Zampelli, Zemon, Pearson, Smith, McQuay Will See What I Wanna See at DC's Signature

News   Zampelli, Zemon, Pearson, Smith, McQuay Will See What I Wanna See at DC's Signature Casting has been announced for Signature Theatre's Washington, DC-area premiere of Michael John LaChiusa's musical in three chapters, See What I Wanna See, to play the Arlington company's ARK Theatre April 7-May 31.
See What I Wanna See stars Tom Zemon and Rachel Zampelli
See What I Wanna See stars Tom Zemon and Rachel Zampelli Photo by Scott Suchman

The "fascinating exploration of three stories of lust, greed, murder, faith, and redemption," with book, music and lyrics by five-time Tony Award nominee Michael John LaChiusa, will feature Rachel Zampelli as Kesa, The Wife, and An Actress; Tom Zemon as Morito, The Husband, and A CPA; Matt Pearson as The Thief and A Reporter; Bobby Smith as The Janitor and A Priest; and Channez McQuay as The Medium and Aunt Monica.

Opening is April 12. Helen Hayes Award winner Matthew Gardiner directs. Jon Kalbfleisch is musical director. Set design is by Adam Koch, costume design is by Kathleen Geldard, and lighting design is by Mark Lanks.

The show was named one of the Best Musicals of 2005 by New York Magazine and was nominated for nine Drama Desk Awards, including Best Musical. A Public Theater cast recording preserves the score.

Signature will also produce the world premiere of LaChiusa's Giant, based on the Edna Ferber book, in the MAX Theatre April 28-May 31.

Based on short works by the Japanese writer Ryunosuke Akutagawa, the three-part See What I Wanna See "unfolds like a Japanese screen painting," according to Signature. In the central story, R Shomon LaChiusa "investigates a 1951 New York crime of passion and the witnesses' contradicting versions of the event." In Kesa and Morito, set in medieval Japan, "two lovers sing of the ecstasy and torment of their affair and their individual determinations that it must end that night." The third section, Gloryday, "set in present day New York, introduces a priest during a crisis of faith after a terrible tragedy strikes the city. In his disillusionment and anger, he plays a practical joke which ultimately brings other people to faith." See What I Wanna See asks the question, "What is truth?" Accordng to Signature, "a kaleidoscope of answers keeps appearing."

The production includes mature themes and explicit sexual content and is not recommended for children.

LaChiusa is the first recipient of Signature's American Musical Voices Project to present a new work on Signature's stage — this season's Giant. Signature produced the world premiere of his work The Highest Yellow in 2004 and performed First Lady Suite in 1995. He came to national attention by winning Off-Broadway's 1993 Obie Award for his musicals First Lady Suite and Hello, Again. Six years later LaChiusa was represented on Broadway during the 1999-2000 season by two more musicals, The Wild Party and Marie Christine, which together received 12 Tony Award nominations for the season — garnering LaChiusa two nominations for each production: Best Score and Best Book (along with George C. Wolfe on The Wild Party). He received his first Tony Award nomination for Best Book (co-written with Graciela Daniele and Jim Lewis) for Chronicle of Death Foretold, produced on Broadway by Lincoln Center Theater Company in 1996.

LaChuisa's works also include Send (who are you? I love you), written for Audra McDonald and commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera; Tres Ninas (written with Ellen Fitzhugh); Bernarda Alba (Lincoln Center Theater); Lovers and Friends: Chautauqua Variations (Lyric Opera of Chicago); Little Fish (Second Stage); and Break/Agnes/Eulogy for Mister Hamm (Playwrights Horizons). He is a recipient of the Gilman-Gonzalez-Falla Musical Theatre Award.

Tickets for See What I Wanna See, ranging in price from $49-$77, are available by calling Ticketmaster at (703) 573-SEAT (7328) or visiting www.signature-theatre.org.

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