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Musical Theatre West to Present West Coast Premiere of S'WONDERFUL, 4/4-20

Musical Theatre West presents the third production of their 61st season, the West Coast Premiere of S'WONDERFUL: The New Gershwin Musical, created and directed by Ray Roderick, musicaldirection by Bret Simmons with choreography by Charlie Williams. S'WONDERFUL will preview on Friday, April 4, open on Saturday, April 5 and perform for three weeks only through Sunday, April 20 at The Richard and Karen Carpenter Performing Arts Center, located at 6200 Atherton St., Long Beach on the campus of California State University, Long Beach.

Five mini-musicals take audiences on a ride through the songs that made the Gershwin brothers the most successful team in musical history. 'S Wonderful features over 40 classic hits such as "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off," "Shall We Dance, " "Someone to Watch Over Me," and "Rhapsody in Blue."


RAY RODERICK (Director/Creator) is thrilled to be back at MTW where he directed/choreographed I Love A Piano. Ray recently directed a new version of Show Boat for Central City Opera/The Denver Center, to be produced by Portland Opera. His production of theThe Bikinis, A New Musical Beach Party runs this summer at Long Wharf Theatre, after a successful run for Goodspeed Musicals, where he also directed Mame, My One And Only, 42nd Street and Singin' In The Rain. Other credits: Director/Book Adaptor: Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang US National, UK and Australian Tours and now licensed by MTI. Associate Director: A Christmas Carol (Madison Square Garden); Broadway revival of The Music Man (also Director of National Tour). Founding Artistic Director of Tri-Arts, co- owner of Miracle or 2 Productions ( Creative Director, US Open Tennis and ARTHUR ASHE KIDS DAY for CBS TV. Writer/Director CHUN YI(Beijing, London's West End, Branson, International Tour). Assistant Director to legendary Jerry Lewis for Broadway-bound new musicalThe Nutty Professor. He is married to Broadway Actor Karyn Quackenbush, and is the proud father of Lighting Designer Jamie Roderick.

CHARLIE WILLIAMS (Choreography) is back at Musical Theatre West after performing here in The Pajama Gameand All Shook Up back in 2007 and 2008. Since then, Charlie has been based in New York City working as a performer. Broadway credits include the original Broadway cast of Memphis and the original revival cast of How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, for which he also served as assistant choreographer to Rob Ashford. Charlie has also served as assistant choreographer on, Leap Of Faith (Ahmanson Theatre), "The Tony Awards," "The Kennedy Center Honors," "The 85th Academy Awards," Finding Never Land, and most recently, "The Sound Of Music LIVE" starring Carrie Underwood (NBC). Other performing credits include, "The 65th Emmy Awards," Silence! The Musical, It's a Bird It's a Plane... (Encores), Kristen Chenoweth New Year's Eve, and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. You can also spot Charlie dancing in the upcoming films "A Million Ways to Die in the West" and "The Last Five Years."

BRET SIMMONS (Musical Direction) works as an arranger, producer, musical director and vocal coach. His talents have been most visibly showcased in his role as Music Director on The Megan Mullally Show, as onscreen bandleader and keyboardist. He has also music directed and conducted various stage musicals including Oklahoma, The Drowsy Chaperone, and Once on This Island to name a few. He is the composer of musicals including Falling For Eve with co-writers David Howard and Joe DiPietro, which enjoyed a successful Off-Broadway run; Lucky Star which premiered at Phoenix Theatre in 2008; And Changing Minds which is being licensed by Theatrical Rights Worldwide.Bret has been a staff songwriter for a variety of music publishers, including EMI Music Publishing and Famous Music Corp. Recordings of his work have been released on CBS/SONY records and Walt Disney Records. He also works as a Music Director for The Walt Disney Company.

The Cast of S'WONDERFUL will feature:

REBECCA ANN JOHNSON is thrilled to be back working with her Musical Theatre West family! Favorite theatercredits include Young Frankenstein and Silk Stockings (Musical Theatre West), Falling for Make Believe (The Colony Theatre), Pippin (Center Theatre Group/Deaf West), Children of a Lesser God (Deaf West), Zanna Don't(West Coast Ensemble - winner 2008 LADCC Award for Best Ensemble), and She Always Told Me (Little Ventures Productions). Film, TV and Web credits include "Breaking Wind," "Anger Management," "The Middle," "Community," "Las Vegas," "The Tinsley Bumble Show," "Coco & Ruby," "Easy Bake Lovin'" and "Downer's Grove."

DAMON KIRSCHE is well-known to MTWest audiences, appearing in 42ND STREET (Marsh; Drama Critic's Circle nomination), MAN OF LA MANCHA (Carrasco), 1776 (Hall), ANNIE (Healey) and with the Reiner Reading Series in BELLS ARE RINGING (Jeff) and ON A CLEAR DAY... (Bruckner). Recent: MARY POPPINS (Mr. Banks) and SPAMALOT (Galahad) at MTWichita; A PASSING WIND (Pujol; Barrymore nomination) - Philadelphia's Kimmel Center; One For My Baby (Rick) - New 42nd St.; SHOW BOAT (Ravenal) - Casa Mañana; A Little Night Music(Magnus) - SCR. Damon is a featured soloist at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, City Center, Weill Hall, 92nd St Y, Encores, Walt Disney Hall, with The Cal Phil, The Fred Barton Orchestra, Bruce Kimmel's "Kritzerland" series at The Federal, and as lead vocalist with Dean Mora and his Orchestra at historic venues across America. He can be seen as "Harry McCarthy" in the civil war epic "Gods and Generals" and as the first "Nuu'bari" on "Star Trek: Voyager." Training: Juilliard.

ASHLEY FOX LINTON - is excited to return to MTW after appearing as Betty Schaefer in Sunset Boulevard and in the Reiner Reading Series with Carnival, Call Me Madam & Little Me. Broadway National Tours include Wickedand Les Miserables. MTG: Death Takes a Holiday, Wonderful Town, Girl Crazy. Regional: Sweeney Todd(Cygnet), How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (The Old Globe), Baby (North Coast Rep), Evita (Helen Hayes), A Chorus Line (Seacoast Rep). Film/TV: "Have Dreams, Will Travel," Amy Sawyer on "White Collar" and the voice of Natalie on "Pokemon." Debut solo album: "First Real Love" with King Kozmo Records. She continues to study with UCB and Groundlings and is a contributing artist to The Holiday Magic Project benefitting Children's Hospitals. Proud member of AEA, SAG-AFTRA, MTG and women's philanthropic goal group, The New Hollywood. BFA from The Boston Conservatory.

JEFF SKOWRON - After landing a development deal with IFC for his sitcom "Greg and Donny", Jeff moved to Los Angeles and played Leo Frank in the acclaimed 3D Theatricals production of PARADE (Ovation Award, Leading Actor in a Musical), Leo Bloom in THE PRODUCERS (3DT), Dr. Chilton in the Los Angeles premiere of SILENCE! THE MUSICAL, and Sheldrake/Manfred in SUNSET BOULEVARD with MTW. Broadway: ENRON (Trader), HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (Grinch), THE LION KING (Ed, Timon, Zazu), BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (Lefou), HIGH SOCIETY (Stanley), and Chris Bell in THE BOY FROM OZ workshop opposite Hugh Jackman. Off-Broadway: DEBBIE DOES DALLAS (Rick), ZOMBIE PROM (Josh), NEWSICAL (George W Bush). Television: TEEN WOLF, KROLL SHOW, NCIS, all the LAW AND ORDERs, Mary and Rhoda. Film: "New York City Serenade," "The Narrows," "How To Seduce Difficult Women," "The Good Shepherd," "A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints," "Premium," "Chapter 27".

