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La Jolla Playhouse releases slate

Under a new artistic director, the company will do '33 Variations,' 'Xanadu' and more.

January 16, 2008|Mike Boehm

The first season of plays picked by Christopher Ashley, the La Jolla Playhouse's new artistic director, begins with Beethoven: Moises Kaufman's "33 Variations" (April 8-May 4) jumps between the present and 1819 as a musicologist investigates the composer's obsession with another musician's piddling waltz melody, which turned into the famous Diabelli Variations.

And the season ends, more or less, with "Have You Never Been Mellow?" the Olivia Newton-John pop morsel that's the penultimate number in the musical "Xanadu" (Oct. 18-Dec. 7).

Ashley directed the version now playing on Broadway, fleshing out the 1980 film with a new book by Douglas Carter Beane while keeping the movie's songs by John Farrar and the British rock band Electric Light Orchestra.

Also on tap are two new plays. The first is a workshop production of Charlayne Woodard's latest solo show, "The Night Watcher" (July 1-27), in which she plays an "auntie" to 30 children. The second is the premiere of Charles Busch's comedy "The Third Story" (Sept. 16-Oct. 19), about a 1940s mother-and-son screenwriting team concocting a script involving a drag queen, a mobster, a mad scientist and a Russian fairy tale.

Off-Broadway veteran David Schweizer will direct a revival of "Tobacco Road" (Sept. 30-Oct. 26), Jack Kirkland's 1933 adaptation of the Erskine Caldwell novel about Georgia sharecroppers living in squalor during the depths of the Great Depression.

Yet to be announced are a sixth mainstage show plus two plays in a new series of off-the-mainstream works called "The Edge."

-- Mike Boehm

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