Play On!, the Duke Ellington-tuned musicalization of Twelfth Night, will close Aug. 22 at the Pasadena Playhouse. Original Play On! conceiver and Pasadena Playhouse Artistic Director Sheldon Epps directs.
Play On!, with a book by Cheryl L. West, updates William Shakespeare's classic cross-dressing comedy of misplaced love and mistaken identity to 1940's Harlem and features some of Ellington's best- loved songs, including "Take the A Train," "Mood Indigo," "Drop Me Off in Harlem," and "Don't Get Around Much Anymore." Jazz musician and composer Edward Kennedy Ellington, named Duke by his family and friends, would have celebrated his 100th birthday in 1999.
Natalie Venetia Belcon, reprising the role she played in Seattle and Chicago, stars as Vy/Vy-Man. Kevin Ramsey, Outer Critics Circle nominated for his role as in The Life, also appeared on Broadway in Five Guys Named Moe, Oh Kay! and Black and Blue, garnering a Theatre World Award and the Fred Astaire Award for Best Performer on Broadway. Ramsey plays Jester.
Play On also stars Richard Allen as Rev, Clinton Derricks-Carroll as Sweets, Yvette Cason as Miss Mary, Shirley Caludia Charles as CC, Nikki Crawford as Lady Liv and Raun Ruffin (The Civil War) as the Duke. Shirley Claudia Charles, Melissa Haizlip, Dexter Jones, Ron Christopher Jones, Tyrha M. Lindsey, Sara Beth Lane, Alysa Lobo, Mario Mosley, Dewain Michell and Sam "Red" Savage fill out the cast.
The original Broadway choreographer, who also handled the Seattle Repertory, Goodman, and Old Globe Theatre productions, Mercedes Ellington, choreographs the Pasadena production. Ellington is the granddaughter of Duke. Designing Play On! are James Leonard Joy (sets), Michael Gilliam (lighting), Marianna Elliott (costumes), Philip G. Allen (sound) and Judi Lewin (hair, wigs and make-up).
Tickets ($50-$20) are available by calling Tele-Charge at (800) 233 3123. The Pasadena Playhouse is located at 39 South El Molino Avenue and on the web at http://www.pasadenaplayhouse.org.