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  • Sacramento Theatre Company

    Jerry Lee and Jackie Vanderbeck starred in the Sacramento Theatre Company production last December of “It’s a Wonderful Life – The Musical.” It returns to STC’s lineup for 2014-15.

  • Jerry Lee

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  • Legends, epics and icons

    What: Tickets for the Sacramento Theater Company 2014-15 lineup go on sale in June through (916) 443-6722, (916) 446-7501, www.sactheatre.org or at the box office, 1419 L St., Sacramento

    • “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck, adaptation by Frank Galati (Oct. 1-26), Main Stage, directed by Michael Stevenson

    • “Kate” by Rick Foster (Nov. 5-Dec. 14) Pollock Stage, directed by Peter Sander

    • “It’s a Wonderful Life – The Musical” (Dec. 3-28), Main Stage

    • “Nunsense – The Musical” by Dan Goggin (Jan. 7- Feb. 15), Pollock Stage

    • “William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar” (Feb. 25-March 22), Main Stage, directed by Kirk Blackinton and Brian Harrower

    • “The Whipping Man” by Matthew Lopez (March 25-May 3), Pollock Stage, directed by Buddy Butler

    • “The Pirates of Penzance” by Gilbert and Sullivan (April 22-May 17), Main Stage, directed Michael Laun

     

    Cabaret Series

    All are on the Cabaret Stage:

    • “A Pretty Girl Is a Like a Melody – A Tribute to the Ziegfeld Follies (Nov. 13-16)

    • “Hello, Jerry – A Salute to Jerry Herman” (Jan. 22-25)

    • “I Dreamed a Dream – The Musicals of Claude-Michel Schönberg” (April 2-5)

'Grapes of Wrath' to open Sacramento Theatre Company's season

Published: Friday, May. 2, 2014 - 12:00 am
Last Modified: Saturday, May. 3, 2014 - 12:10 am

Michael Laun, executive producing director of Sacramento Theatre Company, is calling the 2014-15 slate of productions “A Season of Legends, Epics and Icons.”

The season will unfold as follows: “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck and adaptation by Frank Galati, “Kate” by Rick Foster, “It’s a Wonderful Life – The Musical,” “Nunsense – The Musical” by Dan Goggin, “William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar,” “The Whipping Man” by Matthew Lopez, and “The Pirates of Penzance” by Gilbert and Sullivan.

Laun said the company is building on the successful slotting and scheduling of certain types of plays during the season while also identifying a theme to tie the different works together. The season opener of “The Grapes of Wrath” was the central piece of the season Laun wanted in place.

“It was one of the first plays we picked for the season, and I was very interested in us doing it,” he said.

“That really did kind of spearhead the season, being the 75th anniversary of (the novel’s) publication and the 20th anniversary since we actually produced it here at STC.”

Winner of the 1990 Tony Award and Outer Critics Circle Award, the sprawling production can use more than 20 actors and often includes live musicians as well.

“We’ve been trying here at the theater to build up the scope of the productions that we’re doing,” Laun said.

Last year’s production of “Pride and Prejudice” showed him the company was ready to take on larger projects, he said.

“ ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ was another big project we wanted to do and we felt that we were ready to be able to do it,” Laun said.

Following “The Grapes of Wrath” the season takes a somewhat opposite tack with the intimate one-woman drama and world premiere of “Kate.”

The production stars Janis Stevens as Katharine Hepburn, reuniting Stevens with writer Foster and director Peter Sander.

Both Foster and Sander collaborated with her on the award-winning “Vivien,” a similar one-woman drama she has performed across the country.

“I’d been in discussion with Janis Stevens about that play for about nine months,” Laun said.

“The ‘Legends, Epics and Icons’ idea then came to me and to us, and I thought what if we do a season that is kind of larger-scale, which deals with bigger issues?” Laun said.

While there is some stretching to fit all the titles into the concept (Laun said the nuns of “Nunsense” are obviously icons), William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” clearly fits the bill.

In bringing Lopez’s complex “The Whipping Man” into the season, Laun said he was expressly looking to work again with director Buddy Butler, who staged STC’s well-received production of “Master Harold … and the Boys” two season ago.

“I was looking to something similar in scope to that play – something for our intimate Pollock Stage – that would deal with issues that were surrounding a culturally significant time,” Laun said.

The play deals with the immediate aftermath of the Civil War as a Jewish Confederate soldier and two former slaves raised as Jews celebrate Passover together.

“It was fascinating to me when I read it,” Laun said. “Even though it’s a three-person play, it deals with very big issues.”

After the dramas of “Julius Caesar” and “The Whipping Man,” Laun wanted something lighter to end the season. So Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance” was added as something simply “fun and frothy.”

STC has never produced the musical, and Laun anticipates hiring a live orchestra for the production.

Based on classic James Stewart film, “It’s a Wonderful Life – The Musical,” which has performed well and pleased STC audiences, will be brought back in the December holiday slot.

Laun said he feels the theater, which had a 2013-14 budget of just over $1.4 million, has shown positive signs of growth over the past three years.

“Our subscription numbers have pretty much stayed the same the last three years – right around 1,800 subscribers, but what we have seen is a growing number of students and single-ticket buyers and people who are brand new to our theater,” Laun said.

“Our regular ticket sales have been growing over the last three years. We saw a 3 percent rise two years ago, a 5 percent rise last year, and it looks like this year we’re actually going to be close to a 10 percent risein ticket sales,” he said.

“It definitely means more people in our seats, more people in Sacramento getting to view and enjoy what we’re doing here,” Laun said.


Call The Bee’s Marcus Crowder, (916) 321-1120.

Read more articles by Marcus Crowder



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