Alan Ayckbourn's "Henceforward . . ." is moving from the Doolittle Theatre's current season to the Mark Taper Forum's next season.
It will probably appear at the Taper next fall, said Gordon Davidson, who picks the shows for both the Doolittle and the Taper.
Meanwhile, as previously speculated, the South African musical "Sarafina!" will take the "Henceforward . . ." slot at the Doolittle, July 18-Sept. 29, finally finding a Los Angeles home in the wake of a cancellation at the downtown Orpheum Theatre earlier this year.
The booking of "Sarafina!" was possible because of a cost-cutting plan devised by its producers. According to the plan, the touring "Sarafina!" will close in Richmond next week, and most of the performers will return to South Africa. Then, "the intention is for everyone to come back" to a new production in Los Angeles, said Leonard Soloway, general manager of the company.
"Everyone" refers to the actors, not to the crew that's with the show now. A lot of money was saved by eliminating the road crew that was necessary to move the production from theater to theater, said Soloway.
The weekly operating costs have been cut by $20,000, said Davidson and Soloway. Davidson had said last year that "Sarafina!" was too expensive for the Doolittle.
Meanwhile, the move of "Henceforward . . ." from the 1,012-seat Doolittle to the 760-seat Taper means that "the pressure of finding a major star" for the leading male role "is now off," said the show's director Tom Moore, "so one can simply go for the actor."
The failure to find the right star had already postponed "Henceforward . . ." once before, and it was a continuing problem for Moore. Taper audiences "are more adventurous" than the Ahmanson Theatre subscribers who go to the Doolittle, he said, and don't rely on star names as much when they decide whether to buy tickets.
The move also transfers Ayckbourn's dark farce from a proscenium stage to a thrust stage. Moore noted that "farces are made for a proscenium. The (goal) is to make it so everyone can see everything at the same time." But he believes the Taper thrust "is so shallow that you can do it so no one misses anything." Moore has staged farces at the Taper before, including "Division Street" in 1980 and "A Flea in Her Ear" in 1982.
LATC Watch: Another LATC season will apparently go by without a production from the theater's AsianAmerican Theatre Project--the only one of the theater's ethnic labs that hasn't developed a project that eventually played an LATC mainstage.
Readings of three AsianAmerican projects were held during the theater's "Big Weekend" last month, but none was deemed "ready for the mainstage," said LATC artistic director Bill Bushnell, who announced the theater's fall-winter season last week.
Rights to one of those, Han Ong's "Widescreen Version of the World," have been released to East West Players. "It didn't quite fulfill my expectations," said Bushnell.
However, he added, he has "great high hopes" for a 1992 production of another show under development by the AsianAmerican Project, "Torture."
Another play widely anticipated as a mainstage entry next season was John Steppling's "The Sea of Cortez," which also was read at the "Big Weekend." It has now been "penciled in for the next Festival of Premieres" in early 1992, said Bushnell. "I've seen the first act. Hopefully, once I see both acts, I'll take it out of pencil and put it into ink."
Under a plan approved by the Los Angeles City Council, 30% of the time on LATC stages from July 1 on will be devoted to programming presented by the Cultural Affairs Department. But Bushnell said his fall/winter plans were not affected by the new arrangement: "As primary tenant, once we set our schedule, we talk (with Cultural Affairs) about what's left."
Much of the Cultural Affairs programming will go into the building's smallest theater, which isn't used for regular LATC season offerings. Of the Cultural Affairs programming that goes into the building's three larger theaters, nothing would go on stage before December--and then it will probably be co-produced by the LATC company, said Bushnell.
Hello, Ms. Levi: Long Beach Civic Light Opera's "Hello, Dolly!," announced last week as the opening production of the group's 1991-92 season, will be "a 'Dolly' for the '90s," said producer Barry Brown.
No, this doesn't mean the Harmonia Gardens restaurant will be replaced by Campanile or Citrus--or that MTV-style moves will take over the stage, said Brown. But it could mean "shifting emphases" and some new dances, though Brown pledged to keep the show's famous waiters' galop intact. Charles Nelson Reilly, the musical's original Cornelius Hackl, will direct.
The freshest item on the Long Beach schedule will be the West Coast premiere of "Ballroom," the 1978-79 Broadway musical that was based on a television movie, "Queen of the Stardust Ballroom," about the lonely middle-aged crowd that frequents a dance hall in New York.
Michael Bennett, the late director most famous for "A Chorus Line," produced as well as directed the original "Ballroom," but "he was not 100% happy with what he did," said Brown, citing personal conversations he had with Bennett. The original production cost$2.2 million and closed after 116 performances. So the Long Beach staging will not be an exact reproduction. Director, choreographer and stars have not been named.
In Memoriam: A memorial service for the late Dexter Freeman--author of "Skies a' Fallin' " (Court Theatre, 1989), MET Theatre co-founder and former president of the Professional Actors League--will be held today at the Court, 722 N. La Cienega Blvd., at 1 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to AIDS Project Los Angeles or Project Angel Food.
Information: (213) 465-2205.