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Ahmanson Theatre 2020-21 season: ‘Lehman Trilogy’ joins ‘Mockingbird’ and ‘Hadestown’

Simon Russell Beale, left, Ben Miles and Adam Godley in "The Lehman Trilogy" at London's National Theatre
Simon Russell Beale, left, Ben Miles and Adam Godley in “The Lehman Trilogy” at London’s National Theatre.
(Mark Douet )

“The Lehman Trilogy,” one of the hotly anticipated dramas arriving on Broadway this season, will be an anchor to the 2020-21 Ahmanson Theatre season lineup released early Wednesday by Center Theatre Group, which previously announced the forthcoming arrival of Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of “To Kill a Mockingbird” and the 2019 Tony Award winner for best musical, “Hadestown.”

Of five additional musicals at the Ahmanson next season, only “The Prom” will be new to L.A. “Dear Evan Hansen,” “Come From Away” and “Ain’t Too Proud — The Life and Times of the Temptations” were all part of the Ahmanson’s 2018-19 season and are being dubbed “encore” productions. CTG Artistic Director Michael Ritchie said all three musicals were among the biggest hits the Ahmanson had ever staged, and high audience demand justified bringing them back so quickly.

“Les Miserables,” which was at the Hollywood Pantages last year, and one to-be-announced production round out the season at the Ahmanson, which faces heightened competition from Hollywood’s Pantages and Dolby theaters. Operating under the banner Broadway in Hollywood, those theaters announced a 2020-21 season that included Daniel Fish’s acclaimed revival of “Oklahoma!” as well as the musical adaptation of “Tootsie,” “Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” “The Cher Show” and “Pretty Woman: The Musical.”

The return engagements for multiple musicals at the Ahmanson mean the theater will lean on straight plays as two of the three season tentpoles at the 2,100-seat capacity house.

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Ritchie called the plays “two of the most significant productions we’ve done at the Ahmanson,” noting he was particularly proud of landing “The Lehman Trilogy.” “We did chase that one, and I’m glad we caught it,” he said.

“The Lehman Trilogy” is directed by Sam Mendes, whose World War I epic “1917" was a contender for the best picture Oscar this year. Written by Italian playwright Stefano Massini and adapted in English by Ben Power, the play opened at London’s Royal National Theatre to largely rave reviews in 2018.

“Lehman” charts the rise and fall of one of America’s most storied and powerful financial institutions, nearly two centuries in the making. It tells the Lehman Brothers origin story, from its humble beginnings as a dry goods store in Alabama to the staggering 2008 fall from grace of a Wall Street powerhouse deemed too big to fail.

Reporting from London in 2018, Times theater critic Charles McNulty had a mixed review, noting, “Power’s efficient adaptation receives a sleek Mendes staging that has full faith in the spell of this uniquely American story.” But characters, McNulty wrote, became blurrier as the story progressed and the play too hurriedly complicated in conveying the unraveling of an empire.

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The play opens at the Nederlander Theatre on Broadway next month.

The Sorkin adaptation of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “To Kill a Mockingbird” made a huge splash when it opened on Broadway in 2018 and has gone on to break the Broadway record for highest-grossing American play. Despite its acclaim and popularity, the play was largely snubbed by the Tony Awards, with director Bartlett Sher losing to Mendes for “The Ferryman.”

In a 2018 review of “Mockingbird,” McNulty called it a “top-flight” production. “Quarrel all you want with the liberties that are taken,” he wrote. “Sorkin, Sher and an impeccable cast have created something provocatively fresh.”

“Hadestown” features music, lyrics and a book by Anaïs Mitchell that retells the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. Directed by Rachel Chavkin (“Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812"), the show won eight Tony Awards last year, including best musical.

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If “Hadestown” was the prestige musical of the season, the surprise crowd pleaser was “The Prom,” a comedy with a book by Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin, music by Matthew Sklar and lyrics by Beguelin. Directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw (“The Book of Mormon,” “Mean Girls”), “The Prom” giddily tells of Broadway actors who travel to Indiana to advocate for a lesbian teenager who is told she can’t bring her girlfriend to prom.

“Dear Evan Hansen,” the Ben Platt launching pad that explored teen angst in the age of social media, won the Tony for best musical in 2017. “Come From Away” tells the story of air passengers forced to make an unexpected landing in small-town Canada following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. “Ain’t Too Proud” is the Temptations jukebox musical with a book by playwright Dominique Morisseau.

Here’s the Ahmanson schedule in chronological order. All shows follow one opening-season production that is still to be announced:

“The Lehman Trilogy”

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Written by Stefano Massini, adapted by Ben Power, directed by Sam Mendes

Oct. 20–Nov. 28

“Dear Evan Hansen”

Book by Steven Levenson, score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, directed by Michael Greif

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Dec. 1–Jan. 23

“Les Misérables”

Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer, original French text by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel, directed by Laurence Connor and James Powell

Jan. 26–Feb. 28, 2021

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“Hadestown”

Book, music and lyrics by Anaïs Mitchell, directed by Rachel Chavkin

March 2–April 4, 2021

Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”

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Written by Aaron Sorkin, directed by Bartlett Sher

April 29–June 6, 2021

“Come From Away”

Book, music and lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hein, directed by Christopher Ashley

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June 9–July 4, 2021

“The Prom”

Book by Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin, music by Matthew Sklar, lyrics by Chad Beguelin, directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw

July 6–Aug. 8, 2021

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“Ain’t Too Proud — The Life and Times of The Temptations”

Book by Dominique Morisseau, music and lyrics from the Motown catalog, choreographed by Sergio Trujillo, directed by Des McAnuff

Aug. 11–Sept. 5, 2021


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