The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts announces its Inaugural Season beginning with performances by the Martha Graham Dance Company, which open the 500-seat Goldsmith Theater on November 8 and 9, 2013, followed by the play Parfumerie by Miklos Laszlo, adapted by Edward P. Dowdall and directed by Mark Brokaw, from November 26 to December 22, 2013. The romantic tale Parfumerie inspired the films The Shop Around the Corner, In the Good Old Summertime, and Nora Ephron’s You’ve Got Mail, as well as the Broadway musical She Loves Me. As a special program, an exhibition on perfume entitled Timeless Scents: 1370-2013, a history of iconic fragrances through the ages is being created especially for The Wallis by Chandler Burr, former New York Times scent critic.
Other highlights include the celebrated Kneehigh Theatre production of Noel Coward’s Brief Encounter, which played to great acclaim in London and New York, from February 15 to March 23, 2014. The chamber opera A Coffin in Egypt, composed by Ricky Ian Gordon with libretto and direction by Leonard Foglia, is a co-production with Houston Grand Opera and Opera Philadelphia. Based on a Horton Foote play, it will have its West Coast premiere from April 23 to 27, 2014 and stars beloved mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade.
Located in the heart of Beverly Hills, The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts will officially open its doors to the public in October 2013. This new venue will transform a Beverly Hills city block into a vibrant new cultural destination with two distinct, elegant buildings: the historic 1933 Italianate-style Beverly Hills Post Office and the new, contemporary 500-seat, state-of-the-art Goldsmith Theater. Together these two structures embrace the city’s history and future, creating a new cultural landmark. Within the treasured Post Office, existing spaces are re-imagined into the 150-seat Lovelace Studio Theater, a theater school for young people (opening in 2014), a café and gift shop. The Wallis, the first performing arts center to be built in Beverly Hills, will be a home for artists from around the world and audiences of every age.
Executive Director Lou Moore said, “In this season, we celebrate the transformation of the post office and its return to public use as well as the community’s influence past and present that brought us to this historic moment. We open with Martha Graham, who began her dance training in Los Angeles, and went on to change the idea of what dance could be. Her company will present Chronicle, considered a masterwork that was created in Los Angeles in the 1930’s when the post office was being built. Following Graham, we’re excited to be producing Parfumerie during the holidays. The play centers on a romance conducted through love letters, which is a perfect homage to the post office. We are also thrilled to be presenting the highly acclaimed theater production of Noel Coward’s Brief Encounter, an international sensation that will have its LA premiere.
Children’s programming is a major part of who we are. This year, we are bringing two productions from Scotland, a country known worldwide for its high quality professional theater for young people. We’ll be presenting shows age specific including a play for our youngest theatergoers, ages 2-5. These shows will have extended runs of performances and we’ll offer each child the opportunity to have their own subscription. We are so excited to be working with such established artists as Mark Brokaw, Leonard Foglia, Ricky Ian Gordon, Frederica von Stade, Marsha Norman, Jason Robert Brown, Emma Rice and the Kneehigh Theater during our first season. And there is more to come — we will be making a second announcement of additional inaugural season programming shortly.”
Board chairman Jerry Magnin said, “Beverly Hills boasts five star hotels, the best restaurants, and legendary shopping. Now imagine a performing arts center with world-class programming that complements all of the great amenities of our community. Guests at The Wallis will embrace these experiences in two state of the art venues that provide a special intimacy between performers and audience.”
Other Dance highlights include Jessica Lang Dance in their West Coast debut on May 30 – 31. Musical offerings include the Grammy-nominated St. Lawrence String Quartet performing for one night only on January 15. Baseball Swing, a new show, produced in conjunction with Robert Thompson and the National Baseball Hall of Fame, will run from April 4 to 6, 2014. Baseball Swing celebrates the unique love affair between baseball and music with a “major league” concert featuring the greatest music about the greatest sport, with 2,000 images and video synchronized to the live performance.
