A stage musical based on “Transparent” will make its world premiere in Los Angeles in 2023, nearly a decade after the groundbreaking TV show debuted.
The new adaptation of the Amazon title — which premiered in 2014 and became the first scripted series to center on a transitioning transgender character — hails from its creator Joey Soloway and writer Faith Soloway, who wrote for all four seasons of the show and composed the original songs for its musical series finale. The premise for the eight-time Emmy-winning dramedy — about a sexagenarian who comes out as a trans woman, and how the decision to live as her true self affects the rest of her L.A.-based, Jewish family — was inspired by siblings Joey and Faith’s real-life experiences with a parent who transitioned later in life.
“As soon as the series started, I kept seeing a musical version of it in my head,” Faith Soloway tells The Times, adding that it’s a privilege to retell this story “with fresh eyes” as trans rights are under attack. “The times are not changing as quickly as we want them to and our trans lives are being questioned. So it feels like a necessary step to use this time, when art and culture can inform and teach and educate.”
“A Transparent Musical,” running May 20-June 25, 2023, at the Mark Taper Forum, will be directed by Tina Landau, with a book by Joey Soloway and MJ Kaufman, music and lyrics by Faith Soloway and choreography by James Alsop. It is part of the 2022-23 season at the Taper that, as promised, will feature works exclusively from writers who identify as women, transgender or nonbinary, the majority of whom are BIPOC artists.
The season also includes “The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe” (Sept. 21-Oct. 23), Jane Wagner’s one-woman play starring “Saturday Night Live” breakout Cecily Strong and directed by Leigh Silverman; the West Coast premiere of “Clyde’s” (Nov. 15-Dec. 18), Lynn Nottage’s Tony-nominated comedy set in a truck-stop kitchen and directed by Kate Whoriskey; the previously announced revival of Anna Deavere Smith’s “Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992″ (March 8-April 9, 2023) 30 years after its debut at the Taper; and the world premiere of “Fake It Until You Make It” (Aug. 2-Sept. 3, 2023), an L.A.-set comedy from Larissa FastHorse about “shifters” who take it upon themselves to determine their own racial identities.
“These plays are exciting, they have meaning to Los Angeles and in the theatrical canon, and they happen to be written by women [and trans and nonbinary artists],” says associate artistic director Lindsay Allbaugh. “I’m thrilled not only because it’s a fantastic season but also because it represents the conversations we’ve been having at Center Theatre Group around the question of: Why haven’t we had a season like this in the past?”
Center Theatre Group committed to such specificity in programming after having been called out for unveiling a 10-play 2021-22 season that featured only one piece written by a woman. That announcement sparked outrage in the theater community, especially since the major L.A. theater organization had made a loud commitment to produce and amplify underrepresented voices, as did many other companies across the country amid the industrywide reckoning in 2020.
“Works by women hardly ever seem to be given the benefit of the doubt, even as the most erratic male playwrights are offered chance after chance, in a vicious circle that rewards established figures for being established by a system bent in their favor,” wrote Times theater critic Charles McNulty at the time. “A theater’s track record speaks volumes about its priorities, and women dramatists have been woefully underrepresented at Center Theatre Group.”
When Jeremy O. Harris then threatened to withdraw his “Slave Play” from the lineup, CTG promised to begin to rectify the historical gender imbalance in its programming — a challenge given to its newly formed cohort of five associate artistic directors. This upcoming season, which will also prioritize L.A.-based actors, directors and designers, “has been a long time coming, to reflect the values of not only this team but of the organization as reemerged from the pandemic, and to represent so many different communities across L.A.,” says associate artistic director Kelley Kirkpatrick.
Center Theatre Group also announced a few of its forthcoming offerings at the Ahmanson Theatre. The 2022-23 season will kick off with the U.S. premiere of “2:22 — A Ghost Story” (Oct. 29-Dec. 4), the supernatural thriller that’s currently in its third hit run on London’s West End. Playwright Danny Robins will be rewriting the script to set the action in America, and director Matthew Dunster will work with a new cast for the stateside production.
The Ahmanson also will house a return engagement of the hit-filled musical “Ain’t Too Proud — The Life and Times of The Temptations” (Dec. 13, 2022–Jan. 1, 2023), which previously played the venue in 2018; a new take on Sherman Edwards and Peter Stone’s historical musical “1776″ (April 5–May 7, 2023), featuring a cast of female, trans and nonbinary performers, on the road after a Broadway run this fall; and a touring revival of Charles Fuller’s Pulitzer-winning military drama “A Soldier’s Play” (May 23-June 25, 2023), directed by Kenny Leon and starring Norm Lewis.
Tickets to the Taper productions are now on sale by subscription only. Additional programming at the Ahmanson and Kirk Douglas Theatre will be announced at a later date. CTG also previously committed to anchoring the 2022-23 season at the Douglas in Culver City with a majority of women-identifying, trans or nonbinary and BIPOC playwrights.
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