Backstage Blog

Season 14 Announced!

From classic musicals to shocking contemporary works, Season 2016-17 promises to be a true “Cygnet” Season

Every season must reflect the mission of the company and for the past 13 years, Artistic Director Sean Murray has crafted uniquely Cygnet seasons that reflect the commitment to “startle the soul, embrace diversity and ignite debate.” This year is no exception. The seven productions in Season 14 range from the traditional to the avant- garde and include two musical theatre classics, a two-show repertory by a Pulitzer prize-winning playwright, the return of a holiday favorite and two contemporary works sure to shock and amaze.

“I’m really proud of the diversity and quality of this season,” says Murray. “Leave it to us to go from a stripper, to an ex-con, to one naughty little boy in just one season. That’s exciting. That’s Cygnet!”

SEASON XIV: 2016-2017
List of Plays

GYPSY
July 14th – Sept 4th
Music by Jule Styne and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by Arthur Laurents
Directed by Sean Murray
Choreography by David Brannen
Music Direction by Terry O’Donnell

Indomitable stage mother Rose chases vicarious success and stardom as she pushes her daughters through the vaudeville circuit. When Dainty June flees the act to elope, Rose vows to make introverted Louise into a star. Boasting one show-stopping song after another—like “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” and “Let Me Entertain You”—this classic musical was inspired by the memoirs of the legendary burlesque dancer Gypsy Rose Lee. Featuring Linda Libby as Mama Rose, Allison Spratt Pearce as Louise, Katie Whalley-Banville as Dainty June, and Manny Fernandes as Herbie.

“The quintessential American musical” – Hollywood Reporter

Gypsy cast members: Manny Fernandes, Allison Spratt-Pearce, Linda Libby, Katie Whalley-Banville

Gypsy cast members: Manny Fernandes, Allison Spratt-Pearce, Linda Libby, Katie Whalley-Banville

Repertory
SEVEN GUITARS
Sept 28th – Nov 6th
By August Wilson
San Diego Premiere

In the backyard of a Pittsburgh tenement in 1948, friends gather to mourn for a blues guitarist and singer who died just as his career was on the verge of taking off. The action that follows is a flashback to the busy week leading up to Floyd’s sudden and unnatural death. Seven Guitars is part bawdy comedy, part dark elegy and part mystery. This lyrical play is the sixth in August Wilson’s ten-play cycle which charts the African-American experience through each decade of the 20th century and is performed in rep with King Hedley II.

“Rich, music-drenched drama” – New York Times

Repertory
KING HEDLEY II
Sep. 29th
– Nov. 6th
By August Wilson
San Diego Premiere

King Hedley II shares the story of King –a man recently released from prison, attempting to rebuild his 
life amid changing times and a backdrop of the crime and drug struggles in the community he exists in. King dreams of a life 
of stability and self-reliance beyond incarceration, gangs and broken family. The play dares to ask what it takes to transcend 
the limitations of life and personal circumstance, and if pure will is enough to change a man’s destiny. King Hedley II is the eighth play in August Wilson’s ten-play cycle that, decade by decade, examines African American life in the United States during the twentieth century.

“Mesmerizing…. Full of powerful images that convey the darkly comic dialogue between hope and hopelessness in African American life.” – N.Y. Daily News

A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Nov 22nd – Dec 24th
Adaptation & Lyrics by Sean Murray
Original Score by Billy Thompson
Directed by Sean Murray
Musical Direction by Patrick Marion

Cygnet Theatre invites you to start your own family tradition with one of ours. This season welcomes the return of the holiday classic adapted from Charles Dickens’ timeless tale of hope and redemption. This re-imagined, fully staged production features original new music, creative stagecraft and puppetry, and live sound effects. Step into a Victorian Christmas card for a unique storytelling experience that is sure to delight the entire family!

“Critics Pick” in 2014 – San Diego Union Tribune

A Christmas Carol (2015)

A Christmas Carol (2015)

BAD JEWS
Jan 12th – Feb 12th
By Joshua Harmon
Directed by Rob Lutfy
San Diego Premiere

The night after their grandfather’s funeral, three cousins engage in a verbal battle royale over a family heirloom. In one corner is the unstoppable and self-assured force of “Super Jew” Daphna. In the other, the immovable and entitled object of her secular cousin Liam. And in the middle is Liam’s brother Jonah, trying to stay out of the fray. Bad Jews is a savage comedy about family, faith, and legacy.

