Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Reprise Theatre Company

I'd never heard of this theatre company before, but an announcement they made last week certainly caught my attention. Jason Alexander (who I *have* heard of - OK, I actually saw him in "The Producers" too) is Reprise's new artistic director, and he recently announced the lineup of the 2008-09 season. The show that got my attention was "Once On This Island". A friend had given me the CD of the original Broadway cast recording of the show a number of years ago after I had mentioned how much I liked "Anastasia" and the songs in the movie - Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens wrote the songs for the movie as well as the Broadway versions of both "Once On This Island" and "Ragtime". Well, once I heard the CD, I was in love with the show - but what chance would I get to see it?

A couple of years ago, I found out that International City Theatre in Long Beach was putting on a production of the show, so we decided to go, and the friend who gave me the CD ended up being able to go as well. It was a very minimalist production, no big sets or fancy scenery, even given the setting of the story, but it was really about the performers, and it was a terrific show.

So you can imagine how happy I am that Reprise will also be putting on the show. I'm not sure how elaborate the production would be (I'd love to see a full-scale production of the show with amazing sets and all. It's the kind of show I can definitely see Disney putting on, though they might prefer to change the ending of the story.), but I don't really care. Even if it's like the ICT production, I'll be glad to see it.

The other show on Reprise's 2008-09 season that interests me is "Chess". I'm intrigued because it was a collaboration between the two men from ABBA (responsible for "Mamma Mia", one of my favorite shows) and Tim Rice which actually pre-dates "Mamma Mia". I'm going to have to track down the original Broadway cast CD to have a listen. I'm amused at the hit song that apparently came out of that show.


JeffG said...

Several years ago, I saw a Reprise production of "Promises, Promises" which was absolutely outstanding. It was a show that I wasn't really familiar with previously (it was an early-70s Burt Bacharach/Hal David musical based on the film "The Apartment"), but I went to see it on the extremely enthusiastic recommendation of a friend.

This production starred Jason Alexander (this was several years before he became artistic director) and the rest of the cast included a mix of mainly-local stage performers as well as other sitcom actors, most notably, Alan Thicke and Jean Smart. The cast was across-the-board excellent, with Thicke particularly surprising me by showing a lot more performing skill than I thought he was capable of.

I'd love to see their production of "Once On This Island" and will likely make an effort to do so. "Promises, Promises" was very much a minimalist production, though, and I understand that is the norm for Reprise. Also note that their primary venue is the Freud Playhouse at UCLA, which is pretty tiny. Doing a quick search online, the maximum seating of the theater is 586. Obviously, it would be a good idea to order tickets quickly when they go on sale...

Cindy said...

The other problem is also going to be that they offer subscriptions, so anyone who has a subscription will get the best seats, and depending on how many subscriptions they sell, there will only be so many seats left for individual sale. I don't want to go badly enough to get an actual subscription though.

I'm figuring I'm going to run into that same problem when we go to see "Tarzan" in San Jose next year.

Sherry said...

I'm a fan of "Chess," and have both the London and Broadway versions, so you can borrow them if you'd like. I saw the London version there, and absolutely loved it. To this day, my friends and I that were there that night look upon it fondly. At one point, we even had one of the gals from the chorus singing with us for our tour in Korea. I saw the American version in Long Beach, and it is different. It didn't receive as good reviews here as the London version did, which I kinda understand. When I saw it in Long Beach, Eddie Mekka (Carmine from "Laverne & Shirley") played the Arbiter, and guess who played the female lead? JODI BENSON. I was quite happy that night, even though it wasn't the London version. Maybe I'll join you at the Reprise for this one. Hmmm... a new book?! In May, OF COURSE. I'll keep an eye out for when these go on sale.

JeffG said...

As noted, the Freud Playhouse is really tiny, so I don't think there is too much concern about bad seats. I recall that I was actually in the back row when I saw "Promises, Promises", but that was much closer to the stage than I typically manage for shows. I don't recall if there were seats that were too far off to the side, though. I do remember that the seat I had was pretty well-centered.

I actually would be tempted to do a subscription as all four of the scheduled shows sound at least potentially of interest to me. The only one that I'm not familiar with is "I Love My Wife", but I see from their website that Alexander is actually starring in that one himself, which at least makes it potentially of interest. The fourth musical is "Man of La Mancha", which has always been one of my favorites, although I have seen it produced a couple times before.

The only thing is that I don't know how feasible it would be to make babysitting arrangments for a subscription series. It is times like this that I wish we had local relatives... :)