Los Angeles hasn't seen the last of Play On!, the hit musical at the Pasadena Playhouse which closed recently and transferred to the co-producing Arizona Theatre Company in Phoenix. After the show concludes its run at the ATC this fall, it will return to L.A. for an open-ended run at a major theatre, most likely the 1,270-seat Wilshire-Ebell. Although none of the producers would confirm the deal at this time, several key personnel connected to the show said that news of the show's return would soon be announced. Play On! opened July 18 at the Pasadena Playhouse and received near-unanimous rave reviews from the critical community. The L.A. Times hailed it as "a rousing splash of music, romance, comedy and bright colors, awash in stellar performances." The Hollywood Reporter said it was "brilliantly staged...this is not a show to miss."
Conceived and directed by the Pasadena Playhouse's artistic director Sheldon Epps, with book by Cheryl L. West and music by Duke Ellington, Play On! takes its inspiration from Twelfth Night but is set in Harlem in the 1940s. Natalie Venetia Belcon stars as a would-be songwriter who must dress as a man to be accepted by the male-dominated jazz world. Raun Ruffin plays Duke Ellington, Nikki Crawford his sultry, blues-singing muse, Lady Liv.
The show is timed to celebrate the centennial of Ellington's birth and features such songs as "Take the A Train," "Drop Me Off in Harlem," "It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got that Swing" and "In a Mellow Tone."