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David Engel, Jason Graae and More Set for Rubicon's RODGERS & HART & HAMMERSTEIN This Weekend

The Janet and Mark L. Goldenson Broadway Musical Concert Series at Rubicon Theatre Company continues with three concerts celebrating the genius of two of the most prolific and most important writing teams in musical theatre history in a show entitled RODGERS & HART & HAMMERSTEIN.

Helmed by Ovation award-winning director Larry Raben, whose directing credits include the World Premiere of Tony-winner Joe DiPietro's Falling for Eve Off-Broadway, the concert features Joan Almedilla (Miss Saigon - Broadway; Les Miserables - National Tour) Teri Bibb (over 1,000 performances as Christine in Phantom on Broadway; National Tours), Susanne Blakeslee (Forbidden Broadway - Off-Broadway), David Engel (Putting it Together with Carol Burnett - Broadway), Jason Graae (A Grand Night for Singing and Falsettos - Broadway), and Andrew Samonsky (South Pacific and The Mystery of Edwin Drood - Broadway). Musical direction is by Steven Freeman (a New York-based artist who has conducted Chicago and Billy Elliot on Broadway and whose regional credits include shows at Berkshire, North Shore, Casa Manana and Paper Mill Playhouse).

Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart wrote their first shows together at Columbia University and collaborated on successful Broadway hits such as Babes in Arms, On Your Toes, Babes in Arms and Pal Joey. Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein, II joined forces after long and highly distinguished careers, creating the most consistently fruitful and successful partnership in the American musical theatre - resulting in such beloved classics as Oklahoma, Carousel, South Pacific, Flower Drum Song and The Sound of Music.

The concert will feature some of the greatest songs produced by these extraordinary talents, including "Where or When," "The Lady is a Tramp," "My Romance," "Ten Cents a Dance," "I Have Dreamed," "My Funny Valentine," "So Long, Farewell," "If I Loved You" and "People Will Say We're in Love."

RODGERS & HART & HAMMERSTEIN is presented for three performances only: Saturday, May 16 at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, May 17 at 2:00 p.m. All performances are at Rubicon Theatre in Ventura's Downtown Cultural District, located at 1006 E. Main Street (the corner of Main and Laurel), Ventura, CA 93001. Tickets are $49.50 for Rubicon subscribers, $69.50 for the general public. Those who order three or more of the concerts in the series save $10 on each ticket (or $30 per subscription). Other remaining concerts in the Janet and Mark L. Goldenson Broadway Concert Series are THE SECRET GARDEN, August 22 and 23, based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett with lyrics by Marsha Norman and music by Lucy Simon; and DADDY LONG LEGS, October 3 and 4, with a book by Paul Gordon and John Caird, music by Paul Gordon, directed by Tony and Olivier Award-winner John Caird, based on the classic novel by Jean Webster). For more information or to purchase tickets, call (805) 667-2900, or go to


Richard Rodgers (1902-1979) and Lorenz Hart (1895-1943) wrote their first shows together when both were still students attending Columbia University. After writing a series of musical comedies for the University's Varsity Shows and other charities, they made their professional debut with the song "Any Old Place With You," featured in the 1919 Broadway musical comedy A Lonely Romeo. Their breakthrough came with the score for a 1925 charity show The Garrick Gaieties, which introduced the classic valentine to the creators' hometown, "Manhattan." From 1920 to 1930, Rodgers & Hart wrote an astonishing array of musical comedies for Broadway and London's West End. At their pinnacle, the team was writing an average of four new shows a year; among these were: Dearest Enemy, Betsy, Peggy-Ann, The Girl Friend, Chee and A Connecticut Yankee. In 1930, the team relocated to Hollywood, where they contributed songs and wrote the scores for several movie musicals, including the landmark "Love Me Tonight" starring Maurice Chevalier, "The Phantom President" starring George M. Cohan, "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum" starring Al Jolson, and "Mississippi" starring Bing Crosby and W.C. Fields. Rodgers & Hart were lured back to New York by legendary Broadway producer Billy Rose in 1935 to write the songs for his circus musical spectacular Jumbo. Their score introduced "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World," "My Romance" and "Little Girl Blue."

