LA Opera’s The Two Foscari

The following are our current recommendations for truly exceptional performances in October 2012. As always, we will be adding to this list as our contributors continue to examine the offerings at world-class venues and companies.

‘The Two Foscari,’ L.A. Opera, Sep 15-Oct 9, 2012 The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion WORTH THE RISK

Great music, a potent cast, and Plácido Domingo almost make up for the  static storyline of this rarely-performed early Verdi. Caught up in forces beyond their control, a father and son struggle to reclaim honor in a city that knows no mercy.

‘The Two Foscari- in Concert’ L.A. Opera, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Oct 1, 2012 HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Plácido Domingo and the cast of our fully staged production, as well as the LA Opera Orchestra and Chorus, will present the rarely performed early Verdi masterpiece in a special concert performance under the baton of LA Opera Music Director James Conlon at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Mr. Conlon will also speak at the free Preview Talk prior to the performance at 7:00pm. We think this is actually a better way to experience this opera – which features astounding music, but little plot for the opera stage.

‘The Square Root of Wonderful,’ The Raven Playhouse, Sept 14-Oct 14, 2012 NOT TO BE MISSED

A lost gem by the great southern writer Carson McCullers (MEMBER OF THE WEDDING, THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER). McCullers’ story of a love triangle  – an independent young woman, her self-destuctive writer ex-husband, and the gentle boarder staying at her family home – was ahead of its time in 1958, when it premiered on Broadway. Rediscovered more than 50 years later, it promises to be a worthy, if belated addition to the golden age of American stage drama. Collaborative Artists Ensemble at The Raven Playhouse. We saw this production in its earlier staging last spring. Serious theatre doesn’t get much better. See our Review….

Andsnes and Dudamel Play Beethoven, L.A. Phil, Disney Hall, Oct 4-7  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
An interesting combination of strong musical personalities. See Review.

‘The 39 Steps,’ The Laguna Playhouse, Sept 25-Oct 21, 2012 HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Few New York productions have generated this kind of buzz. The show instantly became the most fought over script among regional theaters. The highly inventive theatrical staging of the classic Hitchcock thriller took Broadway by storm and now comes to the the historic Laguna Playhouse. Performed by a cast of four playing more than 150 characters, THE 39 STEPS follows a workaday man who suddenly meets a mysterious woman who may or may not be a spy, but soon, an unmistakably becomes a corpse. Winner of two Tony and Drama Desk Awards and London’s Oliver Award. Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Rd., Laguna Beach 92651. Tickets: or call 949-497-ARTS (2787).

‘The Fantasticks,’ Theatre West, Aug. 31-Oct 7, 2012 WORTH THE RISK

Theatre West consistently produces exceptional revivals of classic plays. The ageless classic musical of young love and parental plotting features one of musical theatre’s most beautiful scores. “Try to Remember,” “Soon it’s Gonna Rain” and “They We’re You” all became standards well before the show became the longest running theatrical production in US history. The story itself is a bit odd, and must be handled just right. Reviews of this production have been a tad mixed, but there’s enough enthusiasm from critics to make it worth the risk.

‘Ruddigore,’ The Sierra Madre Playhouse, Sept 21-Oct 7, 2012 WORTH THE RISK
RUDDIGORE is a rarely-seen Gilbert and Sullivan treasure that should be as popular as PIRATES OF PENZANCE, and THE MIKADO. A new adaptation of Gilbert & Sullivan’s comic opera re-sets the action to 1950s Morro Bay, California. The classic operetta gets an injection of 50s horror and juvenile delinquent flicks mixed with surfers, cheerleaders and ghosts.

‘Collected Stories,’ Donald Margulies, Odyssey Theatre, Sept 8- Oct 14, 2012 HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

An acclaimed play by one of America’s most consistently compelling playwrights, presented by a top notch local theatre company. Donald Margulies searing Pulitzer-nominated drama follows two women writers, one established, one young and ambitious. It’s ALL ABOUT EVE meets the literary set, but just like all good literature, twists and turns abound. Odyssey Theatre 2055 S Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025. Tickets:, or call 310-477-2055      .

‘Krapp’s Last Tape,’ Kirk Douglas Theatre, Oct 9 thru Nov 4, 2012 NOT TO BE MISSED

As Krapp takes stock of his life unspooling on a battered old tape recorder, we become privy to a lifetime of wisdom.  The New York Times praised Hurt for “fully inhabiting the corroded soul of the unforgettable character. Read review…

‘The Night Watcher,’ L.A. TheatreWorks, Oct 18-21, 2012 HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Playwright/performer Charlayne Woodard’s one woman play about a childless couple. “One of the finest dramatic monologists in America today.” –Variety. Read L.A. Times review from a 2011 performance.

‘The Rivals,’ The Actors Gang, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, Opening September 29th, 2012 8PM WORTH THE RISK

Set in the ritzy resort town of Bath in 1775, “The Rivals” involves courtships gone hilariously wrong, as genuine romantic ardor and social climbing become hopelessly mixed up. In spoofing the themes and character types that inhabited the theater of his own day, 18th Century playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s sparkling characters are just as recognizable to us today.

‘Don Giovanni,’ L.A. Opera, Sept 22-Oct 14, 2012, The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

The legendary seducer Don Juan returns in a production new to LA! Considered by many to be the greatest opera ever written, Don Giovanni deftly balances comedy and tragedy with unforgettable music.

