Published : Tuesday, May 22, 2018 | 11:09 AM
Pasadena Playhouse Producing Artistic Director Danny Feldman announced four new mainstage productions for 2018-2019.
The first of these shows is the new comedy Native Gardens (September 5-30, 2018) by Karen Zacarias and directed by Jason Alexander (Seinfeld), that received rave reviews in its first productions at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis and Washington D.C.’s Arena Stage. It tells the story of an attorney on the rise and his very pregnant wife who couldn’t feel more welcomed by their new neighbors. But when a friendly disagreement about the lay of the land escalates into a backyard brawl, cultures collide and mudslinging ensues … literally.
The London hit thriller The Woman in Black (October 17 to November 11) by Susan Hill, adapted by Stephen Mallatratt and directed by Robin Herford, comes to Pasadena just in time for Halloween. A ghost story, Woman in Black is one of the most popular theatre works ever produced — over 7 million have seen the show during its astounding 28 year run in London’s West End. It is produced by PW Productions.
A new production of the great American musical Ragtime plays February 6 to March 3, 2019 and is directed by David Lee (at Pasadena Playhouse Casa Valentina, Do I Hear a Waltz?, 110 in the Shade, Camelot, Can Can). Nominated for 13 Tony Awards, including best musical, Ragtime had its United States premiere in Los Angeles two decades ago. Playwright Terrence McNally, composer Stephen Flaherty, and lyricist Lynn Ahrens adapted it from the book by E.L. Doctorow, whom President Obama said was one of “America’s greatest novelists.” The musical mixes its fictional characters with a parade of historic figures including Evelyn Nesbit, Booker T. Washington, J. P. Morgan, Henry Ford, Stanford White, Polar explorer Robert Peary, Emma Goldman and Harry Houdini.
The touching Tiny Beautiful Things, taking the stage in Spring 2019 (dates to be announced), is based on the New York Times bestseller Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed. (Strayed is also the author of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, which was the first selection of Oprah’s Book Club 2.0; the film version starred Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, and Thomas Sadoski, star of the Pasadena Playhouse production of Belleville. ) The stage version of Tiny Beautiful Things is adapted by actress and writer Nia Vardalos (Academy Award nominee My Big Fat Greek Wedding) and comes to life as a richly funny, uniquely uplifting and moving play. It is about reaching when you’re stuck, healing when you’re broken and finding the courage to take on the questions, which have no answers. This stage version was conceived by former Wall Street Journal columnist Marshall Heyman, Thomas Kail (director of Hamilton), and Vardalos.
An additional production will join the 2018/2019 season in late spring 2019 and will be announced in the coming months.
These productions join Bordertown Now (May 30 to June 24), featuring Culture Clash – Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas, and Herbert Siguenza, and Jungle Book, a family entertainment by Craig Francis and Rick Miller from Kidoons/WYRD Productions of Montréal Canada (July 17 to 29). In addition, the Playhouse welcomes all community members to attend their free Centennial Block Party on June 9, 2018, from noon to 10 p.m.
“Our 2018/2019 Season includes a wide range of experiences including a hilarious new comedy, a classic ghost story, a great American musical, and an incredibly moving new play,” said Feldman. “These four shows that will entertain and thrill our audiences are theater at its best.”
“We’re excited to be bringing back the beloved musical Ragtime in its first major LA production since its Los Angeles premiere over 20 years ago. Jason Alexander joins us in his Playhouse directorial debut as we bring to the stage an exciting voice in the American theater, Karen Zacarias. In addition, Tiny Beautiful Things, the inspirational and poignant adaptation of the bestselling book adapted by Nia Vardalos makes its LA premiere. And while the classic ghost story, The Woman in Black, has kept West End audiences on the edge of their seats for the past 28 years, this celebrated classic production will be coming to the United States for the first time ever, and it will be on our stage at the perfect time: Halloween. It is going to be a season of great nights at the theater.”
Memberships now available!
The Playhouse Membership Program, a new model of theater subscription, is the best way to see all season productions and experience everything the theater has to offer while supporting the theater and our outreach programs. With a Membership to the Playhouse, patrons simply purchase their package, then book their tickets throughout the year before they go on sale to the general public. They can choose when they want to attend and where they want to sit, and never be charged for tickets to season productions!
A Playhouse membership includes: Free tickets to all season productions; Access to the best seats in the house; The freedom to attend any performance; Savings of up to 50% over purchasing individual tickets; And Tax deductibility at higher levels.
