The new stage adaptation of the classic tale kicks off the new season for the California company at the Mandell Weiss Theatre. The show began previews June 5 for a run through July 22.
Based on Prosper Mérimée's novella, the new work follows the classic story told from the perspective of a soldier who falls for a beautiful gypsy seductress. The staging includes "Flamenco and original contemporary music."
Janien Valentine and Ryan Silverman play the leads of, respectively, Carmen and José. Both La Jolla newcomers, Valentine has previously been seen in Notre Dame De Paris and the national tour of Starlight Express, while Canadian actor Silverman has played in Most Happy Fella (New York City Opera) and the national tours of Mamma Mia! and West Side Story.
The ensemble — many who have played on Broadway and in national tours — also features Neal Benari (Fiddler on the Roof, Aida), Genson Blimline (Mask – the Musical, tour of A Chorus Line), dancer Noemi Del Rio, Maria Eberline (Wicked tour), Tony Falcon (In the Heights, Kismet), Jacqui Graziano (Wicked, Beauty and the Beast), Shannon Lewis (Sweet Charity, Fosse), Jorge Maldonado (Four Guys Named Jose, Señor Discretion Himself), Michelle Marmolejo (who has danced in the national and Japanese tours of Swing! as well as the Broadway production of The Mambo Kings), Caesar Samayoa (The Voysey Inheritance, Smashing), Marcos Santana (The Wiz - La Jolla, Evita tour), Carlos Sierra-Lopez (Swing!), Shelley Thomas (Brooklyn the Musical), Rocio Ponce (Noche de Soniquete, Arte y Diversion - Santa Monica Playhouse), Victor Wallace (Les Misérables tour) and Natalia Zisa (Aida, tour of West Side Story).
John Ewbank penned the music with lyrics by AnnMarie Milazzo and a book by Sarah Miles. Doug Katsaros provides orchestrations. Milazzo handles vocal arrangements. Miles choreographs. Jeff Klitz serves as music director and arranger. Dramaturgy is by Jean-Claude Carriere. Joining Dragone — veteran of Cirque du Soleil as well as the Las Vegas productions of Celine Dion's "A New Day..." and Le Rêve — on his first musical theatre venture are designers Klara Zieglerova (scenic), Christopher Akerlind (lighting), Suzy Benzinger (costume) and François Bergeron (sound designer).
The production team also includes Phyllis Schray (production stage manager), Justin Mabardi (stage manager), Jenny Slattery (assistant stage manager), Terry Berliner (associate director) and Peter J. Davis (production manager).
The new season at La Jolla will continue with Theatre de la Jeune Lune's co production of The Deception (June 17-Aug. 19), Frank Galati's after the quake (July 24-Aug. 26), Elmer Rice's The Adding Machine (Sept. 11-Oct. 7), the Mark O'Donnell-Thomas Meehan-David Javerbaum-Adam Schlesinger musical Cry-Baby (Nov. 6-Dec. 16), Will Power's The Seven (Feb. 12-March 16, 2008) and a Page to Stage workshop production of the Mark Bennett-Jessica Hagedorn musical Most Wanted (Oct. 2-14).
Tickest for Carmen at the La Jolla Playhouse, on the corner of La Jolla Village Drive and Torrey Pines Road in La Jolla, CA, are available by calling (858) 550-1010. For more information on the company visit www.lajollaplayhouse.org.