"They will be a combination of original plays and revivals of
older plays with a stock company of 22 players," he said.
His purpose is to start building an audience for new work in Los
Angeles, he said.
"I would love to get people from Hollywood, the West Side and
Silver Lake to come into the Valley," he said. "It's such a great
location. I want to make the theater a destination."
The Los Angeles theatrical community is familiar with his work and
that should help bring those audiences to Burbank, Tanner said.
"People know what to expect, that my plays will be funny,
semi-intelligent, fast-paced and not too long," he said.
Tanner has written several plays that have had runs at Third Stage
while it was under the ownership of James Henriksen, including "Wife
Swappers." Henriksen sold the theater, to David Wells and D.J. Berg
"This year, I've been mentoring it," Henriksen said.
Henriksen bought the theater in 1984 and built it from the ground
up. He and his wife, who also works in the entertainment industry,
decided to take a break and are moving to Tennessee for some
Henriksen will continue to act in Tanner's plays and will serve as
an ongoing consultant.
"Justin's stuff is special," Henriksen said. "He is known for
overlapping dialogue. It's rapid fire. It takes a special actor to do
it. Justin writes for those people and draws on their strengths."
One of the theater's new owners, Wells, is equally charmed with
Tanner's work and is looking forward to the partnership, he said.
Wells is also starring in the company's second production of the
season "Tobacco Road."
"I am thrilled to have [Tanner] a part of this space," Wells said.
"I think Justin's a monster talent and very prolific. He has his own
unique take on the world, which is riotously funny and very
Wells added that Tanner has an impressive ensemble of talented
actors and directors involved, who bring their own following, which
will be great for the theater.
Laurie Metcalf of "Roseanne" fame and Tom Irwin of "CSI: Crime
Scene Investigation" are starring in Tanner's "Voice Lessons" opening
"I think the fact he's doing a season here and starting a
repertory company, I'm fortunate to stumble onto this opportunity at
the time I did because Justin's writing is better than ever," Wells
said. "He's grown over the last few years and we are at Third Stage
and the public are going to be the beneficiaries of his work."