L.A.'s Douglas Will Premiere Bengal Tiger and Welcome Julie White in Little Dog

News   L.A.'s Douglas Will Premiere Bengal Tiger and Welcome Julie White in Little Dog
Julie White will reprise her Tony Award-winning turn as a fiercely focused talent agent in The Little Dog Laughed as part of the 2008-09 season at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, Michael Ritchie, artistic director of Center Theatre Group, announced May 27.

Julie White in The Little Dog Laughed.
Julie White in The Little Dog Laughed. Photo by Joan Marcus

The season will also see the world premiere of Rajiv Joseph's Iraq War-set play, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, plus three additional titles — Taking Over, Heddatron and This Beautiful City.

Douglas Carter Beane's Tony-nominated comedy The Little Dog Laughed, about a closeted actor and the cost of coming out, will be directed by Scott Ellis who staged the New York production, and will play the 317-seat Douglas, in Culver City, Nov. 16-Dec. 21.

Beane received a 2008 Tony Award nomination for his work on the Broadway musical Xanadu (Best Book of a Musical), and wrote (among other projects) As Bees in Honey Drown and the book of the musical Dancing in the Dark, seen at The Old Globe earlier this year.

Joseph's Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo (May 10-June 7, 2009), "a lyrical, haunting new play set against the backdrop of the war in Iraq," will get its world premiere at the Douglas Theatre.

Tony Award-nominated Moisés Kaufman (I Am My Own Wife) will direct. In Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, the lives and, in some cases, the afterlives, of two American soldiers, an Iraqi translator, the ghosts of Saddam Hussein's sons Uday and Ousay, and a Bengal tiger all intersect in a surreal, darkly humorous and gently balanced view of war and its aftermath," according to CTG. Inspired by an AP story detailing the shooting of a rare tiger by an American soldier at the decimated Baghdad Zoo during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, "the play puts the war into a different and very personal context than what is found in the media and White House pronouncements. …Combatants, citizens and otherworldly spirits discuss life, death and the pursuit of hope, as they roam the streets of Baghdad, all seeking a catharsis to the chaos and moral complexities of war."

Joseph received his MFA in playwriting from the Tisch School of the Arts in 2004, and in January 2006 he had his play Huck & Holden produced at the Cherry Lane Theatre in New York, and then subsequently at the Black Dahlia Theatre in Los Angeles. At Second Stage in New York City, Joseph's All This Intimacy premiered in 2006, and this summer Second Stage will premiere his Animal Out of Paper. He is the 2008 recipient of the Vineyard Theatre's Paula Vogel Playwriting Award.

The fifth season at the Douglas will open with the West Coast premiere of rumination on the evangelical Christian movement in America, This Beautiful City, a play with music, Sept. 21-Oct. 26.

Set in Colorado Springs at the base of the majestic Pike's Peak, This Beautiful City was commissioned and developed by the Obie Award-winning troupe The Civilians, written by Steven Cosson and Jim Lewis, and has music and lyrics by Michael Friedman (whose work was seen at the Douglas in January in the world premiere of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson).

Directed by Cosson, and co-produced with New York's Vineyard Theatre, This Beautiful City was created from "revealing interviews with church members, civic leaders, progressive activists and individuals from all walks of life in the Rocky Mountain town that has rapidly become the epicenter of the Evangelical movement."

This Beautiful City will open at the Vineyard Theatre in New York in early 2009.

Taking Over (Jan. 21-Feb. 22, 2009) is Danny Hoch's latest solo performance, "a riveting study of the effects of gentrification and how this is changing the face of many American cities."

Tony Taccone, artistic director of Berkeley Repertory Theatre, where Taking Over had its world premiere earlier this year, will direct.

In the solo piece, according to CTG, Hoch "seamlessly transforms himself into the vividly diverse characters from his hometown, the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, and into the real estate agents and developers who are shepherding radical changes into the district's character and nature. Filling the stage with compelling, impeccably drawn, multicultural portraits, Hoch captures the complexities of the transition of a poorer urban community, once vibrant and colorful — if also crime- and cocaine-ridden — into a culture that is wealthier, less diverse, and the cause of higher rents, property values and the displacement of long-term residents."

In addition to writing plays, Hoch has written about hip-hop, race and culture for The Village Voice, The New York Times, Harper's, The Nation, American Theatre and in various books. Hoch founded the Hip-Hop Theater Festival in 2000 and has since presented over 100 hip-hop generation plays from all over the world. He has recently been named the 2008-2009 Guggenheim Fellow for Drama.

Elizabeth Meriwether's Heddatron will make its West Coast premiere July 5-Aug. 2, 2009. It's "the wildly funny and imaginative new work that gleefully deconstructs Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler and features both actors and fully-functioning robots." Alex Timbers, who was also at the helm of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, will direct.

According to CTG, in Heddatron, "Ibsen's story of a woman who is unable to escape the role society has shaped for her is layered with hilarious sub-plots that are chronologically askew and geographically continents apart. Jane, an unhappy Michigan housewife is abducted by robots and taken to an Ecuadorian rainforest to star in their production of Hedda Gabler. While her husband concocts a plan to rescue her, a hundred years earlier Ibsen is distracted from writing his masterpiece by a shrewish wife, his rival August Strindberg and a lusty maid."

Meriwether's other plays include The Mistakes Madeline Made (originally produced by Naked Angels Theater, and subsequently done at Yale Rep and published by Dramatists Play Service) and Oliver (in development for the Vineyard Theatre). She is currently working on play commissions for the Manhattan Theatre Club, Yale Repertory Theatre, Ars Nova, and on screenplays for Miramax and Dreamworks.

Heddatron was first presented at the HERE Arts Center in New York in February 2006 by the avant-garde theatre troupe Les Freres Corbusier (Alex Timbers, artistic director), known for A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant and Boozy (about civic builder Robert Moses).

"All of these plays have an edge and an air of the unexpected that make them perfect for the new season at the Douglas," Ritchie stated.

For Douglas season ticket information, call (213) 972-4444 or visit CenterTheatreGroup.org.


Center Theatre Group's Kirk Douglas Theatre is located at 9820 Washington Blvd. in Culver City.

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