Arts & Entertainment

New Productions Announced at the Pasadena Playhouse

One additional production for 2019/2020 will be announced at a later date. – Courtesy image / Pasadena Playhouse

Two reimagined musicals, a cross-continental basketball drama directed by Tony Award winner BD Wong, and acclaimed actor Alfred Molina in an unforgettable role

Pasadena Playhouse Producing Artistic Director Danny Feldman recently announced four main stage productions for 2019/2020 including new productions of favorite musicals –  “Little Shop of Horrors” with book and lyrics by Howard Ashman and music by Alan Menken, directed by Mike Donahue, and Irving Berlin’s “Annie Get Your Gun” with book by Herbert and Dorothy Fields, directed by Sarna Lapine – and  two plays – the Los Angeles premiere of Lauren Yee’s “The Great Leap” directed by BD Wong, a co-production with East West Players, and Alfred Molina starring in the critically acclaimed West End and Broadway hit “The Father” by Florian Zeller and directed by Jessica Kubzansky. One more production and additional programming will be announced at a later date.

Producing Artistic Director Danny Feldman said, “These four exciting shows are a great reason to put down your phone, get off the couch, and head to the Playhouse. We’ve got two classic musicals with some of the best songs ever written for the theater, stunningly reborn and giving our audiences the chance to experience them in thrilling new ways. Add to that two extraordinary new dramas brought to the stage by two world-class artists, BD Wong and Alfred Molina. Our new lineup will take audiences on a bold theatrical adventure they won’t soon forget.”

The two musicals are from different eras – “Little Shop of Horrors (Sept. 17 to Oct. 13) is a 1980s R&B megahit while “Annie Get Your Gun (Spring 2020) is a return to the Golden Age of Broadway. Both productions take a fresh new perspective to the classic musicals.

In “Little Shop of Horrors” a power-hungry, R&B-singing, carnivorous plant sets its sights on world domination. This deviously delicious sci-fi musical comedy favorite comes to the Playhouse with some deliciously devious new twists: a brand new puppet concept for Audrey II, and a whole new take on Skid Row. “Little Shop of Horrors” has devoured the hearts of theatergoers of all ages for more than 30 years.

Village Voice critic Michael Feingold contends, “How often do you get to see a musical about a giant plant from outer space that sings, dances, talks jive and eats people?” Mel Gussow in The New York Times says that “Little Shop of Horrors” is “a show for horticulturists, horror-cultists, sci-fi fans and anyone with a taste for the outrageous! As entertaining as it is exotic.”

“Annie Get Your Gun” will bring the strongest and most revolutionary Annie Oakley you have ever seen to the beloved music and lyrics of Irving Berlin. This production will return to the book by Dorothy and Herbert Fields made famous by Ethel Merman, rather than more recent versions from revivals. One of the classic scores of Broadway comes to life with “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” “Anything You Can Do,” “I Got Sun in the Morning” and “You Can’t Get a Man With a Gun,” all reimagined and performed by a country western, bluegrass band. “Annie Get Your Gun” is a co-production with Bay Street Theatre.

Lauren Yee’s newest work “The Great Leap” (Nov. 6 to Dec. 1) explores the story of an American basketball team traveling to Beijing for an exhibition game. The coaches find themselves in a conflict that runs deeper than the strain between the countries, and a young player’s actions abroad become the accidental focus of attention. Building tension right up to the buzzer, this sharp-witted new drama is about much more than making the shot, as two men with a past and one teen with a future struggle for their own personal victories. “The Great Leap” starred BD Wong (“Jurassic Park” films, HBO’s “Oz,” “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”) at the Atlantic Theatre off-Broadway and in San Francisco at ACT. The Tony Award winner will now direct the Pasadena Playhouse production presented in partnership with East West Players.

New York Magazine described “The Great Leap” as “an exhilarating, deeply satisfying piece of work” and a “smart, feisty, highly enjoyable new play.” The San Jose Mercury News said “’The Great Leap’ has got real game.”

Alfred Molina stars in “The Father” (Feb. 5 to March 1, 2020) — perhaps one of the most awarded plays of recent times on two continents – winning the 2014 Molière Award, and nominations for the Evening Standard Theatre Award, Olivier Award for Best New Play, and Tony Award for Best Play.

The Guardian said, “The Frenchman Florian Zeller has been called the most exciting playwright of our times.” Frank Langella won the 2016 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for the role being reprised by Molina. The production is directed by Jessica Kubzansky, artistic director of Boston Court Theatre and director of “Hold These Truths,” “Pygmalion” and “Mauritius” at Pasadena Playhouse, who is currently directing “Ladies” by Kit Steinkellner in its world premiere production at Boston Court.

A New York Times Critics Pick, Ben Brantley said that “The Father” is “harrowing … one of the most disorienting experiences in town … The Father operates from an exceedingly ingenious premise … that’s presenting the world through the perspective of a mind in an advancing state of dementia, making reality as relative and unfixed as it might be in a vintage Theatre of the Absurd production … [however] André’s ego is too large and impregnable to be deflated by senility. Dementia is inherently tragic.  That’s what Shakespeare saw in King Lear, himself a precursor to this absurdist existential hero.” Lyn Gardner said in The Guardian that “The Father” is “hugely rewarding … a play that constantly confounds expectations and works almost like a thriller, with a sinister Pinteresque edge.”

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May 21, 2019

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