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Another either/or situation

September 07, 2003|Don Shirley

Do the schedulers in L.A.'s musical theater world ever speak to one another?

On Sept. 15, the Musical Theatre Guild will offer the area's first professional presentation of "Parade," the 1999 Tony Award-winning musical by Alfred Uhry and Jason Robert Brown, at the group's new primary home, the Alex Theatre in Glendale. The show, which took Tonys for best score and best book, will be staged as a concert reading.

That same night, Reprise! -- a bigger group that also specializes in reviving seldom-seen musicals -- will present a glittery concert reading of Stephen Sondheim's "Assassins" at UCLA's Freud Playhouse.

This conflict follows a similar clash a year ago, when the Musical Theatre Guild gave L.A.'s first presentation of Sondheim's "Saturday Night" on the same evening as a concert reading of his "Merrily We Roll Along" offered by Reprise!

Reprise! producing director Marcia Seligson said that after last year's events, she urged the guild to call her and check the Reprise! schedule before making plans but that no one called. She added that to avoid extra rent and other costs, she has to schedule her concerts on the only dark night available during the runs of her regular shows -- in this case, the "Babes in Arms" that opens this week.

"I'm not saying, 'Oh, goody, let's compete with the Musical Theatre Guild,' " Seligson said.

"We set our schedule months ago," guild spokesman Kevin McMahon said. "We just found out about 'Assassins.' I don't think it's malicious, but it's unfortunate."

"Parade" will receive two additional performances, in the Scherr Forum Theatre in Thousand Oaks on Sept. 21, but those won't benefit from a $10,000 grant by TV and stage director David Lee that will provide for more musicians at the performances in the larger Alex.

Lee, incidentally, will be unable to be at the Alex to hear what his money paid for. He's directing the Reprise! "Assassins."

-- Don Shirley

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