Bryce Ryness, Lisa O'Hare to Lead Reprise Theatre Company's CABARET; Opens 9/13

By: Aug. 15, 2011
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Reprise Theatre Company's production of the classic American musical "Cabaret," which opens the 2011-2012 Reprise season and plays September 13 to 25 (press opening September 14, 2011) at UCLA's Freud Playhouse, includes a cast of new talents as well as Broadway and West End veterans - Zach Bandler as Ernst Ludwig, Lisa O'Hare as Sally Bowles, Jeff McLean as Cliff Bradshaw, Katrina Lenk as Fräulein Kost, Mary GorDon Murray as Fräulein Schneider, Robert Picardo as Herr Schultz and Bryce Ryness as the Master of Ceremonies.

Marcia Milgrom Dodge, whose critically acclaimed Broadway production of "Ragtime" was nominated for seven 2010 Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Musical and Best Direction of a Musical, directs and choreographs "Cabaret." Dodge recently directed "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" for Reprise. Christy Crowl will serve as musical director; Crowl has the distinction of being the first female conductor for "Wicked" on its national tour. The musical is based on the play by John Van Druten and stories by Christopher Isherwood, with music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb. The original Broadway production won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical and the 1972 film version of "Cabaret" won eight Oscars. "Cabaret" has also been twice revived on Broadway.

On directing "Cabaret" for Reprise, Marcia Milgrom Dodge says, "It's incredibly timely and insightful for Reprise Theatre Company to produce this show now in 2011. Not only a classic American musical, Cabaret is a cautionary tale. It reminds us to pay close attention to what's going on in our country right now; a show that warns us to keep our eyes open to a very volatile political climate.

I want to explore the storytelling of the Isherwood tales; the German-Jewish-Nazi story. I can tell you this-what Hal Prince says the show is about is what the show is about: "What would you do? This is a show about survival and about how most people unheroically look the other way in order to survive."
(from the book Harold Prince and the American Musical Theatre by Foster Hirsch.) All of this will be evident in the physical production and the relationships of the characters living and breathing life into this marvelous story."

The Reprise Theatre Company production of "Cabaret" will also feature audience onstage seating at café style tables along with an eight piece all-girl band led by Musical Director Christy Crowl to fully bring the atmosphere of the Kit Kat Club to life.

Lisa O'Hare (Sally Bowles) starred as Mary Poppins in the West End production of the Disney musical, and returns to Reprise Theatre Company after starring in "Gigi." Los Angeles audiences also saw Lisa as Eliza Doolittle in the national tour of the Trevor Nunn production of "My Fair Lady" at the Ahmanson Theatre.

Jeff McLean (Cliff Bradshaw) comes to Reprise from the world premiere of Armistead Maupin's "Tales of the City: A New Musical" at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, following the first national tour of "Legally Blonde: the Musical" and the original Las Vegas company of "Spamalot."

Mary GorDon Murray (Fräulein Schneider) has appeared on Broadway in "Into the Woods," "Little Me" for which she received a best actress Tony Nomination, "Footloose," "Coastal Disturbances," "The Robber Bridegroom," "Grease," and "Play Me a Country Song."Mary is best known to daytime audiences for her many years as Becky on ABC's "One Life to Live."

Robert Picardo (Herr Schultz), most known for his role on "Star Trek: Voyager," as Coach Cutlip on "The Wonder Years," and as Dr. Dick Richards on "China Beach," was in the Reprise production of "On the Twentieth Century" for which he received an Ovation nomination. Other musicals include: "A Class Act"at the Pasadena Playhouse and"Mame"at the Hollywood Bowl. His Broadway credits include "Gemini" with Danny Aiello and "Tribute" with Jack Lemmon.

Bryce Ryness (Master of Ceremonies) appeared on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning revival of "Hair" (Woof, Drama Desk nom) and "Legally Blonde"(Aaron, Emmett u/s). Other credits include the NY premiere of Drama Desk-award winning "See Rock City..." (Jess/Cutter), "Crossing Brooklyn"(AJ, Transport Group) and the national tour of "Rent" (Roger).Los Angeles musical theatre credits include the world premieres of "Dangerous Beauty" at the Pasadena Playhouse and "Leap of Faith" at the Ahmanson Theatre, as well as the Los Angeles premiere of "Floyd Collins." Bryce fronts a rock band called Ryness and has sung backup for Roger Daltrey, Sarah Brightman, Frankie Valli, Marin Mazzie, and Josh Groban.

