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Finally, a Max Reger moment at the Los Angeles Philharmonic

Max Reger’s effusively early 20th century, late Romantic orchestral music is a hard sell in Los Angeles, or at least it is perceived that way, since no one has actually tried to sell it in recent memory.

When Gustavo Dudamel opens his weekend Los Angeles Philharmonic subscription concerts at Walt Disney Concert Hall with Reger’s Four Tone Poems After Arnold Böcklin, it will be the first time anything other than a handful of the composer’s organ or chamber pieces will have been played locally in more than 30 years.

It has been, in fact, 45 years since the L.A. Phil last performed Reger. In 2003 Esa-Pekka Salonen recorded two big Reger orchestra works in Germany -- including an inventive, epic series of variations on a theme by Mozart -- but never dared to attempt them with the L.A. Phil, and the disc was not imported to the U.S. Long out-of-print, the recording is rare but not valuable. Two copies can be found on Amazon for under a quarter and a third, higher-priced one, for 26 cents....

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L.A theater openings, Nov. 30-Dec. 7: 'Northanger Abbey' and more

Box Tale Soup brings its puppet-powered adaptation of Jane Austen's "Northanger Abbey" to the Edye, and six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald graces the stage at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Plus, four versions of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" at five area venues.

A Christmas Carol with Charles Dickens Independent Shakespeare Co. re-creates a public reading by the Victorian-era author. Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater at the Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Westwood. Mon., 7 p.m. $28. (310) 208-5454. Also, Independent Shakespeare Co. in the Studio, 3191 Casitas Ave., #168, Atwater Village. Sat., 2 p.m.; ends Dec. 20. $20, $25. (818) 710-6306.

Audra McDonald The six-time Tony winner performs show tunes, standards and more. Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., L.A. Tue., 8 p.m. $52.50-$124. (323) 850-2000.

Dueling Drag Divas Variety show with Joanna, Chi Chi Rones and more. Cavern Club Theater, 1920 Hyperion Ave., L.A. Tue., 8 p.m. $20, $25. (800) 838-3006.

Luna Gale Chicago’s...

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Odd Nerdrum at Copro Gallery: Classical with a twist

Norwegian painter Odd Nerdrum famously obsesses over his large-scale, classical works, often repainting his canvases over and over again with the help of a small band of apprentices. Working in the Old Master style, his apprentices live and work with him, sometimes for years at a time, helping to stretch his canvases and pose as models. The often graphic and sexual works, which he staunchly describes as its own genre of "Kitsch" and which carry price tags well into six figures apiece, seem of the 17th century and cheekily postmodern at the same time.

Several of Nerdrum’s works are on view alongside those of three apprentices through Jan. 2 in a show called "Pupils of Apelles" at Bergamot Station’s Copro Gallery, owned by Greg Escalante, co-founder of the underground contemporary art magazine Juxatpoz. With the 70-year-old Nerdrum soon headed to prison for tax evasion, fans might wonder if the Copro paintings will be his last. Not so, said Nerdrum, who chatted with me via email from...

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From 'Big Eyes' to 'Mr. Turner': A look back at artist biopics

Whether traditional or radical in style, the artist biopic usually comes with an air of cinematic prestige. This awards season, moviegoers and awards voters have two ambitious but very different examples of the genre to ponder.

"Mr. Turner" is filmmaker Mike Leigh's in-depth exploration of the last 25 years of the life of artist J.M.W. Turner, and "Big Eyes," the new film by Tim Burton, delves into the life of painter Margaret Keane.

Both movies are to open in the U.S. in December and have already played at festivals. "Mr. Turner," which earned Timothy Spall a best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival, takes a panoramic view of the artist's later years, moving back and forth between his work and private life. 

"Big Eyes" focuses on Keane's relationship with her husband, Walter, who claimed responsibility for her paintings. The movie, starring Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz, is Burton's first biopic since 1994's "Ed Wood."

The photo gallery above provides a look back at some notable...

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Holiday theater: 11 SoCal shows to celebrate the season

As the holidays barrel ahead, break from the pressures with the many arts pleasures of the season. It's impossible to list everything, but we've organized samplings into three categories: theater, dance and music. This week we start with theater. Check back later for dance and music.

"Handle With Care": Experience a Christmas Eve like few others -- in a seedy motel room as an unlikely love story unfolds between a young Israeli woman and an awkward young American man in this West Coast premiere of what is being dubbed "A Jewish Christmas story." The Colony Theatre, 555 N. 3rd St., Burbank. Times vary, through Dec. 14, $25-$49, (818) 558-7000,

"A Christmas Carol": You know it, and you love it (even if you won't admit it). Charles Dickens' holiday tale comes alive at theaters this, and every, year. Two possibilities: A Noise Within, 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, times vary, through Dec. 23, starting at $48, (626) 356-3100,; and South Coast...

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Bradley Cooper already a popular box-office draw on Broadway

Bradley Cooper hasn't officially opened in the new revival of "The Elephant Man" on Broadway, but the Hollywood star has already proved himself to be a strong box-office draw in the play's preview period.

"The Elephant Man," a revival of the Bernard Pomerance drama, is playing to virtually sold-out crowds at the Booth Theatre in New York and has grossed more than $900,000 a week in the last two weeks of previews. Performances began Nov. 7 and the production is set to officially debut Dec. 7.

Last week, the production was the ninth-highest grossing show on Broadway, and was the only show in the top 10 that was still in previews.

Cooper plays the role of John Merrick, an Englishman who suffers from a deforming disease that has made him a social outcast. A sympathetic doctor (Alessandro Nivola) takes him under his care and Merrick gradually becomes a national figure whose admirers include a famous actress (Patricia Clarkson).

The revival, directed by Scott Ellis, was first seen at the...

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