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Jay Leno to appear in one-night benefit at Geffen Playhouse

Jay Leno will appear in a one-night benefit performance at the Geffen Playhouse in May, the Los Angeles theater company announced on Wednesday.

"Jay Leno and Friends" is scheduled for May 23 and will feature Leno as well as other performers, including comedienne Kathy Buckley, who will host the event.

The benefit will raise funds for No Limits, a nonprofit organization that supports theater and education initiatives for deaf children, as well as the Geffen's education and outreach programs. 

Tickets range between $75 and $125, and VIP packages are also available. The VIP packages include a pre-show dinner and post-show reception.

"Jay Leno and Friends" will also include an appearance by Fritz Coleman, the longtime Los Angeles weathercaster.

Leno is the former host of NBC's "The Tonight Show." Since stepping down last year, the comedian and car collector has performed stand-up shows and benefits around the country.

The May 23 performance will be part of the Geffen's Spotlight...

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The 1700s: A look back at the world that Miguel Cabrera lived in

The world that inspired the art of Miguel Cabrera, and the lost masterpiece of his that was recently acquired by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, was one that few today would recognize.

“From Spaniard and Morisca, Albino,” a work of art that depicts a mixed-race family, was painted in 1763. At the time, Mexico was still under the Spanish viceroyalty, the American Revolution was yet to come, and corners of the world remained uncharted and virtually unknown.

Cabrera lived from circa 1715 to 1768. That period of time also saw the United States as we know it begin to take shape, a critical advancement for one of the world’s major religions and the discovery of some of the farthest corners of the map.

Below are some key moments in Europe and the Americas during the time Cabrera painted.

1732: George Washington is born in Virginia on Feb. 22. He is one of three U.S. presidents born during this time frame, along with John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Paul Revere was also born in 1735.

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'Ferguson' play: Michael Brown shooting staged with grand jury testimony

Actual grand jury testimony from the Michael Brown case lays the groundwork for the new play "Ferguson," written by journalist and documentary filmmaker Phelim McAleer and to be presented by Theatre Verite Collective in Los Angeles in late April.

The play, a guest production of Odyssey Theatre, examines what happened on Aug. 9 when Brown, a young unarmed black man, was shot dead by white police Officer Darren Wilson in a confrontation Ferguson, Mo., that spurred protests across the country.

"Ferguson" is being billed as "verbatim" theater, "a play constructed from the precise words spoken by people interviewed about a particular event or topic,"  the announcement said. The death of Brown will be staged from witness testimony and presented to the audience in the same way a grand jury -- the grand jury that ultimately acquitted Wilson -- heard it.

“I want to bring the truth about what happened that day to the stage,” McAleer said in the announcement. “I think audience members will be...

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With 'The Wiz,' Cirque du Soleil looks to leap onto Broadway

NBC's broadcast of "The Wiz," which is set to air this fall, will serve as a platform for Cirque du Soleil to catapult itself onto Broadway.

Producers announced this week that the new production of the 1974 musical based on "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" will be broadcast live on the peacock network on Dec. 3, followed by a run on Broadway during the 2016-17 season. Producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who worked on the network's previous live musical broadcasts, are returning to create the show in conjunction with Cirque, they said.

Last year, the Montreal-based Cirque set up a new theatrical division with the intent of producing Broadway-style shows to be seen in New York, London and on the road. Cirque du Soleil Theatrical is headed by Las Vegas theater impresario Scott Zeiger.

"The Wiz" is to be staged by Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon and feature some new material written by Harvey Fierstein. 

Cirque's track record in New York has been uneven in recent years. Its 2010...

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Bob Baker Marionette Theater gets boost from 'NCIS: Los Angeles'

When Joe Sachs set out to write episode No. 139 of one of broadcast television's top-rated scripted shows, "NCIS: Los Angeles," he asked himself: How do you merge a story about 21st century technology with marionettes from the 1950s and '60s?

The episode will air Monday night, and a good bit of it takes place inside the Bob Baker Marionette Theater, the oldest children's theater in Los Angeles and the oldest puppet theater in the United States.

"The theater is a giant vintage Christmas present from the 1960s with red velvet from floor to ceiling," says Sachs, who took his kids, 9 and 4, to the theater to see a performance of "The Nutcracker" in November.

The theater was in turmoil at the time. Baker was in hospice. (He died Nov. 28.) His beloved theater, which opened in 1962, was struggling financially and had been since 2008. The property had been sold in 2013, and the theater's lease was widely reported to be up this month.

That was where things stood when Sachs approached head...

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Essential Arts and Culture: Big news for the L.A. Phil and LACMA
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