UPDATE WEST COAST 2/5/96
MIDWEST MERRIER ON THE COAST: Midwestern actress Helen Merrier will star in the world premiere engagement of Lady Lucinda's Scrapbook (America at a Crossroads) by HC Meier, a one-woman show with music about the 19th century British actress Lady Lucinda Bennet, who frequently toured and gained great popularity in the United States. Set to open in late February at the New Conservatory Theatre, the show features songs by Stephen Foster, a close friend and confidante of the Lady.
Helen Merrier, a Chicago-based actress profiled in the publications "Who's Who in America" and "Who's Who in Entertainment," starred in San Francisco productions of The Man Who Married a Dumb Wife and the operatic Oedipus Rex. She has had an extensive career working in Chicago theatres, receiving a Joseph Jefferson Award for her performance in the Court Theatre production of The Devils. She also works frequently in established Midwestern houses such as the Guthrie and Cleveland Playhouse, and south of the border as a regular on Mexican TV's Telenovellas.
It seems perfect that an actress with Merrier's broad and expansive resume portray Lady Bennet, who in the play is entertaining artists, theatre historians, and publishers in her sitting room, with stories of her career form 1851-99. Lady Lucinda Scrapbook (America at a Crossroads), opens at the New Conservatory Theatre on Feb. 22, and runs through Mar. 31. For tickets and more info, phone (415) 861-8972 .
ALSO NEW AT THE NEW CONSERVATORY: The New Conservatory Theatre is in the midst of it's first PRIDE SEASON, honoring gay/lesbian playwrights and/or subject matter. After the current run of 2 Boys In a Bed On a Cold Winter's Night (through Feb. 17), comes the World Premiere of Jack Heifner's Heartbreak. Heifner, best known for his play Vanities, bases his new work on the situation created by a writer who exploits his best friends and lover in a posthumous bestseller. The victims set the record straight by meeting with each other and convincing the audience.
Heartbreak runs (Feb. 29-Mar. 31). For tickets and more information (415) 861-8972.
LOS ANGELES "TWILIGHT" AT BERKELEY: Obie Award-winning writer/actress Anna Deveare Smith is currently performing her one-woman show Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992, a portrayal of different characters' reflections of the Rodney King episode in Los Angeles, at the Marines Memorial Theatre, presented by Berkeley Repertory Theatre.
Twilight is part of Smith's ongoing series On the Road: A Search for American Character. It is based on real life interviews Smith conducted with over 40 individuals in the post King Trial era. The multimedia event includes music by jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman and some video footage from the event.
The show premiered at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, and moved to Off-Broadway, where it won an Obie, and then to Broadway where it received several awards, including two Tony Award nominations. It has been revised and updated for this production at San Francisco's Marines Memorial Theatre, through March 17. For tickets and more info, phone (510) 845-4700.
CIRCUS GETS 'GIG': Sacramento Light Opera Association announced it's '96 Music Circus summer theatre season, so called because of the circus-like tent which houses the stage.
The seven show season includes the world premiere of The Gig, a Douglas J. Cohen Musical based on the 1986 movie of the same name, about six amateur musicians who get their big break (July 15-21).
The remaining revivals are The Unsinkable Molly Brown (July 8-14), Kiss Me, Kate (July 22-28), The Sound of Music (July 29-Aug 4), Kismet (Aug 5-11), Fiddler on the Roof (Aug. 12-18), and Jesus Christ Superstar (Aug. 19-25).
Season tickets are available now, at the Music Circus Box office on 1419 H Street in Sacramento, or by calling (916) 557-1999.
SOUTH COAST REP: A world premiere, a playwriting contest and an educational touring production are among the new happenings at Coast Mesa's South Coast Repertory (SCR).
SCR plans to close its Second Stage Season with the world premiere collection of some new and old pieces by Christopher Durang; A Mess of Plays By Chris Durang, running April 28-May 28.
The multimedia revue includes short plays, sketches, music, and video interviews with the playwright, who has collaborated on the collection with its director, SCR Associate Artist David Chambers.
