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The Valley Line: A hot day becomes a fiery night

September 21, 2012|By Jane Napier Neely
  • "Mrs. Brown," played by Phyre Hawkins, surprises Mormon Missionaries Gavin Creel who plays Elder Price, and Jared Gertner who plays Elder Cunningham, in the "Book of Mormon" musical now playing at The Panages Theatre in Hollywood.
"Mrs. Brown," played by Phyre Hawkins, surprises… (Photo courtesy…)

Wouldn't you just know it? The very week that the musical theater production of "The Book of Mormon" opened at the Pantages Theatre and the L.A. Opera opened its season the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, heat records were being set in the greater Los Angeles basin.

These hot temps certainly were more than fitting for the Hades scene in “The Book of Mormon.” The musical won nine Tony Awards in its first year of on Broadway in New York City.

When the Nederlander Production of “The Book of Mormon” hit the stage here in L.A. it was a sell-out opening night as the searchlights swept over the dark night sky. Yes, it was a star-studded night too, as notable actors and theater people gathered in the lobby during intermission to compare notes. I found myself elbow-to-elbow with actor John C. Riley, who was showing his enthusiasm for the production as he chatted with friends.

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True to the warning printed on the ticket, the language in the play may not be suitable for children. Indeed, in my opinion, that is so; and it might also be a bit iffy for some adults with tender sensibilities.

It is a groundbreaking, over-the-edge, high-powered production that aims straight for established, age-old religious beliefs. However, the good and innocent intentions of the erstwhile young Mormon missionaries remain almost unsullied and humorously intact as they deal with issues rarely discussed, or even thought of, in Salt Lake City.

If you want great singing, dancing, costumes and scenery, this production roars ahead non-stop. The audience on opening night could barely contain its enthusiasm, as members applauded each song and laughed uproariously at the jabs. The production runs through Nov. 25.

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On Saturday night of the same week, the Los Angeles Opera was attracting an entirely different kind of crowd.

Exquisitely coiffed and gowned women on the arms of the tuxedo-clad escorts arrived at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for the season opener, Giuseppe Verdi’s “Two Foscaris,” set in Venice, Italy in the 1400s.

Placido Domingo played the title baritone role of Francesco Foscari, the 140th role he has sung in his career. Known as one of the greatest tenor/baritones in the world, Domingo is exploring the deeper tones of his voice with this role.

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