Thursday, September 01, 2005

Thinking big in the theatre

At a time when many playwrights are lamenting the lack of opportunities to do anything grander than two-handers on minimal sets, raise a glass to the Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles.
At a recent rehearsal in the cavernous auditorium of the Ahmanson Theater here, four teenage boys clambered out of the orchestra pit, all of them dripping, slithering and making a holy ruckus. That's because the musicians had been replaced with 10,000 gallons of chlorinated water.

"I wanted something big, bold, theatrical, distinct, exciting" for the inaugural production, said Michael Ritchie, the new artistic director of the downtown Center Theater Group, which includes the Ahmanson. And he found it in the once-celebrated 1935 play "Dead End," by Sidney Kingsley, which had been ignored for decades, partly because the size of the cast (42 roles) made it prohibitively expensive to produce and partly because having the East River - a dark, oily waterway where the boys frolic - as a central character, may have been daunting.
More from Sharon Waxman in The New York Times.

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