Ahmanson Theatre's 2011-12 season to include 'War Horse' and new 'Funny Girl' revival
The acclaimed British drama "War Horse" and a new revival of "Funny Girl" directed by Bartlett Sher are among the highlights of the Ahmanson Theatre's upcoming 2011-12 season. Center Theatre Group said that the lineup also will include the recent Broadway musical "Fela!," which is part of a national tour.
The 2011-12 Ahmanson season will feature five productions, which is up from four in the current season. Michael Ritchie, the artistic director of the umbrella Center Theatre Group, said that the Ahmanson is seeing subscription sales that are on a par with prior years and that single-ticket sales are robust. "The public is feeling a little better about discretionary spending," he said, but "the effects of recession are far from over."
Ritchie said that there are no concrete plans yet to take the new "Funny Girl" revival to Broadway. "We do everything here for our audience," he said. "It's our expectation and hope that there will be a demand for a further life, and Broadway is the next step ... but there is nothing specifically planned."
The season-opening production will be "Bring It On" (Nov. 11 to Dec. 10), loosely inspired by the 2000 cheerleading movie starring Kirsten Dunst and its sequels. The production will kick off its national tour at the Ahmanson, which follows its world premiere staging at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta.
"Funny Girl" (Feb. 1 to 26), the classic Jule Styne / Bob Merrill musical, will receive a new production directed by Sher, a Tony winner for "South Pacific," which ran at the Ahmanson in 2010. "Funny Girl" opened on Broadway in 1964 with Barbra Streisand in the role of Fanny Brice. Casting has not been announced for the Ahmanson's staging.
"Glee" star Lea Michele has been rumored as a leading contender for a revival of "Funny Girl," but CTG said that the casting process is just beginning.
The Afro-beat musical "Fela!" will stop at the Ahmanson (April 27, 2012 to June 3, 2012) as part of a national tour. Directed and choreographed by Bill T. Jones, the musical is based on the life of Nigerian musician Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. As was the case with the show's Broadway run, this engagement is being presented by Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith.
"War Horse," from Britain's National Theatre, will make its L.A. debut (June 20, 2012 to July 22, 2012). The war drama is directed by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, and features puppetry by the Handspring Puppet Company. Adapted from the book by Michael Morpurgo, the play will bow in New York April 14 at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre.
"War Horse" is being turned into a movie by Steven Spielberg, with a release date set for late December 2011.
-- David Ng
Photo (top): A scene from "War Horse" at the National Theatre in London. Credit: Simon Annand / Center Theatre Group
Photo (bottom): The Ahmanson Theatre. Credit: Center Theatre Group