Easter music, alt art fair and the best L.A. culture in the week ahead

The Broad Museum on Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles, photographed in 2019
The Broad museum announced expansion plans. For renderings of the addition, read our week in review.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

It’s a new Essential Arts! Based on feedback from readers, we’re rethinking this newsletter and adding recommendations from our prize-winning writers on the very best culture to see and hear. We’re expanding our news digest a bit, and we’re most definitely keeping the week in review — our ICYMI rundown of headlines from the team here. Does the newly announced Broad museum expansion prompt a smile or a shrug? Read on ...

Events on our critics’ radars

1. ‘Stabat Mater’
The most popular Easter work of the 18th century happened to be Pergolesi’s “Stabat Mater,” which the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, led by Jaime Martín, will perform Sunday at UCLA’s Royce Hall. Two high voices — LACO features soprano Amanda Forsythe and countertenor John Holiday — intertwine with the orchestra turning this hymn to the Virgin Mary’s suffering into unutterable sweetness and treating death as life’s engenderment. When the French contend an Italian wrote the greatest of all spiritual works, pay attention. The Concert Spirituel in Paris was so besotted with Pergolesi’s melodic rapture that it performed his “Stabat Mater” more than 80 times every Holy Week between 1756 and 1790.
7 p.m. Sunday. Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, UCLA Royce Hall, 340 Royce Drive, Westwood.
— Mark Swed

Jaime Martin
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

2. Susan Lieu
Susan Lieu performed a standout solo show five years ago about how her mother went in for plastic surgery and died mid-procedure from loss of oxygen to her brain. Throughout the piece, she played 12 characters and tackled emotionally taxing topics like the dangerous ideal of Vietnamese feminine beauty, the lack of accountability in the medical system and forgiveness amid overwhelming grief. The audience applauded her through its tears. Lieu has since adapted her piece into her memoir “The Manicurist’s Daughter,” and she’s arriving in Los Angeles this week for readings and discussions at UCLA and Zibby’s Bookshop.
Thursday, 5 p.m. UCLA Kaplan Hall, Room A65, 415 Portola Plaza, Westwood; Friday, 6 p.m. Zibby’s Bookshop, 1113 Montana Ave, Santa Monica.
— Ashley Lee

Susan Lieu
(Jenny Crooks)

3. ‘The Bespoke Overcoat’
Wide-ranging writer and producer Wolf Mankowitz‘s freehand adaptation of Nikolai Gogol’s classic story “The Overcoat” resets the tale to London’s East End. Fender (Harry Herman), an old clerk at a clothing company warehouse in the mode of Arthur Miller’s Willy Loman, wants only one thing in this world — a new overcoat to protect him from the cold and to compensate him for a life spent in penurious servitude to a system of cruel capitalist exploitation. Pacific Resident Theatre’s scenically striking production, directed by Marilyn Fox and Dana Jackson, doesn’t always maintain the play’s rhythm (or British locale). But the work is reborn whenever Robert Lesser shuffles in as Morry the tailor, whose compassion for Fender overrides his mercantile sense. Herman and Lesser’s touching scenes together are the heart and soul of this welcome revival.
Through April 21. Pacific Resident Theatre, 703 Venice Blvd., Venice.
— Charles McNulty

A blue morpho butterfly rests on the hand of a visitor in the Butterfly Pavilion.
A blue morpho rests on the hand of visitor to the NHM’s Butterly Pavilion.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

4. Butterfly Pavilion
The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County’s Butterfly Pavilion is a joy — a living habitat fluttering with green malachite butterflies, yellow zebra longwings, teal-tinged pipevine swallowtails and, my bug-obsessed son’s favorite, Mexican bluewings. The experience is so much more engaging than the depressing drawers of pinned insect specimens and the old museum display case with monarch, blue morpho and other winged beauties in animated suspension. Tickets for a timed, 30-minute walk-through are an $8 add-on to general admission and should be reserved in advance, especially for weekends. These butterflies are rock stars.
Through Aug. 25. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, 900 Exposition Blvd., Los Angeles (closest parking lot, which fills early, is off Bill Robertson Lane).
— Craig Nakano

5. Los Angeles Festival of Movies
The first edition of the Los Angeles Festival of Movies will run April 4 to 7 at venues in Eagle Rock, Chinatown and Historic Filipinotown. After a period in which a number of high-profile festivals in L.A. have either shutdown entirely or been severely diminished, there are high hopes for this event to bring a revitalizing shot of new energy.
Thursday-Sunday. Various venues.
— Mark Olsen

The Week Ahead

Our shortlist for your culture calendar planning:

The scene outside an earlier iteration of the Other Art Fair at Barker Hanger in Santa Monica.
The Other Art Fair
(The Other Art Fair)


The Other Art Fair About 140 emerging artists’ work on view, as well as live performances and food vendors.
Monday through Thursday. Barker Hangar, 3021 Airport Ave., Santa Monica.


