Theater for the new year

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

Okay, if one of your resolutions was to see more LA theater this year, I've got you covered with a great show every month between now and May.

Let's start with a world premiere at the Echo Theater Company, one of my favorite small companies. The last couple of years they've done some really daring tough plays that have been beautifully acted. If you don't know about this company you should. In January they are producing The Found Dog Ribbon Dance by Dominic Finocchiaro. As a protagonist, it's got a professional cuddler. Who doesn't want to start the year with a professional cuddler?

In February, Center Theater Group is kicking off their 50th anniversary season with the classic Taper show Zoot Suit. Written and directed by Luis Valdez, the 1978 production became the first Chicano play on Broadway. It's a fitting way to honor the theater's legacy and with a cast of 25 it will definitely be a spectacle. It plays at the Mark Taper Forum in February.

March is going to be busy.

The Antaeus Theater Company is christening their new theater in Glendale with a production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; so, old play/new theater. It will be interesting to see how Antaeus makes the transition and whether it helps them find the kind of audience in Glendale that made A Noise Within such a success.

Then downtown, it's time for the Wooster Group's annual trip to REDCAT. If you know the Wooster Group, you know their conceits can get a little complicated and this one is no exception. This year's piece is based on a documentary about a 1971 panel of Feminist thinkers moderated by Norman Mailer. Don't let the complexity steer you away. The company’s work is always thought provoking and worth the trip.

In April, head back to the Taper to see the latest from playwright Rajiv Joseph, who wrote Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo and Guards at the Taj. The world premiere Archduke is set in the moment before World War I in Belgrade and follows three men on a path to terrorism. Mr. Joseph's work manages to weave together the present and the past with insightful, dark humor. Don't miss this one.

At the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Simon McBurney and London's Theatre Complicite present The Encounter. It's a one man show that's just closing on Broadway that follows the journey of a National Geographic photographer deep into the Amazon jungle. But that's only the story. This is a play that comes with a set of headphones to immerse your ears in a three dimensional score. While that sounds like a gimmick, audiences have packed the production in New York.

Then in May the Kirk Douglas Theater is being taken over by LA's intimate theaters, well, three of them at least. Center Theater Group is remounting productions from the Fountain Theater, Coeurage Theatre Company, and the Echo Theater Company. Basically, they're taking some of the best of LA's small theater and sharing it with a different audience. Echo Theater Company's production is the stunning Dry Land by Ruby Rae Speigel. It was one of the knockout shows of last year and it'll be interesting to see if it retains its power in a larger theater.

And those are just the highlights. To stay up to date on what to see every week in LA theater, subscribe to the KCRW weekly theater newsletter at

Happy New Year.

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

Photo: Connor-Kelly Eiding (sitting) and Teagan Rose in Ruby Rae Spiegel's Dry Land.