A flair for the dramatic
Politics, opera, sex and five world premieres highlight Pasadena’s busy fall playbill
By Jana J. Monji 08/24/2012
For being such a small community, Pasadena has plenty of drama venues to choose from, offering opportunities to see live internationally staged productions at a popular local movie theater, as well as five world-premiere stage productions opening this fall.
At the Ahmanson Theatre, Jeff Goldblum stars in the West Coast premiere of Theresa Rebeck’s new comedy, “Seminar,” portraying a famous literary figure who helps others find their inner writers.
At the Pasadena Playhouse, Marcia Milgrom Dodge directs Robert Sternin and Prudence Fraser’s comedy, “Under my Skin,” a world-premiere production that explores themes of sex, love and health care.
For the scientifically minded, at Boston Court Performing Arts Center, Michael Mitchetti directs another world-premiere production, “Creation,” about an evolutionary biologist who has a near-death experience and suddenly becomes obsessed with music.
This fall, South Pasadena’s Fremont Centre Theatre will have two world-premiere productions. The first is the political comedy “How Obama Got His Groove Back,” which opened in mid-August and looks at our current president and his trials on the campaign trail. The second is South Pasadena-local Paul Kikuchi’s comedy, “Slice,” about a blacksmith trying to make the perfect samurai sword.
The East-West Players at the David Henry Hwang Theatre will be joining forces with the Navarasa Dance Theatre for a musical dance production called “Encounter,” about self, love and the military. A homier production, “Tea, With Music” at the David Henry Hwang Theatre, deals with cross-cultural communication as Japanese war brides in Kansas meet to talk about the recent death of one of their friends. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Velina Hasu Houson’s play, East-West Players is performing a world premiere of a musical version of ‘Tea.”
The Pasadena Playhouse will also look at cross-cultural problems in its production of Lynn Nottage’s “Intimate Apparel,” which looks at the harsh realities faced by a black seamstress in New York in 1905.
Of course, there are some revivals this fall. A Noise Within presents Shakespeare’s “Cymbeline” and George Bernard Shaw’s “The Doctor’s Dilemma.” The theater also has The Insiders program, offering discussion forums led by guest experts and specialty workshops on the artistic process for each of its productions. Dr. Miranda Johnson-Haddad, a scholar-in-residence at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, leads the Aug. 29 forum, “The Dark Fantasy of Cymbeline.”
For a modern classic, see David Mamet’s “November,” starring Ed Begley Jr. and Felicity Huffman, at the Ahmanson Theatre’s Mark Taper Forum. The 2007 play is about an unpopular president desperate to be re-elected.
For a bit of high culture, head to downtown LA to see Placido Domingo in Verdi’s “The Two Foscari” Sept. 15 to Oct. 9. LA Opera will also be mounting a production of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” and Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly.” The LA Opera offers senior and student rush tickets. Ticket holders can attend a free lecture about the opera one hour prior to the performance. There is also a special Opera for Educators series, which explores specific operas from an interdisciplinary point of view on some Saturday mornings.
High technology now allows us to see live national and international productions. The Laemmle Playhouse 7 offers live screenings as well as encore performances of international opera companies, while Fathom Events shows live and encore performances of the Met Opera season as well as the selected offerings from the London National Theatre.
New works, old works, national productions and live international productions are all part of the lively theater scene unfolding this fall in Pasadena.