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Kirk Douglas takes to the stage in his namesake theater

February 18, 2009 |  3:36 pm

Kirk_and_anne_douglasJust over seven years ago, Center Theatre Group announced it had received a $2.5-million donation from actor Kirk Douglas and his wife, Anne, that would help bring to fruition then-artistic director Gordon Davidson's long-held dream of a mid-size stage on the Westside. The Culver Theatre, a historic landmark in downtown Culver City, was renovated and reopened in the fall of 2004 as the Kirk Douglas Theatre.

Those who attend theater at CTG's three venues — the Ahmanson, the Mark Taper Forum and the Douglas — are used to seeing the actor and his wife at opening-night performances.

Now comes word that the 92-year-old actor will take the stage of his namesake theater next month for the first time, performing in a one-man show, “Before I Forget.” Directed by Jeff Kanew, the show will feature the star of such films as “Lust for Life,”  “The Bad and the Beautiful” and, of course, “Spartacus,” sharing stories about his life and career.

The actor suffered a stroke in 1996 that left him unable to speak. In his memoir, "My Stroke of Luck," he wrote that he had considered suicide at the time. Today the actor is able to speak — and, evidently, perform on stage.

CTG artistic director Michael Ritchie told Culture Monster that the idea for the show came from Douglas. "He came to me six or eight months ago and said he not only had the idea but he had a script," Ritchie said. "He gave me the first version, and it was an easy read and easy yes for me.

" 'Before I Forget' — I love the title — is essentially the story of his life and his career," Ritchie said. "It’s anecdotes, but there’s also a philosophical thread throughout. It's about being an artist and an actor. It’s his life, told through some of his characters." 

“Before I Forget” will run at 8 p.m. on March 6 and 13 and at 2 p.m. on March 8 and 15
at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City, as part of part of CTG's new DouglasPlus program. Naturally, CTG donors will get first crack at tickets, but starting Feb. 24, any remaining spots in the 317-seat theater will be sold for $25.

For more information, call (213) 628-2772 or go to www.centertheatregroup.org.

— Lisa Fung

Photo: Kirk and Anne Douglas at a 2007 event in Beverly Hills. Credit: Todd Williamson / WireImage.com

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