LA hits a Dead End…

Last night I saw Dead End at the Ahmanson Theatre in Downtown LA. It’s a play, not a documentary, but it is the MOST like documentary, a play I have ever seen. It originally premiered on Broadway in October 1935. It was an incredible hit and after Eleanor Roosevelt saw it three times it became the first command performance for the White House. FDR subsequently created a commission on slum housing and Dead End was credited in Congress for passage of the Wagner Housing Bill “for the elimination of unsafe and unsanitary housing conditions and the development of decent, safe, and sanitary dwellings for families of low income.”

The playwright and original director, Sidney Kingsley (1906-1995), used social realism to create a stunning portrayal of class and poverty.

The Ahmanson edition features 42 actors, an incredible set and an orchestra pit filled with water and playing the part of the East River. Dead End shows what was really happening in poor neighborhoods of the time. The show is stellar and continues through October 16. It is the first production from the Center Theatre Group’s new Artistic Director Michael Ritchie.

For all the money that Wicked is making on stage every night, everyone should see Dead End and show the theater world that plays like this are needed and will be embraced by audiences. Show them we can take the reality.

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