Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

ATC Opens Season with BACKWARDS IN HIGH HEELS, 10/7

Ginger Rogers danced her way into our hearts in the arms of Fred Astaire, setting the gold standard for grace and elegance on the silver screen.  In her surprising true-life story, we follow her from the vaudeville stage at the age of 15 through her ascension to Hollywood goddess. BACKWARDS IN HIGH HEELS tells the story of this legendary dancer, singer and actress through the music of some of the 20th century's greatest composers and with plenty of dance numbers worthy of the Hollywood icon. BACKWARDS IN HIGH HEELS plays in Tucson at the Temple of Music and Art from September 10 through October 2.  It continues its run in Phoenix at the Herberger Theater Center from October 7 through October 24.  The Tucson media sponsors for the 2010-2011 season are Tucson Lifestyle, KGUN9 and MIX-FM.  Arizona Theatre Company's season sponsors are I. Michael and Beth Kasser.
Ginger's career began when she won a Charleston contest at the age of 15.  That contest, held in her hometown of Fort Worth, launched her into vaudeville.  She debuted on Broadway at the age of 18 and quickly became a star.  Ginger was soon discovered by Paramount Pictures and began a steady climb to the heights of Hollywood history that culminated in winning the Oscar for the film Kitty Foyle. All along the way, she had tempestuous relationships with producers, co-stars and many husbands - and a complicated, defining relationship with her mother, Lela. BACKWARDS IN HIGH HEELS is the story of a small-town girl from Texas who dazzled the whole wide world, playing everything from 'the girl next door' to the modern woman with a mind of her own.  It's a spectacular candy box of show-stopping dance numbers, great songs, and some surprising revelations about a movie legend. BACKWARDS IN HIGH HEELS is a co-production with Asolo Repertory Theatre, San Jose Repertory Theatre and The Cleveland Play House.  After the run at ATC, it will play in San Jose from November 24 through December 19, 2010, and in Cleveland from January 7 through 30, 2011.Christopher McGovern, co-conceiver of BACKWARDS IN HIGH HEELS notes that "Ginger was a trail blazer: She was among the first of Hollywood's leading ladies to demand fair pay and to exert control over her work to a previously unprecedented level. The heart of her story though, and one to which we can all relate to regardless of the era - her success, her struggles, who she was and who she became -- all were grounded in a complex and layered relationship with her mother. Her struggle to grow up - as an actress, as a dancer, as a star and as a daughter - is the heart that beats at the center of BACKWARDS IN HIGH HEELS. Ginger never had a child, but her "child" was in fact show business.  She had to raise that child in the same way that her mother, in raising Ginger, had to come to grips with her struggles. It proved a fascinating relationship to explore, and one which I hope makes this piece relevant to all generations of children, parents and lovers of theatre and the movies."

