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Neeme Jarvi leads L.A. Phil through Brahms, Suk's rhapsodic Fantasie

A wag once said that Neeme Järvi seemed intent upon recording the Schwann catalog, which at the time meant everything in sight.

A glance at the veteran Estonian conductor’s voluminous repertoire indicates that the wag may not have been kidding.

If you ever wanted to sample the symphonies of Hugo Alfven, Niels Gade, Johan Halvorsen, Alexander Glazunov, Franz Schmidt, Wilhelm Stenhammar or Eduard Tubin, Järvi has a recording for you. Symphony cycles by the big names are in his catalog too -- Dvorák, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Sibelius, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky -- but sometimes peppered with bonuses like the original and rewritten versions of Prokofiev’s Fourth or the reconstruction of Tchaikovsky’s Seventh. And that barely scratches the surface.

So the intrepid classical music fan should expect out-of-the-way repertoire when Järvi comes to town, and he did provide some Friday, the first of three consecutive nights at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Sandwiched between a pair of Brahms standards was...

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Kenneth Branagh reuniting with 'Cinderella' Lily James in theater series

Hot off the worldwide box-office success of Disney's "Cinderella," Kenneth Branagh will be heading back to the London theater scene to produce a new series of plays, including a staging of "Romeo and Juliet" starring his "Cinderella" leading lady Lily James.

Branagh will present a lineup of five plays at the Garrick Theatre on London's West End starting later this year. It will mark a return to running a theater organization for the Oscar-nominated actor-director, who headed the Renaissance Theatre Company in the late 1980s and early '90s.

The new series, called Plays at the Garrick, will feature Branagh both acting in and directing productions of classic and contemporary works.

Shakespeare's "A Winter's Tale" will reunite Branagh with Judi Dench in a staging codirected by Branagh and Rob Ashford. Dench has collaborated numerous times with Branagh on stage and screen, including his 1989 film version of "Henry V."

"A Winter's Tale" is set to begin performance in October. Dench will play...

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'Power of Duff' at the Geffen: News, sports, weather (and prayer) at 11

As the Brian Williams scandal suggests, we expect a great deal of our TV news anchors: eloquence, impartiality, polish, charisma, confidence without vanity. In times of disaster, we hang on their words with a childlike trust. Yet our adoration is tinged with condescension: From “Broadcast News” to “Anchorman,” films have built up a stereotype of the anchor as a beautifully groomed but dopey show dog, a genial airheaded cipher, all style and no substance.

Stephen Belber’s play “The Power of Duff,” which opened Wednesday at the Geffen Playhouse, gives us Charles Duff (Josh Stamberg), a talking head in Rochester, N.Y., who one night spontaneously ends his broadcast with a prayer for his recently dead father. His earnest co-anchor, Sue (Elizabeth Rodriguez), and the goofy sports guy John (Brendan Griffin), are shocked; their craven boss, Scott (Eric Ladin), delivers an astringent lecture on journalistic integrity.

But Scott changes his tune when ratings jump. Duff keeps praying, and uncannily,...

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L.A. theater openings, April 19-26: 'Side Show' and more

Conjoined twins shoot to stardom in "Side Show," two actors play multiple roles in "Murder for Two," and a wild coyote sets events in motion in "My Barking Dog."

A Child Left Behind Alan Aymie’s autobiographical solo show about his life as an LAUSD teacher and the father of an autistic child. Malibu Playhouse, 29243 Pacific Coast Hwy., Malibu. Sun., 3 p.m. $10-$25. Tickets at www.malibuplayhouse.org. Also, Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m. $20. (818) 763-5990.

SHINE The storytelling series celebrates its move to a new venue with true-life tales of new beginnings. Promenade Playhouse, 1404 3rd Street Promenade, Santa Monica. Sun., 7 p.m. $10. (310) 452-2321.

A Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Evening With Richard M. Sherman & Friends The veteran songwriter (“Mary Poppins,” “Chitty Chitty, Bang Bang”) is featured in this benefit for Cabrillo Music Theatre. Founders Room in the Kavli Theatre, Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks...

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L.A. Phil, Pasadena Playhouse get big grants to reach new audiences

The Los Angeles Philharmonic, Pasadena Playhouse and La Jolla Playhouse will get a collective boost of $1,425,000 for their efforts to mint new fans in the coming two years, and they've qualified for a second round of grants to carry the effort into 2019.

The three Southern California groups are among 26 nonprofit performing arts organizations nationwide tapped by the New York City-based Wallace Foundation, which plans to spend $52 million over six years in hopes of turning more Americans into arts aficionados.

The program is designed to be a sort of laboratory for the performing arts, in which each group will develop its own strategy for reaching a specific audience it has chosen as its target. That might include people under 40, a racial or ethnic group, people living in a particular neighborhood, young professionals or some other demographic.

The grants announced Wednesday total $10.2 million. They cover a 12- to 22-month "cycle" in which each recipient will conduct research needed...

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Giacometti sculpture, Picasso painting poised to break auction records

Sculptures by Alberto Giacometti have commanded stratospheric sums at auction in recent years. Next month, another work by the late Swiss artist is expected to repeat the phenomenon.

"L'homme au doigt (Pointing Man)," one of Giacometti's most recognizable works, will be offered at Christie's in New York on May 11. The auction house estimates that it will sell in the realm of $130 million, which would be an auction record for a sculpture.

Christie's said this will mark the first time that the bronze has been put up at auction. The artist made six casts of the work, with four residing in museums and the others in foundation and private collections. The bronze piece, which stands 5 feet, 10 inches tall, was created in the spindly style that is the artist's creative signature. 

The auction house identified the seller only as a private collector who has held the work for 45 years.

Last year, the Giacometti sculpture "Chariot" brought in $101 million at a Sotheby's auction. The buyer was Steven...

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