'Dreamgirls' Reunion & Aloe Blacc Among Highlights for L.A.'s Newly Renovated Ford Ampitheatre

Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for Citi
Citi Presents An Exclusive Acoustic Performance By Grammy Nominee Aloe Blacc on February 4, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  

The 2016 summer season will open July 8 with shows scheduled through Oct. 25.

A 21-month renovation project of Hollywood's historic jewel, the John Anson Ford Ampitheatre at 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East, is weeks away from being revealed following the $65.8 million update. Ford Theatres officials announced today that doors for the 2016 summer season will open July 8 with shows scheduled through Oct. 25.

On the schedule are Ford favorites (Japanese drumming group TAIKOPROJECT and Outfest), Ford newbies (singer-songwriter Aloe Blacc), and crowd pleasers (Chris Isaacson Presents: Broadway Under the Stars featuring a Dreamgirls reunion with original cast members Sheryl Lee Ralph, Loretta Devine and Jennifer Holliday). As for the renovations and improvements -- designed by Levin & Associates Architects with Mia Lehrer + Associates landscape architects -- audiences can expect improved lighting and sound, new onstage production capabilities and a new visitor entrance, officials said. Construction of a new picnic terrace and concession stand will be completed in August, in time for the County and the Ford Theatre Foundation's planned civic dedication ceremony.

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Producer Isaacson is shepherding Broadway Under the Stars, described as a musical revue featuring songs from classic and even current musicals like Hamilton, Fiddler on the Roof, Waitress, Tuck Everlasting and, as mentioned, Dreamgirls. The July 10 event, from which proceeds will be donated to the Actors Fund and the DIVA Foundation, will mark the first time the cast members from the original 1981 Broadway musical have reunited on the same stage.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Ralph says reuniting after 35 years makes sense because the women are still working and still on great terms. "The creation of Dreamgirls wasn't a walk in the park," explains Ralph, who has graced the Ford stage before, joking she was "burned at the stake" while filming a scene for the film Witch Hunt alongside Dennis Hopper. "There were a lot of tears, a lot of growing pains and a lot of growing up pains. But we did it and we're here on the other side. After everything we went through as young women, to be able to cross over that and still be working. The original Dreams are still here -- we've all been able to accomplish so much. That's something to celebrate."

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No doubt when Dreamgirls wraps up on Sunday night, bringing an end to opening weekend festivities, Ford officials will be celebrating the return of the summer season. Other highlights are below. For a full roster of events, click here. The Ford Theatres are owned by the County of Los Angeles and operated by Los Angeles County Arts Commission, the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Ford Theatre Foundation. The first summer season dates back to 1993.

• July 8, TAIKOPROJECT & Quetzal, Concrete Saplings: A collaboration between the Japanese drumming group and Chicano rock band Quetzal.

• July 9, Signature Series with Aloe Blacc: An acoustic concert with the singer-songwriter along with opening act Fabiano do Nascimento and ThE CoNcEnTr8s.

• July 10, Chris Isaacson Presents: Broadway Under the Stars

• July 13, Outfest, Under the Stars at the Ford

• July 23, Fountain Theatre, Forever Flamenco at the Ford

• July 30, Star Entertainment & Education Group, Fiesta Mexicana XIV: Inolvidable (Unforgettable): The annual celebration of traditional Mexican music and dance, featuring Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano.

• Aug. 6, Flypoet Entertainment, 6th annual Flypoet Under The Stars, Summer Classic: An evening of spoken word, music, comedy and live visual art.

• Aug. 19, Vaud & the Villains, Live at the Ford: A concert featuring a 19-piece New Orleans orchestra and cabaret.

• Aug. 21, Los Angeles Jewish Symphony: Let’s Play LA!: A symphonic concert featuring the music of LA-based composers and the concert works of video game composer, Garry Schyman.

• Sept. 3, Pacific Opera Project, Abduction from the Seraglio: A reimagining of the classic Mozart opera and set in the world of Star Trek.

• Sept. 16, Artivist Entertainment: Artista + Activista = ARTIVISTA!: A showcase of female soloists from all around the Americas who highlight issues of social justice in their music. Confirmed performers: Martha Gonzalez, Maya Jupiter, Medusa, Ceci Bastida and La Marisoul.

• Sept. 23, Musicians at Play, We Have To Go Back: The Lost Concert: Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino will conduct an orchestra of 44 Los Angeles based musicians, presenting the music and story of the iconic TV series, Lost. Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse will host.  

• Oct. 2, Angel City Arts, Angel City Jazz Festival: A jazz festival featuring innovative jazz musicians who work with a fusion of electronic, rock and hip-hop styles of music.

• Oct. 8, PAE Live, An Evening with Martin Nievera: An acoustic evening with the “Concert King of the Philippines,” actor and singer Nievera, performing a new repertoire of pop, soft rock and original Filipino music.

• Oct. 14, Impro Theatre, L.A. Noir UnScripted: A completely improvised full-length play performed in the style of noir authors such as Raymond Chandler and James M. Cain.

This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.