Gay Jazz Club of Yesteryear Is Setting for New Musical, Play It Cool, in L.A.

News   Gay Jazz Club of Yesteryear Is Setting for New Musical, Play It Cool, in L.A. Play It Cool, a Jazz Musical, gets its world premiere June 8 at Celebration Theatre, the Hollywood venue known as a stage for gay and lesbian voices.

Sharon Rosen directs the new work, which has a book by Larry Dean Harris and lyrics by Mark Winkler. Music is by David Benoit, Dan Siegel and Phil Swann. Opening in June 9 following one preview.

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"Play It Cool is centered around Mary's Hideaway, a fictional Hollywood jazz club, circa 1953," according to production notes. "Inspired by 1950s film noir, the musical looks at the laws governing gay and lesbian clubs of the time; when women weren't allowed to bartend and men couldn't dance with other men; when every glance had a double meaning and every word was an innuendo and everything had to be done to strict code. Play It Cool is set against a sexy 1950s Hollywood backdrop and celebrates the gay men and lesbian women of that time who had the guts to break the rule."

Marvin Tunney is the choreographer. Musical direction is by Louis Durra.

The creative team includes set designer Kurt Boetcher, lighting designer Carol Doehring, costume designer Marjorie Baer. Play It Cool is produced by Celebration Theatre producing director Allain Rochel. The limited engagement plays to July 16. Celebration Theatre is at 7051-B Santa Monica Blvd. in Los Angeles.

Play It Cool is the latest original musical developed at Celebration Theatre following the success of Naked Boys Singing (1999), Too Old for the Chorus (1999) and Pinafore! (2001).

Director Sharon Rosen produced and directed the Las Vegas and Los Angeles premiere of Always…Patsy Cline starring Sally Struthers. She is currently preparing the Broadway-aimed revival of Oh, What a Lovely War!.

Lyricist Mark Winker is an award-winning singer/lyricist whose songs have been covered by Dianne Reeves, Randy Crawford, Liza Minnelli and Nancy Wilson. He is the co-writer of the hit Off-Broadway musical revue Naked Boys Singing and has also written lyrics for Bark!, now playing in Los Angeles and Chicago. He is also the creator and writer of Too Old for the Chorus, which has played in Los Angeles and San Diego.

Larry Dean Harris (book) is an LA Weekly Best Playwriting nominee for his LA debut, Bible Stories, at Celebration Theatre. His play Like an Old Song was named Best Gay-Themed Play of 2000 by Backstage West. He was a winner in the Midwestern Playwrights Festival and is currently adapting the 1963 stage musical Oh, What a Lovely War! for a Broadway-aimed revival.

The cast includes jazz vocalist Katie Campbell, Steven Janji (Celebration's Pinafore, Hedwig), Andrew Pandaleon, Michael Craig Shapiro (Evita, Peter Pan) and Broadway veteran Jessica Sheridan (The Producers).

Performances play Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 PM and Sundays at 3 PM. Ticket prices are $30 for all performances. The preview performance is $15.

For information, call (323) 957-1884.

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Celebration Theatre "is a company of artists dedicated to creating a dynamic outlet for progressive gay and lesbian voices in contemporary theatre and performance in Los Angeles."

According to its mission, "We intend to create a broader involvement in our community, conduct a rigorous exploration of our society’s changing sentiments and values, and share these explorations with a wider audience. For more information, visit wwww.celebrationtheatre.com.

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