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Notable World Premieres Set for Taper Forum’s 2014 Season

New plays by Jordan Harrison and Daniel Beaty, plus 'Vanya and Sonia,' 'Buyer and Cellar' added to L.A. legit slate

The Mark Taper Forum at L.A.’s Center Theater Group has lined up its 2014 season with a couple of world preems that legiters in Gotham and beyond will likely keep an eye on.

Among the titles on the list is “Marjorie Prime” (Sept. 10-Oct. 19, 2014), the new play by Jordan Harrison, helmed by Pam MacKinnon and starring Lois Smith. MacKinnon scored a 2013 Tony for her revival of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and the prior season directed Tony winner “Clybourne Park.” That show originated in 2010 at Off Broadway’s Playwrights Horizons, where scribe Harrison has seen his plays “Maple and Vine” (2011) and “Doris to Darlene” (2007) produced. Smith, meanwhile, is a New York legit-world fave, often starring in Signature Theater productions including, most recently, Sam Shepard’s “Heartless” (2012) and the current production of Horton Foote’s “The Old Friends.”

Another bow from Gotham legit vets, “The Tallest Tree in the Forest” (April 15-May 25), could also attract attention. The biographical play-with-music, centering on Paul Robeson’s life as an athlete, actor and activist, is the latest by Daniel Beaty, whose solo outings “Emergency,” “Through the Night” and “Mr. Joy” have all played Off Broadway. Moises Kaufman (“The Laramie Project,” “33 Variations”), helmer of last season’s Broadway revival of “The Heiress” starring Jessica Chastain, directs.

In addition to the U.S. bow of Roger Crane’s “The Last Confession,” which stars David Suchet and Brian Bedford in a look at the election and mysterious death of Pope Jean Paul I, the Taper will also bring in west coast stagings of “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” the Tony winner that just finished up its Broadway run, and Michael Urie starrer “Buyer and Cellar,” now in the midst of a well-received Off Broadway engagement. A new production of Joe Orton’s “What the Butler Saw,” starring Paxton Whitehead and directed by John Tillinger, rounds out the org’s season.

The Taper slate is part of an overall lineup for the three-theater Center Theater Group that already includes Barry Manilow tuner “Harmony” and Queen musical “We Will Rock You” at the Ahmanson and a Kirk Douglas Theater season that includes Joe Iconis musical “The Black Suits” plus new plays by Kimber Lee, Luis Alfaro, Trieu Tran and Roger Guenveur Smith.

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