Getty Villa's “Ancient” Theater

The Getty VIlla's annual outdoor play is "Helen." The setting? Classical.

There are so many pleasures of visiting the Getty Villa that extend beyond the world-class sculptures and ancient artworks. Those are phenomenal, of course, but visitors regularly cite a stroll through the herb garden, or sitting by the long pool, or the views of the Pacific as other pleasures of a day out.

But nearly every visitor to the Malibu museum stops off at the Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater, which is the "classical outdoor theater based on ancient prototypes" that grandly takes up one side of the institution. Kids scramble up the seats and weary walkers rest for a few. And everyone admires how much it looks like the theaters of ancient Greece, in proportion and appearance and audio qualities; who hasn't had a friend shout hello to them to test those out? Okay, we have.

Now the Getty Villa's annual fall production is ready to roll in this one-of-a-kind setting; if it isn't exactly one of a kind, seeing as it recalls the venues of ancient times, it is certainly unusual for this country, and California. Meaning seeing "Helen" by Euripides is a treat. Make that a double treat; the play is rarely performed, and its September run boasts a stunner of a cast.

Rachel Sorsa and Maxwell Caulfield are the leads in a tale involving Trojan intrigue, the gods, and the island of Pharos. Are the thrills of English class flooding back to you? The joys of theme, intrigue, and drama? Oh yeah. They definitely should be. Are we wrong for wanting to give a fist pump when ancient plays are the conversation?

Opening night is Thursday, Sept. 6; the plays will run every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday through Sept. 29. We can't think of a finer way to spend a fall evening then under the sky and in an ancient -- or ancient-style -- theater in Malibu, basking in a classic.

Tickets are $42 each.

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