Reprise Theatre Company Announces 2011-2012 Season


Reprise Theatre Company's 2011-2012 season features two classic American musicals at UCLA's Freud Playhouse - "Cabaret" (September 13 to September 25, 2011), based on the play by John Van Druten and stories by Christopher Isherwood, music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, Broadway production directed by Harold Prince; "The Baker's Wife" (February 14 to 26, 2012), with book by Joseph Stein and music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, based on the film "La Femme de Boulanger" by Marcel Pagnol and Jean Giono; and a third production to be announced, which will play April 17 to 29, 2012. Jason Alexander is the artistic director of Reprise Theatre Company.

Musical theatre historians often note that 'Cabaret' was groundbreaking in its subject matter: it was one of the first musicals to tackle a very dark period of history - the eve of Hitler's rise to power in Weimar Germany - and also groundbreaking in using the songs in the Kit Kat Club as commentary on the story. "Above all else however, 'Cabaret' is engrossing and entertaining. A fascinating set of characters - Sally Bowles, the cabaret singer, Cliff Bradshaw, the American writer, and the very singular Emcee, a type never seen before on the Broadway stage, are thrown into a time of history - 1931 Berlin - that rivets our attention," says Gilles Chiasson, Producing Director.
'The Baker's Wife' is a gem of a musical from the composer-lyricist Stephen Schwartz, who wrote the scores of 'Godspell,' 'Pippin,' and 'The Magic Show,' and would later write the score of 'Wicked,' and his collaborator librettist Joseph Stein, who wrote the book for 'Fiddler on the Roof,' 'Zorba,' and 'Take Me Along.' 'The Baker's Wife,' like 'Gigi,' had its World Premiere in the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera series at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion - starring Topol - commencing on a six-month tour including San Francisco and Washington, D.C. While it did not travel to Broadway after that, Schwartz did produce a cast album of its glorious score - with Paul Sorvino and a very young Patti LuPone who joined the cast in San Francisco - prompting a New York off-Broadway staging in 1985, and a West End production in 1989, directed by Trevor Nunn. "We are thrilled to bring this rarely-seen show, with a Los Angeles history, to a new audience," says Chiasson.

Christine Bernardi Weil is Managing Director and Gilles Chiasson is Producing Director of Reprise Theatre Company.

"Cabaret" is based on John Van Druten <> 's 1951 play "I Am a Camera <> ," which in turn was adapted from the novel "Goodbye to Berlin <> " by Christopher Isherwood <> . Set in 1931 Berlin <> as the Nazis <> are rising to power, it is, as Fred Ebb said, "about people dancing on The Edge of a cliff and not quite falling over." "Cabaret" revolves around Sally Bowles, a cabaret performer in the seedy Kit Kat Club, Cliff Bradshaw, the young American writer she becomes involved with, and the characters of the edgy, threatening world they inhabit, including landlady Fräulein Schneider, caught in a doomed romance with Herr Schultz, a Jewish <> fruit vendor. Overseeing the action is the Master of Ceremonies at the Kit Kat Klub, a decadent and ominous symbol of the era.

The collaborators integrated the cabaret numbers to comment on the action of the story and this, along with the raw edge of the material, made "Cabaret" the most provocative and challenging musical of its day, a challenge that has been taken on by stage and film audiences since.
The original production played for 1,165 performances on Broadway, and won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical, launching the career of Joel Grey, who played the Master of Ceremonies, and fully establishing the team of composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb, who wrote sixteen musicals including "Flora, The Red Menace," "The Happy Time," "Zorba," "70, Girls, 70," "Chicago," "The Act," "Woman of the Year," "The Rink," "Kiss of the Spider Woman," and "Steel Pier." Two of them have been produced on Broadway following Fred Ebb's death in 2004 - "Curtains" and this season's "The Scottsboro Boys."

The 1972 film version of "Cabaret" won eight Oscars, and brought Liza Minnelli to stardom, as well as bringing director Bob Fosse an Oscar for Best Director. In 1996, John Kander and Fred Ebb's "Chicago" was revived on Broadway and is still running. Two years later, it was joined by Sam Mendes' production of "Cabaret," in a version that was as startlingly original, as the first production of the show had been. Audiences again took up the challenge - the Sam Mendes production of 'Cabaret" ran for 2,377 performances on Broadway and brought Alan Cumming to stardom.

"The Baker's Wife," a musical theatre, cult classic, is based on the film "La Femme de Boulanger" by Marcel Pagnol and Jean Giono and tells the story of a small Provencal town that at last finds peace and contentment in the heavenly bread of the newly arrived baker and his attractive, but much younger wife. When the baker's wife is lured away by the attentions of a handsome young man, the middle-aged baker loses all zest for life and baking, throwing the community into chaos.
The musical theater rights of the 1938 film were originally optioned in 1952 by producers Cy Feuer <> and Ernest Martin <> for a proposed production to star Bert Lahr. By 1976, the rights were held by David Merrick, who had produced "Fanny" (the first of his 27 musical productions) based on a Pagnol film. The show has never been forgotten, however, thanks in no small part to the original cast album, featuring Patti LuPone's performance of "Meadowlark," which has subsequently become a cabaret standard.

As Stephen Schwartz related, 'At the time of the original production of "The Baker's Wife," it was virtually unheard of for there to be a cast recording of a pre-Broadway show that didn't make it to Broadway. Thus it was with surprise and delight that I heard from Bruce and Doris Yeko, who had seen the show out-of-town and wanted to preserve the score. There was no budget to pay the entire cast, so it was decided to eliminate the chorus numbers and do only those songs that involved the principals -- a decision that was good for the record both economically and artistically, but which actually made it take longer to fix the show itself, since it mistakenly gave the impression that the show should focus more exclusively on the central story."

"The record did not represent any actual performance of the show, since there had been no single performance in which all the songs chosen for the album had been in the show at the same time, but I selected those numbers I thought should make up the core of the score, and they have basically done so ever since. Although, to this day, I have never received one penny in royalties for the album, I am grateful to the Yekos for preserving the score and thus starting 'The Baker's Wife' on its road back to life."

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