West End Theatre Extends KURT WEILL AT THE CUTTLEFISH HOTEL; Open-Ended Run Begins 1/17

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West End Theatre Extends KURT WEILL AT THE CUTTLEFISH HOTEL; Open-Ended Run Begins 1/17
Megan Rippey, Sol Mason, Paul Sand and Shay Astar.
Photo by Agi Magyari.

Paul Sand & The West End Theatre announce the extension of "Kurt Weill at the Cuttlefish Hotel," a cabaret-style production of the famed German composer's best-known songs, including "Mack the Knife" and "Pirate Jenny" from "Threepenny Opera;" "Surabaya Johnny" from "Happy End;" and "The Alabama Song" from "Mahagonny."

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. & 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, beginning Jan. 17 and continuing indefinitely at The West End Theatre, located at the far end of the Santa Monica Pier.

Tickets: $25. For information and tickets, visit www.thewestendtheatre.com and (562) 607-2739.

Featuring: Tony Award winner Paul Sand, director, performer and producer; Kurt Weill expert Michael Roth, music director; Shay Astar, Sol Mason and Megan Rippey, singer-actors.

Tony Award-winning actor Paul Sand is creating a limited-run show at what will be called the West End Theatre, transforming an enclosed observation deck at the end of the Santa Monica Pier into what will be a cabaret-style performing space. Inaugurating the theatre is "Kurt Weill at the Cuttlefish Hotel" - a vivid, theatrical, waterfront show to be directed and produced by Sand with a collection of the famed German composer's songs.

"I was taking a walk on the pier recently when I suddenly thought, 'Wouldn't this be a perfect place to have a theater and present a production of Kurt Weill's dark, theatrical waterfront songs all about revenge, murder and broken hearts?'" said Sand, who had a view of the pier from his apartment. "I'm sure Kurt Weill himself strolled along this pier, sometimes with his friend and collaborator Bertolt Brecht, who had a house not far away in Santa Monica."

Sand contacted Jim Harris, deputy director of the Santa Monica Pier Corp., who welcomed the idea enthusiastically.

"For years the pier has been trying to expand its programming to include a variety of arts, and the one area that's been lacking is theatre," Harris said. "Cabaret will work wonderfully in that space."

Currently an enclosed observation deck that sits above Mariasol Restaurant, the space has been underutilized, Harris said. But Sand already knows how he will transform the room into an atmosphere-soaked cabaret, for this production, complete with an excellent band, special lighting, and commissioned special murals on canvas in keeping with the carnival atmosphere. (The cabaret will be a "pop-up" theatre on Friday and Saturday nights but will otherwise continue to be open to the public as an observation deck.)

Director and performer in the show, Sand enlisted Michael Roth, a Weill expert who lives just a block away from Brecht's former house in Santa Monica, to be his music director. His fellow cast members are Megan Rippey, Shay Astar and Sol Mason, who plays the narrator.

The violin player in the band, Tamboura, was found by Sand one afternoon while playing his violin on the pier.

"I couldn't believe my ears and eyes," Sand said. "Here was this highly trained young guy playing truly excellent classical violin on the pier for fun and whatever money that would be put a box in front of him. I tracked him down, asked him to join our company, he said yes and now he is part of our band. We are very happy."

Some of the songs to be performed include some of Weill's best-known songs: "Mack the Knife," "Pirate Jenny" and "Barbara Song" from "Threepenny Opera," which Weill penned with Brecht; "Surabaya Johnny" from "Happy End;" and "Luck Song," also known as "The Insufficiency of Human Behavior." The finale will be "The Alabama Song" from "Mahagonny," also written with Brecht, performed by the entire company.

Sand, who was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Santa Monica and Silverlake (at one time as a teen he actually lived on the pier for a summer with his first girlfriend, Joan Rose, above the carousel). His parents met at a dance on the pier and he took his first steps as a baby on the pier.

Sand has had a long and impressive career on stage and in film and television. At a young age he ran away to Paris, auditioned for and got a job performing with Marcel Marceau's company in Paris.

His first paid job (in dollars) was singing and dancing with Judy Garland in her classic, "We're a Couple of Swells," that toured the west coast. Then he joined The Second City Co. in Chicago. They opened on Broadway and played for a year, which got his foot in the door of show business.

In 1966 he co-starred with Linda Lavin and Jo Ann Worley in the off-Broadway hit production, "The Mad Show," inspired by Mad Magazine.

Five years later, he received a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play for his work on Broadway in "Paul Sill's Story Theatre." That led to the guest role of the Tax man, the boyfriend role in "The Mary Tyler Show," then as the star of the CBS sitcom, "Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers."

"After that I spent years being everybody's boyfriend, from Mary Tyler Moore to Carol Burnett to all the brilliant funny ladies," he said.

He has appeared in dozens of television shows and a few movies dating back to the 1980s, including "Taxi," St. Elsewhere," "The X Files" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm."

"In the beginning I did everything in my career by intuition and had all these great adventures and met and worked with amazing people. Now I'm back using my intuition again and having yet another great time in my career." I have several productions in mind for our theaters future.

Sand has clear ideas of the ambience he wants to create in the new theater. He has hired well-known artist Marie Lalanne to paint dazzling murals on canvas that will be hung on the exterior and interior of the theatre. There will be a hotel sign outside featuring a red cuttlefish, and perhaps a musician from the band will playing on the deck just outside the theater before the show leading the audience - drinks in hand, if they so wish - into the "cabaret".

"I want to make it a hypnotic show," he said. "I want to get them under the spell of this show and keep them there all the way home."

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