“The funniest play of the year.”-The Washington Post
“Delectably savage humor” – The New York Times

ON THE 20TH CENTURY
March 9th – April 30th
San Diego Premiere
Book and Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green
Music by Cy Coleman
Directed by Sean Murray

Its nonstop laughs aboard the Twentieth Century, a luxury train traveling from Chicago to New York City. Luck, love and mischief collide when the bankrupt theater producer Oscar Jaffee embarks on a madcap mission to cajole glamorous Hollywood starlet Lily Garland into playing the lead in his new, non-existent epic drama. But is the train ride long enough to reignite the spark between these former lovers, create a play from scratch, and find the money to get it all the way to Broadway? Featuring Eileen Bowman as Lily Garland and Melinda Gilb as Letitia Primrose.

“Old-fashioned musical comedy magic”– USA Today
“The show is a nonstop delight.” – The New York Post

On the Twentieth Century cast members: Melinda Gilb & Eileen Bowmann

On the Twentieth Century cast members: Melinda Gilb & Eileen Bowmann

SHOCKHEADED PETER
May 18th – June 18th
West Coast Regional Premiere
Music by Adrian Huge, Martyn Jacques, Adrian Stout
Lyrics by Martyn Jacques
Book by Julian Bleach, Anthony Cairns, Graeme Gilmour, Tamzin Griffen
Based on Struwwelpeter by Heinrich Hoffmann
Directed by Rob Lutfy

Fall into the world of Victorian Steam-punk nightmares as a manic music-box spins stories of naughty children and misguided parents. Silly and sinister, Shockheaded Peter dares us to ask what’s beneath the floorboards. Don’t miss the most damning tale ever told on stage!

“A vile and repulsive story told by reprehensible characters in a thoroughly degenerate fashion – Absolute Bliss” – David Bowie
“A wryly seedy cabaret-punk musical” -Variety

 Come join us for this wild ride! Tickets and new subscriptions will be available for purchase on March 1st.  

A Marriage Made in Theatre Heaven

At Cygnet Theatre, we like to think of ourselves as one big happy family, but two of our My Fair Lady cast members took it a bit more seriously! Featured in multiple roles in the show are married couple Bryan Banville (Assassins) and Katie Whalley Banville (Company, Man of La Mancha). This is not the first time a married couple has taken the stage. The Norman Conquests featured Sandy & Danny Campbell, Bed and Sofa featured Lance Arthur Smith & Colleen Kollar Smith and Assassins included Manny & Melissa Fernandes.

We love Bryan and Katie’s “meet cute” theatre love story and wanted to share it – including the roles fellow cast members Ralph Johnson and Linda Libby played in their romance. A little late for Valentines Day, but very romantic nonetheless! Bryan tells us the tale….

How did you two meet?

I saw Katie in ion theatre’s production of Gypsy. In awe of her performance – and her legs – I asked Ralph Johnson, who was also in the production with her, and Justin Tuazon-Martin, who was in Cygnet’s production of Man of La Mancha with Katie and I, to be introduced. Ralph gave Katie my information, and we connected MONTHS later – due to my shyness – and finally had our first date where I showed up 45 minutes early and waited at the restaurant while Katie showed up 30 minutes early and waited in her car. Although it took a while for the second date to happen, delayed by car troubles, injuries, and plain old scheduling, we both showed up to our second date in the same, identical rental car… And the rest is theatre history.

Katie and Byran backstage in Man of La Mancha

Katie and Byran backstage in Man of La Mancha

 

When and where did you get married?

We were married at the beautiful and historical Lafayette Hotel in 2014. We had an amazing celebration marked with the love and support of our family, friends, and the wonderful members of the San Diego theater community. Sunny Haines (who often works backstage as a dresser at Cygnet) was our wedding planner, Kurt Norby provided all the music, David Brannen (choreographer of My Fair Lady) choreographed our first dance, Jen Wheeler-Khan (Stage Manager at the Playhouse and Old Globe) provided the wonderful decorations, Linda Libby read a beautiful passage during the ceremony, and the wonderful Ralph Johnson got ordained and married us!

