Laguna Playhouse to Present Leslie Caron & David Engel in SIX DANCE LESSONS IN SIX WEEKS, 4/26-6/8
The Laguna Playhouse Executive and Artistic Directors, Karen Wood and Ann E. Wareham are thrilled to present screen legend Leslie Caron, in her first Southern California theatrical performance in over 25 years! SIX DANCE LESSONS IN SIX WEEKS, written by Richard Alfieri, with choreography by Donna McKechnie (A Chorus Line) and directed by Michael Arabian (Waiting for Godot). SIX DANCE LESSONS IN SIX WEEKS will also feature 6-time Ovation Award-winning actor David Engel. "What an honor to have on our stage the incomparable Leslie Caron and the multi-talented David Engel," remarks Wood. "It's a dream cast and a dream come true. With Michael Arabian and Donna McKechnie directing and choreographing, this has to be one of the most anticipated productions in the Playhouse's storied history,'" adds Wareham. SIX DANCE LESSONS IN SIX WEEKS will begin previews on Saturday, April 26 and will open on Saturday, May 3 at 7:30pm and run through Sunday, June 8, 2014 at the Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road in Laguna Beach.
A touching and human comedy about a formidable retired woman, Lily Harrison, who hires an acerbic dance instructor, Michael Minetti, to give her private dance lessons -one per week for six weeks- in her gulf-front condo in St. Petersburg Beach, Florida.
What begins as an mercurial relationship blossoms into an intimate friendship as these two people from very different backgrounds reveal their secrets, fears, and joys while dancing the Swing, Tango, Waltz, Foxtrot, Cha-Cha, and Contemporary Dance. Michael and Lily learn to overcome their outward differences and discover an unlikely but profound connection. By the final lesson, Lily shares with Michael her most closely guarded secret and he shares with her his greatest gifts, his loyalty and compassion.
LESLIE CARON is a French film actress and dancer, who appeared in 45 films between 1951 and 2003. In 2006. her performance in "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" won her an Emmy for guest actress in a drama series. Her autobiography "Thank Heaven," was published in 2010 in the UK and US, and in 2011 in a French version.
Caron is best known for the musicals "An American in Paris" (1951), "Lili" (1953), "Daddy Long Legs" (1955), "Gigi" (1958), and for the non-musical films "Fanny" (1961), "The L-Shaped Room"(1962), and "Father Goose"(1964). She received two Academy Award nominations for Best Actress. She speaks French, English, and Italian. She is one of the few dancers or actresses who has danced with Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Mikhail Barishnikov and Rudolf Nureyev.
Caron started her career as a ballerina. Gene Kelly discovered her in Roland Petit Company "Ballet des Champs Elysées", and cast her to appear opposite him in the musical "An American in Paris" (1951), a role in which a pregnant Cyd Charisse was originally cast. This led to a long-term MGM contract and a sequence of films, which included the musical "The Glass Slipper" (1955) and the drama "Man With A Cloak" (1956), with Joseph Cotten and Barbara Stanwyck. Still, she has said of herself: "Unfortunately, Hollywood considers musical dancers as hoofers. Regrettable expression."
In 1953, Caron was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her starring role in "Lili".
For her performance in the British drama "The L-Shaped Room"(1962) she won the BAFTA and Golden Globe awards, and was nominated for the Best Actress Oscar. In the 1960s and thereafter, Caron worked in European films as well. Her later film assignments included "Father Goose" (1964), with Cary Grant: Ken Russell's "Valentino" (1977), in the role of silent-screen legend Alla Nazimova; and Louis Malle's "Damage" (1992). She has continued to act, appearing in the film "Chocolat" (2000). She is one of the few actors from the classic era of MGM musicals who is still active in film-a group that includes Mickey Rooney, Debbie Reynolds, Dean Stockwell, Rita Moreno, Margaret O'Brien and June Stockwell. Her other recent credits include "Funny Bones" (1995) with Jerry Lewis and Oliver Platt, "The Last of the Blonde Bombshells" (2000) with Judi Dench and Cleo Laine, and "Le Divorce" (2003), directed by James Ivory, with Kate Hudson and Naomi Watts.
