20 Great Cultural Events in 2016
LA Downtown News
By Nicholas Slayton
January 5, 2016

DTLA – There has never been a better time than now to go out in Downtown Los Angeles. There is something to do virtually everywhere, whether in traditional entertainment hubs such as the Music Center, or newly vibrant communities like the Historic Core and the Arts District.

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Although the calendar just flipped, 2016 is already jammed with plays, concerts, festivals, museum exhibits and more. Below are 20 arts and entertainment highlights for the year, arranged chronologically. Consider it just a starting point.

20 Great Cultural Events in 2016
Soul Man: Musician Otis Redding died at the age of 26 in 1967, but his legacy lives on. The Grammy Museum will pay tribute to the “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” singer with an exhibit that opens Jan. 22. Respect!: Otis Redding and the Revolution of Soul will feature his stage outfits, photographs and memorabilia including his 1968 Grammy Award. The show runs through September.

At 800 W. Olympic Blvd., (213) 765-6800 or grammymuseum.org.

Art of Motion: Sit back and watch a drama unfold through terpsichorean twists as the Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan comes to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Jan. 29-31. The Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at the Music Center series will host the contemporary company as it premieres the show Rice. Cloud Gate Dance mixes martial arts with modern dance concepts, and while there won’t be any wire work, you may be reminded of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The show explores the relationship between humans and nature.

At 135 N. Grand Ave., (213) 972-0711 or musiccenter.org/cloudgate.

20 Great Cultural Events in 2016
To Boldly Go: Few pop culture figures measure up to William Shatner. He made his name, of course, as Captain Kirk, but then added “T.J. Hooker” and hosting “Rescue 911” to his resume. Then there’s his famous 1968 rendition of “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.” What’s next? A visit to Club Nokia on Jan. 29. In the one-man show Shatner’s World, Shatner will share the story of his life with film clips, a raconteur’s stage presence, jokes and tales from Hollywood. And yes, he will sing.

At 800 W. Olympic Blvd., (213) 765-7000 or clubnokia.com.

I Predict a Riot: Downtown will become the center of the L.A. comedy universe on Jan. 29-31 when Abbey Londer brings the fourth installment of the Riot L.A. festival to the Central City. It’s laugh-packed and, well, riotously diverse, with Patton Oswalt performing at The Regent, Gilbert Gottfried at the Downtown Independent, Maria Bamford and Janeane Garofolo at the Ace Hotel and a slew of comedians and shows on Main Street. Altogether more than 100 comics will perform.

At riotla.com.

Street Sense: City Councilman Jose Huizar’s Night on Broadway festival returns on Jan. 30. The free, all-ages happening will feature acts in seven Broadway theaters, including a burlesque-and-swing filled show at the Million Dollar Theatre, comedy and music from Reggie Watts at the Tower Theatre and the aerialists of the Lucent Dossier Experience at the Los Angeles Theatre. There will be outdoor stages and copious food and entertainment options on Broadway between Third and Seventh.

At nightonbroadway.la.

20 Great Cultural Events in 2016
Room to Act: The experimental theater troupe the Wooster Group is known for its creative take on venerable works of art. The New York-based company has developed a sort of West Coast base at REDCAT, and will return Feb. 4-14 for a production of playwright Harold Pinter’s first play, The Room. The actors will bring Pinter’s macabre and unsettling work to life, all under the direction of founding member and longtime director Elizabeth LeCompte.

At 621 W. Second St., (213) 237-2800 or redcat.org.

Are You Down With O.P.P.?: Remember hip-hop greats Naughty By Nature? Treach, Vin Rock and DJ Kay Gee are back, and they’re coming to Downtown Los Angeles on Feb. 11 as part of their 25th anniversary tour. The trio will hit the stage at The Regent for a set of hits including “Everything’s Gonna Be All Right” and “O.P.P.”

At 448 S. Main St., (323) 284-5727 or theregenttheater.com.

Magic in the Moonlight: Mozart’s The Magic Flute was an L.A. Opera mega-hit in 2013, as director Barrie Kosky partnered with the British theater company 1927 for a production that used projections and a sort of silent film approach. It returns to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Feb. 13-March 6 with the same production team and James Conlon conducting. Although the show with Tamino, Papageno and the Queen of the Night is presented in German with English supertitles, the 1920s vaudeville elements make it easy to grasp for opera newbies. There are six performances.

At 135 N. Grand Ave., (213) 972-7219 or laopera.org.

Harlem Shuffle: For decades, the Harlem

Globetrotters have been the jesters of the hardwood. The shows haven’t changed markedly in years, but the kids in the crowd still laugh uproariously. The Globetrotters dribble in to Staples Center on Feb. 21 for a pair of shows packed with trick shots, comedy and basketball wizardry. It’s part of the red, white and blue’s 90th anniversary world tour. Spoiler alert: The Globetrotters will win. Double spoiler alert: You’ll leave whistling “Sweet Georgia Brown.”

At 1111 S. Figueroa St., (213) 742-7340 or staplescenter.com.

Symphonic Rhapsody: Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 was his longest and arguably most challenging symphony. On March 3-6, the L.A. Philharmonicwill meet the challenge, as Music Director Gustavo Dudamel leads the troops through four performances of the epic work at Walt Disney Concert Hall. The Phil won’t be going it alone, and will be joined by mezzo-soprano Tamara Mumford, the women of the Los Angeles Master Chorale and the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus. It is easily one of the Phil’s biggest dates of the year.

