Los Angeles Theater Feature: REPRISE RETURNS WITH NEW SEASON OF MUSICALS (Freud Playhouse)

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by Tony Frankel on March 15, 2018

in Theater-Los Angeles


It’s a strange sort of serendipity. Just when Musical Theatre West announced its final season after eight glorious years presenting rarely produced musicals in concert form (The Reiner Reading Series), along comes an organization that shuttered its doors years ago, but now returns. Reprise! Broadway’s Best, which presented nearly 50 productions of classic musicals between 1997 and 2012, closed after Jason Alexander came on as leader and took the organization in a direction that was unsustainable (Reprise! still did amazing work: two of their final shows, Kiss Me, Kate and Cabaret were amazing).

Now, the original Producing Artistic Director, Marcia Seligson, has returned to start a whole new era under the banner REPRISE 2.0, which, Seligson says, “will be faithful to the original concept, combining simple sets and costumes with outstanding directors and choreographers, the band on stage, and stellar performances that lets the material shine, allowing audiences to experience musicals they have never seen before, or have not been performed in the area for many years.”

The inaugural 2018 season of REPRISE 2.0: Sweet Charity, directed by three-time Tony winner Kathleen Marshall (Nice Work If You Can Get It; Anything Goes) (June 20 — July 1); Victor/Victoria, directed by Richard Israel with choreography by Peggy Hickey (September 5 — 16); and Grand Hotel – The Musical, directed by Arthur Allan Seidelman and choreographed by Kay Cole (October 24 — November 4). All of the productions will be conducted by musical director Gerald Sternbach.

Under Seligson’s previous direction of Reprise!, it presented productions starring some of the best musical theater talent in America, and I vividly remember the amazing work they did. The company returns to UCLA’s Freud Playhouse as part of a partnership with the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television’s Department of Theater.

Sweet Charity, based on Federico Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria, follows Charity’s life as a dance hall hostess “with a heart of gold,” determined to break out of the Fandango Ballroom. The songs “Hey, Big Spender” and “If They Could See Me Now” are part of this groovy show, which features a book by Neil Simon, music by Cy Coleman, and lyrics by Dorothy Fields. Starring as Charity is Laura Bell Bundy (Legally Blonde – Tony Nomination). Also in the cast are Barrett Foa (Eric Beale on NCIS: Los Angeles) as Oscar and Jon Jon Briones (Miss Saigon West End and Broadway) as Herman.

A musical version of Blake Edwards’s 1982 film (with a book by Edwards), Victor/Victoria follows a penniless out-of-work soprano, Victoria, whose life is changed when she meets a struggling gay impresario and, with his help, becomes “Victor,” an overnight singing sensation in the nightclubs of Paris. The production includes music by Henry Mancini, lyrics by Leslie Bricusse, and additional musical and lyrics by Frank Wildhorn. Starring as Victoria is one of our greatest Broadway treasures, Carmen Cusack (Bright Star – Tony Nomination).

Premiering in 1989, earning 12 Tony Award nominations, Grand Hotel – The Musical focuses on events taking place over the course of a weekend in Berlin’s elegant Grand Hotel. Based on the 1929 Vicki Baum novel and the subsequent 1932 MGM feature, the show has a terrifically original score by Robert Wright and George Forrest (of Kismet), a book by Luther Davis, and additional and revised music by Maury Yeston (Nine).

With short runs and an intimate 586-seat venue, tickets will be in high demand. This is one organization that definitely deserves a reprise.

2018 season at UCLA’s Freud Playhouse
Sweet Charity, Victor/Victoria and Grand Hotel — The Musical
for tickets, call 866.811.4111 (Mon-Fri 9-9; Sat, Sun 10-9) or visit REPRISE2

[Editor’s Note: The first article stated that Musical Theatre Guild was closing its doors after this season; that was incorrect, and has been changed to Musical Theatre West.]

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