Autumn is that time of year when the leaves of summer concerts in the park give way to colorful splashes of dramatic art within the walls of solid theater. It’s that time of the year when some of the more gifted stage performers on the planet gather in greater Los Angeles to entertain the masses. If you have a taste for ballet, Shakespeare, acrobatics, comedy or edgy musical revivals, regional performing arts centers and exquisite opera houses have your ticket to ride. Of the many offerings from which to choose, here are five of the best shows this fall to place on your social calendar.
“The Trip To Bountiful”
Ahmanson Theatre at the Music Center
135 N. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Date: Sept. 17 to Nov. 2, 2014After winning a 2013 Tony Award for the starring role she played in “The Trip To Bountiful,” legendary actress Cicely Tyson brings her incomparable talent to the famous Ahmanson Theatre. Pulitizer Prize-winner Horton Foote’s masterpiece stretches from September 17 to November 2 for the highly-awaited production which is a poignant drama about an elderly widow who leaves her overprotective son and his self-absorbed wife to visit, for the last time, the hometown in which she was reared. It is in Bountiful, TX, where the emotionally-battered woman seeks to restore her dignity and peace of mind. Actor Blair Underwood and singer-actress Vanessa L. Williams join Tyson in the critically-acclaimed revival. At age 80, Tyson delivers a hot-blooded performance for the ages that is simply impeccable.
The National Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China
Valley Performing Arts Center
18111 Nordhoff St.
Northridge, CA 91330
Date: Sept. 27, 2014For 3,000 years, China has been earnest in its effort to keep alive a dramatic art form that blends its rich cultural roots with the performing arts. Since 1950, The National Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China touring troupe has been mesmerizing worldwide audiences in a mind-boggling demonstration of talent, agility, flexibility, cleverness and strength. In a single-night exhibition at the 1,700-seat Valley Performing Arts Center, these accomplished artists are set to execute out-on-a-limb feats, utilizing such common objects as tables, chairs, ladders, poles and their own bodies. This is a tightly-wrapped theater production that is packed with chest-thumping music, creative dance and cringe-worthy contortion you’ll remember for many moons to come.
Aziz Ansari: “Modern Romance”
The Orpheum Theatre
842 S. Broadway St.
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Date: Oct. 3, 2014It is said that laughter is the sunbeam of the soul. If so, many of Aziz Ansari’s fans will radiate from contagious humor when the observational comedian takes the stage for two piggy-back shows at The Orpheum Theatre, a 2,000-seat venue. The acclaimed television and film actor delves into the informal dating rituals of 21st century couples that are caught up in the pop cultural craze of texting, sexting and third-party messaging. Dubbed “Modern Romance,” this international tour marks the standup comic’s fourth in as many years. The self-deprecating funny man is known to perform for sold-out audiences nationwide in an expletive-suffused show that may make spectators miss those times when old-fashioned conversation was a social norm. Ansari’s take on life is side-splitting.
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Shakespeare’s Globe: “King Lear”
The Broad Stage
1310 11th St.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Date: Nov. 4-16, 2014Shakespeare’s “King Lear” is, by far, one of the more nethermost artistic explorations of the human condition. It is a tragedy of integrity about a monarch that plummets into madness after dividing his estate between two of his three daughters. Produced by Shakespeare’s Globe in London, this brilliant display of drama stars international television and stage actor Joseph Marcell, a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. This Elizabethan-styled touring production visits The Broad Stage in Santa Monica for a limited engagement. Marcell will be joined on stage by a supreme cast of masterful artisans whose style, wit and mighty physicality will render audiences breathless. You will be taken on a highly-saturated spin of love, deceit and tempestuous scandal.
Segerstrom Center for the Arts
600 Town Center Dr.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Date: Nov. 11-23, 2014To the delight of music enthusiasts who enjoy a bit of innocuous naughtiness injected into Broadway performances, “Pippin” is slated for a splashy, 12-day engagement at Segerstrom Hall, a visually-stimulating opera house. The Tony Award-winning spectacle is a whimsical tale about a young prince who has embarked on a precarious odyssey in search of his life’s meaning and value. This chiseled musical production is being directed by Diane Paulus, who recently won a Tony Award for her 21st century revival of the 1972 rhapsodic work of art. Now taken to new heights, “Pippin” presents an extraordinary pageant of Bob Fosse-styled showmanship, nail-biting dexterity and jaw-dropping acrobatics you won’t want to miss. It is truly an exhilarating extravaganza.
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