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On Stage at Downtown's Theaters

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Friday, March 26, 2010, at 12:23PM
Dreamgirls Joan Marcus / Center Theatre Group

Chester Gregory (James Early), Syesha Mercado (Deena), Moya Angela (Effie) and Adrienne Warren (Lorell) in “Dreamgirls.”

From national touring companies to a Downtowner's personal stories returning for an encore, Downtown's theater stages are busy. Here's some a quick look at what you can find hitting the lights this weekend and into April.

DREAMGIRLS: I am telling you they are going. By now you know this national touring company production of the 60s era Supreme-like girl group gone wild is not a mere rehash of the 1981 Broadway hit or the 2006 film. The backstage drama with multiple Divas stands on its own, full voiced and sequins glittering. Dreamgirls / Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave / Ends April 4

TALES OF DOWNTOWN: Downtown-based blogger-turned-playwright Nancy Mills was asked by Company of Angels to bring back Tales of Downtown for an afternoon. Performed by an ensemble of actresses from CoA, Mills adds new material based on her "adventures of living in a loft downtown." To make it a complete Downtown afternoon experience, the ticket price includes a Q & A with the author, and a "wandering caravan" for a hot dog & champagne after-party across the street at Weeneez. Tales of Downtown / To order tickets, call Nancy Mills at 888-428-1234 or log on to Company of Angels Theater / Inside the Black Box Theater at the Alexandria Hotel / 501 S. Spring

ALSO COMING TO THE BLACK BOX THEATER: Company of Angels' short-play festival gathers eight L.A. playwrights for themed works. The next installment, L.A VIEWS III "Hunger and the City", will explore the idea of "wanting more." Topics range from Prop 8, AIDS and sibling rivalry to just wanting a decent steak. It opens April 2 and runs to April 25, 2010.

TOV: The story of German genetic experimentation to bring back a lost breed of horses was taken into an avant garde dance theater laboratory, so to speak, and brought to life. The outcome is a personal reflection of choreographer Rosanna Gamson's Polish-Jewish family blood line. The world premiere full-evening work features a cast with American and Polish performers, with text spoken and sung in Hebrew, Polish, English and German. The L.A. Times said of the conceptual dance theater): "Beyond its ambitious globalism, 'Tov' was recognizably made in Los Angeles. It carried the local mellowness of spirit and pacing. It offered solace in L.A.-style multiculturalism." Tov / Until Saturday, March 27 / Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater / 631 W. 2nd St.

THE EMPEROR'S LAST PERFORMANCE: In 1920, African-American actor Charles Sidney Gilpin rose above the craft in Eugene O’Neill’s The Emperor Jones, as produced by the Federal Theater Project and later mounted on Broadway. Robey Theatre Company’s Playwrights Program tracks the sweeping up and hard down of Gilpin's conflict with the fame that came from that run, in which his "greatest performance was in pretending that he liked the role that made him a star." It previews tonight at the Los Angeles Theater Center and runs until Sunday, April 4. LATC / 514 S. Spring St

ALSO AT LATC: Actors James Cromwell (LA Confidential, BABE) and Debra De Liso (USC School of Theater) lead the teach-in "The Einstein Plan." The interactive performance set as a town hall meeting involves the audience, which is lead by the character simply called 'The Exile' to create their political future. The second act the 'Stage Manager' leads an audience discussion about the outcome.

BENGAL TIGER AT BAGHDAD ZOO: After last year's Spring premiere at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, the Rajiv Joseph play about US soldiers ready to return home, a tormented Iraqi, and a war weary brooding tiger has had a lot of buzz. It's being restaged at the Mark Taper Forum. "I’m tempted to call it the most original drama written so far about the Iraq war, but why sell the work short?" wrote the LATimes. "'The writing is beautiful, the bilingual acting is strong and moving, the pacing is taught and thrilling, and the outcome is as dark as night," says the Hollywood Reporter. Bengal Tiger At Baghdad Zoo / Mark Taper Forum / 135 N. Grand Avenue / Opens April 14. Runs until May 30.

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