On June 30, 2003, Caron traveled to San Francisco to appear as the special guest star in The Songs of Alan Jay Lerner: I Remember it Well, a retrospective concert staged by San Francisco's 42nd Street Moon Company. On April 27, 2009, Caron traveled to New York as an honored guest at a tribute to Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe at the Paley Center for Media.
On December 8, 2009, Caron received the 2,394th Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In February 2010, she played Madame Armfeldt in A Little Night Music in Paris, which also featured Greta Schaachi and Lambert Wilson.
DAVID ENGEL is a Six-time LA Stage Alliance Ovation Award winner. Broadway: Putting It Together, Seussical: The Musical, La Cage Aux Folles. Original productions of Forever Plaid, Plaid Tidings and in "Forever Plaid: The Movie." Other stage credits include Boeing-Boeing, Fully Committed, Don't Dress For Dinner, Leading Ladies, Crazy For You, Mary Poppins, The Producers, Singin' In The Rain, The Full Monty. Mr. Engel can also be seen opposite RuPaul in the award winning musical short film "Zombie Prom."
RICHARD ALFIERI (Playwright) Born in Florida, Richard Alfieri graduated from Yale University and began his professional career in New York. He wrote the feature film, Echoes, and the novel, Ricardo - Diary of a Matinee Idol, which he adapted into the screenplay, Moonlight Blonde. He produced the feature film, Rescue Me, and executive-produced the NBC film, False Witness.
He wrote the film adaptation of Robert James Waller's novel, Puerto Vallarta Squeeze. His play, The Sisters, suggested by Chekhov's Three Sisters, premiered in Los Angeles. Mr. Alfieri adapted the play for feature-film production, and the film premiered as an Official Selection at both the Tribeca and Hollywood Film Festivals. The Sisters subsequently won the Santa Fe Film Festival's Milagro Award for Best American Independent Film.
Mr. Alfieri was awarded the Grand Prize at the New York Film and Television Festival and a Writers Guild Award nomination for his screenplay for the film, A Friendship In Vienna. He received a Writers Guild Award for the Hallmark Hall of Fame film, Harvest Of Fire. He also received a Writers Guild Award and an Emmy nomination for his work on Norman Lear's ABC special, I Love Liberty. Mr. Alfieri's play, Six Dance Lessons In Six Weeks, opened on Broadway at the Belasco Theater. The play premiered in Los Angeles and has since opened around the world with productions in London, Berlin, Sydney, Madrid, Vienna, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, Helsinki, Budapest, Amsterdam, Miami, Prague, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Munich, and many other cities. Mr. Alfieri has adapted Six Dance Lessons In Six Weeks for feature film production later this year.
MICHAEL ARABIAN (Director) recently directed Red at San Diego Rep, God Of Carnage at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts and Waiting for Godot at the Mark Taper Forum, where he previously directed Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape, Albee's The Sandbox, Pinter's A Slight Ache, and workshops of new works. Michael has directed and produced numerous World, West Coast, Los Angeles, and New York premieres.
His site-specific company, Theatre InSite, formed a partnership with CBS (Radford) Studios, a first for LA theatre, to produce live TV pilots ("Third Rock From The Sun" picked up) and inventive, large-scale productions (an updated Romeo & Juliet where audiences followed scenes and car chases through the backlot's suburban streets and The Trojan Women (starring Mariette Hartley), set during the Gulf War and staged in 400,000 gallons of water at the old Gilligan's Island Lagoon with an amphibious Humvee from the Marine Corps. Locally, John Patrick Shanley's Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, (14 critics' choices), The Laramie Project, Ten Years Later by Moises Kaufman starring Barbara Bain for the Tectonic Theatre Project in one of 150 presentations around the world, and an unknown play by Arthur Miller, Some Kind of Love Story, produced by Martin Landau and Mark Rydell for the Actors Studio. His productions have garnered over 50 awards. His film "King of the Ants" shot in 35mm was distributed by Larry Estes for Outrider Films Up next is a feature film titled "The Custodian."
