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STAGE WATCH

Life Seems a Cabaret for Susan Dietz

January 16, 1994|DON SHIRLEY

Any list of producers from L.A.'s theater boom of the '80s must include Joe Stern, Bill Bushnell and Susan Dietz. Recently Stern returned to action at his Matrix Theatre, while Bushnell left L.A. altogether. Now it's Dietz's turn for an announcement.

The former artistic director of L.A. Stage Co. and co-director of the Pasadena Playhouse is, with partner Marilyn Shapiro, opening a cabaret in Studio City.

The 60-seat Tonto & Dietz will officially open on Jan. 28 with a four-weekend run of "An Off-Broadway Cabaret," starring Bonnie Franklin, Teri Ralston, Gary Sandy and Byron Nease.

But three other acts will actually precede the official opening: singer-songwriter Michele Brourman Wednesday and Jan. 26, piano satirist Dale Gonyea on Thursday, and singer Hattie Winston on Jan. 27. Amanda McBroom will sing on Feb. 7-8, and storyteller Paul Linke will perform a new show on Feb. 14. Look for play and poetry readings and performers Steven Banks and Tony Abatemarco, said Dietz.

The venue is the former Breakin' Break Bistro, next door to the former Room for Theatre, in Gaslight Alley, 12747 Ventura Blvd. Dietz said she started her producing career in her living room, and this room is so small she feels as if she's back there "by way of Broadway"--where she took the Pasadena Playhouse production of "Mail."

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'SUNSET' WATCH: They're ready for their sound check, Mr. Lloyd Webber.

As "Sunset Boulevard" continues to break house records at the Shubert (a $854,111 gross for the week ending Jan. 9), recording begins Monday on a new "Sunset" album, starring the L.A. cast.

The decision to do the L.A. album could mean there won't be a New York "Sunset" album when the show opens on Broadway in a year or so. Noting that the original London-cast double CD is still selling, a source close to the deal-making expressed doubt the market would support a third album.

Still, "it was obvious we needed another recording" besides the London one, said a spokesman for producer-composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, citing changes made in the score for the American production. The London recording "was not the definitive version."

A release date for the L.A. album hasn't been announced. It's not even certain the new album will include the entire score. A one-disc "highlights" album from Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera" has sold well, in addition to the complete 2-disc set. However, changes in the "Sunset" score since London may be considered extensive enough to justify a new release of the entire score.

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'PHANTOM' NORTH: Speaking of "The Phantom," parts of L.A.'s four-years-plus production survive in a San Francisco production of the same show: the set, adapted for the Curran Theatre; L.A.'s last Phantom, Davis Gaines; and a few other actors.

"Gaines is elevating what is already a high-camp role to a new level here," wrote Steven Winn, the San Francisco Chronicle's critic. The show amassed $15 million in advance ticket sales before it even opened last month.

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