Arts In LA

by Julio Martinez, January 31, 2015

LA Opera’s 2012 production of Madame Butterfly


As the opening two-opera salvo of its 2015–16 season at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, LA Opera makes double use of general director Plácido Domingo—starring in the season opening Woody Allen staging of Giacomo Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, followed by Domingo taking up the baton to conduct Franco Zeffirelli’s staging of Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci (Sept. 12–Oct. 3). The season continues with Jake Heggie’s Moby Dick, starring Jay Hunter Morris (Oct. 31–Nov. 28); and Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma, starring Angela Meade, directed by Anne Bogart (Nov. 21–Dec. 13).

   LA Opera kicks off 2016 programming with a revival of its 2013 staging of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, helmed by Barrie Kosky and Suzanne Andrade of British theater company 1927 (Feb. 13–March 6, 2016). Puccini’s Madame Butterfly follows, starring Ana Maria Martinez, directed by Lee Blakeley (March 12–April 3). The opera production season at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion closes with Herbert Ross’s staging of La bohème, starring Nino Machaidze as Mimi, conducted by Speranza Scappucci and LA Philharmonic’s music director, Gustavo Dudamel, (March 12–April 3).

   In concert, Domingo joins soprano Renee Fleming (pictured) in an evening of classic solos and duets, conducted by LA Opera music director James Conlon, March 16, 2016. LA Opera’s Off Grand productions include the West Coast premiere of Song From the Uproar, by composer Missi Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek, performed at REDCAT (Oct. 8–11, 2015); The Festival Play of Daniel, performed at Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels (March 4–5, 2016); and the premiere of Anatomy Theater, by composer David Lang and visual artist Mark Dion, performed at REDCAT, June 16–19, 2016.


Colony Theatre in Burbank launches into its 2015–16 season, highlighted by the premiere of the one-woman Mary Lincoln, starring Patty Duke (pictured).

   The 2015 portion kicks off with the West Coast debut of The Fabulous Lipitones—following the machinations that ensue when an all-white barbershop quartet considers replacing its recently deceased lead singer with a dark-skinned immigrant from India—scripted by John Markus and Mark St. Germain, helmed by Markus (July 25–Aug. 23); Mary Lincoln, by John Philip Dayton, helmed by Cameron Watson (Sept. 19–Oct. 18); and the California premiere of Humble Boy—the travails of a brilliant but bumbling astrophysicist struggling to unlock the secrets of the human heart—scripted by Charlotte Jones, helmed by David Rose (Nov. 7–Dec. 13).

   Colony’s 2016 fare begins with the West Coast premiere of The Best of Enemies—a journey of discovery when an African-American civil rights activist and a leader in the Ku Klux Klan are forced by federal law to work together to integrate their small North Carolina town—scripted by St. Germain, based on the book of the same name by Osha Gray Davidson, helmed by Rose (dates TBA). The season closes with the premiere tuner Another Roll of the Dice—based on the New York City stories of Damon Runyon—wrought by Mark Saltzman (book), Frank Loesser (music and lyrics), and others, helmed by Michael Matthews (April 16–May 15, 2016).


Cabrillo Music Theatre, performing its season at Bank of America Performing Arts Center at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, reveals its four-show 2015–16 season, beginning with 1955 Tony-winner Damn Yankees, created by Richard Adler (music), Jerry Ross (lyrics), and George Abbott and Douglas Wallop (book), opening Oct. 16. The season continues with A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, wrought by Stephen Sondheim (music and lyrics), Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart, opening Jan. 29, 2016; Children of Eden—a musical based on the Old Testament’s Book of Genesis—created by Stephen Schwartz (pictured) (music and lyrics) and John Caird (book), opening April 8, 2016; and The Little Mermaid—based on the 1989 Disney film—music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman, additional lyrics by Glenn Slater, book by Doug Wright, opening July 16, 2016.


Zephyr Theatre in Hollywood presents the premiere of Finding Nick—a solo work, written and performed by noted stage and film actor Nicholas Guest  (pictured), with accompanying musicians, including wife Pamela Guest—helmed by Lee Sankowich, opening Feb. 20.

   Hudson Theatre Guild in Hollywood hosts the premiere of Hollywood and Broadway—a farcical romp through a mano a mano confrontation between film divas Tallulah Bankhead and Gloria Swanson at New York’s Hotel Astor in 1951—scripted and helmed by Octavio Carlin, opening Feb. 14.


Musical Theatre Guild continues its 2014 season with a revival of 1955 tuner The Golden Apple—introducing the jazz/pop standard “Lazy Afternoon”—created by Jerome Moross (music) and John Treville Latouche (book and lyrics), helmed by Michael Van Duzer (pictured), musical direction by Richard Berent, performing Feb. 8 at Moss Theatre at New Roads School in Santa Monica.

   The National Touring Company of Wicked, in residence at Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, hosts The Wicked Rocky Horror Show, a staged concert performance of Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show, at Fonda Theatre in Hollywood, Monday, Feb. 23, featuring company members from Wicked and guest performers, benefiting Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

   The Porters of Hellsgate begins its ninth season with William Shakespeare’s Othello, featuring artistic director Charles Pasternak (pictured) in the role of Iago, Matt Calloway in the tile role, and Eliza Kiss as Desdemona, helmed by Thomas Bigley, opening Feb. 28 at The Whitmore Theatre in NoHo.


Hollywood’s Magic Castle

In 1909, banker and real estate developer Rollin B. Lane constructs a Victorian-style mansion, designed by architects Lyman Farwell and Oliver Dennis, on a Hollywood hillside property, officially listed at 7001 Franklin Ave. In 1955, the Lane family sells the property to Thomas O. Glover.

   During this time, Milt Larsen (pictured) (born in 1931) and elder brother Bill Larsen Jr. actively work in the television industry, but they hope to realize a dream of their father, Bill Larsen Sr., a successful businessman whose great passion was magic. Larsen Sr., who dies in 1953, had desired to create a gathering place for magicians where they could train and ply their trade in a clubhouse atmosphere. In 1961, the Larsen brothers persuade Glover to lease them the mansion, and they convert the property. The newly named Magic Castle opens on Jan. 2, 1963, as a magician-members-only facility.

   As the membership grows over the years, the Larsens face the need to expand the facility without changing the original façade of the mansion. They burrow into the hillside behind the Castle, allowing the brothers to add several performance spaces, bars, a dining facility, a library, and museum, as well as meeting- and training-rooms under the auspices of The Academy of Magical Arts. Admission to the castle continues to be restricted to members and their invited guests. A strict dress code is also enforced.

   The Magic Castle is declared a Los Angeles Cultural Monument in 1989. Bill Larsen Jr. dies in 1993 after a long illness. Under Milt’s guidance, Magic Castle continues to flourish. By 2000, the membership has grows to more than 5,000 and includes such celebrities as Johnny Carson, Steve Martin, Neil Patrick Harris, and Jason Alexander. On Oct. 31, 2011, the Castle suffers damage from a fire that starts in the attic, and a section is closed down temporarily. After extensive repairs and refurbishing, Magic Castle reopens in its entirety in February 2012.

Julio Martinez hosts Arts in Review—celebrating the best in live theater and cabaret in Greater Los Angeles—on Fridays, 2–2:30pm, on KPFK (90.7FM).


The following have generously supported
Fitzmaurice Voicework
with Lisa Pelikan
Fountain Theatre
Opening Jan. 24



* Anna Christie; Mrs. Parliament’s Night Out; Love, Sex and the I.R.S.; Revival; Reborning


   * Meet Gigi Bermingham

   * Reviews of more great LA theater

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