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STAGE WATCH

Curtain Call for Ovation Award Winners : Robert Fryer, Gregory Harrison and Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn lead a shorter list of Theatre LA honorees.

January 03, 1991|DON SHIRLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Ovations, please, for Robert Fryer, Betty Garrett, Gregory Harrison, the James Irvine Foundation, C. Bernard Jackson, Neil Simon and America's reigning theatrical couple--Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn.

They'll receive Theatre LA's second annual Ovation Awards on March 4 at the Pasadena Playhouse in a benefit for the Actors' Fund of America.

Kudos may also be due the organizers of this year's awards for paring the number of winners down from last year's 15. Last year's awards ceremony and the accompanying entertainment went on past midnight--on a Monday night, no less. "The consensus was that last year the evening was too long," said Theatre LA president Tom Mitze.

The budget for the event also has been trimmed, from $100,000-plus to about $75,000. Traditional contributors to Theatre LA or the Actors' Fund are being asked to underwrite the event so as much of the proceeds as possible can benefit the fund. Tickets cost $50, $100, $250 and $500. Information: (213) 614-0556.

Harrison and the Tandy-Cronyn team are notable examples of actors who have appeared on Los Angeles stages even while commanding the much larger salaries of screen-land. Harrison also was cited for his financial contributions to local theater, especially his Catalina Production Group, a company that consistently produces on stage as well as screen. According to one of his partners in that enterprise, Franklin Levy--who also produces the awards event--Harrison has contributed more than $1 million to Catalina and other local theatrical endeavors.

Fryer served as artistic director of the Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre for 18 years, presenting 71 major productions that have won 35 Los Angeles Drama Critics' Circle Awards. Garrett co-founded Theatre West and is chairman of its board of directors; she has also appeared in many Theatre West and other local productions.

The Irvine Foundation has provided money for Theatre LA's Arts Information Phone Line as well as several local theater companies. Jackson co-founded Inner City Cultural Center in 1965 and continues as its executive director.

Simon has premiered several of his plays in Los Angeles, including "California Suite," "They're Playing Our Song," "I Ought to Be in Pictures," "Brighton Beach Memoirs" and "Biloxi Blues." However, in recent interviews he has sworn off California premieres, citing the intense media attention. His current play, "Lost in Yonkers," opened on New Year's Eve at the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, N.C., and moves to Washington on Jan. 15 before opening on Broadway next month.

Nominations for the awards were solicited from the nearly 100-member theaters and individual producers who belong to Theatre LA, with final selections made by the group's 22-member board of governors. Besides being notable figures in the theatrical community, award recipients also must commit to appearing at the awards ceremony.

LATC Watch: Los Angeles Theatre Center continued down the path toward foreclosure and a possible city takeover during the holidays.

Foreclosure proceedings officially began Friday in response to the failure to make a $388,000 payment on the bonds that helped build LATC when they were issued in 1982. The payment was due Dec. 15.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the city's Community Redevelopment Agency confirmed Wednesday that the agency has extended its option to buy the facility. The option, which would have expired Dec. 31, is now on for another year, at a cost of $100. At a meeting next week, the agency's board is expected to discuss the terms of the offer that will be made to the bondholders.

Chesley Service: A memorial service for playwright Robert Chesley, author of "Night Sweat" and "Jerker," will begin at noon Sunday at the Celebration Theatre in Silver Lake. Chesley died Dec. 5 in San Francisco of complications from AIDS.

Information: (213) 661-1982.

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