Berkeley Rep to Open 47th Season with AN AUDIENCE WITH MEOW MEOW
Berkeley Rep opens its 47th season this September with An Audience with Meow Meow, a musical play of gargantuan proportions starring international superstar Meow Meow. This fall the singing sensation and über-award-winning comedienne - who's wowed audiences from Paris to the Antipodes - brings her breathtaking vocals and ingenuity to the Bay Area. The captivating and glamourous Meow Meow has rendezvoused with Mikhail Baryshnikov, Pina Bausch, and David Bowie. Now she joins forces with the endlessly inventive Emma Rice (The Wild Bride, Tristan & Yseult, Broadway's Brief Encounter), who adapts and directs this one-of-a-kind musical production featuring sizzling songs, sequins and satire, blow-torch wit, and divine mayhem! Expect beauty, expect hilarity, expect heart. And possibly the splits. Penned by Meow Meow herself, with music supervision by Lance Horne and choreography by Tiger Martina, the world premiere of An Audience with Meow Meow begins previews Friday, September 5, opens on Friday, September 12, and runs through Sunday, October 19. Press night for An Audience with Meow Meow will be held on Friday, September 12, 2014. Individual tickets start at $29 and can be purchased by phone at (510) 647-2949 or online at berkeleyrep.org.
"We're thrilled to kick off the season with the deliciously outrageous Meow Meow," says Tony Taccone, Berkeley Rep's Michael Leibert Artistic Director. "Meow is a cross between Liza Minnelli and Lucille Ball - she's funny, smart, and has the voice of a ferocious angel. She teams up with Emma Rice, the esteemed director of The Wild Bride and co-artistic director of Kneehigh Theatre, to bring us a larger-than-life musical production. Prepare for anything, as Ms. Meow is not one to take any prisoners."
"Meow Meow knocks my socks off! She is everything - sexy, surprising, talented, and funny," remarks Rice. "The moment I met her I was intoxicated, and it has been a thrill and a privilege to work with her on this piece. She is a force of nature. An Audience with Meow Meow promises to be a night at the theatre that won't be forgotten easily. Fasten your seat belts!"
"I'm elated to work with the supremely talented Emma Rice to bring my story to the Bay Area," adds Meow Meow. "Emma is all heart and joy. With her there's such an affinity of our souls. We've assembled a wonderful show about lost souls and lost hearts and people who slipped between the cracks. There will be hilarity, mayhem, fabulous costume changes, dancing boys, sequins, and glorious love songs. I'm thrilled to share this new piece with Berkeley Rep's audience."
Of Meow Meow's critically lauded performances, Time Out London raves, "Meow Meow's voice is a rare pleasure, rich in musicality, always present and expressive, turning on a dime from stomping razzle-dazzle to heartbreaking vulnerability. The dexterity at slipping between registers that Meow Meow brings to her singing is also key to her humour, which is now bawdy, now self-deprecating, now sly as a stiletto between the ribs." Adds the London Evening Standard, "Devilish funny bones and heavenly vocal chords!" The New York Times writes, "The term 'kamikaze cabaret' has been applied to the charming, shape-shifting diva Meow Meow...Her act celebrated a far-reaching cosmopolitanism that erases boundaries between cultures and languages... If you think of her changeability as a series of surprise attacks, the term kamikaze may apply after all."
Meow Meow's unique brand of performance art exotica has hypnotized, inspired, and terrified audiences globally. The spectacular crowd-surfing queen of song has entranced sold-out audiences with her trail-blazing performances from New York's Lincoln Center and Berlin's Bar Jeder Vernunft, to London's Apollo Theatre, Queen Elizabeth Hall, and the Sydney Opera House. Named One of the Top Performers of the Year by the New Yorker, "The Queen of Chanson" by the Berliner Zeitung, and "a phenomenon" by the Australian press, multi-award-winning Meow's solo works have been curated by David Bowie, Pina Bausch, and Mikhail Baryshnikov, among others. She has created original works for numerous international arts festivals and venues from Shanghai to Wroclaw, as well as performed everything from Schubert and Schumann with orchestra and toured with punk outfit Amanda Palmer and The Dresden Dolls. Meow starred on London's West End in Kneehigh Theatre and Michel Legrand's The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.
