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Ahmanson to Bring in ' 'Da Noise,' 'Chicago'

Theater: With 'Rent,' theater now has three of Broadway biggest hits on its 1997-98 schedule.

March 18, 1997|DON SHIRLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Touring productions of two of Broadway's biggest current hits, "Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk" and "Chicago," have been added to the Ahmanson Theatre's 1997-98 season, artistic director-producer Gordon Davidson announced Monday. Together with the previously announced "Rent," the three make up a chain of hot Broadway musicals.

The fourth show in the season, yet to be named and scheduled for the summer of 1998, will be a non-musical play, Davidson said. He hopes it will be an original Center Theatre Group production.

It's not known yet whether any of the Broadway stars of the three musicals will be performing in L.A., Davidson said.

"Bring in 'Da Noise" will play March 11-April 26, 1998. It explores the history of "the beat," using tap choreography by Savion Glover as well as a book and lyrics by Reg. E. Gaines and music by Daryl Waters, Zane Mark and Ann Duquesnay, with additional lyrics by Duquesnay and director George C. Wolfe. Wolfe also is credited with conceiving the show, based on an idea by Wolfe and Glover.

"Chicago" is scheduled for May 6-July 5, 1998. It's Walter Bobbie's staging of the 1975 gangster musical, with a score by John Kander and Fred Ebb and a book by Ebb. Anne Reinking choreographed in the style of the show's original director-choreographer Bob Fosse.

Although Jonathan Larson's "Rent" will be sold to subscribers for dates from Sept. 28 to Dec. 7, the gap in the schedule before "Bring in 'Da Noise" means there will be ample time for an extension of the Tony-winning "Rent." A final closing date has not yet been announced.

Davidson said: "I very much intend [the fourth slot] to be a home-grown play, utilizing the community." However, he added that it's easier to set touring shows well in advance than it is to schedule original productions; the Ahmanson is "a crucial part of the planning process" for national tours.

Original productions generally cost more than tours, and with a theater as large as the Ahmanson, "it's a challenge to achieve a level of economic stability," Davidson said. "I need to build that base first so we have a capability to take risks."

He noted that the subscription series returned to the Ahmanson in 1995 after six years at the Doolittle Theatre in Hollywood, which he said has complicated the process of attracting new audiences. However, he hopes the shows announced so far will attract "new audiences, young and diverse audiences," as well as satisfy the core of veteran Ahmanson subscribers.

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