Broadway Talent Will Brighten Theatre Aspen Season of Spelling Bee and Chapter Two

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28 May 2009

Theatre Aspen, the professional theatre and school in the Rocky Mountain town of Aspen, will welcome Broadway's Joan Hess, James Ludwig, Jamison Stern, Beth Malone and Sally Mae Dunn to new heights — literally — for its 2009 summer season.

Artistic director Paige Price announced the casting of the 26th season, to begin June 25.

The season, playing in repertory at the Alex Kaufman Theatre in Rio Grande Park, opens with the regional premiere of William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin's The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (starting June 25), followed by the musical A Year with Frog and Toad (July 10) and Neil Simon's Chapter Two (July 16).

The Theatre Aspen "Sunday Series" will offer the New York International Fringe Festival solo show Jesus in Montana: A Doomsday Cult by Barry Smith; a storytelling evening called "What's Your Story?"; Beth Malone's solo cabaret; and a youth cabaret called Aspen's Got Talent.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (music and lyrics by William Finn and book by Rachel Sheinkin) will be directed and choreographed by Mark Martino. The Tony Award- winning musical (Best Book, Best Featured Actor) stars Broadway actors Joan Hess (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Kiss Me Kate, Crazy For You) as Rona, Jamison Stern (By Jeeves, Little Shop of Horrors) as Panch, Jody Reynard (Legally Blonde, Taboo, Saturday Night Fever), Robin Lee Gallo (Spelling Bee) as Marcy and Beth Malone (Ring of Fire, Marvelous Wonderettes) as Schwarzy. Rounding out the cast is Jonathan Kay (Barfee), Jeff Leatherwood (Leaf), Jordan Nichols (Chip) and introducing Alison Luff as Olive. Musical director is Bob Finnie.



Emmy Award-winning director Jay Sandrich ("Mary Tyler Moore Show," "Cosby," "Soap") directs Simon's semi-autobiographical comedy Chapter Two, which stars Hess and Stern along with Sally Mae Dunn (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Follies, Will Rogers Follies, Beauty and the Beast) and James Ludwig (Spamalot, Little Shop) as George.

A Year With Frog and Toad (Tony Award nominee for Best Musical, Best Book and Best Original Score), directed by Lynn Aliya, will be presented as a "Theatre Aspen Family Show." It will feature Jeff Leatherwood, Alison Luff, Monica Montany and Denver's Jeremy Sortore and Scott Rathbun as Frog and Toad, respectively. Sortore and Rathbun reprise their performances from the 2008 Arvada Center production. Musical director is David Dyer.

The season's designers are Tom Ward (sets), Marie Davis-Green and Shon LeBlanc (costumes), Charles MacLeod (lighting) and David Thomas (sound). Stage manager is Vernon Willet.

Tickets are available from the Wheeler box office at (970) 920-5770 or through aspenshowtickets.com.

For more information, visit www.theatreaspen.org or call the theatre at (970) 925-9313.

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Theatre Aspen's mission is to "entertain, enlighten, enrich, educate and challenge the residents and visitors of the Roaring Fork Valley through professional quality theatrical productions, new play development initiatives and a broad spectrum of education programs."