March 12 will see the world premiere at the Pasadena Playhouse of a new musical, The People vs. Mona, which has music and lyrics by Jim Wann and book by Ernest Chambers, Patricia Miller and Wann. It is directed by Paul Lazarus, who was the artistic director of the Playhouse from 1990-91.
Part romantic comedy, part thriller set to music, the story is centered around Mona Mae Katt, the "bad girl" of the small southern hamlet of Tippo, Mississippi. Mona Mae has been accused of killing her record-producer husband C.C. Katt by bashing him with a guitar ten hours after they were married. A notorious trial ensues in which Mona's gentlemanly defense counsel is pitted against an ambitious prosecutor, Mavis Frye -- who also happens to be his fiancee.
The show uses Wann's signature presentation style that he calls "guitar theatre," in which the actor-singers are also the band. Wann explored the form in his previous shows, Diamond Studs: The Life of Jesse James and Pump Boys and Dinettes.
The seven-person cast of Mona includes Ritt Henn, Maggie Hollinbeck, Joe Joyce, Kelli Maguire, Michele Mais, William Thomas, Jr. and Scott Waara. Pasadena Playhouse is located at 39 S. El Molino Ave. Previews for The People Vs. Mona begin March 3. For tickets and information call (800) 233-3123 or visit www.pasadenaplayhouse.org
-- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent