Center Theatre Group 2024-25 season reopens Mark Taper Forum


It’s official: Center Theatre Group is reopening the Mark Taper Forum in the fall.

The prominent Los Angeles theater organization announced Sunday night that the historic downtown L.A. venue, which abruptly paused its season last year because of a significant budget shortfall, will resume programming in October.

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One of the first productions to play the Taper after its 16-month pause will be the world premiere of “Fake It Until You Make It” (Jan. 29-March 9, 2025), the commissioned play by Larissa FastHorse that was halted just weeks before opening last year. Directed by Michael John Garcés, the satirical comedy about shifting identities will debut after CTG’s two-week workshop last fall.

“Despite the disappointment of last summer,” FastHorse said, the workshop was a way for CTG Artistic Director Snehal Desai, Managing Director and Chief Executive Meghan Pressman and the rest of the group to say, “We’re still behind this piece.”

“It was a huge gift that basically saved us two weeks of rehearsal, as we worked out fight choreography, physical comedy timing and the nuts and bolts of farce,” FastHorse said.

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“The Taper is my hometown theater, and it’s my favorite space in America for seeing a play,” continued FastHorse, who will be the first Native American writer to have a mainstage production at the Taper since it opened in 1967. “I’ve always wanted to have a play there, so it’s deeply meaningful that it will still be in that space.” After its L.A. run, the co-production will later play Washington, D.C.’s Arena Stage.

Center Theatre Group artistic director Snehal Desai.

Center Theatre Group artistic director Snehal Desai.

(Phillip Faraone)

CTG’s 2024-25 season — Desai’s first as the nonprofit theater group’s artistic director — kicks off with Green Day’s “American Idiot” (Oct. 2-Nov. 10), the politically-charged musical based on the band’s hit album of the same title. The rock opera, which made its Broadway debut in 2010, follows a trio of young Americans as they struggle to find meaning in a post-9/11 world.

The Taper staging will be produced with Deaf West Theatre and will feature an ensemble of deaf and hearing actors, performing simultaneously in American Sign Language and English. Desai approached Deaf West Artistic Director DJ Kurs about collaborating on “American Idiot,” a selection made strategically as a “cathartic” offering for this election year.

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“These characters are screaming into a world that doesn’t hear them, so why not invert the metaphor with a trio of deaf friends who are trying to be heard in this world?” said Desai, who will make his CTG directorial debut with the production.

“DJ shared that, throughout the deaf community, there’s all these covers of punk rock, because you can feel the vibration of the music. We found a real organic synergy with the concept, and it felt like a way to reopen the Taper in a big way.”

Bernadette Peters, Lea Salonga and the company of "Old Friends."

Bernadette Peters, Lea Salonga and the company of “Old Friends.”

(Danny Kaan)

Over at the Ahmanson Theatre, CTG’s largest house, Bernadette Peters and Lea Salonga will lead the previously announced “Stephen Sondheim’s Old Friends” (Feb. 8-March 9, 2025). Directed by Matthew Bourne, the tribute to the legendary composer heads directly to Broadway after its North American premiere in L.A.

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The season continues with the Broadway tour of “Life of Pi” (May 7-June 1, 2025), based on the beloved novel by Yann Martel. The play, written by Lolita Chakrabarti and directed by Max Webster, will transform the Ahmanson into the vast Pacific Ocean, where a 16-year-old boy is stranded on a lifeboat with four other survivors: a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan and a 450-pound royal Bengal tiger — all of which come to life with an acclaimed combination of puppeteering and visual effects.

Meanwhile, the Taper will debut a new version of “Hamlet” (May 28-July 6, 2025), adapted and directed by Robert O’Hara with inspiration from Alfred Hitchcock and the film noir genre. Desai approached O’Hara, who helmed CTG’s production of “Slave Play” in 2022, about presenting a fresh take on a classic.

“I hope to do a new reimagining every season at the Taper moving forward,” said Desai. “While the Taper is known as a playwrights’ theater, I also want it to be a home for adventurous directors.”

A man and a tiger puppet

Hiran Abeysekera as Pi and Fred Davis, Scarlet Wilderink and Andrew Wilson as the tiger Richard Parker in the Broadway production of “Life of Pi.”

(Matthew Murphy & Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade)

The Ahmanson will welcome “Parade” (June 17-July 12), the touring production of the Tony-winning Broadway revival. The musical — co-conceived by Harold Prince and featuring a book by Alfred Uhry and music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown — examines the true story of Leo and Lucille Frank, a newlywed Jewish couple whose lives in 1900s Georgia is upended when Leo is accused of an unspeakable crime.

A seventh show of the 2024-25 season will be a Broadway musical at the Ahmanson, to be announced in the coming weeks.

CTG’s season also includes a continuation and expansion of CTG:FWD programming, an initiative created last year to present special events and community gatherings during the Taper’s programming pause.

These engagements include the 7 Fingers’ ”Duel Reality” (Sept. 11-22), an acrobatic spectacle inspired by “Romeo and Juliet” at the Ahmanson, as well as “SCAT! … The Complex Lives of Al & Dot, Dot & Al Zollar” (Nov. 22-24), a dance-driven jazz club piece from Urban Bush Women produced in association with Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at the Music Center.

The company’s third stage, the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, will have its own lineup of CTG:FWD events including TheaterWorksUSA’s “Cat Kid Comic Club: The Musical” (Nov. 22-Jan. 5), adapted from Dav Pilkey’s “Dog Man” spinoff book series, and “El Otro Oz” (dates to be announced), a bilingual musical inspired by “The Wizard of Oz,” which had a limited run at the Douglas earlier this year.

CTG’s 2024-25 season subscription package, which goes on sale Monday online, includes “American Idiot,” “Fake It Until You Make It” and “Hamlet” at the Taper; as well as “Stephen Sondheim’s Old Friends,” “Parade,” “Life of Pi” and the yet-to-be-announced musical at the Ahmanson. Fall 2024 CTG:FWD programming will be available to purchase as add-on performances to the subscription package, and spring 2025 CTG:FWD programming will go on sale at a later date.

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