Camille Claudel About 60 sculptures by a once-celebrated 19th century French artist rarely seen in the U.S., most widely known for her relationship with her mentor, Auguste Rodin.
Tuesday through July 21. The Getty Center, 1200 Getty Center Drive, L.A.

“Funny Girl” Melissa Manchester and newcomer Katerina McCrimmon star in this revival of the beloved, bittersweet comedy musical.
Tuesday through April 28. Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown L.A.

Katerina McCrimmon with Stephen Mark and Lukas Izaiah Montaque Harris in "Funny Girl"
Katerina McCrimmon with Stephen Mark Lukas, left, and Izaiah Montaque Harris in “Funny Girl”
(Matthew Murphy / MurphyMade)


Frank Stella: Had Gadya A dozen prints by the renowned American artist, inspired by a series of lithographs by Russian Jewish modern artist El Lissitzky, explore Jewish storytelling.
Starts Thursday. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., L.A.

WOW Festival 2024 Presented by La Jolla Playhouse in partnership with UC San Diego, this event delivers immersive, interactive experiences from local, national and international artists.
Thursday-Sunday. UC San Diego, various venues, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla.


Aristotle/Alexander A new play written and directed by Alex Lyras asks the question, who is teaching whom?
7 p.m. Friday; 3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. The Getty Villa, 17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades.

“Prelude to a Kiss: The Musical” An adaptation of Craig Lucas’ Tony Award-winning play, a moving meditation on love and commitment.
Friday-May 4, South Coast Repertory, Segerstrom Stage, 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa.


Before You Now: Capturing the Self in Portraiture Work from LACMA’s collection by artists including Laura Aguilar, Kwame Brathwaite, Kalli Arte Collective, Roger Shimomura, Cindy Sherman, Rodrigo Valenzuela and June Wayne focus on the contemplation of their physicality in a variety of modes.
April 6-Aug. 11. Riverside Art Museum, 3425 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside.


I Believe: The Music of Bach, Bonds & Robles L.A. Master Chorale and guest pianist Lara Downes perform.
2 p.m. Saturday; 7 p.m. April 7. Walt Disney Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., downtown L.A.

“Monsters of the American Cinema” Lexi Sloan’s drama about the Black owner of a drive-in movie theater and his late husband’s straight, white teenage son is told through dueting monologues.
April 6-May 19. Rogue Machine Theatre at the Matrix, 7657 Melrose Ave., L.A.

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh: Finding Soft Ground The Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary artist’s work includes wheat-pasted prints, oil paintings, graphite drawings, a single-channel film and site-specific materials rooted in Black feminist theory.
April 6-Aug. 10, California African American Museum, 600 State Drive, Exposition Park, L.A.

“La Traviata” L.A. Opera presents American soprano Rachel Willis-Sørensen in a new-to-L.A. production of Giuseppe Verdi’s classic tragedy.
April 6-27. Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown L.A.


Ed Ruscha/Now Then The first full retrospective in 20 years of the hugely important artist, whose work includes painting, drawing, photography and installation that is sometimes called “quintessentially L.A.” April 7 through Oct. 6. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.

The biggest news in L.A. arts

Exterior rendering of the future Broad expansion from Hope Street.
Exterior rendering of the future Broad expansion from Hope Street.
(The Broad / Diller Scofidio + Renfro )

The big news of the week came from the Broad museum, which revealed major expansion plans: The perforated, white fiberglass-reinforced concrete container of contemporary art that sits on Grand Avenue in downtown L.A. will get a more solid white box rising behind it. As staff writer Jessica Gelt wrote in her news story, the $100 million project aims to increase gallery space by 70% and comes with a top-floor open-air courtyard. For downtown boosters, the announcement was a shot in the arm for an ailing neighborhood coping with fewer office workers and more headlines about abandoned apartment towers and real estate crises. From Times art critic Christopher Knight, the Broad expansion mostly raises the question: So many millions spent on a building, but what about the art?

Knight also had news on the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the La Jolla institution that is trying to sell satellite buildings downtown. Just one problem: The museum may need to give up the buildings to the city.