Katrina Lenk (Fräulein Kost) appeared on Broadway in the 2010 revival of "The Miracle Worker." Locally, she was the recipient of an LA Weekly Award for her portrayal of Linda Lovelace in "Lovelace: A Rock Opera." Other Los Angeles credits include " The Caucasian Chalk Circle" at South Coast Repertory, and "iWitness" at the Mark Taper Forum.

Zach Bandler (Ernst Ludwig) appeared Off-Broadway in "With Glee" as well as in "Romeo and Juliet" adapted at Lincoln Center with the NY Philharmonic and recently shot for PBS. Regional credits include "Les Misérables" (Theater of the Stars and tour) and "The Most Happy Fella" with George Hearn (Ravinia Festival).

Marcia Milgrom Dodge, whose critically acclaimed Broadway production of "Ragtime" was nominated for seven 2010 Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Musical and Best Direction of a Musical, and who directed and choreographed the Reprise production of "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying" will direct "Cabaret."Dodge directed and choreographed "Ragtime" at the Kennedy Center, where it won the Helen Hayes Awards for Outstanding Resident Musical and for Direction.

The rest of the "Cabaret" cast includes: Bradley Benjamin, Jenna Coker-Jones, Rachel Crissman, Aurore Joly, Janelle Junio, Brett Leigh, Katharine Malak, Jonathan Mercer, Mark Reis, Josh Walden, Justin Michael Wilcox and Christopher Zenner.

Jason Alexander is the artistic director of Reprise Theatre Company. Christine Bernardi Weil is Managing Director and Gilles Chiasson is Producing Director of Reprise Theatre Company.

Musical theatre historians often note that ‘Cabaret' was groundbreaking in its subject matter: it was one of the first musicals to tackle a very dark period of history - the eve of Hitler's rise to power in Weimar Germany - and also groundbreaking in using the songs in the Kit Kat Klub as commentary on the story. "Above all else however, ‘Cabaret' is engrossing and entertaining. A fascinating set of characters - Sally Bowles, the cabaret singer, Cliff Bradshaw, the American writer, and the very singular Emcee, a type never seen before on the Broadway stage, are thrown into a time of history - 1930 Berlin - that rivets our attention," says Gilles Chiasson, Producing Director of Reprise Theatre Company.

"Cabaret" is based on John Van Druten's 1951 play "I Am a Camera," which in turn was adapted from the novel "Goodbye to Berlin" by Christopher Isherwood. Set in 1930 Berlin as the Nazis are rising to power, it is, as Fred Ebb said, "about people dancing on The Edge of a cliff and not quite falling over." "Cabaret" revolves around Sally Bowles, a cabaret performer in the seedy Kit Kat Club, Cliff Bradshaw, the young American writer she becomes involved with, and the characters of the edgy, threatening world they inhabit, including landlady Fräulein Schneider, caught in a doomed romance with Herr Schultz, a Jewish fruit vendor. Overseeing the action is the Master of Ceremonies at the Kit Kat Klub, a decadent and ominous symbol of the era.

The collaborators integrated the cabaret numbers to comment on the action of the story and this, along with the raw edge of the material, made "Cabaret" the most provocative and challenging musical of its day, a challenge that has been taken on by stage and film audiences since. The original production, directed by Harold Prince, played for 1,165 performances on Broadway, and won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical, launching the career of Joel Grey, who played the Master of Ceremonies, and fully establishing the team of composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb, who wrote sixteen musicals including "Flora, The Red Menace," "The Happy Time," "Zorba," "70, Girls, 70," "Chicago," "The Act," "Woman of the Year," "The Rink," "Kiss of the Spider Woman," and "Steel Pier." Two of them have been produced on Broadway following Fred Ebb's death in 2004 - "Curtains" and this season's "The Scottsboro Boys."

The 1972 film version of "Cabaret" won eight Oscars, and brought Liza Minnelli to stardom, as well as bringing director Bob Fosse an Oscar for Best Director. In 1996, John Kander and Fred Ebb's "Chicago" was revived on Broadway and is still running. Two years later, it was joined by Sam Mendes' production of "Cabaret," in a version that was as startlingly original, as the first production of the show had been. Audiences again took up the challenge - the Sam Mendes production of ‘Cabaret" ran for 2,377 performances on Broadway and brought Alan Cumming to stardom.

