ICT Presents A Rare Revival of “The Robber Bridegroom”

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Funny, rowdy and sexy. A rare revival of The Robber Bridegroom, with book and lyrics by Alfred Uhry and music by Robert Waldman, opens at International City Theatre on October 14. Low-priced previews take place on October 11, 12 and 13.

Based on the 1942 Eudora Welty novella, The Robber Bridegroom is a comic, adult fairy tale that’s loaded with symbolism, innuendo and double entendre. It’s the story of a charming gentleman bandit, the rich plantation owner’s daughter he loves, the wicked, sex-starved stepmother who wants her dead, and an evil thief who carries his brother’s head around in a trunk – all set to an infectious Broadway/bluegrass score.

“It’s a Southern, country Appalachian, bluegrass celebration,” enthuses director Todd Nielsen. “It’s been beautifully adapted from the novella, bringing out all the colorful, rough and ready characters that Eudora Welty created, and with a wonderful sense of romance and humor.”

The Robber Bridegroom originated at The Musical Theatre Lab in 1970, pioneering the “workshop” process during its developmental stages. The 1975 Broadway production received a Tony nomination for “Best Book of a Musical” and six Drama Desk nominations, including “Outstanding Musical” and “Unique Theatrical Experience.” That production established the career of playwright Alfred Uhry, who would later write the acclaimed Driving Miss Daisy and The Last Night of Ballyhoo, and catapulted the careers of its two stars, Kevin Kline and Patti LuPone, both recent graduates of Juilliard making their professional debuts. Following a successful national tour, a second Broadway run was mounted just one year later, earning Barry Bostwick the Tony Award for lead actor in a musical and another eight Drama Desk nominations. The New York Times called The Robber Bridegroom “a modern fairy tale, where irony and humor, outright nonsense, deep wisdom and surrealistic extravaganzas become a poetic unity through the power of a pure exquisite style.”

Todd Nielsen directs the ICT production, and Gerald Sternbach is musical director. Chad Doreck (Off-Broadway’s Altar Boyz) stars as Jaime Lockhart with Jamison Lingle (a recent graduate of the Ray Bolger Musical Theater Program at UCLA) as Rosamund. Also in the cast are six-time Helen Hayes Award nominee Michael Stone Forrest (ICT’s When Garbo Talks), Sue Goodman (original Broadway casts of Les Miserables and The Mystery of Edwin Drood), Tyler Ledon (recently graduated from the musical theater program at the University of Northern Colorado), Tatiana Mac (Hairspray at the Hollywood Bowl), Teya Patt (ICT’s When Garbo Talks), Michael Uribes (Luis Alfaro’s Oedipus El Rey at the Boston Court), and Adam Wylie (Wicked at The Pantages).

Set design is by Stephen Gifford; lighting design is by Donna Ruzika; sound design is by Paul Fabre; costume design is by Kim DeShazo; props are by Patty and Gordon Briles; hair and wig design is by Anthony Gagliardi; production stage manager is Pat Loeb; casting is by Michael Donovan; and caryn desai [sic] produces for International City Theatre.

Alfred Fox Uhry is an American playwright, screenwriter, and member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. He is widely known for his “Atlanta Trilogy” of plays, including the acclaimed Driving Miss Daisy. He is the first writer to receive the trifecta – an Academy Award, a Tony and the Pulitzer Prize  – for his stage play and the film adaptation of Driving Miss Daisy. Other plays include The Last Night of Ballyhoo and Parade, for which he received his second Tony (for Best Book of a Musical).

Todd Nielsen returns to ICT where he previously directed How the Other Half Loves; Frankie and Johnnie in the Claire de Lune; Ray Cooney’s Tom, Dick and Harry; and HONK!  Other directing credits: 1776 (Glendale Centre Theatre), No Sex Please, We’re British and Squabbles (Norris Theatre); Charlotte’s Web (Nine O’Clock Players); White Christmas (Cabrillo Music Theatre); Lend Me A Tenor (Chapman University); Phantom (Moonlight Stage Prods, Vista, CA); Ben Franklin in Paris (42nd Street Moon Theatre, San Francisco); Seesaw and Out of This World (Musical Theatre Guild); Plaid Tidings (Oregon Cabaret Theatre) Thoroughly Modern Millie (Welk Resort); and Resident Director for the National Tour of Disney’s The Lion King.  He has won awards, nominations and Critic’s Choice status for several productions including On the Twentieth Century, City of Angels, Rags, The Diviners, Working, A New Brain, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, King of Hearts, The Robber Bridegroom, The Skin of Our Teeth and The Matchmaker.

Gerald Sternbach returns to ICT where he musically directed The All Night Strut. He served as resident music director of Reprise! Broadway’s Best for six seasons, earning nine Ovation nominations (winning in 2006 for Zorba) in addition to six Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle nominations (winning in 2007 and 2008) and three Garland Awards. His other credits include serving as associate conductor for Broadway productions of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Merlin, and The Tap Dance Kid; and conducting the national tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Song and Dance starring Melissa Manchester, the Los Angeles premiere company of Les Miserables, and Stephen Sondheim’s 75th Birthday Concert at the Hollywood Bowl. At the Geffen Playhouse, Mr. Sternbach served as onstage pianist for Carrie Fisher’s one-woman show, Wishful Drinking, and last year musically directed the world premiere of Nightmare Alley. He has worked with such diverse artists as Adam Lambert, Nancy Wilson, Josh Groban and Marilyn Horne to name a few.

International City Theatre is the Resident Professional Theater at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center and the recipient of the Margaret Harford Award from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle for “Sustained Excellence in Theater.”

The Robber Bridegroom runs Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2 pm, October 14 through November 6. Tickets are $37 on Thursdays, and $44 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, except opening night which is $55 and includes a reception with the actors following the performance. Preview performances take place on Tuesday, October 11; Wednesday, October 12; and Thursday, October 13 @ 8 pm. Preview tickets are $29.

International City Theatre is located in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center at 300 E. Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach. For reservations and information, call the ICT Box Office at (562) 436-4610 or go to www.InternationalCityTheatre.org.

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