After it will have been dark for 17 months. the Center Theatre Group’s 54th Season at the Ahmanson Theatre will open on August 24, 2021 with a wide variety of plays and musicals. Of those, the ones that include dancing are the Tony-winning revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma, Diane Paulus’ production of  1776, and the Drama Desk-winning for Outstanding Musical The Prom.

The Center Theatre Group is one of the country’s leading arts and cultural organization and Los Angeles’ principal nonprofit theatre company. Located at The Music Center in downtown Los Angles, the group presents seasons at the Mark Taper Forum and the  Ahmanson Theatre under the leadership of Artistic Director Michael Ritchie, Managing Director/CEO Meghan Pressman and Producing Director Douglas C. Baker.

The newest venue for The Center Theatre Group is Digital Stage which features a collection of new audio and video series that include Live from the KDT, Theatrical Experiences, The Forum, and Audio Adventures. Many of these programs are streamed free of charge, but other require an individual streaming fee. The Digital Stage also houses Center Theatre Group’s ever-expanding library of education, community outreach and Art Goes On videos. For more information, click HERE.

The 2021-2022 season begins with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! opening on August 24 and continuing through October 3, 2021 at The Ahmanson Theatre. Directed by Daniel Fish, the music for Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! is by Richard Rodgers, Book and Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein, and based on the play “Green Grow the Lilacs” by Lynn Riggs. The production was hailed by The New York Times’ Ben Brantley as a “wide-awake, jolting and altogether wonderful production of ‘Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!’” He also wrote that it was “Funny and sexy, dark and jolting”. This revival “lets us experience Rodgers and Hammerstein’s greatness anew,” said Elisabeth Vincentelli in The New Yorker.

Cast of the Broadway production of “Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!” - Photo by Little Fang Photo, courtesy of Center Theatre Group

Cast of the Broadway production of “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!” – Photo by Little Fang Photo, courtesy of Center Theatre Group

The original production of Oklahoma! which opened on Broadway on March 31, 1943, was the first musical written by the duo team Rodgers and Hammerstein, with original choreography by Agnes De Mille. For this new version, the choreography is by John Heginbotham. Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, Heginbotham is a Brooklyn-based choreographer, performer, and teacher, and from 1998 through 2012, he was a member of the Mark Morris Dance Group. Heginbotham is the recipient of several choreography awards and is currently a Research Fellow at the National Center for Choreography at The University of Akron. His work is featured in the repertory of Dance Heginbotham, a New York-based contemporary dance company.

1776, which runs January 11 through February 13, 2022 at The Ahmanson Theatre, is directed by Jeffrey L. Page and Diane Paulus, book by Peter Stone and based on a concept by Sherman Edwards. The music and lyrics are by Edwards and Page did the choreography. The Center Theatre Group’s press release states: “They knew they would make history, but not what history would make of them. Fed up with living under the tyranny of British rule, John Adams attempts to persuade his fellow members of the Continental Congress to vote in favor of American Independence and sign the Declaration. But how much is he willing to compromise in the pursuit of freedom? And who does that freedom belong to? Jeffrey L. Page and Tony Award winner Diane Paulus direct a new production of this Tony Award-winning musical, reexamining this pivotal moment in American history.”

Director Diane Paulus - "1776" - Photo by Suaan Lapides

Director Diane Paulus – “1776” – Photo by Suaan Lapides

Emmy Award nominee Page directs both classical and contemporary works for opera and theatre. He led the 2015 and 2018 Tokyo productions of the award nominated musical Memphis, and Page is the first African American to be named the Marcus Institute Fellow for Opera Directing at The Juilliard School. Page also won an MTV Video award for his work with pop music diva Beyoncé, and the Chuck Davis Emerging Choreographer Fellowship from the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

At the Ahmanson Theatre August 9 through September 11, 2022, The Center Theatre Group will present The Prom directed and choreographed by American theatre director, Tony Award winning and nominee choreographer, and performer Casey Nicholaw. The book for The Prom is by Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin, Music by Matthew Sklar, and Lyrics by Beguelin. Nicholaw’s choreography credits also include Mean Girls (2018), The Book of Mormon (2011), and All About Me (2010), to name a few.

The Prom is the joyous Broadway hit that New York Magazine called “smart and bighearted” and The New York Times declares a Critic’s Pick. It’s a new musical comedy about big Broadway stars on a mission to change the world and the love they discover that unites them all.” – Center Theatre Group press release.

Other productions presented at The Ahmanson Theatre by Center Theatre Group will include: A Christmas Carol, The Lehman Trilogy, Hadestown, and Dear Evan Hansen. Productions Les Misérables, To Kill a Mockingbird, Come From Away, and Ain’t Too Proud  will be rescheduled into future seasons

To learn more about The Center Theatre Group and all of the above productions, please visit the website by clicking HERE.

To find out more about Los Angeles’ The Music Center, click HERE.

By Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle.

Featured image: The Original Broadway Cast of The Prom. – Photo by Deen van Meer, courtesy of Center Theatre Group