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Six-Play Season in Pasadena

The 2002 Playhouse season will include 'The Blue Room.'

July 27, 2001|DON SHIRLEY | TIMES THEATER WRITER

David Hare's "The Blue Room," Kenneth Lonergan's "The Waverly Gallery" and the current off-Broadway play "Blue" are among the six productions in Pasadena Playhouse's 2002 season.

"The Blue Room," scheduled for March 15-April 14 at the Playhouse, drew attention when it premiered in London, featuring Nicole Kidman in a nude scene. The play is a contemporary adaptation of Arthur Schnitzler's "La Ronde," about 10 couples linked by sexual alliances. Sheldon Epps, Playhouse artistic director, thought that the play's qualities were slighted in the 1998 New York production "by the hoopla over an insignificant amount of nudity."

Casting isn't set for Pasadena's "Blue Room." The production will still feature some nudity--which won't be a first at the playhouse. Productions of "Equus" and "The Kiss at City Hall" both involved some nudity. Epps said he hopes "The Blue Room" will attract more theatergoers from the 25-40 age range "who don't normally go to the theater. Because it's about their lives."

"The Waverly Gallery," a Pulitzer Prize finalist this year, depicts a bohemian gallery owner beginning to face Alzheimer's. Lonergan was also nominated for an Oscar this year for his screenplay of "You Can Count on Me." Pasadena Playhouse will present the play May 3-June 2. A different production of the play will be presented by Laguna Playhouse in January.

Charles Randolph-Wright's "Blue," which Epps recently directed at Arena Stage in Washington and for the current production by the Roundabout Theatre in New York, will appear at Epps' home stage, Aug. 16-Sept. 15, 2002. Epps said he is hoping to sign Phylicia Rashad, who appeared in the previous productions, but he plans to do "Blue" regardless of her participation. The comedy focuses on a middle-class black family that runs a funeral parlor in a South Carolina town.

Opening the season will be the premiere of Richard Matheson's "Now You See It," Jan. 18-Feb. 17. Previously announced for this year, the play about a master magician was postponed in order to obtain more money for costly special effects. Production personnel will be sworn to secrecy about the play's illusions.

The playhouse has obtained rights to two musicals, one of which would run June 28-July 28, 2002. The first is a recent adaptation of the 1954 show "House of Flowers," set in a West Indies bordello, by Truman Capote and Harold Arlen, and adapted by Charles Busch ("Tale of the Allergist's Wife") and his frequent collaborator Kenneth Elliott. The second is "A Class Act," the tribute to "A Chorus Line" lyricist Ed Kleban that was nominated for a Tony Award for best musical this year. Epps said but he hopes to do one of the musicals in 2002 and the other in 2003.

The holiday slot, Nov. 10-Dec. 15, 2002, is still open. Epps said he would like to develop a holiday perennial other than "A Christmas Carol." The 2001 holiday slot will be filled with "Plaid Tidings" from the "Forever Plaid" creators.

This year's six-show season marks a break with the Playhouse's long-standing tradition of announcing and selling two three-play seasons each year. The switch "lessens the workload of renewing twice each year, for subscribers as well as staff," Epps said. "But aesthetically, I've always thought in terms of a six-play season. Everyone gets a better sense of how eclectic we are when you look at six plays instead of three."

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