The new season at the Ahmanson Theater is a special one for Malibu’s Janus Cercone and Michael Manheim. The talented husband and wife team have been hard at work on “Leap of Faith,” which is based on a 1992 Steve Martin movie, only this time, it’s taking a musical turn. Janus wrote the original screenplay and Michael was one of its producers. Both have been involved in the new Center Theater Group production.
Four time Tony Award nominee Raul Esparza plays the part of Jonas Nightingale. The part-time reverend and full time con artist takes his traveling ministry to a small Kansas town where he intends to separate the townspeople from their money. TV beauty Brooke Shields takes on the role of Marva who forces the cynical flimflam man to take a real leap of faith.
The musical kicks off an ambitious season for CTG and features an impressive lineup of top name talent. Academy Award winner Jane Fonda steps into the spotlight at the Ahmanson. She’ll play a music scholar investigating the life of Beethoven as well as her own in “33 Variations.”
Over at the Mark Taper Forum, you can get up close and personal with John Lithgow and his “Stories by Heart.” In addition to his own tales, John spins a few yarns from the likes of P.G. Wodehouse and Ring Lardner.
Fans of Randy Newman won’t want to miss “Harps and Angels.” The Oscar-winning composer shares selections from his songbook, including favorites like “Sail Away,” “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” and of course, “I Love L.A.”
At the Kirk Douglas Theater, CTG presents the world premiere of “Venice.” The story of war, love and the quest for peace sounds pretty traditional, but the music is anything but. The powerful score is a fusion of opera, hip-hop and R&B.
Congrats to Fox Filmed Entertainment chief James Gianopulos. The Hollywood heavyweight will be honored by the Fulfillment Fund at this year’s Stars 2010 benefit gala. JG has been a longtime supporter of the organization which helps economically disadvantaged students graduate from high school and go on to college.
“Jim has been an integral part of the Fulfillment Fund for many years,” says Fulfillment Fund CEO Andrea Cockrum. “His ongoing generosity has resulted in making the dreams of so many of our young people become a reality.” James joins a prestigious roster of previous honorees including Malibu’s Brian Grazer, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Candy Spelling. The starry event takes place November 1 at the Beverly Hilton.
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