PASADENA, CA -- Play On!, Visiting Mr. Green and Light Up the Sky are the three shows which will be seen at the Pasadena Playhouse in the summer and fall of 1999.
Play On!, which opens July 9, 1999, was conceived a couple of years ago by Sheldon Epps, who became artistic director of the Playhouse in 1997. With a book by Cheryl L. West (freely riffing on Shakespeare) and music by Duke Ellington, the musical began at San Diego's Old Globe and has since played in Chicago and Seattle, as well as on Broadway. Set in 1940s Harlem, the show features such Ellington classics as "Take the A Train," "Mood Indigo" and "Drop Me Off in Harlem."
Jazz musician and composer Edward Kennedy Ellington, named Duke by his family and friends, would have celebrated his 100th birthday in 1999.
Kevin Ramsey (The Life) and Natalie Venetia Belcon star. Belcon, reprising the role she played in Seattle and Chicago, stars as Vy/Vy-Man. Ramsey, Outer Critics Circle nominated for his role as in The Life, also appeared on Broadway in Five Guys Named Moe, Oh Kay! and Black and Blue, garnering a Theatre World Award and the Fred Astaire Award for Best Performer on Broadway. Ramsey plays Jester.
Play On also stars Richard Allen as Rev, Clinton Derricks-Carroll as Sweets, Yvette Cason as Miss Mary, Shirley Caludia Charles as CC, Nikki Crawford as Lady Liv and Raun Ruffin (The Civil War) as the Duke. Shirley Claudia Charles, Melissa Haizlip, Dexter Jones, Ron Christopher Jones, Tyrha M. Lindsey, Sara Beth Lane, Alysa Lobo, Mario Mosley, Dewain Michell and Sam "Red" Savage fill out the cast. The original Broadway choreographer, who also handled the Seattle Repertory, Goodman, and Old Globe Theatre productions, Mercedes Ellington, choreographs the Pasadena production. Ellington is the granddaughter of Duke.
Designing Play On! are James Leonard Joy (sets), Michael Gilliam (lighting), Marianna Elliott (costumes), Philip G. Allen (sound) and Judi Lewin (hair, wigs and make-up).
Visiting Mr. Green is a West Coast premiere and will open Sept. 10. Jeff Baron's play was a hit in New York. It deals with a retired widower who is almost run over by a car driven by a young executive at American Express. "What starts out as a comedy about two men who do not want to be in the same room together turns into a drama as the two discover old wounds and secrets long kept secret," said a company spokesperson.
Light Up the Sky is Moss Hart's classic backstage comedy. It will run Nov. 5-Dec. 19.
"In this, our last theatrical season of the century, I wanted to explore the many ways the diverse cultures of America have worked together, made music together, played together and loved together over the past hundred years. These productions celebrate that enduring legacy," said Epps.
The Pasadena Playhouse is located at 39 S. El Molino Ave. in Pasadena. Call (626) 356-7520 or visit www.pasadenaplayhouse.org.