BACKWARDS IN HIGH HEELS was conceived and developed by Lynnette Barkley and Christopher McGovern. Book/Musical Arrangements/Original Songs are by Christopher McGovern with music by George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, and Jerome Kern.   Christopher McGovern (Co-Creator/Book/Original Songs/Musical Arrangements) returns to ATC where he conducted and performed in Hair, [title of show] and The Pajama Game. He is the Author/Composer of Lizzie Borden, A Visit to Roswell and many other original songs and musicals. He has worked as Producer/Arranger/Orchestrator and Songwriter on recordings by Tony-nominees Rebecca Luker, Susan Egan and Alison Fraser, Karen Mason, Liz Callaway, Roslyn Kind and many others.  Regional credits include Cagney (composer/lyricist), Sisters of Swing (Carbonell nomination), Some Kind Of Wonderful (Co-Creator, Silver Palm Award winner). Scott Schwartz (Director) directed the Broadway productions of Golda's Balcony and Jane Eyre.  Off-Broadway, he directed Bat Boy: The Musical; Tick, Tick...Boom; Rooms: A Rock Romance; The Foreigner; Franz Kafka's The Castle; Miss Julie; and No Way to Treat a Lady.  Regionally, he recently directed Lost in Yonkers at The Old Globe and the world premiere of Stephen Schwartz's Séance on a Wet Afternoon at Opera Santa Barbara which he will direct again at the New York City Opera next spring. Regional productions include work at Alley Theatre, Theater of the Stars, Paper Mill Playhouse, Theatre under the Stars and North Shore Music Theatre.  Patti Colombo (Choreographer) choreographed the Broadway production of Peter Pan, starring Cathy Rigby.  She also choreographed the national tours of Dr. Doolittle starring Tommy Tune and Seussical the Musical.  Regionally, her award-winning work has been seen at Pasadena Playhouse, Denver Center Theatre Company, Paper Mill Playhouse and Goodspeed Musicals. The cast of BACKWARDS IN HIGH HEELS is led by Anna Aimee White as Ginger Rogers and Heather Lee as her mother, Lela. Anna Aimee White has appeared on Broadway in White Christmas and Grease. She has also appeared with New York City Center Encores! and at The Kennedy Center. In Los Angeles, she has appeared in Garry Marshall's Happy Days, and at Reprise Theatre Company, International City Theatre and the Hollywood Bowl. Her film and television credits include Valentine's Day, Princess Diaries 2, Raising Helen, Georgia Rule, Tracey Ullman Live & Exposed and the soon-to-be-released You Again. Heather Lee (Lela) created the role of stripper Tessie Tura in the Broadway revival of Gypsy starring Bernadette Peters and played the role of Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls on Broadway. Ms. Lee also appeared as Babette in Disney's Beauty and the Beast in Los Angeles. Regionally, she has been seen at La Jolla Playhouse, Reprise Theatre Company, Rubicon Theatre, Mark Taper Forum and South Coast Repertory. Ms. Lee's great aunt, Broadway and film actress Jane Seymour, played Ginger Rogers' mother in the 1941 film Tom, Dick and Harry. The cast also features Matthew Labanca (Marcus/Director/Fred Astaire/Others), who has appeared on Broadway in Young Frankenstein, White Christmas and Children and Art. He has performed in the national tours of Crazy for You, Anything Goes, The King and I and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Regionally, he has been seen at The Old Globe, Theatre under the Stars, Paper Mill Playhouse, Trinity Repertory Company and the Connecticut Repertory Theatre, among others. James Patterson recently portrayed Gene Kelly in What a Glorious Feeling at the Adirondack Theater Festival.  He appeared on Broadway in Beauty and the Beast and State Fair, and in the national tours of The Drowsy Chaperone, Beauty and the Beast, Cats and State Fair. Other New York productions include Stairway to Paradise with New York City Center Encores!, and Sail Away at Carnegie HallBenjie Randall (Joe/Bill McMath/George Schaffer/Lew Ayres/Others) recently appeared in the world premiere of the new Gershwin musical, An American in Paris, at the Alley Theatre.  Off-Broadway, he has performed in Dr. Sex, The Kinsey Musical and Boobs: The Music of Ruth Wallace.  His regional credits include work at Denver Center Theatre Company, Paper Mill Playhouse and Theatre under the Stars. Mr. Randall also played Gene Kelly in the MAC Award-nominated cabaret, Judy Garland and Uninvited Company.  Christianne Tisdale (Martha May/Louise/Ethel Merman/Others) appeared on Broadway in Beauty and the Beast and Triumph of Love, on London's West End as Molly in One Touch of Venus and as Caroline on the First National Tour of Titanic. Off-Broadway, she has performed at The York Theatre Company and Playwrights Horizons, as well as participating in readings/workshops for Second Stage Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club and The Public Theater

