PASADENA, CA -- Sheldon Epps, the new artistic director of the Pasadena Playhouse, has announced his first season picks.
They include Noel Coward's Present Laughter (July 10-Aug. 23), to be directed by Richard Seyd; If Memory Serves (Sept. 11-Oct. 25), a new play about a former TV star and her disgruntled son, by Jonathan Tolins, author of the theatre's previous hit The Twilight of the Golds; and the West Coast premiere (Nov. 6-Dec. 20) of Judith Shubow Steir's new musical about the Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson, Only a Kingdom, to be staged by a former Playhouse artistic director Paul Lazarus.
Leonard Foglia directs If Memory Serves. Tolins' other plays include The Unveiling, The Climate and Secrets of the Trade.
As for Kingdom, the musical has no connection (other than subject matter) with Always, the William May /Jason Sprague musical that opened in London in June 1997. Kingdom premiered Oct. 10 at Roanoke, VA's Mill Mountain Theatre, then played at Winston-Salem, NC's Stevens Center in November 1997.
Only A Kingdom tells of the king who, after 325 days on his throne, abdicated to marry American divorcee, Simpson. Called "The love affair of the century," this romance didn't sit well with the royal family, who joined with the church in condemning the union and spurring on the king's abdication. On the positive side, Edward and Wallis became world travelers and well-liked, unofficial ambassadors. Author and composer Judith Shubow Steir has never before had a musical produced but has studied with Boston composer Henry Lasker. Producing the show are Steir's daughter, Vivian Rabin, Marvin A. Krauss and Robert T. Kuss. According to Mill Mountain spokesperson Michelle S. Bennett, it was Kuss' idea to do a show on the Simpsons after Steir approached him with her first, as-yet-unproduced musical.
Songs in Only A Kingdom include "The Moment," "You Can't Be Too Rich Or Too Thin," "It's So Difficult To Please A Queen" (performed by Winston Churchill(!)) and "Home Is Where The Duchess Is."
The Pasadena Playhouse is at 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena. For tickets, call (800) 233-3123.