Mark Taper Forum's 2012 season may feature two Broadway imports
The Mark Taper Forum’s 2012 season will feature one world premiere –- “Los Otros,” a two-character “chamber musical” that considers the Mexican American immigrant experience -- and five shows that will come pre-certified with a Pulitzer Prize, Broadway productions, or, in the case of Samuel Beckett’s absurdist “Waiting for Godot,” nearly 60 years as a classic.
One of those titles, “Red,” John Logan’s two-actor drama about artist Mark Rothko, arrives Aug. 12-Sept. 9. Winner of the 2010 Tony Award for best play, "Red" features Alfred Molina (pictured) as Rothko, and he is directed again by Michael Grandage, who won a best director Tony for his Broadway work on the show, which originated at London’s Donmar Warehouse. The role of Rothko's assistant, Ken, played by Eddie Redmayne at the Donmar (where he won an Olivier award for his performance) and on Broadway (where he won a Tony for featured actor in a play), has not been cast.
In an unusual development, the Taper may –- or may not, depending on events 3,000 miles to the east -– also import another Broadway show lock, stock and barrel. Jon Robin Baitz’s “Other Desert Cities,” which premiered at Lincoln Center Theatre earlier this year, is scheduled to transfer to Broadway this fall with a cast that includes Stockard Channing, Stacy Keach and Rachel Griffiths.
Whether it runs Dec. 2-Dec. 30, 2012 in L.A. as planned depends partly on whether the show enjoys a long Broadway run, and partly on which actors will be available and when. In any case, spokeswoman Nancy Hereford said Wednesday, the Taper will do the show and Joe Mantello will direct. It’ll be the sixth play that Center Theatre Group has done by the L.A.-raised Baitz (creator of the ABC television series “Brothers and Sisters”) going back to 1989. “Other Desert Cities,” set in Palm Springs, concerns a family whose holiday reunion turns explosive when a daughter who’s a writer tells them she plans to divulge family secrets in a memoir.
“Los Otros” (June 3-July 1) features music by Michael John LaChiusa and a book and lyrics by Ellen Fitzhugh. It’s set in Southern California and the Central Valley -- one of the characters is a Mexican American who’s seen as a child laborer picking fruit during World War II, and as an elderly man whose mind is slipping away.
David Mamet’s comedy “November” (Oct. 7-Nov. 4) ran on Broadway for six months in 2008 with Nathan Lane starring as a corrupt, conniving, vastly unpopular conservative president trying to save his political bacon in the run-up to Election Day. The Mamet who wrote “November” during the second Bush term was still a liberal; the one whose satire the Taper will revive during election season is now a convert to Obama-slamming conservatism.
“Clybourne Park” (Jan. 25-Feb. 26), winner of this year’s Pulitzer Prize for drama, is by Bruce Norris, who has said his own agenda includes “exposing hypocritical liberals,” himself included. The Pulitzer committee cited it for speaking in “witty and perceptive ways to America’s sometimes toxic struggle with race and class.” The play uses “A Raisin in the Sun,” Lorraine Hansberry’s classic 1959 drama about black middle class aspirations, as its imaginative trampoline. The acts are set in 1959 in the white neighborhood that’s trying to stop Hansberry’s Younger family from moving in, and in the present, when a new generation of Youngers bridles at the prospective arrival of gentrifying whites in the now-black neighborhood.
While “Clybourne Park” runs downtown, the Taper’s parent company, Center Theatre Group, will concurrently present its famous precursor at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. There, the Ebony Repertory Theatre will renew the Phylicia Rashad-directed production of “A Raisin in the Sun” that it launched in March at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center.
“Waiting for Godot” (March 21-April 22) features Barry McGovern as Vladimir and Alan Mandell as Estragon; both are Beckett experts. McGovern, a Dubliner, has performed in numerous Beckett plays and created a one-man show, “I’ll Go On,” that dramatizes three of the author’s novels. Mandell’s performances in “Godot” date back to the 1950s, and he toured in a European production directed by the playwright himself.
-- Mike Boehm
Photo: Alfred Molina on the Broadway set of "Red" in 2010. Credit: Jennifer S. Altman/For The Times.