SEATTLE -- Civic Light Opera, the only Seattle area theatre that produces a full season of musicals only, has announced its 21st season slate. It's a mix of recent Broadway revivals, a Broadway failure that has enjoyed a strong regional after-life, and a classic British import from the 50's.
The season kicks off with the Pulitzer prize and Tony award winning How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, and book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert. It races the rocketing rise of an ambitious window washer J. Pierpont Finch in his journey up the corporate ladder of the World Wide Wickets company. Three decades after it's impressive initial Broadway run of 1,417 performances, How To Succeed was a hit all over again in a high-tech, politically corrected Broadway revival starring Matthew Broderick. Runs Sept. 24-Oct. 17, 1998.
Though it had its admirers, and numerous belated Tony nominations in 1987, the musical Rags with music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Joseph Stein eked out only 4 performances on Broadway. Yet, with revisions by its authors for subsequent productions, it has become a frequently produced and well liked show in regional mountings, and may well have been ahead of its time, given the success of the similarly themed current hit Ragtime. It tells the tale of a naive Russian immigrant Rebecca, who with her son David carves out a new life in the U.S. Her search for her husband who preceded her to America turns bittersweet when she finds him a much changed man. Gradually Rebecca comes into conflict with her husband's new ideals, and the men he longs to impress. Runs Nov. 19-Dec. 12, 1998.
Sandy Wilson's The Boyfriend opened to acclaim in London i the mid-50's, and soon crossed the Atlantic where its off-Broadway production made a star of leading lady Julie Andrews, Set in 1926, it is a daffy and sweet-natured amalgam of 1920's musicals and plot-lines, involving the romantic entanglements of a group of finishing school girls, their beaus, and their elders on the French Riviera. Runs Feb. 11-Mar. 6, 1999.
The season closer is another show that enjoyed a recent smash revival and subsequent tour, Damn Yankees, in which a paunchy middle-aged baseball fan sells his soul to the devil to help his home team beat the New York Yankees for the pennant. When he misses his loving wife and prior life, the devil, known here as Mr. Applegate recruits one of his top temptresses, the bewitching Lola to keep him in line. With a book by George Abbott, and a score by The Pajama Game team of Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, Damn Yankees features such favorite showtunes as "Whatever Lola Wants" and "You Gotta Have Heart". Runs Apr. 22- May 15, 1999. For season ticket or other information contact the CLO box-office at (206) 363-2809,
-- By David-Edward Hughes