At 111 S. Grand Ave., (213) 972-7300 or laphil.com.

Poke the President: Did you know that there’s a presidential election coming up this year? Were you aware that a few folks on television are using this to their advantage? OK, you did, but still, that doesn’t detract from the entertainment value that will be provided when Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and comedian Dennis Miller bring their “Who Wants to Be President?” tour to the Microsoft Theater at L.A. Live on March 12. Expect some back-and-forth and a bunch of actually funny Trump, Clinton, Sanders and Rubio jokes.

At 777 Chick Hearn Ct., (213) 763-6030 or microsofttheater.com.

Musical Murder Was the Case That They Gave Him: Downtowners will get singing, dancing and some potentially valuable advice when A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder opens at the Ahmanson Theatre on March 22. The 2014 Tony Award winner for Best Musical tells the story of one man’s attempt to gain a family fortune — by killing the eight people in line ahead of him. Death isn’t the only thing on Monty Navarro’s mind in the musical comedy: He also must deal with both his fiancé and his mistress. The show runs through May 1.

At 135 N. Grand Ave., (213) 628-2772 or


Keeping Score: If you don’t know his name, you probably know his music: Golden Globe-nominated composer Clint Mansell has scored the Darren Aronofsky films Black Swan and The Wrestler, as well as Duncan Jones’ Moon. He’s coming to the Theatre at Ace Hotel on March 18. Mansell will perform selections from his scores and will be joined by pianist Carly Pardis and the Sonus Quartet.

At 929 S. Broadway, (213) 623-3222 or acehotel.com/calendar.

Wonderful News: Geeks in Downtown, rejoice! WonderConis coming to the Los Angeles Convention Center on March 25-27, ditching its home in Anaheim. The convention comes from the organizers of San Diego’s Comic-Con International and features a plethora of well-known names from the comics, fantasy and pop culture worlds, but without the chaotic crowds of its bigger summer sibling. Expect plenty of people to don elaborate outfits for the Easter weekend celebration.

At 1201 S. Figueroa St. or comic-con.com/wca.

Elvis Is in the Building: Rocker Elvis Costello never got as famous as all those flash-in-the-pan musicians and bands whose names I suddenly can’t remember, but he’s been thrilling fans for decades. Costello will sashay into Downtown on April 2-3 for a pair of shows at the Theatre at Ace Hotel. Expect the Grammy winner to bust out classics such as “Alison” (it came out 39 years ago!) and “Watching the Detectives.”

At 929 S. Broadway, (213) 623-3233 or acehotel.com/calendar.

War Story: Wars often come from people willing to use violence to support a cause they believe in. But what about the people who fight in the conflicts they’d rather not support? That is one of the many questions raised by Suzan-Lori Parks in her epic Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3). The play, which won the Kennedy Center Prize for Drama, lands at the Mark Taper Forum on April 5-May 15. The show that tells the story of a slave fighting in the Civil War — for the Confederate side! — is one of the most anticipated theatrical works this year not just in Downtown, but in all of Los Angeles

At 135 N. Grand Ave., (213) 628-2772 or centertheatregroup.org.

Clap if You Believe: Everyone loves Peter Pan, but few have seen the show inspired by J.M. Barrie’s classic tale the way they will this spring. Peter Pan 360 is a new production told through an immersive experience. Inside a tent set up at the L.A. Live Event Deck, audiences will watch actors fly amid 360 degrees of CGI projections that create the world of Neverland. The performance runs April 6-24.

At 1005 Chick Hearn Court, (800) 745-3000 or peterpan360.com.

Family Matters: The musical La Cage Aux Folles has been pleasing audiences for decades, and inspired the 1996 film The Birdcage. Now it’s back on stage in Downtown, thanks to Little Tokyo theater stalwart East West Players. On May 12-June 26, the Asian-American theater troupe will present the story of a gay couple forced to hide their relationship when their son introduces them to his fiancé’s ultra-conservative family.

At 120 N. Judge John Aiso St., (212) 625-7000 or eastwestplayers.org

Still Playing a Mean Pinball: Classic rock and “CSI” opening credits fans can get excited, as The Who comes to Staples Centeron May 25. Frontman Roger Daltrey has recovered from the illness that forced the band to cancel a September date, and Pete Townsend and company are ready for their “The Who Hits 50!” tour. Yes, you will hear “Pinball Wizard,” “Baba O’Riley” and “The Kids Are Alright.” Yes, Townsend will do the windmill and remind you that rock and roll isn’t just for kids.

At 1111 S. Figueroa St., (213) 742-7340 or staplescenter.com.

Paint It Grey: In 1975, Albert and David Maysles made the documentary Grey Gardens, about two of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ relatives. Somehow it became a Tony-winning musical, and on July 2-Aug. 14 it arrives at the Ahmanson Theatre. The two-act show follows the descent of the women, who live in the Grey Gardens estate, from the high life in the 1940s to impoverished decay in the ’70s. Directed by Michael Wilson, it produces enough laughs to balance out the haunting transitions.

At 135 N. Grand Ave., (213) 628-2772 or centertheatregroup.org.

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