Broadway finds its way to Los Angeles in many forms, be it at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood or the Ahmanson Theatre downtown. Now, the Saban Theatre is bringing Broadway to Beverly Hills with a pair of productions produced by Joshua Carr and Ray Limon with their company Desert Theatricals. First up? “South Pacific,” hitting the Saban stage on April 28 and 29.
After launching the production in Rancho Mirage, Carr spoke to Dana Morris, vice president of operations for Sterling Venue Ventures, which manages productions for the Saban. Morris was interested in bringing “South Pacific” to Beverly Hills, Carr said.
“We designed it to travel fairly easy and pick up the cast [and] all the musicians, a lot of which are actually local to the L.A. area,” Carr said. “So, we’re bringing the whole show.”
Carr thinks that the musical, which first premiered in New York in 1949 before its film adaptation starring Mitzi Gaynor in 1958, is the perfect property to relaunch Broadway at the Saban.
“I really liked the old school musical. I love Rodgers and Hammerstein. I love that almost all of them deal with social issues, whether it’s slavery in ‘The King and I’ or it’s spousal abuse in ‘Carousel,’ the Nazi regime in ‘The Sound of Music,’ [and] ‘South Pacific’ deals with racism. They all have a social theme that, unfortunately, seems to still be relevant in today’s time. So, it’s a reminder that this is still going on,” Carr said.
Morris said that Broadway shows used to regularly take up shop at the Saban but moved over to the Pantages in the 1980s.
“There hasn’t been Broadway shows on the spot for several years,” Morris said. “We’re the only professional theater in [Beverly Hills] doing Broadway shows … and so we’re the largest theater in the city. Also, on the Westside, there’s not a lot of other theater between downtown and the beach.”
Morris noted that the theater’s history lends itself to the glitz and glamour of Broadway, with the theater’s rich history as a Hollywood premiere venue that saw the likes of Marilyn Monroe and the Marx Brothers.
“So, there’s been film premieres, vaudeville, professional concerts, all these different things, and now we’re bringing Broadway back to the Westside,” he said. “We have this beautiful historic theater, and we want to spread our wings to be more of a performing arts center.”
Additionally, Carr, Limon and Morris will bring “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” to the theater on June 30 and July 1.
Carr said he believes the shows will be a success in the community, and that Beverly Hills residents will be excited to have Broadway “right there in their own backyard.”
The April 28 and 29 performances of “South Pacific” will begin at 8 p.m. For tickets and information, visit wheremusicmeetsthesoul.com/saban-beverly-hills.
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