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Alan Alda pays tribute to Gil Cates at Geffen Playhouse

November 2, 2011 | 12:46 pm


Alan Alda was at the Geffen Playhouse on Tuesday evening for the first preview performance of his new play "Radiance: The Passion of Marie Curie."  After the performance, Alda took to the stage and gave a speech in tribute to Gil Cates, the theater's founder and producing director, who died the day before at age 77.

Alda shared what he said about Cates in a phone conversation Wednesday. He said he and Cates had dinner on Sunday following a dress rehearsal and talked about what they would do if they knew they were going to die the next day. Cates said that he wouldn't have changed anything and that he loved what he was doing, according to Alda.

"It's very nice to be in the company of someone who has achieved a great deal through encouragement and generosity," said Alda. "I think I first met him 30 or 35 years ago. We weren't close friends ... [but] I was always impressed by how warm he was -- he wasn't pretending. He was truly able to connect with people."

Tuesday evening's performance of "Radiance" was the first show at the Geffen after Cates' death. "It's a clunky phrase but the show must go on," said Alda. "Everyone in the theater knew that Gil would have wanted the show to continue.... There's something sustaining about having the work to do."

"Radiance," directed by Daniel Sullivan, opens Nov. 9 in the Geffen's Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater. It is set to run through Dec. 11.


Theater world remembers Gil Cates

Gil Cates: an appreciation

Gil Cates dies at 77; producer, director and showman

-- David Ng

Photo: Gil Cates at the Geffen Playhouse in 2002. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times