TheatreZone in Naples will present Leonard Bernstein’s Wonderful Town Jan. 9 – 19. In a change for its 15th season, all evening performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. Matinees at 2 p.m. will continue to be offered on Saturdays and Sundays.
Set in the summer of 1935, this Tony Award-winning musical tells the story of sisters Ruth and Eileen, one an aspiring writer and the other a dancer, who move from rural Ohio to seek success in Greenwich Village, New York. Together, the sisters take on the Big Apple, pursuing their dreams and finding love. The score, with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Comden & Green, features “Ohio,” “Conga” and “One Hundred Easy Ways.”
“The idea for Wonderful Town came from a conversation we had with Leonard Bernstein’s daughter, Jamie Bernstein,” said Mark Danni, TheatreZone artistic director. “She said ‘Wonderful Town is my favorite of my Dad’s musicals and I think it would be wonderful on your stage.’”
The professional cast members include Carolina Ordonez, Noël Konken, Kara Konken, Paulette Oliva, Brooke Rosenbluth, Maxine Danni, Lila Prince, Matthew Alexander, Matthew Ryan Sather, Camerin Kubly, Bret Poulter, Christopher Holloway, Wayne Morton, Jack Norkeliunas, Jarret Ditch and Jeremy Giovanazzo.
Wonderful Town originally played for 559 performances on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre starring Rosalind Russell as Ruth and Edith Adams as Eileen. It won Best Musical from the Tony Awards, New York Drama Critics Circle Awards and Outer Critics Circle Awards. The musical was revived on Broadway in 2003 at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, where it played for 497 performances starring Donna Murphy and Jennifer Westfeldt.
Also in January, Aaron Reeder will perform the Florida premiere of Beyond the Lights: Discovering Sammy Davis Jr., to be presented on Jan. 14 at 5 and 7:30 p.m. Coming directly from his performance in Porgy & Bess at The Met, Reeder was last seen on the TheatreZone stage last season as Mereb in Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida. He developed the one-man show, embracing Sammy Davis, Jr.’s personal story with a mixture of song and music, embodiment and narration, Beyond the Lights is not a jukebox show but a visual storytelling of the man, his music and the impact of one voice. The concert features well-known classics, including “I Gotta Be Me,” “What Kind of Fool Am I” and “Candyman” as well as lesser-known gems such as “Who Can I Turn To” and “At the Crossroads.”
In celebration of its 15th season, TheatreZone will present “Legends & Legacies: Growing up Broadway,” two unique events highlighting its 2019-2020 season productions with special guests including the children of Broadway legends and original cast members.
“Our ‘Legends & Legacies: Growing up Broadway’ series features two unique events which theatre lovers absolutely won’t want to miss,” said Danni. “We are pleased to offer these rare evenings with very special guests sharing their stories and experiences and, as the series title indicates, growing up on Broadway.”
On Jan. 15 at 6 p.m., the first Legends & Legacies event, titled “Together, Wherever We Go: Gypsy Rose Lee by her son, Erik Lee Preminger” will be held at TheatreZone.
Erik Lee Preminger, the son of American burlesque entertainer Gypsy Rose Lee and legendary film director Otto Preminger, will serve as the event’s special guest. Preminger will present clips from several home movies narrated by his mother, from her private collection, followed by a question-and-answer session with guests. In addition, attendees may purchase tickets for chances to win several raffle items, including a weekend at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, and lunch for four at The French with Jamie and Alexander Bernstein, children of legendary composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein. The Bernsteins will be visiting Naples to attend TheatreZone’s production of Wonderful Town. TheatreZone will also auction off an opportunity for a walk-on role in its production of Gypsy. The event is led by honorary chairpersons Dan and Linda Carp, who will be honored by TheatreZone for their long-standing support, the event will include an evening reception with wine and light hors d’oeuvres. Only 200 tickets, priced from $100 to $150 per patron, are available. The second event will be held on March 9.
TheatreZone presents Broadway & Happy Hour Jan. 16 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. See the talented and personable TheatreZone professional actors “out of character” in a series of four cabarets throughout season. Cast members from each of TheatreZone’s Broadway shows will perform their favorite show tunes, sharing stories about the history of the music and their personal connections to the songs. A new cast will be featured on each date. The January cabaret will include the following members of Wonderful Town: Christopher Holloway, Noel Konken, Cameron Kubly, Paulette Oliva, and Matthew Sather. Guests will enjoy wine, prosecco, beer and hors d’oeuvres at a pre-concert reception. Open to the public, this event is held at the Moorings Park auditorium, 120 Mooring Park Drive.
Tickets for each event are available at www.theatre.zone or by calling the box office, 888-966-3352 x1. TheatreZone is in-residence at the 250-seat G&L Theatre on the Community School of Naples campus, 13275 Livingston Road.