ATTN. ALL HISPANIC PLAYWRIGHTS! The search for scripts is on. SCR is collecting scripts for it's 11th Annual Hispanic Playwrights Project (HPP), which chooses three plays by Latino writers to be developed for two weeks in July, culminating in professionally staged readings in August. The winning playwrights not only receive this dreamlike work experience at the full expense of SCR, but also receive an honorarium, as well as the great career boost HPP has provided for former contestants.
Only non-musicals written mostly in English will be considered. It is preferred that the scripts have no production history. To enter HPP, mail a biography of the writer, script and synopsis to Jose Cruz Gonzalez, HPP Director, South Coast Repertory, P.O Box 2197, Costa Mesa, CA 92628-2197. For more information call (714) 957-2602, ext. 215.
HEALTHY PLAY: SCR's 28th annual Educational Touring Production , the new and nutritional musical The Fitness Game!, is currently playing at elementary and middle schools throughout Southern California, through May 31.
The Fitness Game! by Jerry Patch and Michael Bigelow Dixon, with music and lyrics by Michael Silversher, has been revised since it's original SCR hit tour in 1982. Director John-David Keller noted that TV and computers were drawing youngsters into the "couch potato" mentality, and The Fitness Game! offers a solution to the lethargy induced by today's technological toys.
The play follows Wally "The Lump" Crump as he competes on a zany TV game show, where he must perform physical exercises with the assistance of characters such as Hip Joint, Heart and Lungs, and Magic McMuscle. He is challenged by Carloada Calories, Exhaustion, and Count de Lack-o-Motivation. As Wally discovers the benefits of nutrition and exercise, he becomes less concerned with winning and more interested in feeling good.
Two public performances of The Fitness Game! will run during the Imagination Celebration at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, April 30 at 4 & 6 PM. For more information, please contact the SCR Education Office at (714) 957-2602, ext. 210.
"TAPESTRY" REWOVEN: Get your tickets now for the relocation of International City Theatre's (ICT) recent hit production of Carole King's Tapestry.
The show originally played at ICT's 99-seat house this summer for six weeks, to rave reviews and sold out houses. It re-opens at Long Beach Center Theatre in March for six performances only.
ICT Artistic Director Shashin Desai expressed delight that the theatre will take the original set, costumes, and cast, which received a Drama-Logue Award for Ensemble Performance. Ticket prices will remain in the same low range of $16-22, with discounts for students and people who purchase tickets directly from the Center Theatre Box Office.
Tapestry runs Mar 1-3 and 8-10. For tickets and more information, call Center Theatre Box Office (310) 436-3661, or Ticketmaster at (310) 480-3232 0r (714) 740-2000.
REP ROUND-UP: Seattle Repertory Theatre theatregoers can quit waiting for Waiting for Godot, the current mainstage production starring Broadway's favorite clown, Bill Irwin, and Tony Award-winner Stephen Spinella (through March 2). But the existential dilemma of anxiety persists, as patrons eagerly await the production directly following; "Psychopathia Sexualis," a world premiere by Moonstruck author, John Patrick Shanley.
VILLAGE PREMIERES NEW MUSICALS: Three (count 'em, three) new musicals will be staged this season at Issaquah's Village Theatre, which presents itself as a leader in becoming one of the nation's most supportive theatres for producing and nurturing new musicals.
Kicking off the trio, Bootlegger, with book, music and lyrics by Bruce Monroe, is set in 1920's Seattle, where a society gent moonlights as a bootlegger (Feb. 15-Mar. 3).
Following is the world premiere of The January Book, with book, music and lyrics by Scott Warrender, about an innkeeper who uses the uncanny stories of previous guests to fulfill his unrealized dream of becoming a writer (Mar. 28-Apr. 14).
Finally, the new up and coming musical Ruthless! with book and lyrics by Joel Pailey and music by Marvin Laird, was originally staged in New York at the National Alliance for Musical Theatre conference and has been popping up in regional theatres around the US. The farcical musical about a highly competitive grammar school actress is being revised and improved for the Village Theatre production (May 30-June 16).
And while you're waiting, in case you missed Patrick Stewart's Prospero, or didn't see the San Francisco version currently starring David Strathairin at American Conservatory Theatre, catch the The Tempest at Village Theatre (through March 10).
For tickets and more info about the Village Theatre, call (206) 392-2202.