Sunset Boulevard is 3,000 miles from Broadway, but the Los Angeles-based Broadway on Sunset wishes to bring the two streets closer with its second annual West Coast Musical Theatre Conference Sept. 23-24. Among this year's special guests will be keynote speaker Julie Taymor (The Lion King), composer Michael John LaChiusa (The Wild Party, Hello Again) and actress Susan Egan (Cabaret, Beauty and the Beast). Singer-actress Andrea Marcovicci will present Center Theatre Group's artistic director Gordon Davidson, who'll be getting the Visionary Award for Theatrical Excellence.
Joining them will be master of ceremonies Jason Graae (Forbidden Broadway Y2KLA, Ragtime), Susan Birkenhead (Jelly's Last Jam, High Society), Larry Blank (They're Playing Our Song), Grover Dale (Jerome Robbins' Broadway), Scott Ellis (1776, The Rainmaker), Sheldon Epps (Play On!), Harry Groener (Crazy for You, Cats), Al Kasha (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers), Henry Krieger (Dreamgirls, Side Show), Rob Marshall (Cabaret), Gregg Maday (Warner Brothers), Chris Montan (President, Walt Disney Music), Stuart Oken (Walt Disney Theatrical Productions), Dean Pitchford (Footloose), Stuart Ross (Forever Plaid), Harold Wheeler (The Wiz, Swing!) and Lillias White (The Life).
Among the topics these luminaries will discuss are the Larry King moderated "Getting Your Musical Produced -- Director's Roundtable," "Bringing the Musical Score to Life," "Composer, Lyricist, Librettist Roundtable" and "Actors on Acting in Musicals."
A part of the Sept. 23 activities will be devoted to awarding artistic director Davidson the group's first Visionary Award for Theatrical Excellence. Davidson is sometimes called the "Father of American Theatre in Los Angeles" for his leading role as artistic director of the Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum and Ahmanson Theatre, a position he has held with the Taper for 34 years and for 12 with the Ahmanson. Once a director, Davidson helmed In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer, The Trial of the Catonsville Nine, The Shadow Box and Children of a Lesser God -- the latter netted him two Tony Awards. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he was awarded a Mr. George Abbott Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation and, in Jan. 200, was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame at Broadway's Gershwin Theatre.
It must not be forgotten that an important mission of Broadway on Sunset is the discovery of new musical talent with their First Look competition. This year's winners are Mark Masi and Jess Platt, who crafted a theatre piece on the life of Leonardo DaVinci entitled Wide Eyes. A musical revue of First Look finalists will be held Sept. 23, while Wide Eyes will get its first concert reading the evening of Sept. 24. Both days begin with a "Writer and Composer Marketplace Open Mic," where aspiring musical writers can sign up for five minutes to present a snippet of their work or discuss their project with an open audience.
Tickets are $45 per day or $75 for both. The Los Angeles Theatre Center is located at 514 South Spring Street. For reservations, call (213) 485-1681.