For a full list of benefits and to see how it works, visit pasadenaplayhouse.org/membership, or call (626) 356-7529.
State Theatre of California Block Party Centennial Celebration
On June 9 from 12-noon to 10pm, the Pasadena Playhouse invites everyone to join thousands of guests in celebration of its centennial with a free block party on El Molino, in partnership with the Playhouse District Association. This family-friendly event features music, food, libations, guided tours, a kids’ zone, and much, much more. With interactive art and live performances from local arts organizations and community partners, the Playhouse Block Party will kick off the next 100 years in style!
This all day event for all ages, begins at noon when the focus will be on family activities, food, and fun, with entertainment on a kids stage will be erected in the Playhouse Courtyard. In late afternoon/early evening, the focus will shift to a “street party” feel with live music and bands, food, drink, and fun. Community Partners will be engaged to provide entertainment throughout the day. They will also be encouraged to participate through interactive booths. The public will also have the unique ability to take behind-the-scenes tours of the historic Pasadena Playhouse.
2018-2019 Slate of Offerings at Pasadena Playhouse
Tickets now on sale at pasadenaplayhouse.org
May 30 – June 24
By Culture Clash
Directed by Diane Rodriguez
Featuring Culture Clash: Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas and Herbert Siguenza
Culture Clash revisits their hit Bordertown twenty years later, with Bordertown Now. In this aptly timed production, Los Angeles’ own political satire troupe returns to the United States/Mexican border to investigate the state of affairs once again. Re-imagined, remixed and fully reloaded, Bordertown Now is an irreverent look at the people at the center of one of America’s most hot-button controversial issues, and the walls that divide us all. Infused with their trademark satirical approach, the nation’s number one Chicano/Latino performance trio messes with the boundaries of theater and comedy to break down the divisions between cultures.
Culture Clash’s Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas and Herbert Sigüenza are joined by Sabina Zúñiga Varela, who appeared with the troupe in Chavez Ravine: An L.A. Revival and Obie Award-winning director Diane Rodriguez to redefine the boundaries of theater and break down the divisions between cultures. Playwright Eric Begosian said, “These guys are funny daredevils of performance; totally fearless as they skewer convention and lazy thinking.” American Theatre Magazine said they are “The Marx Brothers meeting the Rolling Stones.”
Tickets now on sale at pasadenaplayhouse.org
July 17 to 29 (16 performances only)
Written and directed by Craig Francis and Rick Miller
Adapted from the works of Rudyard Kipling
A Kidoons and WYRD Production in association with The 20K Collective
Pasadena Playhouse presents a new family-friendly production of Jungle Book, adapted from the works of Rudyard Kipling and written and directed by Craig Francis and Rick Miller. Francis and Miller previously created a Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, which The New York Times called “magical, jaw-dropping, frisky, nifty and zesty.”
This very theatrical adaptation employs a rich soundscape, immersive multimedia, inventive puppetry, and a variety of new and traditional theatrical traditions to transport audiences to the world’s jungles.
From Mowgli to Baloo the Bear, Kaa the snake and more, this Jungle Book re-imagines Kipling’s classic stories and brings to life the known and loved characters, while also introducing some of the other colorful inhabitants of Kipling’s books, and even today’s urban jungle. It features the favorite characters as never seen before, while connecting audiences to the story’s Indian locale and their human relationship to the animal kingdom.
September 4 – 30, 2018
By Karen Zacarias
Directed by Jason Alexander
Good fences don’t always make good neighbors, but they do make for great comedy in this new play that was co-commissioned by the Guthrie Theatre and Arena Stage. Directed by Jason Alexander (Seinfeld), one of the funniest guys of our era, Native Garden tells the story of an attorney on the rise and his very pregnant wife who couldn’t feel more welcomed by their new neighbors. But when a friendly disagreement about the lay of the land escalates into a backyard brawl, cultures collide and mudslinging ensues … literally.
Mexican-American playwright Karen Zacarias said, “There’s a couple that’s lived in the neighborhood for over 30 years and a new young couple move next door in a ‘fixer upper’ and everyone is really happy about it at first. The two families have different ways of gardening and it’s about the culture of gardening and the politics of plants. It’s a big-hearted comedy with a lot of sharp little teeth in it. By focusing on plants, we are able to discuss so many different things going on in our culture right now and our country right now.”