From 1936 to 1943, Rodgers & Hart wrote a series of Broadway musical comedies, each of which seemed to top the one before in terms of innovation and box office success. On Your Toes (1936), Babes in Arms (1937), I'd Rather be Right (1937), I Married an Angel (1938), The Boys from Syracuse (1938), Too Many Girls (1939), Higher and Higher (1940), Pal Joey (1940), and By Jupiter (1942) dazzled Broadway in spectacular succession, and collectively offered such classic songs as "There's A Small Hotel," "I Wish I Were in Love Again," "My Funny Valentine," "Where or When," "The Lady Is A Tramp," "Spring is Here," "Falling in Love with Love," "Sing for Your Supper," "This Can't be Love," "I Didn't Know What Time it Was," "It Never Entered My Mind," "Bewitched," "I Could Write A Book," "Nobody's Heart," and "Wait Till You See Her." The partnership disbanded temporarily early in 1943 when Rodgers collaborated with Oscar Hammerstein II on Oklahoma! The Rodgers & Hart partnership resumed with a revision of their 1927 musical comedy A Connecticut Yankee, and the new production (which featured six new songs including "To Keep My Love Alive") opened on Broadway November 17, 1943. Already ill at the time, Lorenz Hart died less than a week later. Richard Rodgers then pursued a career with Oscar Hammerstein II, and continued to write for the musical stage for the rest of his life. In 1999, Rodgers and Hart were each commemorated on United States postage stamps.


Richard Rodgers and librettist/lyricist Oscar Hammerstein, II (1895-1960) joined forces in 1943 to create the most consistently fruitful and successful partnership in the American musical theatre. Oklahoma!, the first Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, was also the first of a new genre - the musical play - blending Rodgers' sophisticated style of musical comedy (which he had perfected in a twenty-five year partnership with Lorenz Hart) with Hammerstein's innovations in operetta (conceived in collaboration with such composers as Sigmund Romberg, Vincent Youmans, Rudolf Friml and Jerome Kern.) Oklahoma! was followed by Carousel (1945), Allegro (1947), South Pacific (1949), The King and I (1951), Me and Juliet (1953), Pipe Dream (1955), Flower Drum Song (1958) and The Sound of Music (1959). The team also wrote one movie musical "State Fair" (1945; adapted to the stage, 1995), and one for television "Cinderella" (1957). Collectively, their musicals have garnered dozens of awards, including Pulitzer Prizes, Tony's, Oscars, Emmys, Grammys, Olivier's and Evening Standard Awards. Oscar Hammerstein II died in 1960. Richard Rodgers' final and 40th Broadway musical, I Remember Mama, opened on Broadway less than eight months before his death on December 30, 1979. In March of 1990, Richard Rodgers was honored posthumously with Broadway's highest honor when the 46th Street Theatre was renamed in his honor.


Performers in RODGERS, HART & HAMMERSTEIN include four Broadway stars previously seen on the Rubicon stage: Joan Almedilla, who appeared in Songs for a New World and A Rubicon Family Christmas; Teri Bibb who appeared in A Rubicon Family Christmas; Jason Graae, who appeared in The Best is Yet to Come and High Button Shoes; and Andrew Samonsky, who played Pip in the developmental production of Little Miss Scrooge.

Six-time Ovation Award-winner David Engel, whose Broadway credits include Putting it Together (with Carol Burnett), Seussical: The Musical, and the original production of La Cage aux Folles makes his Rubicon stage debut with this concert. David also created the role of Smudge in the original New York production of Forever Plaid. Susanne Blakeslee, who is known for playing various roles in the long-running hits Forbidden Hollywood and Forbidden Broadway, also makes her Rubicon debut with RODGERS & HART & HAMMERSTEIN.


