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April 25, 2013 | By John M. Glionna
LAS VEGAS - Nevada state Sen. Kelvin Atkinson says he didn't plan to come out of the closet as a gay man before the entire state Senate, and the nation, this week. It just worked out that way. The 44-year-old Democrat, who represents North Las Vegas, was sitting through a late-night debate on a measure he helped sponsor to repeal the gay marriage ban from the state constitution. That's when he heard statements that both angered and moved him emotionally, he told the Los Angeles Times in an interview.
April 9, 2013 | By Karin Klein
The newer, smaller and more centrally organized a religion is, the less prone it is to reformed versions breaking away. It also helps if the religion's followers form an insular group, to one extent or another, away from the tug of societal trends. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has typically had a very strong form of this identity. It's a highly centralized organization, with a clear set of rituals and behaviors that are expected, with clear outcomes for those who follow suit -- and those who don't.
April 6, 2013 | By David Kelly
For the first time in memory, a woman has led a prayer at the major conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City. Jean A. Stevens offered the closing prayer for more than 100,000 Mormons gathered Saturday for the church's general conference. Millions of others watched via satellite. “Women have been praying in church and speaking at conferences for years,” church spokesman Eric Hawkins told the Los Angeles Times. “But this is the first time in memory that we have had a sister lead a prayer.” A feminist group launched the Let Women Pray campaign in January asking for the right to offer opening and closing prayers at the conference, which has been held for 183 years.
March 26, 2013 | By Jamie Wetherbe
The hit musical "The Book of Mormon," which opened in London's Prince of Wales Theatre on Thursday night, set a record for the biggest single day of sales in West End and Broadway history. The Tony-winning production about a pair of overzealous missionaries took in $3,210,019 in ticket sales between 10 a.m. and midnight Friday. An additional 150,000 tickets have been made available, with a booking period now extended to Jan. 11, 2014. FULL COVERAGE: 2013 Spring arts preview This marks the latest in a string of record-setting sales for the musical comedy, which on Broadway has broken the Eugene O'Neill Theatre's house record 44 times.
March 23, 2013 | By Mike Boehm
“The Book of Mormon” and “Once,” Broadway musicals that dominated the two most recent Tony Awards, will come to Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa during the three-venue complex's 2013-14 season. Bernadette Peters (Oct. 11) and Patti LuPone (March 22, 2014) are the season's top Broadway concert divas, each performing in Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra led by Wynton Marsalis plays Segerstrom Concert Hall (March 14, 2014)
March 18, 2013 | By Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times Theater Critic
The spectacle of Charlie digging into a family-size bucket of fried chicken is one of the sadder sights in "The Whale," Samuel D. Hunter's mordantly funny, bitterly angry and ultimately deeply moving portrait of a morbidly obese man stuffing himself to death after his lover's death. As played by Matthew Arkin (with fleshy prosthetics and makeup wizardry adding elephantine girth to the actor's medium build), Charlie is willfully drowning in his own flab - nearly 600 pounds of it. But please don't get the idea that this play, having its West Coast premiere at South Coast Repertory under the direction of Martin Benson, is setting up a situation that could be resolved by the dictatorial intervention of celebrity fitness trainer Jillian Michaels.
March 12, 2013 | By Jasmine Elist
During the 2012 presidential election, Republican candidate Mitt Romney's openness about his Mormon faith brought to the surface many of the generalizations Americans maintain about what it means to be a Mormon. Ryan McIlvain's debut novel " Elders " might serve as a fascinating and lively fictional corrective  - a portrait of what it can mean to be a Mormon missionary - complete with all the doubts, hesitations and temptations that come with the territory. McIlvain, who was born in Salt Lake City and left the Mormon Church in his mid-20s, tells the story of Elder McLeod and Elder Passos, two young missionaries in Brazil, each struggling with specific aspects of their faith.
February 22, 2013 | By Mike Boehm
The 2013-14 season at the Pantages Theatre will feature last year's most decorated Broadway musical, “Once,” Andrew Lloyd Webber thrice, and a second helping of "The Book of Mormon. " The Webber trifecta will consist of his production of  “The Wizard of Oz” (Sept. 17-Oct. 6), adapted from the classic MGM film musical, with new songs by Webber and Tim Rice added to the movie's Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg score; “Evita,” (Oct. 23-Nov. 10), whose recent Broadway revival closed last month; and a touring revue, “The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber” (June 3-24, 2014)
January 28, 2013 | By David Colker
One of the nation's leading gay-rights advocacy groups, the Human Rights Campaign, has formed a coalition of major companies calling for the repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. It's no surprise, of course, that the HRC in Washington would use its considerable clout to organize big businesses to fight DOMA, the law that excludes recognition of same-sex marriages. What will be a surprise to many is that one of the first companies to join the effort was Marriott International Inc., which was founded by a devout Mormon, John Willard Marriott.
January 15, 2013 | By Mike Boehm
The Pantages Theatre has added an asterisk or two to its claim in October that "The Book of Mormon" had set a new record for the biggest single-week box-office take in Los Angeles theater history. On further review, Pantages spokesman Wayne McWhorter said, the theater jumped the gun a bit on Oct. 23 when it sent out a news release saying that the musical comedy about Mormon missionaries in Africa had set a new record by raking in $2,246,093 during the week ending Oct. 21. After The Times reported the claim, McWhorter said that "we got a polite call from 'Wicked,'" whose general manager's office reminded the Pantages that the musical about budding witches in Oz had pulled down $2,291,511.50 in the same house for the week ending Jan. 4, 2009.
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