Reprise Theatre Company Presents Richard Rodgers Celebration 10/2-11/2; Porter, Gaynor, Bean And More To Star
Reprise Theatre Company will present a month-long Richard Rodgers Celebration October 2-November 2 in a variety of venues across Los Angeles. The series of concerts, symposiums, staged readings, screenings and cabarets will explore the diversity and scope of the work of one of the most important figures in the American Musical.
Collaborations with Ebony Repertory Theatre, East West Players, Santa Monica College, The Harmony Project and American Jewish University will take place at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, the David Henry Hwang Theater, The Broad Stage, the El Portal Theatre and the Gindi Auditorium.
Ted Chapin, President and Executive Director of The Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization said, "We applaud Reprise Theatre Company for finding so many creative ways to present Richard Rodgers' work. This celebration is sure to delight musical theatre lovers and remind them of the breadth and depth of the Rodgers' canon."
Reprise Theatre Company artistic director Jason Alexander said, "I am very excited about our new project which will explore, in depth, the work of a single artist of the Musical Theatre. And I couldn't be happier about our selection of Richard Rodgers, who along with Oscar Hammerstein and Lorenz Hart and other fine collaborators, all but invented this art form which remains the most popular form of live story telling in the world. This is another step in fulfilling our mission to become a significant center for Musical Theatre in Los Angeles. We look forward to our collaboration with some of Los Angeles' finest arts organizations."
The Celebration will look at Rodgers' work from a wide variety of aspects, including:
* Staged reading of "Two by Two," Rodgers' rarely performed 1970 musical starring Reprise artistic director Jason Alexander as Noah and directed by David Lee -- November 1 and 2 at Gindi Auditorium at American Jewish University.
* Four new evenings of Rodgers work - "Soul of Rodgers" conceived and directed by Billy Porter, presented in association with Ebony Repertory Theatre Company - Three performances October 2 and 3 at Nate Holden Performing Arts Center; "Rodgers & Hammerstein & Hart" - October 18 at El Portal Theatre; "A Grand Night for Dancing," an evening of dance choreographed by Reprise resident choreographer Lee Martino including "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" - October 22 and 23 at The Broad Stage; and "The Sweetest Sounds," featuring more than 100 young musicians from urban Los Angeles in partnership with the Harmony Project.
* "Getting to Know You: Rodgers & Asia" - a symposium exploring the successes and controversies in Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals -- "The King and I," "South Pacific," and "Flower Drum Song," moderated by playwright David Henry Hwang, author of the Broadway revival production of "Flower Drum Song." Presented in association with East West Players - October 5 at David Henry Hwang Theater.
* "Nothin' Like a Dame," a program of Rodgers' leading ladies including Karen Morrow and Lesley Ann Warren, singing their songs, and reminiscing about their roles in his musicals, directed by John Rubenstein - October 25 at the El Portal Theatre.
* Screening of the film of "South Pacific," with special guest Mitzi Gaynor, star of the film - October 15 at the Majestic Crest Theatre.
Tickets go on sale to the public on August 17th at reprise.org or by calling 310.954.1595 (the Rodgers Celebration Ticket Line).
Richard Rodgers' contributions to musical theatre of his day was extraordinary, and his influence on the musical theatre of today and tomorrow is legendary. His career spanned more than six decades, his hits ranging from the silver screens of Hollywood to the bright lights of Broadway, London and beyond. He was the recipient of countless awards, including Pulitzers, Tonys, Oscars, Grammys and Emmys. He wrote more than 900 published songs and forty Broadway musicals.
While a student at Columbia, Richard Rodgers wrote several of the popular "Varsity" shows with two upperclassmen: Oscar Hammerstein II and Lorenz Hart. His earliest professional credits, beginning in 1920, included a series of musicals for Broadway, London and Hollywood written exclusively with lyricist Hart. In the first decade of their collaboration, Rodgers & Hart averaged two new shows every season - and in the late thirties they hit their stride with nine musicals between 1936 and 1942 - "On Your Toes," "Babes In Arms," "I'd Rather Be Right," "I Married an Angel," "The Boys from Syracuse," "Two Many Girls," "Higher and Higher," "Pal Joey," and "By Jupiter." The Rodgers & Hart partnership came to an end with the death of Lorenz Hart in 1943, at the age of 48.
Earlier that year Rodgers had joined forces with lyricist and author Oscar Hammerstein II. "Oklahoma!" in 1943 was the first Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, and was also the first of a new genre, the musical play, representing a unique fusion of Rodgers' musical comedy and Hammerstein's operetta. It also marked the beginning of the most successful partnership in Broadway musical history, and was followed by "Carousel," (1945), the movie musical "State Fair" (1945; remade 1962; Broadway premiere, 1996), "Allegro" (1947),
"South Pacific" (1949), "The King and I" (1951), "Me and Juliet" (1953), "Pipe Dream" (1955), the TV musical "Cinderella" (1957; remade 1965, 1997), "Flower Drum Song" (1958) and "The Sound of Music" (1959). Collectively, the Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals earned 34 Tony Awards, 15 Academy Awards, two Pulitzer Prizes and two Grammy Awards.
