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Fall Theater Harvest in L.A.

Estelle-parsons-photo-joan-marcus A bountiful array of promising offerings highlight the fare that's on tap for L.A. during the 2009 fall season. New announcements typically arrive througout the season, but  there are already many shows in the pipeline boasting a strong want-to-see factor. The unofficial seasonal kickoff  would seem to be the Ahmanson Theatre's eagerly anticipated September 9 opening of the Tony- and Pulitizer-winning Tracy Letts drama August: Osage County, in its L.A. premiere. Estelle Parsons (pictured) repeats her Broadway role of the family matriarch Violet in the Steffenwolf Theatre Company production, directed by Anna D. Shapiro. 

Family audiences will be equally keen on seeing the Cameron Macintosh-Disney favorite Mary Poppins, which floats into the Ahamanson on Novermber 15, in the national tour, toplining the show's Broadway stars, Ashley Brown and Gavin Lee.

The Center Theatre Group has additional big guns in store with the October 4 opening of the Donmar Warehouse production of Jason Robert Brown and Alfred Uhry's stirring musical drama Parade, which netted Tonys for Brown's score and Uhry's book. Its tells the tragic true story of the arrest, convinction, and lynching of warehouse worker Leo Frank in 1913 Georgia, unjustly charged with the murder of 13-year-old Mary Phagan.

Modine1 The Geffen Playhouse has scheduled what sounds like a unique star vehicle, Matthew Modine Saves the Alpacas (opening September 16). Brian Singer's world-premiere comedy, directed by John Rando, follows the plight of a celebrity (Modine, pictured) desperately needing to get back in the limelight, who goes on a quest to the mountains of Ecuador to resolve this problem. The Pasdena Playhouse brings us the world premiere of a new musical, Laughing Matters (book and lyrics by Iris Rainer Dart, music and lyrics by Mike Stoller and Artie Butler). Opening November 13, the show, set in 1970s Manhattan, is about a former star of the Yiddish theater and her family.

SoCal Stages_blog There's plenty more to look forward to, but among the most enticing are the first L.A.-produced rendition of the youth-musical megahit Rent (Musical Theare West at Long Beach's Carpenter Performing Arts Center, beginning December 12), Broadway/LA's engagement of the holiday family hit How the Grinch Stole Christmas, opening November 15, and the Mark Taper Forum's world premiere rendition of the seriocomic Palestine, New Mexico, presented by the ever-popular Richard Montoya and the Culture Clash troupe. These are but a few of the many shows of interest. We'll preview more offerings in the coming months.

--Les Spindle

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