LARRY RABEN (Director) returns to the Rubicon after previously directing Forever Plaid. Most recently he directed Buyer & Cellar (CSW). He won the L.A. Ovation Award for Best Direction for Singin' in the Rain (Cabrillo Music Theatre). He directed the World Premiere of Tony Award-winner Joe DiPietro's Falling for Eve Off-Broadway at The York Theatre. A founding member of Coyote StageWorks, he directed Tru, Greater Tuna and A Tuna Christmas and Plaid Tidings (all for which he received Desert Star Awards for Best Direction). Larry's regional credits include Catch Me If You Can (Moonlight Amphitheater), When You Wish - The Story of Walt Disney, Sunset Blvd., Hairspray, The Producers, Always Patsy Cline, Love Makes the World Go Round, Sweet Charity in Buenos Aires (Best Director Ace nominee), Bark! (Inland Empire Award for Best Direction), The Wedding Singer, Never Gonna Dance, The Thing About Men, I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, and Nuttin' But Hutton. He wrote and directed Rodger & Hart & Hammerstein for Reprise!, Hollywood's Heyday for the Welk, and Motown at the Twilight (Canadian Tour). Larry is also the published children's book author of "Ibby Makes a Wish," which is available on

STEVEN FREEMAN (Musical Director) is currently working with Matilda: The Musical. On Broadway, he has conducted Chicago, Billy Elliot, Irving Berlin's White Christmas and Grease! He conducted the premiere of Stephen Sondheim's Saturday Night at Second Stage. Other shows include Damn Yankees, Forever Plaid, Romance In Hard Times and Three Postcards by Craig Lucas. Regional theaters include the Berkshire Theater Festival, North Shore Music Theater, Paper Mill Playhouse and The La Jolla Playhouse. He made his Carnegie Hall debut as a guest vocalist in A Celebration of MGM Musicals.

Tickets for RODGERS & HART & HAMMERSTEIN may be purchased in person through the Rubicon Theatre Company Box Office at the corner of Main and Laurel in Ventura (Laurel entrance and downstairs). The box office is open Noon to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Sunday. To charge by phone, call 805.667.2900 or visit

Rubicon Theatre Company has been described as, "the rising star of the Southern California cultural constellation." A not-for-profit professional regional theatre with over 1,500 subscribers, Rubicon serves area residents and visitors with innovative productions of classic and contemporary plays, as well as a wide array of educational programs and events. The company has been acclaimed by critics and industry professionals (the company has received the L.A. Drama Critics Margaret Harford Special Award for "Sustained Excellence," a Drama Desk Award for the Off-Broadway production of The Best is Yet To Come, and has won more than 20 Ovation Awards from the L.A. Stage Alliance. Rubicon has welcomed a steady stream of high-profile actors and directors. Ed Asner, David Birney, Susan Clark, Dana Delaney, Nancy Dussault, Conchata Ferrell, Bonnie Franklin, Harold Gould, Joel Grey, Larry Hagman, Bill Irwin, Stacy Keach, Jack Lemmon, Donna McKechnie, Amanda McBroom, Ted Neeley, Paul Provenza, Linda Purl, Rondi Reed, John Ritter, Joe Spano, Bruce Weitz, JoBeth Williams, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Stephanie Zimbalist and other luminaries have graced the Rubicon stage. Company members are George Ball, Joseph Fuqua and Jenny Sullivan.

Based in Ventura's historic downtown cultural district, just blocks from the Pacific Ocean, Rubicon occupies a 185-seat former church built in the 1920s. In this renovated historic landmark, audience members are never further than 10 rows from the stage on the main floor.

True to the company's name and the vision of artistic directors Karyl Lynn Burns and James O'Neil, Rubicon has created an environment where commitment and risk are encouraged, and where artists are nurtured and respected. As a result, the company has gained a reputation for invigorating interpretations of the classics and for supporting the development of new works. Rubicon presents at least one World Premiere each season, as well as readings of works-in-progress.

Deeply rooted in the region it serves, Rubicon offers extensive outreach programs, including daytime matinees for high school students, after-school and weekend programs for at-risk youth, and summer musical theatre, drama and technical camps. More than 40,000 students have participated.

A board of directors of prominent social and civic leaders governs Rubicon. The company is also supported by an advisory group of regional ambassadors and a volunteer auxiliary with nearly 300 members.

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