SAN DIEGO – Nov. 3, 2010 – It’s 1917 in the middle of Mardi Gras. Just two blocks from the French Quarter is Storyville, the red light district of New Orleans with its saloons, gambling joints and brothels. Louis Armstrong, Ma Rainey and Jelly Roll Morton are creating the unique sound of American jazz and this is the place to hear it. The third production in San Diego REPertory Theatre’s 35th season is Storyville, written by award-winning playwright Ed Bullins, a leading figure in African-American theatre of the 1960’s and 1970’s, and revised and directed by Broadway veteran Ken Page and produced by special arrangement with Muse Enterprises. With music and lyrics by Mildred Kayden, Storyville features a cast of 21 electric singers and dancers, and a live seven-piece band, led by William Foster McDaniel. Set in the bawdy “Mulligan’s Saloon and Cabaret Club,” this musical will ignite the stage with music duels between two kings of the jazz trumpet and sizzling dance numbers. Previews begin Fri., Nov. 13 on the Lyceum Stage. Opening night is Fri., Nov. 19. Storyville runs through Dec. 12, 2010.
San Diego REPertory Theatre’s production of Storyville is a brand new version of the musical, with extensive revisions of the book and production concepts and an original staging by Broadway veteran Ken Page. From the opening street parade down the aisles of the Lyceum to the soaring climax on the tracks of the infamous Basin Street Railway Station, Storyville is a soulful jazz musical. Join Butch Cobra Brown, a former prizefighter who arrives in New Orleans with trumpet in hand to join the musical renaissance. The star of the cabaret scene is torch singer Tigre Savoy, a single mother on the verge of a soaring musical career. Butch and Tigre might become lovers, but the political machine has its own plan for their futures. Butch is forced into a high-stakes boxing match that leads to a street brawl. The Department of the Navy shuts down the Storyville red light district forever, forcing the musicians, their culture and their music to roll north up the river, spreading the new sound and energy of jazz music across the heart of American culture.
San Diego REPertory Theatre’s production of Storyville has been revised by and is directed by Broadway veteran Ken Page, an original cast member of the award-winning companies of Ain’t Misbehavin’ and Cats. With a career spanning nearly 40 years, Page has worked in most areas of the entertainment industry. Among Page’s directing credits are several productions of Ain’t Misbehavin’ and Nightlife, which was presented at New York’s Westbeth Theatre and The Manhattan Theatre Club. Page’s production of The Fantasticks was awarded the Los Angeles Ovation Award as Best Musical. Page wrote the book for and directed two workshops of the musical version of the classic book and film, To Sir With Love.
As a performer, Page has starred in the original Broadway casts of the Tony(r) Award winning musicals Ain’t Misbehavin’ and Cats. He was also seen on Broadway in Guys & Dolls, The Wiz, and It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues. Page has performed in London’s West End, Paris and across the United States. He was seen in the films Dreamgirls, Torch Song Trilogy and others. Page is the recipient of a Drama Desk Award, Theatre World Award, Kevin Kline Award (St. Louis), and was a Joseph Jefferson Award Nominee (Chicago). Page will direct and present his theatre piece James Baldwin in Witness and Words in spring 2011.
“Storyville is a perfect REP show; a banquet of musical styles and live jazz musicians telling a story that reflects a collision of cultures and desires set in one of America’s most magical cities,” says Sam Woodhouse, artistic director and co-founder, San Diego REPertory Theatre. Storyville was born at UCSD’s Mandeville Theatre in 1977, directed by Professor Floyd Gaffney and choreographed by Jamie Rogers, with musical direction by Professor Cecil Lytle. The musical was subsequently produced at Ford’s Theatre in Washington D.C., in Miami and in Galveston, Texas. “Based on true events in American history, Storyville is another REP journey into the tapestry that makes American culture so rich and fascinating,” says Page. “It is so exciting to bring this musical to life again. To do it with such an amazingly talented group of people is the best that a director could hope for. Like the spirit of New Orleans itself, Storyville continues to soar.”
More About the Cast & Creative Team
DeBorah Sharpe-Taylor returns to San Diego REP to play Mama Cecelyn. Sharp-Taylor was the vocal director of It Ain’t Nothin But the Blues, which was created by her late husband Ron Taylor, at San Diego REP and the Geffen Playhouse. Her stage performance resume includes The Wiz, Little Shop of Horrors, Jelly’s Last Jam, among many others. Sharpe-Taylor was in American Idol Finale Choir for three seasons, and has a very distinctive voice, performing voice-overs for commercials for many popular brands and has toured with many notable performers, including The Supremes.
As an accomplished actor, singer, and musician, Victor Morris is Hot Licks Sam. Morris recently debuted at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, and was Othello for Artists Repertory Theatre (Portland) last spring. Morris will star in Gus Van Sant’s Restless with Mia Wasikowska and Henry Hopper in January 2011. Morris also plays euphonium, mellophone horn, and bass flute, and is recipient of the Accomplished Musician’s Award in the IBLA Grand Prize Vocal Competition in Ragusa-Ibla, Italy.
Veteran actress Leigh Scarritt is Countess Willie. Scarritt was last seen at San Diego REP during the hit musical Hairspray and The Threepenny Opera, both directed by Sam Woodhouse. Theatre goers may remember Scarritt in Nine, directed by Brian Wells; Working, also directed by Sam Woodhouse; Bluebonnet Court and Rapunzel directed by Delicia Turner Sonnenberg; Marjorie in What the Butler Saw, the title role in the Allergists’ Wife, the Witch in Into the Woods, Eva Peron in Evita, Ms. Pennywise in Urinetown, Morgan Le Fae in Camelot, Jill Butterflies Are Free, Frenchie in Grease, Sally in Cabaret, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change; Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors and Jo in Trolls. Scarritt is coach and mentor to San Diego’s finest up and coming new talent.
Paul James Kruse returns to San Diego REP as Mayor “Mickey” Mulligan. He has appeared in REP productions of The Threepenny Opera, Loot, Thin Air, and eight productions of A Christmas Carol, among others. Kruse has also performed locally at the Old Globe and Theatre in Old Town, as well as in Chicago and Toronto with Rep/L.A., and off Broadway. Television credits include “Renegade,” “Silk Stalkings,” “Edna Buchanan,” among others.
A native of Miami, Florida, Alvester Martin III is Butch Cobra Brown. Martin began acting and dancing at age five, singing at nine, and playing alto saxophone at 11. Upon graduating from the New World School of the Arts High School, Martin signed contracts with several ballet companies, including Pacific Northwest Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. Martin relocated to Los Angeles to pursue his music and acting passions, leaving ballet behind. He has toured with major artists such as Beyonce, Rihanna and most recently Mariah Carey. He has also filmed numerous commercials and film projects such as Stomp the Yard, Bolden, Bratz and Footloose.
Actress, singer and comic Natalie Wachen is Tigre Savoy. A California girl and recent New York transplant, Wachen’s regional credits include ShowBoat, Dreamgirls, Jesus Christ Superstar, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Into The Woods, among others. Television credits include “90210,”