Famous Widow and Muse Mahler is Center of Alma Unique Staging in Los Angeles

News   Famous Widow and Muse Mahler is Center of Alma Unique Staging in Los Angeles
An environmentally-staged bioplay about the life of famous widow Alma Mahler called Alma opens Sept. 30 at the Los Angeles Theatre.

Joshua Sobol penned the work about the famous woman known for her creative significant others. Paulus Manker, who produced and directed the work in Vienna, Venice and Lisbon, brings the work to the U.S. For a run through Dec. 5. Performances began Sept. 23.

Karen Kondazian stars in the title role of Alma which also includes a cast of Ryan Templeton and Maria Vargo as the younger Almas, as well as Magnus Stefansson, Hans Hoffman, Alex Veadov, Ruben Santos, Robert Branco, Mercedes Tomasino and Bernadette Perez.

Born Alma Maria Schindler in 1897, the woman began as a composer herself. She then gave up her work upon marrying composer Gustav Mahler — who would later print her works. After her husband's death she became involved with painter Oskar Kokoschka who would paint her in his work "The Tempest". She would later marry architect Walter Gropius and poet Franz Werfel — with whom she would flee to the U.S.

Alma — which also serves up drinks and a three-course dinner at intermission — takes place in the entire theatre with various scenes performed simultaneously on all floors and in all rooms of the building. The production encompasses the entire experience from the audiences' entrance to their exit. A release explains: "Audience members choose the events, the path, and the characters to follow after each event, constructing one’s own personal version of this 'theatrical journey.'" Three of the show's sequences take place outside the theatre — the Act One finale of Gustav Mahler’s funeral, the Act Two honeymoon sequence and a period bus tour representing 1926's downtown Tel Aviv.

Mahler is also the subject of a Michael Korie-Scott Frankel musical titled Doll. The work received a staged reading in 2003 at Chicago's Ravinia Festival with David Hyde Pierce (the upcoming Spamalot) and Broadway regulars Michael Cerveris, Judith Blazer and Mary Testa under the direction of Lonny Price. Tickets (which includes admission, pre-curtain drink and three course dinner) for Alma at the Los Angeles Theatre, 615 South Broadway (between Sixth and Seventh Streets) are available by calling (213) 688-2994. For more information, visit www.alma-mahler.com.

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