California's Pasadena Playhouse has revealed details for its upcoming 2023-2024 season, announcing the news hot on the heels of being named the 2023 Regional Theatre Tony Award winner.
Among the more notable offerings in the season is a revival of Jelly's Last Jam, a biomusical celebrating the life and music of Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe (a.k.a. Jelly Roll Morton). With a book by George C. Wolfe, music by Morton, and lyrics by Susan Birkenhead (plus musical adaptation and additional music by Luther Henderson), the musical opened on Broadway in 1992 starring Gregory Hines, Tonya Pinkins, and a young Savion Glover. Hines, who contributed additional tap choreography to the production, and Pinkins both won Tony Awards for their performances, part of a successful awards season for the work. Despite its success on the Main Stem, the musical has been seldom produced since its premiere, with a 2006 run at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre among its only major stagings. Pasadena's production will run May 28–June 23, 2024.
Also on the roster is Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee (no, not that one)'s Inherit the Wind, one of several mid-century plays that looked to the past to comment on the then-current disturbing trend of McCarthyism. Where Arthur Miller chose the Salem Witch Trials for his The Crucible, Lawrence and Lee turned to the so-called "Scopes Monkey Trial" of 1925, in which a Tennessee high school teacher challenged a state law banning the teaching of evolution. With school censorship on the rise around the country, the connections to modern day are likely more direct than they were when the play premiered in 1955. The Playhouse describes its upcoming staging as a "fresh production boldly reimagined for today," with performances slated to run November 1–26.
The season will open with Adam Rapp's The Sound Inside, running September 6-October 1; and, moving into 2024, will also include comedian Kate Berlant's solo show KATE January 17–February 11 and Gloria Claderón Kellett's One of the Good Ones March 13–April 7. For the holiday season, the theatre will present Pasadena Playhouse Holiday Variety Show December 9–23. Created by Sam Pinkleton, the show is described as a "holly jolly spectacular."
Memberships for the season are currently on sale at PasadenaPlayhouse.org.