More Musical Shows, More Star Surprises for Reprise!


The second season of Reprise!, a series of semi-staged musicals introduced last year at UCLA’s Freud Playhouse, will feature more than twice as many performances as last year.

The season, announced Tuesday, will include “The Pajama Game” (May 6-17), “The Threepenny Opera” (Sept. 9-20) and the Gershwins’ “Of Thee I Sing” (Nov. 11-22).

The length of each show’s run has been expanded from seven performances to 15 because last year’s three musicals sold out. The demand was so great that extra tickets were made available at dress rehearsals and for standing room.


Even without knowing titles or stars, 60% of last year’s subscribers already have renewed for 1998, Seligson said.

Unlike last year, stars won’t be announced far in advance. “It was right to enroll them ahead of time last year, because we were brand-new”--and familiar star names helped get potential subscribers’ attention, Seligson said. However, three of the five stars who were announced in the initial brochure later dropped out. Only Jason Alexander and Andrea Marcovicci remained, while Joel Grey, Tyne Daly and Keith Carradine had to be replaced.

“I’d never want our subscribers to think we’re doing a bait-and-switch,” Seligson said. “I don’t want to announce Marlon Brando and suddenly it’s my dog Spirit instead.” So particular stars won’t be promised until the commitments appear more solid.

The idea behind the short, concert-style runs is that stars who are usually committed to more lucrative screen jobs can commit to a theater job without a financial sacrifice. Seligson acknowledged that the extra week of each run might discourage “one or two” stars from participating, but she also noted that since last year’s success, “I’m getting phone calls and letters from stars.”

None of this year’s shows was picked because a star was attached to it, Seligson said, unlike last year, when it was Alexander’s commitment that assured a spot for “Promises, Promises.”

Although Reprise! is designed to focus on seldom-seen shows, one of this year’s picks, “The Threepenny Opera,” was produced in L.A. County above the 99-seat level in both 1996 and 1997. Regarding the more recent production, which was at A Noise Within, Seligson said that there is hardly any overlap between the Westside audience for Reprise! and the Glendale/Pasadena audience for A Noise Within.


This year’s regular subscription rates range from $120 to $135, compared to last year’s $95 to $110.

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