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Ahmanson to House the Ovations

September 10, 2000|DON SHIRLEY | Don Shirley is The Times' theater writer

This year's Ovation Awards will be presented at the Ahmanson Theatre on Oct. 30--the first downtown L.A. site ever for the annual ritual in which the L.A. theater community honors its own.

The Ahmanson's resident Center Theatre Group is "our largest and most prolific member, so it's about time," said Lars Hansen, president of Theatre LA, which sponsors the Ovations.

Attempts to book the Ahmanson in previous years were stymied by conflicts with the loading and unloading of Ahmanson shows, he said. This year's ceremony will take place in the middle of the Ahmanson run of "Death of a Salesman"--and probably will use elements of the "Salesman" set.

Although such Ahmanson shows as "Show Boat" and "Fosse" have won their share of Ovations, the second round of competitive Ovations in 1995 ignored the show that occupied the Ahmanson for most of that year: "Miss Saigon." No one from the producers or the theater had registered "Miss Saigon" for the competition, so it was ineligible.

This year's Ovation nominations will be announced Sept. 25.

THE YOUTH TICKET: If you're not yet 26 years old, you can get into any Odyssey Theatre Ensemble production for $12, instead of the standard ticket prices, which range from $19.50 to $25. Like the Odyssey's senior discount ($5 off or half-price at curtain time for anyone 65 or older), this new discount is entirely age-based--you don't have to be a student.

"A lot of people are out of school but not yet established in a career, and they don't have much money," said Odyssey artistic director Ron Sossi. "When they think about going out for an evening, their image is that the theater is expensive."

Sossi said he had noticed that some small theaters that attract younger audiences charge less for tickets. "We're not getting much of that audience, so we have nothing to lose by trying it," he said. He hopes his gesture will spread to other theaters.

The policy began with the currently acclaimed "Taking Sides." Although it applies to all of Sossi's productions, it will not necessarily apply to productions that merely rent space at the Odyssey.

TIME FOR "RAGTIME": Anyone who intended to pass up the touring "Ragtime" at Orange County Performing Arts Center during the next two weeks, on the grounds that it also could be seen next June 12-17 at Pasadena Civic Auditorium, should know that the Pasadena engagement has been canceled. The tour is now slated to be in Newark, N.J., during those June dates, and it won't be able to make another trip to the West Coast before it closes--which will take place either that week or by the end of June, said one of the tour's bookers. Attempts to move up the Pasadena booking failed. In Pasadena, "Chicago" has been moved from the April slot to the June slot, and "Fame" has taken over the April slot.

LONG BEACH REFURBISHMENT: Center Theater at Long Beach Performing Arts Center has new seats, carpets, sound and lighting equipment, drapes, and outdoor signage, thanks to $500,000 approved by the Long Beach City Council and taken from the center's parking surcharge fund. The improvements are already enhancing the International City Theatre's "Loot."

DES SPEAKS: Des McAnuff, whose one-season return to La Jolla Playhouse as interim artistic director was recently announced, compared the differences between working in theater and working in Hollywood, which has occupied most of his time in the last few years: "There's a sense of community and continuity that's really appealing in theater. In motion pictures, you go through a series of different families--one in pre-production, one in production, one in post-production, and [unlike the pre-planned seasons of major theaters] you're often not sure when your job will start. It depends on actors' availability and when you get the green light."

WHO NEEDS JESSE HELMS?: Headline on a press release issued by a national theater organization: "14 THEATERS ACROSS THE U.S. BAN TOGETHER TO PRODUCE FESTIVAL OF NEW MUSICALS."

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