World Premiere of LONESOME TRAVELER: GENERATIONS to be Presented by Rubicon Theatre Company

Multiple generations of artists come together in this joyous world premiere musical event celebrating the unifying power of song.

By: Jun. 06, 2022
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World Premiere of LONESOME TRAVELER: GENERATIONS to be Presented by Rubicon Theatre Company

Rubicon Theatre Company, Ventura's non-profit professional theatre company, will continue the company's 2022-2023 Season with the World Premiere of LONESOME TRAVELER: GENERATIONS, conceived by George Grove and James O'Neil, with musical direction by Rick Dougherty and George Grove and direction by Rubicon Co-Founder James O'Neil. LONESOME TRAVELER: GENERATIONS begins previews on Wednesday, June 8 at 7 p.m.; opens on Saturday, June 11 at 7 p.m.; and runs through Sunday, June 26 at Rubicon Theatre, 1006 E. Main Street in Ventura's Downtown Cultural District.

Multiple generations of artists come together in this joyous world premiere musical event celebrating the unifying power of song. This concert features the dynamic vocals and awe-inspiring instrumental talents of Lifetime Grammy Award-winners George Grove (formerly of The Kingston Trio for more than 40 years), Rick Dougherty (formerly with The Kingston Trio and The Limeliters), and Jerry Siggins (best known as the lead singer of The Diamonds). These legendary performers are joined onstage by favorite singer/musicians from Lonesome Traveler and I Dig Rock 'n Roll Music (Sylvie Davidson and Trevor Wheetman), and fresh young artists from Detroit and L.A. (Alexcia Thompson and Andrew Huber). The concert includes songs of trial and tribulation, love and heartbreak, inspiration and aspiration, freedom and justice, and harmony and hope.


The original theatrical incarnation of Lonesome Traveler, subtitled A Journey Down the Rivers and Streams of American Folk, premiered at Rubicon Theatre Company in April of 2011. The production was conceived and directed by Rubicon's Artistic Director James O'Neil, whose father instilled in him a passion for folk music. O'Neil's father (also James), was an émigré from the Midwest who journeyed to California during the Dust Bowl after the Great Depression.) Although non-linear, the production took audiences on A Journey Down the Rivers and Streams of American Folk music - from the back porches of Appalachia to churches, meeting halls and rallies, to the television studios of Hollywood, to the nightclubs of New York and San Francisco. The story began with the character of John Lomax recording songs for the Smithsonian and ended in 1965 with Bob Dylan picked up the electric guitar at Newport.

With his Co-Creator Dan Wheetman (Tony nominee for Ain't Nothin' But the Blues), O'Neil went to indie clubs, called music writers and traveled the nation to find a young cast to portray the creators of folk and the folk revival at early moments in their careers, among them Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Odetta, Cisco Houston, The Carter Family, The Almanacs Singers, The Limeliters, Gordon Lightfoot, Ian and Sylvia, The Kingston Trio, and Peter, Paul and Mary.

The show broke box office records at Rubicon, moved to Laguna Playhouse, returned to Rubicon for an encore run and was produced Off-Broadway for a successful run at 59E59 Theatres. Through the course of the runs in California and New York, many of the artists portrayed as characters and their families came to see the show. Friendships formed and new collaborations began to blossom.

Wheetman's son Trevor, a multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter, appeared in the original production and has continued to create music, direct and appear in shows at Rubicon. Trevor and Sylvie Davidson, another talented cast member, met at the first rehearsal and have since written and performed together, toured, married and become parents. Both return to Rubicon (with one-year-old baby Bucky in tow) in this current incarnation. George Grove, a member of the Banjo Hall of Fame and then of The Kingston Trio, saw the show and then signed on to create arrangements for Lonesome Traveler. Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary surprised the cast by jumping into the New York production one evening and later was the heart and sould of the show's national tour. Noel Paul Stookey (Paul of Peter, Paul and Mary) performed two solo concerts on the Rubicon stage and curated a "Music for Changing Times" weeklong festival of music at Rubicon in partnership with Music to Life, a non-profit organization harnessing the power of music to inspire social change under the direction of Noel's daughter Elizabeth Stooke Sunde. When George Grove, Rick Dougherty and Jerry Siggins formed The Folk Legacy Trio, they invited Rubicon's James O'Neil to direct and had their debut performance on the Rubicon stage in Ventura.

