Malibu Seen: Curtain Call

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Emily Swallow gears up for a new season in the prize winning play “Disgraced.”

Spring and summer are picnic and playtime for many Malibu theater lovers. In addition to an exciting range of events from our local venues to the Geffen Playhouse, it should be an exciting season for the Central Theatre Group at the Mark Taper Forum. 

Center Theatre Group has announced casting for Ayad Akhtar’s 2013 Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Disgraced,” which begins previews June 8, opens June 19 and continues through July 17 at the Mark Taper Forum. 

Directed by Kimberly Senior, the cast features J. Anthony Crane, Behzad Dabu, Hari Dhillon, Karen Pittman and Emily Swallow. 

In a riveting, contem porary exploration of identity and religion, “Disgraced” follows a married couple living in Upper East Side Manhattan. Amir is a corporate lawyer and Emily an artist, and though Amir was raised Muslim, he has left his heritage behind. The couple hosts a small dinner party and soon, before anyone can stop it, polite protocol is abandoned and the talk turns to religion, politics and sex. (Oops!)

Scenic design is by John Lee Beatty, costume design is carefully patched together by Jennifer von Mayrhauser, lighting design has been created by Christine A. Binder and sound comes from Jill BC Du Boff. Casting is by Meg Fister and the production stage manager is David S. Franklin. 

Charles Isherwood of the New York Times has called “Disgraced” a “terrific, turbulent drama” and David Rooney of the Hollywood Reporter called it “smart, spiky entertainment.” “Nothing is sacred,” said Linda Winer of Newsday, “the Quran, the Old Testament, terrorism, art history, cultural tourism, ancient prejudices and blazing ambivalence — as Akhtar rubs unexpected raw spots with enormous intelligence and humor.” 

Akhtar was born in New York City and raised in Milwaukee. His play, “Disgraced,” premiered at the American Theater Company in January 2012 and was staged at LCT3/Lincoln Center in New York in October 2012. The play received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2013. “Disgraced” then premiered in London at the Bush Theatre in 2013 and made its Broadway debut in 2014. 

Akhtar’s play, “The Invisible Hand,” was nominated for the ATCA/Steinberg Award, and won best new work 2013 from the St. Louis Theater Circle. As a screenwriter, he was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for best screenplay for “The War Within.”

So if you’re up for a little something different in these conflicted times, this ticket’s for you. 

FIT FOR A PRINCE

Longtime resident Dick Clark may be gone, but his production company is still moving and grooving.

The latest for Dick Clark Productions was the big time Billboard Music Awards. The special night showcased music legend Madonna honoring another musical giant — the great purple one — -Prince. The “When Doves Cry” star took the stage himself in 2013 and received the icon award.

This time around Ludacris and Ciara took on the hosting duties. There was a stellar line up of performers including the tween pleasin’ Justin Bieber, “Opps” It Girl and snake charmer Britney Spears, Las Vegas mega-star Celine Dion, 1980s sensation the Go-Gos and ever-rosy Pink. So let the head banging begin.