The Nightingale, Sater & Sheik's New Musical, Sings in CA; Bobby Steggert Among Stars
By Kenneth Jones
Tony Award nominees Bobby Steggert and Charlayne Woodard, plus Broadway's Corbin Reid, Aaron Serotsky, Eisa Davis, Jonathan Hammond and more populate a California developmental production of The Nightingale, the new musical by Spring Awakening Tony Award winners Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik. Performances play July 10-Aug. 5.
Moisés Kaufman (Broadway's I Am My Own Wife, 33 Variations, Off-Broadway's The Laramie Project) directs the work, inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen story, in the Page to Stage program at LJP's Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre in La Jolla, CA. Choreography is by Tony nominee Dan Knechtges (Lysistrata Jones, Xanadu).
LJP bills it this way: "A compelling contemporary musical based on Hans Christian Andersen's classic tale, The Nightingale tells the story of a young emperor in ancient China, whose luxurious but constricted life inside the walls of the Forbidden City is upended by the song of an extraordinary bird that lives beyond his reach."
The show has music by Grammy and Tony Award-winning pop composer/musician Sheik and book and lyrics by Tony and Grammy Award winner Sater. Expect a "poetic pop sensibility."
The cast includes Nikki Castillo (How the Grinch Stole Christmas!) as Nightingale; Obie Award winner Eisa Davis (Passing Strange, Angela's Mixtape) as Fisherwoman; Matthew Patrick Davis (LJP's Limelight, A Midsummer Night's Dream) as Lieutenant Eunuch; Kimiko Glenn (Spring Awakening national tour) as Princess Ssu-Ming; Steve Gunderson (LJP's Memphis) as Chief Eunuch; Jonathan Hammond (Broadway's Ragtime) as the Emperor; Corbin Reid (Broadway's Sister Act, American Idiot) as Feiyan; Aaron Serotsky (Off-Broadway's The Blue Flower, Broadway's August: Osage County) as Minister of State; Bobby Steggert (Broadway revival of 110 in the Shade, Ragtime) as Young Emperor; Tony Award nominee and Playhouse Gala honoree Charlayne Woodard (The Night Watcher, A Midsummer Night's Dream) as Empress Dowager; as well as ensemble members Chelsea Diggs-Smith (Lamb's Players Theatre's Guys and Dolls) and UCSD M.F.A. student Zach Martens (LJP's The Car Plays: San Diego).
The production team includes Lon Hoyt (music director); Derek McLane (scenic designer); Susan Hilferty (costume designer); David Lander (lighting designer); Cricket S. Myers (sound designer); Chris Green (puppet designer); Gabriel Greene (dramaturg).
After each Page to Stage performance, audience feedback sessions provide insights for both the creative team and the actors. The shows in this developmental play program are not open for theatre critics. Previous Page to Stage productions include Peter and the Starcatcher, which transferred to Broadway earlier this year and won five Tony Awards, as well as John Leguizamo's Diary of a Madman, The Night Watcher, The Farnsworth Invention, Zhivago, the Tony Award-winning Billy Crystal's 700 Sundays and I Am My Own Wife, which went on to receive the Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Sater won Tony Awards for Best Book and Best Score for Spring Awakening, sharing the Score award with composer Sheik. The show also won the Best Musical Tony.
For more information, visit LaJollaPlayhouse.org.
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