The Theater Scene: THE WALLIS in Beverly Hills embraces exhilarating entertainment

 The impressive productions that have been parading through The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills run the spectrum of entertainment. On the schedule for the current season are groundbreaking works in dance, music and theater from locally, nationally and internationally renowned artists and companies.

Liam Brennan and ensemble in “An Inspector Calls” (Photo by Mark Douet)

 An example was the recent run of The National Theatre of Great Britain’s Landmark production of J. B. Priestley’s classic thriller “An Inspector Calls” (Jan. 22 to Feb. 10), in the Bram Goldsmith Theater at The Wallis. It was creatively directed by Stephen Daldry (“The Crown”) and everything about the show was beautifully crafted with a film noir atmosphere surrounding an ominous manor house perched center stage. The acting was superb headed by Liam Brennan as Inspector Goole, plus the posh British family he investigates revealing their lack of conscience for the lower classes. It was an art/think piece which left the audience pondering about how we treat others. The show was representative of the quality of exhilarating presentations at The Wallis.

Christine Kavanagh, Jeff Harmer and Lianne Harvey in a scene from “An Inspector Calls,” at The Wallis (Photo by Mark Douet)

More for The Wallis 2019 season

  The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts is delivering much more for the jammed-packed 2019 season.

  Underway is “Witness Uganda,” which is called “a captivating experience,” has been extended through March 3. This groundbreaking documentary musical by Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews stars twelve-time Grammy nominee Ledisi, Jamar Williams (Wild Goose Dreams), Amber Iman (Hamilton) and Emma Hunton (Wicked), and is directed by Matthews with music direction by Gould. It follows Griffin (Jamar Williams), a New York City-based American volunteer who arrives in Uganda to help build a village school. It is the story of a man battling to find his place in a world full of injustice and inhumanity.

 Upcoming is “(M)iyamoto is Black Enough,” a collaborative musical and spoken word presentation on Thursday, March 14 and Friday, March 15, at 8 p.m. in the Lovelace Studio Theater at The Wallis. The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts and National Sawdust Projects, the producing arm of Brooklyn’s acclaimed National Sawdust, are presenting “(M)iyamoto is Black Enough,” that will be an exploration of meaning and conversation based on the controversy surrounding Ariana Miyamoto, the biracial Miss Universe Japan 2015 winner. Miyamoto weathered the backlash for her lack of “pure” parentage – that she was not representative, not “Japanese enough” for her honor. With music composed by Andy Akiho and text by two-time National Poetry Slam champion Roger Bonair-Agard, “(M)iyamoto is Black Enough” creates a brash symphony of hard-driving funk and punk rhythms and biting social commentary.

Dee Dee Bridgewater

 Also on the schedule is the exciting presentations, “Dee Dee Bridgewater and the Memphis SoulPhony: Memphis…Yes, I’m Ready.” On Saturday, March 23, at 7:30 p.m. in The Wallis’ Bram Goldsmith Theater, the Tony and triple Grammy Award-winning jazz legend is making her debut at The Wallis with a tribute to the rich R&B tradition of Memphis, the city of Bridgewater’s birth. The NEA Jazz Master and United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, joined by the Memphis Soulphony, returns to her roots to bring the sultry Memphis sound to Los Angeles with “Memphis…Yes I’m Ready,” based on her acclaimed album of the same title recorded at Memphis’ famed Royal Studios in 2016. According to The Wallis’ Artistic Director Paul Crewes, “We’re thrilled to bring Dee Dee Bridgewater to The Wallis for the first time as she pays tribute to the greats who define the Memphis sound, with covers of hits by artists including BB King, Otis Redding and Al Green, to name a few.” 

The Wallis: 2019

 This year, 2019 marks the third year of programming under the leadership of Artistic Director Paul Crewes and Managing Director Rachel Fine. It is the sixth anniversary for The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, an exceptional institution affectionately referred to as The Wallis by its very pleased patrons.

“As part of our commitment to developing lasting relationships with artists and companies, local and abroad, we will continue to produce new works as well as present world renowned companies and performances,” says The Wallis’ Artistic Director Paul Crewes. “This season not only brings back collaborations with old friends such as Jacob Jonas The Company and For The Record, but also introduces a new musical we’re developing with creators Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews, called Witness Uganda. We’re equally excited to be working with new friends, among them L.A. Master Chorale, the National Theater of Great Britain, National Sawdust from New York, Malpaso Dance Company from Cuba, PigPen Theater Company, and Film Independent.” The much anticipated Los Angeles Premiere of Hershey Felder as Claude Debussy in A Paris Love Story is also coming later this year.

“The Wallis remains committed to robust and distinctive programming you won’t find anywhere else, from the work we produce to the accomplished artists we present to the emerging voices we nurture across all performing arts disciplines,” says Managing Director Rachel Fine. “As a dynamic performing arts hub and vital community resource, The Wallis encourages its artists to provide learning opportunities for students of all ages.”

The latest news from The Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts was the announcement of the 2019 partnership with fine jewelry and high-end watch making brand Harry Winston. The centerpiece of the partnership will be Harry Winston’s presenting sponsorship of The Wallis’ Spring Celebration fundraising event, “The Wallis Delivers: An Evening of Wicked Fun Honoring Stephen Schwartz” on May 16, 2019.

 For ticket information to any of the superb entertainment presentations visit or call 310.746.4000, or stop by in person at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts Ticket Services located at 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90210.

If you love the arts, The Wallis welcomes you.

Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to have been half of the husband & wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who had written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 38 years.