‘Hal Holbrook in Mark Twain Tonight,’ Hal Holbrook, Oct 1, 2012, The Broad Stage NOT TO BE MISSED

Holbrook is a living legend as Twain. A must-see once in your life. For Tony-winner Hal Holbrook it’s been Mark Twain Tonight! for over 2,000 nights. And after five decades of channeling the iconic humorist, this brilliant stage, film, and TV veteran brings his wry, good-natured alter ego to The Broad Stage.

‘Swan Lake,’ Mariinsky Ballet, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Oct 2-Oct 7 2012 NOT TO BE MISSED

For its highly anticipated return to the Center, the company will present its breathtaking production of yes, of course, Swan Lake. Nevertheless…we’re talking one of the world’s most celebrated troupes.

‘Vertical Road,’ Akram Khan Company, Oct 5-Oct 6 2012, Royce Hall NOT TO BE MISSED

Akram Khan has become one of the most acclaimed choreographers of this generation, with countless awards and citations for his bold approach to creating dance works. His signature choreographic style draws upon techniques and vocabularies from Kathak and modern dance. Missed his Olympics gig? Catch this.

‘Ravel and Beethoven,’ Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Saturday, October 6, 8PM Alex Theatre; October 7, Sunday, 7PM, 2012 Royce Hall  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

An intresting program from L.A.’s treasured chamber orchestra: Andrew Norman The Great Swiftness (West Coast premiere); Ravel Piano Concerto in G major; James Matheson True South (West Coast premiere); Beethoven Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61

‘Emerson String Quartet,’ Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Oct 6 2012 HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

The Emerson String Quartet is celebrated for over three decades of superior artistry. You should see them at least once. See full listing, including program.

‘Seminar,’ with Jeff Goldblum, Ahmanson, Oct 10-Nov 18, 2012, NOT TO BE MISSED

Wickledly funny and very smart hit from new York with one of our best actors. Wordplay at its finest. Read our preview..

‘The Doctor’s Dilemma,‘ by George Bernard Shaw, A Noise Within, Oct 13 – Nov 25, 2012 HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

We see way too little Shaw in this town. Ever smart and witty, and ever exploring the conundrums of modern existence. As relevant today as in 1906.

Le Salon de Musiques, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012, 4 pm  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED 

Always a charming afternoon of chamber music, including conversation, champagne, and a light dinner overlooking the Music Center plaza. This concert: ROGER WILKIE Violin, SARAH THORNBLADE Violin, ROB BROPHY Viola, RON LEONARD Cello, NICO ABONDOLO Bass, GAVIN MARTIN Piano
GLINKA : Serenade for Piano Sextet on Theme from Bellini
LYAPUNOV: Piano Sextet op 63

‘Green Umbrella,’ John Adams Conducts, LA Phil, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Tuesday 8PM, Oct 16 2012 WORTH THE RISK

From Iceland, Daníel Bjarnason has created quite a stir in the borderless new music world, as a conductor as well as a composer. His  searing Bow to String, originally for over-dubbed cellos, receives its U.S. premiere in a new ensemble arrangement led by LA Phil Creative Chair John Adams. American composer Nico Muhly also puts bow to string in Seeing is Believing, a concerto for electric violin.

‘Vogt plays Rachmaninoff,’ LA Phil, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Oct 19-Oct 21, 2012 WORTH THE RISK

Among their composers’ most enduringly popular works, Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto and Sibelius’ Second Symphony were both begun in Italy, about a year apart. All three of the pieces on this program in fact, were composed within ten years at the beginning of the 20th century, but each reveals utterly idiosyncratic hallmarks of orchestral color and musical fantasy.

‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,’ The National Ballet of Canada, Oct 19-Oct 21, 2012 The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Well-reviewed and creatively-faithful rendition of the fantasy, suitable for children and adults. Beautifully-rendered sets. “A brilliantly theatrical superbly designed extravaganza of color, costume, madcap action and fluent dance.” – The New York Times

‘Richard Goode, Pianist,’ October 20 2012 The Broad Stage NOT TO BE MISSED

Goode brings a wonderful spirit of improvisation to great standards of the classical repertoire, breathing fresh life into old favorites. His confidence and authority continue to grow. Don’t miss it. See NY times review of a recent concert. As always, pick your seats with care in the Broad to avoid some acoustical dead spots—stay toward the center and don’t sit under overhangs.

‘Impro Threatre: Chekhov Unscripted and Twilight Zone Unscripted,’ Sep 15 – Nov 4 2012 HIGHLY RECOMMENDED 

A new show every night! Impro Theatre, Los Angeles’ highly-acclaimed improvisational theatre company returns to the Odyssey with Chekhov Unscripted, a spontaneously created play in the style of Anton Chekhov and for those who love Rod Serling get ready to enter an unexplored dimension, known only as … The Twilight Zone“One of the funniest evenings in town… a stunning feat of performance and literary wizardry.”

–LA Times

‘Of Mice and Men,’ The Acting Company, Valley Performing Arts Center, Sat 8PM, Oct 27, 2012 HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

This production of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men recreates the gritty reality of the 1930s working man. Even though the context of our world has changed, our community values remain the same. This truth is at the core of the play. Of Mice and Men continues to fascinate audiences and artists as it speaks to our shared human condition.

‘Israel Philharmonic Orchestra,’ Walt Disney Concert Hall, Tuesday 8PM, Oct 30 2012 NOT TO BE MISSED

Nothing quite compares to the crisp artistry of this orchestra. Zubin Mehta, conductor, Yuja Wang, piano. PROGRAM: SCHUBERT: Symphony No. 3, CHOPIN: Piano Concerto No. 1, BRAHMS: Symphony No. 1 One of the great musical partnerships of our time, Mehta and the IPO have a huge discography, which includes a characteristically robust live account of Brahms’ First Symphony from 2009.


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