The wedding ceremony performed by friend and Cygnet artist Ralph Johnson

The wedding ceremony performed by friend and Cygnet artist Ralph Johnson

What happens when two talented performers get married and share a first dance? Take a look here, we are able to provide this video to you thanks to phoenix video production who did an excellent job.

How many times have you worked together?

My Fair Lady will be our 7th production together since we met! Our first production as a couple was at Cygnet when we did Man of La Mancha together. We went on to perform in Mixtape for Lamb’s Players Theatre where we got to go to the 80’s prom every night together. Since we have been married we have done a total of 5 shows including My Fair Lady. Right after our wedding we started rehearsals for Passion at ion theatre and then spent the summer at Moonlight Theatre in Vista performing in Spamalot, Mary Poppins, and Catch Me If You Can - the last two, we got to be dance partners which was super fun!

Share your dream roles as a couple.

View More: http://brookealiceon.pass.us/bkwedding

The Newlyweds

This is an interesting question! We have discussed this a few times and have included some of them below:

1.) Jamie & Kathy in The Last Five Years. The music is so beautiful, and the story would be so challenging to tackle as a married couple!

2.) Millie & Jimmy in Thoroughly Modern Millie. Wonderful show, and fun roles for us to play on our strengths!

3.) Baker & Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods. This would be for when we are a bit older, but it would be an absolute pleasure getting to dive into two characters that reflect our personalities so well!

4.) Edward & Sandra Bloom in Big Fish. Again this would be for when we are older, but it’s one of the most real and loving stories to be told about a couple, and the music is GREAT!

Catch them now through April 26th in My Fair Lady at Cygnet Theatre!

Katie, Bryan, and the cast of My Fair Lady, including Ralph Johnson and Linda Libby.

Katie, Bryan, and the cast of My Fair Lady, including Ralph Johnson and Linda Libby.

Playwright Insight: Paul-David Halem

PiP logo

Playwrights in Process: New Play Festival is Cygnet Theatre’s annual festival of readings of new plays presented in collaboration with Playwrights Project. The festival introduces San Diego playgoers to new works by local artists and also offers a series of workshops designed to introduce curious audiences to the art of playwriting. In addition, the three-day festival at the Old Town Theatre includes opportunities for informal forums to meet the playwrights.

With the festival around the corner, we asked our playwrights to tell us how the process is going for them. Here’s playwright Paul-David Halem talking about his play, Mannequins.

Paul-David Halem

Paul-David Halem

How has working with theatre artists from Cygnet Theatre and Playwrights Project helped your writing for Playwrights in Process?  

I have been truly fortunate to have Derek Livingston as both my Director and Dramaturg.  He has read my play no less than 7 times, and each time has offered wonderful suggestions for the rewriting process.  I have a wonderful cast of actors with Jason Heil as the lead who have brought my words to life.  All of the actors also have been helpful with suggestions and comments.  This has been the most nurturing experience I have ever had.   There is no doubt in my mind that “Mannequins” has reached a level that could not have been achieved without their generous help. My heartfelt thanks to Derek Livingston and the wonderful cast he has assembled -  Jason Heil, Whitney Thomas, Cameron Sullivan, and Linda Libby.

On his inspiration for the play:  I’ve often been accused of having a warped sense of humor.  As for my inspiration – it is getting to have my characters have outrageous experiences that I would never get to have in my suburban existence.

About Mannequins: Life is more interesting if it’s not what it seems to be. Fade in on a successful actor trying to read a hot new film script. Phone calls, delusional friends, and a hunky burglar disrupt his plans…as the mannequins watch.

Click here for more insight from Paul-David on his play and Playwrights in Process.

See Mannequins on Sunday, Nov 9 at 7:00pm. View complete information on workshops and plays:http://www.cygnettheatre.com/connect/playwrights.php

A huge thanks to Festival sponsors Bill and Judy Garrett.