The California company — which is still to unveil this season's The Wiz, Zorro in Hell and a Page to Stage workshop of Aaron Sorkin's The Farnsworth Invention — has announced three of the six planned productions for its new year.
The Carmen Project( the title of which is subject to change) is the first musical theatre venture from director Franco Dragone — a veteran of Cirque du Soleil as well as the Las Vegas productions of Celine Dion's "A New Day..." and Le Rêve. Based on Prosper Mérimée's 1845 novella "Carmen," the new work will follow the classic story told from the perspective of the soldier who falls for the beautiful gypsy seductress.
The creative team includes bookwriter and choreographer Sarah Miles (Victor/ Victoria, Company), lyricist AnnMarie Milazzo (Bright Lights, Big City and Spring Awakening) and original music by John Ewbank. Also onboard are set designer Klara Zieglerova, music supervisor Daryl Waters and orchestrator Roque Banos.
"I look forward to presenting Carmen in a way no one has ever seen before," said Dragone of the new work. "The audience will need to let go of any preconceived notions they may have! I'm thrilled to tackle this project, and La Jolla Playhouse is a great venue for me to share yet another facet of my directorial style."
Next up will be Will Power’s The Seven, a hip-hop adaptation of Aeschylus' Seven Against Thebes. Jo Bonney (A Soldier's Play, Fat Pig) directs the large-scale Power-penned tale which follows the struggles of Eteocles and Polynices, the two sons of the cursed King Oedipus, as they fight for the throne of Thebes. Bill T. Jones (Spring Awakening) provides choreography for the work seen earlier this year Off-Broadway at the New York Theatre Workshop. Finally — to be produced as part of the Page to Stage New Play Development Program — bookwriter-lyricist Steven Sater and composer Duncan Sheik's musical The Nightingale will be workshopped at La Jolla. Struck by the inspiration while penning their Broadway-bound Spring Awakening musical, the duo also teamed on this magical tale which follows "the Young Emperor of Ancient China [who] learns of an ordinary nightingale whose song brings hope to the lives of the common people living outside the walls of the Forbidden City" and ventures out of his court to see "the wonders of his realm with the nightingale and her protector, a young servant girl."
The work was commissioned from producer Martin McCallum and workshopped at the Eugene O’Neill Musical Theatre Conference in 2003. McAnuff and La Jolla became involved and a second workshop was held in New York City in December 2005. "Our Page To Stage program will give Steven and Duncan the time and artistic resources to fully develop this wondrous story about the power of art," McAnuff commented. "I couldn't be more pleased to have these exciting collaborators creating their newest work at the Playhouse."
The Page To Stage programs have proven successful for the company; Billy Crystal's 700 Sundays earned the 2005 Special Theatrical Event Tony and Doug Wright's I Am My Own Wife — the inaugural Page to Stage work — garnered a Tony Award for Best Play and the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The program, which offers a safe haven for development as the works "are not open to review by a critical audience," has also produced the musical Zhivago, Steven Cosson and Michael Friedman's Paris Commune, Sarah Schulman's The Burning Deck and Leigh Fondakowski's I Think I Like Girls.
Three more works featured in the season are yet to be announced.
Subscriptions for the 2007 season at La Jolla Playhouse, on the corner of La Jolla Village Drive and Torrey Pines Road in La Jolla, CA are currently on sale by calling (858) 550-1010. For more information on the company, visit www.lajollaplayhouse.com.