Like its NY counterpart, Encores! at City Center, L.A.'s Reprise! offers musical revivals in concert stagings and builds its shows around star performers -- such as Jason Alexander (Promises, Promises), Andrea Marcovicci (Finian's Rainbow in September) and Joel Grey. Each production in Reprise's 3-show season gets six performances.
Next up is Wonderful Town, the Leonard Bernstein, Fields & Chodorov and Comden & Green musical comedy, Nov. 19-23. The musical was to have starred Tyne Daly (Gypsy), but she bowed out due to a film commitment. (She's also gearing up for a December mounting of Paul Selig's Off-Broadway-bound Mystery School at CT's Long Wharf Theatre.)
Appearing in place of Tyne in Town is Lucie Arnaz, seen Off Broadway in Grace & Glorie and on Broadway in Seesaw and They're Playing Our Song. Also in the cast is Stephanie Zimbalist, best known for playing Laura in TV's "Remington Steele." Her stage credits include The Threepenny Opera at MA's Williamstown Theatre Fest and the national tour of My One And Only.
Also populating this Wonderful Town are Cliff Bemis, Tony Abatemarco, Randy Doney, Jennie Fahn, Daniel Guzman, Joe Joyce, Lynne Marta, Todd Nielsen, Andrew Rice, Andy Umberger, Deborah Bartlett, Melissa Fahn, Suzie Carr George, Tracy Miller, Timothy Smith and Peggy Trecker.
This 1953 Tony-winning show is based on Ruth McKenney's stories, which served as the basis for the Fields & Chodorov play, My Sister Eileen. (Nov. 19-23). Staged by Don Amendolia, Town features choreography by Kevin Carlisle and music direction by Peter Matz. Matz, an Emmy-winner for his work on two classic Barbara Streisand TV specials, began his career writing orchestrations, arrangements and dance music for Harold Arlen's House Of Flowers and Jamaica. Other Broadway efforts included arrangements on No Strings and Hallelujah, Baby!.
Said producing artistic director Marcia Seligson of "Reprise!: Broadway's Best In Concert," "I have had a passion for Broadway musicals my entire life, but many of the classics I have loved and wanted to experience again have not been revived...because of the huge expense involved. Following the lead of the very successful Encores! Series in New York, we are creating a theatre company in Los Angeles to bring these wonderful shows to life again. In Southern California, there is a vast pool of film and television actors with musical theatre backgrounds who would love to perform in these shows, but their schedules will not permit a long run or tour. Reprise! will fill the need for these performers."
"We are also committed to creating a new, young audience for musicals," Seligson said, "[and] for the future, we also intend to give a voice to new musical theatre writers and composers by showcasing new shows and works in progress."
Productions are "semi-staged," Seligson told Don Shirley of the L.A. Times, "not a nightclub act or a revue." At least some of the actors carry scripts, but they also move around the stage. They wear costumes, but have no costume changes. Dance numbers are choreographed, with some scenery, but the look is "simple and pared down."
For tickets ($35-$40) to Reprise! shows, held at the UCLA-Freud Playhouse, call (310) 825-2101.