REBECCA SPENCER - Created the role of Lisa Carew in the Alley Theatre premiere of JEKYLL AND HYDE, and original Broadway Company (Lady Beaconsfield). PHANTOM OF THE OPERA - Germany, (Carlotta), premiered THE LAS VEGAS SPECTACULAR and 25th Anniversary World Tour (Madame Giry). Highlights: National Tour - MAN OF LA MANCHA (Antonia) starring Hal Linden, CANDIDE (Cunegonde) - PaperMill Playhouse, HELLO DOLLY (Dolly) - Weston Playhouse, HMS PINAFORE (Buttercup) - Arizona Theatre, MOST HAPPY FELLA, (Rosabella) - Jupiter Theatre, Naughty Marietta (Marietta) with Allan Jones, NYMTF, Jerry Springer The Opera (Mary) - MGM Grand Casino, MUSIC MAN (Eulalie) - MTW! Guest Soloist for conductors Marvin Hamlisch, Keith Lockhart, Rob Fisher - City Center Encores!, Carnegie Hall - "Gershwin Centennial,"(PBS), Cabaret Convention at Rose Hall/Lincoln Center, NYCO New Voices, Liberace Museum, BIRDLAND. Television: THIRD WATCH, LAW & ORDER: SVU. Solo recordings: WIDE AWAKE AND DREAMING (BackStage Bistro Award), FAIR WARNING (LML Music).

The design team for S'WONDERFUL is as follows: The Set Design is by Kevin Clowes. The Lighting Design is by Jeff Warner. The Sound Design is by Brian Hsieh. The Costume Design is by Deborah Roberts.

S'WONDERFUL will preview on Friday, April 4 and will open on Saturday, April 5 (press opening) at 8:00pm and perform Thursday and Friday evenings at 8:00pm; Saturdays at 2:00pm and 8:00pm (no matinee Saturday, April 5 or evening performance on Thursday, April 10) and Sundays at 2:00 pm through Sunday, April 20, 2014. There will be an additional Sunday evening performance on April 13 at 7pm.

Ticket prices for S'WONDERFUL range from $17.00 - $85.00. Children 18 and under are $20 off ticket price in Section B; $10 off in Section C, via walkup and phone orders only. All tickets are available by calling the Box Office at 562-856-1999 - Ext. 4; at the Box Office in person at 4350 E 7th Street, Long Beach (cross street is Ximeno) - Box Office hours are 12:00 PM - 6:00 PM Tuesday through Saturday or online at

GROUP DISCOUNTS for parties of 12 or more are available by calling the Group Sales Department at 562-856-1999 ex 222. All tickets are subject to dynamic pricing based on demand. Purchase early to lock in prices and best seats.

All shows perform at The Richard and Karen Carpenter Performing Arts Center, located at 6200 Atherton St., Long Beach on the campus of California State University, Long Beach. PLEASE NOTE - TICKETS ARE NOT SOLD AT THE CARPENTER PERFORMING ARTS CENTER.

The story of Musical Theatre West is the 61-year journey from a group of volunteers performing in a high school auditorium to one of the largest and most respected theatrical production companies in Southern California. Beginning as the Whittier Civic Light Opera in 1952, the company originally produced two shows a year for just two days each, back when shows like RIO RITA and THE RED MILL were still in vogue. During most of the 1960s and 1970s, the group remained an all-volunteer effort, producing one show a year. Back then tickets were sold at Hinshaw's and Myers department stores and could be had for all of $1.50 (75 cents for children)! In 1977 the group moved to the brand-new La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts and began to produce a full season of shows. During the 1980s and 1990s the company began to assert itself as one of the top companies in the area, utilizing professional talent and producing regional premieres and even a world premiere musical (1992's HURRY! HURRY! HOLLYWOOD), while continuing to honor the tradition of classic musical theater.

The company entered a new phase in 1997 when it began to produce shows at the Richard and Karen Carpenter Performing Arts Center in Long Beach and quickly became the largest arts producer in the Long Beach area. The company greets the 21st Century by continuing to produce newer fare (RENT, THE FULL MONTY, THE PRODUCERS, HAIRSPRAY) alongside classics of the genre (MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS, THE KING & I, MAN OF LA MANCHA), and has recently produced two additional world premieres. The company continues to receive critical acclaim and national recognition - and many performers who cut their teeth on the MTW stage have gone on to successful careers on Broadway and in television and film. Just as important, stage and screen veterans now come to Musical Theatre West to perform, finding it to be one of the friendliest and most fun venues to work. A key aspect of the company is its dedication to education, and the Education and Outreach Programs of MusicalTheatre West brings the joy and magic of musical theater to over 17,000 children each year through special morning performances, school assemblies, and the Summer Youth Conservatory. We hope that you'll join the thousands of performers, technicians, audience members, donors and volunteers that make up the MusicalTheatre West family as we look forward to another 61 years of bringing Broadway to Southern California.

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