Says Rubicon Artistic Director Karyl Lynn Burns, "Folk music is alive and well at Rubicon. It continues to be a multi-generational family affair and an important part of the Rubicon ethos. We are thrilled to be creating a new version that we hope will bring children, parents and grandparents together to share songs that have been a part of their life stories. When people lift their voices together, it brings then closer together."

"In this time of division in the world," continues Burns, "we cling to the words of Pete Seeger:
'Can we begin to make our lives once more all of a piece?
Finding the right songs and singing them over and over is a way to start.
And when one person taps out a beat while another leads into the melody;
or when three people discover a harmony they never knew existed;
or a crowd joins in on a chorus as though to raise the ceiling a few feet higher;
then they also know there is hope for the world.'"


The current concert which opens June 11 includes songs such as "There's a Meeting Here Tonight," "Sweeter Than Wine," "Mountain Thyme," "MTA," "City of New Orleans," "Early Morning Rain" "Teach Your Children," "Country Roads," "California Dareamin'," "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," Phil Ochs "Power and Glory" coupled with John Legend's "Glory," original songs by Trevor & Sylvie and a song recently written by Noel Paul Stookey entitled "Standing on the Shoulders."
Says Creator James O'Neil, "Audiences will hear some of their favorite folk songs in the styles of each of the generations represented in the cast. Part of the fun of this concert is that we get a sense of how a song can morph and change through time. Folk songs are both timeless and firmly rooted in the circumstances of the time in which they are performed."


GEORGE GROVE is a Lifetime Grammy Award-Winner and a member of the Banjo Hall of Fame. He spent forty-one years in The Kingston Trio, joining in 1976 playing banjo and guitar and singing. With a Master of Music degree in Composition, the creation of orchestral scores fell to him, and the Trio consequently performed Pops Concerts with most of the major symphony orchestras in America. Prior to joining The Kingston Trio, Grove performed with and was mentored by Roy Acuff, Jerry Reed, Chet Atkins, Billy Edd Wheeler, Johnny Cash and a host of others. Grove's early musical life began with the piano and trumpet with an undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University,followed by a stint in the Army which included playing in the Army Band of Fort Monroe, VA. After the Army and prior to moving to Nashville, he drove around the country as a soloist, singing the songs of the great Folk Era, the perfect preparation for his current association with Rick Dougherty and Jerry Siggins as The Folk Legacy Trio.

RICK DOUGHERTY, a Lifetime Grammy Award-Winner and former member of The Kingston Trio and The Limeliters, has had a wide-ranging career in music. He performed solo throughout the West, developing a versatilefinger-style guitar technique to accompany himself as a performer of folk, standards and jazz. He graduated from Sonoma State University with honors and subsequently directed nearly 40 operas while writing arrangements for two a cappella groups. In 1990, first joined The Limeliters, performing with the group until 2003 when he left to sing with Glenn Yarbrough as part of the "This Land Is Your Land" folk tour. At the end of the tour, Dougherty was invited to join The Kingston Trio with whom he performed nationwide until late 2017. He is currently teamed with his favorite banjo player George Grove and Jerry Siggins of The Diamonds in The New Group The Folk Legacy Trio, continuing and deepening his connection to the music that he has sung for so long. Dougherty has received excellent reviews for his recently published guitar manual "Sounding Good on One Guitar," and is working on a new CD.

JERRY SIGGINS has been the lead singer of the '50s group The Diamonds for the past 27 years. In the '80s, Siggins formed and played in an Irish band in many venues in Southern California for nearly a decade. Jerry was a mainstay at Disneyland, Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland both as a solo performer and as part of a quartet "The Dapper Dans." Prior to his singing career, he also worked as an actor/singer appearing on "The Tonight Show, "Tony Orlando & Dawn," - even an episode of "The Love Boat."