Family programming at the Goldsmith Theater will be highlighted by the novel symphony The Trumpet of the Swan, adapted by Pulitzer Prize winner Marsha Norman from the E.B. White novel, with music by Tony Award winning composer Jason Robert Brown. The Trumpet of the Swan, May 2 – May 4, 2014, received critical acclaim when performed at The Kennedy Center. And in the intimate 150-seat Lovelace Studio Theater, the award-winning Catherine Wheels Theatre Company from Scotland presents White, February 28 to March 23. The production won three 2010 Edinburgh Fringe Festival Awards (including Total Theatre) and the 2011 Scotland Critics Award for Best Production for Children, Design, and Technical Presentation. Also in the Lovelace will be a two-actor import from Visible Fictions, Jason and the Argonauts, based on the classic Greek myth, which performs January 16 to February 2, 2014.
Subscription tickets go on sale October 1; the remainder of the 2013-2014 season will be announced in September. Ticket prices will range from $25 to $199. For more information or to join their mailing list, please visit their official site.
The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts is located at the intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard and Canon Drive in Beverly Hills.
About the Productions:
IN THE GOLDSMITH THEATER
Martha Graham Dance Company
November 8 – 9, 2013
The renowned Martha Graham Dance Company, a leader in contemporary dance since 1926, will help launch The Wallis with a special inaugural presentation. Prelude and Revolt opens the program and uses dance and media to chart the era of Graham’s revolutionary discoveries – including her early years in Los Angeles. The evening will include Graham’s signature solo, Lamentation, as well as her stunning masterwork, Chronicle.
adapted by Edward P. Dowdall
from the Hungarian play Illatszertar by Miklos Laszlo
Directed by Mark Brokaw
November 26 – December 22, 2013
Set during Christmastime, 1937 in Budapest Hungary, the play concerns two bickering employees at an upscale boutique, who have been building an anonymous romantic relationship through letters. Written by Hungarian émigré Miklos Laszlo, and adapted by Edward P. Dowdall, Parfumerie’s charming plot has inspired several films, including The Shop Around the Corner, In the Good Old Summertime, and You’ve Got Mail, and as the Broadway musical She Loves Me. Mark Brokaw (As Bees in Honey Drown, How I Learned to Drive, The Lyons, Broadway’s Cinderella) directs this inaugural theatrical production for The Wallis.
St. Lawrence String Quartet
January 15, 2014
Established in 1989, the St. Lawrence String Quartet has developed an undisputed reputation as a truly world class chamber ensemble. The quartet performs more than 120 concerts annually worldwide and calls Stanford University home, where the group is Ensemble in Residence. St. Lawrence String Quartet continues to build its reputation for imaginative and spontaneous music making, through an energetic commitment to the great, established quartet literature as well as championing new works by such composers as John Adams, Osvaldo Golijov, Eziquiel Vinao, and Jonathan Berger. Alex Ross in The New Yorker, said, “the St. Lawrence are remarkable not simply for the quality of their music making, exalted as it is, but for the joy they take in the act of connection.”
Kneehigh Theatre Presents
Noel Coward’s Brief Encounter
Adapted for the stage and directed by Emma Rice
February 15 – March 23, 2014
Noel Coward’s Brief Encounter is remembered as one of the most haunting love stories ever told. The 1945 British film, directed by the great David Lean, centered on a housewife who discovers passion with a stranger outside of her marriage. The film was based on Coward’s 1936 one-act play Still Life and memorably featured a soundtrack by Sergei Rachmaninoff. In this new production, the ingenious international theater company Kneehigh cleverly uses film and music to provide a highly theatrical setting for this classic, timeless tale of illicit lovers. The production for The Wallis features the original Broadway cast.
“The most enchanting work of stagecraft ever inspired by a movie,” said Ben Brantley in The New York Times. “The captivating adaptation of the 1945 movie’s real raison d’être is to love, honor and obey the spirit of the film that inspired it … celebrating every moviegoer who has felt personally invested in that cinema classic. Through musical numbers, film projections and vaudeville jollity it spells out not only what the show’s doomed lovers are experiencing but also what we, who have known them for years, experience whenever we watch them on screen.”
