The L.A. Theater Scene is Soaring
Shows big & small, musicals & social dramas make L.A. a theater town
Years ago, Wood Allen was quoted as saying, “The only culture in L.A. is yogurt.” Well if the theater scene is a sign of a thriving culture, than L.A. has finally reached sophistication.
Starting in Hollywood, there’s the mind-blowing IRIS show at the Kodak Theatre, at Hollywood and Highland. They had an opening night party on Hollywood Boulevard that was more spectacular than any big movie premiere. But the party certainly didn’t outshine the show.
Since it was a Cirque du Soleil production, it had to be extraordinary, and it is. It exceeded your wildest dreams– magnificently bizarre. The cinematic-themed world of IRIS will make the heart of Hollywood blossom for a long run, scheduled for years at the Kodak Theater which hosts the annual Academy Awards.
Further down the street, at the Pantages Theatre at Hollywood and Vine, the show Come Fly Away will feature the music of Frank Sinatra and Twyla Tharp’s choreography. The musical was conceived and directed by the legendary Tharp, and features vocals by Ol’ Blue Eyes via classic recordings played along with a live Vegas-style band.
The show, described as a soaring musical fantasy of romance and seduction, will have its Los Angeles premiere, playing Oct. 25 to Nov. 6, at the Pantages.
One of the exciting lead dancers, Cody Green (winner of Bravo’s Step It Up & Dance) chatted about what makes the show so ultra-cool. He says, “The show follows four couples who meet in a nightclub. They fall in and out of love during one night. The amazing Frank Sinatra songs tell their story. And Twyla Tharp’s choreography offers the best partner dancing that you’ll ever see.”
Green says it’s very special to dance for Tharp, “She tailors her choreography to her dancers, and it just fits your body. To be directed by her brings out the best in you.” He has dance for Tharp before in the musical-dance show Movin’ Out, which also played the Pantages.
A hysterical show called Busting Out is playing the Hayworth Theatre in Los Angeles for a limited run, Oct. 16 to Nov. 6. The international hit is an import from Down Under that’s part musical, part cabaret and side-splitting funny. With bouncy songs and skits, Busting Out is actually a celebration of the silliness of women’s breasts. If you like melons, it’s your kind of show.
In the Valley area of L.A. there’s The Falcon Theatre, which is presenting Southern Comforts starring Michael Learned (The Waltons) and Granville Van Dusen (Jonny Quest). Playing Oct. 21 to Nov. 13, Southern Comforts is an unpredictable romantic comedy that shows how wonderful and sexy Learned can be. She says, “Directed by the wonderful Jules Aaron, the story that proves it’s never too late to find the love of your life.”
The historic El Portal Theatre is the crown jewel of the North Hollywood theater arts district. And in celebration of American Latino Heritage, The King of the Desert starring Rene Rivera is being presented. It is about a Mexican American boy’s journey of self-discovery and the realization of his dreams, presented Oct. 21 to Nov. 27.
Stacey Martino wrote the play, and says, “The last time we did the show, the members of the audience felt, connected. For me, what’s amazing about this show is that this story about a Mexican American boy and his journey to adulthood connects with so many people from different backgrounds. They come up to me and say, ‘that’s my story.’ Or, ‘I felt like I was seeing me up there.’ It is a very universal story.”
Rene Rivera is a dynamo on stage. Martino says, “You will truly feel like you have seen a full ensemble, but it’s him playing all the different roles. You’ll truly forget that there’s just one man up there. I find that a very exciting thing about theater.”