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Broad Stage season to feature Helen Hunt in 'Our Town,' plus return of Baryshnikov

March 22, 2011 |  1:17 pm

Hunt The 2011-12 season at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica will feature a healthy dose of star power in the forms of actress Helen Hunt in Thornton Wilder's "Our Town," directed by David Cromer, and the return of Mikhail Baryshnikov.

In addition, the season (which begins in July) will include appearances by India.Arie, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Anna Deavere Smith and soprano Karita Mattila. The solo show "The Expert at the Card Table" featuring Guy Hollingworth and directed by Neil Patrick Harris, will run at the Broad's smaller space, the Edye.

"Our Town" (Jan. 13 to Feb. 12) comes to Los Angeles  following a critically acclaimed run at New York's Barrow Street Theatre, where Hunt was one of several actors to rotate into the central role of the Stage Manager. The Oscar- and Emmy-winning actress said in an interview that she wanted to reprise the role primarily for personal reasons.

"It's nourishing to work on this play," she said. "It reminded me of everything I cared about in life, and when I stopped playing it, I missed it."

Hunt said the role of the Stage Manager -- which is traditionally played by a man -- takes on new resonance when played by a woman. "It's the same words, but it's not the same," she said. "Some friends who saw it said that they could not believe it wasn't written for a woman. My daughter and stepson saw it in New York and I told them that a man was going to play it after me. They were like, a man's going to play that part?"

Cromer's staging brings the actors and audience together in close proximity. The director will reconfigure the Broad's main space, reducing the number of seats, to achieve the intimacy that is crucial to the production. Cromer's staging of "Our Town" played in Chicago in 2008.

Dale Franzen, the artistic director of the Broad, said that she hopes to form more partnerships with arts organizations around the world. One of those collaborators is the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York. The Broad will present the U.S. premiere of "In Paris – A Play" (April 12 to 22, 2012), featuring Baryshnikov in a dramatic role. The play, which uses elements of mime, tells the story of a group of Russian expatriates whose lives come together in Paris in the 1930s.

Two other BAC productions will travel to the Broad: "Spectral Scriabin" (March 17, 2012), a multimedia piano and light experience, and "BAC @ The Broad: The Chamber Music Project" (March 8, 2012).

Baryshnikov previously appeared at the Broad in 2009, in a contemporary dance program titled "Three Solos and a Duet," with Ana Laguna.

The Broad is also teaming up with Britain's Menier Chocolate Factory to stage "The Expert at the Card Table" (July 13 to Aug. 7) as part of the 2011 summer series. Harris originally directed the show at the Menier in 2009. The Broad is also continuing its relationships with Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, with "The Comedy of Errors" (Nov. 12 to 27), and the Impro Theatre, with "Jane Austen Unscripted" (Dec. 3 to 18).

Smith will perform her healthcare-themed solo show "Let Me Down Easy" (July 20 to July 31) as part of the summer series. The same month, India.Arie and Israeli keyboardist Idan Raichel will perform together (July 14).

Here's the list of performance dates for the 2011-12 season at the Broad Stage:

Outfest – The Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
July 12, 2011 

The Menier Chocolate Factory: "The Expert at the Card Table"
July 13 to Aug. 7, 2011

India.Arie & Idan Raichel
July 14, 2011

"Let Me Down Easy," starring Anna Deavere Smith
July 22 – July 31, 2011

Pat Metheny
Sept. 25, 2011

James Farm Band featuring Joshua Redman
Oct. 1, 2011

Yuval Ron Ensemble
Oct. 2, 2011

"Portals," with Tim Fain, violin
Oct. 9, 2011

Simon Keenlyside, baritone
Oct. 29, 2011

"Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945–1980"
Nov. 5, 2011

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre: "The Comedy of Errors"
November 13 to 27, 2011

Brian Skerry – "Ocean Soul"
Dec. 1, 2011

Impro Theatre: "Jane Austen Unscripted"
Dec. 3 to 18, 2011

Karita Mattila, soprano
Dec. 3, 2011

Judith Owen & Harry Shearer Holiday Sing-A-Long
Dec. 16, 2011

Manhattan Transfer – The Holiday Party
Dec. 17 to 18, 2011

"Our Town," starring Helen Hunt
Jan. 19 to Feb. 12, 2012

Spencer Wells – "The Genographic Project"
Feb. 16, 2012

Ana Moura
Feb. 17, 2012

Hiromi
Feb. 18, 2012

Tokyo String Quartet
March 3, 2012

Marilyn Horne Song Competition Winners
March 4, 2012

Baryshnikov Arts Center: "The Chamber Music Project"
March 8, 2012

Brian Stokes Mitchell
March 10, 2012

"Annie Griffiths – A Camera, Two Kids, and a Camel"
March 15, 2012

Baryshnikov Arts Center: "Spectral Scriabin"
March 17, 2012 

Lizz Wright
March 24, 2012

Jason Robert Brown and the Caucasian Rhythm & Brass Kings with special guest Anika Noni Rose
March 31, 2012

Baryshnikov Arts Center: "In Paris," starring Mikhail Baryshnikov 
April 12 to 22, 2012

Antonio Lysy at the Broad: Music From Argentina
April 29, 2012

Piotr Beczala
April 30, 2012

Mattias Klum – "Being There"
May 3, 2012

The Brad Mehldau Trio
May 21, 2012

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-- David Ng

Photo (top): Helen Hunt. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times. Photo (bottom): The Broad Stage. Credit: Benny Chan / Fotoworks


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