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On the list of nation’s most influential nonprofit theatre companies, we proudly continue our 50-year tradition of using the art of theatre to broaden horizons and illuminate new perspectives.
Founding Artistic Director Gordon Davidson led Center Theatre Group from 1967-2004, when Michael Ritchie was selected as the new Artistic Director of the organization. In his 11 seasons at Center Theatre Group’s helm, Ritchie has selected over 174 productions for our three theatres, including 38 World premieres and five American premieres.
The Ahmanson Theatre opened in 1967 and has staged numerous dramas, musicals, comedies, classic revivals, and World premieres (including six by Neil Simon, who has had 13 plays presented here).
Under the artistic leadership of Robert Fryer (1971-1989), the Ahmanson played host to a veritable who’s who in the entertainment world including Katharine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Jack Lemmon, Ingrid Bergman, Charlton Heston, Angela Lansbury, and Peter Ustinov. In 1989, Center Theatre Group Founding Artistic Director Gordon Davidson assumed the role of Artistic Director for the Ahmanson and was responsible for programming The Phantom of the Opera for a record-breaking four-year stay. Under Artistic Director Michael Ritchie, the Ahmanson has been the place to find a number of musicals that moved to Broadway, including The Drowsy Chaperone (13 Tony Award nominations), Curtains (eight Tony nominations), and 9 to 5: The Musical as well as blockbusters including God of Carnage, Mary Poppins, and Jersey Boys.
In the spring of 1967, Founding Artistic Director Gordon Davidson opened the Mark Taper Forum with The Devils, a play that has been controversial and thought-provoking and set the tone for the work to come at the Taper.
Under Artistic Director Michael Ritchie, Taper highlights include a number of World premieres, such as 13, which moved to Broadway, Pulitzer Prize finalist Marjorie Prime, Water & Power, and Pulitzer Prize finalist Yellow Face, as well as the first major U.S. revival of Bent.
The Taper has received practically every theatrical award including the 1977 special Tony for theatrical excellence. Additionally, the Taper was distinguished by having two of its plays, The Kentucky Cycle and Angels in the united states (Part One-Millennium Approaches, receive in consecutive years the Pulitzer Prize in Drama, marking the first time this prestigious award was given to productions outside of New York. Both plays subsequently moved to Broadway.
In 2004, Center Theatre Group opened its third theatre-the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City-through the generosity of Kirk and Anne Douglas and with the help of the Culver City Redevelopment Agency. The theatre was made by transforming a historic 1940s movie house into an intimate theatre venue of 317 seats. In its short history the Douglas has had three works move to Broadway: the World premieres of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and Pulitzer Prize finalist Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo and the revival of William Inge’s Come Back, Little Sheba.