Single tickets are available for "Cabaret" at or through the UCLA Central Ticket Office at 310/825-2101.

Since its inception in 1997, Reprise Theatre Company has been a focus of the Los Angeles musical theatre community, producing productions of great American musicals, and a wide variety of concerts, staged-readings, special events and outreach programs. In May 2007, Jason Alexander became Artistic Director. Christine Bernardi Weil is Managing Director and Gilles Chiasson is Producing Director of Reprise.

Since its inaugural production of Burt Bacharach and Hal David's "Promises, Promises," which starred Mr. Alexander, Reprise has brought to the stage vibrant productions from all eras of American musical theatre including the Gershwins' "Of Thee I Sing" and "Strike Up the Band," Cole Porter's "Anything Goes" and "Kiss Me Kate," Rodgers and Hart's "The Boys from Syracuse" and "Babes in Arms," Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Carousel," as well as Richard Rodgers' later "No Strings." The "Golden Era" has been well represented - Burton Lane and E.Y. Harburg with "Finian's Rainbow," Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe with "Brigadoon" and "Gigi," Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden and Adolph Green with "On the Town" and "Wonderful Town," Irving Berlin with "Call Me Madam," Robert Wright and George Forrest with "Kismet," both of the Richard Adler and Jerry Ross musicals "The Pajama Game" and "Damn Yankees," Johnny Mercer and Gene dePaul with "Li'l Abner," Jule Styne with "Bells are Ringing," and Frank Loesser with "The Most Happy Fella" and "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying."

Musical theatre reached a new peak of popularity beginning in the sixties, along with new creative talents, and Reprise has presented shows by many of them including Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt with "The Fantasticks," Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick with "She Loves Me," Gerome Ragni, James Rado and Galt MacDermot's "Hair," Sherman Edwards and Peter Stone with "1776," Charles Adams and Lee Strouse with "Applause," Stephen Schwartz with "Pippin," Cy Coleman with "On the Twentieth Century" (libretto by Betty Comden and Adolph Green), "City of Angels" (lyrics by David Zippel), and "I Love My Wife" (libretto by Michael Stewart), Jerry Herman with "Mack and Mabel," Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty's "Once on This Island," Marvin Hamlisch and Carol Bayer Sager's "They're Playing Our Song" (with libretto by Neil Simon) and four Stephen Sondheim musicals - "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," "Company," "Sweeney Todd," and "Sunday in the Park with George."

Many of the great stage performers working today, as well as those who make their residence primarily in Los Angeles, have appeared in Reprise shows including William Atherton, Scott Bakula, Christine Baranski, Brent Barrett, Orson Bean, Jodi Benson, Stephanie J. Block, Stephen Bogardus, Dan Butler, Len Cariou, Carolee Carmello, Vicki Carr, Patrick Cassidy, Matt Cavenaugh, Anthony Crivello, Jason Danieley, Lea DeLaria, Cleavant Derricks, Manoel Feliciano, Rodney Gilfry, Kelsey Grammer, Josh Grisetti, Harry Groener, Bob Gunton, Neil Patrick Harris, Sam Harris, Gregory Harrison, Simon Helberg, Tom Hewitt, Mimi Hines,Seán Martin Hingston. Judy Kaye, Jane Krakowski, Marc Kudish, Ledisi, Vicki Lewis, Judith Light, Rebecca Luker, Lesli Margherita, Eric McCormack, Maureen McGovern, Joey McIntyre, Donna McKechnie, Andrea Marcovicci, Millicent Martin, Marin Mazzie, Julia Migenes, Karen Morrow, Burke Moses, Kelli O'Hara, Lisa O'Hare, John O'Hurley, Ken Page, Robert Picardo, David Hyde Pierce, Larry Raben, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Roger Rees, Charles Nelson Reilly, Cathy Rigby, Alexandra Silber, Douglas Sills, Rex Smith, Brent Spiner, Lea Thompson, Steven Weber, Lee Wilkof, Ruth Williamson, Marisa Jaret Winokur, Lillias White, Fred Willard, and Rachel York.


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