As fall approaches, the Southland’s cultural institutions gear up for the beginning of another arts season. You can’t DVR these offerings, but if you’re willing to gather in the dark with a gang of strangers, LA’s dance, music, opera and theater companies have some exciting and ambitious offerings this fall. Here are some highlights:
“Romeo and Juliet”
The Los Angeles Philharmonic presents the complete score to Sergei Prokofiev’s beloved ballet based on Shakespeare’s tragic love story, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. In tandem, dancer/choreographer (and “Black Swan” star) Benjamin Millepied choreographs portions of the piece, danced by members of his LA Dance Project. Oct. 18-21, Walt Disney Concert Hall (111 S. Grand Ave, Los Angeles). laphil.com.
Jacob Jonas the Company
Under the direction of its LA-born namesake, Jacob Jonas the Company takes its exciting, visceral, athletic work to the Wallis this season as company-in-residence. Combining balletic dance with acrobatics and some break-dance sensibility, the young company’s fall offering is an intimate evening in the Lovelace Studio Theatre. Oct. 24-27, The Wallis, (9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills). thewallis.org.
Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company – “Analogy Trilogy”
The restlessly inventive dance legend Bill T. Jones gives LA audiences the rare experience of seeing all three “Analogy” works in a single, seven-hour event (including one intermission and a 90-minute dinner break). “Analogy: Dora” is based on Jones’ 95-year-old mother-in-law who defied the Nazis as a nurse in France. “Analogy/Lance” follows the partying excesses of a 1980s New York club kid, and the latest piece, “Analogy/Ambros,” is based on the main character in W.G. Sebald’s novel “The Emigrants.” The event is capped with a Q&A with the artists. Nov. 3-4, Royce Hall at UCLA Westwood (10745 Dickson Ct., Los Angeles). cap.ucla.edu.
John Beasley’s MONK’estra
Award-winning, versatile jazz pianist John Beasley brings his MONK’estra ensemble to the Broad this fall. A Grammy-nominated gang of virtuoso musicians, MONK’estra evokes the spirit of the masterful and mysterious Thelonious Monk as they play some of his iconic jazz music in fresh, innovative arrangements. Oct. 12, The Broad Stage (1310 11th St., Santa Monica). thebroadstage.org.
The Mariinsky Orchestra
St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Orchestra is one of the oldest and most revered in Russia. Renamed the Kirov Orchestra by Stalin, the ensemble reclaimed its original name after the fall of the Soviet Union. Under the tireless direction of the powerhouse conductor Valery Gergiev, the orchestra tours constantly. This fall they bring a program featuring great works by Igor Stravinsky, the Petersburg native who spent much of his later life in West Hollywood (with numerous appearances at the Hollywood Bowl). Some criticize Gergiev for snuggling up to Putin, but there’s nobody better to interpret Stravinsky. Oct. 25, The Soraya CSUN (18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge). thesoraya.org.
The Los Angeles Philharmonic presents a special evening featuring the incidental music for Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” written by famed Finnish composer Jean Sebelius. The program also includes scenes from the play performed by actors from San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre and staged by artistic director Barry Edelstein. Sebelius is a major figure in Finland (his image was on the 100 Finnish mark note before the country adopted the euro), and the program is conducted by Susanna Mälkki, chief conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. Nov. 8-10, Walt Disney Concert Hall (111 S. Grand Ave, Los Angeles). laphil.com.
The Music of Harold Arlen: The Wonderful Wizard of Song
Harold Arlen is one of the giants of the Great American Songbook, having composed the music for so many beloved classics, including “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “Stormy Weather,” “The Man Who Got Away,” and the songs for “The Wizard of Oz” (he snagged an Oscar for “Over the Rainbow”). CSUN’s The Soraya presents an evening celebrating his work, hosted by son Sam Arlen, and featuring Broadway stars Eden Espinosa and Joseph Leo Bwarie. Dec. 1, The Soraya CSUN (18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge). thesoraya.org.
LA Opera kicks off its season with ambition, presenting Verdi’s sprawling epic “Don Carlo” with a smashing cast. Acclaimed Mexican-born tenor Ramón Vargas sings the title role of the conflicted prince angry at his father for marrying his fiancée. LA Opera’s general director and resident legend Plácido Domingo — famous for his Don Carlo as a young tenor – sings the baritone role of kind-hearted pal Rodrigo, while LA Opera favorite Ana María Martínez sings Elisabeth. As if that wasn’t enough, the great Italian bass Ferruccio Furlanetto sings King Phillip for the first two performances, defying time along with Maestro Domingo. Sept. 22-Oct. 14, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles). laopera.org.
LA Opera continues its bold commitment to the work of Philip Glass by presenting the minimalist American composer’s second opera, “Satyagraha,” examining Gandhi’s formative years facing oppression and injustice in South Africa. With a book comprised entirely of verses from the Bhagavad Gita (sung in Sanskrit), the opera traces young Gandhi’s growth from a well-meaning attorney to the leader of a movement. The stunning English National Opera production is directed by Phelim McDermott, whose mesmerizing staging of Glass’s “Akhnaten” was at the Chandler two years ago. Oct. 20-Nov. 11, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles). laopera.org.
“All Night Long”
The Open Fist Theatre Company presents the Southern California premiere of longtime Bay Area theater artist John O’Keefe’s mind-bendingly absurd and entertaining 1980 play about a day (and night) in the life of a sitcom-like American family. O’Keefe takes audiences on a wild ride, careening between reality and dream, the conscious and subconscious, in a piece that defies categorization. Through Oct. 21, Atwater Village Theatre (3269 Casitas Ave., Atwater Village). openfist.org.
“Six Characters in Search of a Play”
Playwright Del Shores is best-known and loved for his play “Sordid Lives” and the Logo series inspired by the play’s characters. Now, with apologies to Luigi Pirandello, he takes the stage himself, inhabiting six characters he has met in real life but has not yet found a way to use in a play. Celebration Theatre presents this limited run of brand-new Shores material. Sept. 27-30, The Lex Los Angeles (6760 Lexington Ave., Hollywood). celebrationtheatre.com.
The Geffen Playhouse presents a remount of the Echo Theatre Company’s acclaimed 2017 premiere of Bekah Brunstetter’s play about a North Carolina baker whose devout religious beliefs are challenged when she’s asked to bake a cake for the wedding of a friend’s lesbian daughter. Most of the Echo’s original cast (including Debra Jo Rupp from “That ‘70s Show”) makes the transfer to the Geffen stage in this timely and topical piece. Through Oct. 21, Geffen Playhouse (10886 Le Conte Ave., Westwood). geffenplayhouse.org.
“Dear Evan Hansen”
The first national tour of the 2017 Best Musical Tony Award winner, “Dear Evan Hansen,” comes to town with a lot of buzz and most seats already sold. The show has become hugely popular among young people, as it tells the story of the titular teen who lives with severe social anxiety. When a classmate dies of suicide, Evan concocts stories that lead to social-media popularity but also moral dilemmas. You might snag some mezzanine seats on weeknights. Oct. 17-Nov. 25, Ahmanson Theatre (135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles). centertheatregroup.org.