Geffen Playhouse in Southern California has two world premieres — Donald Margulies' Time Stands Still and a new musical called Nightmare Alley — on its 2008-09 schedule.
The not-for-profit Los Angeles company announced its next season on April 15.
Also slated are a production of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan's new play By the Waters of Babylon, and Hershey Felder's musical solo show, Beethoven as I Knew Him, opening the season. Margulies is also a Pulitzer Prize winner, for Dinner With Friends. Schenkkan won his Pulitzer for The Kentucky Cycle.
"With the discovery of Nightmare Alley, we found ourselves a tent-pole by which to design the rest of our theatrical year," said producing director Gilbert Cates. "Bookended by two very different musicals, the season strikes a beautiful balance between life's oddities, life's realities and life's beauties."
With one final production still to be announced, the Geffen Playhouse's 2008-2009 season currently includes:
Beethoven, As I Knew Him text by Hershey Felder, music by Beethoven, starring pianist-actor Hershey Felder, directed by Joel Zwick. Aug. 19-Oct. 12. "Award-winning performer Hershey Felder returns to the Geffen Playhouse for the highly anticipated culmination of his musical trilogy. Felder brings the character of Ludwig van Beethoven to life through the eyes of Beethoven's last surviving friend as well as through the eternal sounds of the maestro's greatest musical works." Felder, now world-famous for his lauded portrayals of George Gershwin, Fryderyk Chopin and Beethoven, returns to the Geffen after his sold-out run of George Gershwin Alone and Monsieur Chopin last summer. The productions received twelve LA Ovation Award nominations and won four awards, including Best Musical and Best Lead Actor in a Musical.
By the Waters of Babylon by Robert Schenkkan, directed by Richard Seyd. Oct. 28-Dec. 7. The Los Angeles premiere of a two-character play, a "personal and touching romance" that takes place over the course of one afternoon as two relative strangers begin to learn the truth about themselves from the stories they reveal." It juxtaposes Cuban politics with Southern stoicism, intertwining storytelling, scenery and humor to show that in life, as in gardening, sometimes you need to clear away the weeds to make something more beautiful grow."
A special engagement of Hershey Felder as George Gershwin Alone, text by Hershey Felder, directed by Joel Zwick, Dec. 19, 2008-Jan. 4, 2009. "After its limited run last season which left the audience literally shouting (and singing) for more, Hershey Felder celebrates the holidays in Los Angeles by bringing back one of America's most well-known composers. Performed and acclaimed all over the world, this Geffen Playhouse special engagement marks the final time Felder will perform this piece. Recreating key moments in George Gershwin's life through song and spoken word, this musical retelling features a look behind some of the composer's most famous works, including Felder's solo rendition of 'A Rhapsody in Blue,' and culminating with an interactive audience sing-a-long to their favorite Gershwin tunes."
Time Stands Still by Donald Margulies, a Geffen-commissioned world premiere, directed by Daniel Sullivan. Feb. 3-March 15, 2009. Originally titled The Elephant in the Room, the new play by the Pulitzer Prize winner gives "a glimpse into the life of Sarah and James, a journalistic team and longtime couple. Recently reunited after a stint covering the turmoil in the Middle East, the pair slowly find that their words and pictures are no longer a perfect match. Through humor, trauma and photographs that are worth a thousand words, Time Stands Still examines how a little shift in perspective can change an entire picture."
A production to be determined. April 14-May 24, 2009.
Nightmare Alley, book, music and lyrics by Jonathan Brielle, based on the William Lindsay Gresham novel and the subsequent cult-classic film, directed by Geffen producing director Gilbert Cates. June 16-July 26, 2009. "Nightmare Alley explores the darker side of entertainment by taking us into the world of carnies, cons and clairvoyants. With a score as wild as a funhouse and as emotionally evocative as a beautiful tightrope walker, this new musical tells the story of shocks that await you inside the big tent. …Nightmare Alley is a night at the theatre full of special effects, wondrous feats and enough spirit to make believers of us all." For more information visit www.geffenplayhouse.com.
The Geffen's leadership includes producing director and president of the board Gilbert (Gil) Cates, artistic director Randall Arney, managing director Stephen Eich and chairman of the board Frank Mancuso.