HARMONY, KANSAS Premieres at Diversionary Theatre Tonight, 6/14


Diversionary Theatre announces the addition of the world premiere musical Harmony, Kansas to their 2012 season. Harmony, Kansas (book & lyrics by Bill Nelson, music by Anna K. Jacobs) is a lively and soulful new musical about community, acceptance and the importance of finding your true and authentic voice. Performances begin tonight, June 14, 2012. Prior to San Diego, Harmony, Kansas will be featured as part of the 7th Annual Goodspeed Musicals Festival of New Artists.

With a lively, soulful score, Harmony, Kansas tells the story of Heath, a gay farmer making his way in a rural community where homogeneity rules. When his city-born partner, Julian, talks him into joining a spirited group of gay guys who meet once a week to sing, Heath discovers a love for making music and a kinship he didn't expect. But his world is turned upside down when the group considers performing in public, threatening everything that matters to him, including the life he’s made with the man he loves.

Bill Nelson conceived and wrote the book for Harmony, Kansas with composer Anna K. Jacobs. A shared love of choral music and the sense of belonging and camaraderie choruses provide brought composer Anna K. Jacobs and book and lyric writer Bill Nelson together to create Harmony, Kansas. Nelson had sung with the Heartland Men's Chorus of Kansas City, Missouri after college and experienced a loving, supportive and creative atmosphere. Many members joined as a way of coming out. Others invited family and friends to concerts to show positive aspects of the Gay community. “Because of that group,” said Nelson, “I now know that a feeling of community—any community—is nourishing and vital. And that's something I wanted to write about.” Using a book of interviews with gay Midwesterners Farm Boys: Lives of Gay Men from the Rural Midwest by Will Fellows as source material and a joint road trip across the state of Kansas helpEd Jacobs and Nelson connect with the landscape, small towns and the people. Inspired by folk and country music, the score’s rural flavor is packed with duets, trios, ensemble, chorus numbers and of course gorgeous harmonies. Jacobs describes the musical as “lively, soulful and romantic—like a vast Kansas landscape right at sunset.”

James Vasquez will helm the project at both Goodspeed and Diversionary. Vasquez was drawn to the story of seven unlikely heroes, and the author’s creation of gay characters who are “honest to goodness individuals not different than the rest of the world;” adding, “Bill and Anna have crafted a beautiful universal story. I think audiences, straight or gay, man or woman, young or old will see themselves in these characters and leave feeling inspired.”

A slight shift to the current Diversionary calendar will be necessary to accommodate the addition of Harmony, Kansas to the current season. Geoffrey Nauffts’ Tony-nominated play, Next Fall (also directed by Vasquez) will now begin performances on February 16 and run until March 25, 2012. The Pride remains in the spring, running from April 5 to May 6. Harmony Kansas will wrap up the 2012 season with performances beginning tonight, June 14 through July 22, 2012.

According to Diversionary Executive Director, John E. Alexander, “in the tradition of Yank!, Dear Harvey, and Dooley, Diversionary is thrilled to bring the first full production of a brand new musical to San Diego audiences. This new line-up is part of Diversionary’s increased focus on nurturing artists and new works that tell diverse and important stories about our community.”
Tickets for Harmony, Kansas are currently only available to Diversionary members and subscribers and will go on sale to the general public in late May.

Anna K. Jacobs (Music) wrote the music for POP!, which won three CT Critics Circle Awards including Outstanding Production of a Musical, and Stella and the Moon Man, which won a Helpmann Award for Best Presentation for Children. Currently she is working on a musical adaptation of the cult horror film, Teeth. Her shows have been developed and produced by Yale Repertory Theatre and the Yale Institute for Music Theatre, Pittsburgh City Theatre, The Studio Theatre, Singing On Stage Productions, the Sydney Theatre Company and Theatre of Image, the Penn State New Musical Theatre Festival, and NYU (SCAN). Her music and lyrics have been featured in concert at Lincoln Center, Ars Nova, Joe's Pub, Cutting-Edge Composers, NAMT, and many others. She is a 2010-11 Dramatists Guild Fellow and has been an Artist in Residence at New Dramatists, CAP21, Goodspeed Musicals, Bundanon Trust, and Hotchkiss Summer Portals, where she also teaches annual workshops in musical theater songwriting and performance. Anna is an on-staff Artist at the Metropolitan Opera Guild. M.F.A. Musical Theatre Writing, NYU-Tisch; B.Mus (Honors I) Composition, University of Sydney. Member: Dramatists Guild of America; ASCAP. Originally from Sydney, Australia, she is now based in Brooklyn.

