Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Photo Flash: IONESCOPADE Celebrates Opening at Odyssey Theatre

Thirty years after directing and choreographing the Odyssey Theatre's award-winning West Coast premiere, and following a wildly successful off-Broadway revival at the York Theatre last season, Bill Castellino reunites with musical director Gerald Sternbach to charm audiences with a revitalized, updated version of Ionescopade at the Odyssey Theatre, beginning May 31. BroadwayWorld has photos from the opening night festivities below!

Taken from the plays, playlets and poetry of "Theatre of the Absurd" playwright Eugène Ionesco (Rhinoceros, The Bald Soprano, Exit the King), Ionescopade is a zany musical vaudeville featuring mime, farce and parody - all hilariously balanced on The Edge of madness.

Conceiver/original director Robert Allan Ackerman and composer/lyricist Mildred Kayden were Ionesco's guests in his Paris apartment while creating the work. Kayden, now 90, remained friends with Ionesco until his death in 1994.

Developed and directed by Ackerman, Ionescopade premiered off-off Broadway in 1974, then transferred to the Cherry Lane Theatre before moving to Theatre Four. The 1982 West Coast premiere at the Odyssey Theatre, directed and choreographed by Bill Castellino, garnered both LA Weekly and Drama-Logue awards. In 1995, Castellino directed Lilianne Montevecchi and Ron Holgate in a revival at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., and in 2012 he helmed the Off-Broadway Alliance award-nominated York Theatre production, for which he also received a Lucille Lortel nomination for Best Choreographer.

The current Odyssey production features a top-notch cast including Alan Abelew (Odyssey Theatre productions of Theatre in the Dark, Sliding Into Hades, Threepenny Opera, Mary Barnes, Kvetch), Andrew Ableson (L.A. credits: Orson's Shadow, Torn, The Beastly Bombing, End Days, Smoke Lilies & Jade), Joey D'Auria (Emmy Award-winning actor and voice talent best known as WGN-TV Chicago's Bozo the Clown from 1984-2001), Cristina Gerla (The Grapes Of Wrath at A Noise Within), Kelly Lester (Adding Machine the Musical at the Odyssey, the Ovation and LA Weekly award-nominated Spring Awakening at Arena Theatre), Tom Lowe (West End productions of Les Mis and Cats, Les Mis at the Hollywood Bowl) and Jennifer Malenke (Into the Woods on Broadway, MTG's Chess and Little Womenas Meg). Scenic design is by Emmy Award-winner David Potts (Deadwood), lighting design is by Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Career Achievement Award-winner Jeremy Pivnick and costume design is by Mylette Nora, whose work has been seen previously at the Odyssey in What the Butler Saw and Blood Wedding. Ron Sossi produces for the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble.

Mildred Kayden's other productions include music and lyrics for Storyville (with book by Ed Bullins; University of California, San Diego; Mandeville Theatre, Galveston, Texas; San Diego Repertory Theatre), Oh! My Giddy Aunt (Jan's McArt's Theatre), Cut the Ribbons (Westside Theatre) and Pop Operas: Mardi Gras, and The Last Word (with libretto by James Broughton, directed by Bill Castellino at the York Theatre).

Bill Castellino returns to the Odyssey Theatre where he directed critically acclaimed productions of Nightclub Cantata, The Great American Playwrights Show, Something's Rockin' in Denmark, Lullabye and Goodnight and Rap Master Ronnie. Together with Gerald Sternbach and Amanda McBroom, he created the musical Heartbeats which opened at the Matrix Theatre, then went on to productions at The Old Globe, Good Speed Opera House, Cleveland Playhouse and Pasadena Playhouse. Other directing credits include world premieres of Grumpy Old Men (Royal Manitoba Theatre Center, Winnipeg), Jolson at the Winter Garden (Maltz Jupiter Theatre, FL; El Portal Theatre, L.A), Reflections, Dr. Radio (for which he wrote the book), Cagney (Florida Stage), Dorian Gray, Lizzie Bordon (Goodspeed), Miklat, Fishwrap (author),Holiday for Hope (author), House Divided (Tennessee Rep), The Singing Weatherman, Happy Holidays (Pasadena Playhouse), Presidents (PBS and National Tour), Bell'aria (PBS and Las Vegas), Crash Club, Beautiful Dreamer,Another Summer, Breathe and many others. Additionally, he has worked at Carnegie Hall, the Smithsonian Institution, on the high seas and all over the world; he has taught at Boston University, the University of Alabama, Tisch, San Diego University, the University of Texas and Kalamazoo College. Castellino has written the book for eight musicals, has created cabarets for Amanda McBroom, Ann Hampton Callaway, Christianne Noll, Gilles Chaisson, Kathy Brier, Kate Reinders (and others) and has produced numerous concerts, benefits and special events.

