Theater for a New Year

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This is Anthony Byrnes Opening the Curtain on LA Theater for KCRW.

Happy Theatrical New Year! Okay, if one of your resolutions was to see more good theater in 2015 - and you should - here are six shows to get you off to a good start.

The end of January, head downtown to REDCAT for your annual dose of New York's Wooster Group. This year's production "Early Shaker Spirituals: A Record Album Interpretation" is their riff on a 1976 LP of Shaker hymns and testimony. The performers include Elizabeth LeCompte, the Wooster's usual director, and actress Frances McDormand recreating and singing the album in signature style. If you know the Wooster's work this sounds just bizarre enough to be brilliant.

February's going to be busy.

Sticking with REDCAT - Mariano Pensotti is returning with "Cineastas." It's a two-level split-screen drama that tracks four filmmakers in Buenos Aires. You might remember "El Pasado es un Animal Grotesco" from 2012. That show blew my mind with a series of stories that unfolded as a turntable stage-spun chronicling a decade of the character's lives. Mr. Pensotti has a gift for infusing the theater with the gifts of the cinema and the result is so good you'll forget the piece is performed in Spanish with subtitles. It opens February 12.

Remember last week I told you about one of my 2014 favorites: the site-specific junkyard opera by Four Larks? Well they're back for a really limited run at an undisclosed warehouse downtown. This time it's the "Temptation of St. Antony." My advice: check out their website, if you dig the aesthetic buy tickets now. This one will sell out.

Okay, let's shift to the Geffen. They've been on a roll lately so I'm excited to see if that continues with Irish playwright Conor McPherson's "The Night Alive." The script had successful runs in New York and at Steppenwolf in Chicago. The Geffen production opens in February and plays through March 15.

Back to the presenters. UCLA's Center for the Art of Performance is bringing the Bill T. Jones, Anne Bogart collaboration to LA for a weekend in March. Called "A Rite" and using the Stravinsky piece as a point of departure, the work combines the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and SITI Company for a dance/theater collaboration. This won't be an easy piece of theater but it will be rewarding - and it's one weekend only.

Okay, finally in May, one of my favorite local companies Theater Movement Bazaar is back. Their latest piece is a vaudevillian riff on the Godfather films called "Big Shot." If you've never seen their work it's a dance/theater mashup with a wickedly dry sense of humor. It'll be at the Bootleg Theater in May.

So there are six shows to get your year off to a good start and that doesn't even include all the smaller theaters and longer runs. So get out your calendars and see some theater!

This is Anthony Byrnes Opening the Curtain on LA theater for KCRW.

Photo: Mariano Pensotti: Cineastas. (Carlos Furman)