Arts & Theater

Sacramento’s New Helvetia to stage Sondheim song cycle

Kiera and Bradford Anderson, she a Sacramento native and he a longtime soap star, will team up at the New Helvetia Theatre.
Kiera and Bradford Anderson, she a Sacramento native and he a longtime soap star, will team up at the New Helvetia Theatre.

Kiera and Bradford Anderson don’t have much time to themselves. The Los Angeles-based actors are parents of a 3-year-old and a 6-month-old, so as much as they both love performing, their commitments require careful planning and there just isn’t much “free time.”

Still they’ll be in Sacramento next week at New Helvetia Theatre opening a limited-engagement, 10-performance run (Tuesday-Dec. 21) of Stephen Sondheim’s song cycle “Marry Me a Little.”

Sacramento is really the only place the Andersons could or would do what they’re doing, as they’ll be working with Kiera’s brother, Connor Mickiewicz, the New Helvetia artistic director, who will direct the project. Though Mickiewicz has had this production in mind for a couple of years, Bradford Anderson’s availability has been the unknown part of the equation because he has had a variety of professional commitments, most visibly a seven-year run with “General Hospital,” which ended a year ago.

His Damian Spinelli character was a show-business melding of actor Seth Green’s popular persona and the Spicoli character made famous by Sean Penn in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

“It’s a kind of strange hybrid. It was a pretty nutty character, but I got the role, and it ended up turning into seven years. I was very lucky,” Bradford said from Los Angeles, where he and Kiera are rehearsing with Mickiewicz before they come up to work in the Sacramento theater.

“I became the sidekick of one of the main characters on the show; we became a comedic duo where he was the straight man and I was doing all this silly stuff around him, and it really worked for the audience,” said Bradford, who received Daytime Emmy nominations for outstanding supporting actor in 2009, 2010 and 2012. “It was really my character’s relationship with this other hunky guy that made me valuable to the show. I’m not exactly the classic soap type, but I became a character people rooted for and could identify with.”

The character was written out of the show last year, but he returned briefly in May and may be returning next year.

“I can neither confirm nor deny reports I’ll be back on the show,” Bradford said. The byzantine audience-friendly world of soap opera has not only kept him employed but allowed him to maintain his performance chops in other areas, specifically his singing voice. He formed a casual rock band called Port Chuck with “General Hospital” co-stars Steve Burton, Scott Reeves and Brandon Barash a few years ago just to make their numerous show-related events more of a happening.

“It was a way to entertain the fans a little bit more than just answering questions and telling some jokes, and it turned into something that was bigger than we could have imagined,” Bradford said. The occasional shows in the Midwest and on the East Coast have been big draws because Bradford said the soap audience is “very loyal.”

Bradford has sung in Sacramento, performing in the January 2008 “Celebration,” a semi-staged, one-time performance of the musical by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones that was a fundraiser for New Helvetia.

Kiera also performed in that show, and was in last year’s nearly perfect production of Adam Gwon’s “Ordinary Days” with her brother at New Helvetia. Her Sacramento background included Cheryl Watson’s theater program at St. Francis High School and dance with Ron Cisneros. Both teachers recommended that she pursue theater professionally, so she went to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts as did her husband – though they didn’t meet there. (They married in 2010.)

The two-person chamber musical they’ll do here takes 19 songs cut from some of Sondheim’s best-known works and places them in a dialogue-free plot involving two lonely singles who are struggling emotionally in their one-room New York apartments. Included are seven songs cut from “Follies” and three each from “Saturday Night” and “A Little Night Music.” The musical had short runs in New York in 1980 and 1981.

Kiera, a stay-at-home mom, said she relished the opportunity to be on stage again, as her children command most of her energy and focus. “Most of my time is spent entertaining them,” she said.

Bradford, who has made numerous trips to Sacramento since meeting Kiera, looks forward to becoming a part of something he’s observed and appreciates.

“The amount of good work that happens there (Sacramento) and the support that exists in that community is so unique. Not many cities have that community feel that Sacramento has,” Bradford said. “I’m very excited to finally be able to perform in that and dip my toe into that community I feel a part of just being married to a Mickiewicz.”

MARRY ME A LITTLE

What: Two-person performance of Stephen Sondheim’s song cycle

When: Preview 8 p.m. Thursday; opening 8 p.m. Dec. 12, continues 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 7 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 21; one 2 p.m. matinee on Dec. 20

Where: New Helvetia Theatre, 1028 R St., Sacramento

Cost: $20 preview; $30 general admission

Information: www.newhelvetia.org, (916) 917-0024

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