Pasadena Playhouse Adds Ray Charles Musical and Replaces Golden Pond

News   Pasadena Playhouse Adds Ray Charles Musical and Replaces Golden Pond Topdog/Underdog playwright Suzan-Lori Parks provides the book for Ray Charles Live!, a new musical featuring songs of the late music legend that will end the current season at Pasadena Playhouse.

In addition to Ray Charles Live!, which will run Oct. 31-Dec. 9, the company announced that Michael J. Chepiga's new play Matter of Honor will replace the previously planned mounting of On Golden Pond. Matter of Honor will run Aug. 24-Sept. 30. Casting has yet to be announced for either work.

"These two wonderful projects are a tremendous addition to an already hugely successful and rewarding season," Pasadena artistic director Sheldon Epps stated in the announcement. "I am very proud that the Playhouse is sustaining its reputation as a major theatrical institution that is 'giving birth' to new plays and musicals that are intended to have an ongoing life in the Broadway arena and at major theatres throughout the country."

Epps will stage Ray Charles Live! for his California company; the official opening night will be Nov. 9. The production is presented by special arrangement with producing partners Stuart Benjamin, Howard and Karen Baldwin (the film "Ray") and Steve Markoff, along with Ray Charles’ longtime manager Joe Adams.

Pulitzer Prize winner Parks "weaves together tales from [Ray Charles'] past as [the musician] is depicted in his last live recording session. That session uses the great music of his career to tell the 'in studio' audience the story of his life with all of the good, the bad, the ugly, and the sublime," as show notes reveal.

The musical will encapsulate the variety of musical styles Charles was known for — from rhythm and blues, to gospel, to jazz, to country music and pop. Among the hits included will be “Georgia on My Mind,” "What’d I Say," "Mess Around," "Hit The Road, Jack," "Unchain My Heart," "I Got a Woman" and "Hallelujah, I Love Her So." The creative team includes Ken Roberson (choreographer), Rahn Coleman (musical supervisor) and Harold Wheeler (orchestrations). The designers feature Riccardo Hernandez (set), Paul Tazewell (costume), Donald Holder (lighting) and Michael Clark (projections and visual elements).

Scott Schwartz (Golda's Balcony, Tick Tick Boom, Bat Boy: The Musical) directs the world premiere Matter of Honor from the playwright of Getting and Spending. The new West Point Military Academy-set drama follows the story of two African-American cadets who strive to graduate from the venerable institution.

The work is presented by special arrangement with Richard Willis, Janice Montana and Martin Markinson. The design team features Robert Brill (set), Candice Cain (costumes) and Mark Bennett (sound).

The Pasadena Playhouse kicked off the new year with John Patrick Shanley's Defiance (Jan. 12-Feb. 18). The company currently presents Charles Randolph-Wright's Cuttin' Up (through April 15) and will continue the season with W. Somerset Maugham's The Constant Wife (May 4-June 10) and Cole Porter's Can-Can (June 29-Aug. 5).

A special discounted subscription package (for the four remaining shows) is now available.  Single tickets go on sale May 20 for Matter of Honor and July 8 for Ray Charles Live! – A New Musical. Groups and subscribers can purchase tickets to both starting April 10. 

The Pasadena Playhouse is located 39 South El Molino Ave. in Pasadena, CA. For more information call (626) 356-PLAY or visit www.pasadenaplayhouse.org.

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