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Broadway hits coming to L.A.

The Ahmanson will stage mostly favorites for its 40th season. Its sole world premiere will be a Motown musical.

April 14, 2006|Diane Haithman | Times Staff Writer

The Ahmanson Theatre's 40th anniversary season will include one world premiere musical celebrating the sounds of Motown but will mostly bring recent Broadway favorites to Los Angeles audiences in 2006-07.

In 2005-06 -- the inaugural season for Center Theatre Group artistic director Michael Ritchie -- the Ahmanson will have presented two pre-Broadway musicals: the faux-1920s "The Drowsy Chaperone," now set to open May 1 at the Marquis Theatre in New York, and the upcoming "Curtains," a backstage murder mystery set in 1959 Boston, scheduled to receive its world premiere here in mid-July and also thought to be Broadway-bound.

The upcoming season will feature Motown founder Berry Gordy's "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" (July 15-Aug. 12, 2007), a book musical that will weave songs from the Motown library into a narrative, but which will be the sole new offering in a season that will also include Broadway's "Doubt" (Sept. 27-Oct. 29), "The Light in the Piazza" (Nov. 1-Dec.10), "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (Feb.7-March 18, 2007) and "Twelve Angry Men" (March 29-May 6, 2007) as well as Matthew Bourne's previously announced dance theater piece "Edward Scissorhands" (Dec. 12-31), which premiered in London in 2005.

Ritchie, who oversees the programming at CTG's three theaters -- the Ahmanson, the Mark Taper Forum and Culver City's Kirk Douglas Theatre -- acknowledged Thursday that the upcoming season mix is more post-Broadway than pre-Broadway but added that the choices were made in the interest of best serving the local audience rather than presenting the most new material.

"Last season, we had two new musicals, and the rest of the season was partly determined by the choices that were available, and there were very few choices of shows going out on the road for us to choose from," Ritchie said.

"This year, there were many more choices, great ones, including the ones we got," he said. "My hope is that, season to season, you will see the best options that we have to produce on that stage, whether we are presenting shows that are going on the road post-Broadway or some pre-Broadway shows."

Ritchie pointed proudly to the fact that the post-Broadway offerings will feature many of the original directors, designers and actors, including Cherry Jones in "Doubt" and Kathleen Turner and Bill Irwin in "Virginia Woolf."

"We are getting the best of Broadway," he said.

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