Pasadena Playhouse to produce musical ‘Twist,’ directed by Debbie Allen


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As the Pasadena Playhouse continues to work toward full financial recovery, leaders have been gradually announcing new main-stage productions, short of committing to a full season. On Tuesday, the company added another show to its roster -- the new musical, ‘Twist,’ based on the Charles Dickens classic, ‘Oliver Twist.’ It is set to open June 25.

‘Twist’ had its world premiere in 2010 at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta. The musical transposes Dickens’ story of an orphan boy who falls in with a gang of pickpockets to New Orleans on the eve of the Great Depression. The score is by songwriters Tena Clark and Gary Prim, and the book is by Tony Award nominee William F. Brown.


Debbie Allen directed and choreographed the Atlanta production and will return for the Pasadena version. The cast for the musical will be announced at a later date.

The musical will begin preview performances on June 14 and is scheduled to run through July 24.

‘Twist’ has been kicking around regional theaters in various workshop forms since the 1990s, but the musical was reportedly revised for the Atlanta production. A reviewer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution praised the cast and Allen’s direction, but wrote that the musical overall ‘feels overly politicized and unoriginal.’

The Pasadena Playhouse shut down its main stage in February due to crushing debt and other financial pressures. The company emerged from bankruptcy in July and said that it has successfully raised $2 million thanks to a matching grant. Since reopening its main stage, the company has mounted productions of the solo show ‘FDR,’ starring Ed Asner, and ‘Uptown Downtown,’ starring Leslie Uggams. In February, the Pasadena Playhouse will start performances of the new musical ‘Dangerous Beauty,’ which is based on the 1998 movie of the same name.

-- David Ng


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