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Stage and Screens Offer Week of Choices

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Tuesday, September 16, 2008, at 11:03AM
Music Center Ed Fuentes

The Music Center, seen here in a 2007 file photo, is the site for several new shows on the Downtown stage.

Downtown is a cultural hotspot, offering quite the varied range of choices. A number of new openings look to make that decision even tougher. Is it a good time to explore opera with familiar themes? Or could screening old favorites in a new venue be a way to burn a night?

Here's a sampling of the events taking place around Downtown. Though it won't make your decisions easier, perhaps it will at least let them be well informed.

On The Stage

BE LIKE WATER: East West Players takes you to 1978 disco-era Chicago, five years after the death of Bruce Lee, where 14-year-old tomboy Tracy Fong is stuck between school bullies and a mother who wants her to be a good daughter. When things get rough for Tracy Fong, who is not quite getting the martial art philosophy of Jeet Kune Do, the Ghost of Bruce Lee appears to teach the meaning of strength from the true power of water. Previews began last week. Opening night is September 17. The show runs through October 12.

East West Players, The David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center for the Arts / Little Tokyo / 120 North Judge John Aliso (near 1st and San Pedro) / (213) 625-7000

COMEDY WALK hopes to recreate the success of Downtown Art Walk by moving to the third Thursday of the month beginning September 18th. Local galleries are scheduled to be open before the Comedy Walk’s 8:25pm show times. The event will have solids acts on six stages around 5th and Spring.

Comedy Walk venues include: Cabaret Room at The New LATC (514 S. Spring) / The Velvet Room by Bert Green Fine Art Gallery (114 W. 5th) / The Onion Room at Spring Arts Tower (207 W. 5th) / The Chicken Room at Spring Arts Tower (215 W. 5th) / All venues are free admission.

9 TO 5: THE MUSICAL: Early buzz for the already Broadway-bound musical will fill out shifted preview dates ending September 19th (with a "Neighborhood Night" on Thursday, September 18). Opening night for the world premiere is September 20th. The story you already know: an 80s male-dominated office culture is conquered by three resourceful and underpaid female employees, this time with more music and dancing. Written by Patricia Resnick, who wrote the story and co-wrote the screenplay for the 1980 movie, and additional music and lyrics by Dolly Parton. BTW: "9 to 5" will begin Broadway previews March 24, 2009, and open April 23, 2009, at the Marquis Theatre.

Ahmanson Theatre at the Music Center / 135 N. Grand / Now in previews. Opening Night September 20. Runs through October 19.

LA OPERA: “I have no idea what I’m doing,” Woody Allen confessed to the Los Angeles Times, adding “incompetence has never prevented me from plunging in with enthusiasm.” He’s one of three film directors who kicked-off the 2008-2009 Los Angeles Opera season, and his version of Gianni Schicchi gets a respectful rave from the NYT. In the same production, William Friedkin directs Il Tabarro and Suor Angelica. Remaining dates are Sept 21, 23, and 26.

The buzz for the David Cronenberg’s operatic version of “The Fly” is consistent: inventive staging and the bold vocal of a talented cast can’t help “The Fly” keep it wings from being pulled off by the Howard Shore score. Still, it could have been a way to introduce yourself to how opera stages a story, if you don't mind the big fly. Remaining dates are September 16, 20 and 26.

Los Angeles Opera / Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (135 N. Grand)

THE CHALK BOY: The Company of Angels and The Management, NYC continues the West Coast Premiere of Joshua Conkel's black comedy. The POVs of small towns, life, a missing boy and the opening of Taco Bell are seen through the eyes of four slightly troubled local girls in Clear Creek, Washington. Sharp dialogue, despite with loosely structured story.

Company of Angels / The Alexandria Hotel (501 S. Spring) / Third Floor / (323) 883-1717

FACE OF THE WORLD FESTIVAL is an ambitious series of performances presented by the New LATC and worth looking into for its full schedule of theater, dance and music. It continues on Friday, September 19 (8pm), Saturday, September 20 (8pm), and Sunday, September 21 (3pm), with performances by writers John Fleck and Sandra TsingLoh. With satire, Fleck reflects on the consumer addicted soul of modern humanity and TsingLoh makes the angst and dips of motherhood a very human trip of fortitude and wit.

The New LATC (514 S. Spring) / (213) 489-0994

On The Screen

FROZEN RIVER is an indie film “that knows precisely what it intends, and what the meaning of the story is,” writes critic Roger Ebert. The Courtney Hunt directed film, a 2008 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize Winner, tells the story of a desperate Upstate New York trailer mom (Melissa Leo) stuck teaming up with a Mohawk woman (Misty Upham) to smuggle Chinese and Pakistani immigrants into the U.S from Canada. Opens September 19.

ImaginAsian Center / 251 S. Main / (213) 617-1033

BLADERUNNER is a classic from 1982 that will be the first screening for Pershing Square's Friday Night Flicks, a free series featuring films made in or about Downtown Los Angeles. You are encouraged to pack a picnic and bring a blanket or lawn chair. The films start at 8pm, and other than the dates, the Pershing Square website has limited information. DLANC is co-sponsoring the series, and the unofficial website links to the flyer. The series will also screen Stand and Deliver (1988) on September 26th, Chinatown (1974) for October 3rd. L.A. Confidential (1997) ends the series on October 10th.

Pershing Square / 532 S. Olive

GRAND PERFORMANCES does a fade out into Fall with two films from the Golden Age of Mexican Films, when a cohesive national cinematic expression was sought and often captured. Playing the Watercourt Plaza is Dos Tipos de Cuidado (Two Mischievous Men, 1953) on Friday, September 19, and Ahi Esta el Detalle (There's the Rub, 1940) on Sunday, September 21. Showtime is 8pm for both films.

Grand Performances at the California Watercourt / 300-350 S. Grand / (213) 687-2159 / Free

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