joe morton as dick gregory in turn me loose the wallis
Photo of Joe Morton as Dick Gregory in Turn Me Loose

Turn Me Loose, a timely tribute to legendary comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory, takes center stage this season as the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts (The Wallis) presents some of the finest work from local, national and international artists.

Gregory who passed away last month, kicks off the season on October 13th, featuring Emmy Award-winner Joe Morton in Turn Me Loose in The Wallis’ Lovelace Studio Theater, which will be transformed in part into a comedy club for the production.

“We couldn’t be more proud to work with Joe Morton on this extraordinary production and carry on Dick Gregory’s remarkable and important legacy.”  ~The Wallis Artistic Director Paul Crewes

Additionally, The Wallis’ commitment to developing lasting relationships with organizations continues in the 2017/18 season with Kneehigh.

October 13 – 29, 2017
The Wallis in association with John Legend, Get Lifted Film Company, Mike Jackson, Jackie Judd, The Private Theatre, Eric Falkenstein, Ron Simons and Beth Hubbard present
Joe Morton in
Turn Me Loose
A Play about Activist and Comic Genius Dick Gregory
By Gretchen Law
Directed by John Gould Rubin

Turn Me Loose is a new comedic drama about the extraordinary and explosive life of the late Dick Gregory—starring Emmy Award-winner and Scandal star Joe Morton—that shines a light on the first black comedian to expose white audiences to racial comedy. Gregory confronted bigotry with shockingly disarming humor, marched alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., and deeply influenced comics from Richard Pryor to Chris Rock. He’s been a prolific writer, muckraker, provocateur, and candidate for Mayor of Chicago and for President of the United States. He was singled out by President Obama as one of his all-time favorite comedians.

October 20 – 29, 2017
The Wallis in collaboration with Mark Amin present
Feathers of Fire: A Persian Epic
Conceived, designed and directed by Hamid Rahmanian
In collaboration with Larry Reed and Shadowlight Productions

Inspired by the 10th-century Persian epic Shahnameh (The Book of Kings), the action-packed tale follows star-crossed lovers Zaul and Rudabeh who triumph at the end against all odds. Hamid Rahmanian’s graphics, derived from the visual tradition of the region, are rendered as puppets, costumes, masks, scenography and digital animation, all of which come to life in a “live animation” on a cinema-size screen. Suitable for ages 5+.

November 28 – December 17, 2017
The Wallis and Vesturport present
The Heart of Robin Hood
Written by David Farr Directed by Gisli Örn Gardarsson and Selma Björnsdóttir

A classic tale goes rogue in Vesturport’s bold new twist on the world’s most infamous outlaw. Forget everything you ever knew about Robin Hood. In writer David Farr (The Night Manager) and acclaimed directors Gisli Örn Gardarsson and Selma Björnsdóttir’s reimagining, Robin and his unmerry gang of cutthroats steal from the rich, but it’s never occurred to them to give anything back to anyone. When wicked Prince John threatens all, bold Marion steps in to protect the poor and transform a thuggish Robin from hood to good. Suitable for ages 10+.

February 8 – 11, 2018
Great Expectations
By Charles Dickens
Adapted by Andrew McPherson
Additional text by Simon Harvey and David Mynne
Directed by Simon Harvey

Seven-year-old orphan Pip’s encounter with an escaped convict begins a series of events that will change his life forever. Some of Charles Dickens’ most memorable characters are vividly brought to life in this anarchic and joyful one-man-adaptation of the classic tale. Suitable for ages 10+.

February 22 – March 11, 2018
A World Premiere from the creators of Wiesenthal
The Wallis production of
Jackie Unveiled
Written by Tom Dugan
Directed by Jenny Sullivan

Hailed as an icon of style, grace and strength, famous for her allure and piercing sensuality, much has been written and said about America’s most popular First Lady—although the one detail usually omitted is that Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was human. From the creative team of Wiesenthal, award-winning playwright Tom Dugan’s newest one-woman drama explores the life of America’s most private public figure.

February 23 – March 11, 2018
Kneehigh and Bristol Old Vic production of
The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk
Written by Daniel Jamieson
Directed by Emma Rice

Emma Rice directs this soaring Kneehigh tale of the life and love of artist Marc Chagal and his amazing wife Bella. Partners in life and on canvas, Marc and Bella Chagall are immortalized as having one of the most romantic marriages of the 20th Century. The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk traces the young couple as they navigate the Pogroms, the Russian Revolution and each other. A production that combines the visuals of Chagall’s paintings with the music and dance of the Russian Jewish tradition.

April 27 – May 20, 2018
Blues in the Night
Conceived and directed by Sheldon Epps

The soul of the blues wails out full and strong in Blues in this scorching, Tony and Olivier Award-nominated musical. The 26 hot and torchy numbers by icons Bessie Smith, Duke Ellington, Johnny Mercer, Harold Arlen, and more tell of the sweet, sexy and sorrowful experiences that three women have with the lying, cheating, snake of a man, who represents the men who do them wrong. The Wallis is honored to have Los Angeles theater luminary Sheldon Epps return to his breakout hit.

July 26 – August 12, 2018
Hershey Felder: Beethoven
Written and performed by Hershey Felder
Directed by Joel Zwick

Hershey Felder, a Steinway artist, returns to The Wallis, bringing Ludwig van Beethoven to life through the eyes of a Viennese doctor who spent his boyhood by the Maestro’s side. Featuring some of the composer’s most famous works including the Moonlight Sonata, Pathetique Sonata, selections from the 5th and 9th Symphonies, Beethoven is a journey through time.

February 7 – 8, 2018
The 2018 ASCAP Foundation Musical Theatre Workshop
in Partnership with DreamWorks Animation and The Wallis

The Wallis once again partners with the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and DreamWorks Animation to present The ASCAP Foundation Musical Theatre Workshop. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Stephen Schwartz, the free workshop gives selected composers and lyricist the opportunity to present selections from original musical works in progress for professional critique. Free event.

Theater @ The Wallis Series is sponsored by Montage Beverly Hills.

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