Sylvie Davidson is a member of the original Lonesome Traveler cast and has appeared in numerous shows and concerts at the Rubicon, including The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, King Lea. Most recently, Sylvie acted, played, and sang as a company member at the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, VA. Other credits include Abigail in ACT Theatre's production of The Crucible and Inez in the Alliance Theatre's World Premiere musical Troubadour. Sylvie performs original music with her husband Trevor, whom she met eleven years ago at the first rehearsal of Lonesome Traveler. They recently celebrated the first birthday of their son, Bucky.

ANDREW HUBER returns to Rubicon having played Cookie in the company's production of Return to the Forbidden Planet. Other favorite theatre credits include Man in Man Covets Bird at 24th Street Theatre, Will in Big Fish at Musical Theatre West, Kristoff in Frozen Live at the Hyperion at Disney's California Adventure, and Andrei in Once for 3-D Theatricals. He frequently performs throughout Southern California as the frontman of L.A.'s premiere rock band The Oil Barons. Huber holds a B.F.A. in Theatre Performance from Hofstra University.

ALEXCIA THOMPSON holds a B.F.A in Theatre from Howard University. Favorite credits include Anita in Jelly's Last Jam at Theatre Latte' Da Latte Da, Jelly's Last Jam (Anita) She was an apprentice at Children's theatre company from 2018-2019 where credits included Last Stop on Market Street, The Biggest Little House in the Forest, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Matilda. At Yellow Street Theatre, she appeared in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. At Sweet Tea Shakespeare, she appeared in The Tempest.

Trevor Wheetman was in the original Lonesome Traveler 11 years ago where he first met his now wife Sylvie Davidson. Lonesome Traveler: Generations marks Wheetman's 10th appearance with the company, having previously been a part of shows including The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, A Christmas Carol, Return to The Forbidden Planet and I Dig Rock and Roll Music. He has lived and traveled all over from Seattle to Nashville and performed with his wife and partner as Trevor & Sylvie. They released their debut album "Time is Free" in 2018 and are putting the finishing touches on their follow up album due out by Christmas.


JAMES O'NEIL (Director/Co-Creator) is the Author/ Director of Lonesome Traveler: A Journey Down the Rivers and Streams of American Folk, which premiered at Rubicon more than a decade ago as a co-production with Laguna Playhouse and then moved Off-Broadway, where it received Drama Desk and Outer Critic's Circle nominations. A concert version of the production toured with special guest Peter Yarrow and will go out again next season. Jim's other Rubicon directing credits include I Dig Rock and Roll Music (which also ran at the Laguna Playhouse); King Lear starring George Ball; My Fair Lady starring Kimberly Hessler and Joseph Fuqua; Man of La Mancha starring George Ball, Jamie Torcellini, Jennifer Shelton and Randall Keith; Fiddler on the Roof starring Jay Brazeau and Eileen Barnett and featuring violin virtuoso Nuvi Mehta as The Fiddler (Indy Award); Jesus Christ Superstar starring Ted Neeley and Carl Anderson; the World Premiere of The Spin Cycle by David Rambo; A Delicate Balance starring Susan Clark, Granville Van Dusen, Bonnie Franklin and Amanda McBroom; The Diary of Anne Frank starring Lauren Patten, Bruce Weitz and Alison Brie (Indy Award); The Night of the Iguana starring Stephanie Zimbalist and Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.; A Streetcar Named Desire starring Linda Purl, Tom Astor, and Eric Lange (Indy Award); Driving Miss Daisy starring Michael Learned (NAACP Award - Best Direction of a Play); All My Sons (L.A. Ovation Award - Best Production of a Play); Sylvia starring Kristi Lynes and Joe Spano; and Gem of the Ocean starring Lillias White, Tony Haney and Chris Butler. Under Jim's artistic leadership, Rubicon accepted the 2011-12 New York Drama Desk Award for The Best is Yet to Come: The Music of Cy Coleman, conceived and directed by David Zippel and starring Lillias White, Billy Stritch, Howard McGillin, David Burnham, Rachel York and Sally Mayes. Other directing credits include The Lion in Winter, The Petrified Forest, Inherit the Wind and regional premieres of A Coupla' White Chicks Sitting Around Talking, and The Mystery of Edwin Drood starring Barry Dennen. While on staff at Landmark Entertainment Group, Jim directed a multi-million-dollar animatronics/special effects show in Japan, supervising all aspects of production and creative direction for themed attractions in Sanrio's Harmonyland. Jim's acting credits include the title role in Clarence Darrow, Dr. Prospero in Return to the Forbidden Planet (a role he also played at the American Heartland Theatre), Claudius in Hamlet, the Stage Manager in Our Town, Michael in Dancing at Lughnasa, and multiple roles in The Turn of the Screw. He appeared for two years as Pontius Pilate in the National Tour of Jesus Christ Superstar starring Ted Neeley, Carl Anderson and Irene Cara. Regional credits include John Adams in 1776, The Duke/Dr. Carrasco in Man of La Mancha, and Adam in the first workshop of Dale Wasserman's Western Star. Jim may be heard singing the title role in "Quasimodo: Prince of Fools" and as Tsar Nicholas II in "Rasputin," both concept albums of shows written by Michael Rapp.

