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Taper slate peppered with Brit fare

Lineup includes 'History Boys,' 'School of Night'

The Center Theater Group has mixed British flavor with American fare in the Mark Taper Forum’s 2007-08 season.

In its 41st season, the Taper will feature a pair of British plays, Alan Bennett’s “The History Boys” and the U.S. preem of Peter Whelan’s “The School of Night,” and two American offerings, John Guare’s “The House of Blue Leaves” and Stephen Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd.”

In a lineup that CTG artistic director Michael Ritchie described as “a moveable feast,” London and Broadway hit “History Boys” will kick off the season and will be followed by John Doyle’s pared-down interpretation of tuner “Sweeney Todd,” both of which will be presented at the larger, 2,000-seat neighboring Ahmanson Theater while the Taper undergoes renovation.

“The House of Blue Leaves” and “The School of Night” will close out the four-play season back at the Taper.

Last year’s Tony-winning play, “History Boys” got its start at London’s National Theater in 2004 under the direction of Nicholas Hytner. The show — about an idealistic history teacher preparing a class of boys for entry into Oxford and Cambridge — also won Olivier awards for new play and director. Hytner also directed last year’s Fox feature. The L.A. incarnation, which runs Nov. 7-Dec. 9, will be helmed by Paul Miller.

Doyle’s reinvented “Sweeney Todd,” which features actors as musicians and took home the 2006 Tony for direction of a musical, will run March 11-April 6, 2008. David Hess will star as the demon barber, with Judy Kaye joining him as the pie-making Mrs. Lovett.

The Taper re-opens with the revival of Guare’s “The House of Blue Leaves,” a dark comedy about a man trying to escape his lower-middle-class existence. Play begins perfs Sept. 4 and runs through Oct. 19. Nicholas Martin directs.

The American premiere of “The School of Night” closes out the season Oct. 30-Dec. 21. A political thriller set in the 16th century, play takes another look at the sudden and early death of scribe Christopher Marlowe. Bill Alexander, who helmed the play’s world preem in England, will also direct at the Taper.

As previously announced, the 750-seat Taper will close its doors temporarily in July and re-open next year to undergo a $30 million renovation to update its technical capabilities and audience amenities.

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