Park Square to Bring a Dash of Gershwin to the Holidays, 11/29-12/29
Park Square brings a dash of Gershwin to the holiday entertainment season with WORDS BY...Ira Gershwin AND THE GREAT AMERICAN SONGBOOK, November 29 -December 29, 2013.
This new work by Joseph Vass's is a song-filled reminiscence that explores the creative life and unforgettable lyrics of Ira Gershwin. Vass's The Soul of Gershwin-about the life and musical influences of Ira's brother George Gershwin-set attendance records in 2011 and earned Vass an Ivey Award for exceptional music direction.
This new play with music (lots of music!) is about the creative process. "I've been captivated by Ira's lyrics since I was a teenager playing my piano through a library book full of Gershwin songs," says Vass. "Ira Gershwin could write glibly or wittily or movingly when called on. But sung to his brother's music, even Ira Gershwin's most outwardly conversational song lyrics can hit with the impact of poetry." In addition to beloved songs that were brotherly collaborations of Ira's lyrics and George's music are wonderful songs that Ira wrote with composers Harold Arlen, Vernon Duke, Jerome Kern and Kurt Weill.
"Audiences will walk away falling in love with the quiet character that is Ira Gershwin," agrees Artistic Director Richard Cook. "Especially as played by Ari Hauptman!" Jennifer Grimm, T. Mychael Rambo and Vass' band bring on the music in an elegant environment painted with copies of Ira's actual handwritten lyrics. Songs from "Love Is Here to Stay" to "Fascinating Rhythm" frame insights and tales about the private and understated life of Ira contrasted with the colorful life of his brother George.
David Ellenstein, Artistic Director of North Coast Rep in San Diego, who worked with Vass on the world premiere at North Coast Rep last year, will direct the production. "This show has been a labor of love, and I really look forward to approaching this second production with the extraordinary artists Park Square hires in this community," says Ellenstein. "I can't wait to be in the rehearsal hall, bathed in this amazing music, day in and day out." Cook admits that it is rare for the Saint Paul company to hire out-of-state artists. "We are doing more and more second productions," explains Cook. "World premieres get all the glory, but a show at this stage is still in development. I wanted to have David stay in the process, but put up the work with our artists and in front of this town's truly great audiences to take it to its next level."
Words by...Ira Gershwin production team includes Michael Hoover (Scenic Designer), Merrily Murray-Walsh (Costume Designer), Michael P. Kittel (Lighting Designer), and C. Andrew Mayer (Sound Design). Wayne Hendricks is stage manager.
Performance Schedule: Previews begin November 29 and run through December 5. Friday, December 6 is Opening Night, and the run continues through December 29. Show times are 7:30 p.m. except for Sunday performances, which begin at 2 p.m. Saturday shows offer a 2 p.m. matinee and 7:30 p.m. evening performance. All performances are in the company's intimate 348-seat theater in Saint Paul's historic Hamm Building, 20 W. Seventh Place.
Ticket prices: Previews: $25 and $35. Regular Run: $38 and $58. Discounts are available for seniors, those under age 30, and groups. Tickets are on sale at the Park Square box office, 20 W. Seventh Place, or by phone: 651.291.7005, (12 noon-5 p.m. Monday through Friday), or online at www.parksquaretheatre.org.