The design team for LONESOME TRAVELER: GENERATIONS includes Set Designer FRANK BOWLES, Lighting and Projections Designer Brian Gale, Sound Designer DANNY FIANDACA. JACQUELINE HOLM is Production Stage Manager.


LONESOME TRAVELER: GENERATIONS previews on Wednesday, June 8 and Thursday, June 9 at 7:00 p.m.; Friday, June 10 at 8:00 p.m., and opens Saturday, June 11 at 8:00 p.m., continuing through Sunday, June 26. Performances are Wednesdays at 2:00 p.m., Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m. (followed by a talkback), Thursdays at 7:00 p.m.; Fridays at 8:00 p.m.; Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m.

Ticket prices range from $30.00- $69.50.

To purchase tickets for LONESOME TRAVELER: GENERATIONS or discounted tickets for the company's four or five-show 2022-2023 Season, entitled "Welcome Home," call the Rubicon at (805) 667-2900 or visit Rubicon Guest Services is located at 1006 E. Main Street (Laurel entrance) and is open from Noon to 6:00 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and Sundays of show weeks.

Season tickets include special savings, guaranteed seating, ticket insurance, free exchanges (with 72 hours' notice), and advance notice of special events. Flex passes are also available at a savings.

About Rubicon Theatre Company

Rubicon Theatre Company has been described as "the rising star in the Southern California cultural constellation." The not-for-profit professional regional has reached more than 500,000 attendees and participants and 48,000 students. 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. Acclaimed by critics and industry professionals, the company has received the L.A. Drama Critics Margaret Harford Special Award for "Sustained Excellence," Drama Desk Awards for the Off-Broadway production of The Best is Yet To Come and Daddy Long Legs, has won more than 20 Ovation Awards from the L.A. Stage Alliance, NAACP and Indy Awards.

Just prior to the pandemic, Rubicon transferred three shows to New York (Wiesenthal - Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk Award nominations; Lonesome Traveler - Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk Award nominations; and Daddy Long Legs (Drama Desk Award). Rubicon has welcomed a steady stream of high-profile national and international actors and directors, including Bruno and Odiseo Birchir, Susan Clark, Dana Delaney, Conchata Ferrell, Bonnie Franklin, Harold Gould, Joel Grey, Larry Hagman, Bill Irwin, Stacy Keach, Jack Lemmon, Amanda McBroom, Ted Neeley, Paul Provenza, Linda Purl, Rondi Reed, John Ritter, Joe Spano, Bruce Weitz, Lillias White and others. Company members are George Ball, Joseph Fuqua and Jenny Sullivan.

Based in Ventura's Downtown Cultural District, just blocks from the Pacific Ocean, Rubicon resides in a 185-seat historic 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. (The balcony, which seats twenty, is available for private parties or corporate groups.)

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.

A board of directors of prominent social and civic leaders governs Rubicon under the leadership of Doug Halter. The company is also supported by an advisory group of regional ambassadors and a volunteer auxiliary.


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