Here are your five best bets for culture This Weekend in LA:
An Evening with Stephen Schwartz: A Writers Circle – Wallis Annenberg Center
In this one-night only event, Stephen Schwartz, the composer behind such shows as Pippin, Godspell and a little ditty called Wicked, celebrates the work of writing partners he has mentored. The evening will feature a concert of that work and amongst the performers is Megan Hilty (Smash). I’m imagining the advice he might give: “If day by day you find magic to do you’ll be popular.”
Henry V – A Noise Within
Opening Night February 10
Kenneth Branagh made a great film version of Shakespeare’s Henry V. But like any film based on a play, it’s often best to see the source material. And the source material here is rich indeed. How to lead in a time of war and crisis confronts the title character during the 100 Years War. He becomes King and then considers whether England is enough for his kingdom or whether he should rule France, too. The photos on the A Noise Within indicate this is a modern telling of the story. I wonder what inspired them?
Berlin Phil Wind Quintet & Stephen Hough – Wallis Annenberg Center
To call Stephen Hough just a pianist would be to do a disservice to him. He’s also a composer (one of his works, “Was mit den Tränen geschieht,” is part of this program); he’s a painter and as if that wasn’t enough, a novelist (his new book, The Final Retreat, comes out next month.) And he’s not just a pianist, he’s one of the finest pianists playing today.
In addition to his own composition, this concert with the Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet also features works by Mozart, Ibert, Barber and Poulenc.
Craft in America Concert – Plaza Kiosko at El Pueblo Historical Monument
This six-hour free concert at Olvera Street celebrates the 10th anniversary of the PBS television show, Craft in America. The show celebrates the wide array of things made by hand in America. This concert is tied to the (very timely) exhibit Borders and Neighbors: Craft Connectivity Between the U.S. and Mexico. On the bill for this all-day concert are banjo player Tony Ellis, jazz trumpeter Scotty Barnhart, the Alexander Noice Sextet who mix modern and classical in a unique way, bass player/vocalist Maggie Hasspacher, psychedelic punk band The Withers, Colburn School Double Bass Ensemble (students from downtown LA’s music school,) singer/songwriter duo Katie and Ezra and, of course, the Craft in America House Band.
Water By the Spoonful – Mark Taper Forum
Opening Night: February 11
This is the second play in the trilogy by playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes. The first play, Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue opened last weekend at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. The third play, The Happiest Song Plays Last starts previews next week and will be on at the Los Angeles Theatre Center.
In Water By the Spoonful, four recovering addicts in four different parts of America try to conquer their respective demons – all in an online chat room. The relative calm of their conversations is upended when an Iraq War veteran’s demons join the online conversation.
Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz