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Rubicon Presents My Antonia & It's Only Life in '07-'08

Rubicon Theatre Company's 10th Anniversary Season has been cloaked in secrecy, with the company planning a private preview event in May to announce next year's offerings. However, earlier this week company officials named two of the productions, which will be a part of the just-announced Southern California Festival of New American Musicals.

The shows were announced at an event at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion last week hosted by Jason Alexander. The affair featured performances from luminaries from the musical theatre world including Academy Award and Grammy Award-winner Stephen Schwartz (Honorary Chair of the Festival) and Tony Award-winner Jason Robert Brown.

The Festival is to be an area-wide celebration of musicals running from May to June in 2008. Venues all over the Southern California region will be participating in the event, including theatres, concert halls, high schools and universities. Its mission, according to the LA Stage Alliance, the organization sponsoring all marketing associated with the endeavor, is "devoted to the emergence of important new talents in musical theatre - those composers and writers who are responsible for the renaissance and explosion of new works that we are now seeing on Broadway and around the country."

Joining Rubicon Theatre Company in the presentation of new works at the festival will be Pasadena Playhouse, the Geffen Playhouse and UCLA Live! Also staging musical works in association with the festival are the Los Angeles Master Chorale and the Hollywood Bowl.

Rubicon productions to be included in the festival, and in Rubicon's 10th Anniversary Season, are the Southern California premiere of My Antonia (adapted and directed by Scott Schwartz based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Willa Cather with original music by Stephen Schwartz); and the West Coast premiere of It's Only Life by John Bucchino, directed by Daisy Prince.

According to press materials, "My Antonia is an inspiring portrait of a young immigrant woman and her family who struggle to survive on the Nebraska plains in the late 19th century as the Great Plains are being 'civilized.' The character of the narrator, Jim Burden, reminisces about his childhood friendship with Antonia Shimerda, the world they grew up in, and how it all has changed."  Scott Schwartz (Bat Boy, Golda's Balcony, tick, tick...BOOM), whose Broadway credits include Jane Eyre (co-directed with John Caird) and Golda's Balcony, adapted this "play with music" and will also be directing.  

Music for this play with music is composed by Academy Award and Grammy Award-winner Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, "The Prince of Egypt," "Pocahontas," "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," The Magic Show, Godspell, Pippin).

It's Only Life is a revue by John Bucchino directed by Daisy Prince, who helmed the original Songs For A New World and The Last Five Years by Jason Robert Brown in New York. The concert version of It's Only Life premiered at New York's Summer Play Festival and has been performed at Lincoln Center. Rubicon Theatre's version will be the West Coast Premiere and the first fully staged production. John Bucchino is also currently working on a new musical entitled A Catered Affair with Harvey Fierstein, scheduled to open at The Old Globe this fall, with a planned Broadway opening date in February of 2008.

John Bucchino has been honored as recipient of The Johnny Mercer Songwriter Award, The Songwriters' Fellowship Award, The ASCAP Foundation Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award, and the first annual Fred Ebb Award, among others.  His songs have been recorded and performed by Amanda McBroom, Judy Collins, Barbara Cook, Michael Feinstein, Art Garfunkel, Patti LuPone, Yo-Yo Ma, Audra MacDonald, Liza Minnelli, Deborah Voight, The Boston Pops, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, and many others in venues that include Carnegie Hall, The Metropolitan Opera, The Hollywood Bowl, The Sydney Opera House, and The White House.

Both My Antonia and It's Only Life will be produced by Rubicon Theatre Company with Michael Jackowitz, a New York-based commercial producer who recently co-produced the West Coast premiere of Jonathan Larson's tick…tick…BOOM! at Rubicon which transferred to the Coronet Theatre in Los Angeles last year. Jackowitz recently joined Rubicon as Director of New Works. 

The rest of Rubicon Theatre's 10th Anniversary Season is being kept a closely guarded secret by the entire staff and board of the company. However, Rubicon's Artistic Directors are promising an innovative format for the season; a mix of classic and contemporary dramas, comedies and musicals; and some exciting surprises.

Subscribers to the current seasonwill receive a private invitation to an unusual, large-scale preview event in May, at which time a full announcement of the season will be made.

Mini-series subscriptions for the remaining productions in Rubicon's 9th Season are still available by calling (805) 667-2900. Shows include The Diary of Anne Frank, directed by Rubicon Artistic Director James O'Neil with a cast including Emmy Award-winner Bruce Weitz, Linda Purl, George Backman and Karyl Lynn Burns; Shakespeare's Hamlet, directed by Jenny Sullivan with Joseph Fuqua in the title role; Stephanie Zimbalist as Gertrude and James O'Neil as Claudius; Children of a Lesser God by Mark Medoff, directed by Access Theatre Founder Rod Lathim with a cast to be announced at a later date; the World Premiere comedy Bad Apples by Mark Stein, directed by Ovation and LADCC winner Nick DeGruccio with Tim DeKay and Eric Lange; and Edward Albee's Tony Award-winning play A Delicate Balance, with a cast including Emmy Award-winner Susan Clark, Granville (Sunny) Van Dusen, Robin Gammell, Stephanie McNamara and (just announced) Bonnie Franklin.

New subscribers who sign up by March 31 will receive complimentary tickets for themselves and a guest (subject to availability) to Rubicon's 10th Anniversary Season Private Preview Event.

For tickets or information about Rubicon activities, go to www.rubicontheatre.org or call the Rubicon Theatre Box Office at (805) 667-2900.

Photo of Scott Schwartz by Craig Brockman



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