DONNA McKECHNIE (Choreography) the Tony Award winning star of A Chorus Line, is regarded internationally as one of Broadway's foremost dancing and singing leading ladies. She recently launched her new series at Birdland Supper Club in New York called "In Good Company" and will be one of the stars in the concert show called "Four Girls Four", produced by Wayne Gmitter and John McDaniel. Donna appeared at 54 Below, New York's celebrated Supper Club, presenting Same Place: Another Time, her new musical show in which she received a glowing review from the New York Times. The recording of the show is produced by Jay Records and will be released in 2014. Last year she co-starred in Love, Loss And What I Wore at the Asolo Theatre in Sarasota, and before, in John Doyle's Ten Cents A Dance at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, N.J., and the Williamstown Theatre Festival.
How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum,(Nat'l Tour), The Education Of H*Y*M*A*N-K*A*P*L*A*N, Sondheim- A Musical Tribute (which she also choreographed), On The Town, Promises-Promises, Company and State Fair, for which she received the Fred Astaire Award for Best Female Dancer for the 1996 Season.
Donna's one woman musical, My Musical Comedy Life received unanimous raves from New York theatre critics, won a Mac Award Nomination for Best Female Singer and the Bistro Award for Outstanding Major Engagement. She also received a nomination for an Ovation Award for Best Featured Actress (Mack and Mabel) by the Los Angeles Theatre Alliance League. One of the highlights of her recent professional life was to choreograph the highly acclaimed Guys and Dolls at the Hollywood Bowl directed by Richard Jay-Alexander.
Ms. McKechnie's memoir, "TIME STEPS- My Musical Comedy Life," was published and released by Simon and Schuster. Donna was featured in the documentary film, "Every Little Step" and was also featured in the film, "36 Saints," which was released last year.
Performances will be Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays & Fridays at 7:30pm; Saturdays at 4pm; Sundays at 2pm (with one Sunday Preview on April 27 at 7:30). The Thursday, May 1 preview and Saturday, May 31 performance will be at 2pm.
Tickets range from $35 - $76 and can be purchased online at www.lagunaplayhouse.com or by calling (949) 497-ARTS (2787). Student discounts are available at the Box Office. Group discounts are available by calling 949-497-2787 ext. 229. The box office is open Mondays - Sundays: noon to 5pm (open until 7:30pm on performance days).
For more information on all shows and programming visit www.lagunaplayhouse.com. LAGUNA PLAYHOUSE is located at 606 Laguna Canyon Road in Laguna Beach.
Founded in 1920, The Laguna Playhouse is one of the oldest continuously-operating not-for-profit theatres on the West Coast and is noted for its artistic excellence, wide-ranging theatrical programming, award-winning youth education offerings and community partnerships. A member of the League of Resident Theatres, The Laguna Playhouse is a valued part of the Laguna Beach arts community that serves all of Southern California with year-round, professional, high-quality productions in theatre, music and dance.
Because of its longstanding commitment to the arts, The Laguna Playhouse has been recognized for excellence by the LA Drama Critics Circle, NAACP, Backstage, ArtsOC, OC Weekly, Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce and more. Laguna Playhouse educational programming, which includes classes, productions by and for children and teens (Youth Theatre) and a school tour, has been honored by the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, Arts Orange County and the Orange County Department of Education.
Serving more than 100,000 patrons each season, The Laguna Playhouse has brought many talented performers to Southern California, including Davis Gaines, Stephanie Zimbalist, Rita Rudner, Sally Struthers, Cloris Leachman, Julie Harris, Harrison Ford, Charles Durning, Marlo Thomas, Roddy McDowell and Bette Davis, who have performed in world, national and regional premieres, as well as national tours of The Belle of Amherst and Copenhagen.