She had a sensational extended run of the Malthouse Theatre/Sydney Festival-commissioned Meow Meow's Little Match Girl at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall (Southbank Centre) and performed Cocteau's piece for Piaf, Le Bel Indifférent, for the U.S. Greenwich Music Festival. She has won numerous Green Room Awards, Helpmann Theatre Awards, Sydney Theatre Critics Awards, the Edinburgh International Festival Fringe Prize, and the New York Franklin Furnace Performance Art Award, among others. She is also a regular guest in the Olivier Award-winning La Clique and La Soirée on the West End and off Broadway, as well as with the Weimar collective in New York City. She opened La Soirée's award-winning season in New York at the Union Square Theatre. In 2013 Meow made her London Philharmonic debut under Maestro Jurowski as Jenny in Brecht/Weill's Die Dreigroschenoper in Paris' Théatre des Champs-Élysées and London's Royal Festival Hall.
Meow Meow joined the London Philharmonic again for more UK performances. She most recently sold out her Lincoln Center American Song Book Series concert and toured the concert halls of Australia with Barry Humphries and the Australian Chamber Orchestra in a program of lost and re-found works from Weimar Germany of the 1920s. With collaborator Pink Martini's Thomas M Lauderdale she appeared with the Oregon Symphony and has written and recorded the album Here Kitty Kitty ...The lost sessions, due for release in 2014. Meow's albums Vamp and Songs from a Little Match Girl, co-written with longtime collaborator and composer Iain Grandage, are available on iTunes, along with recordings for intrepid composer and music director Lance Horne on his First Things Last album. She appears on Pink Martini's latest album Get Happy (released September 2013) and opens Amanda Palmer's album Theatre is Evil with the Grand Theft Orchestra. Meow's 2014 performances include the LA Philharmonic in Andriessen's De Materie under the baton of Reinbert de Leeuw and Pina Bausch Company's Fest für Pina 40 season in Germany. She had an extended solo season of the award-winning Feline Intimate in London at the Southbank Centre Wonderground and is thrilled to launch Berkeley Rep's 2014 season with her new theatre work An Audience with Meow Meow. She returns to London's Southbank Centre in December with Apocalypse Meow: Crisis is Born.
Emma Rice (adaptor/director) is the joint artistic director of Kneehigh Theatre. Productions for Kneehigh include The Red Shoes (TMA Theatre Award for Best Director), The Wooden Frock, The Bacchae (2005 TMA Theatre Award for Best Touring Production), Tristan & Yseult, Cymbeline (in association with the Royal Shakespeare Company), A Matter of Life and Death (Royal National Theatre production in association with Kneehigh), Rapunzel (in association with Battersea Arts Centre), Brief Encounter (tour, West End, Studio 54, and Broadway, a David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers Production in association with Kneehigh), Don John (in association with the Royal Shakespeare Company and Bristol Old Vic), Midnight's Pumpkin, The Wild Bride, and Steptoe and Son. Other work includes The Empress by Tanika Gupta for the RSC, the West End production of Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Oedipussy for Spymonkey, and Wah! Wah! Girls for World Stages (Sadler's Wells, Theatre Royal Stratford East, and Kneehigh).
Lance Horne (music supervision and additional arrangements) is a composer-lyricist who has performed alongside, composed, and/or provided arrangements for Alan Cumming, Liza Minnelli, Carol Channing, Kristin Chenoweth, Pink Martini, the von Trapps, Jake Shears/Scissor Sisters, Justin Bond, Sandra Bernhard, Ben Folds, Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer/Dresden Dolls, Boston Pops, and toured the world with Meow Meow. He has performed for President Obama, the First Lady, and Queen Elizabeth. Horne has conducted return engagements at Sydney Opera House and international tours of Handel's Messiah Rocks and Jekyll & Hyde. He co-music directed/co-arranged Prometheus Bound by Steven Sater and Serj Tankian and Cabaret starring Amanda Palmer, both at American Repertory Theatre. He contributed original material and arrangements to Vegas! The Show currently playing at Planet Hollywood Casino, music directed the Sater/Sheik Alice by Heart for the National Theater in London, and provided the vocal arrangements for the Broadway production of Little Women. His debut album First Things Last released on Yellow Sound Label with concurrent concerts at Lincoln Center and on the West End. Horne received a daytime Emmy for Best Original Song; the Jonathan Larson Award; a Bistro Award for producing Alan Cumming's album, I Bought a Blue Car Today; the ASCAP Foundation Jamie DeRoy Award for Emerging Songwriter; and an Interlochen Ovation Award. Horne is a Steinway Artist with BM, MM in composition from the Juilliard School.
