Mara Davi & Alysha Umphress-Led BEACHES Opens at Signature Theatre Tonight
Virginia's Signature Theatre presents the world premiere musical Beaches, opening tonight, March 4, 2014, and playing through March 30. Adapted from the beloved 1985 novel by Iris Rainer Dart, Beaches is directed by Signature Theatre's Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer (Broadway's Follies, Million Dollar Quartet). This heartfelt chronicle of a decades-long friendship between two unforgettable women stars Mara Davi (Broadway's A Chorus Line and The Drowsy Chaperone) as Bertie and Alysha Umphress (Broadway's American Idiot and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever) as Cee Cee Bloom.
Based on the 1985 novel by Iris Rainer Dart (later adapted into the 1988 movie with Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey) this newly adapted world premiere musical is by a creative team that includes Ms. Dart (book & lyrics) Thom Thomas (book) and David Austin (music).
Beaches follows two extraordinary friends through 30 years of camaraderie, laughter and sorrow. Vivacious, outlandish Cee Cee and beautiful, privileged Bertie meet as children and become fast friends. From pen-pals to roommates to romantic rivals, Cee Cee and Bertie's oil-and-water friendship perseveres through even the most tragic trials. With a touching vulnerability, Beaches exemplifies the triumph of the human spirit and the bonds of sisterhood.
"Beaches marks our third world premiere production this season. We've assembled an amazing cast along with a terrific creative team to bring this special story to life," stated Eric Schaeffer. "Iris, Thom and David have created a magical world of memories and friendship in this heartfelt story for the stage in a very original way."
The creative team includes choreography by Tony nominee Dan Knechtges (Broadway's Xanadu, Sondheim on Sondheim, 110 in the Shade); Musical Supervisor Mary-Mitchell Campbell (Broadway's Big Fish, The Addams Family, Company); orchestrations by Lynne Shankel (Alter Boyz, Radio City Christmas Spectacular); Scenic Design by Tony Award winner Derek McLane (Broadway's Breakfast at Tiffany's, Follies); Costume Design by Frank Labovitz; Lighting Design by Chris Lee; Sound Design by Lane Elms; Production Stage Manager Kerry Epstein; and Assistant Stage Manager Stephanie Junkin. Casting by Telsey + Company.
Davi and Umphress are joined in the cast by Cliff Samuels (Michael Barron; Broadway's Follies) and Matthew Scott (John Perry; Broadway's Sondheim on Sondheim, Jersey Boys) along with Donna Migliaccio (Leona Bloom; Broadway's Ragtime, National Tour, Guys & Dolls, Signature's Gypsy, Assassins, Sweeney Todd), Helen Hedman (Rose White; Signature's My Fair Lady, Show Boat, Shakespeare Theatre, Arena Stage), Brooklyn Shuck (Young Bertie; Broadway's Annie), Presley Ryan (Young Cee Cee; NBC's The Sound of Music, Broadway Youth Ensemble, TV's Celebrity Ghost Story), Maya Brettell (Teen Bertie; Woolly Mammoth's Appropriate, Studio Theatre's The Big Meal), Gracie Jones (Teen Cee Cee, Olney Theatre Center's Spring Awakening, Cinderella), Svea Johnson (Nina), Michael Bunce (Arthur/Melman/ensemble; National Tours of Victor, Victoria, The Scarlet Pimpernel), Bayla Whitten (nurse/ensemble; Signature's Chess, Merrily We Roll Along), Jamie Eacker (ensemble; Signature's Company, Xanadu), Heather Brorsen (ensemble; Broadway's Avenue Q), Davis Hasty (ensemble), Dan Manning (ensemble; Broadway's Ragtime, Signature's Gypsy), Ryah Nixon (ensemble; National Tour of 9 to 5: The Musical) and Robbie Roby (ensemble; Broadway's Billy Elliot, Hairspray).
Recipient of the 2009 Regional Theatre Tony Award, Signature Theatre is a non-profit professional theater company in Arlington, Virginia dedicated to producing contemporary musicals and plays, reinventing classic musicals, and developing new work. Under the leadership of co-founder and Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer and Managing Director Maggie Boland, Signature has presented 43 world premiere productions and is renowned for combining Broadway-quality productions with intimate playing spaces. In addition to hosting the finest talent from the DC metropolitan area and New York, Signature has been home to such theatre luminaries as Chita Rivera, George Hearn, Hunter Foster, Emily Skinner, Ann Reinking, Marc Kudisch, Judy Kuhn, John Kander and Fred Ebb, Cameron Mackintosh, Terrence McNally, and the company's signature composer, Stephen Sondheim. Since its' founding in 1989, Signature has won 82 Helen Hayes Awards for excellence in the Washington, DC region's professional theater and has been honored with 320 nominations.