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Curtain Up: Theater of the Mind

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By Mary Daily

Published Jan 1, 2012 12:00 AM


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Photo courtesy of L.A. Theatre Works

Nothing else is quite like radio theater. You listen closely for every nuance, every sound effect, and form your own mental picture of the scene. It's a great exercise for the imagination.

Now a foremost producer of radio dramas has moved to UCLA, and live audiences can watch the recording of the performances. After a decade at the Skirball Cultural Center, the L.A. Theatre Works (LATW) series, which was founded in 1974, is setting up shop at the James Bridges Theater in Melnitz Hall for the 2011–2012 season.

The series, titled "The Play's the Thing," features such celebrated performers as Alfred Molina, JoBeth Williams, Anne Heche (pictured right), James Marsters and Emmy Award-winner Jean Smart. Productions run for six performances each.

LATW's producing director Susan Loewenberg says the virtual theater company is "thrilled" with the move and hopes to partner with various UCLA departments for pre- and post-show discussions and to use some of the Bridges' multimedia capacity to enhance the performances. She also says there will be opportunities for students to intern in production and administration and to buy discounted tickets to the plays.

In September, audiences at the James Bridges Theater saw Henrik Ibsen's A Doll House with Calista Flockhart and Williams and, in November, the Tony Award-winning drama Copenhagen by Michael Frayn about pioneering nuclear physicists Werner Heisenberg and Niels Bohr. December brought Sam Shepard's Pulitzer Prize-winning Buried Child with Amy Madigan.

Upcoming productions include, on Jan. 19–22, the Tony-nominated Next Fall by Geoffrey Nauffts, which had its West Coast premiere in November at the Geffen Playhouse; Look Back in Anger by John Osbourne with Matthew Rhys on March 15–18; The Browning Version by Terrence Rattigan with Joanne Whalley on June 21–24; and Eugene Ionesco's Rhinoceros on July 19–22.

"The Play's the Thing." L.A. Theatre Works. Through July 22, 2012. James Bridges Theater. Tickets: $49 regular admission; $25 for UCLA faculty and staff; $10 for students with UCLA ID; $15 for other students. Subscriptions available for three, five or nine plays. For more information, visit www.latw.org or call (310) 827-0889.

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