A New Theatrical Twist

The invitation forewarned: “Black Tie with a Twist.” And indeed the premiere party for Saturday’s reopening of the Mark Taper Forum provided many changes from any preconceived notions of an opening night event headed by the establishment in L.A.’s Music Center.

Arrivees made their way down the traditional red carpet heading to the lavender-coiffed hostess for the evening, Dame Edna who held court briefly meeting/greeting celebrities.It was the start of Act One of the night bowing the revival of John Guare’s  “The House Of Blue Leaves.” “Edna” will be back as a single, starring in “Dame Edna, ‘Live: My First Last Tour” June 9-21, 2009 at the Ahmanson.

Dame Edna welcomed all to a cocktail party which broke up when she appeared again to usher all on the full Music Center court where Joachim Splichal had prepared a lavish dinner for the elite Mark Taper contributing crowd. Dame Edna continued her “hostint” by table-hopping–on camera and bigscreen displaying her unique talents in comedy comments on the rich and famous who were there and who weren’t. Among those on hand, the Ed Begleys, Jr., William H. Macy and Feliticy Huffman, the Michael Yorks, Pat Barry,  Buzz and Lois Aldrin, Joel Grey, Ava and Chuck Fries, Nancy Olson, who has chaired the always-successful Salon At The Taper–the next is  a tribute to Frank Loesser hosted by Michael Feinstein  with, as always, an all-star cast–on Nov.7. These evenings asre not to be missed and are part of the  historic creative nights at the Taper. Hopefully new programs on stage will fill the beautifully redecorated–from ceiling to walls, to the seats to carpets–Taper. Brief welcoming remrks re-dinner were made by Martin Massman and Artistic Director Michael Ritchie (who is also readying the  Ahmanson’s bow of “Nine to Five,” which, in previews, is undergoing technical adjustments to its new, unusual “visual screen” in previews).

Among those asked to take a bow was Gordon Davidson, who is the (retired) Founding Artistic Director of the Taper, creator of its 38 seasons of new, creative and multi-award-winning theater, and the initial season of the Kirk Douglas Theater in Culver City. (Kirk and Anne D. were on hand for the Taper toasting. The Kirk Douglas theater bows “This Beautiful City” with music by ‘The Civilians’, bowing Sept.26.). Davidson recalled when Dorothy Chandler, after viewing his production of   “Candide”  at UCLA’s Royce Hall, asked him, “Would you like to run the Mark Taper.” He says, “I fell in love with  the 750-seat theater.” Davidson recalls Mark Taper put up $ 1 million to get the theater finished. And it was named  for him.  Today’s renewed Taper cost $30 million. And those who helped finance this renewal also find their names inside the Taper’s halls and walls.” “By the way,” Michael Ritchie reminded, “We came in on budget–and on schedule.”

Dame Edna’s final appearance pre-“House of Blue Leaves”‘ bow was to take the dining, first-niters on a pre-taped tour of the new Taper–from its lobby to a closeup in the ladies room, which she proudly said, “has 16 new cubicles.” That addition was also well-welcomed, later by the first niters.

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