BY CARY GINELL
The Rubicon Theatre Company unveiled its schedule for the 2014-2015 season during two special “preview nights” at the theater’s location in Ventura. Hosted by Artistic Directors Karyl Lynn Burns and James O’Neil, the program featured not only announcements and descriptions of the shows, but passages read by past Rubicon performers. The running theme for the season is “The Search For…”
Jamie Torcellini (Billy Elliot, Cats, Man of La Mancha) began the proceedings with a rendition of “Get Me to the Church on Time” from My Fair Lady. A two-piano version of the venerable Lerner & Loewe musical will be directed by O’Neil. During the preview, Kim Huber, who starred on Broadway as Belle in Beauty & the Beast, also sang “I Could Have Danced All Night.”
The new season will begin in October with the riotous 2 Pianos 4 Hands, which traces the friendship between two ambitious piano players, as their careers are traced from their time as boys sharing their love for music to their years as adults, competing in festivals and auditioning for conservatories. A wide variety of music is played during the show, featuring compositions by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Schubert, and even Paul Anka’s “My Way.”
One of the highlights of the Rubicon season will be Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen, which will play from April 15 to May 10, 2015. Frayn, who also wrote the knockabout comedy Noises Off, won a Tony Award for Copenhagen, which made its Broadway debut in 2000. The story is based on a real-life encounter in 1941 between German physicists Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg. In the play, Bohr and Heisenberg meet after their deaths to discuss the ramifications of their work on developing the atomic bomb; Heisenberg for the Nazi regime and Bohr for the United States. Bohr had escaped to Sweden but defected to America after fearing that his Jewish heritage would be revealed by SS police. Noted actor Joe Spano, who appeared in Rubicon’s hard-hitting play The Sunset Limited this year (VC On Stage, November 8, 2013), read a passage from the play. Spano will be co-starring with Bruce Weitz, who co-starred with Spano in the hit television series Hill Street Blues. Copenhagen will be directed by Michael Addison.
During March 2015, Stephanie Zimbalist will star in Jane Wagner’s one-woman stage show, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, which won a Tony for Lily Tomlin in 1986. Zimbalist plays Trudy, a bag lady, who takes us on a magical journey of discovery as she ponders the meaning of soup, art, fried clams, and the color scheme of Howard Johnson’s motels.
Noel Coward’s outrageous 1941 comedy Blithe Spirit will play in the spring, directed by David Gilmore, formerly the artistic director for the St. James Theatre in London. Coward’s play deals with a seance featuring a cynical writer, a nutty clairvoyant, and the ghost of the writer’s petulant wife.
Jason Robert Brown’s innovative musical The Last Five Years tracks a couple’s relationship, from infatuation to marriage to bitter break-up, through their own thoughts and songs. The twist is that while novelist Jamie’s segments track the relationship in a chronologically linear fashion, aspiring actress Cathy’s timeline goes in reverse; the two meeting only at the middle of the musical during their wedding. Jayme Lake, who recently starred in the national tour of I Love Lucy – Live On Stage, sang the whimsical “A Summer in Ohio” from the show.
In September 2015 Robin Gammell will star as Benjamin Franklin in Steve Bouser’s Ben, a one-man play that takes place prior to the American Revolution. Franklin is in England, torn between remaining there, where he has been working as a diplomat, and returning to America to join revolutionaries in their plan for independence. Ben will be directed by the Tony Award-winning Peter Hunt, who directed 1776 and Give ‘Em Hell, Harry on Broadway. Steven Mendel, who plays a recurring role in Mad Men, read a passage from the play.
Two shows remain in the 2013-2014 schedule. This month, the Rubicon will present the West Coast premier of Will Eno’s Title and Deed. The New York Times called Eno “one of the most vital, distinctive voices in the American theater.” The play stars Conor Lovett, who portrays a man who has just arrived and wants to tell you about his homeland. His journey and his encounters remind us of our own in this lyrical celebration of life, language, endless (if empty) hope, and our perennial search for home.
In September, Carey Crim’s new play Conviction closes the current season. It’s a riveting drama about a popular teacher and model citizen whose life begins to unravel when he is accused by a student of crossing a line, which serves to explore the damage done when seeds of mistrust are planted.
Here is the schedule for the upcoming shows at the Rubicon. For dates and showtimes, visit the VC On Stage Calendar regularly.
Title and Deed (July 23 – 27, 2014)
Conviction (September 3 – 28, 2014)
2 Pianos 4 Hands (October 15 – November 16, 2014)
The Last Five Years (January 21 – February 15, 2015)
The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe (March 4 – 29, 2015)
Copenhagen (April 15 – May 10, 2015)
Blithe Spirit (May 27 – June 21, 2015)
Ben (September 2 – 27, 2015)
My Fair Lady (October 21 – November 15, 2015)