42nd Street Moon's Ira Gershwin Celebration Begins With LADY BE GOOD
42nd Street Moon's Ira Gershwin Celebration kicks off with one of the earliest Gershwin hits: Lady, Be Good!, the first smash hit the Gershwin brothers enjoyed in New York. It opens at the Eureka Theatre on Saturday, April 3, with three low-priced previews on March 31, April 1 and 2, and runs through April 18.
"Lady, Be Good! is the first in our multi-year salute to Ira, the 'other' Gershwin Brother," said 42nd Street Moon Artistic Director Greg MacKellan. "It makes the perfect 'kick-off' to the series. The show was a sensation in New York in 1925 - it ushered the Jazz Age onto the Broadway stage, and was the brothers' first super-smash hit together."Fred and Adele Astaire originally starred in this farce about a brother and sister who, through a series of madcap adventures, find themselves rocketing from the state of the dispossessed to wealth and popularity among the Long Island haut monde. The Gershwins propelled Broadway into the Roaring Twenties with their dazzling score featuring hot jazz and cool blues in numbers such as Fascinating Rhythm, Little Jazz Bird, The Half-of-It-Dearie Blues, and Lady, Be Good.
Chris Smith, the former artistic director of the Magic Theatre and director of the popular Abraham Lincoln's Big Gay Dance Party, will direct the 42nd Street Moon production. Smith has obtained permission from the Ira Gershwin Trust to reset Lady, Be Good! in San Francisco."Lady, Be Good! has all the charm, sparkle and wit audiences expect from a Gershwin musical, and the madcap story -- which begins when a sophisticated duo suddenly find themselves ‘out on the streets' because they no longer can afford their rent -- has resonances with today," Smith commented. "Shifting the setting of their high society neighborhood to Nob Hill and the world-famous resort hotel to Napa Valley not only seems logical, it scans with the lyrics. I believe these little re-imaginings will help make our 42nd Street Moon production more fun and pertinent for Bay Area audiences." Dave Dobrusky is the musical director, and Zack Thomas Wilde choreographs.Ian Simpson and Rena Wilson portray Dick and Susie Trevor, the roles that shot Fred and Adele Astaire to stardom in 1925. Simpson toured nationally as Harry Bright in Mamma Mia! and Enjolras in Les Miserables, and has appeared as Leo Bloom in the Toronto production of The Producers as well as numerous roles at the Stratford and Shaw Festivals in Canada. Rena Wilson starred in the recent NCTC production of Dames at Sea, and has appeared for 42nd Street Moon in the title role of The Student Gypsy as well as in High Spirits. Andrew Boyer (Watty Watkins) is a recent Bay Area transplant from New York, where he appeared on Broadway in the Susan Stroman production of The Music Man and the recent Patti LuPone revival of Gypsy. Noel Anthony (Jack Robinson) last appeared with Moon in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and has been featured locally in such shows as Miss Saigon and Into the Woods. Other leading roles are played by Lexie Papedo (ShirLey Vernon), Ben Knoll (Bertie Bassett), Lillian Askew Everdell (Daisy), and Rudy Guerrero (Estrada/Rufus). Also featured are Nicholas Yenson, Luke Anthony, Kerie Geni Darner, Caleb Haven Draper, and Jade Shojaee.
42nd Street Moon's season continues with Very Warm for May, the first show in the Jerome Kern Celebration, opening May 9. A giddy romp, Oscar Hammerstein II's script takes the old "barn musical" plot and turns it on its head. This time, the show in the barn is an avant-garde musical being rehearsed by a bohemian bunch led by an eccentric director. Kern and Hammerstein's beautiful and sophisticated score which features the timeless All the Things You Are (heard in a stunning arrangement unique to the musical), All in Fun, In the Heart of the Dark, Heaven in My Arms, and In Other Words, Seventeen.
Tickets ($39 - $44) are available through the 42nd Street Moon Box Office at 415/255-8207 (Open Tues. - Fri. from noon to 5 p.m.), or through the website http://www.42ndstmoon.org/. Preview tickets range from $19 - $28, and discounts are available for seniors, students, and those under 30. All performances are presented at San Francisco's intimate Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson St.
42nd Street Moon celebrates and preserves the art and spirit of the American Musical Theatre, contributing to its evolution and continuing vitality by presenting intimate productions of "Uncommon Musicals" -- classic and rarely performed shows by the great 20th century songwriters. Through productions, educational programs, and community outreach, the company is committed to increasing the awareness and appreciation of the rich heritage and cultural perspective of the musical theatre and its vast influence on the world stage. Since 1993 the company has staged more than 90 musicals, as well as several revues celebrating the dazzling legacy of the 20th Century's greatest musical theater composers and lyricists.