Ben Demers in DC Theatre Scene.com said, “A laugh-a-minute comedy that has arrived at exactly the right time — true breath of fresh comic air. Beyond snappy one-liners and garden hose fights, the play challenges audiences to look beyond petty differences and rediscover our shared decency.” Rohan Preston in the Minneapolis Star Tribune said, “Zacarías’ smart comedy [is] seeded with so many jokes and insights that it’s easily this summer’s comedy winner. On a deeper level, Zacarías addresses the notion of who belongs in the United States.”
October 17 to November 11, 2018
The Woman in Black
By Susan Hill
Adapted by Stephen Mallatratt
Directed by Robin Herford
Produced by PW Productions
Susan Hill’s acclaimed ghost novella has kept London’s West End on the edge of its seat for the past 28 years in an ingenious stage adaptation by the late playwright Stephen Mallatratt. Director Robin Herford created a brilliant production of the story in which a man obsessed, believing his family has been cursed by a ghostly woman in black, tells his terrifying story to exorcise the fear that grips his soul. It all begins innocently enough, but as he reaches further into his darkest memories, he quickly finds that there is no turning back.
The gripping production is a brilliantly successful study in atmosphere, illusion and controlled horror. The Daily Telegraph said, “A real treat. Entertainment at its very best.” The Guardian has called it “A masterpiece.” Time Out London said, “The chills are irresistibly effective … a delicious spell of malevolence and menace.” If it sounds familiar, there was a film version of the story starring Daniel Radcliffe released on 2012.
February 6 to March 3, 2019
Ragtime: The Musical
By Terrence McNally
Composed by Stephen Flaherty
Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens
Directed by David Lee
This great American musical returns to Los Angeles for its first major production in 20 years. Nominated for 13 Tony Awards including Best Musical, Ragtime by playwright Terrence McNally, composer Stephen Flaherty, and lyricist by Lynn Ahrens, tells the story of three families at the turn of the 20th Century in pursuit of the American dream. The award-winning score uses ragtime rhythms to paint a portrait of the people who built this country with the hopes for a brighter tomorrow.
E.L. Doctorow’s famous and popular novel became the basis of one of the most revered musicals of the modern age. Ragtime begins with an unforgettable sweeping, nine-minute opening number in which all strata of society of the early twentieth century are introduced: immigrant Jews in their ghetto, successful rich protestants, and African Americans. The fictional characters – pianist Coalhouse Walker Jr., his child’s mother Sarah – who has become part of a respected family headed by the white Father and Mother – and a Latvian immigrant Tateh, are eventually joined by a parade of historic figures — Evelyn Nesbit, Booker T. Washington, J. P. Morgan, Henry Ford, Stanford White, Admiral Peary, Matthew Henson, Emma Goldman and even Harry Houdini – in this much appreciated and well remembered musical.
The original Broadway production opened, as the Los Angeles Shubert Theatre was hosting the long-running United States premiere company. Critic David Horluchi said, “Tragic, touching, and ultimately triumphant, Ragtime is an American classic.”
Tiny Beautiful Things
Based on the book by Cheryl Strayed
Adapted for the stage by Nia Vardalos
Co-Conceived by Marshall Heyman, Thomas Kail and Nia Vardalos
Academy Award-nominated writer and actress Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) has written a richly funny, uniquely uplifting and moving new show based on The New York Times best-seller Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. Tiny Beautiful Things is about reaching when you’re stuck, healing when you’re broken and finding the courage to take on the questions which have no answers.
Tiny Beautiful Things is about Sugar, an anonymous online advice columnist—later revealed to be Strayed – to whom thousands of people have turned for words of wisdom, honesty and hope. At first unsure of herself, Sugar finds a way to weave her own life experiences together with the deep yearning and real problems of her readers, creating a beloved column about the monstrous beauty, endless dark and glimmering light at the heart of being human.
Tony Award winner Thomas Kail (Director of Dry Powder, Hamilton), Marshall Heyman and Vardalos conceived this play that The New York Times called a Critics’ Pick: “Tiny Beautiful Things turns out to be about the endangered art of listening to — and really hearing and responding to — other people … it works beautifully as a sustained theatrical exercise in empathy.” Time Out New York said it is “Incredibly moving.”
Strayed is the best-selling author of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, which was the first selection of Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 and then became a popular film starring Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, and Thomas Sadoski, star of the Pasadena Playhouse production of Belleville.