in the Southland (that's what the local news likes to call Southern California), neither earthquakes, fires, mudslides, nor high-speed freeway chases will keep him from his appointed rounds of giving you the scoop on the Left Coast theatre happenings!


 
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