"I'm really pleased with the professionalism of the actors who auditioned," says director Terrence Shank, who also directed the original production. "It was a tough choice – it always is with Colony actors -- but I believe we have an even stronger cast than we did when we first did this show back in '81."
Shanks' cast includes Molly Beck, Wilson Bell, Peggy Billo, Jonathan Bryan, Jim Carney, William Chapman, Brian Cordoba, Patricia Cullen, David Carey Foster, Gil Hackel, Lon Huber, Glen Irey, Isaac F. Katzanek, Liz Mamana, Robert O'Reilly, Barbara Passolt, Matt Raftery, Robert Stephen Ryan, Whitney Rydbeck, Eileen T’Kaye, Judy Walstrum, Philip Watt, D. Ewing Woodruff and J. Michael Wright.
Bradbury's Most Deeply Personal Work
Dandelion Wine, Bradbury's semi-autographical novel, has sold millions of copies since it was first published in 1946, and has never been out of print. This endearing classic about the childhood fancies and memories of an idyllic Midwestern summer in 1928 stands out as the author's most deeply personal work. It follows 15-year-old Douglas Spaulding and his bittersweet summer of discovery when yesteryear and tomorrow blend mystically "into an unforgettable always."
The musical, with music and lyrics by Jeffrey Rockwell, became an instant hit when it was first presented at The Colony in 1981, and went on to win several prestigious awards for the 1981-82 season. The Los Angeles Herald-Examiner reported it was "a feast of the senses, a memorable visit back to childhood, and a tale well told," The Los Angeles Times called it "the Our Town of musical theater," and critic Polly Warfield, writing for The L.A. Free-Press, said, "Dandelion Wine is a masterpiece, worthy of Broadway."
"I have no delusions of Broadway," Bradbury has been quoted as saying. "I love The Colony. I love the people here. I had more fun [with this company] than any other. I'm comfortable here. I belong here."
Shanks' Roles As Director And L.A. Theatre Pioneer
Shank's immense contribution to the growth of The Colony and Los Angeles theatre in general cannot be overstated. He established The Colony’s reputation with milestone productions of The Royal Hunt Of The Sun, Look Homeward, Angel and The Grapes of Wrath. And the Bradbury-Shank collaborations of The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451 and Dandelion Wine, were so extraordinarily successful, that, in the case of The Martian Chronicles, it had frequently been referred to as "the Star Wars of the Los Angeles theatre scene."
Chronicles, which opened two weeks after the blockbuster movie Star Wars, ran an unprecedented six nights a week for six months and extended its run for an additional 10 weeks at the 600-seat El Rey Theatre. Said Barbara Beckley, Producing Director and former Chronicles cast member: "People were literally lined up every night by 6 P.M. hoping for a cancellation so that they could get in to see the show."
Since leaving The Colony in 1984, Shank has been successfully directing at professional theatres in Australia and South Africa and, for the past 10 years, has been Artistic Director of the Mount Dora Theatre Company near Orlando, Florida.
"We’ve stayed in touch all these years," said Shank, "and it's wonderful to renew our professional relationship with this revival. I’m delighted to see old friends and new, and that includes the unforgettable characters Ray created in Dandelion Wine."
Adds Beckley, "We’re all just thrilled to have Terrence back. His leadership at the beginning made possible everything that’s happening now, and it’s marvelous that he’s coming back to us at this special time, for this special production."
Rockwell Fine-Tuning Tunes
While Bradbury, who turns 80 on August 22, is fine tuning his script, Rockwell is doing the same with his award-winning musical score. He has written three new songs for this revival.
Rockwell, who wrote the incidental music to such Colony productions as Look Homeward, Angel, The Fox and A Day Out of Time (Ellis Island, 1906), also wrote the score for the World Premiere production of The Colony's hit musical The Last Metro.
Says Rockwell: "What most excites me about the stage version of this great book is the added dimension of the present visiting the past in the body of our youngster grown up. Everyone can relate to the intense desire to redeem the past." And how does the composer describe the score? "Americana, Coplandesque," he replies. "There are discrete musical numbers as well as through-sung sequences, with lots of underscoring and a lot of 'telling the story through song.'"
Subscriptions Top 4500
For many years, The Colony has enjoyed the largest paid subscription base of any 99-seat theatre in Southern California. Subscriptions currently stand at 4530 and continue to climb. Beckley attributes the dramatic rise to enthusiasm for the move. "A location that’s central and convenient, with plenty of safe, free parking, lots of restaurants in walking distance, night life – people are just more inclined to make the commitment."
And then she added: "Celebrating our 25th anniversary in our beautiful new building, with paid subscriptions at an all time high -- and remounting one of the most beloved shows in Colony history – I must say, this is turning out to be our favorite millennium."
Dandelion Wine Announces First Extension
Dandelion Wine will open Saturday, August 26, and was originally scheduled to run through Sunday, November 19. However, due to the continuing surge in subscriptions and the phenomenal advance word, the show has announced its first extension a full two months before opening.
"We are now set to run through Sunday, December 10 and possibly longer," says Beckley. "We're been getting inquiries from as far away as Colorado and the Midwest, including Illinois, Ray's home state."
"I was so thrilled to hear that, I could hardly believe it," enthuses Bradbury. "It'll be like having a big party with old friends coming to my home to join me for Dandelion Wine. And everybody's welcome!"
Performance Schedule And Ticket Prices
Performance times for Dandelion Wine are: 8 PM, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with a 2 PM matinee on Sunday. Prices for Thursday and Friday are $25 ($22 for Students and Seniors); Saturday, all seats $28; Sunday, $28 ($25 for Students and Seniors). A number of low-priced previews (all tickets $10) are scheduled to begin Thursday, August 10. Dandelion Wine is suitable for all audiences.
The opening will be preceded by a Gala in Bradbury’s honor on Saturday, August 19 at 8 PM, and will also serve as a celebration for the writer's 80th birthday. Highlighting the evening will be special musical performances and scenes from Bradbury's plays, under the direction of company member Nick DeGruccio, who directed The Colony's Ovation Award-nominated Sondheim review, Putting it Together. Tickets are $50-$100.
Burbank Center Stage – home of The Colony Theatre Company -- is located at 555 No. Third St. in Burbank, at the corner of Cypress, part of the popular Media Center Shopping District. Call (818) 558-7000 for reservations and information about subscribing. Fax number: (818) 558-7110. E-mail: email@example.com
CONTACTS: Barbara Beckley/Amanda
JULY 10, 2000