Reprise Theater Company Presents 'MAN OF LA MANCHA'
The 2008-2009 Reprise Theatre Company season continues
with the classic international hit "Man of La Mancha," starring Brent Spiner as Cervantes/Quixote. Julia Migenes, the renowned opera and theatre performer, will play Aldonza/Dulcinea; Valerie Perri will play the role of Aldonza/Dulcinea at matinee performances; and Tony nominee Lee Wilkof will play Sancho Panza.
"Man of La Mancha" is written by Dale Wasserman with music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion. The production will be directed by Michael Michetti, co-artistic director of The Theatre at Boston Court. "La Mancha" will play at the Freud Playhouse from February 14-March 1. Thanks to a partnership grant from The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation, more than 3,300 underserved youth will attend an additional week of free student performances.
The cast also includes George Ball, Brad Culver, Thomas Fiscella, Christopher Guilmet, Daniel Guzman, John Kassir, Ethan Le Phong, Robert Mammana, Maegan McConnell, Stefan Raulston, John J. Todd, Wendy Worthington, and Sam Zeller.
Single tickets are now available for "Man of LA Mancha" online at www.reprise.org or through the UCLA Central Ticket Office at 310/825-2101.
Brent Spiner (Cervantes/Quixote) Broadway credits include "A History of the American Film," "Big River," "The Three Musketeers," "Sunday In The Park With George," "Life x 3," and "1776" for which he received a Drama Desk nomination. He played the android, Data, on "Star Trek the Next Generation" for seven seasons and in four feature films. His other film work includes: "The Aviator," "Independence Day," "Out to Sea," "Superhero," "Master of Disguise" and "South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut." He was a series regular on "Threshold." Other television credits include "Geppetto," "The Poder Heart" on PBS, and "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge" on HBO.
Julia Migenes (Aldonza/Dulcinea) began her Broadway career as a member of the original cast of "Fiddler on the Roof" with Zero Mostel, and she played Maria in "West Side Story." However, she understood that her real calling was to sing, leading her to a cover contract at the New York Metropolitan Opera. While substituting for the leading role of Alban Berg's "Lulu," renowned for its technical difficulty, she was cheered and acclaimed by the public, launching her opera career.
She was immortalized in Francesco Rosi's film version of "Carmen." The soundtrack not only brought her a Grammy Award but even more worldwide notoriety that allowed her to access the greatest theaters in the world. To this day, Julia Migenes has recorded more than 20 albums. Among the most recent: "Vienna" conducted by Lalo Schifrin, a Gold record six months after its release; in 1996, "Man of La Mancha" ("L'homme de la Mancha"), conducted and arranged by Paul Gemignani, with Placido Domingo, Samuel Ramey, Mandy Patinkin; in 1999, "Robert Stolz" and "The Music of Franz Lehar" for BBC and in 2000, Donizetti's "Catarina Cornaro".
Valerie Perri (Aldonza/Dulcinea - matinees) is best known to theater audiences for her Award-winning performance in the lead role of Eva Peron in the Tony Award-winning musical "Evita." Directed by the legendary Harold Prince, Valerie headed the first National Touring production performing the lead role across the United States and Canada. Other Broadway shows include starring roles in: "West Side Story," "Gypsy," "Jesus Christ Superstar," "I Do!, I Do!," "The World Goes Round," "Man of La Mancha," "Annie Warbucks," "City of Angels," "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change," and "Jerome Robbins' Broadway."
Lee Wilkof (Sancho Panza) appeared in New York in "The Present Tense," a comedy revue which he co-wrote; Norman Lear attended a performance and brought Lee to the West Coast in 1978, where he began appearing in television series ("Hart to Hart" and "Delta House" among others) and small roles in films ("Serial," "The Entity"). In 1982 he auditioned (and was cast) for the role of Seymour in an off-off-Broadway show called "Little Shop Of Horrors." His Broadway credits include "Sweet Charity" directed by Bob Fosse, "She Loves Me," "Kiss Me Kate," for which he was nominated for a Tony Award, and the revival of "The Odd Couple." He continued to spend time in L.A. recurring for several seasons on "Ally McBeal" and "Max Headroom," and guest starring in many series including "Newhart." His films include, "This Boy's Life," "Chattahoochee," "Private Parts," "School of Rock," and "The Grey Zone," "Old Loves" and "Before the Devil knows You're Dead."
Michael Michetti, co-artistic director of The Theatre at Boston Court, has directed The Theatre @ Boston Court's productions of "dark play or stories for boys" (L.A. Drama Critics Circle nominations for Production, Direction), "Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings" (Ovation Nominations for Musical, Director of a Musical), "A Picture of Dorian Gray" (LADCC Award for Direction), "Pera Palas" (LADCC Awards for Production, Direction), "Summertime," and its inaugural production of "Romeo and Juliet: Antebellum New Orleans, 1836."
A director of plays and musicals, new works and classics, his diverse credits include: the celebrated production of Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents' "Anyone Can Whistle" (incorporating revisions made by Michetti and approved by the authors) at the Matrix Theatre; David Hare's "Amy's View" starring Carol Lawrence at Florida Rep; David Mamet's "A Life in the Theatre" starring HAl Holbrook at the Pasadena Playhouse; the world premiere of "Ouroboros" by The Theatre @ Boston Court's literary manager Tom Jacobson (LA Weekly Award - Production of the Year); acclaimed productions of Brecht's rarely staged "Edward II" and Aphra Behn's restoration comedy "The Rover," both for Circle X at the Actors' Gang Theatre; the world premiere of Sheila Callaghan's "Crawl, Fade to White" at Theatre of NOTE; the Ovation-nominated productions of "Titanic" for Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities and "Sweeney Todd" starring Amanda McBroom and George Ball; "As You Like It" and Moliere's "Don Juan" for A Noise Within; and the recent Reprise! production of the musical "Li'l Abner" starring Cathy Rigby and Fred Willard.
