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Best LA Theater Productions Of 2013

December 23, 2013 4:00 AM

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(credit: Craig Schwartz)

(credit: Craig Schwartz)

(credit: Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images)

(credit: Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images)


In the 1970s, Woody Allen called Los Angeles “a cultural wasteland.” Well, the oh-so-snobby New Yorker was wrong then and he’d be wrong today. Our great city in the Southland is full of astounding artistic endeavors, from world class museums to supercalifragilistic dance performances that will blow your proverbial socks off to some of the best theater available to patrons on this side of the country or any other. The following are five of the latter that hit the hearts of enthusiastic audiences in Tinseltown in 2013.
(credit: Craig Schwartz)

(credit: Craig Schwartz)


“The Scottsboro Boys”
Ahmanson Theatre
135 N. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 972-4400
www.centertheatregroup.org

Talk about a lasting history lesson. “The Scottsboro Boys,” which bowed on May 21, 2013 at The Ahmanson, is based on a true story about a group of nine black men unjustly convicted of raping a white woman on a train heading South. The lot was sent to prison, with the musical following what happened to these forsaken folk in a moving tribute that is presented like a minstrel show. Entertainment Weekly called this Kander and Ebb offering “The best new musical of the year” and said the show is “a cause for rejoicing!” while the Wall Street Journal stated that “it is impossible not to be thrilled” with “The Scottsboro Boys.”

(credit: Joan Marcus)

(credit: Joan Marcus)


“The Book of Mormon”
Pantages
6233 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 468-1770
www.hollywoodpantages.com/book-of-mormon

The touring company of the Tony Award-winning Broadway hit “The Book of Mormon” hit the City of Angels with a vengeance when this musical from the “South Park” folks hit the Pantages. In fact, the show was so beloved that multiple weeks were added to the original engagement. Apparently, LA theater goers were entranced with the story of two misguided missionaries doing their work in a remote African village as was the rest of the country. “The Book of Mormon” is headed back to the Pantages starting January 21, 2014.

(Credit: Leigh Schindler)

(Credit: Leigh Schindler)


“Bare: A Rock Musical”
Hayworth Theatre
2511 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90057
(414) 213-7988
www.thehayworth.com

This stripped-down little theater located in the Los Angeles Historic District puts on some memorable productions but not all are worthy of a shout-out when put up against the more prominent houses located the City of Angels. However, in 2013, this intimate house presented an encore of “Bare: A Rock Musical” in the same venue where this showstopper had its debut in the fall of the year 2000. From then on, the so-called “pop-opera” that tells the coming-of-age tale as seen through the antics and the songs of a bunch of Catholic boarding school kids met with cult status among hipsters and other discerning folks. To be sure, this entry is a must for anyone who enjoys rock ‘n roll and who isn’t afraid to explore raw and provocative material while sitting in a small theater as the tantalizing story plays out.

Related: LA’s Best College Productions This Fall

(credit: Jim Cox)

(credit: Jim Cox)


“One Night with Janis Joplin”
The Pasadena Playhouse
39 S. El Molino Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91101
(626) 356-7529
www.pasadenaplayhouse.org

The Pasadena Playhouse’s offering of “One Night with Janis Joplin” started in March of 2013 to draw rave reviews among fans as well as newcomers who came out to honor the Queen of Rock ‘n Roll. But this production isn’t just about the singer with the ultimate raspy voice. The show, created, written and directed by Randy Johnson, explores the lady herself as well as a number of her important musical influences, all of which made Ms. Joplin great. These singers include Etta James, Bessie Smith and Aretha Franklin, to name just three. The Los Angeles Times honored “One Night with Janis Joplin” as its critics choice, remarking that the musical, which plays out as a full-out concert, “..will rock your world.”

(credit: Ed Krieger)

(credit: Ed Krieger)


“Kin”
Theatre 40
241 S. Moreno Dr.
Beverly Hills, CA
(310) 364-0535
www.theatre40.org

A new work written by British playwright Bathsheba Doran, “Kin” powerfully took over Theatre 40 this past year to offer one hour and fifty minutes worth of exploration about the human spirit and the need for connection. Dubbed a comedy-drama, this piece was called out by The New York Times as being “exquisitely wrought” and was met by a lot of critical acclaim by both press and seasoned theater goers who came out in droves to see this passionate offering when it hit town on April 25, 2013 to tell the tale of the love match between an Ivy League poetry scholar and an Irish personal trainer.

Related: LA’s Best Small Performing Arts Theaters

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TEST Los Angeles freelance travel writer Jane Lasky, contributes to publications such as Travel + Leisure, Vogue and Esquire. Her weekly sojourning column ran in 40 newspapers for 20 years. Jane is anything but an accidental tourist. Check out her articles on Examiner.com.
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