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L.A. Loses a Stage Stalwart

September 06, 1998|Don Shirley | Don Shirley is a Times staff writer

More than anyone else in L.A., Stan Seiden was the dean of the local commercial theater presenters. From 1975 until a few months ago, he was the president of Nederlander Companies West, which handles bookings at the Pantages, Wilshire and Henry Fonda Theatres and San Diego Playgoers Series, as well as concerts and other events at several other venues.

Seiden, who died Aug. 27 of Lou Gehrig's disease at age 76, "knew everybody," said his boss, Nederlander Chairman James Nederlander, who flew out from New York for Seiden's funeral last Sunday. "He was very capable, very nice. Nothing can replace his kind of experience."

That's literally true for now. Nederlander said that he hadn't had a chance to consider a possible replacement for Seiden. Martin Wiviott, managing director of the Nederlanders' Broadway/LA series (formerly the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera), will handle theatrical bookings at the Nederlander venues, while controller David Green handles business affairs.

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BROADWAY BY THE BEACH?: Or just another bus and truck tour?

The touring version of "The King and I," at Long Beach Terrace Theater Sept. 22-27, is hailed in ads as the winner of the 1996 Tony for best musical revival--in other words, as a branch of the same production that earlier played the Orange County Performing Arts Center with Hayley Mills and the Pantages Theatre with Marie Osmond. Likewise, the press release promoting the show in Long Beach identifies it as "the national tour of the critically acclaimed Broadway revival."

It's part of Long Beach's MasterCard Broadway by the Beach subscription series.

Unlike Broadway or official national tours, however, this "King and I" uses actors who are not on an Actors' Equity contract. It's produced by Big League Theatricals instead of the Broadway producers. It uses the same costumes and some of the same set pieces as the Broadway rendition, and it has the rights to use the same logo, said the show's local publicist. However, the director and other behind-the-scenes personnel are different.

Equity, which picketed at the same venue last year over a similar non-Equity show, may do the same this year, said the union's western regional director, John Holly. "We can't stop them from doing it, and we don't deny that the actors might be talented," he allowed. "But don't tell the public it's a Broadway show. Don't advertise a Broadway series if you're mixing non-Equity casts with full Equity productions."

The venue's general manager, David Gordon, defended the quality of previous non-Equity productions, but referred other questions to Pace Theatrical Group, which packages the Broadway by the Beach season and did not return calls by press time.

At least the King in this production will be familiar to some local theatergoers: Playing the role is Lego Louis, who won an Ovation Award for "City of Angels" at the Colony Studio Theatre and recently starred there in "On the Twentieth Century."

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