Thoughts on a Theatre Season: The Geffen

userpic=theatre_musicalsYet another belated post from this weekend: My promised thoughts on the just announced 2015-2016 season at the Westwood Playhouse Geffen Playhouse (I’m sorry, but it’s always the Westwood Playhouse to me). I’ll note that The Geffen Playhouse (FB) is a great theatre — but one I rarely attend. Why? They very rarely discount, and their cheapest prices are often much much more than the cheapest at the Pantages. Thus, a show has to be really compelling for me to go into the $60+ ticket range. The upcoming “Murder for Two” is an example of such a show — in the smaller theatre, with little chance of discount tickets showing up, with the original cast, and something I really want to  see. Other than that, I think the last show I saw there was Kathleen Turner as Molly Ivens. For reference, the Gil Cates space is the larger with 512 seats. The Kenis space has 149 seats. So let’s look at the next season:

  • Thumbs Up THESE PAPER BULLETS! A Modish Ripoff of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Written by Rolin Jones. Songs by Billie Joe Armstrong. Directed by Jackson Gay. Sept. 8 – Oct. 18, 2015. West Coast Premiere in the Gil Cates Theater at the Geffen Playhouse. This sounds interesting — you have the leads of Green Day in something not from an album, and it is likely to garner discounts being in the larger of the Geffen’s two theatres.
  • Thumbs Down GUARDS AT THE TAJ. Written by Rajiv Joseph. Directed by Giovanna Sardelli. Oct. 6 – Nov. 15, 2015. West Coast Premiere in the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater at the Geffen Playhouse. A violently beautiful, gruesomely funny comedy from the author of Bengal Tiger. A non-musical comedy, by an author I haven’t heard of, in the smaller theater. This might be interesting if I was a subscriber, but I don’t think it is a sufficiently compelling draw as a standalone.
  • thumbs-side OUTSIDE MULLINGAR. Written by John Patrick Shanley. Directed by Randall Arney. Nov. 10 – Dec. 20, 2015. In the Gil Cates Theater at the Geffen Playhouse.  Modern romantic comedy in the Irish countryside.  The fact that this is John Patrick Shanley makes this intriguing, but not intriguing enough to overcome the price and the fact that it is in a really (theatrically) busy time of year.
  • Thumbs Down BARCELONA. Written by Bess Wohl. Directed by Trip Cullman. Feb. 2 – March 13, 2016. West Coast Premiere in the Gil Cates Theater at the Geffen Playhouse. A seductive look at values and cultural collisions through the backdrop of Gaudi’s beautifully unfinished Sagrada Familia Cathedral. Sorry, but this description doesn’t grab me.
  • Thumbs Down SEX WITH STRANGERS. Written by Laura Eason. Directed by Kimberly Senior. March 1 – April 10, 2016. West Coast Premiere in the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater at the Geffen Playhouse. Two writers approaching love, sex and literature in comically different ways. Doesn’t grab me at Geffen prices. If it is good, I expect this one will reappear at smaller venues.
  • thumbs-side STAGE KISS. Written by Sarah Ruhl. Directed by Bart DeLorenzo. April 5 – May 15, 2016. In the Gil Cates Theater at the Geffen Playhouse. This new comedy follows former spouses and actors on and off-stage (and script). Could be funny, but not enough to attract me (again) at Geffen prices. Might consider this if there are good discounts and it fits into the Spring schedule (and I remember).
  • Thumbs Down BIG SKY. Written by Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros. Directed by John Rando. June 7 – July 17, 2016. World Premiere in the Gil Cates Theater at the Geffen Playhouse. Brilliant new family comedy from a Pulitzer nominee. Well that doesn’t say much, does it.

In general, I see some similarities in the programming of The Geffen Playhouse (FB) and The Colony Theatre (FB). I subscribe to the Colony — it is closer, parking is easier, and I believe it is less expensive for subscriptions. Both seem to try for a mix of world premieres and west coast premieres, and both tend to small cast shows as they have to pay Equity contracts.