See Who Landed Coveted Leads in "Frozen" Songwriters' New Musical, Up Here

News   See Who Landed Coveted Leads in "Frozen" Songwriters' New Musical, Up Here Betsy Wolfe (Broadway’s Bullets over Broadway, The Mystery of Edwin Drood) and Matt Bittner (Public Theater’s Much Ado About Nothing) will topline Up Here, the new musical by the songwriters of Disney's blockbuster "Frozen," having its world premiere production at La Jolla Playhouse this summer.

Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez
Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

The musical takes place inside the head of the main character, a computer repairman (Bittner) with a vivid imagination.

Robert Lopez (The Book of Mormon, Avenue Q) and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, who wrote the Academy Award-winning song "Let It Go" from the movie "Frozen," collaborated on the book, music and lyrics of Up Here, which will receive its world premiere at La Jolla, directed by Tony Award nominee Alex Timbers (Peter and the Starcatcher, Rocky).

The just-announced rest of the creative team includes Joshua Bergasse, choreographer; Aron Accurso, music director; Dave Metzger, orchestrator; David Korins, scenic designer; Ann Closs-Farley, costume designer; David J. Weiner, lighting designer; Peter Hylenski, sound designer; Dan Scully, projection designer; Michelle Zamora, puppet designer; Gabriel Greene, dramaturg; Carrie Gardner, casting; and Matthew DiCarlo, production stage manager.

Featured cast includes Andrew Call, Giovanni Cozic, Jeff Hiller, Gizel Jimenez, Zonya Love, Sarah Meahl, Eric Petersen, Devin Ratray, Devere Rogers, Charles South and Nick Verina. The ensemble consists of local actors Kikau Alvaro, Hanz Enyeart, Jacob Haren, April Jo Henry, Tamara Rodriguez and Graham Stevens, plus UC San Diego M.F.A. students N’Jameh Camara, Zakiyah Markland and Lorena Martinez.

The show is currently scheduled to run July 28–Sept. 6 in the Mandell Weiss Theatre. Here's how the production is billed: "In Up Here, when introverted 30-something computer repairman Dan finds a potential spark with outgoing t-shirt designer Lindsay, his attempts at a relationship are thwarted by the Technicolor world in his head. This world-premiere musical goes where no musical has gone before, bringing to life the circus of judgmental, neurotic, ever-changing characters that rule an ordinary man's mind. Up Here is an ambitious, razor-sharp musical comedy about recognizing your place in the universe — and maybe even finding happiness."

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Strong demand for tickets has prompted La Jolla Playhouse to extend the runs of its first two productions of its 2015-16 season: the world premieres of Come from Away and Up Here.

The California-based theatre's season, which offers entirely new works, will also include the Without Walls (WoW) Festival, featuring Healing Wars, conceived, directed and choreographed by Liz Lerman.

 

"Extending our first two productions to accommodate more subscribers truly demonstrates our audiences’ passion for new work," artistic director Christopher Ashley said in a statement. "It is tremendously gratifying to see this overwhelming response to our entire 2015-16 season – a season comprised of all new plays and musicals that embody the Playhouse's adventurous spirit, reaffirming the Playhouse’s position as the place to see what’s new and next in American Theatre."

The world-premiere production of the musical Come from Away, featuring book, music and lyrics by husband-and-wife team Irene Sankoff and David Hein, will be directed by Ashley. The musical is "based on the true story of when the isolated town of Gander, Newfoundland played host to the world. What started as an average day in a small town turned in to an international sleep-over when 38 planes, carrying thousands of people from across the globe, were diverted to Gander on September 11, 2001. Undaunted by culture clashes and language barriers, the people of Gander cheered the stranded travelers with music, an open bar and the recognition that we're all part of a global family." The production will run May 29–July 5 in the Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre.

Tony Award winner Phylicia Rashad (A Raisin in the Sun, Gem of the Ocean) will direct Blueprints to Freedom: An Ode to Bayard Rustin, by Michael Benjamin Washington (Memphis, The Wiz). The play had its first workshop during the Playhouse's 2014 DNA New Work Series. It will run Sept. 8–Oct. 4.

"In the sweltering political and racial heat of 1963, Bayard Rustin, a brilliant architect of the Civil Rights Movement and an openly gay man, is enlistedto orchestrate an unprecedented March on Washington by colleagues that recently exiled him," press notes state. "With the stakes growing ever higher, Rustin finds himself at a personal crossroads, just as the nation is at cultural and political one. Blueprints to Freedom: An Ode to Bayard Rustin presents a complex and dynamic portrait of a man at the turning point of professional and spiritual redemption."

Healing Wars "is a multisensory experience that blends dance, storytelling and multimedia in an exploration of how soldiers and healers cope with the physical and psychological wounds of war. Incorporating narratives from the American Civil War as well a remarkable performance from a young Navy veteran, this powerful piece asks how we as a nation recover from what seems like endless battles." The show will run Sept. 29–Oct. 25 and will be centrepiece of the Playhouse’s second Without Walls Festival (Oct. 9–11). Healing Wars marks the first WoW production to be part of the Playhouse's subscription series.

Director Rebecca Taichman (Sleeping Beauty Wakes, Milk Like Sugar) and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel (How I Learned to Drive) collaborated on the world premiere of Indecent, co-produced with Yale Repertory Theatre which will run Nov. 13–Dec. 10. The play with music is "inspired by the true events surrounding the controversial 1922 Broadway debut of Sholem Asch's God of Vengeance, a work considered by many to be a seminal work of Jewish culture – and by others, a work of traitorous libel. Alive with popular songs of the era, this deeply-moving piece charts the history of an incendiary work, the artists who risked their careers and lives to perform it, and the evolving identity of the culturally-rich community that inspired its creation."

Pulitzer finalist Rajiv Joseph's play Guards at the Taj will run Feb. 2-28, 2016. Here's how the play is billed: "At morning's first light, a new edifice representing the soaring power of the empire will be unveiled, the glorious Taj Mahal. But for the two hapless guards assigned to protect the palace, morning will set the wheels in motion for a ghoulishly funny existential crisis that will shake their faith in God, the empire and each other. Guards at the Taj is a black comedy about two average men swept up by the beauty, carnage and injustice surrounding of one of the most famous wonders of the world." The production will mark associate artistic director Jaime Castañeda's directorial debut at the Playhouse.

La Jolla Playhouse is located at 2910 La Jolla Village Drive La Jolla, CA. Visit LaJollaPlayhouse.org for more information.

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