Bill Nelson (Book and Lyrics) recently wrote and performed in Bill Nelson’s All-Male Revue—a revue of his songs conceived and directed by Tony winner William Finn at Barrington Stage Company. He received an MFA from the NYU Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program where he wrote, with composer Daniel Lincoln, Savannah: a Musical Fable. Bill’s plays have been performed across the country and his songs have been heard at cabarets around the world, including William Finn’s Songs by Ridiculously Talented Composers and Lyricists—presented at Joe’s Pub, Merkin Recital Hall, and Barrington Stage Co.—and New York Theatre Barn’s The Oh, So Sexy Songs of Bill Nelson. Before arriving in New York, Bill co-founded Burning Moon Productions, a gay theatre company in Kansas City, Missouri, which produced his works including Tales From Gaydom, Mishappenance, and Bob Makes a Splash: A Musical Extravaganza Starring Me, Bob. For Imagination Studio he wrote the serial, Welcome to Paradise. He’s also penned scripts for productions by the Heartland Men’s Chorus, Kansas City’s gay men’s chorus, with whom he sang for nine years. Bill is a published lyricist and 2010/11 Dramatists Guild Fellow.

James Vasquez (Director) returns to Diversionary where he previously directed the West Coast Premieres of Fair Use, [title of show] (SD Critics Circle nominations for Outstanding Direction and Resident Musical), and Twist. James won the Craig Noel SD Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Direction of a Musical for Cygnet's Sweeny Todd which also won the Outstanding Resident Musical Award. Other recent directing/choreographing credits include: The Rocky Horror Show, Emma (Assc. Director), Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2003-2011), Boeing-Boeing (Old Globe Theatre), Hedwig…, Little Shop of Horrors (Cygnet Theatre), and Into The Woods (New Village Arts). In 2004, James founded Daisy 3 Pictures with Mark Holmes and Carrie Preston. Their first two feature films, 29th and Gay (TLA Releasing, Here TV) and Ready? OK! (Wolfe Video, LOGO) have played national and international film festivals, with "Ready? OK!" winning the Best Feature Film award in Seattle, North Carolina, and San Diego. Their latest film, That's What She Said, starring Anne Heche, will be making its world premiere at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. As an actor, James has appeared on film, television, Off-Broadway, regional and local stages. He is a graduate of the Juilliard School of Drama.

Diversionary Theatre (Producer) develops new works and produces plays and musicals that explore the issues, characters and stories of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in all its complexity and diversity. Founded in 1986, Diversionary has grown into a professional theatre company that produces an annual season of mainstage productions and presents a series of diverse entertainment offerings. Diversionary nurtures LGBT artists in the development of new works of theatre through new play commissions, readings, workshops and forums to involve a wider community in our mission.

Previews are tonight, June 14 to June 22. Opening Night is June 23 at 8pm. Performances run through July 22, 2012 at Diversionary Theatre – 4545 Park Blvd. San Diego CA 92116.

Tickets: Friday, Saturday & Sunday Matinee - $38.00; Monday, Thursday & Sunday Evening - $36.00;
Opening Night – $50.00; Previews - $25

Thursday – Saturday at 8pm,
Sundays 2pm and 7pm
Special Monday performance July 9 at 8pm

Tickets: Friday, Saturday & Sunday Matinee - $38.00; Monday, Thursday & Sunday Evening - $36.00;
Opening Night – $50.00; Previews - $25

Students/Senior 60+/Military receive $4 off with valid ID.
Discounts for Groups of 10 or more.
For tickets or information, call the Diversionary box office at 619.220.0097 or visit www.diversionary.org .

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