Rubicon Theatre Company Announces 15th Anniversary Season; 'OUR TOWN/YOUR THEATRE' Initiative


Rubicon Theatre Artistic Directors Karyl Lynn Burns and JAMES O'NEIL announced the company's 15th Anniversary Season at a preview event for subscribers, donors and media last earlier this month at the theatre's home in Ventura's Downtown Cultural District. The event was hosted by Rubicon Board President DR. ROZ WARNER and Board of Advisors' Chair/Board Vice-President Jeff Smith, with onstage appearances by several of the directors, writers and performers for the season.

Dr. Warner began the event by announcing a new initiative which is reflected in the title of the 2012-2013 Season: OUR TOWN/YOUR THEATRE. "During the coming season," said Warner, "we hope to reconnect with old friends; to throw open the doors of the theatre and welcome new attendees of different ages, interests and backgrounds; and to find new ways to take the art into the community."

The OUR TOWN/YOUR THEATRE Season opens with a World Premiere revisal of a classic American musical -- PAL JOEY. The production opens October 20 (first preview October 17), and runs through November 11, 2012. Reconceived by longtime Ventura resident and Tony Award-winner Peter Schneider, bookwriter Patrick Pacheco, and arranger and orchestrator Michael Reno, Pal Joey is based on the short stories and original libretto penned by John O'Hara. Schneider (former President of Disney Animation, Broadway producer of The Lion King, and Director of the West End production of Sister Act)will direct.

(Photo credit: James Scolari. Pictured: James O'Neil.)

Beloved by audiences for the rich RODGERS AND HART score with songs like "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" and "I Could Write a Book," the original Broadway production of Pal Joey (starring a young, charismatic Gene Kelly) nonetheless received mixed responses from critics, who considered subjects such as sexual politics, blackmail and corruption too racy for 1940. But times changed and some of the songs became pop hits, and by the mid-1950s, the show was both a critical and popular success on the Great White Way. It was later made into a film with a starry cast including Frank Sinatra.

In this revised version, set after World War II, Joey is recast as an African-American singer with the voice of an angel, easy good looks, and a dangerous dream – to headline his own nightclub. When he lands at a low-rent Chicago club and is befriended by a jazz pianist with a talent for writing tunes, he sees his chance to rise. But…it's 1948…and Joey's ambitions are thwarted by the mores of the time and his own restless nature. Joey shuts out his past, steps over his only true friend, and uses his sexuality to get what he wants. The person he can't seem to shake, though, is Linda, a young artist who is as grounded as Joey is airborne. If Joey gets what he wants, will he hang onto it? And will it be enough?

For Rubicon's production of Pal Joey, Schneider has secured permission to use other songs from the Rodgers and Hart catalogue. Sparkling classics such as "The Lady is a Tramp," "Sing for Your Supper" and "Glad to be Unhappy" are now intermingled with gems from the original show. In addition to orchestrating for a six-piece band (including two pianos), Michael Reno also serves as Musical Director.

Rubicon's holiday offering is a staged concert reading of a new musical - LITTLE MISS SCROOGE - a Dickensian musical extravaganza which runs December 15 through December 23, 2012, with previews beginning December 12.

Little Miss Scrooge reunites Tony and Olivier Award-winner John Caird (Les Misérables and Nicholas Nickleby) and Tony nominee Paul Gordon (Jane Eyre), who developed Daddy Long Legs at Rubicon. (Daddy has since played at 14 theatres in the U.S. and opens in Japan this fall.) Music and lyrics are by Gordon, with a book by Gordon, John Caird and Caird's son Sam Caird (a London-based director regarded as an expert on Dickens). The two Cairds will share directing responsibilities. Musical supervision, direction and orchestrations are by Brad Haak (current conductor of Mary Poppins on Broadway).

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