Dek: New plays, new musicals, new adaptations coming in 2011
The Tony Award-winning La Jolla Playhouse has announced the first four shows of its ambitious 2011-2012 season, which include two world premieres, a fresh adaptation of a classic and the latest creation of Culture Clash. Plus two not-yet-announced new musicals. And the world premiere of a musicalized “Little Miss Sunshine,” opening in March.
Earlier this month, the management team was far-flung: artistic director Christopher Ashley was in Australia, casting the Aussie premiere of his Tony-nominated “Xanadu,” and managing director Michael Rosenberg was in New York, checking in on two Tony Award-winning Playhouse-birthed musicals running on Broadway: “Memphis” and “Jersey Boys.” In February, he reports, the Playhouse will top that with three shows onstage in Sydney: “Xanadu,” “Jersey Boys” and Des McAnuff’s revised version of “Zhivago.”
Meanwhile, the Playhouse has co-commissioned a new work with Theater Masters, a producing company in Aspen. “Milk Like Sugar” is by up-and-comer Kristen Greenidge, who’s already written commissions for several prestigious regional theaters. Her new work, a comedic drama ripped from the daily news, concerns a 16 year-old girl who enters into a pregnancy pact with two high school friends.
“What I love about this piece,” says Rosenberg, “is that it’s all about what we’re willing to do, or give up, to fulfill our dreams and desires.”
Celebrated American playwright Arthur Kopit (“Wings,” and the book for the musicals “Phantom” and “Nine”), a three-time Tony Award nominee, co-wrote “A Dram of Drumchhicit” (pronounced ‘drum-hicket’) with Anton Dudley. Their ‘supernatural farce’ is about a fictional island off the coast of Scotland (Drumchihicit), which an American entrepreneur has chosen as the site for a new golf course. But secrets, spirits and bodies are soon unearthed, thwarting his plans and revealing the true nature of the island. Christopher Ashley will direct.
“Chris is the perfect match for Kopit’s zany esthetic,” says Rosenberg. “This will be a real thrill ride of a production.”
In a co-production with Kansas City Repertory Theatre, a daring new version of Henrik Ibsen’s “Peer Gynt,” adapted and directed by David Schweizer, will feature five actors playing 40 characters. In the picaresque epic, the title character seeks fame and fortune, by charming (and swindling) his way through life.
Rosenberg promises that the production will be “brilliantly theatrical in its simplicity.”
Making a much-welcome return to the Playhouse is the wacky Chicano comic trio, Culture Clash, who performed “Zorro in Hell” (2006) and “The Mission” (1993) at LJP, and numerous productions at the San Diego Repertory Theatre. Their latest creation, a California premiere, is “American Night: The Ballad of Juan José,” which concerns a man, feverishly studying for his U.S. Citizenship exam, who gets whisked on a whirlwind journey through American history.
“It’s sharp, irreverent, and so funny,” says Rosenberg. “And it has a lot to say about immigration and what it means to be an American. All these plays are about what’s happening in the country today. They’re all smart and timely.”
Just wait till the musicals are added into the mix! Watch for info on the full schedule, right here at patch.com.