Martin Lowe (musical arrangements) won the Tony, Olivier, Grammy, Drama Desk, and Obie for his work as music supervisor and orchestrator on the musical Once in the West End and on Broadway. He was the original musical director for Mamma Mia! in the West End and has subsequently supervised productions in Japan, South Korea, China, and Sweden. He was also the musical director for the movie version starring Meryl Streep and won the Golden Reel Award. Lowe's other theatre work includes The Light Princess; War Horse; Caroline, Or Change; Jerry Springer The Opera; A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; and Nation all for the National Theatre in London. For the National Theatre of Scotland, he was the orchestrator and music supervisor for The Wolves in the Walls and Appointment with the Wicker Man. He has conducted other West End shows, including The Full Monty, Once on This Island, Cats, and LES MISERABLES. Martin's composition work includes The Misanthrope, The Secret Rapture, and The Blue Room at Chichester Festival Theatre; Lettice and Lovage (national tour); and Into Exile and Dear Exile, both for BBC Radio 4.
Tiger Martina's (choreography) professional projects range from feature film and television to numerous Broadway, off-Broadway, and Las Vegas stage productions. He contributes his style and approach to the experience he gained as a dancer and assistant to some of the world's greatest choreographers: on Broadway in Movin' Out with Twyla Tharp, Liza's at The Palace and Sex and the City 2 as dance captain to Ms. Minnelli, as dancer and assistant choreographer for "Cold Hearted Snake," Paula Abdul's Under My Spell tour, and the Academy Awards with Michael Kidd. His film credits include Across the Universe with Julie Taymor and Rock of Ages with Mia Michaels. Martina has also choreographed for Alan Cumming, Penn & Teller, French Stewart, Adam Lambert, Diana DeGarmo, the cast of Friends, Cheyenne Jackson, Jerry Springer, and large-scale nationally televised events such as multiple Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parades, NBC's 4th of July special, and numerous production shows for cruise lines Cunard, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian. He directed and choreographed two shows currently running on the Las Vegas strip: Vegas! The Show and the critically acclaimed Zombie Burlesque.
The divine Meow Meow is joined on stage by a group of talented musicians and dancers, including:
- Michael Balderrama (dancer) is a director/choreographer, dancer, and producer. Some of his favorite Broadway credits include Ghost, In the Heights, Hot Feet, Movin' Out, Urban Cowboy, and Saturday Night Fever. He's been seen in the films Rock of Ages, Across the Universe, and Michael Jackson's Ghost. He was resident director/choreographer of the second national tour of In the Heights, associate director and movement consultant for Zorro, and was the associate choreographer and creative consultant over the 2013 Broadway musical, Soul Doctor. He is currently producing the upcoming new musicals Whiskeyland and Boy vs. Girls through his production companies, Silver Towers Productions, LLC and Last Call Theatricals, LLC.
- Bob Gaynor (dancer) was most recently seen in The Sound of Music Live with Carrie Underwood on NBC. His original Broadway cast credits include Leap of Faith and Catch Me If You Can, Sweet Charity (Vittorio/understudy), Boy George's Taboo (Leigh Bowery/understudy), and Elton John's Aida (Radames/standby). At New York's City Center, he performed in Bye Bye Birdie (Conrad), Applause, and Stairway to Paradise. Bob's regional credits include Next to Normal (Dan, Broadway World nominee), Leap of Faith, First Wives Club, Smokey Joe's Café (Michael), and A Chorus Line (Zach).
- Russ Gold (drums/percussion/vibes) last appeared at Berkeley Rep as a musician for Tristan & Yseult. His performing experience includes work with musicians as diverse as Gary Lyons (producer of Rolling Stones and the Grateful Dead), Johnny Colla of Huey Lewis and the News, Seth Justman of the J. Giles Band, and jazz greats Tom Scott, Sam Rivers, George Coleman, Dave Douglas, Vinx, and Howard Johnson.
· Jessica Ivry (cellist) plays and sings in Real Vocal String Quartet (rvsq.com). She performed in Pericles, Prince of Tyre and Figaro at Berkeley Rep, The Orphan of Zhao at American Conservatory Theater and La Jolla Playhouse, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Post Street Theatre.
· Pat Moran (guitar/bass) is back at Berkeley Rep after performing last season in Kneehigh's Tristan & Yseult and this past summer as music director and guitarist for FSM as part of The Ground Floor's 2014 Summer Residency Lab. He has composed original music and lyrics for over a dozen professional theatre productions and has been resident composer/lyricist/music director for the San Francisco Mime Troupe since 2007.
The creative team includes Neil Murray (scenic and costume designer), Alexander V. Nichols (lighting designer), and Simon Baker (sound designer).The stage manager for An Audience with Meow Meow is Michael Suenkel, Berkeley Rep's production stage manager.
The 2014-15 season is supported by BART and Wells Fargo, who have generously renewed their commitment as Berkeley Rep's official season sponsors. Berkeley Rep is also proud to have KPIX-TV (Channel 5) as a first-year season sponsor. An Audience with Meow Meow is made possible thanks to the generous support of the Strauch Kulhanjian Family and Jack and Betty Schafer.