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Theater Notes

Ovations Plan: Spotlight the Vast L.A. Scene

October 29, 2000|DON SHIRLEY | Don Shirley is The Times' theater writer

This year's Ovations Awards ceremony, to be held Monday at the Ahmanson Theatre, will open with a musical comedy number "about this big, unwieldy thing that's L.A. theater," said Michael Michetti, who's directing the Ovations show for the second year in a row.

Billy Barnes, veteran Hollywood revue writer, wrote the number, which will be performed by a cast of 10 "who represent various aspects of L.A. theater," Michetti said. In other words, the performers won't all be actors. Some will be, say, artistic directors, Michetti acknowledged, before clamming up on naming any actual names. He didn't want to spoil the surprise, he said. But he expressed confidence about the cast's vocal abilities, and besides, he added, the music won't be too challenging.

The ceremony has been designed "so a host isn't essential," Michetti said. The Ovations organizers learned to do this last year, when announced host Jason Alexander canceled and no suitable replacement was found, which forced the show to go hostless--without any noticeable complaints. Culture Clash will provide some running comedy throughout the show, and a few other people might occasionally serve as temporary hosts.

In order to avoid "the faux spontaneous banter between presenters" that so often sinks many an awards show, Michetti has asked each presenter to briefly reminisce about a particular experience that person had in L.A. theater. "It'll keep pulling the focus back to why we're all there," Michetti said.

Garry Marshall will present Disney chief Michael Eisner with the Doolittle Award, and the married actress-director team of Eva Marie Saint and Jeffrey Hayden will deliver the lifetime achievement award to actor Ray Stricklyn.

As at last year's show, musical numbers from currently running shows, as opposed to best musical nominees, are on tap. As of press time, the possibility that a few "Lion King" creatures might join the festivities was being considered but had not been confirmed.

Last year's effort to Webcast the arrivals and backstage scene won't be repeated; logistical problems at the Ahmanson were too great, said Lars Hansen, president of the Ovations' sponsor, Theatre LA.

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NEW WORK: The Mark Taper Forum's New Work Festival, held at the Actors' Gang in Hollywood this year, will end a tradition of dividing the work between two-day workshops and one-day readings. All of the events are now "open public rehearsals," and all but three will receive only one performance. A Taper spokesman explained that the preparation time for most of the plays this year is four to six days, flexibly scattered over relatively long periods of time. In the past, workshops received 10 more or less consecutive days of work while readings received only one or two such days.

Up first is "The Lalo Project," created by Diane Rodriguez and Jose Delgado (Nov. 18-19).

After a Thanksgiving break, the festival returns with "Border Ballad" by Ruben Martinez (Nov. 30); "Floating Weeds" by Philip Kan Gotanda (Dec. 1); "Gold" by Diana Son and "The Giver" by Kim Dunbar (Dec. 2); and "Frankincense" by John Rafter Lee (Dec. 3).

"Dog Mouth" by John Steppling gets two outings, Dec. 6 and 7. Then the list of one-timers continues with "The Fair Hope Memorial" by Louise Schwarz (Dec. 8); "The Circumference of a Squirrel" by John S. Walch and "The Home Life of Polar Bears" by Hilly Hicks Jr. (Dec. 9); and "Isthmus" by Roger Arturo Durling (Dec. 10).

The last week includes "Will He Bop, Will He Drop?" by Robert Alexander (Dec. 13 and 14); "The Heart of a Man" by Robert Glaudini (Dec. 15); "Middle Passage" by Lynn Manning and "Good Thing" by Jessica Goldberg (Dec. 16).

All events are free, with seating on a first-come, first-served basis.

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AND AT USC: The National Repertory Theatre Foundation and USC are jointly presenting five staged readings and two symposiums (co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle) at USC's Annenberg Hall next weekend. Critic and director Robert Brustein will participate in the Sunday panel on critics. The events are free, although on-campus parking is $6. Information: (213) 740-2167. *

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