Despite Hammerstein's death in 1960, Rodgers continued to write for the Broadway stage. His first solo entry, "No Strings" in 1962, earned him two Tony Awards for music and lyrics, and was followed by "Do I Hear A Waltz?" (1965, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim), "Two by Two" (1970, lyrics by Martin Charnin), "Rex" (1976, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick) and "I Remember Mama" 1979, (lyrics by Martin Charnin and Raymond Jessel).
Richard Rodgers died at home in New York City on December 30, 1979 at the age of 77. On March 27, 1990, he was honored posthumously with Broadway's highest accolade when the 46th Street Theatre, owned and operated by the Nederlander Organization, was renamed The Richard Rodgers Theatre, home to The Richard Rodgers Gallery, a permanent exhibit in the lobby areas which honors the composer's life and works.
In 2002, the Richard Rodgers Centennial was celebrated around the world, with tributes from Tokyo to London, from the Hollywood Bowl to the White House, featuring six new television specials, museum retrospectives, a dozen new ballets, half a dozen books, new recordings and countless concert and stage productions (including three revivals on Broadway), giving testament to the enduring popularity of Richard Rodgers and the sound of his music.
The Events of the Rodgers Celebration
SOUL OF RODGERS
Featuring Grammy nominee Shoshanna Bean, Yvette Cason, Bryan Terrell Clark, Ledisi, Leslie Odom, Jr., Rahsaan Patterson, Nita Whitaker. Director Billy Porter brings us a groundbreaking musical revue as he interprets the Rodgers songbook through the African American idioms of jazz, blues, soul, R&B, hip-hop and gospel. SOUL OF RODGERS is an evening of passion and style presented in association with Ebony Repertory Theatre.
October 2 at 8pm and October 3 at 2pm and 8pm; NATE HOLDEN PERFORMING ARTS CENTER 4718 West Washington Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90016
GETTING TO KNOW YOU: RODGERS & ASIA
A symposium moderated by Tony Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang will explore the successes and controversies surrounding three Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals -- THE KING AND I, FLOWER DRUM SONG and SOUTH PACIFIC -- including musical performances. This event is presented in association with East West Players.
October 5 at 8pm; David Henry Hwang THEATER, EAST WEST PLAYERS, 120 Judge John Aiso Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
SOUTH PACIFIC: Film Screening
A screening of the classic film, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The screening will begin with a pre-movie discussion with the film's star Mitzi Gaynor.
October 15 at 8pm; THE MAJESTIC CREST THEATRE 1262 Westwood Blvd, Westwood, CA 90024
RODGERS & HART & HAMMERSTEIN
A new musical revue exploring the contrast in Rodgers' collaborations with Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein. Los Angeles's top musical theatre talent will perform some of the most iconic Rodgers songs. Directed by Larry Raben.
October 18 at 7:30pm; EL PORTAL THEATRE, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601
A GRAND NIGHT FOR DANCING
An evening of dance inspired by the music of Richard Rodgers choreographed by Reprise's resident choreographer, Lee Martino. The performance will include the iconic ballet "Slaughter On Tenth Avenue" from ON YOUR TOES as well as several newly created dance pieces.
October 22 & 23 at 8pm, THE BROAD STAGE 1310 11th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401
NOTHIN' LIKE A DAME
Featuring Karen Morrow, Lesley Ann Warren and more. The leading ladies of Rodgers' musicals sing the songs that made them famous and share their favorite memories and stories about working with the musical icon.
October 25 at 7:30pm; EL PORTAL THEATRE, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601
THE SWEETEST SOUNDS: THE HARMONY PROJECT
More than 100 young musicians from urban Los Angeles perform some of Rodgers' most recognizable music. An exciting partnership with the Harmony Project, an organization dedicated to building healthier communities through music. The performance will also feature several young talented soloists accompanied by the orchestra.
October 31 at 8pm, THE BROAD STAGE 1310 11th Street, Santa Monica, CA 904
TWO BY TWO: A STAGED READING
Starring Jason Alexander
Richard Rodgers entered his seventh decade of writing for the theatre with this fresh retelling of the Noah's Ark story. This staged reading will feature a fifteen-piece orchestration. With a book by Peter Stone, lyrics by Martin Charnin, and music by Richard Rodgers, TWO BY TWO is based on Clifford Odets' play THE FLOWERING PEACH. The reading will be directed by David Lee.
November 1 at 7:30pm & November 2 at 8:00pm; GINDI AUDITORIUM at AMERICAN JEWISH UNIVERSITY 15600 Mulholland Dr., Bel Air, CA 90077