The creative team for BACKWARDS IN HIGH HEELS includes Walt Spangler (Scenic Design), who recently designed the Broadway revival of Desire under the Elms and the Goodman Theatre production of King Lear.  Other recent/upcoming projects include The Subject Was Roses, starring Martin Sheen and Frances Conroy; the world premiere of Rebecca Gilman's A True History of the Johnstown Flood; and the world premiere of Maury Yeston's Tom Sawyer Ballet. Alejo Vietti (Costume Design) previously designed Ella at ATC. He has designed costumes at Primary Stages, Manhattan Theatre Club and MCC Theater, among others. Selected regional theatre credits include Alley Theatre, Arena Stage, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Ford's Theatre, Goodspeed Musicals, Guthrie Theater and Williamstown Theatre Festival.  His work has also been seen at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Donetsk Opera, Ukraine, as well as Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Boom'A'Ring. Jeff Croiter (Lighting Design) recently designed Next Fall on Broadway, as well as A Lie of the Mind and Love, Loss, and What I Wore Off-Broadway. Other New York credits include Kiki and Herb Alive on Broadway; concerts at The New Amsterdam; Rufus Wainwright's Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall (also London and Paris) and Jennifer Muller/The Works. Regionally, he has worked at Williamstown Theatre Festival, The Kennedy Center, The Old Globe, La Jolla Playhouse, Geffen Playhouse and New York Stage and Film, among many others. Abe Jacob (Sound Designer) returns to ATC where he was Sound Designer for Hair, [title of show], The Pajama Game, The Pirates of Penzance, The Fantasticks, 5 Guys Named Moe, The Gershwins' Fascinating Rhythm, HMS Pinafore and My Fair Lady. He pioneered and introduced the field of sound design in Broadway theatre. His original designs for musical theatre include the original Broadway productions of Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, Pippin, Chicago, Sgt. Pepper, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, A Chorus Line, Gilda Radner Live, Dancin', Beatlemania, Evita, Cats, Big Deal and Black and Blue. A native of Tucson, his initial contribution to the performing arts was the creation of the concert sound for such legendary artists as Jimi Hendrix; The Mamas and the Papas; Peter, Paul and Mary; and the historic rock celebration, The Monterey Pop Festival. Mr. Jacob is the Resident Designer at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theatre. Tim Robertson (Music Director/Conductor) has worked at many venues accross the country, including productions at Theatre by the Sea, Barter Theatre, Maine State Music Theatre, Ogunquit Playhouse, Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Cleveland Play House, Virginia Shakespeare Festival and Trinity Repertory Company. Glenn Bruner is the Production Stage Manager.

Arizona Theatre Company offers accessibility services for patrons with disabilities for select performances. Audio Description provides patrons with vision loss a running audio description of the movement and activities onstage through an infrared broadcast system.  Audio-described performances are offered on September 30 at 2:00 PM. Interested patrons may request a tactile tour one hour prior to curtain. American Sign Language interpretation is presented by professional, theatrically-trained ASL-interpreters for people who have deafness or hearing impairment. An ASL-interpreted performance is offered on September 30 at 7:30 PM. Open-captioning allows patrons to read the play's dialogue on an LED screen as the play progresses. An open-captioned performance is offered on September 30 at 2:00 PM. For open-captioned or ASL-interpreted performances, patrons should request seats best suited to ASL interpretation or captioning when purchasing tickets. Large print and Braille playbills and infrared listening amplification devices are also available at every ATC performance with reservation. TTY access for the box office is available in Tucson at (520) 884-9723 or via Arizona Relay at (800) 367-8939 (TTY/ASCII). 

Tickets start at $35, depending on date and section choice and are available at or by calling the box office at (520) 622-2823. Discounts are available for students, seniors and active military on specific performance days. Half-price rush tickets are available for balcony seating for all performances one hour prior to curtain at the ATC box office (subject to availability). Ten Dollar Tuesday for BACKWARDS IN HIGH HEELS is September 14. Balcony seats for this preview performance are available for a suggested $10 donation. (Tickets must be purchased at the ATC Box Office starting at 11:00 AM on September 14. Seating is 'first-come, first served' and is not guaranteed. Cash only, please. Two tickets per person maximum.) For discounts on groups of eight or more, call (520) 622-2823.

Related Articles View More Phoenix Stories   Shows

More Hot Stories For You