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Berkeley Playhouse Announces LUCKY DUCK for Spring

Berkeley Playhouse will continue its 2011-12 season with LUCKY DUCK, a modern "Ugly Duckling" fairy tale hatched by the creative team behind the Broadway hits Dreamgirls and Side Show. Kimberly Dooley (Seussical, the Musical) directs this musical for all ages, with musical direction by Ben Prince. Featuring a madcap cast of fairy tale characters and a hot pop score filled with R&B, gospel, and plenty of Broadway-style showstoppers, LUCKY DUCK plays April 21 through May 13 at the Julia Morgan Theatre in Berkeley.

The story of an average, simple mega-superstar duck, LUCKY DUCK follows odd duck Serena as she flees her rustic barnyard life in search of bigger dreams. Along the way she meets Prince Drake, Galinda, the most fashionable Goose in the city, and Wolf, a talent agent and reformed meat eater. With their help the homely songbird transforms from her fowl days of barnyard mockery into a triumphant superstar swan. Decked out in high fashion feathers, Serena enters a national singing contest with her heart set on the championship and a date with the prince, but soon discovers that beauty is only feather deep, and that she must find her own voice to succeed.

"LUCKY DUCK is a musical farce with real flair," said director Kimberly Dooley. "It presents a world of glamorous fashion, jazzy, soulful music, and madcap physical comedy. Fast, funny, and full of ridiculous characters making their way in this crazy world, it's where a plucky ugly duck learns to believe in herself." Continued Dooley, "while the style may be frivolous and fun, the story behind LUCKY DUCK is classic and timeless. It speaks to anyone who risks singing their heart out, and risks being eaten by the wolves of the world. It also speaks to the power of music, when a song can be so true and raw and beautiful it literally changes the world around us. I think audiences young and old will connect with, and have a blast at, our production of LUCKY DUCK."

Kimberly Dooley directs and choreographs LUCKY DUCK. For Berkeley Playhouse, she directed the company's production of Seussical, the Musical, Once On This Island, and the conservatory productions of Mulan and Pippin. She has also choreographed several Berkeley Playhouse productions and worked as a teaching artist with the company. Additionally, Dooley is a company member of Shotgun Players; she also co-created and directed the Shotgun Theatre Lab production Eat, a documentary-style play based on interviews and research around eating in America. Other Bay Area credits include roles at Broadway by the Bay and Pacific Repertory Theatre.

Ben Prince provides musical direction for LUCKY DUCK. Prince is one of the regular house pianists at Martuni's Piano Bar in San Francisco, and has worked with countless Bay Area cabaret singers and musicals productions. Musical direction credits include productions at Ray of Light Theatre (Jerry Springer: The Opera, Bat Boy: The Musical, Songs for a New World, The Rocky Horror Show, The Who's Tommy). He has performed as a piano bar entertainer on Carnival and Holland America cruise lines, played with the 15-piece disco-funk band Superbooty, and played keyboards in the pit for the musical Wicked during its run in San Francisco.

LUCKY DUCK features a cast of professional adult actors, as well as an alternating cast of 20 youth actors trained in the Berkeley Playhouse Conservatory professional internship programs, including: Katherine Cooper (Tri-Valley Repertory Theatre, Altarena Playhouse) as Mildred Mallard/Daphne Duck; Naomi Hummel (Hope Summer Repertory Theatre, Capacitor Dance Company) as Serena; Melinda Meeng (Shotgun Players, 42nd Street Moon) as Mrs. Mallard/Queen; William Raphael (Contra Costa Civic Theater) as Carl Coyote; Benjamin Pither (Berkeley Playhouse, 42nd Street Moon, Center REPertory Company) as Prince Drake; Nicole Julien (Berkeley Playhouse, Shotgun Players, Cutting Ball Theater) as Goosetella/Sally Storkola; William Hodgson (Berkeley Playhouse, Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts) as Wolf; Brian Dauglash (Woodminster Summer Musicals, Contra Costa Civic Theatre) as Clem Coyote/Rudy Rooster; Aubri No'Eau Kahalekulu (Berkeley Playhouse) as Millicent Mallard/Kim Chi; and Nick Nunez as Armand/King.

In addition to writing the book and lyrics for LUCKY DUCK, Bill Russell penned the book and lyrics for the critically acclaimed Broadway musical Side Show, receiving a Tony nomination and sharing a nomination with composer Henry Krieger for the score. He co-wrote the book and lyrics for Off-Broadway's long-running musical, Pageant; additional credits include the book and lyrics for Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging, Off-Broadway's Fortune, The Texas Chainsaw Musical (co-author), Family Style, and Kept (with Henry Krieger and Steven Chbosky).

In addition to writing the book for LUCKY DUCK, Jeffrey Hatcher is a prolific and frequently produced playwright. He adapted his play Compleat Female Stage Beauty for the silver screen, wrote the screenplay Casanova for director Lasse Hallstrom, as well as screenplays for directors Steven Shainberg and Kim Pierce. His award-winning original plays have been performed on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and regionally across the United States and abroad. A four-time participant at the O'Neill National Playwrights conference, Hatcher is a member of the Dramatists Guild, New Dramatists, The Playwrights' Center, and the WGA.

In addition to composing the music for LUCKY DUCK, Henry Krieger, composed the score for the Broadway musical Dreamgirls, which won six Tony Awards, and for which Krieger was nominated for his now legendary score; his music also won the Grammy Award for Best Original Cast Album. Following Dreamgirls, Krieger composed the score for the musical The Tap Dance Kid, which won two Tony Awards, and the musical Side Show, with Bill Russell, which received four Tony nominations, including Best Score. He is currently working on a musical version of Moonstruck.

Harold Wheeler is an orchestrator, composer, conductor, arranger, record producer, and musical director. He has received numerous Tony Award and Drama Desk Award nominations for orchestration. In 1971, composer Burt Bacharach hirEd Wheeler for his new musical Promises, Promises, making him the youngest conductor on Broadway. Wheeler was soon working with Michael Bennett composing dance music for A Chorus Line; he went on to work with Bennett on Dreamgirls, Coco, and SCANDAL. Nominated for six Tony Awards for his work on the musicals Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Hairspray, The Full Monty, Swing!, Little Me and The Life, Wheeler won the Drama Desk Award for Hairspray for Best Orchestrations. He is currently the musical director on the hit ABC show Dancing with the Stars.

For tickets ($17-35) and more information, the public may visit berkeleyplayhouse.org or call 510-845-8542x351.



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