He is a double Ovation Award winner (as director and co-producer, with Eileen T'Kaye) for his production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream," set in British colonized India. Michetti has received numerous theatre honors including Ovation, Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, L.A. Weekly, Back Stage West Garland, and Drama-Logue Awards, among others.
Lyricist Joe Darion wrote, "When I first heard that 'Don Quixote' was to be done as a musical, I asked 'Which chapter are they dramatizing?' The answer was, 'No chapter. The whole works.'"
After "Oliver Twist" became "Oliver!" and before Victor Hugo took over the world with "Les Miserables," playwright and television wrier Dale Wasserman adapted his 1959 teleplay "I, Don Quixote," with composer Mitch Leigh and lyricist Joe Darion, into "Man of La Mancha." Wasserman's previous theatrical work - the 1963 stage version of Ken Kesey's novel "Once Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" was a Broadway failure, but was a success all over the world (the San Francisco production ran for six years).
The most familiar title of the season, "Man of La Mancha" is one of the great international hits of the American musical stage. It had a single hit on the charts - "The Impossible Dream" - one of the most well known songs from any musical. And the cast album sold so well that people knew the entire score.
It had work by the legendary choreographer Jack Cole - the father of theatrical jazz dancing. It put its original home, Goodspeed Opera House on the map. And when the show's original producer, neophyte Albert Selden (who had used his family's money to renovate the Goodspeed), could not find Broadway producers to move the show to New York, he enlisted a partner, Hal James, and they raised the $250,000 it took to open on Broadway.
No Times Square theatre wanted them, so they went to the ANTA Washington Square in Greenwich Village, an 1,100 seat thrust stage theatre (it qualified as Broadway because of its union personnel), which only brought the cast closer to the audience!
John Chapman said in the Daily News, "An exquisite musical play - the finest
and most original work in our music theatre since 'Fiddler on the Roof.' It moves enthrallingly from its imaginative beginning to a heart-wrenching end." The show made a star of its leading man Richard Kiley, and gave Joan Diener, the wife of its director Albert Marre, her most enduring theatre role as Aldonza. It won the New York Drama Critics Circle and the 1966 Tony Award for Best Musical, besting both "Sweet Charity" and "Mame." In 1967, it was chosen as the opening attraction of the Ahmanson Theatre starring Kiley and Diener, a role she continued to play-up to and including in the 1992 Broadway revival.
It ran 2,328 performances - and with "Hello, Dolly, "Fiddler on the Roof," "Cabaret" and "Mame" - made Broadway musicals one of the great popular entertainments of the sixties - until rock culture caught up with the medium with the opening of "Hair." Kiley returned to Broadway twice in the role, and later Broadway revivals starred Raul Julia and Brian Stokes Mitchell.
"Man of La Mancha" was translated into German, Hebrew, Japanese, Icelandic, Gujarati, Uzbekistani, Magyar, Slovenian, Swahili, Finish, Ukranian and nine different Spanish dialects. Placido Domingo and Jim Nabors starred in recorded versions.
Reprise's Education Program
As part of Reprise's ongoing effort to introduce the next generation to musical theatre, we will be offering an entire week of "Man of La Mancha" student performances. Sheri Biller, President of The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation, attended a performance of last season's "Damn Yankees" with a student audience and became inspired to work with Artistic Director Jason Alexander to bring more first-time theatre-goers to musicals with relevant and timely messages about social issues affecting the lives of today's youth.
The Foundation's generous grant launches the Biller Student Theatre Initiative, a comprehensive musical theatre education program that will offer students two in-class workshops, a study guide, and a follow up project, in addition to providing each young person free admission to "Man of La Mancha" and free transportation to the theatre. Biller notes that, "as a young person, I had the magical experience of sitting in the theatre and seeing a performance that made me think about things I had never thought of before.
The Foundation hopes that many more Los Angeles young people can have this same experience - to be inspired to approach their lives with a more hopeful and broadened perspective and also to see the vast array of career opportunities that are available onstage, backstage and as part of the creative process."
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 off concerts, staged-readings, special events and outreach programs. In May 2007, Jason Alexander became Artistic Director and he was joined by Susan Dietz, Producing Director.
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 Rodgers and Hart's "The Boys from Syracuse" and "Babes in Arms," 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," 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."
Musical theatre reached a new peak of popularity in the sixties, along with new creative talents, and Reprise has presented shows by many of them including 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) and "City of Angels" (lyrics by David Zippel), Jerry Herman with "Mack and Mabel," and three Stephen Sondheim musicals - "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 in primarily in Los Angeles, have appeared in Reprise shows including Scott Bakula, Christine Baranski, Brent Barrett, Orson Bean, Jodi Benson, Stephen Bogardus, Dan Butler, Len Cariou, Carolee Carmello, Vicki Carr, Anthony Crivello, Jason Danielely, Lea Delaria, Clevant Derricks, Manoel Feliciano, Rodney Gilfry, Kelsey Grammer, Harry Groener, Bob Gunton, Sam Harris, Gregory Harrison, Mimi Hines, Judy Kaye, Jane Krakowski, Marc Kudish, Judith Light, Rebecca Luker, Maureen McGovern, Joey McIntyre, Donna McKechnie, Andrea Marcovicci, Marin Mazzie, Karen Morrow, Burke Moses, Kelli O'Hara, Ken Page, Robert Picardo, David Hyde Pierce, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Roger Rees, Charles Nelson Reilly, Cathy Rigby, Douglas Sills, Rex Smith, Steven Weber, Marisa Jaret Winokur, Lillias White, Fred Willard, and Rachel
Photo: Brent Spiner and his wife