L.A. Ahmanson Books London Sunshine Boys, Barry Manilow's Harmony, Tours of Porgy and Bess and Starcatcher

By Kenneth Jones
March 14, 2013

Center Theatre Group's 2013-14 season at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles will feature the U.S. premiere of Danny DeVito and Richard Griffiths in the London production of Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys, the Barry Manilow-Bruce Sussman musical Harmony, touring productions of Peter and the Starcatcher and The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, plus David Suchet, Matthew Bourne and more.



CTG artistic director Michael Ritchie announced the slate on March 14. Also on the schedule are the Queen musical We Will Rock You, and special added "bonus options" for subscribers: Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty, a gothic romance from the master director/choreographer, and the U.S. premiere of The Last Confession starring David Suchet in a Vatican-set tale that is "part thriller and part meditation on the nature of faith."

An engagement of Harmony, the musical about the real-life German singing group making music in the shadow of the Nazis, represents a co-production with Atlanta's Alliance Theatre. The book and lyrics are by Sussman, the music is by Manilow.

The Ahmason season begins Sept. 24 and runs through Aug. 24, 2014.

Here's the season at a glance:

The Sunshine Boys
By Neil Simon
With Danny DeVito and Richard Griffiths
Directed by Thea Sharrock
Sept. 24-Nov. 3

"Willie Clark (DeVito) and Al Lewis (Griffiths) are former vaudevillian stars who, after a partnership of over 40 years, are now no longer speaking with each other. When a lucrative television offer for one last show lures them into a grudging reunion, sparks fly in this classic comedy of showbiz and friendship."

Peter and the Starcatcher
By Rick Elice
Based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
Directed by Roger Rees and Alex Timbers

Dec. 3, 2013-Jan. 12, 2014
"Based on The New York Times best-selling Disney-Hyperion novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, the imaginative play tells the tale of an orphan who heads to a faraway land, where he finds love, friendship, and, ultimately, himself. Peter and the Starcatcher is comprised of a company of 12 actors playing more than a hundred unforgettable characters, all on a journey to answer the century-old question: How did Peter Pan become The Boy Who Never Grew Up?"

Harmony, A New Musical
Music by Barry Manilow
Book and Lyrics by Bruce Sussman
Directed by Tony Speciale
March 5-April 13, 2014

"Harmony is inspired by the true story of The Comedian Harmonists, six young men in 1920s and 1930s Germany who rose from unemployed street musicians to become world-famous entertainers, selling millions of records, starring in over a dozen films, and selling out the most prestigious concert halls around the world. Yet while The Comedian Harmonists' sophisticated music, paired with hilarious comedy, made them the brightest of stars, the group's mixture of Jews and non-Jews put them on a collision course with history."

The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess
By George Gershwin, DuBose and Dorothy Heyward and Ira Gershwin
Book Adapted by Suzan-Lori Parks
Musical Score Adapted by Diedre L. Murray
Directed by Diane Paulus
April 22-June 1, 2014

"A stunning and stirring new staging of Porgy and Bess, winner of the 2012 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. Based on DuBose Heyward's novel 'Porgy' and the play of the same name, Porgy and Bess includes such legendary songs such as 'Summertime,' 'It Ain't Necessarily So' and 'I Got Plenty of Nothing.' The classic story is set in fabled Catfish Row, where the beautiful Bess struggles to break free from her scandalous past, and the only one who can rescue her is the courageous Porgy."

We Will Rock You
By Queen and Ben Elton
Created by Ben Elton
Musical Supervisors: Queen's Brian May and Roger Taylor
July 15-Aug. 24, 2014

"The 'rock theatrical,' which is built around 24 of the biggest hits of the rock group Queen, delivers a show that boasts the scale and electrifying spectacle that marked the band's legendary live performances. We Will Rock You is set in the future on a planet once called Earth that is now controlled by a big corporation. Computer-generated music reigns, no rock music is heard, all musical instruments are banned and conformity is enforced. A pair of young renegades, Galileo and Scaramouche, dare to break free and bring the power of rock back to the people. [It] includes such songs as 'Another One Bites The Dust,' 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love,' 'We Are the Champions,' 'Bohemian Rhapsody' and 'We Will Rock You.'"

SPECIAL BONUS OPTIONS TO THE SEASON

Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty
A Gothic Romance
Music composed by Tchaikovsky
A New Adventures Production
Nov. 21-Dec. 1

Presented by Center Theatre Group and Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at the Music Center as a special bonus option to the Ahmanson season subscription for two weeks only. Bourne is the only British artist to have won a Tony Award on Broadway for both Best Choreographer and Best Director (Swan Lake), and has won over 50 international awards for his choreographic work, including the Broadway production of Mary Poppins. In Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty, the traditional tale of good vs. evil, and of rebirth, is turned upside-down, creating a supernatural love story, across the decades, that even the passage of time itself cannot hinder."

The Last Confession
By Roger Crane
Starring David Suchet
Directed by Jonathan Church June 10-July 6, 2014

"David Suchet will star in a gripping new play of intrigue and mystery, in its United States premiere. The Chichester Festival Theatre production, directed by Jonathan Church, is part of the Mark Taper Forum 2014 season and will be presented as a bonus option to Ahmanson season ticket holders. Set within the corridors of power in the Vatican, The Last Confession explores the circumstances surrounding the sudden death of Pope John Paul I in 1978. He died only 33 days after being elected and before he could set his liberal reforms into place. Suspicions are aroused when it is revealed that the new Pope had warned three of his most influential but hostile Cardinals that they would be replaced on the evening before his death. The Vatican refuses to conduct an official investigation into the death but the politically savvy Cardinal Giovanni Benelli (played by Suchet), who had engineered the election of Pope John Paul I, is determined to find the truth."

For subscription information, visit CenterTheatreGroup.org/Ahmanson.