La Jolla Reading of DiPietro and Bryan's Chasing the Song to Feature Emma Hunton, Debbie Gravitte, Nikki Renée Daniels and More

By Adam Hetrick
23 Jan 2013

Nikki Renee Daniels
Nikki Renee Daniels

Emma Hunton, Nikki Renée Daniels, Noah Weisberg and Tony Award winner Debbie Gravitte will be part of the La Jolla Playhouse's DNA New Work Series presentation of Chasing the Song, the new musical from Tony Award-winning Memphis writers Joe DiPietro and David Bryan.

Presented Jan. 25 and 26 in the Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre, Chasing the Song reunites Memphis director Christopher Ashley and choreographer Sergio Trujillo.

Hunton (Spring Awakening) portrays emerging songwriter Ginny Santini, in a cast that also features Daniels (Porgy and Bess) as Cheryl, Weisberg (South Pacific) as Jesse, Gravitte (Jerome Robbins' Broadway) as Edie, as well as Andrea Alhadeff as Kiki/ Back-Up Singer, Rick Faugno as Songwriter/Sonny/JJ/Little Sal, Jordan Firstman as Songwriter/Joey/Niles/Lou, Camden Gonzales as Doreen/Back-Up Singer, Adam LeFevre as Oliver, Jay Klaitz as Fatman Freddie, Amanda Naughton as Satin/Betty/Back-Up Singer, Cris O'Bryon as Songwriter/Manager, Charlie Reuter as Songwriter/Radio DJ, Brett Ryback as Songwriter/Benedict, Frank Vlastnik as Stan, Jonny Wexler as Frankie/Songwriter and Megan Yelaney as Francis Eden/Back-Up Singer.

The project has musical supervision and vocal arrangements by August Eriksmoen, scenic and costume design consulting by David Reynoso, lighting design by Alan Burrett, sound design/engineering by Chris Luessman and dramaturgy by Gabriel Greene.



DiPietro penned book and lyrics to Chasing the Song, which has music by Bryan. The two earned Tony Awards for handling those duties on Memphis. Tony-winning Memphis producers Junkyard Dog (Sue Frost, Randy Adams, Kenny and Marleen Alhadeff) are helping to develop the new rock musical.

Here's how it's billed: "In New York's legendary Brill Building, Elegant Edie's music publishing house is struggling along when talented novice songwriter Ginny bursts on the scene. She quickly learns the ropes from her seasoned colleagues, penning several hits and discovering herself in the process. Chasing the Song follows this group of pop songwriters and the changing sounds of the music charts in the early 1960s, prior to The Beatles emerging and changing the entire music world."

La Jolla's DNA New Work Series will also present The Tall Girls, a new drama by Meg Miroshnik, directed by Juliette Carrillo, running Jan. 24-Feb. 3. The cast features Martha Brigham, Vivia Font, Amy Greenspan, Joseph Patrick O'Malley, Allyssa Schmitt and Jeanne Syquia.

The creative team includes Divya Murthy Kumar, (scenic/props design consultant), Elisa Benzoni, (costume designer), Mike Lowe (lighting designer), Joe Huppert (sound designer) and Shirley Fishman (dramaturg).

Here's how it's billed: "In the dusty, desolate town of Poor Prairie, fifteen-and-a-half-year-old Jean has been exiled as caretaker for her wild-child cousin, Almeda. It's a grim, dangerous place to eke out an existence as a teenage girl—until a handsome man with a past arrives, a brand-new basketball in tow. As the town's girls come together to form a team set on making it out of Poor Prairie, a committee of townspeople threatens to stamp out girls' sports altogether."

Newly added to the reading series is Daphne's Dive by Pulitzer Prize winner Quiara Alegría Hudes, directed by Dana Harrel; The Who & the What by Ayad Akhtar, directed by Kimberly Senior; and The Boy at the Edge of Everything by Finegan Kruckemeyer, directed by Jonathan Shmidt.

As previously reported, La Jolla's DNA series will also offer Brahman, A One-Hijra Stand-Up Comedy Show by Aditi Brennan Kapil, directed by Jeremy Cohen; Being Henrietta by Monique Gaffney; Orange Julius by Basil Kreimendahl; and The Consultant by Heidi Schreck.

Additional casting and creative duties will be announced shortly.

Visit LaJollaPlayhouse.org.