'War Horse,' 'American Idiot' Coming to L.A.'s Ahmanson Theatre
Center Theatre Group has revealed a particularly noteworthy 2011-2012 season of five shows to be presented at L.A.'s Ahmanson Theatre.
The roster includes two current Broadway hit musicals, a West Coast premiere musical, a revival of the long-unseen 1964 smash musical Funny Girl, and the National Theatre of Great Britain's production of the acclaimed drama War Horse.
The explosive hit American Idiot (March 14-April 22, 2012), which was previously announced, features the music of Green Day and the lyrics of its lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong.
Armstrong and Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening) wrote the book, and Mayer directs. The show was nominated for three 2010 Tony Awards, including best musical. It's the story of three boyhood friends, each searching for meaning in a post-9/11 world. It originated at Berekely Repertory Theatre.
Another current Great White Way offering, Fela! is set to run April 27-June 3, 2012. It includes the exuberant and kenetic music of Afrobeat legend Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.
Nominated for a 2010 best musical Tony as a well as 10 others, the show is based on the life of the charismatic Kuti. Book is by Jim Lewis and two-time Tony winner Bill T. Jones, who recently was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors. Jones also directs and choreographs.
Making its West Coast premiere, as previously announced, is Bring it On: The Musical (Nov. 11-Dec. 10).
It brings together a wealth of creative talent. Libretto is by Jeff Whitty (Avenue Q), music by Tom Kitt (Next to Normal) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights), and lyrics by Miranda. Director-choreographer is Andy Blankenbuehler (In the Heights). This piece combines the high-stakes world of competitive cheerleading with cutthroat high-school politics, following the story of a student who is heir-apparent to the head cheerleader title until her seemingly charmed life receives a sudden jolt. Created at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, the hip-hop-flavored show received high praise in its developmental run.
A musical that many people have been asking about for years finally gets its long-hoped-for revival. The show that originally sent Barbra Streisand's then-budding career into the stratosphere, Jule Styne and Bob Merrill's Funny Girl (with book by Isobel Lennart), is a blissfully tuneful bio-musical about legendary vaudeville entertainer Fanny Brice. Dates are Feb. 1-26, 2012.
It calls for a superstar lead performance, so it will be fascinating to see who gets tapped for the role. The 1964 Broadway tuner was made into an even more famous best-picture-nominated movie, marking the film debut of Streisand, and the vehicle that won her an acting Oscar.
Adding to the excitement of this revival -- clearly with its eyes on a Broadway run -- is that it will be directed by Bartlett Sher, who helmed the unforgettable Tony-winning Lincoln Center revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific. Last year's touring edition of that show, seen at the Ahmanson, was honored last week by seven Back Stage Garland Awards, and this week earned a McCulloh award for a 2010 revival, voted by members of the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle.
The sole drama in the season is an impressive one. From the National Theatre of Great Britain comes War Horse, adapted by Nick Stafford from Michael Murpurgo's beloved novel of the same name.
It is slated to run June 20-July 22, 2012. This piece premiered at the National Theatre of London in November, 2007, moving to the West End in March, 2009. Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris co-direct. The story is set at the outbreak of World War I in the English countryside and in the battle fields of France and Germany. Incorporating much music, the reportedly joyful story tells of a young boy whose beloved horse has been sold to the cavalry and shipped off to France.
All of these entries sound terrific, promising one of the Ahmanson's best seasons yet.