The Aluminaire House
(David Vassalli / For The Times)

Albert Frey’s Aluminaire House, built for a 1931 Manhattan arts exhibition and later reassembled on Long Island, has been reborn once again as part of the Palm Springs Art Museum. Shane Reiner-Roth has the story.

We’ve endured so many think pieces about the difficulty adults have making friends. (So many!) Leave it to Times columnist Mary McNamara to see the Stephen Sondheim-George Furth musical “Merrily We Roll Along” on Broadway and find fresh insight into why Hollywood’s portrayals of friendship often miss the mark.

Alex Edelman
(Peter Fisher / For The Times)

By now you’ve probably heard about (if not seen) Alex Edelman, the Jewish comedian who turned his visit to a meeting of white nationalists into what Times theater critic Charles McNulty, upon seeing “Just for Us” at the Mark Taper Forum last fall, called “one of the best things I’ve seen in the venue in years.” With an encore run of L.A. shows ahead of the April 6 release of “Just for Us” as an HBO special, Times staff writer Ashley Lee chats with Edelman about how a show that’s so funny can be so emotionally exhaustive to perform, and how he intends on centering his next project on the Israel-Hamas war.

Former Times editor Alison Brower provided the best anecdote of the week. Let’s just say it was about Halle Berry and “the worst case of herpes” her doctor had ever seen. Berry had joined First Lady Jill Biden, Kerry Washington, Kesha, recent Oscar winner Cord Jefferson and a slew of Hollywood creatives for “A Day of Unreasonable Conversation,” a conference at the Getty Center focusing on the ways in which makers of culture can spark social change.

Some guy named Shohei Ohtani was in the news for something or other. But the sports story on our radar was Tracy Brown’s conversation with WNBA veteran Sue Bird, who had much to say about how our culture treats women and women’s sports.

A blonde woman kisses the top of the head of an older man with white hair and a white beard.
Bruce and Laura Dern
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

And if you missed staff writer Yvonne Villarreal’s lovely conversation with Bruce and Laura Dern, here’s the link. You’re welcome!

We lost some greats this week. Italian pianist Maurizio Pollini died at 82, and our critic Mark Swed recalled his artistic genius as well as an early interview in which Pollini revealed his secret preparation for stage performance (20 espressos).

Artist Richard Serra died at 85, leaving behind a lifetime of works that were often as monumental in effect as they were in physical size. Times writer Kaitlyn Huamani, with an assist from Knight, paid tribute with a roundup of Serra’s Southern California works.

Bill Bushnell, who led the Los Angeles Theatre Center through a standout run in in the late 1980s, died at 86. Staffer Josh Rottenberg wrote the obituary.

— Craig Nakano

Enjoying this newsletter? Consider subscribing to the Los Angeles Times

Your support helps us deliver the news that matters most. Become a subscriber.

Briefly ...

Two losses in the poetry world: Marjorie Perloff, a major poetry scholar (and mother to former A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff) died at 92. Neeli Cherkovski, poet and author of noted biographies on Charles Bukowski and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, has died at 78. Among the places to read tributes is City Lights’ blog.

The Pasadena Symphony has appointed conductor Brett Mitchell as its music director beginning April 1. Mitchell is the symphony’s sixth music director since the orchestra was founded in 1928. He will hold his new post while retaining his existing position as director and conductor of Oregon’s Sunriver Music Festival.

The Hammer Museum has announced its summer exhibition season, beginning with “Refashioning: CFGNY & Wataru Tominaga” and “David Medalla: In Conversation With the Cosmos.” The season also includes work from New York-based artist Jordan Strafer and an exhibition highlighting the permanent collection.

The Getty announced the winners of “Unshuttered,” its third annual statewide contest for teen photographers. Twenty-five winners were selected from more than 2,800 submissions. The winning photographs will be featured in an online gallery and displayed in art spaces across California.

And how could we not note news from the musical about Tammy Faye Messner? “Tammy Faye,” starring Andrew Rannells and Katie Brayben and featuring music by Elton John, set the date for its first preview on Broadway: Oct. 19.

— Jessica Gelt

Last but never least ...

We’re still sulking over the departure of our former colleague and your Essential Arts host, Carolina A. Miranda, who took a buyout from The Times to pursue other professional projects. It would be futile to even attempt to re-create what Carolina did so beautifully here, which is why we have chosen to serve you, dear readers, with something different — a pragmatic mix of curated calendar notes and news briefs in addition to the usual week in review. If you have suggestions on how to make this newsletter more essential to you, let us know at