Baseball Swing with The All-Star Baseball Jazz Band
Produced in conjunction with Robert Thompson and the National Baseball Hall of Fame
April 4 – April 6, 2014
No other sport has been celebrated in music like Baseball, our national pastime. Baseball Swing celebrates the unique love affair between baseball and music, with a major league concert featuring the greatest music about the greatest sport. With more than 2000 images and video from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, all synchronized to the music and narrated by a noted baseball legend, Baseball Swing is a hugely entertaining event that the whole family will remember.
A Coffin in Egypt
West Coast Premiere
Music by Ricky Ian Gordon
Libretto and Direction by Leonard Foglia
Based on a play by Horton Foote
A co-production with the Houston Grand Opera and Opera Philadelphia
April 23 – 27, 2014
90-year-old grand dame Myrtle Bledsoe has outlived her husband, her daughters and virtually everyone else in Egypt, Texas. But in the last stage of her life, she can’t outlive the truth. The Wallis presents the West Coast Premiere of this haunting tale of memory and murder, racism and recrimination. Known for opera and musical theater, composer Ricky Ian Gordon and librettist/director Leonard Foglia based their chamber opera on a play by Horton Foote, providing the perfect showcase for beloved mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade. Von Stade’s formidable bravura has won her wide acclaim, including being called “one of America’s finest artists and singers” by The New York Times. Ricky Ian Gordon is the composer of The Grapes of Wrath, Rappahannock County, and Orpheus and Euridice. Leonard Foglia (Master Class, Thurgood, and Jake Heggie’s opera Last Acts at Houston Grand Opera) directs.
The Trumpet of the Swan
A Novel Symphony for Actors and Orchestra
Adapted by Marsha Norman
from the novel by E.B. White
Music by Jason Robert Brown
May 2 – 4, 2014
E.B. White’s classic novel is now a brilliant symphonic concert experience for the whole family. The Trumpet of the Swan, like all of White’s novels, concerns a youngster who must overcome a problem. In Louis’s case, he is a trumpeter swan born without a voice. On an epic journey of challenge and discovery, Louis finds the gift of music through his father’s heartbreaking and heroic love. Originally produced at The Kennedy Center, The Baltimore Sun said that The Trumpet of the Swan “sets the gold standard for children’s productions … utterly enchanting – easily holds its own alongside classics like ‘Peter and the Wolf.’”
For ages: 7 years old and above
Jessica Lang Dance
May 30 — 31, 2014
Founded in 2011, the young and innovative Jessica Lang Dance from New York City has become one of the most talked about new companies in the dance world, enriching and inspiring global audiences by immersing them in the beauty of movement and music. Hailed as “a master of visual composition” by Dance Magazine, Lang seamlessly incorporates striking design elements and transforms classical ballet language into artfully crafted, emotionally engaging contemporary works. The company will make its west coast debut with a program of Lang’s diverse work, ranging from minimal and simplistic to rich and complex with stunning visuals.
IN THE LOVELACE THEATER
Jason and the Argonauts
January 16 – February 2, 2014
Using two actors, a handful of action figures and one incredible wooden cart, Visible Fictions from Scotland innovatively recreates this classic Greek myth. Jason’s uncle isn’t exactly lovable…he’s murdered his brother (the king) and stolen the crown and now no one dares stand up to him. After being banished as a baby, our wannabe hero returns to claim his rightful throne and make some big changes. Things are about to get a major shake-up though because Jason is BACK! “Sly, silly, sophisticated and altogether winning take on an ancient Greek myth.” – The New York Times
For ages: 8 years old and above.
Catherine Wheels Theatre Company
February 28 – March 23, 2014
Two friends, Cotton and Wrinkle, diligently look after a grove of birdhouses, making sure that everything stays “bright, ordered and white.” But when colors start to appear, things become truly magical. Winner of three Edinburgh Fringe Festival awards, White is a playful, highly visual new show for very young children, and is the perfect first time theater experience.
“This may be the only show that will remind you simultaneously of “Teletubbies” and Waiting for Godot.” – NY Times.
For ages: 2 – 5 year olds.