Park Square Theatre to Present JOHNNY BASEBALL, 1/18-2/10

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Park Square Theatre to Present JOHNNY BASEBALL, 1/18-2/10

Park Square Theatre presents the regional premiere of Johnny Baseball, a touching new musical that deals with baseball, love, and the "Curse of the Bambino"-on stage January 18-February 10, 2013. With a lively score, and a grand finale that features a curse-busting home run, Johnny Baseball delivers a whole lot entertainment.

Johnny Baseball had its world premiere in 2010 at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA, and will have its second performances at Park Square. With music by Robert Reale and lyrics by Willie Reale (the brothers who wrote A Year with Frog & Toad), and book by Richard Dresser, Johnny Baseball will feature Timotha Lanae (Ragtime) as Daisy, the blues singer who steals Johnny's heart. Tracing the American institution of baseball from the "Curse of the Bambino" through the Red Sox World Series win in 2004, Zach Curtis will be Park Square's Babe Ruth and Joshua James Campbell will be Johnny, a member of the 1919 Red Sox team. Curtis directed Laughter on the 23rd Floor at Park Square in June, and has starred as Lennie in past Park Square productions of Of Mice and Men. Joshua James Campbell was in the cast of Grey Gardens, the Park Square co-presentation with the Ordway. He was recently in Theater Latté Da's The Full Monty, and The Glass Menagerie at the Jungle Theater. Doug Scholz-Carlson makes his Park Square directing debut in Johnny Baseball and Denise Prosek (Ragtime) is the music director. Jim Lichtscheidl, a favorite with Park Square audiences who just finished playing Edmund in King Lear at the theatre, will have his first Park Square assignment as choreographer. The musical's creators will be in Saint Paul for two weeks in early January, working with the director, cast and crew during rehearsal and preview weeks to test new ideas in script development and musical interpretations.

If true devotion is a matter of faith, no one understands this better than Johnny, Daisy, and the Red Sox fans whose interwoven stories are brought to life in Johnny Baseball. It is racial issues, not Babe Ruth's legendary sale to the Yankees, which is the source of the Sox' 86-year dry spell. The playwrights have taken a few liberties with their story, bending history a bit in order to effectively tell a love story set in the backdrop of a racially integrating Major League Baseball League. There is one undeniable chapter in the team's history that provided playwright Richard Dresser and lyricist Willie Reale with the central theme of their show: The Red Sox were the last major league baseball team to sign an African-American player.

The 86-year long Red Sox curse was a story that appealed to Willie Reale, who was in attendance at the memorable Game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship Series. "I was sitting on the end of the aisle," he commented, "and these guys next to me were all doubled over, holding themselves. I said, 'Guys, you've got this one. Lighten up.' They looked at me as one and just stared a hole into me. Of course, we know what happened." (The Yankees came back to win, and it was "Wait till next year'' all over again.)

"Riding home,'' Reale recalls, "These grown men, men with careers and lives and families, were barely holding back the emotion on the D train. It was so powerful.''

The cast of Johnny Baseball also includes Debra Berger, David Beukema, Paul R. Coate, Sarah Gibson, Kim Kivens, Kasono Mwanza, Rudolph Searles III, Rachel Weber, David Wiles, and Max Wojtanowicz. The production team includes Mary Beth Gagner (Costume Designer), Martin Gwinup (Projection Designer), Sarah Holmberg (Properties Designer), Michael Hoover (Scenic Design), Michael P. Kittel (Lighting Designer), and Thomas Sandelands and C. Andrew Mayer who will serve as Co- Sound Designers.

Performance Schedule: Previews begin January 18 and run through January 24. Friday, January 25 is Opening Night, and the regular run continues through February 10. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. except for Sunday performances, which begin at 2 p.m. All performances are in the company's intimate 340-seat theater in Saint Paul's historic Hamm Building, 20 W. Seventh Place.

Ticket prices: Previews: $35. Regular Run: $48 & $68. 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.

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