Stage world mourns loss of Gordon Davidson

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A SPECIAL MAN—“He led Center Theatre Group for 38 years and produced one of the broadest arrays of plays, particularly new plays, of any theatre in the country,” Center Theatre Group Artistic Director, Michael Ritchie said of Gordon Davidson. Photo by Craig Schwartz

The American Theatre Community joins the Center Theatre Group (Ahmanson, Taper and Kirk Douglas Theatres) in mourning the loss of Gordon Davidson who passed away on Sunday Oct. 2.

The American Theatre Community joins the Center Theatre Group (Ahmanson, Taper and Kirk Douglas Theatres) in mourning the loss of Gordon Davidson who passed away on Sunday Oct. 2.

From 1967 to 2005 Davidson was the Artistic Director of Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum at the Music Center of Los Angeles. In addition to his role at the Taper, he was also Producing Director of the Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre for 15 years and the Artistic Director of the inaugural season (2004-2005) at the Kirk Douglas Theatre,  A pillar in the Los Angeles theatre community, he not only redefined theatre in Southern California, he was one of the founders of the regional theatre movement which has had a permanent impact on theatre throughout the country and the world,

Michael Ritchie, the current Center Theatre Group Artistic Director, described Gordon Davidson as “one of the most renowned and respected artistic directors in regional theatre, in large part because he was one of the original founders of the entire concept. He led Center Theatre Group for 38 years and produced one of the broadest arrays of plays, particularly new plays, of any theatre in the country. Without his prolific vision for Center Theatre Group 50 years ago, the theatrical landscape in Los Angeles, and the country, would be very different, He remains one of theatre’s great leaders and I was proud to call him a mentor, friend and colleague,”

Gordion Davison received countless awards, from the Tony to his induction to the Theatre Hall  of Fame on Broadway in 2000. He is survived by his wife Judi, their children Adam and Rachel and five granddaughters,

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The current production at the Mark Taper Forum is August Wilson’s  “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” starring Lillias White in the title role. The play is part of a series of plays written by Wilson that explores the African/American experience, decade by decade, during the course of the 20th century. The story takes place in the band room and recording studios of a record company in Chicago early in March1927.

Rainey, born in Georgia in 1886, is considered the Mother of the Blues. As the play, directed by Phylicia Rashad, unfolds we see how she and other black performers were exploited by record companies during that time period. While the story is laced with comedic moments, potential tragedy lurks just beneath the surface. Keith David plays one of Rainey’s four backup musicians, and each actor in the group plays an instrument and sings throughout. At the Mark Taper Forum, 135 N, Grand Ave, L.A. Ends Oct,16.

 

The next play at the Taper will be “The Beauty Queen Of Leenane,” Nov.9 – Dec. 18.

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Arthur Miller’s classic “A View From The Bridge,” at the Ahmanson Theatre through Oct.16, is directed by Tony Award winner Ivo van Hove. His stylized revival of Miller’s play was a hit in London, and went on to win a Tony for Best Revival this year. The set is sparse, with the main focus not on the surroundings, but on the actors. Another interesting aspect of this production is having a portion of the audience seated on stage, serving as witnesses to what is about to unfold. Very well done, but the audience experience might have been even better served if this intimate intense drama had been presented at the Mark Taper Forum rather than at the larger, 2000 seat Ahmanson.

“Amelie,  A New Musical” will be the next production at the Ahmanson from Dec. 4, 2016 through Jan. 17, 2017.

Tickets for each of these fine productions available by calling 213-972-4400 or online at www.centertheatregroup.com.

Stage world mourns loss of Gordon Davidson