Gerald Sternbach's recent musical directing credits include Having it All and Plaid Tidings at Laguna Playhouse; The Fix and The Robber Bridegroom (Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award) at ICT; and Nightmare Alley and Wishful Drinking at the Geffen Playhouse. He was the resident musical director for REPRISE! for six seasons, conducting over 18 shows and earning nine Ovation nominations, winning in 2006, and six Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award nominations that resulted in three wins. He made his LA Philharmonic debut at the Hollywood Bowl in 2005 with "Stephen Sondheim's 75th Birthday - The Concert." Other credits: associate conductor for Broadway productions of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Merlin and The Tap Dance Kid, and for the Los Angeles premiere company of Les Miserables; and conductor for the national tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Song and Dance starring Melissa Manchester. He has worked with Adam Lambert, Josh Groban, Sarah Brightman, Neil Patrick Harris, John Lithgow, Kelsey Grammar, Nancy Wilson and Jennifer Hudson. He composed the music and songs for Heartbeats with Amanda McBroom; for the '93-'98 editions of the Ringling Brothers' Circus; and his song "Mary," a paean to The Mary Tyler Moore Show written in collaboration with Faye Greenberg, was performed by Eric McCormack on the 2003 TV Land Awards show in the presence of the original cast. Upcoming: his fifth summer working with Marilyn Horne at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, and his musical, Amother Musical, written in collaboration with Elin Hampton, has been licensed by Steele Spring.

Performances of Ionescopade will run through August 11. Tickets are $30. The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, Calif. For reservations and information, call (310) 477-2055 or go to www.OdysseyTheatre.com.

Photos courtesy of Odyssey Theatre Ensemble.

Photo Flash: IONESCOPADE Celebrates Opening at Odyssey Theatre
Stephanie Satie and Connie Danese appeared together in the 1974 production of Ionescopade at NY's Theatre Four

Photo Flash: IONESCOPADE Celebrates Opening at Odyssey Theatre
Stephane Satie and Connie Danese with current cast members Cristina Gerla, Kelly Lester and Jennifer Malenke

Photo Flash: IONESCOPADE Celebrates Opening at Odyssey Theatre
Current cast members Joey D'Auria and Tom Lowe with 1982 cast member Sam Anderson

Photo Flash: IONESCOPADE Celebrates Opening at Odyssey Theatre
Cristina Gerla, Kelly Lester, Bill Castelino, Joey D'Auria

Photo Flash: IONESCOPADE Celebrates Opening at Odyssey Theatre
Musical director Gerald Sternbach, Bill Castellino, Roxanne Mayweather

Photo Flash: IONESCOPADE Celebrates Opening at Odyssey Theatre
Roxanne Mayweather, Bill Castellino, former LA Times Theatre Critic Sylvie Drake, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble Artistic Director Ron Sossi

Photo Flash: IONESCOPADE Celebrates Opening at Odyssey Theatre
Set designer David Potts with director Bill Casellino

Photo Flash: IONESCOPADE Celebrates Opening at Odyssey Theatre
Current cast members Cristina Gerla, Kelly Lester, Andrew Ableson

Photo Flash: IONESCOPADE Celebrates Opening at Odyssey Theatre
Bill Castellino and Sam Anderson (Bill directed Sam in the 1982 West Coast premiere)

Photo Flash: IONESCOPADE Celebrates Opening at Odyssey Theatre
Roxanne Mayweather, Stephanie Satie, Connie Danese, Bill Castellio, Sam Anderson



Related Articles View More Los Angeles Stories


More Hot Stories For You