Venue Details

Ahmanson Theatre
at the Music Center 135 North Grand Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90012
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3.8 / 5 Rated by 613 members
Review from Randall
Red Velvet 290 events 120 reviews

Unique and unusual, this show takes a lot of patience, but the visuals are stunning.

reviewed May 27 2006 report as inappropriate
Review from anonymous
Red Velvet 162 events 87 reviews

We left at intermission--It was at times incomprehensible (i.e .what they were saying); there was (inappropriate) profanity; it was very hard to follow

reviewed May 14 2006 report as inappropriate
Review from Paul
Red Velvet 60 events 29 reviews

This play appeals to a very, very limited audience. All during the 1st act people kept trickling out of the theater and did not return. After the intermission, there was a dramatic increase in the amount of empty seats.

I had a friend who...continued

reviewed May 20 2006 report as inappropriate
View All 19 Reviews
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Quotes & Highlights

“Sends you out into the street floating on a sea of loved-up endorphins.Your expectations are shot away and replaced with surprised laughter.”_ -What’s On in London Magazine _ Five Stars
“A triumph.” —Time Magazine
“Mesmerizing. Flawless. Stunning. A masterpiece. A gift.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Like the Threepenny Opera on acid.” —San Jose Mercury News


In The Black Rider, Wilson, Waits, and Burroughs present a strange and hilarious theatrical wonderland, a musical fable of love, evil, and human folly steeped in the folklore of the past and bursting with the art of the future. The Black Rider is Wilson’s homage to German
Expressionism, with the distorted perspectives of Expressionist painting and the exaggerated and comedic gestures of cabaret and silent movies incorporated into its visual landscape. Based loosely on the German folktale underlying Carl Maria von Weber’s opera Der Freischutz, The Black Rider draws from German culture throughout and aspires to the Wagnerian theory of Gesamtkuntswerk, in which all aspects of artistic creation are brought into total unity in one multidisciplinary production.

The plot centers on Wilhelm, an intellectual young clerk who must learn to hunt in order to marry his true love, a woodsman’s daughter. He strikes a deal with the devil for magic bullets that never miss their mark, but in the world of The Black Rider, nothing is what it seems: the devil sings, animals talk, the walls become woods, and bullets have minds of their own.

Written by Tom Waits with musical arrangements by Greg Cohen and Tom Waits, the dreamy and brooding score of The Black Rider requires orchestration from a number of eclectic instruments such as the toy piano, the pocket trumpet, the Stroh violin, the Ondes Martenot, the glass harmonica, the Cristal Baschet, the drunk piano, and the musical saw.

Once upon a time there was an old forester who lived with his wife and his daughter. And when it came time for his daughter to marry he chose for her a hunter, for he was getting old and wanting to maintain his legacy. But his daughter was in love with another and sadly he was not a huntsman, he was a clerk, and the father would not approve of this union. But the daughter was determined to marry the man she loved, so she said to him, “If you can prove your marksmanship as a hunter, my father will allow us to marry.” And so the clerk went out to the forest and he took his rifle and he missed everything he aimed at and only brought back a vulture. The father disapproved and it seemed hopeless, but the clerk was determined to triumph. So the next time he went to the forest, the devil appeared to him and offered him a handful of magic bullets. With these bullets he could hit all the game he aimed at even with his eyes closed. But the devil warned him that “some of these bullets are for thee and some are for me.” And as the wedding day approached, the clerk began to get nervous, as there was to be a shooting contest and he was afraid he needed more magic bullets. Although warned that “the devil’s bargain is a fool’s bargain,” he went to the crossroads and the devil appeared as before and gave him one more magic bullet. On the day of the wedding, the clerk took aim at a wooden dove, and with the devil looking on, the bullet circled the crowd of guests and hit its mark. Not the wooden dove, but his bride, his only love, and the clerk ended up in an insane asylum stark raving mad and joined all the other lunatics in the devil’s carnival.

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